Since its launch in 2007, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing
platform has received much criticism over the quality of work that is being accepted for sale in the Kindle eBook store. Because authors do not have to go through the traditional publishing route (or the proofreading and copyediting route for that matter), a significant number of titles available in eBook format have received negative reviews by readers.
Traditional publishers are up in arms over the way KDP and other self-publishing platforms are affecting their industry. The popularity of KDP means they no longer have control of what makes it to readers and what does not. Bloggers and columnists criticize the platform for allowing just about anything to make it to the Kindle store. In a 2011 article, Reuters
Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc's publishing foray.
Not all publications, however, fall into this category; there are gems to be found amid the rubble. For unpublished authors who take their writing seriously, the KDP platform opens up an entirely new avenue through which to put their work in front of a global audience. It offers them the opportunity to skip over the selection process that is an unavoidable part of the established publishing industry (and its prejudices) and become published through their own efforts. And with Amazon paying authors royalty rates as high as 70%, self-publishing can potentially become a source of income for struggling writers.
Irish author Amanda Evans
is one such example. In October of this year her self-published book, From Those Death Left Behind
, reached Amazon’s Kindle store through its direct publishing platform. The work is a collection of poems and letters written to her father, James Evans, who committed suicide when she was just 13 years old.
For Ms. Evans, however, money is not the primary motivation for self-publishing. Instead, her aim is to share a message with the world, one which describes in detail her family’s grief over the tragic event, and one which offers hope for those whose loved ones have suffered the same fate. She also hopes that her family’s story might deter those who are considering taking their own lives by reminding them of the heartache their survivors will live with forever as a result.
Digital Journal recently had the opportunity to discuss the book and its publication with Ms. Evans.
: You chose to publish with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Why did you think this would be a good place to publish your work as an eBook?
: The main reason has to be the ease in which you can get your work published and of course Amazon has a global buyer network. I chose to go with Kindle so I could also enrol the book in the KDP select program [an option which offers marketing and promotional opportunities] and give it away free for the first couple of days. This allows more people to get their hands on the book and brings more awareness to it.
: This is a personal work. What was your aim in writing it?
: Yes this is a very personal book and it was originally written in 2005 as a healing journey for me and my family. It was something that I really wanted to do and I wanted to share a message with the world that suicide and the stigma attached to it needed to be recognised and looked at in a different light. I wanted people to realise that "those left behind" were suffering in silence, feeling cast out from society as if there was something wrong with them.
Suicide was a subject that wasn't spoken about in the 1990's and this is turn would have had an effect on how we coped with our grief. By telling our story [my family and I] looked at breaking the boundaries, and releasing our story publically was a way to do this. Since the economic downturn, which has been a global experience, there has been a dramatic increase in suicide rates and I felt that now was the time to revise and re-release this book to an audience who were now more open and more accepting of the subject.
My father [has been] dead 22 years on the 29th of October and I still live with the grief as does my family. In re-releasing my book I am hoping to be able to help others, offer them hope and hopefully make a difference to their lives. I am also hoping that perhaps some people contemplating ending their own lives will read this book and maybe think again. If they can realise the devastation and pain that they leave behind they may reconsider their actions.
: What has been the public’s response to your work? Have any readers shared their stories with you or otherwise tried to contact you?
: Between 2005 and 2007 I was interviewed by local newspapers, and I did receive a number of emails from people who were thankful for the words my family and I had written. I also received a message from a relative of my father who told me that she was using the book in her classroom as a teaching tool for her students. This was a wonderful accomplishment for me. Since the re-release of this book, I have received a lot of messages from people who can also relate to the suffering and grief, and the reviews I have received have been amazing.
: What difference (if any) has publishing your work on Amazon’s KDP made in your life? Has it made a difference in the lives of your family and friends about whom you've written?
: Publishing this book on Amazon has allowed me to reach a global audience, and with social media avenues it has made marketing a lot more effective and easy. It has given me a real sense of pride to know that my story and the story of my family can help others and is doing so. To change the mind of just one person contemplating suicide will be a success for me and to offer others going through the grief the understanding that they are not alone is another thing I am happy about. Publishing the book and putting our story on paper has been a massive healing journey for all my family members and even though some of them didn't tell their story they still gave their approval and permission for the book to be published.
: Is the book only published on Amazon or have you utilized other publishing avenues?
: The eBook version is currently only available on Amazon, and the paperback version which I have self-published via Lulu
[an independent, print-on-demand publisher] will be available via Amazon shortly. I also hope to make the book available via other channels such as the iBookStore
and more in the near future.
Ms. Evans is now hard at work promoting her book, an activity which Amazon strongly recommends for its authors as a way to establish themselves and increase the number of downloads their titles receive. This Digital Journal reporter wishes Ms. Evans continued success in this venture.