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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: H.M. Ward on November 28, 2014, 11:10:11 AM

Title: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on November 28, 2014, 11:10:11 AM
Ok, some of you already know, but I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. Thats counting borrows and bonuses.  :o My sales dropped like a stone. The number of borrows was higher than sales. They didn't compliment each other, as expected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon, stop following other companies and break the mold.

Ok, I'm done ranting. Back to writing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 28, 2014, 11:14:38 AM
HUGSSSSSSS Holly.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Sheluvspink on November 28, 2014, 11:17:46 AM
OMG 75 percent :o I pulled out of Select a while ago to go permafree and it was the best decision I ever made. I make more at Apple than Amazon. I know if a megaseller like you can't make it work I defintly won't be expirementing with it again.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Carol Davis on November 28, 2014, 11:18:42 AM
Wow! That's alarmingly eye-opening, Holly.  I had assumed that things would hum along nicely for you guys who are top sellers.  I'm so sorry to hear that your sales took such a catastrophic dive.

Sending good wishes to you and your family!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SunshineOnMe on November 28, 2014, 11:23:11 AM
(((((((big hug))))))))))) So sorry about your child.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: NoahPorter on November 28, 2014, 11:23:45 AM
Me too.

Down $5,000+ this month from my past 24 month average. Just terrible.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lydniz on November 28, 2014, 11:24:07 AM
Wow - if someone like you is saying this then Amazon really need to take notice. I hope you manage to pull it all back ASAP.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D. Zollicoffer on November 28, 2014, 11:24:20 AM
I agree! I've been saying that they need to pay us a flat rate ever since it was announced. We shouldn't have to share a "pot". I wish more authors would call them out because it's honestly ridiculous. Music streaming services don't make artist share a pot.

It may have made sense a few years ago, but now it's just insulting. I enrolled my books in KU, but I won't be re-enrolling them. It's just not worth it since you have to guess how much you're going to make.

It's nice to hear from a best-selling author. I know some posters are making a lot from KU, so it's interesting (and shocking) to find out you were making less.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: darkline on November 28, 2014, 11:32:41 AM
I'm sorry to hear that. 75% is a lot.  This is quite alarming.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: kirtkinkly on November 28, 2014, 11:32:49 AM
Wow, I have no idea that putting your works in KU is so risky. You know what? I think I am going to create a new pen name and spread it out to other stores to test the water.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: GeneDoucette on November 28, 2014, 11:33:11 AM
this is very eye-opening.  And I love the subscribe-to-author idea.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on November 28, 2014, 11:45:00 AM
Wow! That's alarmingly eye-opening, Holly.  I had assumed that things would hum along nicely for you guys who are top sellers.  I'm so sorry to hear that your sales took such a catastrophic dive.

Sending good wishes to you and your family!

That's why I posted this info. I assumed I was the only one. I thought I was too stupid to make KU work, but both months I was an 'All Star' so something just doesn't work. Plus other heavy hitters starting talking, telling me a similar story. The model itself is flawed.

I spoke about this with my rep b4 the program was launched and my concerns weren't addressed. They couldn't be. I'm not an idiot and know a lot more about sales and marketing than the average author. Amazon was hellbent on the model being awesome and talked me into trying it. Things did what I hypothesized, not at all the way they'd hoped or thought. :/ I should have trusted my gut and stayed away.

Thank you for the well wishes for my boy. When it rains, it pours. Thank God I'm cheap and saved all my pennies. My insurance won't pay, & if I didn't have this job we'd be screwed. KDP isn't just a service, they've taken many families out of poverty and put food on tables. They're like an employer and when they make changes it affects thousands of ppl.

We need a win win idea. I'm routing for kdp, hoping they'll reexamine things and try again. And this time when the writers with biz brains point out the flaws, plz listen. Too many families depend on you guys, and until this whole KU incident I couldn't think of one bad thing to say about kdp. That alone is astounding bc I'm not easy-going.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: M M on November 28, 2014, 11:50:35 AM
Thanks so much for posting this.  KU can (and is) quickly turning into a race to the bottom. We need to look at what's best strategically for authors as a group and band together.  KU feels like divide and conquer, and if it is, we will all lose long term. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Evenstar on November 28, 2014, 11:56:35 AM
I'm really really sorry for you and the effect the drop has had, but I'm really kind of glad for the rest of us that people like you are making a point of saying it isn't working.

My Amazon sales plummeted when KU came out, and because I am not in Select at all they have never really recovered, if it wasn't for Googleplay then I think I would be on the verge of giving up.

Also I found the All-Stars thing really insulting. I know some of "our own" have been rewarded and I'm thrilled for them, but it just reminded me of a huge scandal here in the UK where the banks were paying their chief executives huge bonuses and all the little people were totally ignored. But that's another rant... But I'm still a bit feeling kind of betrayed by Amazon for it.

Big hugs, Holly, and I'm behind you on this one 100%
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 28, 2014, 12:01:03 PM
I love Holly and I have been following her for a while now.   I was not surprised to hear that she was losing sales.    The reason for that is because she is a big name in her genre.   I would imagine many readers probably in the thousands thought oh cool, I can read most if not all of her books for free.   Enough readers that even that All-Star bonus would not offset the loss.    So in her case being big hurt instead of helped.
I am glad Amazon let her pull out of KU.
More hugsss.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Avis Black on November 28, 2014, 12:06:51 PM
If you were seeing a big income drop even with the bonus, then the other All-Stars are likely seeing this, too.  I wouldn't be surprised if they start fleeing KULL en masse.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: rcasey on November 28, 2014, 12:09:52 PM
LONG term lurker here. Hi all!

Holly - I'm very, very sorry to hear about your loss of earnings. And I wish your child the best, too.

I'd like to add my voice to the choir of KU discontent. Before KU launched, I had seven novels, multiple serials and a few shorts through various names, and I was making a living solely writing fiction.

Along comes KU and now... well, I'm not.

My earnings are roughly 60% what they were back before KU launched with four releases since. I tried out KU for a few of my novels, saw a lot of borrows but a massive loss in earnings, so took them out again.

Now, earnings aren't what they were, but they're holding steady again. I have the great people at Kobo to thank for consistently spotlighting some of my books, meaning two months of bigger Kobo sales than Zon right now.

Im just trying my best to keep on writing, keep on improving my storytelling and quietly assessing. I don't know how things will stand in a year, but I do know that I'm not happy with the borrow rate for novels right now, and I hope Amazon listens to the author discontent and does something about KU.

I just don't know what that something is.

Good luck to all, whether you're in or out of KU. There is no right or wrong way, only your way, the way that works for you and your business.

For me and my business, that isn't Kindle Unlimited. Not right now.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SevenDays on November 28, 2014, 12:11:38 PM
If you were seeing a big income drop even with the bonus, then the other All-Stars are likely seeing this, too.  I wouldn't be surprised if they start fleeing KULL en masse.

Yeah, I think Rosalind mention pulling out of Select, too, and going wide. I think she'll do very, VERY well in the other sales channels.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: K.B. on November 28, 2014, 12:12:35 PM
KU launched a few weeks after I released my debut novel. In two weeks, I had racked up over 300 sales. The day KU hit, my sales dropped to 0-1 a day. They never recovered.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on November 28, 2014, 12:13:49 PM
The model itself is flawed.

The subscription model for ebooks makes no sense, but Amazon are chasing after Scribd and the other subscription providers. The difference, as I see it, is that the 'pay authors the full amount' model like Scribd makes no sense for them, whereas the 'pay authors a discount rate' like KU makes no sense for us.

KU will probably just fade away over the next few months as more and more writers abandon it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jan Hurst-Nicholson on November 28, 2014, 12:14:31 PM
Add me to the list of authors getting fleeced. I have been watching a steady decline the past two to three months, wondering what the heck?!? I am down probably 40% on average and that's WITH a new release. I have two titles in KU, the rest are not. I do get some borrows, but it's not enough to touch what I was making several months ago. I've been watching the rants on the 10% from the sidelines and it seems there are tons of folks putting out serial shorts to get that KU amount. I don't agree with it, and think there should be a minimum word count at the very least lest novelists are forced to compete with a host of short story and pamphlet writers for the same pay. It's an unfair system, in my opinion. On a personal note, sorry to hear about your child. I hope this turns around for all of us.

Maybe it would work better if the reader had to read a minimum number of words (of the story - not padding) say 3 000, rather than a percentage. That would cut out the short shorts and be fairer to the novels.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Wired on November 28, 2014, 12:15:41 PM
So how does Amazon benefit from this? What's their ultimate goal?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: carinasanfey on November 28, 2014, 12:16:27 PM
Yikes. This is eye-opening. Sorry to hear what you're going through, Holly, it must be horrible. I hope things pick up again soon.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lydniz on November 28, 2014, 12:19:01 PM
My books aren't in Select and I can't honestly say sales have dropped since the launch of KU, but they have certainly stopped rising as fast as they had been before, considering my backlist is 20% bigger than it was when KU started. I couldn't claim cause and effect with any certainty, but the whole thing has made me concentrate on other outlets with more enthusiasm than I ever did before.

(As a matter of fact, my sales have plummeted this week, but that's probably because some well-known authors in my genre have just rereleased their entire back catalogues and have pushed me right out of the rankings for the first time since I started. I think that's a different matter, though.)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D-C on November 28, 2014, 12:20:41 PM
Prior to KU my UF was steadily climbing. Once KU hit, sales fell, KU picked up at about 50/50 (so for every sale, I get 1 borrow), but my income took a nose dive. Sure I'm shifting more units but at much less profit. The whole guessing game for each payout really gets on my t*ts. KU has given me the kick I needed to get out of Kdps and go elsewhere. Hugh Howey said its not worth it. When the big names start shaking their heads; something is rotten.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 28, 2014, 12:21:12 PM
Sorry to hear this happened to you and I wish your son a speedy recovery.

Re: Subscribe to Author:

They do have that thing that lets you favorite an author and be alerted, but they don't push it all that hard. It'd be nice if, when they send the 'please review' email, they also suggested you fav the author if they liked the book.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on November 28, 2014, 12:24:40 PM
Hi Ms. Ward,

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

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

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

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

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

I hope everything works out.
     
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Bluehorseshoe on November 28, 2014, 12:26:50 PM
yep, its been a disaster here as well, hopefully i can pick up third party traction i sacrificed.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KMatthew on November 28, 2014, 12:30:31 PM
KU will probably just fade away over the next few months as more and more writers abandon it.

That's highly unlikely. From what I've read, short story authors are still benefiting from KU immensely. Even as this thread condemns KU, there are others that praise it. Trust me, Amazon will have enough authors to keep it alive as long as the borrow rate doesn't dip down into obscurity. My hope is that when everyone who gets a new Kindle this Christmas sees that their favorite authors aren't enrolled in KU, they'll drop out of it as soon as their 6 month trial is over. Voracious indiscriminate readers and lovers of short stories will keep KU alive. And Amazon will keep it as part of Select unless readers start unenrolling in droves. They've really put the pressure on us and themselves this Christmas by offering that free 6 month trial with new Kindles. Those of us used to getting that huge 'Christmas bonus' every year probably won't see it this time around. And I'm thinking that they're going to see how many people actually drop their memberships before they make a business decision about royalties on borrows or whether or not to open KU to all authors, not just those in Select. Amazon does nothing without a reason. If the model isn't benefiting them financially, they'll change it. They could not care less about our profits though. We're just a cog in the money making machine.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: M M on November 28, 2014, 12:40:38 PM
Totally agree with you, KMatthew.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on November 28, 2014, 12:42:53 PM
That's highly unlikely. From what I've read, short story authors are still benefiting from KU immensely.

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

But how long are readers going to pay KU subscriptions if they can only borrow short stories?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jill Nojack on November 28, 2014, 12:43:22 PM
The subscription model for ebooks makes no sense, but Amazon are chasing after Scribd and the other subscription providers. The difference, as I see it, is that the 'pay authors the full amount' model like Scribd makes no sense for them, whereas the 'pay authors a discount rate' like KU makes no sense for us.

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

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

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

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

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

If Scribd can compensate authors well and still make a profit, shouldn't Amazon be able to manage it, too?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jac1106 on November 28, 2014, 12:43:36 PM
That's highly unlikely. From what I've read, short story authors are still benefiting from KU immensely. Even as this thread condemns KU, there are others that praise it. Trust me, Amazon will have enough authors to keep it alive as long as the borrow rate doesn't dip down into obscurity. My hope is that when everyone who gets a new Kindle this Christmas sees that their favorite authors aren't enrolled in KU, they'll drop out of it as soon as their 6 month trial is over. Voracious indiscriminate readers and lovers of short stories will keep KU alive. And Amazon will keep it as part of Select unless readers start unenrolling in droves. They've really put the pressure on us and themselves this Christmas by offering that free 6 month trial with new Kindles. Those of us used to getting that huge 'Christmas bonus' every year probably won't see it this time around. And I'm thinking that they're going to see how many people actually drop their memberships before they make a business decision about royalties on borrows or whether or not to open KU to all authors, not just those in Select. Amazon does nothing without a reason. If the model isn't benefiting them financially, they'll change it. They could not care less about our profits though. We're just a cog in the money making machine.

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

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

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

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

I believe if they had a word count minimum (novella length maybe), the pool wouldn't get so freaking diluted.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: bobfrost on November 28, 2014, 12:57:11 PM
KU -is- messed up, and there is a few BIG issues that are causing this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm sorry to see that it has clobbered your sales HM. I don't even know what to say about that. It's awful, and I hope perhaps that by speaking out, you help nudge Amazon in a more positive direction on this whole thing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KMatthew on November 28, 2014, 12:59:05 PM
But how long are readers going to pay KU subscriptions if they can only borrow short stories?
The people in it now who are borrowing mainly short stories aren't going to care, because that's what they're in it to read. The people who enrolled thinking they were going to get unlimited novels by their favorite authors are likely already out of it, not using it, or will be out of it whenever their term expires. I think those readers who have never tried KU before are still entitled to a 30 day free trial. By the end, they'll know whether KU is for them or not. The majority won't continue their subscription, but there will be some who stick around, and it will be those that find the current KU pool of authors appealing. Amazon is currently in the process of trying to draw people in. After Christmas, more people will be enrolled than ever before, and a percentage of them will keep their subscription.

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

As was already mentioned, hopefully they'll eventually establish fair royalties like the other subscription services. I made more this last month from Scribd than I did from Kobo.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 28, 2014, 01:01:06 PM
A decline in a writer's sales doesn't mean sales and borrows are disappearing into nothing. The non-sales for this writer become sales and borrows for someone else. Let's say just as deserving as the writer, who lost sales.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Becca Mills on November 28, 2014, 01:02:34 PM
If pulling out of KU = pulling out of Select, then Amazon would seem to be shooting itself in the foot. Having very popular authors who are exclusive to Amazon has got to be a motivation for people to choose the Kindle platform over its competitors. It seems to me that KU is jeopardizing Select.

Holly, thank you for sharing your experience. I hope your son is okay and that your sales rebound completely (plus some).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: delly_xo on November 28, 2014, 01:03:16 PM
On the flipside we have folks like Yoda pulling in pretty decent sums of money due to KU and NOT flooding the pot with short shorts.

I'm still so new to this, but do we have a writer's guild/union? Something we can join where they advocate for indies with things like negotiating subscription based models or organizing healthcare options?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Marian on November 28, 2014, 01:06:34 PM
Amazon does nothing without a reason. If the model isn't benefiting them financially, they'll change it. They could not care less about our profits though. We're just a cog in the money making machine.

Although we think of ourselves as creative people because we write books, Amazon thinks of us as suppliers of a product they sell. They're using the product we produce--books--as a lure to sell more Kindles, hoping the people who buy those Kindles and get the free six month subscription will become members of Prime, where they really make money. KU isn't about us: it's about Amazon. If we aren't careful and put our books elsewhere and promote them elsewhere, they will eventually have a monopoly on the ebook business.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jane_Dough on November 28, 2014, 01:14:19 PM
this is very eye-opening.  And I love the subscribe-to-author idea.
Concur.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: delly_xo on November 28, 2014, 01:14:53 PM
Although we think of ourselves as creative people because we write books, Amazon thinks of us as suppliers of a product they sell. They're using the product we produce--books--as a lure to sell more Kindles, hoping the people who buy those Kindles and get the free six month subscription will become members of Prime, where they really make money. KU isn't about us: it's about Amazon. If we aren't careful and put our books elsewhere and promote them elsewhere, they will eventually have a monopoly on the ebook business.

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

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

AMZN isn't going to up the pot because indie writers (whom they barely respond to anyway) are kicking up a storm. We're just a pond of minnows compared to what they've got going on. They've already ruined Barnes and Nobles. I think the future is distribution on multiple platforms in multiple markets - which means more work for us.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Tara Shuler on November 28, 2014, 01:17:38 PM
I think Amazon needs to put something in place to control for the 'short shorts' that have flooded the KU pot. Not fair that the 5K essay gets the same payout as  my 85K novel. People have figured out how to game KU with putting in very little effort, and it's the influx of short shorts.

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

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

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

Amazon wants to provide what its buyers and subscribers want, not what writers want.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on November 28, 2014, 01:23:08 PM
Ok, some of you already know, but I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. Thats counting borrows and bonuses.  :o My sales dropped like a stone. The number of borrows was higher than sales. They didn't compliment each other, as expected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon, stop following other companies and break the mold.

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

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

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

Only 2 of 12 titles are in Select. I think they'll come out in Jan.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: delly_xo on November 28, 2014, 01:29:50 PM
Judging by the very large number of people who are gobbling up my shorts with KU, I'm guessing the subscribers might have something different to say about it. My readers are loving them, and if Amazon does anything to drive away those of us who are filling that market, they'd probably lose quite a few subscribers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Methinks some of us are getting fleeced.

