Author Topic: KU Crushed My Sales :(  (Read 144293 times)  

Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2014, 12:21:12 PM »
Sorry to hear this happened to you and I wish your son a speedy recovery.

Re: Subscribe to Author:

They do have that thing that lets you favorite an author and be alerted, but they don't push it all that hard. It'd be nice if, when they send the 'please review' email, they also suggested you fav the author if they liked the book.

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Offline C. Gockel

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2014, 12:24:40 PM »
Hi Ms. Ward,

First off, I'm so sorry about your son. There is nothing in the world as heartbreaking as a sick child. I hope that you can get the care you need for him somehow. I don't know where you live, but some states allow families of all income levels to receive financial assistance for chronically ill children.

On the business end of things, I'm not in KU and barely a midlister, but my sales took a huge hit when KU came out. To combat it I've priced my second in series at 99 cents. That has helped, but my earnings per download are definitely still less.

All the best for you and your child ~


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Offline B.A. Spangler

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2014, 12:25:43 PM »
I am so sorry to hear about your boy and the issues with insurance. We've had ongoing med issues in my family, but have been fortunate with health insurance. If I'm ever in a position to leave my day job, health insurance will change and that has me worried. So when you say that something is wrong with KU, I'm listening.

Were you exclusive, or receiving full royalty per borrow? If full rate, then something must be very wrong.
What if Amazon dropped the 10% read requirement, leaving non-exclusive and a per-borrow full royalty?

On the indie side, the non-exclusive and the 1.33 10% touch did not work and I pulled my series. I'm in the process of relaunching everywhere else -- thank you Draft2Digital.

I hope everything works out.
     

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2014, 12:26:50 PM »
yep, its been a disaster here as well, hopefully i can pick up third party traction i sacrificed.

Offline KMatthew

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #29 on: November 28, 2014, 12:30:31 PM »
KU will probably just fade away over the next few months as more and more writers abandon it.

That's highly unlikely. From what I've read, short story authors are still benefiting from KU immensely. Even as this thread condemns KU, there are others that praise it. Trust me, Amazon will have enough authors to keep it alive as long as the borrow rate doesn't dip down into obscurity. My hope is that when everyone who gets a new Kindle this Christmas sees that their favorite authors aren't enrolled in KU, they'll drop out of it as soon as their 6 month trial is over. Voracious indiscriminate readers and lovers of short stories will keep KU alive. And Amazon will keep it as part of Select unless readers start unenrolling in droves. They've really put the pressure on us and themselves this Christmas by offering that free 6 month trial with new Kindles. Those of us used to getting that huge 'Christmas bonus' every year probably won't see it this time around. And I'm thinking that they're going to see how many people actually drop their memberships before they make a business decision about royalties on borrows or whether or not to open KU to all authors, not just those in Select. Amazon does nothing without a reason. If the model isn't benefiting them financially, they'll change it. They could not care less about our profits though. We're just a cog in the money making machine.

Offline M M

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #30 on: November 28, 2014, 12:40:38 PM »
Totally agree with you, KMatthew.


Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #31 on: November 28, 2014, 12:42:53 PM »
That's highly unlikely. From what I've read, short story authors are still benefiting from KU immensely.

Well, yes, I make more from a KU borrow than a sale on most of my short stories.

But how long are readers going to pay KU subscriptions if they can only borrow short stories?

Offline Jill Nojack

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #32 on: November 28, 2014, 12:43:22 PM »
The subscription model for ebooks makes no sense, but Amazon are chasing after Scribd and the other subscription providers. The difference, as I see it, is that the 'pay authors the full amount' model like Scribd makes no sense for them, whereas the 'pay authors a discount rate' like KU makes no sense for us.

KU will probably just fade away over the next few months as more and more writers abandon it.

Interestingly enough, Scribd's CEO continues to say that Scribd has been profitable since the day it started its lending service.

http://www.strictlyvc.com/2014/02/21/scribd-ceo-trip-adler-books-froth-companys-next-round/

I like Scribd better as both a reader and an author. I can get a number of my favorite indies, but also get a huge selection of traditionally published books. I'm like a kid in a candy store. For me, just the nonfiction selection (history, primarily) is enough to lay down my money every month.

