Author Topic: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages  (Read 9110 times)  

Online Dpock

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #50 on: April 13, 2018, 06:37:08 PM »
Most "legitimate" authors only use one or two bonus books, but that can easily be over 1k KENPC. IME, 1k KENPC is about 160k words.

Most marketers use 4-5+ bonus books.

I have an 80k book that comes out to 386 KENP, so logically 160 would equal 772 (though I know it's not an exact science). Anyway, I think the 1000 KENP limit is unworkable in any form and do not support it. Limiting bonus content to a percentage of total content makes sense to--apparently--just me. In any event, I think bonus content of any sort should NOT exceed the KENP of the titled book on the product page.


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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #51 on: April 13, 2018, 06:44:09 PM »
First of all, this is a mathematically silly idea if the objective is more visibility in KU versus bookstuffers. They will just create more, smaller books clogging up the charts 3x as much to make the same income. This would make the problem worse, not better.

Second, LOTS of authors (epic fantasy primarily) write books longer than 200k (1000 KENP-ish.) Cut the books up, you say? Where should Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix be chopped, which contains 257k words? How about Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer, coming in as over 1,200 print pages?

Just let them not get paid for those pages, you say?

So, let me get this straight: someone who might spend 2-3 years on a tome, creating an entirely new world with its own cultures, languages, races, economies, and geography, then hire an illustrator to create a map for that world, then spend $1,000-3,000 on cover art, then spend $3k+ in developmental and line editing on a 250-300k word book, all so that they might possibly create something that could someday become a timeless classic, should be paid LESS PER PAGE overall so that your man-chest covered 55k romance novel that you wrote in a month can have more visibility versus bookstuffers?

How about this - since the vast majority of the bookstuffers are in the romance genre, maybe romance writers should get half the KU rate. That sound fair? Or maybe just kick them all out of KU. No? Don't like that idea, do ya, when you're the one having the monetary value of your work reduced?

You lose all moral high ground when you're willing to throw an entire genre of writers under the bus so you can make a few extra bucks. And it wouldn't even give you the desired result.

I have a simple question for you. Why does any author of fiction deserve more than $10 take home per book? You used J K Rowling as an example. One of the best known fantasy writers of our time. There is not a single book that she writes that SHE takes home $10 per copy on. Many of her paperbacks are sold for less than $10.
Books have a value limit regardless of length or time it takes to write them. For decades trade paperbacks have had a set price range regardless of their length. Quality determines how many people read it and to a small extent how much you can charge for it, but there always is a maximum the market will pay. Rowling doesn't just say my books is longer than Roberts book so I deserve more.

Do I think  a 270k book is as valuable as a 50k book? It depends on the book. I don't read epic fantasy so I would say that 50k book might be worth more too me. Do I appreciate the work that it takes to write that novel? absolutely

« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 06:52:56 PM by idontknowyet »

Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #52 on: April 13, 2018, 06:50:38 PM »
Why would the page read rate go down if all the gray hat and outright scammed reads would be removed? It's possible, but doesn't strike me as likely. Unless Amazon is subsidizing the pot and then would drop it to cut costs. Which is possible, but that's another issue entirely.

Firstly, I doubt all, or even most scammed reads would be removed. They'd find new ways to cheat the system, and as someone else pointed out, many scam books are already less than 1000 KENP.

Secondly, if enough readers stop paying for a KU subscription - last I knew, KU was definitely losing readers - payouts will drop for sure. Or a myriad other factors could lead to lower payouts. It has happened before.

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #53 on: April 13, 2018, 07:49:22 PM »
I have an 80k book that comes out to 386 KENP, so logically 160 would equal 772 (though I know it's not an exact science). Anyway, I think the 1000 KENP limit is unworkable in any form and do not support it. Limiting bonus content to a percentage of total content makes sense to--apparently--just me. In any event, I think bonus content of any sort should NOT exceed the KENP of the titled book on the product page.

The thing is, Amazon clearly doesn't care about limiting bonus content. If they cared, they'd do it.

Dropping the cap is all upside for Amazon. They no longer have to pay more than $5/read. The rate will go up, authors will be happy, they'll be able to spend less topping off the pot.

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #54 on: April 13, 2018, 08:03:36 PM »
I have a simple question for you. Why does any author of fiction deserve more than $10 take home per book? You used J K Rowling as an example. One of the best known fantasy writers of our time. There is not a single book that she writes that SHE takes home $10 per copy on. Many of her paperbacks are sold for less than $10.
Books have a value limit regardless of length or time it takes to write them. For decades trade paperbacks have had a set price range regardless of their length. Quality determines how many people read it and to a small extent how much you can charge for it, but there always is a maximum the market will pay. Rowling doesn't just say my books is longer than Roberts book so I deserve more.

Do I think  a 270k book is as valuable as a 50k book? It depends on the book. I don't read epic fantasy so I would say that 50k book might be worth more too me. Do I appreciate the work that it takes to write that novel? absolutely

Respectfully, your reply would suggest that you are unfamiliar with the costs associated with successfully publishing independently. Even with a mythical 3,000 KENP book, no author is netting $10/book. That's particularly true in the epic genres; production costs of a quality 200k+ novel are astronomical. When you factor in marketing costs, margins shrink by as much as half again. More, while launching - and that does not take into account the additional risk associated with writing epics.