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

And since, Amazon wants to sell lots of other stuff.... it works for them. Just not so much for authors, sometimes. :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Maia Sepp on November 28, 2014, 01:42:54 PM
Holly, I always look forward to your helpful and insightful posts, and I just wanted to thank you for that. I'm sorry to hear about your son, and I am thinking good thoughts for your family.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jim Johnson on November 28, 2014, 01:43:44 PM
The people in it now who are borrowing mainly short stories aren't going to care, because that's what they're in it to read. The people who enrolled thinking they were going to get unlimited novels by their favorite authors are likely already out of it, not using it, or will be out of it whenever their term expires. I think those readers who have never tried KU before are still entitled to a 30 day free trial. By the end, they'll know whether KU is for them or not. The majority won't continue their subscription, but there will be some who stick around, and it will be those that find the current KU pool of authors appealing. Amazon is currently in the process of trying to draw people in. After Christmas, more people will be enrolled than ever before, and a percentage of them will keep their subscription.

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

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

I don't see KU going away any time soon. What every writer has to decide is whether it's worth it to participate. If the program is severely slanted toward short works benefitting right now, pull your longer works or don't enter them. Maybe things will change in a few months. If I understand it correctly, a writer's commitment to Select and KU is three months. That's a tiny period of time for your career. Make the best business decision that works for you.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 28, 2014, 01:44:47 PM
I am so sorry to hear about your son's illness. I will keep him and your family in my thoughts. Taking such a huge hit to your income on top of that, I can't even imagine. I sincerely hope things turn around, soon.

That said, I can't see a subscribe to author with an automatic charge to the reader being a workable solution. I have a lot of authors I really enjoy reading. I would consider them favorites of mine, and yet, I don't read everything they write. Some write in multiple genres--some of which I like, some I don't. Being charged for a book I never intended to read would make me angry.

In addition, there is no limit to what the reader could get charged under that model. What would happen if an author they subscribed to decided to publish ten years of manuscripts that have been collecting dust on their hard drive? They could end up getting hit with a huge charge to their card, and it could happen at a time they can't afford to have that happen--like when the light bill is due.

I just see too many potential problems with that.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: books_mb on November 28, 2014, 01:46:46 PM
Authors shouldn't be paid lottery style.

The pot scheme is a great way for Amazon to minimize its risks and keep the payout at a desired level. For authors, it sucks.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 28, 2014, 01:47:04 PM
Well, yes, I make more from a KU borrow than a sale on most of my short stories.

But how long are readers going to pay KU subscriptions if they can only borrow short stories?
For as long as there are big name books in it.   
Now yes: Holly and Rosalind pulling out of KU, may have hurt Zon a little.   But only because now Zon will have to go back to paying the ladies the full royalty on their books.    You must consider that both of them are very good writers and have a tremendous following.

So for Hugh and Holly and a few others, no KU would not be worth it.   Because it will cannibalize their sales.

Two schools of thought on KU.   Big names versus the unknowns.
Reader thoughts.    Oh good : Big name put most of their books in KU.   That will save me a fortune.  $10  a month versus 5 dollars per book.
Unknown name: well I can check out this new author and if he is horrible, all I have lost is a bit of time.

Are the authors on the main KU page leaving?    No, they aren't.   
Indies are not the draw.   The popular stuff is the draw.    You guys are the sprinkles on the cake.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on November 28, 2014, 01:48:52 PM


That said, I can't see a subscribe to author with an automatic charge to the reader being a workable solution. I have a lot of authors I really enjoy reading. I would consider them favorites of mine, and yet, I don't read everything they write. Some write in multiple genres--some of which I like, some I don't. Being charged for a book I never intended to read would make me angry.

In addition, there is no limit to what the reader could get charged under that model. What would happen if an author they subscribed to decided to publish ten years of manuscripts that have been collecting dust on their hard drive? They could end up getting hit with a huge charge to their card, and it could happen at a time they can't afford to have that happen--like when the light bill is due.

I just see too many potential problems with that.
I totally agree with this. For example, I like Mindy Klasky's witch series but hate her baseball series. I love Katie Macalister's dragon series but am not interested in her other series. I like Nora Roberts witch stuff but am not interested in other stuff. And so. I have four different series under one name. Some people like them all. Some only like one of them. Others like two. Not everyone is going to like everything. Subscribing to an author doesn't sound feasible to me.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KatrinaAbbott on November 28, 2014, 02:09:01 PM
Thanks for weighing in here. I know a lot of writers think their experience is unique to them, so it's good to share and know what everyone else is experiencing. I set my first in series to free around the same week as KU launched, so I have no way of comparing, but in looking through old threads and blogs, I do think my free downloads are lower than what they might have been if not for KU. Since my fifth book came out, I'm averaging about 10 sales per day at Amazon (I'm not exclusive) but do wonder if it would be more.

Anyway, it's not a very sustainable model for authors and it sucks to see people who were doing great having their sales fizzle. Especially when it has nothing to do with their work or anything they have control over. Honestly, if writers wanted to have the screws turned on them, they may as well go the traditional route.

I would love to see the metrics of KU subscribers and how many people end up opting out. For some, I'm sure it's a boon to get a constant stream of reads for one price, but it must be a disappointment to others who would get frustrated with the catalog and the growing number of shorts and serials.

And Holly - I'm wishing you all the best for your son. Financial instability when faced with stress over your kids is the last thing you need. Sending hugs and healing thoughts your way.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kathy Clark, Author on November 28, 2014, 02:10:42 PM
Whatever goes on with the retailers has never made any sense to us.  My first months were 7/2012 through 10/2012.  Then our sales dropped 40%+ until 9/2014.  Last month and this month were at 120% of the 2012 level.  In the valley months of 11/2012 through 9/2014 we tried every other channel to market out there and never had all of them together, all of them together, surpass 1% of the Amazon sales that month.  1%...not a joke or an estimate but an actual metric.

My back list sold well over 3 million units in it's day and I had my share of best sellers and award winners and since going on Amazon in 2012 our most recent 9 books have sold in the top 10 in various genres and occasionally hit the top 100 overall Amazon and we've won numerous awards.

But I cannot understand why and how sales rocket and dive and why some authors can sell through some channels and others cannot.  It is clear that this is not a pure marketplace and the channel masters do pick winners and losers and when something good or bad happens to a title in the marketplace it is impossible to learn why and therefore impossible to improve your books and their presentation.  The only thing that is consistent is that increased visibility increases sales.  All we can do is keep writing, add to our Street Team membership, strive to improve reviewer feedback.

 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 28, 2014, 02:24:04 PM
AMZN isn't going to up the pot because indie writers (whom they barely respond to anyway) are kicking up a storm. We're just a pond of minnows compared to what they've got going on.

See now, but that's only because we're disparate, ununified and powerless. We generally don't tihnk of ourselves as important and give far too much credit for where we are to Amazon.

Except we're the ones who make that big, lovely number Amazon uses to tell people how many thousands of books they can get on Kindle and KU so big and so lovely. We, taken in total, make up something like 25% of their book revenue. We are the ones who pay exorbitant amounts and do unspeakable thing to get enough reviews to place ads to send millions of folks to Amazon every year.

Individually we're nothing and they know it. But if we actually started acting in concert? Telling them in a united voice that we're not going to lie down and take their terms? Especially if we had among us those indies they were already willing to make sweetheart deals with?

We could be mighty.

... It's never going to happen, but wouldn't it be awesome to be treated like some kind of person who mattered?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kirkee on November 28, 2014, 02:29:31 PM
KU should be KO'd!  :'(
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kathryn Meyer Griffith on November 28, 2014, 02:41:17 PM
I, too, am VERY unhappy with KU but was afraid to voice what I really felt...until now. From the minute it began my sales dropped like big rocks. I pulled out of it on 4 of my books after the first two weeks, but my sales never recovered. What makes it really hard for me is that for over 30 years I was with legacy publishers (15 novels since 1984) and NEVER made a living at it with 4%-18% royalties and having no power or say in what the publishers did with my work. I worked extremely hard on my novels and literally gave up my life to create them. I suffered all those long years either working full time out of the home at graphic arts jobs plus writing on the side or I starved. But I never gave up, praying that one day my books would earn me what they deserved. A modest living. I write horror, but my life because of the greed of publishers was a horror show in itself. THEN I discovered Amazon KDP and self-publishing in 2012 and self-published 6 of my books with them - AND FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER I WAS MAKING GOOD MONEY! I was thrilled. So this sudden loss of income again just when I'd started getting it hurts even more. I, too, have spread my books to other  venues, but, of course, the income is nowhere near what Amazon used to pay me.
To tell the truth, from the very beginning I thought that KU was just another way to effectively lower our royalties or prices on eBooks and the final insult was that 10% reading thing...I have lots of eBooks on my Kindle I got free and STILL haven't started them. As I see it KU will NEVER work (for us novelists who write full novels).  Hey, I feel like I was giving away my books for almost free for over 30 years...and now if I stay in KU, I'll be doing the same thing. Does Amazon want to become a legacy publisher like we all are fleeing from and they seem to disapprove of? Because, in my opinion, they're doing a good job of recreating that whole unfair bogus system where they make the money and we authors survive on the pennies that are left. Please Amazon...reconsider KU and get rid of it!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: delly_xo on November 28, 2014, 02:46:30 PM
I, too, am VERY unhappy with KU but was afraid to voice what I really felt...until now. From the minute it began my sales dropped like big rocks. I pulled out of it on 4 of my books after the first two weeks, but my sales never recovered. What makes it really hard for me is that for over 30 years I was with legacy publishers (15 novels since 1984) and NEVER made a living at it with 4%-18% royalties and having no power or say in what the publishers did with my work. I worked extremely hard on my novels and literally gave up my life to create them. I suffered all those long years either working full time out of the home at graphic arts jobs plus writing on the side or I starved. But I never gave up, praying that one day my books would earn me what they deserved. A modest living. I write horror, but my life because of the greed of publishers was a horror show in itself. THEN I discovered Amazon KDP and self-publishing in 2012 and self-published 6 of my books with them - AND FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER I WAS MAKING GOOD MONEY! I was thrilled. So this sudden loss of income again just when I'd started getting it hurts even more. I, too, have spread my books to other  venues, but, of course, the income is nowhere near what Amazon used to pay me.
To tell the truth, from the very beginning I thought that KU was just another way to effectively lower our royalties or prices on eBooks and the final insult was that 10% reading thing...I have lots of eBooks on my Kindle I got free and STILL haven't started them. As I see it KU will NEVER work (for us novelists who write full novels).  Hey, I feel like I was giving away my books for almost free for over 30 years...and now if I stay in KU, I'll be doing the same thing. Does Amazon want to become a legacy publisher like we all are fleeing from and they seem to disapprove of? Because, in my opinion, they're doing a good job of recreating that whole unfair bogus system where they make the money and we authors survive on the pennies that are left. Please Amazon...reconsider KU and get rid of it!

Honestly, the more I think about it, the way for us to go about it is to not complain to Amazon or each other, but to bond together in an effort to explain to our readers why we are pulling our titles and going to other stores. Amazon will react very quickly after that.

My books are up for KU renewal January 1st. I am going to tweet, write in my newsletter, blog, facebook, everything about why KU is NOT good.

Who's with me?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kirkee on November 28, 2014, 02:47:21 PM
RE: Vaalingrade: Agree 100%!

KU? R.I.P

Never, ever give anyone exclusivity. So why did I go against my better
judgement?

They have us by the cojones at this point.
So to speak.

Am going with Salena Kitt, as soon as I break out of this KU prison.
Salena, iTunes & others.

This indie scribe's take on this whole B.S. KU fiasco.

My heart goes out to you, Ms. Ward.
Best,

Kirk
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ゴジラ on November 28, 2014, 03:01:01 PM
KU may stink for many authors, as any subscription service will stink for artists of all sorts, but it's not about authors. It's about Amazon getting $10/month from customers who are very happy to chew through as many books they want for a flat rate. It's good for Amazon and good for readers. "Many authors are experiencing reduced royalties" isn't a compelling reason for anything to change - we aren't entitled to our earnings. Also, the fact that KU is good for a subset of authors means you'll never be able to cut off the supply of content.

I really doubt KU is going anywhere.

Rather than trying to make this go away, our time is most productively spent figuring out how to operate in the new system.

Or sacrificing goats and praying to Bezos. Whatever's easier.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Stacy Claflin on November 28, 2014, 03:03:05 PM
Holly, I'm so sorry to hear about your son and your massive sales hit. I hope both make a full improvement. Unfortunately, there's a lot wrong with KU, and after giving it a try with my new series, I'm looking forward to getting out. I didn't put the last one in. I've gotten so few borrows it's definitely not worth it. I'm having a decent run with free days, but I can't even go out to dinner with last month's borrow payments. Whereas I'm actually gaining traction over at Kobo and Apple has some things in the works. I'm glad that Kobo and Apple are stepping up their game, and I hope that soon Amazon will have some real competition.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 28, 2014, 03:04:23 PM
Hi.  Do you really want to hurt Amazon?   Pulling out of KU will not hurt Amazon in the least.   Hugh Howey not being in KU hasn't hurt it.

The only way for you to hurt Amazon is if you pull all your books from Amazon and do not sell there.

I am still sorry for Holly.   I figure that Amazon reps told her a little white lie.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Carolyn J. Rose, Mystery Writer on November 28, 2014, 03:09:08 PM
It's definitely hurting me, but I don't want to abandon other distribution channels I've been with for years and that are steadily growing.

Here's what I don't get, though. Two years ago, before one of the many changes in algorithms, etc., I had more titles and was making a lot more than I'm making now. That means A was making a lot more. That makes me wonder why they changed things.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Bluehorseshoe on November 28, 2014, 03:17:51 PM
why would anyone be afraid to voice opinion on KU? For a vast majority its a stinker and i've been saying that from early on. The economics are skewed. Yet every time i said something i got clobbered by the amazon fan boys and girls. It has been highly destructive to my business. I'm glad i tried it but I'm extremely disappointed with the results. I hope this program dies, though i know for sure that it wont, however it might slink off into obscurity over time.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: horrordude1973 on November 28, 2014, 03:31:10 PM
Have you guys heard of Payhip.com?

I had a few of my books listed there for awhile and sold a handful before I went back to KU. Its simply a distro site. You list your books, readers can pay by credit/debit or paypal and you place the book there as an epub, mobi or pdf or whattever. The reader buys it and downloads it. Payhip only keeps like .10 from each sale.

Just hardly anyone knows about it and hard to get peopel to go there to buy is the biggest thing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Silly Writer on November 28, 2014, 03:33:36 PM
I have two pen names with a total of 7 books. I've unclicked all the Select boxes (one is already out and for sale everywhere Draft 2 Digital sells).

I've uploaded every book to D2D and left them in DRAFT mode so that the moment I come out of Select I can hit the Publish button. I'd rather give them 10% to manage it all with their outstanding service than let my books continue to suffer in KU. They've added new sales channels, and are in the works to add more as we speak.

They have the ability to set a book to free at B&N.

They listen when we talk. They give when we ask... They answer their phones and emails and respond instantly. Basically, they treat us as their bread and butter. They will work harder and harder to provide more reason not to stay/go in Select.

KDP/Amazon was a dream before KU...now it's a nightmare. I'm out.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' on November 28, 2014, 03:36:33 PM
Hugs to you, Holly, and prayers for your son.

I knew KU wasn't for me from the beginning, but I didn't expect the effect it would have on my permafrees. Most days, my free downloads are in single digits. If I don't have sufficient freeloads, I don't have sales.

Right now, B&N is outselling Amazon money-wise, about 9 to 1.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joliedupre on November 28, 2014, 03:52:14 PM
Judging by the very large number of people who are gobbling up my shorts with KU, I'm guessing the subscribers might have something different to say about it. My readers are loving them, and if Amazon does anything to drive away those of us who are filling that market, they'd probably lose quite a few subscribers.

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

THANK YOU.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on November 28, 2014, 03:56:15 PM
I knew KU wasn't for me from the beginning, but I didn't expect the effect it would have on my permafrees. Most days, my free downloads are in single digits. If I don't have sufficient freeloads, I don't have sales.

I'm seeing this, too.  It seems that a lot of the bargain hunters have shifted to KU. 
Like Mike Coker mentioned in his recent blog post, the number of available books is growing faster than the number of readers for digital books. So there are only X-number of bargain hunters and X-number downloading from places like B&N, where price isn't the major driver. Amazon is the Walmart of booksellers so there's that freebie hunter crowd.
As mentioned above, time for new strategies.
http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/11/ebook-publishing-gets-more-difficult.html
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ScarlettParrish on November 28, 2014, 03:58:50 PM
Example: subscribe to an AUTHOR. Easy, clear. When Author X has a new book it automatically gets sent to your kindle, & the card provided is charged.

As a reader, I'd want that. As a writer, I'd want that.
No way in hell would I want that. Bad idea. I choose which books to buy individually. There are no authors I'd want to subscribe to. If I have no control over what they release, or how often, or how much their books cost, I don't want their work automatically appearing on my Kindle.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: delly_xo on November 28, 2014, 04:20:07 PM
THANK YOU.

Amazon doesn't have legitimate buyers and subscribers.

Amazon has un-fixed variables in an experiment.

KU has been out for less than six months.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: CoraBuhlert on November 28, 2014, 04:33:43 PM
First of all, Holly, I'm awfully sorry to hear both about your son and your drop in income. Also thank you for reporting your experiences with KU.

