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Publishing and Promoting > Okay; is Kindle Unlimited Good or Bad for the author?

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message 1: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal I have a keen interest in the debate because I recently withdrew all of my books from Amazon in protest at KU and the effect on my business plan. But how do you view it - perhaps as strongly as me or am I missing the point?


message 2: by A. (last edited Nov 28, 2014 12:18AM) (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments Just a wee comment. The mere existence of something does not make it dangerous. How many Amazonians are actually using it? Do we have any figures? After its debut last July in the US, how many Kindle Unlimited subscribers are out there? Companies keep performing experiments to improve their business goals, how many of them end in failure? Could KU be one of them?


message 3: by Ken (last edited Nov 26, 2014 05:24AM) (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 347 comments Payouts have been dropping since the program launched, now down to much less than selling the same book at $2.99. Still, borrowers seem to be a different demographic from buyers.

The question is whether borrows at $1.33 (or whatever it drops to next month) would translate to sales if the book were not available to borrow. I don't think anyone know the answer as yet. For now, I'm sticking with it since I've had a significant increase in borrows each month without a big drop in sales.


message 4: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Gebbie Personally I think it is a good thing. I am getting increasing borrows each month and have seen no drop off in sales. Most of my books are for sale at $2.99 and a few at $0.99 so I win on some lose on others but lets face it the royalty is way more than we would get with a traditionally published book and as someone else said would all borrows be sales? Somehow I doubt it.

IMHO Amazon are being very fair on this and of course they need to be if a lot of authors drop out then people will cancel their monthly membership.


message 5: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Bielawski (booksbeck) | 50 comments Alp wrote: "I have a keen interest in the debate because I recently withdrew all of my books from Amazon in protest at KU and the effect on my business plan. But how do you view it - perhaps as strongly as me ..."
Infact my experience was the opposite. I only had one book enrolled and the other 4 available everywhere. When KU came out I got a load of borrows on that one book and was making over double on borrows as on sales. So I pulled all my books from other channels (where I was selling single digits monthly) and enrolled them in KDP select to try to cash in. So far, sales on those books (which were previously on amazon as well) have increased slightly and a few lends. It always takes a while to build momentum on Amazon. I'm hoping to get more lends and sales on all titles but only time will tell.


message 6: by C.P. (last edited Nov 27, 2014 06:59AM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 199 comments I heavily revised two novels that I hadn't originally considered for publication and enrolled them in KDP Select as a test. I have had good sales/borrows on those titles, which I priced at $2.99. About half and half borrows and sales. So I'm planning to keep them in KDP Select for the present but not to add my other three books.

Whether the KDP Select books are driving sales of other titles (my original goal for them) is less clear. They may be, but I don't have sufficient information.

My concern is rather for the long-term effects of KU. If people are paying $10/month and have tens or hundreds of thousands of titles available to them, doesn't that subtly disadvantage authors who do not enroll in the program? Will people who are paying for the subscription also buy books? And if they don't, doesn't that push authors to enroll in KDP Select, which benefits them primarily if they set their prices low? That in turn increases the already considerable power of Amazon at the expense of other booksellers.

But I agree with Ken that it's too soon to tell. The major question is how many people are paying for the subscription after their free trial is up, and I don't think Amazon has released those numbers. So for the moment, I remain cautiously optimistic.


message 7: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal C.P. wrote: "I heavily revised two novels that I hadn't originally considered for publication and enrolled them in KDP Select as a test. I have had good sales/borrows on those titles, which I priced at $2.99. A..."

It's a good point about the numbers of people who pay once the free trial has ended - but I can't see Amazon allowing this to fail given the press. One of my chief gripes is the fact that an author would get paid the same regardless of length of story.


message 8: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal Caroline wrote: "Personally I think it is a good thing. I am getting increasing borrows each month and have seen no drop off in sales. Most of my books are for sale at $2.99 and a few at $0.99 so I win on some lose..."

Not really fair if I get the same payout for my 800 pager vs someone else's 50 pager ...


message 9: by A. (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments This information could be useful for this discussion:

Kindle Unlimited and the only Amazon numbers we know for sure (November 16, 2014)

also

Amazon Now Bundling Kindle Unlimited With New Kindles, Fire Tablets (November 25, 2014)


message 10: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal A. wrote: "This information could be useful for this discussion:Kindle Unlimited and the only Amazon numbers we know for sure (November 16, 2014)
alsoAmazon Now Bundling Kindle Unlimited With New Kindles, Fir..."


