Kindle Store expands to support Spanish, Italian, Portuguese

Amazon just announced that the Kindle DTP program had been expanded to include books in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

That means authors and publishers can upload books in any of these languages and sell them worldwide through the Kindle Store.

It’s really great news and means that the Kindle Store now supports books in 6 languages - English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, and Italian.

The Press Release

Amazon talk about how they opened up DTP to international authors a month ago and it certainly seems they’ll continue to expand Kindle DTP.

Russ Grandinetti, a VP at Amazon, provides the following comment -

“A month ago we made the self-service Kindle Digital Text Platform available to authors and publishers around the world,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content.

“We’re now excited to offer even more languages in which content owners can offer their books to the fast-growing audience of Kindle owners around the globe.”  

What does the addition of more languages mean?

A lot of things -

  1. It increases the number of people who would be interested in a Kindle.
  2. It lets authors reach people who read in a language other than English.
  3. It lets authors reach these people all over the world.
  4. It gives Amazon a bargaining tool when trying to sign up international authors and publishers.
  5. It means Amazon will gradually expand to support all languages that the Kindle is capable of supporting.
  6. It gives Amazon even more books than competitors and a competitive edge.
  7. It’s a big competitive advantage with people who speak multiple languages.
  8. Kindle reaches a lot more people in Europe, South America, etc.

There are often comments asking about where to find books for the Kindle in Spanish and French and so forth. Now both independent authors and Publishers can reach these customers and more.

It’s good to see the Kindle Store continue to expand at a torrid pace.

Can You Publish for Kindles and Make a Decent Living?

The question we’ll explore in this post is focused around ‘enough money to not have to get a day job’. We’re NOT talking about -

  1. Fame.
  2. The prestige of a ‘contract’ with a big publishing house. 

We’re also not talking about -

  1. Whatever desire you might have to see your book in print, whether Print on Demand or in print in a bookstore. 
  2. Non-Kindle ebook sales. For this post, we disregard Sony, Fictionwise, and Google Books.
  3. Selling books from our own website.

Lets put all that aside and focus on whether an author can make enough money off of JUST Kindle Store sales to -

  1. Earn a decent living.
  2. Focus on writing and promoting his work without needing a day job.
  3. Create a brand and a following.

Act I: Authors begin to Believe

The biggest block for authors is the lack of belief that it can be done.

J. A. Konrath put up a post talking about how he’s making $1,250 a month off of his book’s sales – these are unpublished books that he’s giving away for free on his website and selling for $1.85 on the Kindle Store.

Read this response from another author (sarcastically titled ‘you can be a kindle millionaire’) -

I’m sure that Joe’s success is very exciting and encouraging news to a lot of aspiring writers out there. But I suspect Joe’s success is the exception rather than the rule.

If Mr. Positive had actually read the post’s comments he would have seen that other self-published authors are also earning non-trivial money off of Kindle Sales ($50-$100 a day).

There are authors making money off of Kindle Sales. So there’s no question that it can be done.

It comes down to two things -

  1. Do you believe your work is good enough? 
  2. Can you work hard enough promoting your work to get it in front of enough people? 

Act II: Authors begin to make a decent living.

We’re still at the initial stages of the Kindle’s spread. Already, multiple authors are making upwards of $1,000 a month.

There are a lot of factors that will come into play by end of 2009 -

  1. The number of Kindles and readers of Kindle Editions will at least double, and probably quadruple.  
  2. Kindle might go International which would increase Kindle owners by another factor of 1.5-2.
  3. At some point Amazon or another source will create and publish a Self-Published Authors Top 100 bestsellers list. This will definitely increase sales for Self-Published Authors.
  4. Self-published authors who begin to see success will start trying out slightly higher prices. Customers will start accepting higher prices. There have been comments on the official Kindle Forum where readers are saying they’ll be willing to pony up higher prices for authors they like (around $5).

The success of the $9.99 boycott has shown that Kindle Owners are proactive and in control. As soon as they see the opportunity to create the next big successes they will seize the opportunity.

Kindle Store, and in particular the purchase of a book by a self-published author, lets you become a true patron of the arts. You don’t have to be a king or a multi-millionaire any more.

Act III: Kindle Store Millionaires

Part 1: Can we even make the jump and believe its possible?

This is the real stumbling block.

Just 12-14 months ago people were talking about how the Kindle is bound to fail, and that it’ll probably sell just 10,000-20,000 total units.

We are now facing the exact same situation – negativity and pessimism fuelled by ulterior motives.

  1. The whole current Publishing Model is based on the belief that somehow Publishers take struggling authors and turn them into NYTimes Bestsellers.
  2. They would have you believe that it is not Stephanie Meyer (or her #1 fan Stephen King) who are the cause of success. That it is them, the publisher.
  3. If you disagree look at how revenues are split up.