I've never been in Select and KU. Unlike many other indies, I haven't seen any significant drop-off in Amazon sales since KU started, though a couple of popular new releases in August and September probably had a lot to do with that. However, I'm not seeing any significant rise of my Amazon sales either. They're more or less where they were last year, even with more books out.

Meanwhile, my overall sales and income are still growing, but that's largely due to rising sales at other retailers, including KU rival Scribd, which has been very good to me.

I've always thought that diversifying was the best course for indies in the long run, even if short term exclusivity might make sense for some indies in some situations. KU has only confirmed this.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on November 28, 2014, 04:36:32 PM
Honestly, the more I think about it, the way for us to go about it is to not complain to Amazon or each other, but to bond together in an effort to explain to our readers why we are pulling our titles and going to other stores. Amazon will react very quickly after that.

My books are up for KU renewal January 1st. I am going to tweet, write in my newsletter, blog, facebook, everything about why KU is NOT good.

Who's with me?

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

I've taken grief from a few readers who claim they will ONLY buy ebooks from Amazon, but that was to be expected. I hate to sound paranoid, but I wonder how many are Amazon employees. The really disgruntled ones have left one-star reviews on the print version (which I am offering on Amazon). Since I will no longer be publishing my ebooks on Amazon while they require exclusivity to participate in their new programs, I wonder if I'll get the same treatment with the next novel, or if other authors will have likewise stopped publishing on Amazon, so people will be used to authors deserting the ranks at Amazon. I do have to admit that I've sold a lot more print copies of the newest novel than I have in the past.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mike_Author on November 28, 2014, 04:54:41 PM
My day job involves using game theory-style stuff to map out competitor reactions to our company's strategies and tactics.  From this perspective I am finding it fascinating watching this process.  From the perspective of hearing about people losing their income, not so much.

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

What we DO know -

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

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

When we hear about KU making it difficult to look after an unwell child, it brings it home that there needs to be some kind of fix to this situation soon for some people.  Not that Amazon cares about someone's child needing care, however I am sure they care about popular authors pulling their books from KU in droves...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 28, 2014, 05:05:13 PM
I posted a version of this on another thread and saved it for every Ku question I received since. It still holds up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is KU good for?

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

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

Obviously the two are NOT compatible.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: jakedfw on November 28, 2014, 05:15:23 PM
Quote
So what is KU good for?

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


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

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

NOTE: This does not mean that KU will fail or is a mistake. It just means that you need to treat it differently. I subscribed to KU, and my wife thinks it's the best thing ever. Why? Because Harry Potter is in there. She didn't have to buy new Harry Potter digital books. Everything else to her is gravy. It is quite possible that this is all KU is intended to be... a spot for some uber sellers seeding the program and then this giant collection of specialty things like short stories and up-and-coming authors.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on November 28, 2014, 05:19:27 PM

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

Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games, Water for Elephants, etc. are not paid out of the KU pot.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KMatthew on November 28, 2014, 05:22:28 PM
Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games, Water for Elephants, etc. are not paid out of the KU pot.

I think that's what she meant by this "Amazon will feather the KU next with Harry Potter and other major sellers that get a massive chunk of KU revenue with real royalties." Those titles get full royalties, whether they're borrowed or bought, apparently.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on November 28, 2014, 05:30:42 PM
I think that's what she meant by this "Amazon will feather the KU next with Harry Potter and other major sellers that get a massive chunk of KU revenue with real royalties." Those titles get full royalties, whether they're borrowed or bought, apparently.
They do. However, that money does not come out of the KU pot. Amazon makes up the difference, yes, but borrows on those titles have nothing to do with the pot used to pay other KU authors.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on November 28, 2014, 05:37:06 PM
I've already been doing that for months. As I've reported on this forum previously, my sales at Amazon tanked right after the KU started. So I decided to take action. My newest novel, released on Oct. 1st, was a best seller on both Kobo and B&N and is still selling well. I offer a Kindle version through my website for the Kindle owners, and have sold a ton. I've spent a lot of time helping readers get the mobi version working on their Kindles, but once they've done it, they admit the process is very simple, and only takes about an extra minute. More importantly, the next time they won't hesitate to buy a kindle version from vendors other than Amazon. I'm sure the other resellers are happy to accept all the business that Amazon's exclusivity requirement is pushing their way. While people are on those other sites, they might stay to buy other author's books that catch their eye. After all, isn't that Amazon's underlying sales philosophy? Get people to buy books on Amazon and they stay to buy other products. This way it's just in reverse.

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

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

This is what Amazon looks like to me now. 

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jac1106 on November 28, 2014, 05:39:15 PM

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


I agree. IMO, if you already have a hungry fan base that is willing to buy your books at full price, you don't need KU. Or you should use it strategically on a per title basis and only as a marketing tool to attract new readers. A borrow rate lower than $2 would be unacceptable.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 28, 2014, 05:41:11 PM
They do. However, that money does not come out of the KU pot. Amazon makes up the difference, yes, but borrows on those titles have nothing to do with the pot used to pay other KU authors.

Not trying to poke anybody with this statement but,

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

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

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

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

Just wanted to let you know,  I admire you for this.   You actually did leave Amazon completely.    Are you on Google Play yet?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 28, 2014, 05:45:18 PM
I've been thinking of having one of my pen names not on Amazon. Actually one isn't there, but it's fairly new. I think that's a great idea at least to build the other incomes. A few of my readers own a Nook and a Kindle, and I think they buy whichever is most convenient. It's not too much of a stretch to buy for the Nook.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on November 28, 2014, 05:51:20 PM
Just wanted to throw my hat in the ring to wish your son a speedy recovery, Holly.

Likewise, I hope the sales slump can be reversed. 

Good to know about KU, though.  I've normally stayed away from Select because I have readers on the other platforms - not a lot, but even one is too many to disappoint in my opinion - but had been considering a rethink of that for my new one coming out near year's end, even if just for the 90 day initial period.  All things considered, though, it seems it's starting to make less sense for a full-sized >$2.99 novel.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on November 28, 2014, 06:10:48 PM
Hi.  Do you really want to hurt Amazon?   Pulling out of KU will not hurt Amazon in the least.   Hugh Howey not being in KU hasn't hurt it.

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

Betsy
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 28, 2014, 06:12:27 PM
I'm confused....Hugh's books are still in KU?

Betsy
I heard from several he was not in KU.   

I was misinformed.    Looks like he has many in.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Saul Tanpepper on November 28, 2014, 06:27:58 PM
I can understand not being in Select, whether on principle or as a business decision, but why would you remove your titles from Amazon? None of the other sites requires exclusivity. This bit of rhinoplasty seems only to spite the face.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 28, 2014, 06:30:12 PM
I heard from several he was not in KU.   

I was misinformed.    Looks like he has many in.

Not to speak for Hugh, but from what I remember he is not being held to the exclusivity clause. However, that is for a finite period. Once that period ends he's said he will most likely pull out as the numbers AE and Data Guy have gathered do not support him staying in.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KMatthew on November 28, 2014, 06:31:38 PM
Not to speak for Hugh, but from what I remember he is not being held to the exclusivity clause. However, that is for a finite period. Once that period ends he's said he will most likely pull out as the numbers AE and Data Guy have gathered do not support him staying in.
I would not be surprised if they let him stay in indefinitely without exclusivity, as they have many others.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on November 28, 2014, 06:31:46 PM
Not to speak for Hugh, but from what I remember he is not being held to the exclusivity clause. However, that is for a finite period. Once that period ends he's said he will most likely pull out as the numbers AE and Data Guy have gathered do not support him staying in.

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

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

Actually quite a few people, on this thread and elsewhere, said that they were doing okay without being in KU/Select and seeing growth, usually because of increased sales at other retailers. Amazon is not the only game in town, after all.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deke on November 28, 2014, 06:40:03 PM
Doesn't the general marketing strategy still apply:  get as many to read Book #1 as possible….those who love it will buy Book 2, 3, etc.

So would it be wise to have Book 1 in KU…and keep the rest out of it?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Patty Jansen on November 28, 2014, 06:43:03 PM
Doesn't the general marketing strategy still apply:  get as many to read Book #1 as possible....those who love it will buy Book 2, 3, etc.

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

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

So I find this book 2 on the Kobo website that looks interesting. Why the hell would I buy it if there is no book 1 available?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 28, 2014, 06:45:02 PM
I have one romance pen where a new release still does very well not being in KU. However, overall, my sales are down 50%, a sudden drop when KU came out. I added a few books into KU just to maintain and not go below that 50% mark. Watching that darn Month-to-Date thing drives me nuts as it climbs each month.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on November 28, 2014, 06:51:54 PM
I can understand not being in Select, whether on principle or as a business decision, but why would you remove your titles from Amazon? None of the other sites requires exclusivity. This bit of rhinoplasty seems only to spite the face.
If you're talking about Scribblr, I believe he said he's selling his mobi books from his own site. Which means, among other things, more control over pricing, discounts, royalties, returns, and isn't subject to the whims of Amazon.

Makes perfect sense to me. *shrug
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 28, 2014, 06:55:56 PM
I didn't use permafree, and my sales dropped.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 28, 2014, 06:56:24 PM
The did warn us this was how it was going to work. Remember back when this thing first dropped and the rep told one of our members (forget who) that KU was gong to be mostly for 'exposure' when she expressed concern that the KOLL payment wouldn't hold up?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on November 28, 2014, 07:01:29 PM
Quote
  I've normally stayed away from Select because I have readers on the other platforms - not a lot, but even one is too many to disappoint in my opinion - but had been considering a rethink of that for my new one coming out near year's end, even if just for the 90 day initial period.  All things considered, though, it seems it's starting to make less sense for a full-sized >$2.99 novel.

On my newsletter sign-up I ask people which platform they prefer so I can send them a customized email. Over 1/3 of the people on my email list are at B&N; and then I've got a few folks at Apple, GooglePlay, Smashwords and Kobo. I was thinking about putting my next series into KU, but I've decided not to. I believe this will hurt me in the short-run, but help me in the long run.

Something someone said about traditional publishers is that they forgot that bookstores weren't their customers; people were their customers, and that is how Amazon crushed them. 1/3 + of my customers are on other platforms; I will go to them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KMatthew on November 28, 2014, 07:04:40 PM
As I said in another thread - the people moaning most about KU are those that lost the permafree visibility advantage overnight.  The effectiveness of that funnel has been reduced dramatically.

Reduced, not obliterated.

I didn't use permafree and my sales have held steady.  I'd like to know from those that are reporting slumps if they did use permafree.  Permafree was always risky and controversial - people were warned it was going to backfire.   

So lets be brutal about it - those that gamed the system using permafree have been found out. The playing field has leveled again - so be it.

I highly doubt this had anything to do with people using permafree to 'game the system'. There are a lot of things that people could consider 'gaming the system'. Amazon was simply responding to services like Oyster and Scribd. This was the way that publishing was heading. This was always the direction that ebooks were going to go, towards the subscription model. I knew it before Oyster and Scribd even existed. And I honestly think that most people expected it. Heck, I'm surprised it took this long. There are subscription services for every other type of digital media. Why not books? Even though we knew this though, it was hard to plan for it not knowing what the royalty structure was going to be and that Amazon was going to throw exclusivity into the pot. I always assumed that when they rolled out with this, everyone would be included, because it just made the most business sense. But I believe they're still attempting to snuff out their competition by trying to force indies into exclusivity because they still hold the lion's share of the ebook market. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 28, 2014, 07:05:55 PM
Heh.

I use the crap out of permafree and I weathered KU's advent without a scratch.

So no, permafree didn't backfire. in fact, it was the fact that I could repeatedly spike my free promos on a staggered schedule to stay in the top 100 Free in my genres that I didn't get hurt.

Also, I'd looooove to hear how permafree is 'gaming the system' when there is literally a space on the dashboard to tell you how many permafree copies you've given away and Amazon will happily SET YOU TO FREE on .com if you ask.

I only took damage when Amazon went out of their way to de-free me in the DE, CA and AU stores. Some of the people who they denied my free books to went and got the series from other sources, so really Amazon only stole money from themselves with that stunt.

Maybe that doesn't come to a lot from just one account, but how many times have those same readers been forced into that situation in the past couple of months? How many other readers of other books that stopped being free there did the same? It's like anti-exclusivity: they send customers directly to other outlets.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 28, 2014, 07:10:08 PM
Now I'm interested in what I can accomplish with permafree. I set one up this month, and while the Amazon books are almost dead, the ones on BN are constantly moving.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mercia McMahon on November 28, 2014, 07:14:56 PM
Amazon was simply responding to services like Oyster and Scribd. This was the way that publishing was heading. This was always the direction that ebooks were going to go, towards the subscription model. I knew it before Oyster and Scribd even existed. And I honestly think that most people expected it. Heck, I'm surprised it took this long. There are subscription services for every other type of digital media. Why not books?

When I buy a paperback I read it and then donate it to a charity shop or a friend. Many readers never re-read books so for readers subscription services makes more sense for books (and movies) than music. Of course that depends on there being a subscription service with a lot of the books that you like to read and at present that means Scribd (or Oyster if you live in the US).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Ryn Shell on November 28, 2014, 07:15:10 PM
Maybe it would work better if the reader had to read a minimum number of words (of the story - not padding) say 3 000, rather than a percentage. That would cut out the short shorts and be fairer to the novels.

That is a good idea, Jan.

Holly, I am sorry you have the additional burden of having your income affected by KU on top of those health issues that your child faces. I hope there is improvement soon for both.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on November 28, 2014, 07:15:20 PM
Quote
So lets be brutal about it - those that gamed the system using permafree have been found out. The playing field has leveled again - so be it.

I didn't see any drop in my free downloads. I saw a drop in my sell-thru. So I lowered the price of my second in series. That boosted my sell-thru rate but decreased my revenues by about $200 a month.

Permafree is still working for me--free books are the easiest and cheapest to promote; and I do so every month.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Nic on November 28, 2014, 07:21:40 PM
When I buy a paperback I read it and then donate it to a charity shop or a friend. Many readers never re-read books so for readers subscription services makes more sense for books (and movies) than music. Of course that depends on there being a subscription service with a lot of the books that you like to read and at present that means Scribd (or Oyster if you live in the US).

When I buy a book it usually is the hardback, very rarely the paperback, and it goes into my library. If I like an ebook a lot I will buy the paperback. It also goes into my library. That's a room as central to me in my house as the kitchen. I write, read and study in the library.

I also use offline and online libraries, and I decided last month I will subscribe to scribd (rather than Amazon's KU).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: John Ellsworth on November 28, 2014, 07:31:28 PM
I have been toying with the idea of selling direct from my website. The technology to do so can be viewed on my website where I've set up a sample chapter http://johnellsworthbooks.com/free-chapter/ (http://johnellsworthbooks.com/free-chapter/).

The company is PubML at http://pubml.com/ (http://pubml.com/)

The technology can also be monetized.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 28, 2014, 07:32:33 PM
Although we think of ourselves as creative people because we write books, Amazon thinks of us as suppliers of a product they sell. They're using the product we produce--books--as a lure to sell more Kindles, hoping the people who buy those Kindles and get the free six month subscription will become members of Prime, where they really make money. KU isn't about us: it's about Amazon. If we aren't careful and put our books elsewhere and promote them elsewhere, they will eventually have a monopoly on the ebook business.

First, sorry Holly about your child. It's the worst feeling as a parent. Praying for his healing.

My sales were hurt after my very first year with Amazon when they did one of their changes to their algorithms. They've never quite recovered, but I'm putting out more books anyway. This is one reason why I've been a proponent of not having all your eggs in one basket, as Amazon can change anyone's visibility/payment  in a Seattle minute. KU just shows how dangerous Amazon's control can be.

I agree with what Marian said, and I've said it before. Amazon is not about the "ebooks." They are about selling everything. They collect all the data they can on you, and make suggestions daily based on your buying and search habits. They track whom you buy gifts for and when, all your purchasing patterns. Ebooks give them an easy way to track this data.

They use self publishers to plug gaps left when trades won't play their way. They promote us when they're at a stand still with publishers, they put us on a back burner during Christmas, when trades pay for prime advertising and promotion.

They'll plug us more in January, when people have their shiny new Kindles, but as I've said before it's not about the books, but Prime, subscription services, one click, emails, and access to peoples' search and buying habits.  Books are truly a widget, and yes, a brand name may make one widget more desirable than another for a while, but they have the power to make new widgets even more desirable, or at least satisfactory as a replacement.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ellenoc on November 28, 2014, 07:36:44 PM
As I said in another thread - the people moaning most about KU are those that lost the permafree visibility advantage overnight.  The effectiveness of that funnel has been reduced dramatically.  * * *

I'd like to know from those that are reporting slumps if they did use permafree.

I never used permafree. In fact none of my books has ever been free, and my sales were reduced by about 1/3 when KU started. Maybe that doesn't count since I don't think I moaned.   :)

Things looked up sharply when I put my newest book in KU, but how does one judge that? The book is selling well and maybe it would have sold as well and given the backlist as much of a boost as it's received without KU. The last few books didn't, but this one really seems to be resonating with readers, so maybe it's responsible for everything and KU is having no effect or a negative effect. I've given up trying to figure it out. I'm putting one of the older books in KU to see what happens. I can definitely say that after 5 years, my non-Amazon sales were about 4% of my Amazon sales. KU on one book and one short story is paying many times more than the non-Amazon vendors ever did.

I think we can debate this for eternity and there will never be One True Way for everyone.

Saying a prayer for Holly's boy.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 28, 2014, 07:40:00 PM
As I said in another thread - the people moaning most about KU are those that lost the permafree visibility advantage overnight.  The effectiveness of that funnel has been reduced dramatically.

