John M. Wills

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Ready To Publish? Check Out Kindle Scout.

Do you have a finished manuscript and are looking to shop it around to publishers? You may want to take a look at Kindle Scout. It’s a new program offered by Amazon for new, unpublished books, and it may earn you a publishing contract with Kindle Press in 45 days or

Here’s how it works. Kindle Scout connects you with readers prior to your book’s publication. If your book is selected for publication by Kindle Press, readers who nominated the book receive an early, free copy and are invited to leave reviews. If your book is not selected, those same readers have the option to be notified when you independently publish through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

If your book is chosen for publication, you receive:

  • Guaranteed advance & competitive royalties: A $1,500 advance and 50% eBook royalty rate.
  • Focused formats: Kindle Press acquires worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. You retain all other rights, including print.
  • 5-year renewable terms: If your book doesn’t earn $25,000 in royalties during the initial 5-year contract term, and any 5-year renewal term after that, you can choose to stop publishing with us.
  • Easy reversions: After two years, rights in any format or language that remain unpublished, or all rights for any book that earns less than $500 in total royalties in the preceding 12-month period, can be reverted upon request–no questions asked.
  • Early downloads & reviews: One week prior to release date, everyone who nominated your book will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.
  • Amazon marketing: Your book will be enrolled into Kindle Unlimited, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and will be eligible for targeted email campaigns and promotions.

To learn more about this opportunity, click here: Kindle Scout.

Amazon Book Rankings

 Sharing this from my Oak Tree Press publisher, Billie Johnson. I think there is much confusion among both readers and authors concerning the sales rank of books.
The Amazon SALES RANK number is not a citation of the number of books sold. The SALES RANK number only tells the title’s rank in relation to all the other titles on Amazon, and a book sale is not the only factor in the calculation. 

Amazon shipment
Amazon shipment (Photo credit: enno)


Visitors to your detail page, and how the visitor got to your page (that is, did they query at the main page, or did they click-through from another title’s page?), reviews, and numerous other factors play into Amazon’s highly secret algorithm that computes the Sales Rank. The computation is constant and changes as often as hourly. 

A dramatic shift in your sales rank MIGHT mean there was a sale or sales, but not necessarily. 

It is possible to employ a ‘bestseller campaign’ and drive many visitors to your page in a narrow time span and push the Sales Rank number into the Top 100 or some other bestseller list on Amazon and NOT SELL ONE BOOK!

Sales of used copies are counted for rank also, but sales via Amazon   Marketplace are not added to the Sales Report on our publisher’s dashboard. The reason for this is simple: neither author nor publishers are compensated   for the sale of a used copy.

And to add to complexities, Amazon changes things often, so just when you think you have it all psyched out—zap.

Over the sixteen years Oak Tree Press has been in the biz, I have learned to stop worrying about Amazon’s wizardry and be grateful they provide the most level playing field (IMO) of any bookselling venue and we almost never get returns.

Billie Johnson

Try A Novella

Nightstand Cover low resI’ve had conversations with fellow writers who tell me they dream of writing a book. However, some of these aspiring novelists always seem to have a reason why they have yet to realize their dream. They insist their wonderful, unique storyline is sure to be widely accepted,  but then moan that the task of writing a book is just too demanding. Is that a valid excuse? I guess it might be. On the other hand, writing a book might also be a wonderful cathartic exercise.

In lieu of writing a 300 – 400 page novel, might I suggest writing a novella? It has many of the characteristics of a novel, yet lacks some of the structure and requirements. A novella is basically a long short story. If you research novellas, you will find varying opinions regarding what length they should be. The most common answer is probably somewhere around 20,000 words.

The novella is an interesting piece of literature because it doesn’t seem to fit well in conventional publishing mediums—magazines and books. It’s too long to be included in some online publications, yet it’s too short to be deemed appropriate for print.

Nevertheless, a novella is a great way for a writer to develop characters and plots. It’s also a good way to flesh out a writing portfolio. While there are no chapters in novellas, there can be distinct breaks to divide sections. Novellas contain protagonists and antagonists, conflicts, and more than enough space to fully develop settings.

So, where is the market for this type of writing? Some publishers may consider a novella as a print piece or ebook. However, Amazon recently introduced “Kindle singles” in their online store that specializes in standalone works like novellas. Writers follow simple instructions to upload their work and, voila, a best seller may be born.

I took a test drive at the Amazon Kindle store and created my own anthology, “The Nightstand Collection.” It’s a collection of my short stories and poetry. The process of self-publishing was straightforward and easy to understand. Amazon even provides a video demonstrating the steps involved in an easy to understand tutorial.

My recommendation? Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re reluctant to commit to a novel, try the novella. If you have success with writing a novella, you may have discovered your writing niche. Or . . . the novella may just be the springboard that launches your book career.


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