Thank you ...


message 13: by Paul (last edited Dec 08, 2014 01:33AM) (new)

Paul (pbuzz) | 95 comments Alp wrote: "Caroline wrote: "Personally I think it is a good thing. I am getting increasing borrows each month and have seen no drop off in sales. Most of my books are for sale at $2.99 and a few at $0.99 so I..."

Funny you should say that, a friend of mine published a book - more of a critique than a book. Anyway, that book is only about 50 pages, but the listed book - which amounted to more than one hundred in-depth research books and five years of study, which were absolutely needed for him to complete his works. I will point out that it was not a novel, but the actual time and work that went into it could well be regarded as being comparable. In empathy, that's just my opinion. :)


message 14: by T.H. (new)

T.H. Hernandez (thhernandez) | 113 comments C.P. wrote: "I heavily revised two novels that I hadn't originally considered for publication and enrolled them in KDP Select as a test. I have had good sales/borrows on those titles, which I priced at $2.99. A..."

This is an interesting question. While they may have tens of thousands of titles available, I imagine they probably don't read more than four books a month. That's one a week. I've considered joining KU myself as a reader, but haven't done it yet. If I do, I can honestly say the reason would be to save money. Instead of paying $0.99 or $1.99 for BookBub deals, I know I can read them for free through KU. But I still can't read more than one or two books a week, so it's unlikely I'd continue to buy books.

As an author, when my ebook went on sale, I had modest first day release sales followed by steady sales in the following weeks. But when my paperback finally went up, it those numbers eclipsed the ebook. So it seems that paperback readers still want to buy actual physical books even though the price is three times as much. I'm thinking there are different demographics the same way that there are different demographics in play for KU vs. ebook buyers.


message 15: by A. (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments More non-positive reactions:

KU Crushed My Sales


message 16: by Joe (last edited Dec 05, 2014 08:52AM) (new)

Joe Gersbeck (1970sbaseball) | 2 comments I feel like if your book is 'timeless' (ie not a book on the November mid-term elections that pubs in September) its worth trying to sell your book the traditional way first, then once it seems to have lost significant sales momentum, shift to KU in order to gain more fans and readers, esp if you have a next book coming out soon thereafter.


message 17: by Joe (last edited Dec 05, 2014 08:51AM) (new)

Joe Gersbeck (1970sbaseball) | 2 comments I've also been hesitant to join KDP Unlimited due to its exclusivity - I want to sell my books from my website and social media through other retailers like B&N, apple, smashwords, ect. But now 6 weeks after my release I see 95% of my sales have been through KDP, even though I promote all retailers equally. I think the average reader trusts Amazon so much more, and regardless of what I've read about Smashwords, I don't think anyone except book authors know it exists.


message 18: by June (new)

June Ahern (juneahern) | 78 comments I support Smashwords because some readers just don't Kindle. But my sales were near nil and I didn't like the way they listed by star reviews. KDP has way outsold, monthly my books sell, on Amazon. I too didn't like the exclusivity but it has paid off more than other sites.


message 19: by A. (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments More comments on KU side effects:

Kindle Needs A “Subscribe To Author” Button

The mass-scale-writing ruminations are really shocking (at least for me).


message 20: by A.R. (new)

A.R. Bredenberg (aroyking) A. wrote: "More comments on KU side effects:Kindle Needs A “Subscribe To Author” Button

Thanks for linking to that TechCrunch article. Voices some criticisms of KU that I think most of us have heard before, but that suggestion of a "Subscribe to Author" button on Amazon is great!

ARK


message 21: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal Joe wrote: "I've also been hesitant to join KDP Unlimited due to its exclusivity - I want to sell my books from my website and social media through other retailers like B&N, apple, smashwords, ect. But now 6 ..."

It's not a trust issue it is a convenience issue - having just completed a survey which revealed that the top rated feature of Amazon that users enjoyed the most was 'buy now with one-click' - no one wanted to side load as you do with Smashwords.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

The downside of selling books on your own website is that you have to pay sales tax on the income and you may also have to get a local business license. Some states and cities are getting pretty good at tracking down those who do not pay sales tax. They get your names from the Federal tax filings as having self employed income.