Reduced, not obliterated.

I didn't use permafree and my sales have held steady.  I'd like to know from those that are reporting slumps if they did use permafree.  Permafree was always risky and controversial - people were warned it was going to backfire.   

So lets be brutal about it - those that gamed the system using permafree have been found out. The playing field has leveled again - so be it.

Not true. I'm getting more free downloads on my perma free. Plus, I'm actually getting borrows on my 99 cent serials, so to me, KU has been a benefit on all but one of my full length novels.

How exactly does perma free game a system??? That makes no sense.

 I give the first book away free because if readers like it they'll go on to buy the rest. Plus, I always have something I can promote.  I love perma free, and it works for me on Nook, Kobo, Amazon's foreign stores, iTunes, and everywhere else. I'm getting ready to load everything that isn't in Select on Google Play too.

Perma free works well for me still, and I plan on setting another perma free soon.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KMatthew on November 28, 2014, 07:44:11 PM
They'll plug us more in January, when people have their shiny new Kindles
Don't count on it. They'll be plugging KU titles like mad because of the 6 month trial they're giving buyers of their skiny new Kindles.

But you just stated in your above post that some of your titles are in KU, so hopefully that means they'll be plugging your titles too. For those of us outside of KU, no such luck. And I realize that's a personal choice, but that's also, more than likely, a reality.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ricola on November 28, 2014, 07:46:16 PM
If you were seeing a big income drop even with the bonus, then the other All-Stars are likely seeing this, too.  I wouldn't be surprised if they start fleeing KULL en masse.

They are.

They are.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ricola on November 28, 2014, 07:47:42 PM
No one was "gaming the system" through permafree--and Holly doesn't have a permafree.

It hit my permafree and non-permafree series equally hard.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 28, 2014, 07:49:36 PM
This might be a topic for another thread, but H.M. Ward, how would things change for you if Amazon dropped the exclusivity requirement for KU?

I hope things work out for your boy.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ricola on November 28, 2014, 07:49:57 PM
Only three types of people are better off with KU than before:

-Those selling at $.99.
-Those JUST starting out in romance.
-Those whose books no one wanted to buy before.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ricola on November 28, 2014, 07:51:01 PM
This might be a topic for another thread, but H.M. Ward, how would things change for you if Amazon dropped the exclusivity requirement for KU?

I hope things work out for your boy.

She didn't have an exclusivity requirement.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 28, 2014, 07:51:18 PM
It games the system by working against those that don't break Zon's terms by going down the permafree route - giving a competitive advantage in regards to visibility.

If perma-free is breaking the KDP TOS, Amazon is oddly complicit in it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 28, 2014, 07:51:58 PM
She didn't have an exclusivity requirement.

Wow. And even without exclusivity, it didn't work for her?

Perhaps the system is broken.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ricola on November 28, 2014, 07:53:05 PM
Oyster and Scribd pay 100% royalties.  I'm happy to have my books there.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ricola on November 28, 2014, 07:54:25 PM
Why did you create a permafree?  to create increased visibility and funnel readers into your other titles? of course you did - and that gave you an advantage over those that didn't have permafrees. 

To do so you had to go off Zon - and reverse engineer - against Zon's terms.  Gaming for competitive advantage.

Permafree is at the root of all this -   

...Really?  So if I price my books at $3.99 and not $8.99 like trad pubs, is that GAMING, too?  What if I have nice covers and good editing, unlike 80% of indies?  I bet that's CHEATING!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mark Tyson on November 28, 2014, 07:55:03 PM
This thread is confusing the heck out of me. I came out with my first title back in March and I hit the ground running selling almost 2000 books in a month and a half. After reading various threads on  Kboards, I found that I fell in the "not typical" category for a first book. Then KU hit and my sales dropped too but I do not have a large enough catalog to know if it was because of KU or if my title just leveled out normally. Since then, I have released book 2 and I have a new release coming Sunday. As my mailing list grows and my sales remain steady (but fairly low) I am perplexed whether or not I should go wide or stay in select as I have from the beginning. When I read threads like this I feel I need to go wide but I am scared as heck to do that since I am doing okay with borrows (about 50/50) I have not done the permafree option yet but I do price pulse book 1 now between .99 and 2.99. I am doing okay, but no where near what I did the first 3 or 4 months. I guess the exposure is good for me to remain in select but I can't help to think I could be making sales on other platforms too. I fear this is "grass is greener" thinking. Any advice from you long term authors is always appreciated!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 28, 2014, 08:04:10 PM
It games the system by working against those that don't break Zon's terms by going down the permafree route - giving a competitive advantage in regards to visibility.

You are in a minority if you are seeing your downloads increase  - plenty of others have seen them plummet.

It doesn't "game" the system, in that Amazon doesn't have to price match, and for the first several months, they chose not to. I was free on several other platforms, through Smashwords.  As a self publisher, I don't have to do things to "please" Amazon, just my readers.

All those leaving KU certainly won't be "pleasing" Amazon either.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deanna Chase on November 28, 2014, 08:06:54 PM
Can you see a $0.00 pricing option on Zon?  No? you have your answer.

No, but Amazon's TOS addresses what the author's payment is if the book is on a free promotion at another retailer and Amz chooses to price match it.  Many people on this very board have asked Amazon if free is against the terms of service. The answer was no. Many have reps who actually help set books free when asked. If that's gaming the system, then it's done with Amazon's clear blessing.

But feel free to keep telling us all we're gaming the system. For the record, I have three series. At the time KU launched, one series had a permafree. All books dropped 30% in revenue all do to lost visibility on Amazon because of KU books getting an advantage in visibility. It's not because permafree backfired. It's because the conditions changed. Free still works in most cases. It just works a bit differently.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on November 28, 2014, 08:08:37 PM
Just wanted to let you know,  I admire you for this.   You actually did leave Amazon completely.    Are you on Google Play yet?

Thank you. No, I haven't joined Google Play because the contract with Google states that Google has the right to sell at whatever price Google chooses, although they still pay the author/publisher a 52% royalty based on the List Price. I've been delighted with my sales at, and working association with, Nook and Kobo and I don't want to anger them by having my books priced lower at other resellers. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joliedupre on November 28, 2014, 08:12:36 PM
Only three types of people are better off with KU than before:

-Those selling at $.99.
-Those JUST starting out in romance.
-Those whose books no one wanted to buy before.

You left erotica shorts out of your definitive list.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 28, 2014, 08:18:22 PM
Why did you create a permafree?  to create increased visibility and funnel readers into your other titles? of course you did - and that gave you an advantage over those that didn't have permafrees. 

To do so you had to go off Zon - and reverse engineer - against Zon's terms.  Gaming for competitive advantage.

Permafree is at the root of all this -   

Where is the exact clause in the KDP TOS that forbids perma-free? When I look through the TOS, this is all I see:

Pricing Page 1. Royalties D. Matching Competitor Prices (35% Royalty Option):

Quote
From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion. It is important that Digital Books made available through the Program have promotions that are on par with free promotions of the same book in another sales channel. Therefore, if your Digital Book is available through another sales channel for free, we may also make it available for free. If we match a free promotion of your Digital Book somewhere else, your Royalty during that promotion will be zero. (Unlike under the 70% Royalty Option, if we match a price for your Digital Book that is above zero, it won't change the calculation of your Royalties indicated in C. above.)

Pricing Page 1. Royalties D. Matching Competitor Prices (70% Royalty Option):

Quote
If we price-match your Digital Book, your Royalty will be:

The Royalty Rate indicated above, multiplied by the price at which we sell the Digital Book, less taxes and Delivery Costs, for sales to customers in the Available Sales Territories.

Royalty Rate x (Amazon price - taxes and Delivery Costs) = Royalty

By "price-match" we mean where we sell the Digital Book in one or more of the Available Sales Territories at a price (net of taxes) that is below the List Price to match a third party's sales price for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book, or to match our sales price for any physical edition of the Digital Book, in any one of the Available Sales Territories.

There's no mention there about how price-matching a free book is against the TOS. In fact, there's nothing there about how price-matching a NON-free book is against the TOS either.

Did Amazon quietly remove the most favored nation clause from the TOS while we weren't looking?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: GUTMAN on November 28, 2014, 08:20:31 PM
Not to speak for Hugh, but from what I remember he is not being held to the exclusivity clause. However, that is for a finite period. Once that period ends he's said he will most likely pull out as the numbers AE and Data Guy have gathered do not support him staying in.

My sources in the "special club" of KU non-exclusivity told me they get this come and go deal until January.  At least that was true in the summer. Things may have changed--and for all anybody knows it could be different terms for different folks.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ricola on November 28, 2014, 08:22:40 PM
You left erotica shorts out of your definitive list.

Pardon me.  That's true for some.

Those who were doing decently before and doing better now are mostly doing it on sheer volume.  They may have made $5-10k a month before, but over dozens if not over a hundred titles.  Few people were buying any individual title.  So they had a LOT of books that not many people wanted to buy that added up to a decent income.

Screw KU.  I've gone off Amazon for eyeballs, and my sales are up 8x.  And I was making a living before.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on November 28, 2014, 08:31:33 PM
Can you see a $0.00 pricing option on Zon?  No? you have your answer. 

LOL. I was going to correct you, but I see others have taken care of that quite nicely.

Your prejudice against something does not make it a fact.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jill Nojack on November 28, 2014, 08:33:23 PM
Why did you create a permafree?  to create increased visibility and funnel readers into your other titles? of course you did - and that gave you an advantage over those that didn't have permafrees. 

To do so you had to go off Zon - and reverse engineer - against Zon's terms.  Gaming for competitive advantage.

Permafree is at the root of all this -   
That's like saying people who get Bookbub ads are "gaming the system". There is no reverse engineering involved in a permafree. It's an ad, like any other ad. One that doesn't cost an author anything but the time he or she took to write the book.

Amazon is happy to set a person's book permafree for them if asked. Within hours. It isn't against their terms. The terms are that they reserve the right to price match or to not price match. You can't force them to do it. They wouldn't do it if it didn't benefit them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: sela on November 28, 2014, 08:42:43 PM
I was in KDPS from the start of my writing career, which started in June 2012. I have two series published for a total of 7 full length novels and I have two novellas and two short stories. I pulled my books out of KDPS earlier in 2014 to take part in a boxed set that was distributed widely and to see if I could hack it in wider distribution. At first, I barely made any money on the other channels like B&N, iBooks and Kobo but I did really well after 2 Bookbub 99c promos and a couple of new releases. Then, KU hit and my Amazon income went down almost 50% from previous months. All my books fell in rank considerably when KU started up. As a result, my sales dried up drastically. Here are some numbers

Average Amazon monthly income:

Q1 (Jan, Feb, Mar): $14,318.19 per month average
Q2 (Apr, May, June): $15,003.88 per month average
Q3 (July, Aug, Sept): $8,585.10 per month average

Needless to say I went back all in to KDPS/KU. I started in October, but November was the first month I was all in to KDPS / KU again. My sales were drying up on B&N, iTunes and Kobo as the effects of the 2 Bookbubs were waning. Since I was not eligible for any more Bookbubs for 6 months, my choices were to go permafree with the first book in the two series or go back into KDPS. I decided to go back into KDPS as I was reluctant to go the permafree route because as far as I understand, once your book has been free, Bookbub will not do anything but free. 99c Bookbub promos have done really well for me, getting me to #2, #12, #23, #32 and #35 in the Kindle store. They give me a boost for a month or two. I'll be eligible once more starting in January 2015 so I will likely be pulling out one of my series from KDPS/KU and putting it back on all channels. The other series will probably stay in as it is doing better in KU than out of it.

Going all in to KDPS/KU has increased my rankings but the borrows have not made up for the lost income at other channels nor have they brought me back up to the income I enjoyed in Q1 or Q2 and I feel KU lends have cannibalized my sales. Is it all due to KU? I am sure there are other factors -- the natural decline in sales of a book that is older, the Summer Slump. etc. and 6 months without a new release, but I have to tie the majority of the drop to the start of KU and the effect of not being in KU on my books' ranking and visibility.

I started pulling books out of other channels in October and putting them back in to KDPS.

Here are my more recent stats:

October Amazon Income: $9,876.23
November Amazon Income (Projected): $9000.00

It may seem like a lot of those authors who are not making their living as full-time writers, but I am the sole support for myself and my two teens. Seeing that kind of drop in Amazon income while income on the other channels was dropping made me rethink wider distribution.

Anyway, am I bitter? I could be but this is business and I have to take a step backward and try to see the big picture. No one owes me a living. I have to make it and I have to find what works for me. I am not taking sides in this debate because I really think that this comes down to being smart and nimble and responding to conditions on the ground and never stopping or expecting anything. I love being indie and being in control of my destiny as much as possible. That means being aware of the realities facing me and responding.

Being exclusive to Amazon KDPS was good for me and gave me the opportunity to work full time as an author. Amazon is trying out a new program, and it is unclear to me whether it is net positive or negative for me as an author, although I suspect it will be net negative. Like all businesses, Amazon puts the bottom line first, and that means putting the customer first. It is top dog because it does everything better to make the customer happy and thus customers choose it over other online retailers. It is also playing the long game, maneuvering itself to be the biggest online retailer and getting ready to compete with Alibaba. If KU makes readers happy, if enough of them sign up for KU and Prime, Amazon will keep both programs in place. It will find a KU payout that keeps enough authors in. If not, KU will fade and be replaced by something else.

It's still possible to do really well outside of Amazon KDPS / KU. Nothing is certain in this business and so while I did really well for most of 2013 and the first two quarters of 2014, there is no guarantee that I will keep doing well. We indie authors are not special snowflakes. We are suppliers and Amazon has shown it is willing to squeeze suppliers if it has to. If KU doesn't work for us, we still have a choice of going wide in terms of distribution and using other tactics to sell and promote our books.

I have plans for a couple of new series and see that as my best strategy -- keep writing new content. I'm going to try permafree for one series starter, and for the other, I'm going to try the Liliana Nirvana technique with novellas and have three serial novellas ready to release every two weeks for 6 weeks and then release the bundle and see how it does in KU. I'm going to keep trying to build up my mailing list. I'm going to keep trying new promotions. I'm going to put one series in KU and one series in wide distribution and see what works best. I'm going to keep my eyes open and try to be smart and nimble.

Most of all, I'm going to keep writing - oh, and I'm going to focus on building up an emergency fund because in this business, nothing is certain. It's stressful and exhilarating at the same time. It's the best possible time to be an author as well.  :)




Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joliedupre on November 28, 2014, 08:49:32 PM

Screw KU. 

For non-erotica?  Yeah, I'm going wide.  For erotica?  H*** NO.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 28, 2014, 09:10:22 PM
Only three types of people are better off with KU than before:

-Those selling at $.99.
-Those JUST starting out in romance.
-Those whose books no one wanted to buy before.

Not true, at all. There are a number of example right here on KB that disproves that.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deke on November 28, 2014, 09:26:42 PM
FIrst off, you're probably in the minority in not having an Amazon account…or is that a wrong assumption? Second, I'm suggesting the reverse: that you could find Book 1 on Kobo (whatever that is…ha), and if you love it would have them be more inclined to jump through a hoop or two to get Book 2. Of course, this scenario would discourage folks who do not use Kindle from getting subsequent books in the series, but as proposed above some accommodation might be made directly from the author's own site.

I'm still working this out and perhaps the best-practices is this: Book 1 permafree everywhere.  Book 2+ a reasonable price everywhere.

The only lost opportunity with the above would be the "free loans" to KU members of Books 2+.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: CoraBuhlert on November 28, 2014, 09:42:58 PM
FIrst off, you're probably in the minority in not having an Amazon account...or is that a wrong assumption?

In the US maybe. But Amazon is not the dominant retailer or even the dominant e-book in many other countries.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 28, 2014, 10:03:41 PM
What I don't understand is that Amazon says we're giving 6 months of Kindle Unlimited away for free with a Kindle and the reaction of some is: "Now is a good time to jump from the bandwagon."
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Saul Tanpepper on November 28, 2014, 10:18:10 PM
What I don't understand is that Amazon says we're giving 6 months of Kindle Unlimited away for free with a Kindle and the reaction of some is: "Now is a good time to jump from the bandwagon."

The size of the pot is unlikely to change, so more subscribers means more borrows, most likely weighed heavily toward those who are already heavy hitters. That means smaller royalties/read for everyone. Unless you're able to get more borrows to make up for it, your income is likely to go down.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Boyd on November 28, 2014, 10:19:25 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong - one of the terms of KDP is that your work cannot be free of charge anywhere else on the internet?  If Zon stripped every  permafree book tomorrow - they could point to that clause - and that's it.  No argument. 

Permafree is at the mercy of Zon - if and when they want it gone - it's gone. 
can you quote that for me in their TOS?  I don't recall seeing that.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 28, 2014, 10:25:23 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong - one of the terms of KDP is that your work cannot be free of charge anywhere else on the internet?  If Zon stripped every  permafree book tomorrow - they could point to that clause - and that's it.  No argument. 

Permafree is at the mercy of Zon - if and when they want it gone - it's gone.

EC, you are wrong, and we are correcting you. There is no clause in the terms of KDP that says that you cannot offer your work "free of charge anywhere else on the internet." On the contrary, there are numerous clauses enumerating exactly what KDP will do if your work is available for a lower price elsewhere, and what their obligations are to you in that event.

Perhaps you need to read through the TOS more thoroughly before you bash everyone with a perma-free book for "gaming the system."
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deanna Chase on November 28, 2014, 10:26:07 PM
It was automatically going to be the case that KU would affect permafree visibility - for the simple reason that people who signed up for it had no incentive to go looking for free books any more.  As I said, a lot of the gripes are coming from people that lost the permafree visibility advantage - and your post confirms that.  KU up - permafree down.

