So you want to publish a Kindle Single?
The description on Amazon’s Kindle Publishing how-to page makes publishing a Kindle Single sound relatively simple: “Publishers interested in submitting their KDP-published short content for consideration as a Kindle Single should email firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of the content, the ASIN of the title in the Kindle Store, and their KDP account email address.”
But if hopeful self-publishers have questions about the details, their next step is to wade through the many branches of the Kindle Direct Publishing support page and consult the 5,675-word Kindle Publishing Terms and Conditions. That may be a noble pursuit, but who has the time? To help parse the Kindle Single publishing process, we dug through Amazon’s instructions. Here are some key points to consider:
Getting Started: You will need an KDP account, which you can get by using your existing Amazon account or by starting from scratch. This allows you to get paid. You’ll need to fill out your info for tax purposes, and this is where things get tricky for people outside the U.S. As a Canadian, you’ll need to get a TIN, a number issued by the IRS that, simply put, allows you to make money in the U.S. More info on that here.
A bit of an aside: Where you live also affects how you buy Kindle Singles. As of now, Kindle e-book and Singles aren’t available through Amazon.ca. Canadians searching for Kindle books there will end up at Amazon.com, where, after selecting “Canada” from a drop-down menu, they will be shown the Kindle books and Singles available to them. This is all due to copyright restrictions.
Uploading: This is the easiest part. To be published as a Kindle Single, the work should be between 5,000 and 30,000 words. You give your work a title, edition number, product description, browsing category, keywords, publishing date, identify other contributors to your book, the publishing language, confirm your publishing rights, and upload the digital file (which can be in MS Word format, HTML, PDF, or plain text, among others) and the cover image.
Digital Rights Management: Part of registering your title is deciding whether or not to enable DRM. This determines whether someone who buys your work can share it with others. Once you choose to enable DRM, you can’t go back, so do the research ahead of time. This option became available on January 2010, when Amazon responded to pressure from publishers who didn’t want DRM applied to their titles.
Content Guidelines: While Kindle Singles can be about almost anything, they still must adhere to Amazon’s content guidelines. Prohibited content includes: pornography, offensive material, illegal items, stolen goods, items that infringe upon an individual’s privacy, recopied media, rights of publicity (celebrity images/names), and some public domain content. Who decides what counts as “pornography” or “offensive material”? Amazon does. “Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to make judgments about whether or not content is appropriate.” Publisher beware.
Pricing and Royalties: Kindle Singles are priced from US$0.99 to $4.99, but looking at the Singles available to purchase in Canada, the average is $1.99. Publishers set their own prices, and you are allowed to change the prices after you set it initially, so some experimentation could help you settle on the right price. The price might also be determined in part by which royalty option (35% or 70%) you choose. If you want the 70% option, you the price must be $2.99 or more. More on royaties here. (Since you must be wondering: individuals who do not have a U.S. bank account are paid via cheque.)
For an in-depth overview of the process from someone who’s gone through it himself, read Larry Dignan’s post over on ZDNet. Your motivations may differ from his, and since he’s American, his tax/payment setup was more straightforward, but reading about his experience with Kindle Single publishing could help you decide if it’s right for you and your writing.