As an author, I went permafree just before KU and since I'd made a promise to stick with it for 90 days, I didn't freak out and put my books back in Select. I almost did, but I stuck the course. For me, that was absolutely the right choice. Although my sales aren't huge, my other channels now make more for me every month than Amazon did before going permafree.

If Scribd can compensate authors well and still make a profit, shouldn't Amazon be able to manage it, too?

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Offline Jac1106

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #33 on: November 28, 2014, 12:43:36 PM »
That's highly unlikely. From what I've read, short story authors are still benefiting from KU immensely. Even as this thread condemns KU, there are others that praise it. Trust me, Amazon will have enough authors to keep it alive as long as the borrow rate doesn't dip down into obscurity. My hope is that when everyone who gets a new Kindle this Christmas sees that their favorite authors aren't enrolled in KU, they'll drop out of it as soon as their 6 month trial is over. Voracious indiscriminate readers and lovers of short stories will keep KU alive. And Amazon will keep it as part of Select unless readers start unenrolling in droves. They've really put the pressure on us and themselves this Christmas by offering that free 6 month trial with new Kindles. Those of us used to getting that huge 'Christmas bonus' every year probably won't see it this time around. And I'm thinking that they're going to see how many people actually drop their memberships before they make a business decision about royalties on borrows or whether or not to open KU to all authors, not just those in Select. Amazon does nothing without a reason. If the model isn't benefiting them financially, they'll change it. They could not care less about our profits though. We're just a cog in the money making machine.

My thoughts exactly.

Offline Marian

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #34 on: November 28, 2014, 12:49:34 PM »
That's why I posted this info. I assumed I was the only one. I thought I was too stupid to make KU work, but both months I was an 'All Star' so something just doesn't work. Plus other heavy hitters starting talking, telling me a similar story. The model itself is flawed.

Thank you for coming out with this. My sales tanked big-time after KU came out. The "All Star" program is for Amazon's benefit, using best-selling authors like you to create an illusion that KU is filled with terrific novels. In other words, Amazon used you and hurt your books at the same time. It was a win-win for them.

My sincere wishes for your son's speedy recovery.
 

Offline delly_xo

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #35 on: November 28, 2014, 12:54:45 PM »
I think Amazon needs to put something in place to control for the 'short shorts' that have flooded the KU pot. Not fair that the 5K essay gets the same payout as  my 85K novel. People have figured out how to game KU with putting in very little effort, and it's the influx of short shorts.

While I can see the argument of it as a money making enterprise, it dilutes the quality of the experience for writers trying to genuinely sell and get the word out about their books and the readers too.

I believe if they had a word count minimum (novella length maybe), the pool wouldn't get so freaking diluted.
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Offline bobfrost

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #36 on: November 28, 2014, 12:57:11 PM »
KU -is- messed up, and there is a few BIG issues that are causing this.

1: Exclusivity. You lose all outside revenue when you go into KU, but worse yet, you lose quite a bit of your AMAZON royalties by going into it. People who might otherwise buy your work, snag it through KU. As an indie, it is becoming increasingly hard to get visibility and top-list chart space without being part of KU, and that means less sales even if you attempt to AVOID the program.

I would LOVE to see Amazon kill the exclusivity requirement. I think it's -really- awful that I have to sacrifice any chance at building a brand anywhere outside Amazon just to take part in this program.

2: TRANSPARENCY! I'm selling a product, Amazon is the very helpful middle-man in this venture, why do I have to wait until the 15th of the NEXT month to know what I'm going to be paid when someone purchases my product? And even then, I have to go calculate the figure myself, they don't even ANNOUNCE how much they are paying.