You said books that had permafree are the ones that are suffering. I'm saying ALL books not in KU are at a disadvantage. Only one of my three series had a permafree book. But ALL three series took a hit. Just like HM Ward said her sales are down because of KU. A lot of people's books are down. Permafree isn't the reason they are down. KU and visibility advantage is.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mercia McMahon on November 28, 2014, 10:39:51 PM
What I don't understand is that Amazon says we're giving 6 months of Kindle Unlimited away for free with a Kindle and the reaction of some is: "Now is a good time to jump from the bandwagon."

Its only one month of Kindle Unlimited in the UK and AFAIK Kindle Unlimited is not even available as a paid service in Canada just a few hundred miles from Amazon's HQ.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D-C on November 28, 2014, 11:45:47 PM
The did warn us this was how it was going to work. Remember back when this thing first dropped and the rep told one of our members (forget who) that KU was gong to be mostly for 'exposure' when she expressed concern that the KOLL payment wouldn't hold up?

Holds up hand. That was me. They told me straight, it's for exposure.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on November 28, 2014, 11:49:53 PM
Hi.  Do you really want to hurt Amazon?   Pulling out of KU will not hurt Amazon in the least.   Hugh Howey not being in KU hasn't hurt it.

The only way for you to hurt Amazon is if you pull all your books from Amazon and do not sell there.

I am still sorry for Holly.   I figure that Amazon reps told her a little white lie.

I don't want to hurt Amazon. I love Amazon. I want to hurt KU...murder KU. Destroy it utterly! muhahaha
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Daphne on November 29, 2014, 12:58:26 AM
EC, you are wrong, and we are correcting you. There is no clause in the terms of KDP that says that you cannot offer your work "free of charge anywhere else on the internet." On the contrary, there are numerous clauses enumerating exactly what KDP will do if your work is available for a lower price elsewhere, and what their obligations are to you in that event.

Perhaps you need to read through the TOS more thoroughly before you bash everyone with a perma-free book for "gaming the system."


I’ve always been confused by Amazon’s policy on price-matching to free, because their Terms and Conditions on their Pricing Page would seem to say that you cannot deliberately price your book lower on any other sales channel (and free will always be lower as Amazon does not offer this option) and yet they have always appeared to be more than happy to set books to permafree.

On Pricing: "You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book.” (my italics)

The phrase Amazon uses regarding Matching Competitor Prices  suggests occasional free promotions: "From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion."

Arguably Amazon could decide that people who have chosen to set their book permanently to free on another channel are in breach of the terms and conditions because it is setting the price on Amazon higher and is not an occasional free promotion, but in reality they have shown no inclination to do so.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 29, 2014, 03:41:57 AM

I've always been confused by Amazon's policy on price-matching to free, because their Terms and Conditions on their Pricing Page would seem to say that you cannot deliberately price your book lower on any other sales channel (and free will always be lower as Amazon does not offer this option) and yet they have always appeared to be more than happy to set books to permafree.

On Pricing: "You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book." (my italics)

The phrase Amazon uses regarding Matching Competitor Prices  suggests occasional free promotions: "From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion."

Arguably Amazon could decide that people who have chosen to set their book permanently to free on another channel are in breach of the terms and conditions because it is setting the price on Amazon higher and is not an occasional free promotion, but in reality they have shown no inclination to do so.


Correct.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Daizie on November 29, 2014, 04:41:27 AM
Have you guys heard of Payhip.com?

I had a few of my books listed there for awhile and sold a handful before I went back to KU. Its simply a distro site. You list your books, readers can pay by credit/debit or paypal and you place the book there as an epub, mobi or pdf or whattever. The reader buys it and downloads it. Payhip only keeps like .10 from each sale.

Just hardly anyone knows about it and hard to get peopel to go there to buy is the biggest thing.

I've never heard of it. Thanks.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on November 29, 2014, 05:59:03 AM
On Pricing: "You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book." (my italics)

If Amazon wanted to evoke this they should have done this before KU to force all those permafreebies back into Select.
Given KU, there is little reason to offer a book for free for five days or use the Countdown since you're targeting the same audience with that. At least at .com where the numbers are.
What Amazon needs right now is an incentive for authors of longer and higher-priced works to stay exclusive. I'm not seeing it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D. Zollicoffer on November 29, 2014, 06:20:05 AM
We should be able to make books free without having to "game" the system. It's time for Amazon to step into 2014 -- the other channels allow us to go free from the start.

Honestly, Amazon is the leader, but their system is easily the most archaic. Delivery fees, updates aren't automatically pushed thorough to customers (Apple handles updates the best, an icon shows up when a book has been updated), sharing a pot, the option to take 35% on a book over $2.99 (who would choose to make less), etc.

It's like they're stuck in 2009.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on November 29, 2014, 06:45:39 AM
We should be able to make books free without having to "game" the system. It's time for Amazon to step into 2014 -- the other channels allow us to go free from the start.

Honestly, Amazon is the leader, but their system is easily the most archaic. Delivery fees, updates aren't automatically pushed thorough to customers (Apple handles updates the best, an icon shows up when a book has been updated), sharing a pot, the option to take 35% on a book over $2.99 (who would choose to make less), etc.

It's like they're stuck in 2009.


While all this is true, the Zon still has the best discoverability engine, which in the end is what matters most. They get the most eyeballs on our books.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: DanaG on November 29, 2014, 07:00:22 AM
A decline in a writer's sales doesn't mean sales and borrows are disappearing into nothing. The non-sales for this writer become sales and borrows for someone else. Let's say just as deserving as the writer, who lost sales.

I don't necessarily think this is true.  The fact that one writer isn't doing well on KU doesn't mean that readers are buying someone else's books instead.  It could just mean that sales and/or borrows are down across the board there.

I do wonder if KU in general is not doing well, and that's why Amazon felt the need to offer that six month free subscription to it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on November 29, 2014, 07:15:09 AM
Quote
I do wonder if KU in general is not doing well, and that's why Amazon felt the need to offer that six month free subscription to it.

This is only anecdotal, but when KU first came out I checked out the comments in my Facebook post and they were mostly positive. (But similar ads have negative comments for Scribd and Oyster--your typical, "you could just get these from a library for free" comments).

However, lately, the comments on KU in Facebook have turned into, "the books are nothing but junk". Of course, I know a lot of high quality trad & indies who are in KU, but I think maybe the scamlets are making consumers more wary.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' on November 29, 2014, 07:20:39 AM
I don't necessarily think this is true.  The fact that one writer isn't doing well on KU doesn't mean that readers are buying someone else's books instead.  It could just mean that sales and/or borrows are down across the board there.

I do wonder if KU in general is not doing well, and that's why Amazon felt the need to offer that six month free subscription to it.

As a reader, KU holds no interest for me. There's too much choice out there for me to decide what I want to read. I don't even use my Prime borrow every month because I can't figure out what I want to read. I buy based on recommendations or an Amazon ad might strike me. If the book is out of my price range, I might use my KOLL borrow.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Donna White Glaser on November 29, 2014, 07:43:12 AM
What I don't understand is that Amazon says we're giving 6 months of Kindle Unlimited away for free with a Kindle and the reaction of some is: "Now is a good time to jump from the bandwagon."
This is the point I'm wavering on, for short-term decision-making. Come Jan., there are going to be a whole lot of people trying KU for the next six months w/ their free Kindle. I have 1 permafree and then 3 next in the series. The 3 next are in KU, but their tour of duty is up Jan. 1st. I'm trying to decide if I should take all or just the latter two out.
Decisions, decisions.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 29, 2014, 07:54:11 AM

While all this is true, the Zon still has the best discoverability engine, which in the end is what matters most. They get the most eyeballs on our books.

...which they promptly sabotaged to put their thumb on the scale for KU.

And it really is borked too. I was trying to link a friend's book for the Wendig thing and using the search terms that always put his book on the first page turned up a page of things that didn't even have anything to do with the terms (including a COOK BOOK when looking for a steampunk fantasy) with him on the second now.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deke on November 29, 2014, 08:14:39 AM
I wonder if KU will ultimately change what I write. Maybe it's time to seriously look at shorter novellas and TV-series style episodes. Then have some in and some out of KU.

In general, I'm grateful to Amazon for creating this marketplace, but I'm not real happy about anyone loaning my product out for a fee I didn't agree to.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Marian on November 29, 2014, 08:22:58 AM
This thread is confusing the heck out of me. I came out with my first title back in March and I hit the ground running selling almost 2000 books in a month and a half. After reading various threads on  Kboards, I found that I fell in the "not typical" category for a first book. Then KU hit and my sales dropped too but I do not have a large enough catalog to know if it was because of KU or if my title just leveled out normally. Since then, I have released book 2 and I have a new release coming Sunday. As my mailing list grows and my sales remain steady (but fairly low) I am perplexed whether or not I should go wide or stay in select as I have from the beginning. When I read threads like this I feel I need to go wide but I am scared as heck to do that since I am doing okay with borrows (about 50/50) I have not done the permafree option yet but I do price pulse book 1 now between .99 and 2.99. I am doing okay, but no where near what I did the first 3 or 4 months. I guess the exposure is good for me to remain in select but I can't help to think I could be making sales on other platforms too. I fear this is "grass is greener" thinking. Any advice from you long term authors is always appreciated!

If I were you, I'd go wide. If you're afraid to leave Select, leave just the first book in and promote it like crazy. It will lead readers to your other books. Hype your new release as well. As so many of us have said, don't put all of your eggs in one basket, especially since Amazon is holding the basket and they can drop it anytime they want to.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: daringnovelist on November 29, 2014, 08:26:00 AM
I haven't manage to read all the way through this thread, so pardon if I am repeating what someone else said ....

I've been reading the posts which seem to reflect on timing and specific behavior and results, and I wonder if we're not seeing a bubble pattern.

With Prime Lending, people could only borrow one book a month, so it probably didn't make as much difference to the audience, even though it made a big difference to some authors.  However, now with KU (which I believe allows lots more borrowing) we're seeing the customers who are into deals leap in -- making a new-adoption bubble. (Kind of like what happened  a couple years ago with free books and new Kindle users.)

But here's the thing -- the "irrational exhuberence" of those customers is likely aimed at the most expensive books they can find.  If traditionally published best sellers (which are overpriced) are in KU, those are the books people are going to go for, even though they did the opposite with Select.  The psychology is different.

It's different partly because the customers with Select had already paid their fee, and it was "oh look, a new benefit for Prime."  With KU, it's bargain hunters who paid their money up front, and want their money's worth.

I suspect Indie customers were already getting their money's worth.  Select gave other people incentive to try the occasional new author.  KU does the opposite.

If I'm right, this might be a bubble.  Once the first instinctive grabbing wears off, people will settle down into regular reading patterns, just like they did after the first crazy free and 99 cent book bubble.  However, I have no idea whether the regular pattern will be good or bad for authors, or for indies.

Camille
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 29, 2014, 08:42:57 AM
I'm not a KU subscriber so I don't know how it works from a readers perspective, but what I understand from reading here is any book that has been borrowed will disappear from every Kindle it is on if removed from KU by the author. I know there is a ten book limit, I was just wondering if people are turning on their Kindles and finding the ten books they had borrowed suddenly reduced to five or two or even zero? Does this happen even if they have read half the book already? How does that effect their view of their KU subscription? Has any author received a bad review due to a book disappearing?

Can any subscribers out there give us some insight on this?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: daffodils321 on November 29, 2014, 09:10:54 AM


If I'm right, this might be a bubble.  Once the first instinctive grabbing wears off, people will settle down into regular reading patterns, just like they did after the first crazy free and 99 cent book bubble.  However, I have no idea whether the regular pattern will be good or bad for authors, or for indies.

Camille

Very insightful! I think we will have to wait for the free 6 months of KU to end before we know anything.

Holly, I hope everything turns out with your family's medical issues. Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: crebel on November 29, 2014, 09:13:31 AM
I'm not a KU subscriber so I don't know how it works from a readers perspective, but what I understand from reading here is any book that has been borrowed will disappear from every Kindle it is on if removed from KU by the author. I know there is a ten book limit, I was just wondering if people are turning on their Kindles and finding the ten books they had borrowed suddenly reduced to five or two or even zero? Does this happen even if they have read half the book already? How does that effect their view of their KU subscription? Has any author received a bad review due to a book disappearing?

Can any subscribers out there give us some insight on this?


It is a 10 book at a time limit, but unlimited for the number you can borrow that are in KU.  If you've borrowed and read 10 books or see another book you want to borrow, you have to return one before you can get another.  Theoretically, you could borrow a 1,000 books in a month, but no more than 10 at a time.

A book you have borrowed will not disappear from your Kindle unless you stop paying for KU and then all borrowed books will disappear at the end of your current 30-day subscription.  If an author has a book in KU and you borrow it, it will stay on your Kindle until you delete it or your subscription terminates, regardless of whether the author has pulled the book from KU in the meantime.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 29, 2014, 09:19:16 AM
It is a 10 book at a time limit, but unlimited for the number you can borrow that are in KU.  If you've borrowed and read 10 books or see another book you want to borrow, you have to return one before you can get another.  Theoretically, you could borrow a 1,000 books in a month, but no more than 10 at a time.

A book you have borrowed will not disappear from your Kindle unless you stop paying for KU and then all borrowed books will disappear at the end of your current 30-day subscription.  If an author has a book in KU and you borrow it, it will stay on your Kindle until you delete it or your subscription terminates, regardless of whether the author has pulled the book from KU in the meantime.

Got it, thanks. Seems very safe....for Amazon.  ::)  Looks like an author could have KU borrows showing up on their report months after they have pulled their books out if the reader takes their time getting to them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 29, 2014, 09:19:41 AM
Given KU, there is little reason to offer a book for free for five days or use the Countdown since you're targeting the same audience with that. At least at .com where the numbers are.

There are a lot of customers who don't subscribe to KU. For that reason, the free days and Countdown deals are still a great marketing tool.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ThePete on November 29, 2014, 09:21:38 AM
The negative and positive effects of KU are being greatly exaggerated. In early June, Amazon made huge changes to their salesrank system to emphasize churn. It's now harder to gain a high rank and takes more work to stay there. That's the real game changer. This revolutionary change a few days before KU was unveiled is responsible for most of the poor sales folks are complaining about. Big name or small time author, the need to perpetually promote your works has never been so urgent. We can't "coast" on success as long we once could.

Let's take a look at the impact of KU borrows on Amazon:

There were 512.7 million ebooks sold* in the US in 2013.
On Amazon: 333.255 million (65% market share)
Monthly Average: 27.77 million
KU/KOLL monthly borrows from last month (Oct): 4.5 million (one million more than previous month)

That's a 16.2% range of harming or helping sales. No paltry sum, but no game changer either. The actual number is likely smaller, since this lumps in KOLL numbers and borrows on every Amazon marketplace. Not just .com.

*http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/63052-industry-sales-flat-in-2013-trade-dropped-2-3.html
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 29, 2014, 09:23:14 AM
Very insightful! I think we will have to wait for the free 6 months of KU to end before we know anything.

The bubble won't last just six months, though, because Kindles will be sold this month, next month and many months from now, and they'll all have a six month KU membership on them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 29, 2014, 09:32:04 AM
We should be able to make books free without having to "game" the system. It's time for Amazon to step into 2014 -- the other channels allow us to go free from the start.

I know I'm probably going to get flack for saying this, but I don't want them to allow us to set our books permafree. We're already fighting a battle against those who think everything on the Internet should be free. Having more ebooks offered permafree is the last thing I want to see.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kathy Clark, Author on November 29, 2014, 09:33:57 AM
thank you Richard!

Facts to deal with!  Rare thing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 29, 2014, 09:40:00 AM
I know I'm probably going to get flack for saying this, but I don't want them to allow us to set our books permafree. We're already fighting a battle against those who think everything on the Internet should be free. Having more ebooks offered permafree is the last thing I want to see.

I've actually expected them to drop FREE as an option at Amazon for some time. Obviously there is some math somewhere that tells them not to.

Or they could be trying to drop EVERYTHING to free and make up the loss is higher traffic. I'd like to see how much of an increase in traffic to the website a KU membership results in. More traffic = more eyeballs on the ads = more money spent. If that's the case KU is an advertising expense.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 29, 2014, 09:42:46 AM
Hardly anyone is offering more than a first-in-series or promo title for free.

Plus, if you're worried about people getting your book for free, Amazon's pirate-friendly policies like excessively generous returns and the fact that you can still offload KU-borrowed files are a bigger concern to you than people offering loss-leaders.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KMatthew on November 29, 2014, 09:44:27 AM
The negative and positive effects of KU are being greatly exaggerated. In early June, Amazon made huge changes to their salesrank system to emphasize churn. It's now harder to gain a high rank and takes more work to stay there. That's the real game changer. This revolutionary change a few days before KU was unveiled is responsible for most of the poor sales folks are complaining about. Big name or small time author, the need to perpetually promote your works has never been so urgent. We can't "coast" on success as long we once could.

Let's take a look at the impact of KU borrows on Amazon:

There were 512.7 million ebooks sold* in the US in 2013.
On Amazon: 333.255 million (65% market share)
Monthly Average: 27.77 million
KU/KOLL monthly borrows from last month (Oct): 4.5 million (one million more than previous month)

That's a 16.2% range of harming or helping sales. No paltry sum, but no game changer either. The actual number is likely smaller, since this lumps in KOLL numbers and borrows on every Amazon marketplace. Not just .com.

*http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/63052-industry-sales-flat-in-2013-trade-dropped-2-3.html

This is great data to have. Thanks.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 29, 2014, 09:45:36 AM
More traffic = more eyeballs on the ads = more money spent. If that's the case KU is an advertising expense.

