Author Topic: KU Crushed My Sales :(  (Read 140403 times)  

Offline Mike_Author

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #75 on: November 28, 2014, 04:54:41 PM »
My day job involves using game theory-style stuff to map out competitor reactions to our company's strategies and tactics.  From this perspective I am finding it fascinating watching this process.  From the perspective of hearing about people losing their income, not so much.

However perhaps we can take solace in noting that Amazon and self publishing currently operates (over the medium term) in a self-levelling way as each participant is incentivised to act firstly in self-interest but also (apparently) altruistically because this is not a one-shot game.  It's kind of like a version of the Prisoner's Dilemma.  Unfortunately, the short term noise can be enough to decimate someone's income, wiping them out of the game before the machine has time to self-level.

What we DO know -

- KU is a means to an end - exactly what this end is, is the subject of debate.  I suspect it is to a) kill off competing subscription models and b) attract buyers to Amazon to spend money on higher priced items.
- If Amazon sets the pot too high it will create hog cycle type stuff where scammers and the like start talking about a "Gold mine", then when the per borrow amount dips because of the deluge of scamlets, it becomes the opposite of a gold mine and authors will pull their books
- If KU becomes the domain of shorts and scamlets, no one will pay for subscriptions - so what will be their reaction to the recent backlash? Is the perceived backlash statistically significant or just Kboards writers?

One question I have is this - Is there a particular type of writer (genre, level of popularity etc) most affected by KU?  Based on what I have read in here, I must be the only KU author whose income has risen due to KU so curious what the difference may be.  I am about 90% non-fiction so perhaps there is an answer there?

When we hear about KU making it difficult to look after an unwell child, it brings it home that there needs to be some kind of fix to this situation soon for some people.  Not that Amazon cares about someone's child needing care, however I am sure they care about popular authors pulling their books from KU in droves...

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #76 on: November 28, 2014, 05:05:13 PM »
I posted a version of this on another thread and saved it for every Ku question I received since. It still holds up.

KU has to be one of the most misunderstood programs out there. If everyone stopped looking at it from their viewpoint as an author, and instead looked at it from the viewpoint of Jeff Bezos and his company, it becomes more clear.

JB cares about the customer first. Amazon by proxy second. Suppliers are way down the list. If you publish on Amazon you are a supplier.

For you, the author, KU is a funnel to your other books. (Or at least that's what he wants you to think.) For Amazon KU is a funnel to Amazon, with its books and refrigerators and coffee and stuffed animals and everything else. If people go to KU and borrow a book and then move on to buy a flat screen TV, then Amazon (KU) is successful.

Read "The Everything Store". If you do you'll see that Jeff Bezos cares about winning first. He'll do whatever he feels is necessary to get Amazon to the point he has envisioned for it.

Here's a quote from Bob Mayer I saw the other day:

"On the other hand, I urge every indie author, indeed anyone who orders from Amazon, to read The Everything Store.  Jeff Bezos wants to win.  In that kind of environment anyone can get crushed.  So indie authors need to plan for the day they get between Amazon and winning (in whatever format that might take).  Also, the content flood (with over 300,000 eBooks uploaded last year) isn't going away and is diffusing sales for everyone (traditional authors included)."

In other words putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket is not a good BUSINESS decision. There's simply no safety net and you are at the mercy of the Amazon Unicorn Payment system.

Hugh and Data Guy have already crunched the numbers and determined that KU is not for most authors. Now Holly is weighing in and telling us she has a 75% loss in revenue. If a program is not increasing sales it's not in the long term interest of most authors. I emphasize the long term. As a discovery tool it may have some uses, but I hesitate to treat it as anything beyond that. In the end the carrot is much smaller than the stick.

Here's a quote from Anthea Sharp, USA Today Bestselling author, regarding KU;

 "Also, I think Amazon is training the savviest, more business-minded and successful indies to work *extra hard* at growing their sales and readership on other platforms. I know I am"

So what is KU good for?

Short works, books priced under $2.99, new releases, Serial Novels. Those are the only things I would consider good choices for KU. Serials would most likely benefit your other, novel-length, books if they tied into them in some way. That way KU is working to boost the sales of your higher priced works.

From now on I'll be asking myself an important question before I sit down to outline the next book; Am I writing this for KU or am I writing it with the intent of going wide?