That being said, we're talking about a closed system wherein a retailer pays by the page. In that context, there is no defense of the argument that a short book should earn more per page than a longer book that takes several multiples of time, money, and energy to produce, and entertains the reader for significantly longer. That is not a value judgement, of course; the value of any art is in the eye of the beholder. To try to increase the earnings of short book authors at the expense of long book authors, in order to address a problem that is not the fault of the long book author, is unreasonable.

To those who say, "well, epic fantasy authors are a minority," I'd say this: why does that make an action that harms them any more defensible? Because you think you are many, and they are few, that makes a campaign like this somehow more moral? I absolutely 100% agree that there needs to be a solution to resolve blatant and flagrant bookstuffing. But punishing fellow authors - no matter how few you think they may be - in order to improve your own visibility is a flat out indefensible position. In a system that pays by the quantity of pages read, limiting the amount of legitimate pages another author can get paid for is thievery.

Anyone who is not deficient in human empathy should understand as much, but if you still feel this is a fight worth starting, watch what happens if the idea of a 1k page cap gains momentum. You'll find out just how powerful, vocal, and organized the epic fantasy community can be.

Offline Jack Krenneck

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #55 on: April 13, 2018, 08:45:08 PM »
It's a no from me.

The proposal will do nothing to stop scammers. But it will penalize people with legitimately longer books/box sets. And there are lots of them.

Offline dgcasey

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #56 on: April 13, 2018, 09:12:44 PM »
The worst offenders, those who are exploiting the system, are spending a majority of their earnings on advertising--$1500-$2000 or more a day between Facebook and AMS ads. Probably more in certain special circumstances. They're able to do this because they have huge advertising budgets, a whole company based on hiring full-time salaried PAs, and a cadre of ghostwriters at their disposal. They're spending tremendous amounts of money to make very little, but they are making some profits, which encourages the behavior.

Are you kidding me? First of all, what makes you think they're advertising their books? They don't give a fig about ranking or advertising. They'd rather fly under the radar anyway. They stuff a bunch of meaningless pages into a book and then they have their click farms read through the book and they get paid. They don't want a whole lot of human eyes looking between their covers.

And second, I doubt they have a large number of ghostwriters or large companies. Most of their "books" are plagiarized works from other authors. The last time I went looking for these thieves I found a whole raft of books filled with bits and pieces of Wizard of Oz books and some out of print Russian novels. It doesn't take an army of ghost writers to create these books. I could create a dozen of them in an hour if I wanted to.

Your "solution" does nothing to fix the problem. It just makes the scammers rework their methods and continue exactly as before.
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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #57 on: April 13, 2018, 09:16:20 PM »
What evidence is there to suggest Amazon would be inclined to increase the KU payout if the cap drops from 3,000 words to 1,000? Let's go crazy and say this wipes out the scammers--why would Amazon keep the global fund at a level that would, with scammers gone, dramatically increase payouts? It's pretty clear Amazon believes KU's payout range is acceptable for authors in the program. Amazon's a business. If they can invest less money while keeping KU's payout the same, why wouldn't they? How will they possibly be positively impacted by paying authors more?

Further, I don't think it's silly to expect Amazon to police its own storefront. I think the viewpoint that Amazon is incapable of doing so is rather absurd, actually. KU is a program they created, and they should be responsible for ensuring it works as intended--for both authors and customers.

Ultimately, writing is a business for me. KU is a tool that makes my business, as a fantasy author with long books and box-sets, more profitable than going wide. If the cap dropped to 1,000, that would no longer be the case, and I'd simply leave the program. I suppose that could serve as Amazon's motivation to pay authors more per page in the event they cap pages at 1,000, but the increase would have to be substantial.

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #58 on: April 13, 2018, 09:16:48 PM »
Or Amazon could just deal with the people who are engaging in stuffing. It is not at all uncommon for epic fantasy authors to exceed 200,000 words. Not everyone in self-publishing writes short books.

This proposal would drive epic fantasy authors out of KU, and KU has a thriving epic fantasy market.

+1. As someone who writes epic/military fantasy books over 200,000 words often enough, I agree with this. If legitimate reads were taken from me as a reaction to a crime I did not commit, I'd leave KU immediately.

I can't stand scammers, but lowering the cap wouldn't just hurt honest authors who spend immense time writing doorstopper books, it also wouldn't solve the problem. Authors can split their longer books up and annoy their readerbase, but the scammers will adapt and multiply their output. Overall, everyone loses.

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #59 on: April 13, 2018, 09:37:40 PM »
1k is still too high, 750 works better. 750 is about 600 print pages or about 160k words long. Nick did some nice math that supports the theory that money = money.

Reality check: Zon is NOT going to invest anything into resolving this. Changing the cap is the equivalent of checking a box, followed by literally no action at all. They might do this. Hopefully, we can talk them into checking one more box - limit the number of books an account can enroll into KU each month.

Some things to consider...

