Contoocook author Alan Scribner turns to Amazon Kindle to self-publish his books

  • Contoocook author Alan Scribner jots down some notes at his desk. Scribner, a former prosecutor and defense attorney, has used Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing to publish a handful of books in the past several years. Courtesy of Amazon—

Monitor staff
Published: 8/1/2018 4:09:49 PM

Writing a book is hard enough work as it is – but trying to get it published? Unless you have a few years to wait and plenty of money to put up front, you can all but forget about it.

Unless, like Contoocook author Alan Scribner, you choose to publish yourself. In that case, getting published is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse and strokes of the keyboard.

Thanks to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, anyone can become a published author with minimal hassle and no cost. This is the route Scribner has gone the past several years, after initially going through the traditional publishing process and not having much luck.

“My first book I wrote with a friend who’s professor emeritus at St. Paul’s School,” Scribner said in July. “We decided we were going to write about Seneca, about retirement, old age and death. So we wrote this book and sent it to a variety of university presses. They started to take a long time. For one reason or another, they didn’t publish it, and we just got annoyed at the constant delays and waiting.”

At this point, Scribner was frustrated but didn’t want to just give up, letting all his writing go to waste. He started looking into other options.

“We knew at the time that the whole publishing world was changing, and why should we wait on these committees and people when we knew it was a very interesting book we had and we wanted to publish it? So we went to independent self-publishing.”

That’s when he discovered Kindle Direct Publishing, which allows anyone to publish their own work at no charge to them – parent company Amazon just gets a cut of all sales.

Scribner admits that he isn’t doing this to make a career out of it. He spent 40 years working as a prosecutor and then a defense attorney in New York City, so he’s already had a long and fulfilling career. Now back in his hometown of Contoocook, he just likes to write, and he likes the idea of others being able to read his work, too. But at his age, he said, he can’t be bothered to go through all the trouble and the time it takes to work with a traditional, big-name publisher.

“The certainty of publication and the speed of publication is extremely valuable,” Scribner said. “So we did that, and it just worked out beautifully.”

So beautifully, in fact, that Scribner decided to keep going. After having success with his debut, Anni Ultimi: A Roman Stoic Guide to Retirement, Old Age and Death, he has since published three more novels through KDP, with another in the works now. With his expertise in the legal field combined with his love of ancient Rome, he’s written several crime mysteries set in ancient times, and he’s had great experiences working with KDP.

“You have control over the content,” he said. “No one’s telling you to put this in, put that in. And you have control of your time – no one’s telling you, ‘you have to go on book tours.’ You just get it published, period.”

It also doesn’t hurt that Amazon is basically the largest retailer in the history of the universe – it certainly attracts more buyers than local bookstores these days, for better or worse.

“With Amazon you get worldwide distribution – it’s the biggest bookstore in the world. I sell about 20 percent of my sales in England and Europe,” he said. “I have sales in India, Japan, Europe, and I just sit here in New Hampshire – I don’t do a damn thing.”

Jessica Chromy, Amazon’s liaison between authors and the press, explained how simple the process is for authors.

“Authors log in, create an account and upload their content,” she said. “It’s available within 24 hours on Amazon.”

And that’s it.

Amazon also helps potential buyers find new works by unknown authors. You know how when you search for or buy something on Amazon there’s always other items it suggests you check out? That’s where a lot of KDP books get found. For instance, someone browsing for novels set in ancient Rome may get a suggestion to check out Scribner’s Marcus Aurelius Betrayed or The Return of Spartacus.

Scribner never got into writing to make money, but he’s been fortunate enough to see some results in that department nonetheless.

“It’s worked out very nicely for me,” he said. “It’s not six figures, but it’s high five,” he said of his total income from writing since 2011. He sees that money as gravy more than anything else.

“I’m not that interested at this point in my life in money or fame or any of those things. What’s necessary is authors have to have an audience to some degree. You need some feedback. Fortunately for me, my books sell very well.”

To find his work, just search for Alan Scribner on Amazon and it will take you to his author page.

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