At some point, customers (who admittedly get this already) and authors are going to realize that authors create art and customers appreciate it -

  1. We no longer need to pay people for ‘curation’ and ‘distribution’ and ‘shipping’ and ‘retail locations’.
  2. We no longer need Publishers to decide what constitutes ‘art’ and ‘good writing’ and what is fit for us to read.

Part 2: Kindle Millionaires are not too far away

We know for a fact that -

  1. A self-published author (John August) can reach #18 briefly (and sell 500 copies a day).
  2. Multiple authors can hit the Top 250 (and sell 50-70-100 copies a day).
  3. Customers will pay more for quality writing. Even $3 or $4 or $5 for a good book. (If you choose to not believe this, that’s fine – we’ll consider $2 for our analysis).

Let’s look at a Self-Published Author who hits a consistent Top 25 position with one or more of his books (each at $2 per book) -

  1. He earns 70 cents a copy.
  2. He sells 500 copies a day for 5 months out of the year. Rest of the year he sells 200 copies a day. 
  3. That’s $350 a day for 5 months and $140 a day for 7 months. That’s $52,500 plus $35,700 equal to $88,200 in a year.

Wait a minute – This analysis is what holds true today (1st week of June 2009).

Will the market size and sales of bestsellers be ten times by June 2010? By June 2011?

Perhaps June 2010 is optimistic – However, June 2011 is definitely within the realm of possiblity. Which means that by 2011 we could have one or more authors earning $882,000 per year from their self-published books. Kindle Millionaires ;)

Just two questions

We’ve seen the Kindle, which was supposed to never get beyond 10,000 units sold, hit a million or so sales in just 1.5 years.  

  1. Question 1: Do you think the Kindle market size will be 10 times its current size by 2011?

 

We know that self-published authors have gone as high as #18, and lots of them have hit the Top 250.  

  1. Question 2: Do you think by 2011 self-published authors will be able to hit the Top 25?

Kindle Store Self Published Rising Stars

The biggest possibility the Kindle and the Kindle Store hold, from my perspective, is the democratization of publishing.

Not just the ‘anyone can publish their book now’. More importantly -

  1. Anyone can get their ideas and work to readers.  
  2. Anyone can write a book and sell it and create their brand. 
  3. A self-published author can actually get financial success.

And self-published authors are beginning to have an impact in the Kindle Store.

So you’re saying Self-Published Authors are actually selling?

Yes. Take a look at the Kindle Store Stars -

  1. John Rector – The Grove (ranked #167). He actually just signed a contract with Tor on Wednesday (June 3rd) and unless I’m missing something that is his first contract.  
  2. The Variant by John August  - #147 in the Kindle Store. It actually hit #18 in the Kindle Store. John August also disclosed some interesting Kindle Sales and Rankings data on his blog -

    All I really know is that the day I hit #18, I sold about 500 copies. So my hunch is that titles around that spot in the list (say, 15 to 25) might sell around 500 copies per day. That is, they probably sell 500 as opposed to 50 or 5,000.

  3. Dennis Batchelder – Soul Identity. Its just $0.01 and ranked #156 in the Kindle Store. 4 star rating off of 70 customer reviews.
  4. Boyd Morrison. His three books are all doing well – The Ark has Kindle Store Rank # 194, The Palmyra Impact has Rank #373, and The Adamas Blueprint has Rank #549. He’s also giving away the books free at his blog (although buying them at Amazon would help him make the Top 100 bestsellers list) -

    I hope you enjoy my books. If you do, please recommend them to friends and family, and feel free to drop me a line. With your help, someday my dream will come true, and my novels will be available in bookstores everywhere.

  5. Stacey Cochran - His Colorado Sequence is at #205, and Claws is at #362. Also check out Stacey Cochran’s blog.

Two more authors worth checking out are Dawson Vosburg and J.A. Konrath (he has his unpublished books available for the Kindle). 

But they’re all selling their books for $1

 Yes – However, at the stage that you’re trying to make a name for yourself, and get a contract, do you really care?

  1. Your biggest challenge is getting people to read your books. With $1 and $2 kindle editions you actually get a shot.
  2. You let the actual readers vote.
  3. Everyone can tell if your work is good – The 70 reviews for Dennis Batchelder’s Soul Identity and the 35 reviews for Boyd Morrison’s The Ark let everyone see that their work is good.
  4. When you’re self-published you can keep your costs low. You don’t have to sell your books for $10 or $15 to break even. 
  5. You reduce the risk for Publishers – they can see the reviews, the sales ranking, they can google you and see how much effort you put into promoting your books.

We should focus on the huge opportunity the Kindle Store creates, regardless of the price of the successful self-published books.

Take John Rector, who sold the Grove for 99 cents. He has a contract with Tor now. It doesn’t matter that he sold his book for less than $1.

What the Kindle Store needs

Is a section that highlights authors like these. If an author like Boyd Morrison can manage, just based on his own efforts, to hit the top 200 of the Kindle Store, Amazon ought to highlight him so that Kindle owners have a chance to buy his books.