Obviously the two are NOT compatible.

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Offline jakedfw

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #77 on: November 28, 2014, 05:15:23 PM »
Quote
So what is KU good for?

Short works, books priced under $2.99, new releases, Serial Novels. Those are the only things I would consider good choices for KU. Serials would most likely benefit your other, novel-length, books if they tied into them in some way. That way KU is working to boost the sales of your higher priced works.


I could not agree more with Randall. The absolute last person who should be in Kindle Unlimited is a bestseller that can't negotiate a better rate directly with Amazon. This is a massive mistake, and I'm afraid Holly slammed right into it. That doesn't mean that KU can't be good for some things, but if you are on the successful side it is not good for you.

Amazon will feather the KU next with Harry Potter and other major sellers that get a massive chunk of KU revenue with real royalties. There will be some who fit into that sweet spot where the cannibalized sales are offset by an all-star payment, but I would peg that more as a person on the way up rather than a person on top offsetting sales cannibalization. Everyone else will be splitting dollar or less payouts. So you need to truly assess those payouts and what the impact will be for you in KU.

NOTE: This does not mean that KU will fail or is a mistake. It just means that you need to treat it differently. I subscribed to KU, and my wife thinks it's the best thing ever. Why? Because Harry Potter is in there. She didn't have to buy new Harry Potter digital books. Everything else to her is gravy. It is quite possible that this is all KU is intended to be... a spot for some uber sellers seeding the program and then this giant collection of specialty things like short stories and up-and-coming authors.
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Online Amanda M. Lee

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #78 on: November 28, 2014, 05:19:27 PM »

Amazon will feather the KU next with Harry Potter and other major sellers that get a massive chunk of KU revenue with real royalties. There will be some who fit into that sweet spot where the cannibalized sales are offset by an all-star payment, but I would peg that more as a person on the way up rather than a person on top offsetting sales cannibalization. Everyone else will be splitting dollar or less payouts. So you need to truly assess those payouts and what the impact will be for you in KU.

Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games, Water for Elephants, etc. are not paid out of the KU pot.

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Offline KMatthew

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #79 on: November 28, 2014, 05:22:28 PM »
Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games, Water for Elephants, etc. are not paid out of the KU pot.

I think that's what she meant by this "Amazon will feather the KU next with Harry Potter and other major sellers that get a massive chunk of KU revenue with real royalties." Those titles get full royalties, whether they're borrowed or bought, apparently.

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #80 on: November 28, 2014, 05:30:42 PM »
I think that's what she meant by this "Amazon will feather the KU next with Harry Potter and other major sellers that get a massive chunk of KU revenue with real royalties." Those titles get full royalties, whether they're borrowed or bought, apparently.
They do. However, that money does not come out of the KU pot. Amazon makes up the difference, yes, but borrows on those titles have nothing to do with the pot used to pay other KU authors.

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #81 on: November 28, 2014, 05:37:06 PM »
I've already been doing that for months. As I've reported on this forum previously, my sales at Amazon tanked right after the KU started. So I decided to take action. My newest novel, released on Oct. 1st, was a best seller on both Kobo and B&N and is still selling well. I offer a Kindle version through my website for the Kindle owners, and have sold a ton. I've spent a lot of time helping readers get the mobi version working on their Kindles, but once they've done it, they admit the process is very simple, and only takes about an extra minute. More importantly, the next time they won't hesitate to buy a kindle version from vendors other than Amazon. I'm sure the other resellers are happy to accept all the business that Amazon's exclusivity requirement is pushing their way. While people are on those other sites, they might stay to buy other author's books that catch their eye. After all, isn't that Amazon's underlying sales philosophy? Get people to buy books on Amazon and they stay to buy other products. This way it's just in reverse.

I've taken grief from a few readers who claim they will ONLY buy ebooks from Amazon, but that was to be expected. I hate to sound paranoid, but I wonder how many are Amazon employees. The really disgruntled ones have left one-star reviews on the print version (which I am offering on Amazon). Since I will no longer be publishing my ebooks on Amazon while they require exclusivity to participate in their new programs, I wonder if I'll get the same treatment with the next novel, or if other authors will have likewise stopped publishing on Amazon, so people will be used to authors deserting the ranks at Amazon. I do have to admit that I've sold a lot more print copies of the newest novel than I have in the past.

