Friday, June 19, 2009

Kindle Experiments

Publishing for the Kindle would make for an interesting assignment in a writing class.
A Screenwriter Experiments With Kindle Publishing
Two years ago, Mr. August challenged convention by writing and directing “The Nines.” It was a convoluted experience in which the filmmaker, using his own house as a principal location, explored the life of a writer, based on himself, who both manipulated and was confronted by characters of his own creation.

Things have not gotten simpler.

Last month, Mr. August decided to try his luck with Amazon’s Kindle. For his debut, Mr. August chose a short story called “The Variant.” Without giving too much away, it is a spy yarn about a man whose cover is blown by an encounter with an alternate version of himself.

Mr. August, who wrote it for possible inclusion in an anthology of work by well-known screenwriters, tested the story with about two dozen of the 6,000 or so people who follow him on Twitter. They persuaded him to change the first sentence, trim some paragraphs and shorten the title from “The Egyptian Variant.”

Mr. August then made a study of Kindle formatting, all of which he has described on his site, which offers a quick guide for do-it-yourself publishers with his own self-formatted story as a teaching tool. Once formatted, “The Variant” was offered to readers for 99 cents, either via or as a 25-page PDF file on

Mr. August also offered 13 pages free at But those will not get you enough plot points to understand how the hero plans to deal with his alternate self.

Readers who do not want to pay the 99 cents are asked to e-mail a message to Mr. August has promised to send the story free to anyone who can present a “coherent case” that it should be given without charge.

As of Friday, “The Variant” was ranked No. 69 on Amazon’s list of most popular Kindle offerings, right behind “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult.

“I’ve made about enough to buy four Kindles,” said Mr. August.

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