Yes! I have always considered Select and now KU as a set of marketing tools. How they impact our sales will depend on how skillfully we learn to use them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 29, 2014, 09:51:05 AM
Hardly anyone is offering more than a first-in-series or promo title for free.

The point is, the more free books there are, the more free books the consumer expects. The buyers don't make a distinction between first-in-series and every other book. All they see is free, and the more they see it, the more they want it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on November 29, 2014, 10:01:00 AM
...which they promptly sabotaged to put their thumb on the scale for KU.

And it really is borked too. I was trying to link a friend's book for the Wendig thing and using the search terms that always put his book on the first page turned up a page of things that didn't even have anything to do with the terms (including a COOK BOOK when looking for a steampunk fantasy) with him on the second now.
Yeah, I've never really understood this whole "Amazon is king of discovery" thing. Okay, so the 30-day New Release list works well, but then what? Also boughts won't help you if you were a modest seller straight out the gate. And personally, I've never found Amazon's search engine particularly useful. It's far worse now than it was before, though. All that can really be said here is that it doesn't suck nearly as much as the others. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D. Zollicoffer on November 29, 2014, 10:18:55 AM
I know I'm probably going to get flack for saying this, but I don't want them to allow us to set our books permafree. We're already fighting a battle against those who think everything on the Internet should be free. Having more ebooks offered permafree is the last thing I want to see.
People are still buying books on the other sites, and Amazon. We can still make our books FREE so they should just make it easier. I've gotten it down to a science, I can get my books free just by emailing Amazon and sending them 5 FREE links from other sites.

It's not like we're going to give everything away, and the scammers aren't giving anything away.

Maybe permafree is devaluing books, but KU is doing the same. A $9.99 all you can eat buffet is just as bad IMHO :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jac1106 on November 29, 2014, 10:25:44 AM
An eat-all-you-can thing is a one off.
KU is like having a buffet everyday for 30 days.
So KU is worse.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D. Zollicoffer on November 29, 2014, 10:35:58 AM
An eat-all-you-can thing is a one off.
KU is like having a buffet everyday for 30 days.
So KU is worse.
Lol, yeah you're right I guess!  :P
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Chrissy on November 29, 2014, 10:38:52 AM
Yeah, I've never really understood this whole "Amazon is king of discovery" thing. Okay, so the 30-day New Release list works well, but then what? Also boughts won't help you if you were a modest seller straight out the gate. And personally, I've never found Amazon's search engine particularly useful. It's far worse now than it was before, though. All that can really be said here is that it doesn't suck nearly as much as the others.

You write another book and the 30 day clock/timer starts again.  8)

Amazon algos love fresh new content.  :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Stacy Claflin on November 29, 2014, 10:40:27 AM
This is what I've experienced. In May, my sales TANKED. I assumed it was because I published a box set and set the price at 99c, hoping to hit a list. It didn't. I cannibalized my sales for those books. I also heard about some change Amazon made around that time, so whatever that was probably played into it as well.

My perma-free at the time was a prequel novella, and those downloads dropped significantly. Double digits some days.

Then when KU happened, it didn't affect anything. None of my sales or downloads improved or got worse. I put a couple books into KU that don't sell anyway. Still don't. Barely get any borrows. I put in a short story. I'm not sure that it got any borrows the entire time.

In October, I published the first two books in my Gone series into KU. I didn't promote it because I was waiting until I had the third and final installment. It got a few sales and borrows, mainly because of good reviews from sending out ARC's.

Mid-October I decided to switch my perma-free from a prequel novella to book #1, my longest novel. (This series is NOT in KU.) This was also after rebranding my covers in the series. It got picked up by some promo sites. Then I paid for some promos and hit the top 100 free for the first time ever. It went into the top 50. That was a total game changer for me. The sell-throughs are unlike anything I've ever seen before.

Kobo is featuring my prequel novella in their first free in series. They've also featured some of my other books in some other promos. I've made about 3x in the last two months on Kobo than what I made all of last year. Wattpad is also featuring my prequel. Who knows what that will lead to?

Then on a whim (because I joined some Kboarders for a Black Friday promo) I set Gone free using my KDPS days. Pixel of Ink picked me up yesterday and I actually hit the first page of the free books. It looks like another game changer.

My experience shows that FREE is still the way to go. It could be perma-free, or it could be putting ONE novel into KU for one cycle for the free days. Free still works, and thanks to it I'm doing better than ever despite KU. If you're not writing shorts or serialized fiction, go wide and use perma-free OR use KU for one cycle to use the free days.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 29, 2014, 10:42:00 AM
An eat-all-you-can thing is a one off.
KU is like having a buffet everyday for 30 days.
So KU is worse.
I know a couple that once he retired, they did buffets every day.   He told her I'm retired and so are you.   

Note: even the best sellers have to keep writing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on November 29, 2014, 10:47:05 AM
I know a couple that once he retired, they did buffets every day.   He told her I'm retired and so are you.   

My mom told her boy toy that they were just going to go to Costco every day and grab free samples.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lydniz on November 29, 2014, 10:47:33 AM
OR use KU for one cycle to use the free days.

This is what I did. My one and only experience with Select/KU was with my first in series. I got myself a free Bookbub ad and did all five days free at once and had phenomenal success (for me) with great sell-through. I'm out of Select again now, but I'd certainly consider doing it again for a short period, although only in conjunction with a Bookbub.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 29, 2014, 10:50:49 AM
My mom told her boy toy that they were just going to go to Costco every day and grab free samples.

There is a casino in my area that gives free brunch to anyone who buys a $300 gambling ticket (we can't gamble with cash, here). I know people who buy their $300 ticket, go eat, then cash in their ticket.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on November 29, 2014, 10:58:01 AM
You write another book and the 30 day clock/timer starts again.  8)

Amazon algos love fresh new content.  :)
This assumes that I want to write shorts exclusively, which I don't. I'm also not a fan of the churn mentality, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Churn isn't necessary everywhere else.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Stacy Claflin on November 29, 2014, 10:58:32 AM
This is what I did. My one and only experience with Select/KU was with my first in series. I got myself a free Bookbub ad and did all five days free at once and had phenomenal success (for me) with great sell-through. I'm out of Select again now, but I'd certainly consider doing it again for a short period, although only in conjunction with a Bookbub.

I agree. It needs to be done with some serious promotion. I was lucky to get picked up by POI, but for other free runs I would only use them along with the major promo sites. I got into the top 50 first time by using ENT and Freebooksy on the same day.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Tara Shuler on November 29, 2014, 11:00:24 AM
I'm not a KU subscriber so I don't know how it works from a readers perspective, but what I understand from reading here is any book that has been borrowed will disappear from every Kindle it is on if removed from KU by the author. I know there is a ten book limit, I was just wondering if people are turning on their Kindles and finding the ten books they had borrowed suddenly reduced to five or two or even zero? Does this happen even if they have read half the book already? How does that effect their view of their KU subscription? Has any author received a bad review due to a book disappearing?

Can any subscribers out there give us some insight on this?


I actually borrowed the second book in Holly's The Arrangement series and after she left I can still read it. I just can't get the rest of them, which really sucks from my standpoint, because I was enjoying the series and wanted to borrow the next one right away. I was intending to borrow the whole series. No offense to Holly, but it's not something I would actually buy because it's out of my price range being such a long series. The books are fun to read, but the series is just longer than I personally want to shell out for. Which is why I hadn't read #2 until they went into KU.

As a reader, I LOVE KU. Before I bought maybe 1-2 books a month. Now I read more like at least 4-5 a month, sometimes more. And often I buy the books I REALLY love after I borrow them so I can read them again in the future. It's been a super way to test the indie waters with no risk. I even have a new favorite author whose books I BUY every single time she puts one out. I discovered her through KU, but I buy them because I don't want to lose them. (It's Milly Taiden, if anyone is curious.)

As a writer, it's a love/hate thing. I don't like having to be exclusive, but the benefits have been worth it for me personally.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 29, 2014, 11:12:26 AM
I actually borrowed the second book in Holly's The Arrangement series and after she left I can still read it. I just can't get the rest of them, which really sucks from my standpoint, because I was enjoying the series and wanted to borrow the next one right away. I was intending to borrow the whole series. No offense to Holly, but it's not something I would actually buy because it's out of my price range being such a long series. The books are fun to read, but the series is just longer than I personally want to shell out for. Which is why I hadn't read #2 until they went into KU.

As a reader, I LOVE KU. Before I bought maybe 1-2 books a month. Now I read more like at least 4-5 a month, sometimes more. And often I buy the books I REALLY love after I borrow them so I can read them again in the future. It's been a super way to test the indie waters with no risk. I even have a new favorite author whose books I BUY every single time she puts one out. I discovered her through KU, but I buy them because I don't want to lose them. (It's Milly Taiden, if anyone is curious.)

As a writer, it's a love/hate thing. I don't like having to be exclusive, but the benefits have been worth it for me personally.

You just helped me without my asking!

Let me ask this. If I wrote a serial novel of twelve episodes with the idea of moving it primarily through KU, would you the reader want to see all twelve episodes in KU first before you felt comfortable starting the series? Or would six or less do it for you?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 29, 2014, 11:16:15 AM
The point is, the more free books there are, the more free books the consumer expects. The buyers don't make a distinction between first-in-series and every other book. All they see is free, and the more they see it, the more they want it.

Except the only free books they're seeing are lead-ins.

The 'free is training customers to expect free' thing is pretty much just freemongering that a lot of authors have swallowed with so little proof that it starts proving other, unrelated things.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Tara Shuler on November 29, 2014, 11:23:16 AM
You just helped me without my asking!

Let me ask this. If I wrote a serial novel of twelve episodes with the idea of moving it primarily through KU, would you the reader want to see all twelve episodes in KU first before you felt comfortable starting the series? Or would six or less do it for you?

If they were in KU I would borrow something interesting if only one was out. But I'd wait to see a few out if I had to buy them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: daringnovelist on November 29, 2014, 11:36:30 AM
Actually, it's been shown, off and on, that unbridled "free" actually builds the audience. 

There are always free books.  Project Gutenberg had free books for 30 years before ebooks took off.  They built an ebook readership, which Baen Books built on.  Baen Books built a larger ebook readership -- a really solid one -- well ahead of Kindle, largely on free books.  Every author who agreed to make their book free saw a surge in readership -- but then, so did all the other Baen authors.  And it also helped SF in general.  Libraries are always with us.  As are ultra cheap book sales for paper.  Children gain the reading habit at a time when books are provided to them for free.  In WWII publishers provided their entire booklist to soldiers on the front lines -- and saw a surge in sales after the war was over.

None of this is just samples and first book marketing gimmicks.  These are examples of wide-spread FREE.  So many free books that nobody ever has to buy a book again if they don't want to (which is true regardless of what publishers and writers do -- it's a genie that won't go back in the bottle, ever.)

What happens when you have ubiquitous free books, is that you build the audience of people who are in the habit of reading books.  It's like coffee.  Coffee made at home is ultra cheap, and it's not hard to learn to make it much better than you could buy.  But people will spend a lot of money on it... specifically because it's ubiquitous. They can get it at home, they can get it at work.  It's everywhere.  They WANT it because they get to have it all the time.  They LOVE it because of the same thing.

IMHO, the early ebook pioneers (a few years ago, yeah) didn't just gather an audience with their 99 cent and free books -- they CREATED the audience that the rest of us benefit from.  This is especially true of those whose books appealed to younger readers, who got in the habit of reading lots of ebooks while they were cheap, and now will pay for what they like best.

So....

I don't think it's good to undervalue your work -- if you're trying to make money, it's bad for your business -- but I have nothing against an excess of free or discounted work.  It may or may not be wise for the person offering it, but the rest of us benefit from it.

Camille
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: wtvr on November 29, 2014, 11:53:12 AM
Yeah, it's hard to upsell from free, but if they want me to try that new cheese at the market a free sample doesn't hurt. I probably would have eventually read the Arrangement series if it had stayed in KU, but there are a lot of books in there I still want to read and not enough hours to get them all!
 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: BillSmithBooksDotCom on November 29, 2014, 01:03:12 PM
The subscription model for ebooks makes no sense,

FULL STOP. (sorry I cut off your quote, Ed, but the above phrase summarizes exactly how I have felt about KU all along. I just can't see how the economics make any sense for full length novels.

Either Amazon pays out too much to keep authors happy (and hopes those KU subscribers buy lots of other stuff to make it pay off, i.e. using KU as a lossleader.

Or Amazon leaves the program as is and lets the pay rate rise and fall unpredictably and lets authors realize this is a "promo" type of program. I think THIS option is the much more likely result.

I think KU will end up being 99 cent & short story central -- something that otherwise an author might have gone permafree everywhere but now at least they make some money in exchange for exclusivity. I don't think that is a bad thing at all -- it might be an awesome discovery tool in the long run -- but I don't see KU being viable for your main novels unless an author considers them low-cost/freebies or backlist to be used for platform building and trying to get readers to buy your other books.

I think the future of KU is short stories, serials, introductory novellas (that lead into a "for pay" novel series not in Select), etc.

I also think a lot of the "end of free" talk has been wishful thinking. People love free and it will never go away -- and it is GOOD for authors. It allows new readers to try your work at no risk to them. The key is to leverage free with a great product and get readers to want to buy your other books.

Holly, so sorry to hear about all of this. Best wishes for your child and your family.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deke on November 29, 2014, 01:22:08 PM
Is KU changing what you write? As the writer is paid by the borrow, not the word count, it benefits writers to have several shorter titles as opposed to one longer one.  Is that right?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: BillSmithBooksDotCom on November 29, 2014, 01:33:12 PM

I've always been confused by Amazon's policy on price-matching to free, because their Terms and Conditions on their Pricing Page would seem to say that you cannot deliberately price your book lower on any other sales channel (and free will always be lower as Amazon does not offer this option) and yet they have always appeared to be more than happy to set books to permafree.

On Pricing: "You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book." (my italics)

The phrase Amazon uses regarding Matching Competitor Prices  suggests occasional free promotions: "From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion."

Arguably Amazon could decide that people who have chosen to set their book permanently to free on another channel are in breach of the terms and conditions because it is setting the price on Amazon higher and is not an occasional free promotion, but in reality they have shown no inclination to do so.


Amazon CHOOSES to price-match permafree. As per the conditions on their contract, they could also threaten to delist a book from their service unless you increased the price everywhere else.

Right now, permafree is a great promotional tool for Amazon, so they have used it. That could change in an instant if somebody in Seattle decides to change the policy. I don't think that will happen because permafree is a great promotional tool for Amazon and I can't see them ever just giving up that visibility and potential market share to their competitors.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 29, 2014, 01:43:46 PM
Is KU changing what you write? As the writer is paid by the borrow, not the word count, it benefits writers to have several shorter titles as opposed to one longer one.  Is that right?

No. If anything, I'm moving away from shorts and novellas and toward longer novels. If KU isn't the place for them, then I'll sell them elsewhere.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Stacy Claflin on November 29, 2014, 01:47:35 PM
Is KU changing what you write? As the writer is paid by the borrow, not the word count, it benefits writers to have several shorter titles as opposed to one longer one.  Is that right?

If I was going to stick with KU I would go with writing serials. I considered it, but at this point decided against it. I'm happier writing novels and using perma-free.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: jegarlick on November 29, 2014, 01:54:50 PM
Ok, some of you already know, but I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. Thats counting borrows and bonuses.  :o My sales dropped like a stone. The number of borrows was higher than sales. They didn't compliment each other, as expected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon, stop following other companies and break the mold.

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


Maybe we all just need to NOT support it, and force people to value our work again. I too saw all my (not so big # of...) sales turn to borrows and an undetermined payout... NOT GOOD.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 29, 2014, 01:56:08 PM
Is KU changing what you write? As the writer is paid by the borrow, not the word count, it benefits writers to have several shorter titles as opposed to one longer one.  Is that right?
I think no one is aiming to get rich on borrows alone. Most want a combination of sales and borrows, so I think the formula for a book, which makes money consistently is complicated.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: jegarlick on November 29, 2014, 01:59:40 PM
Oh, and Holly...love your work...was planning on getting the rest of one of your series, just hadn't gotten to it...will go do that now, help out your bills a little. Not fair that American's have it so horrible with health care. I know it's not much but it's something. Hope the boy is on the mend. :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Russell Brooks on November 29, 2014, 02:07:58 PM
I thought that we still get paid for every download off of Kindle Unlimited, unless I misunderstood something. May someone be kind enough to explain?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SevenDays on November 29, 2014, 02:16:43 PM
I thought that we still get paid for every download off of Kindle Unlimited, unless I misunderstood something. May someone be kind enough to explain?

We do, but ...

Holly's books range from $2.99 to $4.99 (just at a quick glance and as an example; some may be higher). If someone buys the book outright, she gets 70% of that price. If the reader borrows the book instead of buying, she gets what the rest of us get: $1.33 per borrow (October's figure). On a 2.99 book, that's not completely awful, but on a higher priced book it's a serious drop in income, especially when you move books at the quantity Holly moves them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lydniz on November 29, 2014, 02:17:47 PM
Is KU changing what you write? As the writer is paid by the borrow, not the word count, it benefits writers to have several shorter titles as opposed to one longer one.  Is that right?