1. If we're going to discuss this with any hope of achieving a meaningful outcome or recommendation, we have to be objective and replace our individual interests with our shared interest - we have to be pragmatic about OUR industry, not about the personal loss of a few percentage points.
2. KU was never designed as a platform for box sets any more than it was designed for a handful of writers that publish extremely long books.
3. Amazon's regular store and B&N and Kobo and Apple, those platforms were design precisely for these types of books - for purchase.
4. KU is a subscription service, and as such, bound by completely different rules - rules that need to change as necessary.
5. The upside of a lower cap is that all of our individual titles will still be available, so there should be no loss in page reads and we can still sell our box sets. Well, to be fair, you'd still be able to publish 4k long books in KU, if you're really worried about the reader's experience, you're just not going to get paid for anything above 750. Cake and eat it too - everybody wins.
6 For the gray-hat entrepreneurs, it's all about ROI. To stay even will require four times the work, four times the investment, time, money, advertising and gray hats, which means a 75% loss in ROI. It's suddenly not so easy to game the system. It's a lot of work for a lot lower return. Many will search for greener pastures and better opportunities. But some will double down, however, now their activities will become four times more obvious, and if we limit the number of new books enrolled into KU per month to 3, then each account is earning less as well - more downward pressure on ROI. At some point, to remain even, they'll have to have a [crap]-ton of books in the store, so many books that Zon will take notice and be forced to address the situation because customers will complain - a lot.
7. Al Capone was arrested for tax evasion.
8. Zon doesn't have to make draconian rules to prevent this activity, they just have to make it a lot less profitable.

A 750 KENPC Cap would stifle a significant percentage of the gray hat stuff, with minimal impact on the overwhelming majority of writers in KU. Additionally, it would make the system, mostly, a single title one, which would level the playing field. If nothing else, lowering the cap will greatly diminish new gray-hat entries into KU because the profit incentive will have been drastically reduced.

Or...Zon could simply change to a 'by invitation only' enrollment process for KU.

Respectfully, your reply would suggest that you are unfamiliar with the costs associated with successfully publishing independently.

Also, with all due respect, how much one chooses to invest into their digital products is up to their own business model, but the marginal cost of selling digital books or having them borrowed is the same for all of us - zero.

Does it really make sense that Zon should model a subscription service uniquely designed to facilitate a higher return on investment per borrow for epic fantasy writers to the exclusion of all other genres? Or does it make sense that Zon should try to achieve an equilibrium between genres?

Quote
To those who say, "well, epic fantasy authors are a minority," I'd say this: why does that make an action that harms them any more defensible?

So it's okay to do nothing and let the romance writers continue to take the hit?

And it's not because they are a minority, like they have no voice in the matter - it's because in the big scheme of things, the unpaid page reads over the new cap represent a really tiny percentage of the overall revenue being dispersed.  When discussing large numbers and platform populations, we have to minimize the negative impact in the aggregate.

___

This whole thing is like a bad job. At some point, if you refuse to quit and find another, you forfeit the right to b*tch and whine.

We need to either get on the same page, and figure out a solution that raises the most boats, or say [expletive] it - but then no one gets to complain, not even when Zon shuts down your account without notice because they finally had a thought about all of this.

We can do better.



Video removed. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca



« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 11:03:32 PM by Becca Mills »

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #60 on: April 13, 2018, 09:51:24 PM »
Maybe Amazon will tire of the added expense involved with and the potential damage to their brand in the eyes of consumers coming from self-published works and they'll close KU to indies entirely leaving it as a platform for trad authors and a growing roster of APub authors.

Or perhaps they'll demonetize indie titles in KU altogether, leaving Select as an option for self-publishers only as a free promotional "opportunity" to entice readers into their paid funnels, i.e. selling wide, which would then be their only option.

I'm not saying I think the above will happen, who knows, but at some point when it comes to court expenses, negative publicity, irate customers, irate authors, automation/anti-scamming costs and various other headaches at some point Amazon might say enough is enough.

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #61 on: April 13, 2018, 09:57:10 PM »
Respectfully, your reply would suggest that you are unfamiliar with the costs associated with successfully publishing independently. Even with a mythical 3,000 KENP book, no author is netting $10/book. That's particularly true in the epic genres; production costs of a quality 200k+ novel are astronomical. When you factor in marketing costs, margins shrink by as much as half again. More, while launching - and that does not take into account the additional risk associated with writing epics.

That being said, we're talking about a closed system wherein a retailer pays by the page. In that context, there is no defense of the argument that a short book should earn more per page than a longer book that takes several multiples of time, money, and energy to produce, and entertains the reader for significantly longer. That is not a value judgement, of course; the value of any art is in the eye of the beholder. To try to increase the earnings of short book authors at the expense of long book authors, in order to address a problem that is not the fault of the long book author, is unreasonable.

To those who say, "well, epic fantasy authors are a minority," I'd say this: why does that make an action that harms them any more defensible? Because you think you are many, and they are few, that makes a campaign like this somehow more moral? I absolutely 100% agree that there needs to be a solution to resolve blatant and flagrant bookstuffing. But punishing fellow authors - no matter how few you think they may be - in order to improve your own visibility is a flat out indefensible position. In a system that pays by the quantity of pages read, limiting the amount of legitimate pages another author can get paid for is thievery.

