But apparently it's not so simple. Which books do I download? Why, those I know about beforehand, of course: you can't exactly browse for books on Amazon. So those books that will sell well via Amazon, either in print or electronic form, are those which have had good marketing. And since Kindle books are priced so low, you need to sell a lot to make any substantial profit - which must mean that ebooks need particularly aggressive marketing.
And marketing a book is really hard and time-consuming work. I've heard so many non-writers advising authors having difficulty getting published to do it themselves with ebooks. Of course, they're thinking of Amanda Hocking, who has become a millionaire through her self-published young adult vampire ebooks, but it's interesting to learn in a recent Guardian article that she 'became so burned out by the stress of solo publishing' that she has now turned to a traditional publisher, and to hear what she herself has to say on the matter. I read elsewhere that she wants to be a writer again, the implication being that being a sole publisher left her no time to write, and The Guardian reports:
She also resents how her abrupt success has been interpreted as a sign that digital self-publishing is a new way to get rich quick. Sure, Hocking has got rich, quickly. But what about the nine years before she began posting her books when she wrote 17 novels and had every one rejected? And what about the hours and hours that she's spent since April 2010 dealing with technical glitches on Kindle, creating her own book covers, editing her own copy, writing a blog, going on Twitter and Facebook to spread the word, responding to emails and tweets from her army of readers? Just the editing process alone has been a source of deep frustration, because although she has employed own freelance editors and invited her readers to alert her to spelling and grammatical errors, she thinks her ebooks are riddled with mistakes. "It drove me nuts, because I tried really hard to get things right and I just couldn't. It's exhausting, and hard to do. And it starts to wear on you emotionally. I know that sounds weird and whiny, but it's true."
* Edited in: In the few days since I wrote this post, Michael Stewart's Not-the-Booker-winning King Crow has become available on Kindle. I've also read it since, and recommend it - vivid and moving (and very cleverly written).