Author Topic: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages  (Read 9776 times)  

Offline katrina46

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #175 on: April 15, 2018, 07:37:20 PM »
The last 5 pages of this thread explain in detail how lowering the KU pay-out cap will greatly reduce scamming, make it easier for Zon to spot when it does happen, and reduce the incentive for gray-hat stuff, resulting in a more level playing field. It's math.

I propose a 750 Cap, that's 160K or about 650 print pages.

Additionally, if we are serious about petitioning Zon, it has to be a single request, without any 'ands' or caveats or detailed explanations. It has to be something super simple, cheap, easy to implement and even easier to measure for effectiveness. Anything more will be a non-starter.

The proposed Cap is the only option so far suggested that might, 1) actually accomplish something, and 2) that Zon might implement (because they've done it before).

The first step is to start a dialogue, where maybe this time, they'll listen and allow us to participate in the resolution. But that can only happen if we get on the same page - which we've never been very good at in the past: Tragedy of the Commons.

The alternative to that page is to keep on throwing romance writers under the bus. How is that okay?

____

No, I read this, but I don't believe it to be based in reality. Zon is never going to invest the resources necessary to implement these suggestions. I mean, they already don't seem to care about duplicate content (see stuffing argument et al). And, are you sure you want Zon determining what is an isn't a botted borrow or withholding income? What does a botted page read look like to an algo?

This discussion isn't an academic one, it's not about how can Zon really fix KU, because they're not going to. It's about offering a suggestion that is more or less the investment equivalent of checking a box.
There are plenty of fantasy authors who write more than 650 pages. You're just going to throw an entire genre under the bus?

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #176 on: April 15, 2018, 07:39:15 PM »
I apologize if this isn't what you wanted to hear. You're free to disagree. But there's a problem with the store now, and demanding Amazon eliminate the bonus books as a whole is not working. We need a different plan of attack, and some innocent writers will be swept up in the fallout. I am sorry about that, but limiting the cap would be a net benefit to the majority of writers in the program.

And, if we limit the amount of pages these people can earn per file, we will dramatically reduce their advertising budgets. Yes, I use AMS ads. And yes, I'm seeing the costs creep higher and higher. What used to be a $.15 click is now $1.50. The ones grossly exploiting the system have moved half of their advertising to AMS ads and are spending $5 or $6 a click. The longer we allow those who exploit to profit from this system, the higher those ad costs will become.

They cannot launch double or triple the amount of books per month on a third of their income. The worst offenders would be dramatically limited in what they could do with any new release.

I agree. Banning bonus content is the ideal solution but it's not one Amazon appears interested in. We have to be pragmatic.

Very few books are above 1k KENPC/ 160k words (based on my experience with KENPC. My latest book is 95k with a seven chapter sample of another book and it's 670 KENPC, so you can do the math. I write very short sentences and a lot of dialogue. The audio book is 10.5 hours).

The loss of bundles is a shame but it's not a big deal IMO. We can still make bundles. They just won't be as profitable if we put them in KU.

Offline SeanHinn

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #177 on: April 15, 2018, 07:41:39 PM »
This sounds so familiar. I remember the same type of arguments between the novel and novella writers in KU1, and look how that turned out. Novels won and a lot of novella writers went to the wall. The novel writers didn't care because they got richer on the backs of others.

If you want to petition amazon to do anything, why not try the basics first? No bonus books. Why turn on each other again?

That's an excellent first step. A little tough to enforce and police, but not impossible. And I echo your sentiment - let's find solutions together, not raise up one camp at the expense of another.

Offline MmmmmPie

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #178 on: April 15, 2018, 07:51:44 PM »
I'm not terribly optimistic that the "no bonus book" rule alone would change much in the long term. But it's at least a suggestion that writers in various genres seem to agree on, without either group feeling victimized by the other.

If we go this route, can i offer this related suggestion?

No bonus books... PLUS the paperback must be the same length as the Kindle Version. (within 5% or so, to allow for back matter, etc.). This would provide much more transparency related to the length of the actual story being promoted.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #179 on: April 15, 2018, 08:15:09 PM »
This sounds so familiar. I remember the same type of arguments between the novel and novella writers in KU1, and look how that turned out. Novels won and a lot of novella writers went to the wall. The novel writers didn't care because they got richer on the backs of others.

If you want to petition amazon to do anything, why not try the basics first? No bonus books. Why turn on each other again?

 
I very much doubt that authors' opinions had anything to do with the switch from KU1 to KU2. I know I pulled all my stuff during that period when the whole serial/pamphlet thing was out of hand, and authors in my genre were making 6-10x what I was from the same length of actual book, just by splitting it up. At the time, I had been doing extremely well in KU, and I let KDP know I wasn't happy, as did many other novelists who pulled their stuff.

They did not care.

They cared once readers started complaining--hard--that Kindle Unlimited had become Kink Unlimited, that all they could find were pieces of books and erotica. Amazon fired warning shots across the bow--sent out an unprecedented email to KDP authors saying that readers wanted NOVELS. Authors didn't change their behavior, because it wasn't in their self-interest to do so. They could make that 6x more by splitting up their book, and they'd have had to be stupid (or be me) not to do it. Six months later, boom, there was KU2. THEN people screamed.