Oh, I'm there too. My most prolific pen name will no longer release books on Amazon. And no more boxed sets will be added. There's actually no point doing so any more. The sales just aren't there. I had 4 new releases this month. 4. Under established pen names. And what did I get for my efforts? Less money, fewer sales, and the highest returns (read: serial returns, because that's what 90% were) I've ever seen in one month.

This is what Amazon looks like to me now. 


Offline Jac1106

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #82 on: November 28, 2014, 05:39:15 PM »

 The absolute last person who should be in Kindle Unlimited is a bestseller that can't negotiate a better rate directly with Amazon. This is a massive mistake, and I'm afraid Holly slammed right into it. That doesn't mean that KU can't be good for some things, but if you are on the successful side it is not good for you.


I agree. IMO, if you already have a hungry fan base that is willing to buy your books at full price, you don't need KU. Or you should use it strategically on a per title basis and only as a marketing tool to attract new readers. A borrow rate lower than $2 would be unacceptable.

Offline Randall Wood

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #83 on: November 28, 2014, 05:41:11 PM »
They do. However, that money does not come out of the KU pot. Amazon makes up the difference, yes, but borrows on those titles have nothing to do with the pot used to pay other KU authors.

Not trying to poke anybody with this statement but,

Arguing over the formula for the KU payout is a moot point from the start. The KU payout is whatever Amazon wants it to be, no more, no less, and there is NOTHING anyone can do about it.

When it comes to KU the only numbers you know for sure are the date of the next Unicorn Payout Figure and the remaining number of days you have to wait before you can escape from Select. That's it.

Sorry if that sounds blunt, but maybe that's what it needs to be.

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Offline cinisajoy

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #84 on: November 28, 2014, 05:41:54 PM »
I've already been doing that for months. As I've reported on this forum previously, my sales at Amazon tanked right after the KU started. So I decided to take action. My newest novel, released on Oct. 1st, was a best seller on both Kobo and B&N and is still selling well. I offer a Kindle version through my website for the Kindle owners, and have sold a ton. I've spent a lot of time helping readers get the mobi version working on their Kindles, but once they've done it, they admit the process is very simple, and only takes about an extra minute. More importantly, the next time they won't hesitate to buy a kindle version from vendors other than Amazon. I'm sure the other resellers are happy to accept all the business that Amazon's exclusivity requirement is pushing their way. While people are on those other sites, they might stay to buy other author's books that catch their eye. After all, isn't that Amazon's underlying sales philosophy? Get people to buy books on Amazon and they stay to buy other products. This way it's just in reverse.

I've taken grief from a few readers who claim they will ONLY buy ebooks from Amazon, but that was to be expected. I hate to sound paranoid, but I wonder how many are Amazon employees. The really disgruntled ones have left one-star reviews on the print version (which I am offering on Amazon). Since I will no longer be publishing my ebooks on Amazon while they require exclusivity to participate in their new programs, I wonder if I'll get the same treatment with the next novel, or if other authors will have likewise stopped publishing on Amazon, so people will be used to authors deserting the ranks at Amazon. I do have to admit that I've sold a lot more print copies of the newest novel than I have in the past.

Just wanted to let you know,  I admire you for this.   You actually did leave Amazon completely.    Are you on Google Play yet?
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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #85 on: November 28, 2014, 05:45:18 PM »
I've been thinking of having one of my pen names not on Amazon. Actually one isn't there, but it's fairly new. I think that's a great idea at least to build the other incomes. A few of my readers own a Nook and a Kindle, and I think they buy whichever is most convenient. It's not too much of a stretch to buy for the Nook.

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #86 on: November 28, 2014, 05:51:20 PM »
Just wanted to throw my hat in the ring to wish your son a speedy recovery, Holly.

Likewise, I hope the sales slump can be reversed. 

Good to know about KU, though.  I've normally stayed away from Select because I have readers on the other platforms - not a lot, but even one is too many to disappoint in my opinion - but had been considering a rethink of that for my new one coming out near year's end, even if just for the 90 day initial period.  All things considered, though, it seems it's starting to make less sense for a full-sized >$2.99 novel.


