Not content with offering authors a platform to self-publish and setting up several publishing imprints to publish a wide range of genres themselves, Amazon is now looking to the wisdom of the crowd to launch what looks like Amazon’s Got Talent, but without the TV show.
Reports indicate that Amazon is setting up a new program which is basically an open call for manuscripts from authors. Amazon will put extracts of the books on a website and call for the audience to vote for their favorites, with the most popular going on to be considered by an Amazon panel for publication, so it’s a bit in reverse from AGT really where the panel get their hits in first before the audience vote.
The terms for publication don’t actually look too bad, according to a report at The Digital Reader, with an advance payment of $1,500 and 50% royalties on net ebook revenue. A 50% royalty for being published (and promoted) by Amazon sounds a reasonable deal, but did you notice the ‘net’ aspect? It’s difficult to work out quite what it means as Amazon haven’t released anything official yet, but if it means you only get 50% of the standard 70% royalty, then it’s not so good.
The rights cover ebooks and audio, but you get to keep the print book. The length of term depends on how much your book makes. If the book has earned less than $500 in royalties in the previous year, then you can get the rights back after two years and if the book doesn’t bring in $5,000 royalties in the first five-year term, then you can also quit.
The question is what are you going to do with a book if you do get the rights back after it’s failed to bring in $500 in a year? If Amazon can’t make it a good earner with all its promotion power, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to put it on Amazon yourself and do any better.
There’s a good incentive for people to vote for your book as all your supporters will get a free book, which should help to build up customer reviews, although I can’t see they’d be classed as ‘Verified Purchase’ reviews. The books will also be available for borrowing on Kindle Unlimited, which raises the question of whether normal royalties still apply or whether they’ll get paid the monthly flat rate from the KDP Select Fund.
The big attraction is the fact that Amazon can push any book into their best-seller lists with their email campaigns and promotions. I’ve written a few times about how they are sending books from Amazon publishing imprints to the top of the sales charts as pre-orders a month before they become available.
I can almost hear the sound of writers sharpening up their social media skills and trying to work out ways to bring out the vote for their books.
Traditional publishers have been trawling sites like Wattpad for a while now and it’s become almost commonplace to hear of popular Wattpadders with a million or two likes for their work getting a big publishing contract. In fact, if authors’ details are available on the new Amazon talent show site, then we could have the prospect of trad publishers hijacking vote-winners.