In my experience, having been at this since 2012, authors can write in until they're blue in the face, just as Amazon could tell authors that readers wanted novels until they were blue in the face. I can't tell you how many bestselling indies--and I mean people in the top 100 of all indie authors--have complained to Amazon about the book stuffing, the botting, the giveaways and review incentives. I have done so myself. We've all received absolutely nothing of substance in response. If Amazon cares at all (and I think recent measures show that they are finally starting to), it's because some really big names in romance have recently pulled their stuff from Select, and their READERS have told Amazon how unhappy they are about it. Or have canceled their subscriptions in enough numbers to matter. It may be that it is finally in Amazon's self-interest to care, which is the same thing that brought us KU2.

It is what it is. We don't get to choose what Amazon or any other vendor does. All we can choose is our response. We can also look at what we think is likely to happen next and choose our own next moves accordingly. But I suspect you're wasting your time trying to organize some kind of letter-writing campaign, or whatever it is. They care about their readers.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 08:19:13 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #180 on: April 15, 2018, 08:24:03 PM »
Does this board have an easy poll function? It'd be interesting to see how the various solutions being kicked around here are supported by the board (or at least those who bother to vote).

Yes, it does, though not as a reply.  Instead of selecting "New Thread" at the top of the board to start a new thread, you select "New Poll."

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Offline joesmithx

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #181 on: April 15, 2018, 08:42:53 PM »
The last 5 pages of this thread explain in detail how lowering the KU pay-out cap will greatly reduce scamming, make it easier for Zon to spot when it does happen, and reduce the incentive for gray-hat stuff, resulting in a more level playing field. It's math.

I propose a 750 Cap, that's 160K or about 650 print pages.

Sorry, but just because you like writing tiny ol books, doesn't mean the rest of us have to suffer because of it. My first ever published book was over 200K and its sequel was 220K. According to you, I should be punished for writing long books that readers love so much they launched my career.

Offline caitlynlynch

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #182 on: April 15, 2018, 08:53:09 PM »
Unfortunately, that requires readers or other authors policing the store, and then it would require customer service agents on Amazon's side to verify the complaint. This adds MORE manpower to the equation, and Amazon is not a company that likes to hire MORE workers when it could simply automate a solution. Limiting the total amount of pages per file would reduce the amount of exploitative stuffing--and, when those publishers realize they aren't making the thousands of dollars required for them to publish their books and push the new releases to the top 100, they'd be forced out of the program. They won't be able to launch double or triple the amount of books on one third of their normal earnings.

This is the easiest way to make a change. Amazon won't hire people, reprogram the KU, review individual files more closely, or monitor for only original content. We have to make it easy on them. They've already lowered the cap once before. We'd be asking for them to do it again.

In terms of manpower to check on reported books, I really don't think the number is going to be all that significant. Once the new rule is announced, give authors 30 days to bring their books into compliance, and then start checking books which are reported after the 30 days is up. You could probably have a single full-time staffer handling the job, and one person could probably deal with 100 books a day. Just boot offending books from the store and send a form email to the author/publisher telling them to bring the book into compliance or else. In fact, being Amazon and the heavy-hammer type, just suspend ALL their books until fixed.

Easy fix. Store would probably be clean of stuffed books in a month. And let's be honest, doing it would probably cost less staff hours than they spend now dealing with angry authors.

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #183 on: April 15, 2018, 08:55:13 PM »
By "war," do I mean causing others physical injury? Come on. You're a writer, the context of what I said surely cannot be lost on you.

That's why I said "metaphor." Come on. You're a writer, the context of what I said surely cannot be lost on you.

But I stand by my original statement. A line in the sand and threats of a counter-movement, leading to a metaphorical war, are clearly designed to psychologically intimidate others into your "my way of the highway" stance. That's reprehensible.

Persuasion via argument is fine, but as soon as you say "I will start a counter-movement", you are out of line.

I'm rather shocked the mods have let it go. They're usually pretty tight about this type of thing.


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Offline writerlygal

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #184 on: April 15, 2018, 09:15:41 PM »
Why does everyone keep ignoring the elephant in the room?

This is a problem IN THE ROMANCE GENRE. And it could only ever *be* a problem in the romance genre.

Why? Because a poorly-written, incoherently-compiled stuffed book with a stock photo cover in any other genre would get one-starred into oblivion. Try pulling this nonsense in sci-fi, or fantasy, or literally *any* other genre, and see what happens.

The rest of the KU literary world is suffering because of a problem in ROMANCE. A stuffed book like this pops up in the other genres, the readers themselves would police the issue, and without question, the other authors in the genre would root out any violators with a quickness. Content farms don't have the talent to create consumable content in the more complex genres. It's not rocket science to write another billionaire bad boy book. That stuff can be created formulaically, in volume, and that's why you have the problem you have. Now, that doesn't mean that there aren't romance writers who produce gorgeous work. I'm sure many do, and I'm sure many of YOU do. But punishing writers of longer books - books that cost TONS more to produce, and have the potential to stand the test of time as major literary accomplishments - by capping page read payouts is absolutely asinine. Why, so we can get more cookie-cutter billionaire man-chest bad boy stories at the top of the charts, at the expense of writers in other genres? This is not our mess, why should we pay to clean it up by having the value of our work reduced?

