Will the New Amazon
the Nature of Publishing? Will the new Amazon Shorts feature change the nature of publishing? Francis Hamit thinks so. Hamit, a journalist who began experimenting with electronic publishing and distribution of his previously published magazine articles two years ago, when he set up Francis Hamit Electronic Publishing, has embraced the Amazon.com short literature program as the best way to promote his fiction. He is one of several authors who is using Amazon Shorts to serialize a novel.
“Didn’t that guy, Dickens, get started this way?” Hamit asked. Print magazines no longer regularly publish serialized novels or long fiction such as novellas. Amazon Shorts is reviving these forms at 49 cents per copy: a real deal for readers, who can make their own custom anthologies.
“The Shenandoah Spy”, Hamit’s novel about the early career of Belle Boyd, the teen-aged girl who became a spy for the Confederate Army, , is now appearing as a serial online at the Amazon Shorts page started for short literary works last year by Amazon.com. The first two parts are available now and, like all Amazon Shorts, are at the bargain price of 49 cents each. There will be 14 parts in all, with each new part appearing three to four weeks after the previous one.
“Belle Boyd is one of the most significant historical figures for the women in today’s U.S. military,” said Francis Hamit, “Because she had the courage to break new ground and to involve herself in a fight that she saw as the defense of her country. That she was tragically on the wrong side and mistaken in many of her beliefs does not lessen her courage and accomplishments. This is a quintessential American story that should be told. Belle was a nurse and a courier before she became active as a spy, and she played a significant role as a military intelligence secret agent throughout the war. As shown in this novel, she was one of the key intelligence operatives who contributed to the success of Stonewall Jackson’s famous Valley Campaign, and she displayed great courage at the Battle of Front Royal.”
Amazon Shorts publishes a wide variety of new material. Hamit is one of more than 60 authors in the program. He began with a novella, “Sunday in the Park with George”, which, at more than 24,000 words was too long for most conventional print magazines to even consider. It was not too long for Amazon Shorts. One Amazon.com official said:
Dan Slater of Amazon.com said, “Mr. Hamit’s story is a great addition to our expanding library of original short works. With programs like Amazon Shorts and Amazon Connect, authors and their publishers benefit from the unique relationship Amazon helps build with readers. Amazon Shorts provides a new opportunity for the delivery of short form work and, in doing so, a new way for authors to develop greater loyalty with existing readers as well as cultivate new fans.”
For Hamit, Amazon Shorts is also the perfect medium to distribute his Civil War fiction. “This is a very big narrative. From a research standpoint I have an embarrassment of riches, and what started out as a single novel will now be at least five. There are so many interesting characters and so many events which don’t seem to be well understood that using fiction to take a fresh look at the Civil War seems like a good thing to do. In a few years we’ll be observing the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Belle and women like her were, and still are, controversial. Their story should be told. Amazon Shorts allows me the flexibility to eventually add some non-fiction supporting material that would not work well in a novel. Amazon Shorts is a great new way for authors to build audiences for their work. It provides a very inexpensive way for readers to sample new work and to provide feedback through the rating and review mechanism there. I’m a buyer of Amazon Shorts myself. At 49 cents each, how can you go wrong?”
Hamit served in Military Intelligence himself during the Vietnam War, and began his career as a journalist as a reporter and photographer and then the editor of an Army newspaper in Frankfurt, Germany. He later graduated with an MFA in Fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He is also a playwright. His play about military veterans, “Memorial Day” was produced as a showcase at the Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond, California, in May, 2005. He is a long-time member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and the National Military Intelligence Association. He currently lives in California.