Anyone who is not deficient in human empathy should understand as much, but if you still feel this is a fight worth starting, watch what happens if the idea of a 1k page cap gains momentum. You'll find out just how powerful, vocal, and organized the epic fantasy community can be.

Time does not determine value. There are many 50-70k books that have taken years for the author to write. I will give you that editing costs for a longer book is significantly more. When it comes to marketing romance is a pretty competitive genre. As an indie you choose how much to spend and where to spend it. Marketing costs don't determine the value of your book. The issue at hand is market and value.

Amazon created an entirely new market for authors. One that simply didn't exist before. KU is a flawed system that they created to drive market share to Amazon not to make money for authors. They created a value system that is not based on a normal market. This system has been incredibly sucessful for Amazon. As a reader I have not seen the world from the authors view point, but if i had to hazzard a guess Amazon is not concerned as much about the author as they are about the reader.  When all I could find was a sea of novellas, I cancelled my KU subscription. I, as many other KU readers do, prefer to read a book that is a book and not a chapter. You the author felt it was unfair that people were paid the same for a chapter as they were for a 200k+ book. Amazon changed it to "be fair" or did it change it to make readers happier.  We can hope it was a little of both.

How Amazon currently determines what a page is worth or even a book is a mystery to all. They certainly wont share it with us the author. The only market we can base actual value on is the one that is data driven. We can see what consumers are willing to pay for a book. It is not $14 per ebook. Yes there may be a few that sell at the rate, but for most that do it is only for a short time and not as high a volume as they sell at a lower price. Many consumers want to pay $10 to read as many books as they want within a month. To decide that any one group of people want to steal from you because they want to solve a problem with a flawed system is a bit much. I believe this forum is all about helping others to succeed.

I do believe your view point is flawed. You are now fighting people that are trying to help fix a system, because it has inflated the value of your book.

Why does Amazon allow such a high KENP if the first place. If i had to guess it would be not for the single long novel, but instead for all the box sets out there. Poeple like box sets therefor Amazon likes boxed sets.  Does Amazon want to pay 4x more than the cost of a single book to have them in KU. No fiscally it makes no sense. Why do they accept it then, because it is a small loss comparitively.

I personally dont think Amazon wants to get rid of stuffers. Bots yes  Scammers yes   Stuffers nope    Why dont they? Because stuffers make them money. Do they make them money on KU? Nope  Stuffers make them money in ads and market share. Stuffers can bid more so they drive up the price of ads. Not just for other stuffers but across the board. Where people might cap out at .26 cents per click they are now bidding $1-2 per click because rank is important on Amazon. 

Now I dont know anything about your book personally. If you are one of the few that are selling a ebooks for $14+, great that is the value of your book. If you arent, please dont let a abritrary valuation that Amazon can change at any moment determine your reality.

If you want to fix the stuffers problem make a suggestion as to how. Don't accuse the people that are trying to help others of stealing from you.

Who knows where KU will end up if the problems in it arent fixed.

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #62 on: April 13, 2018, 10:26:19 PM »
To those who write books over 1,000 pages long, do you think it's realistic to expect to make more from a borrow than from an actual sale? If so, your expectations might be warped due to the strange world of KU. This is similar to how those who wrote 50-page novellas under KU 1.0 expected to be paid the same for a borrow as for a 1,000-page fantasy book.

When a system works for us, it's easy to ignore its inherent flaws and accept the system as normal. But flawed systems are rarely sustainable, especially when they're so flawed that they're easy to game. They lead to unnatural behavior, such as chopping up books in KU 1.0 and stuffing books in KU 2.0.

As it stands, the system is unsustainable. And it will only become more unsustainable as more authors are pushed into either (1) dropping out of KU entirely because they can't compete with the stuffers or (2) stuffing (or worse) because it's the only way they can make any money.

Offline sammie997

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #63 on: April 13, 2018, 10:39:08 PM »
1k is still too high, 750 works better. 750 is about 600 print pages or about 160k words long. Nick did some nice math that supports the theory that money = money.

Reality check: Zon is NOT going to invest anything into resolving this. Changing the cap is the equivalent of checking a box, followed by literally no action at all. They might do this. Hopefully, we can talk them into checking one more box - limit the number of books an account can enroll into KU each month.

Some things to consider...

1. If we're going to discuss this with any hope of achieving a meaningful outcome or recommendation, we have to be objective and replace our individual interests with our shared interest - we have to be pragmatic about OUR industry, not about the personal loss of a few percentage points.
2. KU was never designed as a platform for box sets any more than it was designed for a handful of writers that publish extremely long books.
3. Amazon's regular store and B&N and Kobo and Apple, those platforms were design precisely for these types of books - for purchase.
4. KU is a subscription service, and as such, bound by completely different rules - rules that need to change as necessary.
5. The upside of a lower cap is that all of our individual titles will still be available, so there should be no loss in page reads and we can still sell our box sets. Well, to be fair, you'd still be able to publish 4k long books in KU, if you're really worried about the reader's experience, you're just not going to get paid for anything above 750. Cake and eat it too - everybody wins.
6 For the gray-hat entrepreneurs, it's all about ROI. To stay even will require four times the work, four times the investment, time, money, advertising and gray hats, which means a 75% loss in ROI. It's suddenly not so easy to game the system. It's a lot of work for a lot lower return. Many will search for greener pastures and better opportunities. But some will double down, however, now their activities will become four times more obvious, and if we limit the number of new books enrolled into KU per month to 3, then each account is earning less as well - more downward pressure on ROI. At some point, to remain even, they'll have to have a [crap]-ton of books in the store, so many books that Zon will take notice and be forced to address the situation because customers will complain - a lot.
7. Al Capone was arrested for tax evasion, not criminal activity.
8. Zon doesn't have to make draconian rules to prevent this activity, they just have to make it a lot less profitable.