And its not just one solitary person – We’re talking about 5-6 different self-published authors who’ve managed to crack the top 200 of the Kindle Store - out of 275,000 books.

These are self-published Davids competing against Goliaths -

  1. Established Authors.
  2. Big publishing houses. 
  3. Free Book Offers.
  4. Public Domain Books.  

Its about time that we, as Kindle Owners, and Amazon, as creators of the Kindle ecosystem, start doing a better job of rewarding these and other talented, self-published authors.

Update: After this mobileread thread, realized that buying the books would be a good idea too – bought 1 or 2 books from each of the authors for a total of 8 books that together cost me just $9.32. Amazing ;)

Surprise – a blogger likes the Kindle Publishing for Blogs program

There have been so many negative posts about the Kindle Publishing for Blogs initiative by Amazon, mostly centering around -

  1. How Amazon gets 70% of the subscription amount. 
  2. How Kindle users would never subscribe to blogs that are free online.

That I’d begun to feel these bloggers were signing up to the program themselves just to overwhelm it and cause it to break down so that Amazon could no longer steal 70% of their subscription fees (never mind that some portion of the 70% gets eaten up by hosting, maintenance, and bandwidth costs).

Surely, given that bloggers and other content creators like newspapers are making so much money online, getting their content on the Kindle would hold little value.

Wait a minute … no … that’s not right.

99% of Bloggers are making next to nothing online.

If we leave out the top 1% of bloggers and the top 10% of affiliate marketers (who’re making a lot), and Google (who’re making perhaps even more) we’re left with the vast majority of people who are adding value to the Internet and, because they are not specialists at monetizing, getting nothing in return.

Amazon is providing a channel for these bloggers to get value back, and they ought to see it and admit it.

Kindle Publishing for Blogs lets you make money – directly

Think about it – almost every online monetization channel is indirect i.e. if you can sell product x; if you can get your readers to visit our site; if you can endorse our product.

Your readers are coming to you for Reason X, and almost every currently existing monetization model depends on you upselling something else or advertising to them. With the KP4B program you can make money off of what attracts users to your blog in the first place i.e. your content.

And you can cut out the middlemen i.e. the advertisers, companies selling products, search engines, marketers, and so forth.

In direct contrast to complaints that Amazon shouldn’t get 70% and complaints about how its not going to work, every blogger is signing up for the program. There are now 4,400 blogs available on the Kindle.

Its because bloggers at some level are beginning to get it. They’re beginning to see how its a win-win situation.

Geek MBA Blog does a simple analysis (just suspend belief and go with it) -

Let’s say that you can attract 5% of the overall Kindle user base, which is 50,000. The total monthly revenue from your blog would be $100,000. Amazon will get $70,000 while you get $30,000. You get paid at a rate of $0.6/user.

Note: He also talks about an established blogger who gets about $0.2/unique user AFTER years of hard work and after monetizing his blog to ridiculous amounts.

Here’s the most important part of the analysis – for every kindle subscriber you can attract and retain, you get 60 cents per user, per month. Without trying to get that user to buy something else.

Kindle Publishing for Blogs lets you focus on Your Core Competency

Note: Consider the model in terms of when there will be tens of millions of Kindle users (whether it be through Kindles or iPhones or Blackberrys). You have to look at it from the long term perspective.

Every Kindle user you get to subscribe to your blog gives you 60 cents a month. You already have the RSS feed so thats zero cost. You already blog and you already have your web presence. You just add a new channel that lets you get paid for your work.

Get a thousand subscribers and that’s $600 a month. You don’t have to worry about finding an affiliate program, getting advertisers, running Google Ads, asking for donations.

You get paid for your core competency i.e. the value of your expertise and/or the value of what you write. And even more importantly –  

You can focus on your core competency – writing/creating content you’re passionate about (and hopefully an expert at).

Closing Thoughts

Kindle Publishing for Blogs is a good, good step by Amazon. Sooner or later bloggers are going to realize that letting them get paid for something that they’re currently giving away for free online doesn’t make Amazon the enemy. Discoverability is an entirely different problem and hopefully that gets sorted out soon.

Publish Your Blog for Kindle users – Kindle Publishing for Blogs

Amazon has just launched Kindle Publishing for Blogs which lets absolutely anyone publish their blog for the Kindle. It’s in Beta right now.

Sure that number of blogs available will balloon from 1,500 to tens of thousands now that the lengthy approval process has been removed.

The entire process took just 15 minutes. You do need a screenshot of your blog, and an image as a masthead (which is what will show up on the Kindle when people read your blog). It says that the blog will be live in 48 to 72 hrs.

Kindle Publishing for Blogs launches

Kindle Publishing for Blogs launches

This is much, much better than the slow manual approval process that was happening earlier.

It seems that if you choose daily updates or multiple updates a day options your blog gets priced at $1.99.

So go ahead and add your blog.  The Kindle 2 Review Blog is now up at Amazon.

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