This problem can be solved EASILY and FAIRLY:

1. Limit ROMANCE books to 1k KENP. No one writes romance stories over 1k. NO. ONE.
2. Make those publishing anything (in any genre) over 200,000 words certify, with a mouse click while submitting a title, that there is no "bonus" content in the book, and if they get found to violate that provision, they lose ALL KENP earnings *and* royalties, and their account and any associated pen names are banned from KU for a year.

Problem solved. Long book writers earn the same per page as short book writers, so the scales aren't tipped unfairly. The scammers are hosed, and forced to operate at a MAJOR risk. Amazon gets to keep whatever royalties are associated with the scammers, even sales royalties, so that pays for whatever additional manual review is required.

If there are any problems with these proposed solutions, then we can talk about refining them.

Lastly, for those of you who are saying "$5 is plenty for a book!": please think it through. You're all smart. If you were paying many, many thousands of dollars in production, editing, and graphics costs to create a 300k book, you'd feel differently. $5 wouldn't even come close to covering costs. How much do YOU earn for 300k words? You probably have 5-6 books you release to reach 300k. Are YOU OK with only earning $5 total KU money for 5-6 books? Of course not. And you shouldn't be. Your work is worth more than that. So is the work of epic writers.

Wow. The argument that a whole bunch of readers, mainly women, don't love bad boy romance books is very sexist. It's also very untrue. The top 100 is full of romance books because mostly female readers borrow, buy & love them. Also, as many have said in this & other threads, these 'content mill' publishers of ghostwritten books already are in other genres, including sci fi. Perhaps those ghostwriters are better than you give them credit for, since apparently they're so unrecognizable. ;) But seriously- how insulting to ghostwriters.

And, yes, believe it or not, a publisher w/money to hire out the creation of books certainly can produce lots of content in all genres, not just those silly bad boy romance books. That is one of the most profitable genres since so many read it & that's why content mill publishers are there. But they are also in other genres & I don't hear anyone belittling those genres like I hear people belittling romance, a woman's genre.

Taste is subjective & a matter of opinion. I could poke fun at the books in your genre but I won't b/c I realize it's merely a matter of my own taste & bias & it's not nice. I'm not sure why you don't feel the need to show the same restraint, but it doesn't matter b/c everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But market research numbers show that many women love those stock photo ripped ab bad boy covers & the steamy stories inside. Amazon is a market that caters to what readers want.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 09:27:37 PM by writerlygal »

Offline SeanHinn

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #185 on: April 15, 2018, 09:48:40 PM »
That's why I said "metaphor." Come on. You're a writer, the context of what I said surely cannot be lost on you.

But I stand by my original statement. A line in the sand and threats of a counter-movement, leading to a metaphorical war, are clearly designed to psychologically intimidate others into your "my way of the highway" stance. That's reprehensible.

Persuasion via argument is fine, but as soon as you say "I will start a counter-movement", you are out of line.

I'm rather shocked the mods have let it go. They're usually pretty tight about this type of thing.

There's nothing reprehensible about saying, "this is wrongheaded, and I will oppose it." And I think it is important that people know that, because a war between long book writers and short book writers will benefit no one, yet that is the inevitable result of this proposal. Long book writers would have no choice but to organize against it. If you read everything else I have written it should be quite clear that my intention is to help, while defending innocent writers from harm. If there's anything reprehensible going on in this thread, it's the idea that it is OK to throw an entire genre of one's peers under the bus.

I wish you great personal success and bear you no ill will, and you can rest assured I will propose no solution that targets your livelihood. Will you agree to do the same and work with me to find a fair and effective solution? We should be allies, David, even if we are initially coming at this from different angles.

Offline writerlygal

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #186 on: April 15, 2018, 09:59:52 PM »
It's very sad to see the indie community turn on each other this way. In other communities I'm apart of it isn't this way. Authors support each other & bind together. They don't attack each other or all argue for the most selfish way to change KU.

If KU is truly this bad then why are any of ya'all in it? Perhaps a solution that doesn't involve finger pointing & name calling is to boycott KU & sell books the old fashioned way.

Offline Carol (was Dara)

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #187 on: April 15, 2018, 10:12:20 PM »
I have a single-author epic fantasy boxed set that's consistently earned around $500 per month in KU for about two years now. I can get behind the idea of sacrificing $500 per month of my income for the greater good if I have a strong reason to believe it will significantly improve long-term conditions throughout the Kindle store. Unfortunately, that's the trouble. I can't be certain that banning boxed sets from KU would result in a definite benefit to me or to others, while I do have a certainty it'll cost me $6k per year. It's hard to support a change with a clearly measurable cost in dollars based on a theory that it might hopefully have beneficial effects in a broad sense or that it might discourage an unknown percentage of bad apples.