A 750 KENPC Cap would stifle a significant percentage of the gray hat stuff, with minimal impact on the overwhelming majority of writers in KU. Additionally, it would make the system, mostly, a single title one, which would level the playing field. If nothing else, lowering the cap will greatly diminish new gray-hat entries into KU because the profit incentive will have been drastically reduced.

Or...Zon could simply change to a 'by invitation only' enrollment process for KU.

Also, with all due respect, how much one chooses to invest into their digital products is up to their own business model, but the marginal cost of selling digital books or having them borrowed is the same for all of us - zero.

Does it really make sense that Zon should model a subscription service uniquely designed to facilitate a higher return on investment per borrow for epic fantasy writers to the exclusion of all other genres? Or does it make sense that Zon should try to achieve an equilibrium between genres?

So it's okay to do nothing and let the romance writers continue to take the hit?

And it's not because they are a minority, like they have no voice in the matter - it's because in the big scheme of things, the unpaid page reads over the new cap represent a really tiny percentage of the overall revenue being dispersed.  When discussing large numbers and platform populations, we have to minimize the negative impact in the aggregate.

___

This whole thing is like a bad job. At some point, if you refuse to quit and find another, you forfeit the right to b*tch and whine.

We need to either get on the same page, and figure out a solution that raises the most boats, or say [expletive] it - but then no one gets to complain, not even when Zon shuts down your account without notice because they finally had a thought about all of this.

We can do better.


Video removed. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca

You make statements above that have no basis in fact, yet you present them as fact:

"KU was never designed as a platform for box sets any more than it was designed for a handful of writers that publish extremely long books."

The more logical theory is that KU was designed to give readers the best value possible, so they become loyal to the brand. If that is the case, then KU absolutely was designed to encourage publishers, indie or otherwise, to offer lots of content at the most affordable possible price.

You talk about individual vs. shared interests - whose shared interests should we be catering to? Romance authors? Short story writers? Epic authors? Those somewhere in the middle? Those who write "average" length books, whatever that happens to be? Who gets to decide who wins and who suffers? At what point should quality be taken into account? At what point should the rarity of a type of work in relation to its demand be taken into account?

The idea of limiting the number of titles an account can submit makes next to no sense at all. Even a small imprint could have dozens of authors, all scheduling releases around the holidays.

You want KU to be curated, so only high-quality (and non-stuffed) work gets in? Books with original artwork, professional editing, formatting, and proofing? LET'S DO IT. Seriously, let's start a massive movement, all of us, and make it so a book can't get into KU without passing some kind of basic quality test. I LOVE that idea. You want to petition Amazon to add at least some degree of eyeballing to multi-volume sets, with clear limitations as to what's OK and what isn't? GREAT!

There are so many ways we authors can work together to encourage Amazon to make KU better. But if you're going to try to increase your margins at the cost of other legitimate authors by trying to get Amazon to tip the scales in your favor, it doesn't matter how many you harm. One is enough to make your actions selfish.

----


I'll leave this as my last comment to all before I get to work organizing the epic fantasy community against this nonsense. Plenty of authors succeed WILDLY in this ecosystem by writing great books and marketing them well.



Heavily edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 11:02:48 PM by Becca Mills »

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #64 on: April 13, 2018, 10:56:00 PM »
sammie997, further posts of that nature will lead to a ban from the thread. That kind of venomous, personal tone isn't how we roll around here.

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #65 on: April 13, 2018, 11:25:27 PM »
sammie997, further posts of that nature will lead to a ban from the thread. That kind of venomous, personal tone isn't how we roll around here.

Fair point on tone, Becca. Mea culpa, sincerely. I strongly feel, however, that this cannot be overstated: a vast, sweeping approach that could dramatically reduce the incomes of legitimate authors so that the "aggregate" can make some small gain in chart visibility is, in my opinion, more than "just business." It *is* personal. A 20% reduction in an author's income can make the difference between someone being able to keep their home or losing it to foreclosure. The authors who would be on the receiving end of this type of thing are real, live human beings, with families and bills - they're not the ones gaming the system. I think that fact gets lost when people start talking about what's best for the "aggregate," and it rankled me.

I will temper my tone in the future, and withdraw from this thread for now.

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #66 on: April 13, 2018, 11:27:04 PM »
I'm a romance author, and my books average 80,000 words. You know what's the perfect KU limit for me? 450 pages.

