5 Ways to Improve Kindle for Authors
Updated: Sep 1, 2019
The Kindle has done so much, but it has only realized a small portion of its massive potential for interaction.
I’m a designer by profession, and I’d like to tell you how I would design a better Kindle experience for authors. Sometimes, you don’t want feedback. You want to write for yourself, and yourself only, because you have a story trapped within you inhabiting a portion of your soul and you won’t be a complete person until you can expel it onto paper. Writing it down is cathartic, and anyone who has anything to say about it can go to hell, unless they see its genius.
On the other hand, often you write not only for yourself, but for your readers. Or you write solely for them, especially after you grow a loyal following. You want to tell the story that they want to read, the one that will surprise and delight them, and make them swear at you between chapters when you leave them hanging with an event that couldn’t possibly have just happened (oh, but it did – you made sure of that!).
Part of writing for your readers is having a dialog with them so you can improve your craft. It shouldn’t be a one-way street. Blogs are great for this, but you’re not capturing some of the most valuable feedback: feedback about how your readers are reading, and exactly how they’re reacting to your book as they read it.
Here are 5 ways the Amazon Kindle can give authors insight into how readers are experiencing their books:
1. See which pages have the most friction
Kindle could record the pages where readers put your book down (the reader turns the Kindle off or switches to a new book). And the longer it takes for the reader to return and move on, the higher the friction. Then authors could see what points in the book are giving readers the most trouble.
2. See where readers stop permanently
Likewise, Kindle could make note of the furthest each reader has reached in your book and provide data on these stopping points. Has 18% of your readership dropped your novel on that page where your main character denies the love of her life? Or do they quit in the middle of a long flashback you thought was great? That’s worth knowing about.
3. Let readers mark typos
No books are immune from typos. But now it should be fast and simple to eradicate them. Kindle should let readers mark a word or phrase as a typo, then provide the author with these segments. Then the author should be able to correct them on the spot and push those corrections seamlesslyto readers without needing to republish the entire book or require the reader to go out of their way to download an update. It could be so easy! After a few weeks, your novel would be typo-free.
4. Let readers send the author notes about specific passages
If a reader highlights one of my passages, I want to know why. I’d love to peek inside their head at that moment. Why not let us enable a feature which allows readers to type a note to the author about passages they highlight and then have those sent to us by Amazon? And how amazing would it be to then be able to write back to the reader and have that show up with their highlighted passage under their comment? Of course, you’d want an option to not let the reader see your comment until after they’d finished your novel (so they don’t get wrapped up in what you say, and to encourage them to finish!).
5. See how many times people have read your book!
Amazon: please show us a total tally, plus data on the most times it’s been read by single readers! Wouldn’t you love to know that 20K unique readers have read your novel a total of 23K times, with the top readers having re-read your book 6 times?
And as a bonus:
Author’s Commentary. Let us speak directly to our readers as they read. Let us add comments to our novel for our readership to enjoy if they decide to turn them on – exactly like a director’s commentary on films.
If I want to do any of this right now, I need to get a hard copy of one of my novels, give it to a reader, ask them to make notes in it and mark if & where they stop reading, and then take it back later on. Or I need to borrow their Kindle so I can download their notes file. This doesn't scale!
YouTube, on the other hand, gives content creators amazing tools to understand how people consume their media.
The Kindle should be able to do this stuff.
Amazon: it is time for Kindle Analytics. Bring us to the future. Empower us. Again.