As for capping page reads, it's true that only a limited number of individual titles would be effected by a 1,000 page cap. Most of the fantasy writers I know don't top 120k words (roughly 650 KENPCs) and a lot write significantly less. But aside from questions of fairness to long writers (similar to those posed by short writers before KU 2.0), we can't be sure whether capping long reads would do anything but result in the splitting of mega-long books into 3x as many short books, resulting in a more crowded Kindle store and potentially increasing ad prices. If I were Amazon, I wouldn't want to play wack-a-mole with 3x as many books, all of them harder to identify this time because their size would help them blend in.

Of course, capping by genre would be the worst possible mistake. That'll just shift the problems happening mostly in one genre into all the others, resulting in mis-categorizing on a scale not yet seen - and we already see a lot of mis-categorizing in fantasy. True scammers (and there are very few people I'd be comfortable referring to as clear scammers) are unlikely to move on from a source of easy money. That doesn't mean nothing should be done to curtail them, but I think the hopes of discouraging many of them are overly optimistic. They've adapted so far.

I don't have any great solutions to suggest, and of course it's easier to poke holes in other people's ideas than to come up with better ones. Still, I haven't heard any I could get on board with yet, other than possibly asking Amazon not to allow more than 20 % bonus content, a request they're unlikely to take seriously unless there's a cheap way to do it and Amazon themselves are bothered by the content, which seems to be an uncertain point lately. One thing is sure, KU is such a sensitive system it's hard to predict the unintended consequences of any changes. Some consequences clearly catch even Amazon by surprise. That makes me reluctant to upset the whole apple barrel, even when many things are clearly not sustainable in the long term.

Offline SeanHinn

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #188 on: April 15, 2018, 11:03:41 PM »
I have a single-author epic fantasy boxed set that's consistently earned around $500 per month in KU for about two years now. I can get behind the idea of sacrificing $500 per month of my income for the greater good if I have a strong reason to believe it will significantly improve long-term conditions throughout the Kindle store. Unfortunately, that's the trouble. I can't be certain that banning boxed sets from KU would result in a definite benefit to me or to others, while I do have a certainty it'll cost me $6k per year. It's hard to support a change with a clearly measurable cost in dollars based on a theory that it might hopefully have beneficial effects in a broad sense or that it might discourage an unknown percentage of bad apples.

As for capping page reads, it's true that only a limited number of individual titles would be effected by a 1,000 page cap. Most of the fantasy writers I know don't top 120k words (roughly 650 KENPCs) and a lot write significantly less. But aside from questions of fairness to long writers (similar to those posed by short writers before KU 2.0), we can't be sure whether capping long reads would do anything but result in the splitting of mega-long books into 3x as many short books, resulting in a more crowded Kindle store and potentially increasing ad prices. If I were Amazon, I wouldn't want to play wack-a-mole with 3x as many books, all of them harder to identify this time because their size would help them blend in.

Of course, capping by genre would be the worst possible mistake. That'll just shift the problems happening mostly in one genre into all the others, resulting in mis-categorizing on a scale not yet seen - and we already see a lot of mis-categorizing in fantasy. True scammers (and there are very few people I'd be comfortable referring to as clear scammers) are unlikely to move on from a source of easy money. That doesn't mean nothing should be done to curtail them, but I think the hopes of discouraging many of them are overly optimistic. They've adapted so far.

I don't have any great solutions to suggest, and of course it's easier to poke holes in other people's ideas than to come up with better ones. Still, I haven't heard any I could get on board with yet, other than possibly asking Amazon not to allow more than 20 % bonus content, a request they're unlikely to take seriously unless there's a cheap way to do it and Amazon themselves are bothered by the content, which seems to be an uncertain point lately. One thing is sure, KU is such a sensitive system it's hard to predict the unintended consequences of any changes. Some consequences clearly catch even Amazon by surprise. That makes me reluctant to upset the whole apple barrel, even when many things are clearly not sustainable in the long term.

This is the single best comment in the entire thread. You're dead right, on every point, and your tone is spot-on. The only thing I would debate to any degree is whether or not a legitimate boxed set of a serial story should be out of bounds. For lots of up-and-comers, being able to offer a steeply discounted bundle and earn some decent page read income on it is a great way to allow readers to take a chance on your work without too much of a commitment. That's a major feature of KU, for both readers and authors, and I think it's great for everyone - so long as it is not abused, and that's where we run into trouble.

I think we need to figure out exactly where the line is - what constitutes a scammy/stuffed book, and what constitutes a legitimate compilation? If we made a "no multiple titles" rule, then the REALLY short story writers would be harmed as well, as those collections are where the real income comes for them.

Is anyone here in the thread qualified to really detail what the makeup of these stuffed books looks like? Are they basically, in essence, making multiple bundles with rearranged content, in addition to the individual titles? Are they really shoving 500 pages of recipes into the books (I thought I read that somewhere). I've never read through one, but I know many of the folks here on Kboards have investigated this problem in far more detail than I have.

If anyone here can provide technical information about the architecture of the stuffed books, I'd be happy to get an organized analysis project started that we could present to Amazon to help them root these things out in an automated fashion. I would also be willing to contribute some capital towards hiring a developer to write some code, as a prototype system for flagging potential violators. If we take a project management approach to surgically removing the bad actors from the mix, we might be able to solve this thing fairly quickly, and no legitimate author suffers harm.

