- by Vonna Harper
Hi there. My name’s J.R. Rain and I write Kindle novels. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of me, but then again, there’s also a small chance you might have seen my books hovering at the top of some of those bestselling Kindle lists. A quick glance right now has my novel Moon Dance show that it’s currently #2 bestselling romantic suspense novel and the #3 bestselling vampire novel, two categories that I often hit #1 in. The novel, which has been out for 12 months now, has been a steady Kindle bestseller for the past four months. Not too shabby for a book I had written seven years ago, and which the NY publishers wanted nothing to do with. In the publisher’s defense, I had very real interest from Kensington and Dorchester, both of whom nearly bought it.
(Here’s a secret: I’m glad they didn’t buy it. More on this later.)
But I’m not here to boast of my recent minor success. Trust me, I’m sure there are many of you here who have outsold me many times over. No, I’m simply presenting the above sales stats as evidence to help you understand why I have made the decision to publish exclusively on Amazon Kindle and skip the smaller publishers altogether.
These are exciting times for independent Kindle publishers. Last month, Kindle started giving indie publishers 70% royalties on books priced above $2.99. Prior to that, the rate was just 35%. So, yes, I am now doubling my income. Like I said, these are exciting times. So exciting that I have no intention of trying to work with NY publishers in the foreseeable futue.
In fact, just the other day I was contacted by a fairly big New York agent. She had read my novel Moon Dance on Kindle and really liked it. So much so that she wanted to know if I had representation. (And, yeah, I hadn’t realized agents had any free time to read for pleasure, either!) Anyway, back in the day I would have jumped at the chance to be repped by this agent. But I’m not jumping now. In fact, I’m probably going to tell her “no thank you, but I will keep you in mind in the future.”
Why would I choose to go at this publishing business alone?
Well, for starters, I make a very comfortable full-time living from Amazon Kindle. Not to mention, I have total control over all my books. And, perhaps most import to me: I get to write whatever I want.
I am completely unhindered. Unshackled. I don’t have to write a certain book just because a publisher has decided to categorize me in a niche. In fact, by this time next year, I will have out a horror novel (co-authored with an established pro), a spiritual fantasy (think The Alchemist), two short story collections (including a Christmas collection), three vampire novels, one screenplay collection (featuring two screenplays and a graphic novel script), and a straight mystery novel.
And as you can see, I’m getting all my books out there, some new and some old, including nine YA books I wrote back when I was a teenager (which I will be publishing under a pseudonym over the course of the next few years). Additionally, I also publish slasher/horror stories under a completely different name altogether. Stories I had written nearly 20 years ago, stories that had been all but forgotten. And now they make me steady income. Put it this way, those little stories alone help pay for my daily Starbucks addiction.
I’m getting a kick out of all of this. Writing is fun. Selling is fun. Doing what I want, when I want, and how I want is fun. My suggestion to all of you is that if you have any unpublished novels or stories out there, put them on Kindle asap. Why not? It’s easy. Create a cool cover, write a bitchen’ description, include some fantastic blurbs up on your Kindle page, price the book at least $2.99 or higher (to get that full 70 royalty from Amazon), and have fun with it.
Yes, fun. For me, writing is fun again.
P.S. Vonna Harper here. I ran down J.R. and convinced him to write this blog for Ninc. After reading it, I decided to take advantage of his generosity and ask him some questions.
1. Why did you decide to go with Kindle? My guess is it was still in its infancy when you took the plunge.The big New York publishers roundly rejected me. I had already gone the small press route (with Mundania Press) and decided that from here on out I was going to self-publish my books and take total control of my career. Kindle makes it very very easy for self-published authors to quickly get their books published on their site. Kindle is a godsend to self-published authors.
2. You mentioned creating cool covers. Do you do your own and if so do you use something like Photoshop?Both. I designed DARK HORSE and THE MUMMY CASE, but I used a designer for my remaining novels and short story collections. I actually used Microsoft Paint for my covers, but I know my designer uses Adobe Photoshop. My best advice is to hire someone to do it for you, or use someone who is skilled in graphic designs. Anyone who wants to hire my designer can reach her on her Facebook site at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100001101220961&ref=ts, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Do you have anyone proofread your work?
Yes, I have a few people proofread my stuff, but you would never believe it by some of the comments I get on Amazon.com, where readers like to point out mistakes. Again, if you have the extra cash, have a pro proofread your work.
4. How about promo? What kind and if not, what does your crystal ball say about how you reach readers?
I do very little promo. I have Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and personal website. I sometimes write a blog for my website, and I sometimes send out email announcements for my books. In general, I spend most of my time writing the best books I can. I believe readers will eventually find you if you write honest books from the heart.
5. Kindle gives writers labeling options to help draw readers to various genres. Do you give a lot of attention to targeting? How about being involved in the Kindle discussion groups?
I have been involved in the past on some Kindle discussion groups, but not so much anymore. But, again, I would rather spend my time writing the best books I can. Yes, you always want to make sure your books are in the right categories on Amazon.
6. You’re writing all over the board. Any concern that not focusing on one genre might work against you?
No concern at all. If you write stories you believe in, with characters who are real, readers will respond.