Can Kindle Singles replace clips for journalists?

by Nicole Martinelli
Oct 30, 2018 in Miscellaneous

Published articles are a rite of passage for any aspiring journalist, but those clips might be better self-published -- possibly as a Kindle Single.

Victoria Turk, who just graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, published a long-form journalism piece as a short book that sells for US$0.99 on Amazon's web platform.

Titled "The Damage Done," her 29-page book tells the story of one woman's struggles with mental illness and drug abuse that a reviewer called "short but informative."

Singles first made headlines in the journalism world in April 2011 with bestseller "Three Cups of Deceit - How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way," Jon Krakauer's expose of Mortenson's work in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite the name, Kindle Direct Publishing works with texts ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 words for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, BlackBerry and Android devices. Languages currently available include English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

In an uber-competitive journalism job market, showing some entrepreneurial spirit can only be a good thing. Here's what Turk told IJNet about the project.

IJNet: Did you consider shopping it as a regular freelance piece?

Victoria Turk: When I started reporting the story, I didn't really know where it would best fit. But as I continued to work on it, the story quickly evolved and grew in length.  It was soon clear that Kindle Singles would be the perfect place for it as I could publish it there in its entirety and at its natural length.  If I were to have pitched it to a magazine, for example, I would probably have had to cut a lot of words. (It runs at around 12,000).  

IJNet: How long did it take to put it together? 

VT: I started researching the story around October last year and it was published at the end of March.  I was working on other things throughout that period as well, but this was my biggest project.  I reported it regularly and went through several drafts.  As for the formatting, Kindle Singles took care of that - they do all of the technical work to make stories fit the format.

IJNet: Would you work with a Single again? If so, what would you do differently the next time?

VT: I would definitely work with a Single again if I found the right story.  It was a great experience; my editor was fantastic and I enjoyed having a lot of control over the finished product.  I would make no major changes, only next time I would probably set out with the idea of writing a Single and so would have a clearer concept of the finished version when I started reporting.  I don't think every story would work as a Single, but many benefit greatly from the freedom this medium offers...

If you're curious about the process of making a Kindle Single, check out this step-by-step article by journalist Larry Dignan.

Image: the cover of Turk's book.