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Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #87 on: November 28, 2014, 06:10:48 PM »
Hi.  Do you really want to hurt Amazon?   Pulling out of KU will not hurt Amazon in the least.   Hugh Howey not being in KU hasn't hurt it.

I'm confused....Hugh's books are still in KU?

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Offline cinisajoy

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #88 on: November 28, 2014, 06:12:27 PM »
I'm confused....Hugh's books are still in KU?

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I heard from several he was not in KU.   

I was misinformed.    Looks like he has many in.
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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #89 on: November 28, 2014, 06:27:58 PM »
I can understand not being in Select, whether on principle or as a business decision, but why would you remove your titles from Amazon? None of the other sites requires exclusivity. This bit of rhinoplasty seems only to spite the face.
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Offline Randall Wood

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #90 on: November 28, 2014, 06:30:12 PM »
I heard from several he was not in KU.   

I was misinformed.    Looks like he has many in.

Not to speak for Hugh, but from what I remember he is not being held to the exclusivity clause. However, that is for a finite period. Once that period ends he's said he will most likely pull out as the numbers AE and Data Guy have gathered do not support him staying in.

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Offline KMatthew

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #91 on: November 28, 2014, 06:31:38 PM »
Not to speak for Hugh, but from what I remember he is not being held to the exclusivity clause. However, that is for a finite period. Once that period ends he's said he will most likely pull out as the numbers AE and Data Guy have gathered do not support him staying in.
I would not be surprised if they let him stay in indefinitely without exclusivity, as they have many others.

Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #92 on: November 28, 2014, 06:31:46 PM »
Not to speak for Hugh, but from what I remember he is not being held to the exclusivity clause. However, that is for a finite period. Once that period ends he's said he will most likely pull out as the numbers AE and Data Guy have gathered do not support him staying in.

Ah....thanks!  I think I remember that now...

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #93 on: November 28, 2014, 06:32:22 PM »
Honestly, I'm surprised no one has posted anything about doing well despite NOT being in KU. Where are the success stories with people who aren't in Select right now? I've seen a lot of people talking about doing well in KU but not anyone doing well without it. With everyone talking about how awful KU is for authors & how it's better to go wide, it would be nice to hear from authors doing well outside of Select right now. Or is it impossible to do well if you aren't in Select right now?

Actually quite a few people, on this thread and elsewhere, said that they were doing okay without being in KU/Select and seeing growth, usually because of increased sales at other retailers. Amazon is not the only game in town, after all.

Offline Deke

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #94 on: November 28, 2014, 06:40:03 PM »
Doesn't the general marketing strategy still apply:  get as many to read Book #1 as possible.those who love it will buy Book 2, 3, etc.

So would it be wise to have Book 1 in KUand keep the rest out of it?

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #95 on: November 28, 2014, 06:43:03 PM »
Doesn't the general marketing strategy still apply:  get as many to read Book #1 as possible....those who love it will buy Book 2, 3, etc.

So would it be wise to have Book 1 in KU...and keep the rest out of it?

I'm not an Amazon user. I have no kindle. I have no valid Amazon buyers account.

So I find this book 2 on the Kobo website that looks interesting. Why the hell would I buy it if there is no book 1 available?

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #96 on: November 28, 2014, 06:45:02 PM »
I have one romance pen where a new release still does very well not being in KU. However, overall, my sales are down 50%, a sudden drop when KU came out. I added a few books into KU just to maintain and not go below that 50% mark. Watching that darn Month-to-Date thing drives me nuts as it climbs each month.

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #97 on: November 28, 2014, 06:51:54 PM »
I can understand not being in Select, whether on principle or as a business decision, but why would you remove your titles from Amazon? None of the other sites requires exclusivity. This bit of rhinoplasty seems only to spite the face.
If you're talking about Scribblr, I believe he said he's selling his mobi books from his own site. Which means, among other things, more control over pricing, discounts, royalties, returns, and isn't subject to the whims of Amazon.

Makes perfect sense to me. *shrug

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #98 on: November 28, 2014, 06:55:56 PM »
I didn't use permafree, and my sales dropped.

Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
« Reply #99 on: November 28, 2014, 06:56:24 PM »
The did warn us this was how it was going to work. Remember back when this thing first dropped and the rep told one of our members (forget who) that KU was gong to be mostly for 'exposure' when she expressed concern that the KOLL payment wouldn't hold up?

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