I can't do it all by myself, but if some of you guys are willing to get behind a fact-finding initiative to get this off the ground, I can organize the moving parts into place, and if necessary, go about raising any capital needed to develop a solution and lobby Amazon to give it a serious look.

I'm all in on making this thing happen. Would any of you be interested in joining a FB group to brainstorm and offer input, or better yet, volunteer some useful skills that might be needed for this kind of project?

« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 11:07:48 PM by SeanHinn »

Offline MmmmmPie

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #189 on: April 16, 2018, 12:11:40 AM »
Here is a sad truth. During KU 1.0, it was glaringly obvious that the system was unsustainable. As someone who wrote full-length novels (and refused to chop them up), I was at a huge disadvantage, even as others raked in tons of cash either because they (1) wrote shorter books naturally, (2) serialized their full-length novels, or (3) produced 10-page scamlets that generated a full payment after just a couple of pages.

In the above group, some were genuine authors who benefited because their genre or writing style happened to correspond to the strengths of KU 1.0. Others were genuine authors who saw the wisdom in cutting up their books to earn five times the going rate. Still others were pure scam artists.

Anyone could've seen that KU 1.0 was unsustainable. Let's say we wanted to fix it to make it more sustainable. Under this scenario, maybe those of us who wrote longer books would've said to the authors of shorter books, "Hey, the scamming is way out of hand. Let's see if we can get Amazon to not allow anything in KU under 200 pages. At this, many of the "shorter-book writers" would've howled at how we long novel-writers were selfishly trying to cheat the short-book writers out of income, just because the system didn't work for us personally.

And maybe we would've told them, "But, don't you see? It can't go on as it is? There's no way a system can continue when people are getting paid $1.40 for a ten-page scamlet. It's not just about us. The system is going to implode at this rate." But nobody wants to hear anything like that when the system is working for them personally, when it plays to their particular strengths or genres.

No one wants to believe this, but if you're earning way more on a borrow than on a sale, this is a pretty good sign that the system is unsustainable and that you're building your house on a pile of shifting sand.

My belief? The current KU is entering its death spiral phase, and here's why. It's gotten so bad that people who don't WANT to game the system are starting to say, "Cripes, I'm stupid if I don't. After all, I have mortgages and grocery bills, too." As more and more genuine authors decide (and perhaps rightfully so) that stuffing is the only way to compete, stuffed books will claim and bigger and bigger share of the pie, further driving down prices and payments per page. As the page-rates continue to fall, and bigger and bigger books are needed to compete, more and more people will stuff. At the same time, more and more authors who don't stuff will leave KU entirely, because they're getting hosed on all sides of the equation.

This is me. I've pulled all of my books out of KU. So it's not that I'm looking to "steal" from those who write longer books than I do. It's more that I realize that the system is crashing and burning right in front of us. It's utterly unsustainable. And I can almost guarantee you that whatever Amazon comes up with as a solution will make people howl a lot louder than if they did something basic like limit the KU pages to 1,000.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #190 on: April 16, 2018, 12:31:38 AM »
Is anyone here in the thread qualified to really detail what the makeup of these stuffed books looks like? Are they basically, in essence, making multiple bundles with rearranged content, in addition to the individual titles? Are they really shoving 500 pages of recipes into the books (I thought I read that somewhere). I've never read through one, but I know many of the folks here on Kboards have investigated this problem in far more detail than I have.

I don't know if those of our members who've been investigating these books are following this thread. If they are, hopefully they'll chime in.

My (secondhand) impression is that there's a lot variety, and that the patterns of stuffing have shifted over time as Amazon has wised up to certain issues or behaviors.

Most agree that the straight-up ABCD, BACD, CABD, DABC form of stuffing (all the same books in every file, just reordered) is not something Amazon wants. Didn't bobfrost say recently that those 100% duplicated books get taken down? I think he did. Whether there are still a lot of these in the store, I don't know.

Amazon does not allow links that lure readers to click directly to the back of the book. That used to be a big thing, before Amazon fixed (supposedly) its inability to track page-reads: a link at the front would entice the reader to click for a gift-card contest or some such; they'd land at the back of the book, generating thousands of page-reads, even though they hadn't actually looked at any of the pages between the first couple and the last. Hopefully this isn't still happening outside the Cloud Reader, but it's possible.

Everyone agrees books stuffed with gibberish (machine-generated or -translated text) or plagiarized material are not okay.

Setting aside these easy examples, Amazon wants books to provide a good, enjoyable reading experience. The material in them can't be disruptive or irrelevant. Books need to be significantly enough differentiated from one another. That's the kind of language we're given; the question is how to interpret those guidelines in making specific decisions what it's okay or not okay to include.

I'd suggest taking a look at some stuffed books, as background research (we're not going to call particular books or authors out by name here). The ones I've looked at have what I assume is a new book at the front followed by five or six titles in the same or nearby romance subgenres. They're okay in terms of basic prose, though they're so not my thing that I've never finished one of the stories. Definitely not stuffed with gibberish or recipes, though. FYI, you have to actually borrow and download a book to know if it's stuffed; the authors use the fact that the paperback length overrides the ebook length to disguise the fact that the books have more than a few hundred pages.