There's no floor, no guarantees, and not even a confidence-inspiring pattern. Right now, it's just DROP DROP DROP every month, and Amazon doesn't increase the KU Global Fund to reflect the clear increase in borrows we are seeing. Sure, they keep adding "bonus bucks" to the program (2.5 million extra last month), but November's KU fund? 3 million, again. Maybe they boost it again, maybe they don't, as it sits I'm TOTALLY at the mercy of Amazon to "do the right thing". If they don't, borrows become worth significantly less than 1$, and that is just fuel on the fire. If November's Global Fund were pegged at 6 million, I wouldn't be as upset here. I'd say "ok, they are working to stabilize things". That is NOT what I'm seeing.

That wouldn't work anywhere else, and it shouldn't fly here. We're giving up REAL sales and ALL of my other vendors to participate in this program, and we are being kept completely in the dark about what it is going to pay. It'd be like me re-selling Amazon services, and promising to pay Amazon "something" for their services, to be determined next month, on the 15th, completely at my own discretion. Amazon wouldn't sign up for that deal, and honestly, we shouldn't have to accept it either.

Is it working out slightly in the positive for me -right now-? I'd argue yes, in the short term I've made more money because of KU, but can I guarantee that will be the case even ONE month from now? Absolutely not. Amazon could -crush- me with nothing more than a poor KU payout rate, and the mechanism is in place to do it. All they would have to do is -leave- the KU Global Fund at 3 million and massive amounts of money I'm assuming I have made would totally evaporate.

I'm sorry to see that it has clobbered your sales HM. I don't even know what to say about that. It's awful, and I hope perhaps that by speaking out, you help nudge Amazon in a more positive direction on this whole thing.

Offline KMatthew

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #37 on: November 28, 2014, 12:59:05 PM »
But how long are readers going to pay KU subscriptions if they can only borrow short stories?
The people in it now who are borrowing mainly short stories aren't going to care, because that's what they're in it to read. The people who enrolled thinking they were going to get unlimited novels by their favorite authors are likely already out of it, not using it, or will be out of it whenever their term expires. I think those readers who have never tried KU before are still entitled to a 30 day free trial. By the end, they'll know whether KU is for them or not. The majority won't continue their subscription, but there will be some who stick around, and it will be those that find the current KU pool of authors appealing. Amazon is currently in the process of trying to draw people in. After Christmas, more people will be enrolled than ever before, and a percentage of them will keep their subscription.

KU is still relatively new, and Amazon is in the process of testing it. Things will change, but I can guarantee you that KU is not going anywhere.

As was already mentioned, hopefully they'll eventually establish fair royalties like the other subscription services. I made more this last month from Scribd than I did from Kobo.

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #38 on: November 28, 2014, 01:01:06 PM »
A decline in a writer's sales doesn't mean sales and borrows are disappearing into nothing. The non-sales for this writer become sales and borrows for someone else. Let's say just as deserving as the writer, who lost sales.

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #39 on: November 28, 2014, 01:02:34 PM »
If pulling out of KU = pulling out of Select, then Amazon would seem to be shooting itself in the foot. Having very popular authors who are exclusive to Amazon has got to be a motivation for people to choose the Kindle platform over its competitors. It seems to me that KU is jeopardizing Select.

Holly, thank you for sharing your experience. I hope your son is okay and that your sales rebound completely (plus some).




Offline delly_xo

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #40 on: November 28, 2014, 01:03:16 PM »
On the flipside we have folks like Yoda pulling in pretty decent sums of money due to KU and NOT flooding the pot with short shorts.

I'm still so new to this, but do we have a writer's guild/union? Something we can join where they advocate for indies with things like negotiating subscription based models or organizing healthcare options?
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Offline Marian

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #41 on: November 28, 2014, 01:06:34 PM »
Amazon does nothing without a reason. If the model isn't benefiting them financially, they'll change it. They could not care less about our profits though. We're just a cog in the money making machine.

Although we think of ourselves as creative people because we write books, Amazon thinks of us as suppliers of a product they sell. They're using the product we produce--books--as a lure to sell more Kindles, hoping the people who buy those Kindles and get the free six month subscription will become members of Prime, where they really make money. KU isn't about us: it's about Amazon. If we aren't careful and put our books elsewhere and promote them elsewhere, they will eventually have a monopoly on the ebook business.

