The best kept secret — Amazon Children’s Publishing

Posted on December 12, 2012

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I have been an Amazon Vine Reviewer since 2008. Every other week I receive an email featuring dozens of free products — from books of every genre to iPhone covers to toys to dog treats. Amazing stuff – really! I get to pick two items shipped free. All I have to do is review them. The only downside of this Vine arrangement is supplies are limited. About half the time, the products I choose first are already gone. Even so, I feel lucky to be a Vine Reviewer. Last month my catalog choices were slim. The toys were all gone, only books left, and few of those. I chose these two new picture books —

firefighters

va va vroomWhen they arrived I discovered they are both published by Amazon Children’s Publishing. Firefighters! is a paperback (also in board book, and Kindle edition – of course). 1-2-3 Va-Va-Wroom! is a hardcover (also in Kindle edition). Rhyming text and action-packed, colorful illustrations make these books a hit with my almost 4-year old grandson. I read and review lots of picture books. My grandson enjoys these books every bit as much as he enjoys two books I recently reviewed, Boot and Shoe (Simon & Schuster) and Wumbers (Chronicle) — if not more.

I knew Amazon had gotten into the publishing business in 2009. But I thought they were publishing nonfiction and adult genre fiction. I didn’t know Amazon had a children’s publishing division. Out of curiosity, I googled “amazon children’s publishing.” The first thing I learned is that Amazon Children’s Publishing publishes “Quality books for young readers of all ages, from toddlers to teens.” Click on the link to see the broad — though somewhat still limited — selection of books for young readers. Quite impressive.

As it happens, I have three picture book manuscripts I think might be a good fit for Amazon Children’s Publishing. But I couldn’t find any submission guidelines at their website. I did find an email address and sent a request for submission guidelines. As of this writing I haven’t heard back. I will post an update here, if and when I do receive those guidelines.

I googled “amazon children’s publishing submission guidelines.” All I could find was a blog post from author/editor Deborah Halverson at DearEditor.com: Submitting to Amazon Children’s Publishing:

“Tim Ditlow, Associate Publisher of Amazon Children’s Publishing, spoke about his months-old program at the 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference last week. While official submission guidelines are still being created, he said ACP is indeed accepting unsolicited submissions. For now, send a query email to acp-submit@amazon.com. Attach your full picture book ms or the first 3 chapters of your MG/YA fiction as pdfs or Word documents. There’s no time frame for responses yet.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have no beef with Amazon. They sell my books and they give me free stuff. I own a Kindle and I buy lots more books and stuff at their website and partner sites. We have a symbiotic relationship. But Amazon is notorious for their lack of communication. It’s not always easy to get an answer to your question. In one way or another we have all experienced it. Everyone has an Amazon story. But in this case, with Amazon Publishing, one would think they might get hip to the whole communication thing – like, social networking. But there’s no “follow us on Twitter” or Facebook buttons on their website either. So apparently not.

That’s unfortunate because I also googled onto this article:  Amazon Struggles to Crack Publishing. As it turns out Amazon is finding out something we “indies” have learned about the publishing business –– distribution is a bitch.

Here’s a picture book concept – this little author mouse has a suggestion for the giant Amazon king of the jungle: Fix this distribution mess! If anyone can do it, the mighty Amazon can. In the end, they will set us all free from the tangled Ingram-Walmart-Target-B&N-Baker & Taylor web that’s keeping thousands of books out of stores and libraries – yours and mine included.

How about the rest of you “indies” out there? Do you have any advice for this struggling new indie publisher?

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