If I were only concerned with myself, or only romance authors, I'd push for a KU limit of 500 pages, or heck, even 400. So, to those who write very long books, please understand that we're not suggesting something that works for us and only us. If that were the case, we'd suggest a much lower limit. In truth, a 500-page limit would probably be enough to cover more than 90% of the books in the Kindle Store.

But we truly do want all genuine authors to succeed. Just the fact we're suggesting a limit of double that should let you know that we're seeking a compromise that will work for all of us. Right now, you feel safe and happy with KU, because the rot of stuffers and scammers hasn't so fully infected your genres. But if this keeps up, it's only a matter of time. How will you feel when you need to spend hundreds a day in advertising just to get any visibility? Or when you pull up your category and almost all the books are priced at 99-cents and stuffed with filler? Because if nothing changes, it really is only a matter of time.

Time and time again, Amazon has proved itself unwilling or unable to police their system. I suspect changes are coming sooner than later, and if we can agree on the best compromise, maybe we can guide them to modify the system to the benefit of all of us -- and of course, to the detriment of the scammers.

Offline Nicholas Erik

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #67 on: April 14, 2018, 12:06:32 AM »
To those who write books over 1,000 pages long, do you think it's realistic to expect to make more from a borrow than from an actual sale? If so, your expectations might be warped due to the strange world of KU. This is similar to how those who wrote 50-page novellas under KU 1.0 expected to be paid the same for a borrow as for a 1,000-page fantasy book.

When a system works for us, it's easy to ignore its inherent flaws and accept the system as normal. But flawed systems are rarely sustainable, especially when they're so flawed that they're easy to game. They lead to unnatural behavior, such as chopping up books in KU 1.0 and stuffing books in KU 2.0.

As it stands, the system is unsustainable. And it will only become more unsustainable as more authors are pushed into either (1) dropping out of KU entirely because they can't compete with the stuffers or (2) stuffing (or worse) because it's the only way they can make any money.

This sums up the problem succinctly. There was an overcorrection after KU1 to favor super long books. Amazon probably figured this wasn't as gameable, and they were right: it's hard to create an actual 200k word book. But it's less difficult to create one stuffed full of recipes and then bot-read. Each change has second order effects that are difficult to anticipate. The previous page cap helped clamp down on some of the more egregious stuffing behavior.

But the current system is not long for this world; the writing is on the wall. Emotions aside, the numbers don't work. The best option is to devise a solution that hurts the least number of authors. Worst case scenario, KU could just disappear. Or it could be replaced with a curated Prime Reads type thing. Neither of those are good for the majority, and a lot of mid-list authors would see their careers vanish overnight (not me, but I'm not all-in on KU). There are very few people writing legitimate 200k+ books. Way less than 1% of books. Most of these people will still get paid a little more than a sale for a full-read. That strikes me as reasonable (and sustainable), just not the skewed windfall that they might be accustomed to.

The botted massive bogus books are having a huge negative impact on KU. Capping the KENP payout immediately solves a raft of problems with these volumes, and it costs Amazon $0. That strikes me as a viable solution.

For the record, getting rid of KU box sets would hurt me, so I have skin in that game. But the single title per KU ASIN is a move that clearly needs to be made, too. Maybe they finally give us better options as a result, too, like bundling and series discounts. Who knows? What I do know is that the current stuffed titles, if allowed to continue, are going to result in changes that most of us are unlikely to find favorable. But a cap + single title rule hurts the least number of people and gets rid of most of the BS without requiring a huge effort on Amazon's part.

General comments in regards to what has been discussed in the thread:

This has nothing to do with chart visibility. It has to do with sustainability. 97.5% (e.g. getting $4 for a full read vs. $4.10 for a sale of a $5.99 book) of something is still a good living. 100% of nothing, if KU implodes, or Amazon changes the rules for the far worse, is...well, that affects many, many more people. Some people might think that KU dying is a good thing; I'm mostly indifferent, despite actively engaging in this discussion. But I'd prefer for the thousands of people who have staked their livelihoods on Amazon exclusivity not to be out in the cold - and if I can help support easy fixes that will enable that, I am willing to do so.

There is no perfect solution that doesn't affect someone. We can talk "fair" or "moral" all day long, but reality is reality, and that won't change. Regardless, the most moral solution, at least to my sensibilities, is to seek a solution that significantly reduces the number of people screwed - not declare the status quo as more fair just because you're not personally getting screwed right now. But everyone must ultimately decide such things for themselves.

Amazon is not going to curate books. They are not going to weed out bonus content beyond a certain percentage with manpower. They are not going to police the store. Should doesn't matter; they've never done it, and they're not going to do it. It is not in their corporate DNA. There are ways to work within what they are willing to do to make things better. Not perfect, but better.

If anything, though, these threads suggest that coming to an agreement on this is an almost impossible task. Amazon's solution, given KU1/KU2, will likely be more disruptive than a page cap or box sets disappearing. Hopefully that does not happen, but given past history, that hope strikes me as optimistic.

Back to writing; if anyone starts a concerted effort they'd like the community to get behind, please send me a PM. I'll be happy to support any reasonable efforts.

Nick
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 12:21:50 AM by Nicholas Erik »

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #68 on: April 14, 2018, 12:39:43 AM »


Amazon is not going to curate books.