Offline Jane_Dough

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #42 on: November 28, 2014, 01:14:19 PM »
this is very eye-opening.  And I love the subscribe-to-author idea.
Concur.

Offline delly_xo

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #43 on: November 28, 2014, 01:14:53 PM »
Although we think of ourselves as creative people because we write books, Amazon thinks of us as suppliers of a product they sell. They're using the product we produce--books--as a lure to sell more Kindles, hoping the people who buy those Kindles and get the free six month subscription will become members of Prime, where they really make money. KU isn't about us: it's about Amazon. If we aren't careful and put our books elsewhere and promote them elsewhere, they will eventually have a monopoly on the ebook business.

I don't really know about this. Remember, even though as writers they appear to dominate the marketplace, investors are losing interest in them and their stock has fallen by over 25% I think (don't quote me, but it's big). As writers, we should also look for opportunities in other marketplaces that have room for growth.

Basically, we need to treat our business like a business.

AMZN isn't going to up the pot because indie writers (whom they barely respond to anyway) are kicking up a storm. We're just a pond of minnows compared to what they've got going on. They've already ruined Barnes and Nobles. I think the future is distribution on multiple platforms in multiple markets - which means more work for us.
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Offline Tara Shuler

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #44 on: November 28, 2014, 01:17:38 PM »
I think Amazon needs to put something in place to control for the 'short shorts' that have flooded the KU pot. Not fair that the 5K essay gets the same payout as  my 85K novel. People have figured out how to game KU with putting in very little effort, and it's the influx of short shorts.

While I can see the argument of it as a money making enterprise, it dilutes the quality of the experience for writers trying to genuinely sell and get the word out about their books and the readers too.

I believe if they had a word count minimum (novella length maybe), the pool wouldn't get so freaking diluted.

Judging by the very large number of people who are gobbling up my shorts with KU, I'm guessing the subscribers might have something different to say about it. My readers are loving them, and if Amazon does anything to drive away those of us who are filling that market, they'd probably lose quite a few subscribers.

Amazon wants to provide what its buyers and subscribers want, not what writers want.

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Offline Mark E. Cooper

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #45 on: November 28, 2014, 01:23:08 PM »
Ok, some of you already know, but I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. Thats counting borrows and bonuses.  :o My sales dropped like a stone. The number of borrows was higher than sales. They didn't compliment each other, as expected.

Taking a huge ass pay cut while I'm still working my butt off, well that's not ok. And KU effected my whole list, not just KU titles. :( At the time of enrollment I had about 60 titles total.

I planned on giving it 90 days, but I have a kid in the hospital for long term care and I noticed my spending was going to exceed my income-by a lot. I couldn't wait and watch thing plummet further. I pulled my books. That was on Nov 1,  & since then my net revenue has gone up. I'm now at 50% of where I was pre-KU. During the time I was in KU, I had 2 new releases. Neither preformed vastly different than before. They actually earned far less (including borrows).

This model needs to be changed for it to work. Authors shouldn't be paid lottery style. For this system to work we need a flat rate for borrows, borrowed or not borrowed (not this 10% crap), and it needs to be win win for the reader AND the writer. <-- That is the crux of the matter.

Id like to see Amazon create something new, something better instead of falling in step with Scribd and Oyster.

Example: subscribe to an AUTHOR. Easy, clear. When Author X has a new book it automatically gets sent to your kindle, & the card provided is charged.

As a reader, I'd want that. As a writer, I'd want that.

Amazon, stop following other companies and break the mold.

Ok, I'm done ranting. Back to writing.

I've mentioned this elsewhere, Holly, but I know where you're coming from. My Amazon sales are 40% of pre-KU numbers. The recent BB has increased this month's royalty by around $1000 but even with that I am down around 50%. The BB is obviously short term so next month I assume the 60% drop will be back as my new normal. Thank God for the other channels is all I can say. Without them, I might have needed a (cough cough) real job again!

