While many lay readers still think of Amazon primarily as a bookseller, since 2009 the retail giant has also been functioning as a full-blown publisher.
As the summer reading season warms with the weather, IR readers will notice more and more indie titles on bestseller lists. Adding to the heat, a growing number of popular books that were originally published by their authors are now (or soon will be) published by Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) itself.
While many lay readers still think of Amazon primarily as a bookseller, since 2009 the retail giant has also been functioning as a full-blown publisher. Amazon Publishing now has 15 different imprints that publish hundreds of books across a wide variety of genres. And the list is growing, bolstered by an increasing number of authors who got started as self-publishers.
Reached by IR on April 30, Katie Finch, head of PR for Amazon Publishing, said “We do indeed currently publish a large number of former independently published authors across our imprints, and in fact we always have. Amazon Publishing’s very first imprint (AmazonEncore which launched in 2009) was created to help readers discover exceptional, overlooked books and authors, many of whom originally self-published their books.”
To illustrate by example, Timebound by Rysa Walker was originally self-published and won the Young Adult Fiction and Grand Prize Winner of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award before Walker signed with Skyscape, Amazon Publishing’s YA imprint. At the same time, she just self-published a Chronos Files novella, Time’s Echo, on April 25, 2014. The second full-length book in The Chronos Files series will be published by Skyscape this October.
On April 30, Walker told IR “I think I have the best of both worlds with my publisher… Skyscape really wasn’t interested in handling shorter works, but even before Timebound was published, I planned The CHRONOS Files series as three novels and two novellas. So, Skyscape will be publishing the two remaining novels in the fall of 2014 and 2015, but they’re allowing me to self-publish the two novellas.”
IR has observed similar cases in other genres recently. One explanation might be simply that today’s boom in indie publishing is rapidly expanding the pool of attractive writing from which Amazon discovers new talent.
Asked by IR whether there has been a concerted effort by Amazon Publishing to ramp up the number of indie authors signed for summer releases across its publishing ecosystem, Katie Finch provided a short list of upcoming releases from other Amazon imprints, in alphabetical order by imprint:
FORTUNE’S RISING by Sara King is a book that was originally self-published and will be re-released by 47North on July 15. ONCE DEAD by Richard Phillips (August 19) is an original work by an author we originally discovered through KDP and have had great success with at 47North.
Jet City Comics
The original graphic novel adaptation of Hugh Howey’s WOOL (a self-published novel) is releasing on June 3.
Lake Union Publishing
TAKE ME WITH YOU (July 22) is an original work by Catherine Ryan Hyde, who Amazon Publishing originally discovered through KDP. Catherine is also the author of the highly acclaimed Pay It Forward.
POINT OF NO RETURN by Tiffany Snow (May 20), BEAUTIFULLY FORGOTTEN by L. A. Fiore (July 29), and ON THE RECORD by K. A. Linde (August 26) are all original works by authors who we originally discovered through KDP and who have had great success at Montlake Romance.
Thomas & Mercer
T.R. Ragan’s OBSESSED (7/22) and L.J. Seller’s DEADLY BONDS (8/26) are both new works from authors who we originally discovered through KDP who have had great success at Thomas & Mercer. BECAUSE WE ARE (July 22) by Ted Oswald is a mystery that the author originally self-published on KDP.
When an Amazon Publishing imprint signs a new writer (self-published or otherwise), it treats the author’s material as if it were new. Professional editing, page layout, cover design and other facets of the traditional publishing process are executed as quickly as possible. Self-published books are generally left in print (or online) until the makeover is finished, in order to continue meeting public demand without interruption.
Also of interest to IR readers is that books picked up by Amazon imprints are almost always released in multiple media with print, Kindle and often audio editions. Thus, a Kindle-only book — exceedingly fast and economical for a writer to self-publish — quickly becomes available in paperback, and possibly audio CD or streaming audio formats, when picked up by Amazon.
The visibility of indie books among upcoming summer releases previewed here echoes earlier IR reports of change sweeping across the book world. These include the recent announcement that Britain’s leading newspaper, The Guardian, would co-sponsor a new competition exclusively for indies starting April 8; and the election earlier this year of CJ Lyons, pediatric physician turned award-winning, critically-acclaimed, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author as the first self-publisher to serve on the executive council of the Author’s Guild.
IR predicts an especially hot bookselling season this summer, with more indie books and authors than ever starting to sizzle. Stay tuned for updates.
Danny O. Snow is the editor of Self-Publishers Monthly (http://www.selfpublishersmonthly.com), a worldwide e-Book series for indie writers and those who follow the fast-paced world of self-publishing. Follow him on Twitter (@dannyosnow) or at "The Self-Publishing Boom" community page on Facebook.
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