I'd also suggest taking a look at the recent stuffing thread, if you haven't already, and especially at the answers PhoenixS and Shelley K received from Amazon. Earlier stuffing threads include the responses dgaughran has received.

Offline SeanHinn

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #191 on: April 16, 2018, 12:36:52 AM »
I don't know if those of our members who've been investigating these books are following this thread. If they are, hopefully they'll chime in.

My (secondhand) impression is that there's a lot variety, and that the patterns of stuffing have shifted over time as Amazon has wised up to certain issues or behaviors.

Most agree that the straight-up ABCD, BACD, CABD, DABC form of stuffing (all the same books in every file, just reordered) is not something Amazon wants. Didn't bobfrost say recently that those 100% duplicated books get taken down? I think he did. Whether there are still a lot of these in the store, I don't know.

Amazon does not allow links that lure readers to click directly to the back of the book. That used to be a big thing, before Amazon fixed (supposedly) its inability to track page-reads: a link at the front would entice the reader to click for a gift-card contest or some such; they'd land at the back of the book, generating thousands of page-reads, even though they hadn't actually looked at any of the pages between the first couple and the last. Hopefully this isn't still happening outside the Cloud Reader, but it's possible.

Everyone agrees books stuffed with gibberish (machine-generated or -translated text) or plagiarized material are not okay.

Setting aside these easy examples, Amazon wants books to provide a good, enjoyable reading experience. The material in them can't be disruptive or irrelevant. Books need to be significantly enough differentiated from one another. That's the kind of language we're given; the question is how to interpret those guidelines in making specific decisions what it's okay or not okay to include.

I'd suggest taking a look at some stuffed books, as background research (we're not going to call particular books or authors out by name here). The ones I've looked at have what I assume is a new book at the front followed by five or six titles in the same or nearby romance subgenres. They're okay in terms of basic prose, though they're so not my thing that I've never finished one of the stories. Definitely not stuffed with gibberish or recipes, though. FYI, you have to actually borrow and download a book to know if it's stuffed; the authors use the fact that the paperback length overrides the ebook length to disguise the fact that the books have more than a few hundred pages.

I'd also suggest taking a look at the recent stuffing thread, if you haven't already, and especially at the answers PhoenixS and Shelley K received from Amazon. Earlier stuffing threads include the responses dgaughran has received.

Thank you - first on my list tomorrow!

Offline katrina46

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #192 on: April 16, 2018, 01:17:27 AM »
Wow. The argument that a whole bunch of readers, mainly women, don't love bad boy romance books is very sexist. It's also very untrue. The top 100 is full of romance books because mostly female readers borrow, buy & love them. Also, as many have said in this & other threads, these 'content mill' publishers of ghostwritten books already are in other genres, including sci fi. Perhaps those ghostwriters are better than you give them credit for, since apparently they're so unrecognizable. ;) But seriously- how insulting to ghostwriters.

And, yes, believe it or not, a publisher w/money to hire out the creation of books certainly can produce lots of content in all genres, not just those silly bad boy romance books. That is one of the most profitable genres since so many read it & that's why content mill publishers are there. But they are also in other genres & I don't hear anyone belittling those genres like I hear people belittling romance, a woman's genre.

Taste is subjective & a matter of opinion. I could poke fun at the books in your genre but I won't b/c I realize it's merely a matter of my own taste & bias & it's not nice. I'm not sure why you don't feel the need to show the same restraint, but it doesn't matter b/c everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But market research numbers show that many women love those stock photo ripped ab bad boy covers & the steamy stories inside. Amazon is a market that caters to what readers want.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure the reason the scammers pick the romance genre so often is because it's so popular they want their books to be where they'll get the most eyes on them.

Online Jack Krenneck

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #193 on: April 16, 2018, 01:20:02 AM »
This is the single best comment in the entire thread. You're dead right, on every point, and your tone is spot-on. The only thing I would debate to any degree is whether or not a legitimate boxed set of a serial story should be out of bounds. For lots of up-and-comers, being able to offer a steeply discounted bundle and earn some decent page read income on it is a great way to allow readers to take a chance on your work without too much of a commitment. That's a major feature of KU, for both readers and authors, and I think it's great for everyone - so long as it is not abused, and that's where we run into trouble.

I think we need to figure out exactly where the line is - what constitutes a scammy/stuffed book, and what constitutes a legitimate compilation? If we made a "no multiple titles" rule, then the REALLY short story writers would be harmed as well, as those collections are where the real income comes for them.

Is anyone here in the thread qualified to really detail what the makeup of these stuffed books looks like? Are they basically, in essence, making multiple bundles with rearranged content, in addition to the individual titles? Are they really shoving 500 pages of recipes into the books (I thought I read that somewhere). I've never read through one, but I know many of the folks here on Kboards have investigated this problem in far more detail than I have.

If anyone here can provide technical information about the architecture of the stuffed books, I'd be happy to get an organized analysis project started that we could present to Amazon to help them root these things out in an automated fashion. I would also be willing to contribute some capital towards hiring a developer to write some code, as a prototype system for flagging potential violators. If we take a project management approach to surgically removing the bad actors from the mix, we might be able to solve this thing fairly quickly, and no legitimate author suffers harm.