I've been to an audit and don't want these problems, so I have no problem letting Amazon do all the admin stuff for me.


message 23: by S. (new)

S. Aksah | 100 comments I think best to look at the situation objectively and adjust your strategy accordingly. I.e you could leave your low priced book wz unlimited and pull out the higher priced one.


message 24: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Amato (authorcarmenamato) | 73 comments I have been publishing exclusively on Amazon and KDP Select and was doing quite well u till Unlimited came along. Sales plummeted in no uncertain terms. Will expand my distribution and marketing efforts in 2015 to recapture momentum.


message 25: by A. (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments A very extensive analysis of the KU effect:

Is the honeymoon over? KU comes between Amazon and its self-publishers

Plenty of data here!


message 26: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 288 comments A., thank you for this link. Fascinating.


message 27: by A. (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments Anna wrote: "A., thank you for this link. Fascinating."

You are welcome, Anna. I fully agree!


message 28: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal I think December and January are the make or break months for KU - so I plan to wait until after January to decide what to do with my titles. I am very happy with Smashwords, I have to say.

I see Smashwords is pegged just beneath KDP on the Publishing Services Index, so another bad month for KDP and perhaps the tide will really turn and Smashwords will takes over as the provider of choice and then perhaps we will see some common sense return to Amazon - I saw that the head of publishing left her job yesterday ...


message 29: by Jack (new)

Jack Knapp | 778 comments Mod
I was an early fan of the KU program; I'm now pulling my books off Select status (which also takes them out of the KU program) as fast as they complete the three-month period I agreed to. Two are off now, one goes off this Friday.
My sales, few as they were, plummeted after KU. I promoted a book last month, sales jumped and more than made back the promotional fee, and there were few KU borrows associated with it. Ancillary sales also went up considerably.
Meanwhile, the best thing Amz had going was the free promotional tools, the freebie giveaway (which is killing sales for the rest of us) and the countdown deals. As for the latter, those have stopped working.
But wait, there's more!
Royalties on KU borrows dropped by almost half last month.
I put it all together and decided that the best solution for me was to spread out my distributions. I may try publishing through Smashwords, simply because it's larger than D2D; I've been happy with D2D, but I wish they had some way of promoting books, an email service such as what ENT, Bookbub, Fussy Librarian and similar companies do.
Whether my new book ever appears on the Select list is questionable at this point. A lot of emailers won't take books unless they've gotten at least ten reviews, positive ones at that, so somehow I'll need to work through that bottleneck.
But as for KU, it's probably OK for readers, I don't recommend it for authors.


message 30: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 288 comments I don't think the Countdown Deals have stopped working, not for my books anyway. I admit that they work patchily but they definitely increase visibility. To make it into the genre top 100 charts really helps. I'm not sure they work as well as they used to though.

I'm experimenting with whether the KCD works without actually paying for ads and just letting the mighty Zon do the pushing and Friends tweeting for me. I can't tell you the results of versus a medium sized budget for advertising. Medium size? $100. I'll have to wait until January to compare. Even then, the difference between an August KCD and a post Christmas one may be difficult to assess correctly.

Bit muddly this post, sorry. In a hurry as usual.


message 32: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal A. wrote: "More KU worldwide:Kindle Unlimited Launches in France, BrazilAmazon lance «Kindle Unlimited» en FranceKindle Unlimited, o “Netflix para livros”, chega ao Brasil com 700.000 e-books no catálogo"

Which suggests the actions of a dinosaur who rolled their eyes at the asteroid report ...


message 34: by Jack (new)

Jack Knapp | 778 comments Mod
I'm still subscribed to KU and I use it. There ARE good books that pop up and borrowing them through KU is cheaper than buying. As a writer, I agree: the payoff isn't great. As a reader, it gives me the freedom to read a book by a new author and if it's not interesting, return it.
If the payoff was better, less for AMZ and more for writers, that would be different.
I wonder if AMZ knows they're offending the people who produce what they sell?
But maybe they don't care; AMZ is a merchandiser, prepared to sell absolutely anything at a markup. Music, books, cameras...


message 35: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal Jack wrote: "I'm still subscribed to KU and I use it. There ARE good books that pop up and borrowing them through KU is cheaper than buying. As a writer, I agree: the payoff isn't great. As a reader, it gives m..."

Amazon only cares about Amazon ...


message 37: by Paul (new)

Paul (pbuzz) | 95 comments I found this link that may have some interest.

https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&...


message 38: by A. (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments Paul wrote: "I found this link that may have some interest.

https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&......"