Curate? No. Police? Yes, they do it all the time. They block books, shift their categories, suspend accounts, monitor formatting quality, etc. 24/7, quite contrary to your assertions. Their problem with book stuffing is due to their opaque TOS. Their own employees fail to fully grasp it.

If they limited the ratio of bonus content to title content, book length becomes a non-issue. It's a no-brainer. They've already got the manpower to enforce their TOS. What they lack is a clear TOS for their manpower to enforce. Initially, they decided ambiguity would give them wiggle-room. That's reasonable for a start-up program but counterproductive now (clearly). They need to grow up.


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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #69 on: April 14, 2018, 12:52:03 AM »
The worst offenders, those who are exploiting the system, are spending a majority of their earnings on advertising--$1500-$2000 or more a day between Facebook and AMS ads. Probably more in certain special circumstances. They're able to do this because they have huge advertising budgets, a whole company based on hiring full-time salaried PAs, and a cadre of ghostwriters at their disposal. They're spending tremendous amounts of money to make very little, but they are making some profits, which encourages the behavior.
This would seem to imply these "offenders" are working hard and spending lots of money in order to attract legitimate readers to read their books. I think that makes them "skilled marketers", not scammers. Arguing that the problem is they have too much money to spend on advertising is like arguing the local chain grocery is scamming because they can out-advertise the mom-and-pop store down on the corner.

The people who are actually hurting everyone in KU are the ones NOT advertising, because they don't need to...they buy their readers from click farms instead.


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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #70 on: April 14, 2018, 01:04:11 AM »
Curate? No. Police? Yes, they do it all the time. They block books, shift their categories, suspend accounts, monitor formatting quality, etc. 24/7, quite contrary to your assertions. Their problem with book stuffing is due to their opaque TOS. Their own employees fail to fully grasp it.

If they limited the ratio of bonus content to title content, book length becomes a non-issue. It's a no-brainer. They've already got the manpower to enforce their TOS. What they lack is a clear TOS for their manpower to enforce. Initially, they decided ambiguity would give them wiggle-room. That's reasonable for a start-up program but counterproductive now (clearly). They need to grow up.

Most of what you mentioned is automated or semi-automated. I was specifically talking about human interventions/policing, of which Amazon generally is not a fan, and which many are offering as the primary alternative to hard yes/no rules that can easily be checked by machines. My argument is not so much that these wouldn't work, it's more that whether or not they would work is irrelevant, since Amazon is exceedingly unlikely to implement any of them due to costs.

The costs of policing bonus content halfway decently are likely way, way higher than simply allowing the scammers to steal from the pot. Fully checking the bonus content likely demands a human review team, because any automated mechanism will easily be fooled - you could just stuff the extra book into a 700 page epilogue or Chapter 56 or whatever. They will have to check each book that comes in - even ones that are reuploaded, to fully catch the problem. Given the volume of titles on the store and being published per month, that's a lot of manpower.

Perhaps the aforementioned plagiarism checkers would be effective and sophisticated enough to prevent this and thus not necessitate hiring a bunch of additional employees. In that case, it is certainly a viable solution. You still need Amazon to build it (or license it and then integrate it into their systems), though, which takes time and resources. That's far from free - and you run the risk of their automated checker being less than reliable or introducing unforeseen problems into the fold, as some of their other automation does.

Nick

ETA: if anyone believes that actual human oversight is a better solution, then organize and make a proposal to KDP support. Given Amazon's corporate culture, and the associated costs, I don't see this gaining any traction with them, however, and believe efforts are much better focused on alternative solutions. An automated checking mechanism for duplicate content could work, assuming that Amazon gets it right. If anyone wants to put that forth as an alternative proposal to KDP, I am open to that, although there are surely some potential downsides that could end up irritating us all.

Now back to writing for real.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 01:24:04 AM by Nicholas Erik »

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #71 on: April 14, 2018, 01:23:52 AM »
This would seem to imply these "offenders" are working hard and spending lots of money in order to attract legitimate readers to read their books. I think that makes them "skilled marketers", not scammers.

If these "offenders" were truly paid according to real pages read by real customers, I could agree with this. But on many devices/systems, skipping around (such as through the TOC) can net you credit for pages that weren't actually read. Similarly, when they use the same story as stuffing in multiple books, they have the potential to be paid twice, three times, or more, for the same content.

Plus, there's nothing saying that they don't make use of both -- bots and advertising. If you're in the Amazon top 100, you'd better have some actual readers, not all bots, or even Amazon, as lax as they can be, will get suspicious.

Offline Alix Nichols

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #72 on: April 14, 2018, 01:56:44 AM »
For those on the fence, here's something to consider: Say there are 50 scammers (that's a VERY conservative estimate). Thanks to massive advertising budgets and clickfarms they each get 20M pages read/month (that's conservative too). Want to know their share of the KU pot? 50 x 20M x 0.0045 = 4.5M. That's a quarter of the total. In reality, it might be closer to half of the measly 20M that we get every month.

