What do you do with a 5,000 to 30,000-word “book”?


Whatever your fame or literary legerdemain, a “book” like that is a size orphan. It’s too big to fit in a magazine, newsletter, or journal and too small for major publishers to even consider.

Of course, you can publish it yourself. It may be too short to get a spine as a paperback at CreateSpace or Lightning Source, and it’s hard to sell on street corners (or at all). But it does fit in the ebook category, and if you sell it through Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords and keep the price between $2.99 and $9.99, you could earn 70% per sale in royalties.

Alas, who will pay $2.99 for, say, 1,000 words? Maybe if you were President of the Universe or hit .460 for the Yankees for a decade, but even then how would they know you wrote and published it?

It’s a dilemma I face right now, with a manuscript of about 22,000 words that I think most men will immediately identify with. And if they don’t, fie; they should.

Here’s one solution that I first heard about years back and is in the limelight right since Stephen King just used it to publish his thoughts about guns.

It’s called Kindle Singles (from Amazon). They are seeking works in that 5,000-30,000 range about any topic, though I imagine it can’t be too dirty or written in a still unknown tongue. They’ve posted fiction, essays, memoirs, reporting, personal narratives, and profiles. Just so it’s fresh, original, and high-quality writing. You can even propose an idea by writing to the editors.

The process is just like proposing a key article to a major magazine. You submit a query with a compelling summary (or, here, the entire manuscript), the editors read it, you hear within four weeks, and if they’re interested they will tell you how to submit it via Kindle Direct Publishing, and more.

If they accept it, it must be priced from $0.99 to $4.99, and you will get a 70% royalty of all copies sold (even if it’s priced under $2.99). Like all Kindle books, it’s readable on any Kindle device.

Caveats? (1) it must be original, unpublished in other formats or publications; (2) it must be self-contained, not chapters from a longer work, and (3) unpublished on any public website in its entirety. Currently they are not accepting manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children’s books.

Want to see others who had singles accepted or more instructions about submission?

So that’s what I plan to do. Since my piece includes humor (which is hard to query about), I will finish writing and editing it. I’ll get it proofed. Then I’ll send it their way first. If they leap at the chance (has anybody ever seen Amazon leap?), you will see it in print in the not-too-distant future. If not, I will offer it as an ebook through the open publishers mentioned above. (My book How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days shows how that’s done.) And I may then expand the theme and content and release it some months later as a “real book” at about 55,000 words.

The purpose of this blog isn’t to tell you my plans but rather to suggest a path you may consider if/when you are in the position I’m in now, with some good prose to sell—but either too much or too little of it to get much (or any) selling traction other than through Amazon Singles or (should it appear) a facsimile.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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