Thanks. The post:

Amazon, Macmillan make peace over book pricing

shows that agreements are being completed but how are these agreements going to impact the issue of KU and authors? Are trad publishers going to place more of their own books under the KU umbrella?


message 39: by A. (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments KU appears to be working fine (in theory) for Amazon:

Kindle Unlimited payout to authors rises to $1.40 in November

but:

"None of the Big Five traditional publishers takes part in Kindle Unlimited, while the trad firms that do make their books available are paid for a borrow on the same basis as a sale."


message 43: by P.S. (new)

P.S. Winn (goodreadscompswinn) | 9 comments I am still unsure if my payments are right through the KU program, when I check I only see payments for actual bought books. anyone else see this?


message 44: by P.S. (new)

P.S. Winn (goodreadscompswinn) | 9 comments I was using it to buy books but have since quit the program and feel when people advertise the books as free it is not true, readers still pay the 10 dollars to be in KU. I have 21 books, that makes them almost .50 each if a reader got all 21.


message 45: by Marian (new)

Marian Schwartz | 243 comments There was an interesting article in The New York Times about KU and its affect on indie authors. Below is the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/tec...


message 46: by A. (new)

A. Merlocks | 112 comments Marian wrote: "There was an interesting article in The New York Times about KU and its affect on indie authors. Below is the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/tec......"


Yes, it is the one in message 43.


message 47: by Marian (new)

Marian Schwartz | 243 comments Sorry, I didn't see it.


message 49: by Anne (last edited Dec 30, 2014 05:04AM) (new)

Anne Hagan (anne_hagan) | 286 comments A. wrote: "More reactions to KU:What The Hell’s Happening With Kindle Unlimited?

A direct quote from the article: " drop exclusivity for Kindle Unlimited. Though that might dilute the payouts further, I dunno — at the very least, it’ll ensure that by signing on exclusively with Amazon, a self-published author isn’t also having to pay in for the not-actually-a-privilege."

That's a very valid point. As a brand new author, I'm selling several books a day via KU. It's a boon to me but then, I've never known the heydays of having several people a day pay full price ($2.99) for my book. That said, I'm not blind.

While KU is great for customers, it's extremely harmful to authors who have pledged exclusivity to Amazon in exchange for exposure. Those authors affected are seeing huge income drops unless they adapt to producing shorter works and crank them out much more quickly. There seem to be two theories on that business model:

1. Garbage in, garbage out. A glut of short works of fiction brings down the whole market.

or

2. Consumers demand shorter works that can be read in less time when it comes to ebooks. This was actually disproved in a Smashwords study conducted in 2013 for fiction authors: http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/05/ne... (slides 45-50 of the PowerPoint).

To make more money under the KU model, I see authors cutting their fiction works to pieces. While it may produce more KU downloads in the short term it will produce less and less sales to non-KU customers and, eventually, the author will run out of gas. Serial writing is hard, hard work.

There's no easy answer here. If you have a lot of books, it may be better to give up exclusivity for, at least, most of them and allow yourself to sell on other platforms. If your name isn't well known yet - like mine - KU represents an avenue to get name recognition that requires little marketing effort on the authors part. Less time spent marketing means more time for writing.

Right now, I personally am a long way from being able to leave behind the revenue that KU represents. When I have at least a couple of more titles on the market, that may be a possibility. I'm sure that I'm not alone.


message 50: by Jack (last edited Dec 30, 2014 05:27AM) (new)

Jack Knapp | 778 comments Mod
You gain little name recognition for Kindle exclusivity. At most, someone will try your book free through KU and if they like it, they'll look at others. Assuming you have others there for them to buy, but if they're also KU listed, you won't make much from the borrows.
The difficult thing to accept is that promotion and eventual name recognition is YOUR responsibility. That's why promotion companies are springing up like weeds. Pay them a small amount (in at least one case, not small at all) and they'll send your book in a package of others they email daily. Then you're one of a few; if you've done your job well, your title, blurb, and cover will attract that skimming eye before the email is dumped.
FWIW, I'm currently researching the effectiveness of several such emailers. Perhaps I'll have a system of 'stars' to rate advertisers by the end of the year, based on cost and effectiveness.
A word of warning: spending a lot of money to promote something that's not as good as you think is a good way to waste money.
A professional editor that can help you turn your rough draft into a salable manuscript, a cover artist, someone who can advise you on the blurb, an active blog presence plus good home pages on FB, GR, and Amazon, all of these are helpful. They're also expensive.
But even then, your book is one of hundreds that Amazon and others put up on their servers every day. At the end of the year, you're one of three million titles and probably a million authors.
Only you can decide if the investment's worth it.
Now the good news: if you're skilful enough to do some of that expensive work for yourself, you can cut your monetary investment. You'll invest the time, but eventually you can fund your advertising budget from income you've earned already.
That's what I'm doing now.
If you want to know what I've discovered about emailer companies, send me a message through GR.


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