EDIT: KU also hammered me into the ground regarding my audio sales. I'm moving less than a third of the audio books compared with Pre-KU sales, AND that is with 8 books out (pre-KU I had 4) So I doubled the number of titles available in audio, and yet sell many less. I blame and algo change just before KU launched causing less visibility.

Only 2 of 12 titles are in Select. I think they'll come out in Jan.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 01:33:01 PM by Mark E. Cooper »

Offline delly_xo

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #46 on: November 28, 2014, 01:29:50 PM »
Judging by the very large number of people who are gobbling up my shorts with KU, I'm guessing the subscribers might have something different to say about it. My readers are loving them, and if Amazon does anything to drive away those of us who are filling that market, they'd probably lose quite a few subscribers.

Amazon wants to provide what its buyers and subscribers want, not what writers want.

Honestly, they haven't established long term sustainability of the program in order for us to clearly say that's what buyers and subscribers want. I'm especially suspect after hearing they're now giving away free six month subscriptions on newly purchased kindles. If the program is highly popular, why give away what you can get paid for?

I'm not knocking short shorts but I don't think the current model makes sense from a business standpoint for people who contribute...

And as authors start leaving the program, subscribers will too.

They don't publish numbers of subscribers, participating authors or anything other than the number of titles available and the amount of the pot for the month.

Methinks some of us are getting fleeced.
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Offline Chrissy

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #47 on: November 28, 2014, 01:34:27 PM »
Honestly, they haven't established long term sustainability of the program in order for us to clearly say that's what buyers and subscribers want. I'm especially suspect after hearing they're now giving away free six month subscriptions on newly purchased kindles. If the program is highly popular, why give away what you can get paid for?

I'm not knocking short shorts but I don't think the current model makes sense from a business standpoint for people who contribute...

And as authors start leaving the program, subscribers will too.

They don't publish numbers of subscribers, participating authors or anything other than the number of titles available and the amount of the pot for the month.

Methinks some of us are getting fleeced.

Perhaps KU subscriptions are like a gateway drug.  Once you subscribe to KU, you're tempted to purchase other stuff, not necessarily books.

And since, Amazon wants to sell lots of other stuff.... it works for them. Just not so much for authors, sometimes. :)

Offline Maia Sepp

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #48 on: November 28, 2014, 01:42:54 PM »
Holly, I always look forward to your helpful and insightful posts, and I just wanted to thank you for that. I'm sorry to hear about your son, and I am thinking good thoughts for your family.

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #49 on: November 28, 2014, 01:43:44 PM »
The people in it now who are borrowing mainly short stories aren't going to care, because that's what they're in it to read. The people who enrolled thinking they were going to get unlimited novels by their favorite authors are likely already out of it, not using it, or will be out of it whenever their term expires. I think those readers who have never tried KU before are still entitled to a 30 day free trial. By the end, they'll know whether KU is for them or not. The majority won't continue their subscription, but there will be some who stick around, and it will be those that find the current KU pool of authors appealing. Amazon is currently in the process of trying to draw people in. After Christmas, more people will be enrolled than ever before, and a percentage of them will keep their subscription.

KU is still relatively new, and Amazon is in the process of testing it. Things will change, but I can guarantee you that KU is not going anywhere.

As a KU reader, I agree with all of this. I've read or sampled over 60 titles since August through KU, some of which I went on to buy copies of as well. There's a lot of non-fiction in KU that interests me as well as fiction, and I don't see those wells drying up any time soon. There's, what, 780k titles in KU right now? The percentage of KU authors on these boards is a tiny percentage of that. If every kboards member pulled their titles out of KU, I doubt anyone would notice the drop in titles available. We're a drop in the bucket here.

I don't see KU going away any time soon. What every writer has to decide is whether it's worth it to participate. If the program is severely slanted toward short works benefitting right now, pull your longer works or don't enter them. Maybe things will change in a few months. If I understand it correctly, a writer's commitment to Select and KU is three months. That's a tiny period of time for your career. Make the best business decision that works for you.

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