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New opportunities for authors of short eBooks (5,000-30,000 words in length)

eBook SingleGood news for authors in eBook single marketplace

[This article is written by guest contributor Howard Polskin, Editor-in-Chief at Thin Reads.]

There’s good news for authors looking to break into the fast-growing *e-book single market, according to an exclusive third quarter analysis conducted by my website Thin Reads. The number of e-book singles (any e-book between 5,000 and 30,000 words in length) published in the third quarter increased a whopping 27% compared to the second quarter of 2013.  (There is no reliable data from 2012 to make a viable year-to-year comparison.)

In hard numbers, 122 titles were released compared to 96 published from April 1 to June 30, 2013.  In other words, the increased output means more opportunity for writers.  These figure come from the Thin Reads database which is updated several times a week and features nearly 1,000 titles. [To get your eBook single included in Thin Reads' database, check out this article.]

Granted, only 122 e-book singles were released in the quarter, but when you consider that three years ago, exactly zero e-book singles were published, it’s obvious that something important is taking place for authors.

Publishers are getting into the e-book single market too

And there’s more good news.  More publishers are entering the e-book single market.  That means they are looking for more authors (mainly nonfiction) to write e-book singles, which run anywhere from 20 to 100 pages in length. Among the new publishers who popped onto the Thin Reads radar screen this summer: DAWNS Digest, which focuses on humanitarian journalism; The New New South, which only publishes stories about the South; and Fierce Ink Press, which produces short fiction and nonfiction pieces by Atlantic Canadian authors who write for young adults.

Authors should also be aware of the Israeli company Booxilla, which is in Beta mode right now. Co-founder Ilan Boock told me that his company will begin publishing fiction e-book singles and that they are searching for suitable manuscripts. They will translate into Hebrew. Stay tuned for developments with this company.

Of the 122 e-book singles that were published in the third quarter, 55 of them were chosen by Amazon to be sold in the company’s Kindle Single store and labeled as a Kindle Single.  But that still means there’s plenty of opportunity for authors who are hoping to break into the market for e-book singles outside of Amazon. There are advantages to being in the Kindle Single store for authors (such as increased visibility to the book-buying pubic), but smart authors who know how to promote and market themselves can still gain significant attention for their work. For instance, Tom Ruprecht, the author of the wonderful e-book single “A Phony Oral History of J.D. Salinger,” appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss his hilarious takedown of the author of “The Catcher in the Rye.” His book was not a Kindle Single.

If there’s any gloomy note in the Thin Reads findings for the third quarter, it’s the outlook for new fiction in the e-book single marketplace. There appears to be very little appetite from consumers for short fiction – even if it’s priced at $1.99 – from unknown or relatively unknown authors. Thin Reads tracks the Kindle Single best-seller list very closely and only one fiction Kindle Single from an unknown author made the best-seller:  “Seismic Shift” by Carolyn Nash. Otherwise, the fiction best-seller list is completely dominated by big-name authors like Stephen King, Nelson DeMille, Karin Slaughter and Lee Child.

But that’s just a reflection of what’s happening for fiction in the Kindle Single store. There are no sales figures available from other digital outlets. However, there is definitely a market for e-book single fiction. As I noted above, Fierce Ink Press is publishing new fiction.  The hip Brooklyn publisher Thought Catalog produces several e-book singles every month targeted at 20somethings with often provocative nonfiction topics. But the company is publishing some interesting fiction like J.E. Reich’s “The Demon Room.” Another Brooklyn-based publisher, Atavist, will begin publishing novellas in 2014’s first quarter. Atavist had previously focused only on nonfiction. And Barnes & Noble has begun publishing its own line of e-book singles (called Snaps) and offers fiction like Bennett Wilson’s “The Island After” (see story about the latest batch from BN).

Finally, Penguin Books appears to be actively publishing short works of fiction for the e-book single market.  Several novellas are published a month under a label called Penguin Specials. The titles from all of these publishers are available in the major digital booksellers including iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and Amazon (although not necessarily in the Kindle Single section).

For the complete story on the third quarter in e-book singles, please read the exclusive Thin Reads analysis.

To submit your short eBook (eBook single) to Thin Reads, check out this article from BookBaby.

*A note about terminology: Kindle Single vs E-Book Single

A Kindle Single is a written work of digital content – fiction or nonfiction – that has been chosen by Amazon’s editors to be sold in the company’s popular Kindle Singles store.  The length: 5,000 to 30,000 words.  There are more than 300 Kindle Singles currently available for sale.

An e-book single is also a written work of digital content – fiction or nonfiction. The length is the same as a Kindle Single: 5,000 to 30,000 words.  However, most e-book singles are not in Amazon’s Kindle store.  There are more than 950 e-book singles in the Thin Reads database. Examples of prominent e-book singles that are not Kindle Singles:  “Snowfall” (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for feature-story writing), John Grisham’s “Fetching Raymond,” and Joshuah Bearman’s “Coronado High.”

All Kindle Singles are e-book singles (because of their length). But most e-book singles are not Kindle Singles (because they are not sold in the Kindle Single store).

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[Pic of mini book from Shutterstock.]

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