I can't do it all by myself, but if some of you guys are willing to get behind a fact-finding initiative to get this off the ground, I can organize the moving parts into place, and if necessary, go about raising any capital needed to develop a solution and lobby Amazon to give it a serious look.

I'm all in on making this thing happen. Would any of you be interested in joining a FB group to brainstorm and offer input, or better yet, volunteer some useful skills that might be needed for this kind of project?


I have some background in project management (PRINCE2 methodology), and I would be willing to assist.

The key would be getting people on board with knowledge of all genres, scoping the exact problem that needs fixing and developing a solution that effectively addressed the problem, with ways to measure that success, and that had no unintended consequences or that disadvantaged legitimate authors. The next step would be to pursuasively present that solution to Amazon in a unified way with the support of the bulk of the indie community. Without unified support (something drastically lacking at the moment) there is zero chance Amazon will listen.

Even with all the above in place, I suspect the comments from Usedtoposthere will prove accurate. Still, it doesn't hurt to try.

Offline PaulineMRoss

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #194 on: April 16, 2018, 01:51:52 AM »
I've been watching this and the other related threads with increasing bemusement. It's astonishing how upset people can be about KU and its ramifications. This might be a good moment to remind everyone that KU is optional. No one has to sign up to it. We all have the choice to decide whether it works for us at the moment, given the current rules, or whether it doesn't. And whether we're in or out, we still get to SELL books on Amazon (and elsewhere, if wide).

No one has the right to make money from KU. Being part of it, and making money from it, is a privilege, not a right. Let's never forget the KU1 to KU2 bombshell that destroyed lucrative careers overnight. In the build-up to that, when the long-form writers were grumbling about the short-form writers and scamphleteers distorting the system, and the short-form writers said that the long-form writers should just join the party and break those novels up, there were some rays of sanity. Some wiser heads said: don't build your business on the shifting sands of KU. Write good books that readers want to read, build your fanbase, publish steadily, don't worry about the short term. Write for your fans, not the current marketplace and trends. I think that's still good advice.

Amazon will do what's best for Amazon. So far, they've shown some willingness to address the outright cheating, like click-farms and nonsense content and paid/incentivised reviews. They've shown less willingness to deal with stuffing, because stuffing alone isn't a problem for them. So I'm not holding my breath they'll do anything about it soon.

Personally, I'd be quite happy to see a lower cap. I have one epic fantasy that exceeds 1000 KENPC, and a box set of 2000 KENPC, but I really don't see that a box set or bundle serves any purpose in KU. The reader can still get all that material for free.

I'd also be happy to see the KENPC cap linked to book price, or the number of sales in proportion to borrows, or some combination, although that would be more challenging to implement. I'd also like to see KDP accounts limited to unique bank accounts, so that anyone starting a new KDP account would have to open a new bank account (an inconvenience for couples operating from a joint account, I know). And I'd love to see a limit on the number of books an account can publish in KU per month, if only to stop those irritating people who routinely unpublish and republish scores of books every month (a personal peeve of mine).

But, to be honest, we'd all be better getting back to the writing and not worrying too much about what Amazon might or could or should do.
   

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Offline Day Leitao

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #195 on: April 16, 2018, 05:40:50 AM »
I think lowering the cap is a helpful solution, and one Amazon could implement.

I know some people are complaining about how it would be unfair to writers if Epic and High fantasy, but frankly, I'd like to hear the opinion of these writers themselves.

Are many of them on KU? Is KU a high source of income for them? I don't know. Not a lot of the best-selling fantasy books are in KU, and many of them have less than 350 pages.

Offline HopelessFanatic

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #196 on: April 16, 2018, 05:41:15 AM »
I've been watching this and the other related threads with increasing bemusement. It's astonishing how upset people can be about KU and its ramifications. This might be a good moment to remind everyone that KU is optional. No one has to sign up to it. We all have the choice to decide whether it works for us at the moment, given the current rules, or whether it doesn't. And whether we're in or out, we still get to SELL books on Amazon (and elsewhere, if wide).

No one has the right to make money from KU. Being part of it, and making money from it, is a privilege, not a right. Let's never forget the KU1 to KU2 bombshell that destroyed lucrative careers overnight. In the build-up to that, when the long-form writers were grumbling about the short-form writers and scamphleteers distorting the system, and the short-form writers said that the long-form writers should just join the party and break those novels up, there were some rays of sanity. Some wiser heads said: don't build your business on the shifting sands of KU. Write good books that readers want to read, build your fanbase, publish steadily, don't worry about the short term. Write for your fans, not the current marketplace and trends. I think that's still good advice.

Amazon will do what's best for Amazon. So far, they've shown some willingness to address the outright cheating, like click-farms and nonsense content and paid/incentivised reviews. They've shown less willingness to deal with stuffing, because stuffing alone isn't a problem for them. So I'm not holding my breath they'll do anything about it soon.

Personally, I'd be quite happy to see a lower cap. I have one epic fantasy that exceeds 1000 KENPC, and a box set of 2000 KENPC, but I really don't see that a box set or bundle serves any purpose in KU. The reader can still get all that material for free.