While the debate here continues, would writerbiter (the OP) be willing to start collecting signatures on his/her blog, a petition site or via email? I believe Nicholas Erik's suggestion to cap the page read payout based on the price is worth adding, but I'll sign either way.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 02:01:37 AM by Alix Nichols »
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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #73 on: April 14, 2018, 04:37:12 AM »
This sums up the problem succinctly. There was an overcorrection after KU1 to favor super long books. Amazon probably figured this wasn't as gameable, and they were right: it's hard to create an actual 200k word book. But it's less difficult to create one stuffed full of recipes and then bot-read. Each change has second order effects that are difficult to anticipate. The previous page cap helped clamp down on some of the more egregious stuffing behavior.

But the current system is not long for this world; the writing is on the wall. Emotions aside, the numbers don't work. The best option is to devise a solution that hurts the least number of authors. Worst case scenario, KU could just disappear. Or it could be replaced with a curated Prime Reads type thing. Neither of those are good for the majority, and a lot of mid-list authors would see their careers vanish overnight (not me, but I'm not all-in on KU). There are very few people writing legitimate 200k+ books. Way less than 1% of books. Most of these people will still get paid a little more than a sale for a full-read. That strikes me as reasonable (and sustainable), just not the skewed windfall that they might be accustomed to.

The botted massive bogus books are having a huge negative impact on KU. Capping the KENP payout immediately solves a raft of problems with these volumes, and it costs Amazon $0. That strikes me as a viable solution.

For the record, getting rid of KU box sets would hurt me, so I have skin in that game. But the single title per KU ASIN is a move that clearly needs to be made, too. Maybe they finally give us better options as a result, too, like bundling and series discounts. Who knows? What I do know is that the current stuffed titles, if allowed to continue, are going to result in changes that most of us are unlikely to find favorable. But a cap + single title rule hurts the least number of people and gets rid of most of the BS without requiring a huge effort on Amazon's part.

General comments in regards to what has been discussed in the thread:

This has nothing to do with chart visibility. It has to do with sustainability. 97.5% (e.g. getting $4 for a full read vs. $4.10 for a sale of a $5.99 book) of something is still a good living. 100% of nothing, if KU implodes, or Amazon changes the rules for the far worse, is...well, that affects many, many more people. Some people might think that KU dying is a good thing; I'm mostly indifferent, despite actively engaging in this discussion. But I'd prefer for the thousands of people who have staked their livelihoods on Amazon exclusivity not to be out in the cold - and if I can help support easy fixes that will enable that, I am willing to do so.

There is no perfect solution that doesn't affect someone. We can talk "fair" or "moral" all day long, but reality is reality, and that won't change. Regardless, the most moral solution, at least to my sensibilities, is to seek a solution that significantly reduces the number of people screwed - not declare the status quo as more fair just because you're not personally getting screwed right now. But everyone must ultimately decide such things for themselves.

Amazon is not going to curate books. They are not going to weed out bonus content beyond a certain percentage with manpower. They are not going to police the store. Should doesn't matter; they've never done it, and they're not going to do it. It is not in their corporate DNA. There are ways to work within what they are willing to do to make things better. Not perfect, but better.

If anything, though, these threads suggest that coming to an agreement on this is an almost impossible task. Amazon's solution, given KU1/KU2, will likely be more disruptive than a page cap or box sets disappearing. Hopefully that does not happen, but given past history, that hope strikes me as optimistic.

Back to writing; if anyone starts a concerted effort they'd like the community to get behind, please send me a PM. I'll be happy to support any reasonable efforts.

Nick

Nick, perhaps you answered this elsewhere. If so, I apologize. What is there to suggest the scamming, click farms, etc. wouldn't simply continue under a new, lower cap? This is what happened the last time the cap was dropped, no?

Caps have not discouraged, to any measurable extent, botted, bogus books in the past, indicating it's not a viable solution and is certainly not an answer for the long-term viability of KU.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 04:39:17 AM by El-Do »

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Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« Reply #74 on: April 14, 2018, 07:09:29 AM »
Are you kidding me? First of all, what makes you think they're advertising their books? They don't give a fig about ranking or advertising. They'd rather fly under the radar anyway. They stuff a bunch of meaningless pages into a book and then they have their click farms read through the book and they get paid. They don't want a whole lot of human eyes looking between their covers.

And second, I doubt they have a large number of ghostwriters or large companies. Most of their "books" are plagiarized works from other authors. The last time I went looking for these thieves I found a whole raft of books filled with bits and pieces of Wizard of Oz books and some out of print Russian novels. It doesn't take an army of ghost writers to create these books. I could create a dozen of them in an hour if I wanted to.

Your "solution" does nothing to fix the problem. It just makes the scammers rework their methods and continue exactly as before.

You're seeing only half of the problem.

Look at the top 100. Look in romance. Over half of the romance books in the top 100 are produced this way. They're publishers, not authors. Their romances hit the top 100 with 8-11 books stuffed into the back. They publish 2-4 books a month, just in romance--and now they're targetting other genres as well.

Amazon will remove the Wizard of Ozes and out-of-print novels when they're reported. But the romances are legitimate to them, and those are the ones adding millions upon millions of pages to the pot every month. The top KU bonus threshold has moved from 12 million page reads to over 20 million page reads because of them--romance authors consistently hitting the top 100 with 3000 KNEP files.