I wouldn't say it's changing what I write as such, since I will continue to write novel-length stuff as that's what I like to read. However, I'm going to be launching a new pen name soon and I plan to do it by writing a couple of novella-length works and putting them in KU for the exposure, just to get the name known. I can see how KU would be really useful for that kind of thing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 29, 2014, 02:23:01 PM
Holly's books range from $2.99 to $4.99... If someone buys the book outright, she gets 70% of that price. If the reader borrows the book instead of buying, she gets what the rest of us get: $1.33 per borrow
In other words she is on the Taylor Swift level and borrows are not adding to, but diminishing her income.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 29, 2014, 02:25:16 PM
In other words she is on the Taylor Swift level and borrows are not adding to, but diminishing her income.
This.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on November 29, 2014, 02:26:42 PM

Maybe we all just need to NOT support it, and force people to value our work again. I too saw all my (not so big # of...) sales turn to borrows and an undetermined payout... NOT GOOD.

You can't just 'NOT support the KU.' If you're still publishing to Amazon, Amazon benefits from every sale whether it's a $9.99 monthly subscription or the sale of a book NOT in KU. As has been said, Amazon does everything to please the customer. The flip side is that Amazon is never trying to please the Indies. (I know the Amazon fan boys and fan girls here are going to scream about that statement, but it's still true.) The trad published authors have the benefit of the publisher looking out for their interests simply because the publisher is looking out for its own interests. That's why the trad published books on KU get the full regular royalty as if it was a sale. Indies are too disjointed as a group to ever get any consideration from Amazon. Amazon doesn't care if one or two, or even a hundred Indies pull their books from KU. BUT it will begin to care if a hundred stop publishing on Amazon and instead publish on Amazon's competitors. And I DON'T mean to simply publish on other channels while still publishing on Amazon. Authors will have to STOP publishing on Amazon to get their attention. And if a thousand or more did that, Amazon would have non-stop conferences for a week while they discussed how to fight a grassroots movement they never expected from their herds of sheeple.

But it's like everything in life. Most people will hope that everyone else does it so they don't have to lose even a single sale.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 29, 2014, 02:36:59 PM
You can't just 'NOT support the KU.' If you're still publishing to Amazon, Amazon benefits from every sale whether it's a $9.99 monthly subscription or the sale of a book NOT in KU. As has been said, Amazon does everything to please the customer. The flip side is that Amazon is never trying to please the Indies. (I know the Amazon fan boys and fan girls here are going to scream about that statement, but it's still true.) The trad published authors have the benefit of the publisher looking out for their interests simply because the publisher is looking out for its own interests. That's why the trad published books on KU get the full regular royalty as if it was a sale. Indies are too disjointed as a group to ever get any consideration from Amazon. Amazon doesn't care if one or two, or even a hundred Indies pull their books from KU. BUT it will begin to care if a hundred stop publishing on Amazon and instead publish on Amazon's competitors. And I DON'T mean to simply publish on other channels while still publishing on Amazon. Authors will have to STOP publishing on Amazon to get their attention. And if a thousand or more did that, Amazon would have non-stop conferences for a week while they discussed how to fight a grassroots movement they never expected from their herds of sheeple.

But it's like everything in life. Most people will hope that everyone else does it so they don't have to lose even a single sale.
This post is exactly why I admire scribblr,  rather than just whining about Amazon,  he took the chance and pulled all his books.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Patty Jansen on November 29, 2014, 02:50:04 PM
This post is exactly why I admire scribblr,  rather than just whining about Amazon,  he took the chance and pulled all his books.

Amazon hasn't annoyed me quite enough to do that, but my latest release is not on Amazon.

Also, I think "diversifying" doesn't mean pulling all books off certain sales platforms and placing them elsewhere. I think it means being everywhere, including Amazon, and yes, having some stuff in KU. Some types of books just do better on different platforms. It means spending time on those platforms to see what their lists look like and tailoring your books (and prices!) to that.

Maybe they don't want us to make books free. I don't care what people think about free books and devaluing work. Giving out free samples of one's work has worked since the start of time, and will continue to work, so I'm not going to stop doing it. If Amazon removed that (admittedly roundabout) option, or cracked down on the ambiguities in their TOS regarding free books, that will be the time I leave Amazon. But they're not going to be as stupid as all that.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on November 29, 2014, 02:51:35 PM
Quote
If Amazon removed that (admittedly roundabout) option, or cracked down on the ambiguities in their TOS regarding free books, that will be the time I leave Amazon. But they're not going to be as stupid as all that.

Amazon is making so much money from permafrees. I don't think they'll be that stupid either.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Pauline Creeden on November 29, 2014, 02:58:07 PM
This is pretty shocking news, and I'm glad you stepped out of your comfort zone to share. Although KU seems to be working some for unknown authors to get some recognition, it doesn't seem to be good for authors with a wide fanbase already. Its sad, and as long as people are willing to point out problems without getting into a complaint-fest I'm sure Amazon will work on making things better. But hopefully your sales will spike back up right away!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Russell Brooks on November 29, 2014, 03:02:54 PM
We do, but ...

Holly's books range from $2.99 to $4.99 (just at a quick glance and as an example; some may be higher). If someone buys the book outright, she gets 70% of that price. If the reader borrows the book instead of buying, she gets what the rest of us get: $1.33 per borrow (October's figure). On a 2.99 book, that's not completely awful, but on a higher priced book it's a serious drop in income, especially when you move books at the quantity Holly moves them.
OK, that's what I thought. Thanks for the confirmation.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on November 29, 2014, 03:24:10 PM
Except the only free books they're seeing are lead-ins.

The 'free is training customers to expect free' thing is pretty much just freemongering that a lot of authors have swallowed with so little proof that it starts proving other, unrelated things.
Actually, the proof is in the reviews and the serial return rate. I've lost count of the reviews I've read that say things like "this should have been free", or "I was upset that I had to pay for the next book in the series". I'm seeing more and more of this. But again, I argue that it's an Amazon problem mostly. Amazon is where the bargain hunters go.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: wtvr on November 29, 2014, 03:27:26 PM
I think no one is aiming to get rich on borrows alone. Most want a combination of sales and borrows, so I think the formula for a book, which makes money consistently is complicated.

Milly Taiden's serials are priced at $0.99 and in KU, so I think she is probably getting rich overwhelmingly on KU borrows.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: LJ on November 29, 2014, 03:54:37 PM
Holly I just want you to know I'm thinking of you and your family. Sending love and big hugs to your son...I hope he's better soon.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 29, 2014, 03:58:54 PM
Maybe they don't want us to make books free. I don't care what people think about free books and devaluing work. Giving out free samples of one's work has worked since the start of time, and will continue to work, so I'm not going to stop doing it. If Amazon removed that (admittedly roundabout) option, or cracked down on the ambiguities in their TOS regarding free books, that will be the time I leave Amazon. But they're not going to be as stupid as all that.

Sure it works. People love free stuff. Loss leaders have been used forever. I love the five day freebie feature of Select, and if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be in Select. I don't like permafree, though, for the reasons I already shared.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Patty Jansen on November 29, 2014, 04:07:13 PM
Sure it works. People love free stuff. Loss leaders have been used forever. I love the five day freebie feature of Select, and if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be in Select. I don't like permafree, though, for the reasons I already shared.

That's your choice. I make much more on Kobo with my series than I do on Amazon, so I don't have that choice. I'm in KU with some shorter work, and don't intend on using the free days. But that's my choice also.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mercia McMahon on November 29, 2014, 05:32:35 PM

I think KU will end up being 99 cent & short story central -- something that otherwise an author might have gone permafree everywhere but now at least they make some money in exchange for exclusivity. I don't think that is a bad thing at all

FULL STOP. It *is* bad thing when KU subscribers read 99 cent novels rather than shorts as only the most voracious can get their money's worth out of KU at that price. If you only manage 5 books a month you are better off staying out of KU and spending your money where and how you want. I only remain in Scribd because I have free membership until July 2015.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Hudson Owen on November 29, 2014, 05:37:12 PM
To be clear, is KU attached to Select, in which case, you can put one book in Select with KU, and when that term expires you are out of Select and KU, for that book?  And none of your other books on KDP is affected by KU?  If that is true, then you can experiment with one title and see how it goes.

Or can Amazon thrust your book(s) into KU without your permission?  Holly Ward said KU affected her entire list not just books she put into KU at the time.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 29, 2014, 05:40:32 PM
Holly was a different case.
You are correct in your first assumption.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Hudson Owen on November 29, 2014, 05:47:52 PM
Holly was a different case.
You are correct in your first assumption.

OK.  Thanks.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on November 29, 2014, 05:51:42 PM
To be clear, is KU attached to Select, in which case, you can put one book in Select with KU, and when that term expires you are out of Select and KU, for that book?  And none of your other books on KDP is affected by KU?  If that is true, then you can experiment with one title and see how it goes.

Or can Amazon thrust your book(s) into KU without your permission?  Holly Ward said KU affected her entire list not just books she put into KU at the time.
It effected the entire list including books not enrolled bc buyers changed into borrowers, who in turn did not spend money on my other titles. The highest price point I have is $5.99 for newer novels.

Ty everyone for the well wishes. This has been so hard. :/

And we're up to 9 pages of posts. I'll look back through and answer what I can ASAP. :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 29, 2014, 05:53:26 PM
Hugssssss
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 29, 2014, 06:29:02 PM
Sure it works. People love free stuff. Loss leaders have been used forever. I love the five day freebie feature of Select, and if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be in Select. I don't like permafree, though, for the reasons I already shared.

Reasons that aren't really founded given what we see in the industry.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on November 29, 2014, 07:20:48 PM
It effected the entire list including books not enrolled bc buyers changed into borrowers, who in turn did not spend money on my other titles. The highest price point I have is $5.99 for newer novels.

Ty everyone for the well wishes. This has been so hard. :/

And we're up to 9 pages of posts. I'll look back through and answer what I can ASAP. :)

Holly, first all the best for you & your child. Second, thank you for your bravery & honesty re your experience with KU. And third, I'm curious on your views & experience with Kindle Worlds (and you may not be able to speak to that.)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Hudson Owen on November 29, 2014, 07:26:48 PM
It effected the entire list including books not enrolled bc buyers changed into borrowers, who in turn did not spend money on my other titles. The highest price point I have is $5.99 for newer novels.

Ty everyone for the well wishes. This has been so hard. :/

And we're up to 9 pages of posts. I'll look back through and answer what I can ASAP. :)

I think I understand how borrows hurt higher priced books.   But would buyers become borrowers for other authors who only place one title into Select-KU, even those with far lower sales?  Am I safe because I need a nickel to rub two nickles together?  All best to you.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: daringnovelist on November 29, 2014, 08:03:19 PM
But would buyers become borrowers for other authors who only place one title into Select-KU, even those with far lower sales?


Yeah, I think it's probably a bad idea to mix KU and non-KU.  Especially if you drop out to "go wide" and offer books on other vendors.  The KU customers may not convert to regular paying customers, and in the meantime, the people who discover your books on other platforms are frustrated because they can't get your books.

And this would be significantly worse if you left a FIRST book in a series in KU and then went wide on the rest.  Customers on other platforms are likely to take one look, see they can't get the first book, and put off starting your series until the first book is available.

If I were to use this strategy, I'd only do it with the latest books.  All earlier books available everywhere.  Latest book could be windowed via KU for 90 days before going wide.  (But honestly, I'm not likely to try this anyway.)

Camille
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Hudson Owen on November 29, 2014, 08:23:40 PM
Yeah, I think it's probably a bad idea to mix KU and non-KU.  Especially if you drop out to "go wide" and offer books on other vendors.  The KU customers may not convert to regular paying customers, and in the meantime, the people who discover your books on other platforms are frustrated because they can't get your books.

And this would be significantly worse if you left a FIRST book in a series in KU and then went wide on the rest.  Customers on other platforms are likely to take one look, see they can't get the first book, and put off starting your series until the first book is available.

If I were to use this strategy, I'd only do it with the latest books.  All earlier books available everywhere.  Latest book could be windowed via KU for 90 days before going wide.  (But honestly, I'm not likely to try this anyway.)

Camille

What I am thinking of doing is putting a title that has been on Amazon for awhile back into Select now with KU, to see how it goes.  I would not necessarily want my other titles on Amazon, which are all not in Select, to be influenced by that one title.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 29, 2014, 10:19:32 PM
Its sad, and as long as people are willing to point out problems without getting into a complaint-fest I'm sure Amazon will work on making things better.

What is the solution? More money in the All Star fund.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jan Hurst-Nicholson on November 30, 2014, 01:20:05 AM
I think Amazon needs to put something in place to control for the 'short shorts' that have flooded the KU pot. Not fair that the 5K essay gets the same payout as  my 85K novel. People have figured out how to game KU with putting in very little effort, and it's the influx of short shorts.

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

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

Not fair that the 5K essay gets the same payout as  my 85K novel Or my 120 word novel.

My suggestion was that instead of reading 10% before payment is made, they have to read say, 3000 words of story (not padding).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D-C on November 30, 2014, 01:31:32 AM
Amazon know exactly what's happening ie short works flooding KU and they haven't done anything to curb it. Maybe they will in future. But I don't work on maybes. Bye bye KDPS. Hello other sellers.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: NoahPorter on November 30, 2014, 05:19:35 AM
Amazon know exactly what's happening ie short works flooding KU and they haven't done anything to curb it. Maybe they will in future. But I don't work on maybes. Bye bye KDPS. Hello other sellers.

Not only have they done nothing to curb them, they actively promote them in search results and best-seller lists. It seems they're happy with the churn of short, low-quality drivel. They must be making a ton of money off of it, somehow. But it sure ain't good for us.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on November 30, 2014, 06:28:29 AM
Not only have they done nothing to curb them, they actively promote them in search results and best-seller lists. It seems they're happy with the churn of short, low-quality drivel. They must be making a ton of money off of it, somehow. But it sure ain't good for us.

Can't be good for Amazon, either! If this low-end stuff clutters up the Top 100 lists because Amazon is promoting it, people's opinion of Amazon as a bookseller will change quickly.  I can't believe they'd not foresee it.  There's got to be something else to this, or someone's really screwing up royally. Maybe we're giving Amazon too much credit.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 30, 2014, 06:47:42 AM
I think we may be overblowing the impact of these short "scamlets" or whatever you guys call them. There are plenty of high quality shorts and novellas on Amazon, and if the incentives are greater to put those on Amazon, so be it. Since when did they ever pay us by the word? And even if there are thousands or even hundreds of thousands of scamlets out there, I doubt they're even putting a dent in the program, since readers are smart enough not to fall for that kind of crap (at least, not in large numbers).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lydniz on November 30, 2014, 06:49:19 AM
Can't be good for Amazon, either! If this low-end stuff clutters up the Top 100 lists because Amazon is promoting it, people's opinion of Amazon as a bookseller will change quickly.  I can't believe they'd not foresee it.  There's got to be something else to this, or someone's really screwing up royally. Maybe we're giving Amazon too much credit.

I'm not so sure the low-end stuff is cluttering up the Top 100 lists. It certainly isn't in my categories.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: storyteller on November 30, 2014, 06:52:46 AM
Well, Amazon clearly wants short fiction and short non-fiction in KU, as they have a whole program (Kindle Singles) set up to this end.  They also have reading-length categories towards this end as well (that we can't manipulate from the editing/publishing end as indies).  So I think from their perspective, "bad" short fiction is fine because they want more short fiction anyhow.  They already can get any number of novels from tradpub and their own imprints into KU, so they will always (again from their perspective) have a wide selection of novels for people who want those in KU. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Donna White Glaser on November 30, 2014, 07:47:54 AM
I wonder if it would make sense to keep my first permafree, keep the second in KU/Select for exposure to the series, after all the readers could get the first free and I'd get paid ~$1.33 or whatev for borrows on the second, and then keep the rest of the series out of Select. The only downside to that is yeah, sure, I could put the series on other venues but readers outside of Zon wouldn't be able to get the second in the series. Hmm...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D-C on November 30, 2014, 07:56:44 AM
I wonder if it would make sense to keep my first permafree, keep the second in KU/Select for exposure to the series, after all the readers could get the first free and I'd get paid ~$1.33 or whatev for borrows on the second, and then keep the rest of the series out of Select. The only downside to that is yeah, sure, I could put the series on other venues but readers outside of Zon wouldn't be able to get the second in the series. Hmm...

This is why I'm going to pull all of mine. I was going to leave the first in the series in, but then realized readers from other distributors wouldn't be able to get the first book, so why would they buy any? Unfortunately, it's all out, or all in KDPS. So, I'm out.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on November 30, 2014, 08:02:18 AM
Personally, I don't believe Amazon "wants" bad short fiction, but, as with all open submission systems, accepts "all" short fiction.

My own guess, which I'm surprised I've stayed with for over a year now :-) is this is the new slush pile, from which promising writers of episodic, short, and serial fiction can be found.

This would jive with my other long held belief, that Amazon is more interested in material it can leverage/use in other media (TV, movies, streaming) to build it content vs Netflix, Showtime, etc, than it is "just" selling novels.

All of the developments in KU are good things in "that" direction.

And might be worth whatever negative impact occurs to longer work in KDP at this time.

Obviously, writing quality short serial work that people like, without feeling that the end of each segment/episode is a "rip-off" - is more challenging than might appear on the surface.

It's strange how, episodic fiction, mostly put-down by traditional publishing advocates as not developed enough (because it didn't work smoothly enough for a high priced hard back) - is much more amenable to serial fiction, which is now either beginning or attempting a new lift-off.

As others have pointed out, serial fiction's been successfully around a long time. Fell out of favor when magazines and pulp fiction gave way to a half century of hard back preference, and may be rebounding in today's digital environment.

Within that apparent framework, Kindle Unlimited (and Scribd, Oyster, etc) flourish.