I'd also be happy to see the KENPC cap linked to book price, or the number of sales in proportion to borrows, or some combination, although that would be more challenging to implement. I'd also like to see KDP accounts limited to unique bank accounts, so that anyone starting a new KDP account would have to open a new bank account (an inconvenience for couples operating from a joint account, I know). And I'd love to see a limit on the number of books an account can publish in KU per month, if only to stop those irritating people who routinely unpublish and republish scores of books every month (a personal peeve of mine).

But, to be honest, we'd all be better getting back to the writing and not worrying too much about what Amazon might or could or should do.

You pretty much took the words out of my mouth.

Kindle Unlimited is a choice. It's often the more profitable choice, at least in the short term, but it's far from the only one.

There is no solution that's going to make everyone happy. Scammers get targeted with the Amazon ban hammer? So do plenty of innocent authors caught in the cross-hairs. 1000 KNEP cap? Authors who write longer books are going to be capped at $4.00 - $4.50 per full read.

We can petition. We can argue. But none of that is going to change what Amazon will do. It took them a very long time to even address a scamming issue, and we still don't know exactly what they are doing.

They are not going to ask authors what their solution is to the problem. They are just going to do what they think will keep customers happy. Because happy customers equals money in their pocket. Happy authors? Eh. Very, very few authors would pull entirely from Amazon in protest.

Offline HopelessFanatic

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #197 on: April 16, 2018, 05:49:57 AM »
It won't stop them entirely, but it would greatly cut into their profits, because they would have to triple their advertising expenditures to make the same amount.

It does seem that aside from romance authors, a lot of people aren't terribly bothered by the fact that you can make more on a borrow than on a buy. In fact, for some authors, this appears to be working wonderfully.

Personally, I'm leaning toward petitioning Amazon to lower the romance cap to 1,000 or even 500. In romance, a 500-page cap would cover 99% of the books. it's true that the scammers would move on to other areas, but I guess at that point, it would be up to the authors in those particular genres to handle it or petition Amazon however they see fit.

A similar solution is to ask Amazon to cap the amount you can earn per-borrow at the amount you can earn per-buy. No doubt, fantasy authors would object to that, too. So once again, I'd be happy to propose that for romance only and see how this shakes out.

If you punish romance authors by only reducing their cap (rather than everyone's), the stuffers will just move their books to other categories.

We choose our own categories. If a certain category is going to limit a person's ability to make money, they are going to work around it.

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #198 on: April 16, 2018, 05:54:05 AM »
Sorry, but just because you like writing tiny ol books, doesn't mean the rest of us have to suffer because of it. My first ever published book was over 200K and its sequel was 220K. According to you, I should be punished for writing long books that readers love so much they launched my career.

90k or 120k is not "tiny" by any definition that anyone in the publishing industry uses, so you're being a bit silly with that. And you wouldn't be prohibited from writing/publishing long books. This is about KU specifically, not any book published on Amazon. You would still have the option of publishing your book for sale and not being in KU. Or being in KU with the knowledge that you'd be taking a hit. There are risks and compromises no matter which you pick (KU or wide) anyway, so it's not like a limit is the same as saying you can't publish your books, which is kind of what you're making it out to be.

Offline Anarchist

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #199 on: April 16, 2018, 06:23:06 AM »
I very much doubt that authors' opinions had anything to do with the switch from KU1 to KU2. I know I pulled all my stuff during that period when the whole serial/pamphlet thing was out of hand, and authors in my genre were making 6-10x what I was from the same length of actual book, just by splitting it up. At the time, I had been doing extremely well in KU, and I let KDP know I wasn't happy, as did many other novelists who pulled their stuff.

They did not care.

They cared once readers started complaining--hard--that Kindle Unlimited had become Kink Unlimited, that all they could find were pieces of books and erotica. Amazon fired warning shots across the bow--sent out an unprecedented email to KDP authors saying that readers wanted NOVELS. Authors didn't change their behavior, because it wasn't in their self-interest to do so. They could make that 6x more by splitting up their book, and they'd have had to be stupid (or be me) not to do it. Six months later, boom, there was KU2. THEN people screamed.

In my experience, having been at this since 2012, authors can write in until they're blue in the face, just as Amazon could tell authors that readers wanted novels until they were blue in the face. I can't tell you how many bestselling indies--and I mean people in the top 100 of all indie authors--have complained to Amazon about the book stuffing, the botting, the giveaways and review incentives. I have done so myself. We've all received absolutely nothing of substance in response. If Amazon cares at all (and I think recent measures show that they are finally starting to), it's because some really big names in romance have recently pulled their stuff from Select, and their READERS have told Amazon how unhappy they are about it. Or have canceled their subscriptions in enough numbers to matter. It may be that it is finally in Amazon's self-interest to care, which is the same thing that brought us KU2.

It is what it is. We don't get to choose what Amazon or any other vendor does. All we can choose is our response. We can also look at what we think is likely to happen next and choose our own next moves accordingly. But I suspect you're wasting your time trying to organize some kind of letter-writing campaign, or whatever it is. They care about their readers.

In my opinion, this post nails it.

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