Interesting times (smiles).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: daringnovelist on November 30, 2014, 08:07:20 AM
I'm not sure that either the crap flooding in to KU or Indies leaving KU is all that bad for Amazon -- if it is, things will change. (Amazon is willing to put up with all sorts of things on the road to where it wants to be, but they do know how to identify problems and eliminate them.)

But I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon sits pat on this either, because they know the demographics of their audience, and they have a pretty good idea how indies (including scammers) react to various incentives.  Which leads me to think, more and more, that the bulk of the KU benefit to Amazon is with the traditional publishers.  KU may very well be getting a very different audience than Prime did, and indies fill it out nicely, but are not as important as they are with regular sales.

KDP, Prime and KU are very different beasts, in terms of demographics and audience interest.  And only Amazon knows what that difference really is.

Camille
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 30, 2014, 08:30:36 AM
I keep seeing the "Kindle Unlimited Library is growing every day" statements. People are saying that authors are still contributing their books, but I'm not sure I can believe that.

I have to think that a good chunk of those "contributions" are former novels that have been broken up into ten or more shorts and sold as a serial.

So technically its true, the library is growing, but replacing one novel with ten shorts is not ten new titles. How many of those 750,000 titles were once full-length and are now 10 shorts?

How many authors are putting these shorts into KU and then selling the full-length work on other sites with a different title and ISBN?

Sorry, my mind wanders...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 30, 2014, 08:36:14 AM
Amazon is making so much money from permafrees. I don't think they'll be that stupid either.
I'm one of those. Six of my works on Amazon are only going to be read if someone picks the first of the series up first. One is perma free, and the other will be set perma free soon.
I've always launched on Amazon first as a part of Select, but now with KU I will be changing my strategy.
I think KU is an incentive to stay out of Select. Instead, set your first book free and market it EVERYWHERE.

Perma free is liking having it in a library, available on the shelf. ALL the books in libraries are free to the borrower, even though the book is only bought once (which means a greatly reduced priced paid to the author considering the amount of people who might borrow it).

My perma free book series isn't in KU. It has 4 books total, ends with the fifth, so for me that's a non KU issue since perma free downloads have never stopped, but when I promote those shoot through the roof from (hundreds a month to several thousand, highest month was 20K+) and sales go up for the others. Because the genre is a young (12-15) clean YA, it does very well for what it is, and has stayed on the best seller list for its sub genre.

That's the new strategy I'll be working on once the books I have enrolled in KU are set free.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 30, 2014, 08:37:42 AM
I know plenty of authors who have pulled all their old works from other vendors and dumped them into KU because sales had dwindled to one or two books a month. There's nothing scammy about that. They're trying to get visible again with them. I won't put all my eggs in Amazon's basket because they've screwed me already in the last couple of months.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 30, 2014, 08:42:07 AM
@ Joe: scamlets is a combination of pamphlet and scam.   The term refers strictly to the short copy and pasted short brochures.    Usually found in the self help category.
Love,
creator of the word scamlet.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 30, 2014, 08:44:16 AM
@ Joe: scamlets is a combination of pamphlet and scam.   The term refers strictly to the short copy and pasted short brochures.    Usually found in the self help category.
Love,
creator of the word scamlet.

Scamlet. I love it. You should trademark that puppy asap.   8)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 30, 2014, 08:44:29 AM
Not only have they done nothing to curb them, they actively promote them in search results and best-seller lists. It seems they're happy with the churn of short, low-quality drivel. They must be making a ton of money off of it, somehow. But it sure ain't good for us.

I keep pointing out it's not about getting people good books, it's about capturing email addresses and buying patterns. If someone is buying a scamlet on how to get a better job, you've just told Amazon about another 1,000 products you are likely to buy.
Or on weightloss, ditto...
On raising a lizard,...
etc.

This is what it's about folks.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ChristinePope on November 30, 2014, 08:46:17 AM

I've always launched on Amazon first as a part of Select, but now with KU I will be changing my strategy.

Yes, up until this summer, that was my strategy, too, but no more. Even new series are being launched everywhere, including Scribd. Even if using free days, etc. might give me some visibility, I don't want people to expect that all the books in a particular series would also eventually be in KU.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 30, 2014, 09:01:14 AM
Even new series are being launched everywhere, including Scribd. Even if using free days, etc. might give me some visibility, I don't want people to expect that all the books in a particular series would also eventually be in KU.

Do you launch a new series with at least two ready to go so you can immediately set the first book free? Because if you don't, wouldn't readers learn to expect eventually the first will be free, so they wait? I'm wondering about the best strategy regarding that.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ChristinePope on November 30, 2014, 09:07:52 AM
Do you launch a new series with at least two ready to go so you can immediately set the first book free? Because if you don't, wouldn't readers learn to expect eventually the first will be free, so they wait? I'm wondering about the best strategy regarding that.

No, I'm writing more than one series at the same time, so they get released about two months apart. Things do pick up when the third book comes out, but I don't see a huge percentage waiting until the first book goes free. I do offer the first book at a small discount ($2.99 instead of $3.99) while it's on pre-order and for the first month it's out.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 30, 2014, 09:10:37 AM
Ah, okay, that makes sense. I like that strategy. I admire writers who can keep a series going. By book three, I'm desperate to be free to do anything else! I did make the mistake of putting book one in KU. I want to get out of that prison, but I'm stuck until February. I unchecked the auto renew for both book one and two, and Amazon canceled the KU for the second book completely. I don't know why. I just left it at that.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 30, 2014, 09:19:37 AM
@ Joe: scamlets is a combination of pamphlet and scam.   The term refers strictly to the short copy and pasted short brochures.    Usually found in the self help category.
Love,
creator of the word scamlet.

Clever.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Marian on November 30, 2014, 09:24:56 AM
I keep pointing out it's not about getting people good books, it's about capturing email addresses and buying patterns. If someone is buying a scamlet on how to get a better job, you've just told Amazon about another 1,000 products you are likely to buy.
Or on weightloss, ditto...
On raising a lizard,...
etc.

This is what it's about folks.
Yup!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Marian on November 30, 2014, 09:28:05 AM
You can't just 'NOT support the KU.' If you're still publishing to Amazon, Amazon benefits from every sale whether it's a $9.99 monthly subscription or the sale of a book NOT in KU. As has been said, Amazon does everything to please the customer. The flip side is that Amazon is never trying to please the Indies. (I know the Amazon fan boys and fan girls here are going to scream about that statement, but it's still true.) The trad published authors have the benefit of the publisher looking out for their interests simply because the publisher is looking out for its own interests. That's why the trad published books on KU get the full regular royalty as if it was a sale. Indies are too disjointed as a group to ever get any consideration from Amazon. Amazon doesn't care if one or two, or even a hundred Indies pull their books from KU. BUT it will begin to care if a hundred stop publishing on Amazon and instead publish on Amazon's competitors. And I DON'T mean to simply publish on other channels while still publishing on Amazon. Authors will have to STOP publishing on Amazon to get their attention. And if a thousand or more did that, Amazon would have non-stop conferences for a week while they discussed how to fight a grassroots movement they never expected from their herds of sheeple.

But it's like everything in life. Most people will hope that everyone else does it so they don't have to lose even a single sale.

This is so true!

I have witnessed what Amazon will do for trad published authors. I took screen shots of a BookBub book that got two 1* reviews within hours after the BookBub promo started. Amazon MOVED the second 1* review to a back page, burying it so it wouldn't be visible on the product page.

If enough indie writers can get established with other vendors, they should leave en masse.  A thousand or more writers pulling all of their books from Amazon would certainly get attention. The sites we pay to promote our books should pay attention to this.  We should give our advertising dollars to sites that connect to B & N, Kobo and Apple.

A side note: There is a rumor that China's Alibaba, which is HUGE (much bigger than Amazon), is planning to branch out to the US. It would be cheap for Alibaba to start in the US with books. They could give Amazon great competition.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: wtvr on November 30, 2014, 09:28:33 AM
That's a funny way of looking at it, LOL. That makes us all commissioned recruitors!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 30, 2014, 09:30:04 AM
That's a funny way of looking at it, LOL. That makes us all commissioned recruitors!
That is exactly what you are.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Sapphire on November 30, 2014, 09:34:49 AM
Off the subject but apropos to the OP:
I really feel for Holly with an ill child and lower sales. We all need to remember there are people hurting whom we don't know about unless they share with us. That fact should make us all pause for a moment to consider where someone is coming from (it's easy to misjudge), as well as to take a moment to say thanks for what is going right in our own lives. It's easy to lose sight of the big picture until something like Holly's situation happens.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 30, 2014, 09:41:10 AM
That's a funny way of looking at it, LOL. That makes us all commissioned recruitors!
That is exactly what you are.

Yes!!!

But since this site has the ability to target market our legitimate works to readers who want them (and Amazon is interested in getting the buyer the things they will buy) we do have a tiny sliver of mutual interest.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KMatthew on November 30, 2014, 09:45:13 AM
Do you launch a new series with at least two ready to go so you can immediately set the first book free? Because if you don't, wouldn't readers learn to expect eventually the first will be free, so they wait? I'm wondering about the best strategy regarding that.

The vast majority of my readers know that the first book in each of my serials will eventually be free. I usually still get enough buys on day one to push me up into under 1,000 in the overall paid store. Most people just can't wait the few weeks it takes for Amazon to price match to free. Perhaps that's just because I have a good fanbase. Not sure. But that's been my experience.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 30, 2014, 09:47:27 AM
Most people just can't wait the few weeks it takes for Amazon to price match to free. Perhaps that's just because I have a good fanbase. Not sure. But that's been my experience.

Awesome. I'm still new in this pen. No one's waiting around or eager. Lol.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on November 30, 2014, 09:51:06 AM
Off the subject but apropos to the OP:
I really feel for Holly with an ill child and lower sales. We all need to remember there are people hurting whom we don't know about unless they share with us. That fact should make us all pause for a moment to consider where someone is coming from (it's easy to misjudge), as well as to take a moment to say thanks for what is going right in our own lives. It's easy to lose sight of the big picture until something like Holly's situation happens.

Agreed.

Well said.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on November 30, 2014, 09:51:35 AM
Not only have they done nothing to curb them, they actively promote them in search results and best-seller lists. It seems they're happy with the churn of short, low-quality drivel. They must be making a ton of money off of it, somehow. But it sure ain't good for us.

Like everyone else here, I've been trying to make sense of all this from Amazon's perspective. I might have just a little more insight than some here because I was in retail on the corporate side, and to me the numbers just don't add up. Amazon doesn't share information with anybody, so we're reduced to mere speculation, but here's what we know:

1)   Amazon is giving a month's free access to their subscription service products to everyone who wants it.
2)   We're still in that free period to a large extent because it takes time for word to spread and consumers to come on board, so a LOT of free products are still being distributed by Amazon with no ROI (return on investment). Of course we know that Amazon thinks long term, but this has to be one expensive trial period.
3)   Each month so far, Amazon has lowered the payment amount for 'borrows.'
4)   Amazon has been dumping a ton of money into the Global Select Fund each month to maintain that steadily decreasing 'borrow' amount.
5)   Amazon is getting hit from both sides. They're paying up to four times the rate they should be paying for sales of 99 cent penny dreadfuls, while losing revenue from lost sales of novels. 

Here's what is open to speculation:

1)   If the Select Fund must be propped up each month to support the volume of borrows, even at the greatly reduced amounts paid to authors, why haven't they increased the base? Are they trying to make it appear more dramatic each month? Or is it something more fundamental, such as, 'We might drop this program at any moment and don't want to be committed to six million when we can limit our losses to three million.'
2)   From my observations, a great many established authors with formerly impressive sales, have been complaining that their sales have tanked. If a book is selling for $5.99, the payment to the author is a touch over $4.00 and Amazon keeps the rest. If sales have tanked, that means that Amazon isn't receiving that roughly $2.00 from each sale. That adds up fast, as evidenced by the statements from authors that their incomes have dropped up to 75% in recent months. A lot of that has to come from borrows being ranked as sales in Amazon's algo. (Remember when free books were part of the regular sales rank, until they finally split if off to a separate category? I'm surprised they didn't do that with the borrows rank.)
3)   I've read that Amazon is giving six months of KU when someone buys a Kindle. That would seem to indicate they intend to continue this program until at least June 2015. Of course, they could close it off to new subscribers if it's losing money every month.
4)   Amazon's primary motive here might have been to hurt the other subscription services by pulling author's work away, as Amazon has successfully done by using the Select program against other resellers. It's obvious that Amazon is trying to make Indie authors exclusive to the 'Zon.
5)   Is Amazon concerned that they're becoming known as the 'Home of Drek' to readers?
6)   How long will it be before authors become so fed up with Amazon's games and unfair treatment of Indies that they stop publishing on Amazon and concentrate on 'real' booksellers to move their novels. The scamphlet authors will naturally continue to stay with Amazon because their work is not suited to compete with novels.

That's all I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure others will have speculations they wish to offer to the above lists, just as I'm sure that many here will dispute my observations because they're making significant sums of money from the current situation.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 10:01:10 AM
I think we may be overblowing the impact of these short "scamlets" or whatever you guys call them. There are plenty of high quality shorts and novellas on Amazon, and if the incentives are greater to put those on Amazon, so be it. Since when did they ever pay us by the word? And even if there are thousands or even hundreds of thousands of scamlets out there, I doubt they're even putting a dent in the program, since readers are smart enough not to fall for that kind of crap (at least, not in large numbers).

Thank you!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on November 30, 2014, 10:07:24 AM
I think we may be overblowing the impact of these short "scamlets" or whatever you guys call them. There are plenty of high quality shorts and novellas on Amazon, and if the incentives are greater to put those on Amazon, so be it. Since when did they ever pay us by the word? And even if there are thousands or even hundreds of thousands of scamlets out there, I doubt they're even putting a dent in the program, since readers are smart enough not to fall for that kind of crap (at least, not in large numbers).

They are a problem, but probably not as much of one as some here think. As to paying by the word? Amazon is now paying by % read, so it's not outrageous to think that they might institute some sort of minimum requirement. There is a lot of gaming the system going on that isn't as blatent as the BS "scamlet."
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 30, 2014, 10:18:06 AM
Like everyone else here, I've been trying to make sense of all this from Amazon's perspective. I might have just a little more insight than some here because I was in retail on the corporate side, and to me the numbers just don't add up. Amazon doesn't share information with anybody, so we're reduced to mere speculation, but here's what we know:

1)   Amazon is giving a month's free access to their subscription service products to everyone who wants it.
2)   We're still in that free period to a large extent because it takes time for word to spread and consumers to come on board, so a LOT of free products are still being distributed by Amazon with no ROI (return on investment). Of course we know that Amazon thinks long term, but this has to be one expensive trial period.
3)   Each month so far, Amazon has lowered the payment amount for 'borrows.'
4)   Amazon has been dumping a ton of money into the Global Select Fund each month to maintain that steadily decreasing 'borrow' amount.
5)   Amazon is getting hit from both sides. They're paying up to four times the rate they should be paying for sales of 99 cent penny dreadfuls, while losing revenue from lost sales of novels. 

Here's what is open to speculation:

1)   If the Select Fund must be propped up each month to support the volume of borrows, even at the greatly reduced amounts paid to authors, why haven't they increased the base? Are they trying to make it appear more dramatic each month? Or is it something more fundamental, such as, 'We might drop this program at any moment and don't want to be committed to six million when we can limit our losses to three million.'
2)   From my observations, a great many established authors with formerly impressive sales, have been complaining that their sales have tanked. If a book is selling for $5.99, the payment to the author is a touch over $4.00 and Amazon keeps the rest. If sales have tanked, that means that Amazon isn't receiving that roughly $2.00 from each sale. That adds up fast, as evidenced by the statements from authors that their incomes have dropped up to 75% in recent months. A lot of that has to come from borrows being ranked as sales in Amazon's algo. (Remember when free books were part of the regular sales rank, until they finally split if off to a separate category? I'm surprised they didn't do that with the borrows rank.)
3)   I've read that Amazon is giving six months of KU when someone buys a Kindle. That would seem to indicate they intend to continue this program until at least June 2015. Of course, they could close it off to new subscribers if it's losing money every month.
4)   Amazon's primary motive here might have been to hurt the other subscription services by pulling author's work away, as Amazon has successfully done by using the Select program against other resellers. It's obvious that Amazon is trying to make Indie authors exclusive to the 'Zon.
5)   Is Amazon concerned that they're becoming known as the 'Home of Drek' to readers?
6)   How long will it be before authors become so fed up with Amazon's games and unfair treatment of Indies that they stop publishing on Amazon and concentrate on 'real' booksellers to move their novels. The scamphlet authors will naturally continue to stay with Amazon because their work is not suited to compete with novels.

That's all I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure others will have speculations they wish to offer to the above lists, just as I'm sure that many here will dispute my observations because they're making significant sums of money from the current situation.

Amazon is NOT giving 6 months of KU Free with the purchase of a new Kindle.   They are giving a discounted rate.   And the newest kindles are not eligible for the offer.
A basic kindle is 79.99.   The promotion is 6 months of KU and the Kindle for 99.99.  So it is not free.   But you would save $40.  So 6 months of KU for $20.   
Hope this helps.
Otherwise all your points are spot on.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: thesmallprint on November 30, 2014, 10:18:52 AM
I used to enjoy guessing what Mr. Bezos might do next, but he's becoming unpredictable. The main Prime benefit I started using was video. I enjoyed the first 4 series of Mad Men, only to be asked for $30 when I tried to watch series 5. I wonder if Kindle Unlimited will be come Kindle Limited at some point, once they have the data?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 10:43:08 AM
They are a problem, but probably not as much of one as some here think. As to paying by the word? Amazon is now paying by % read, so it's not outrageous to think that they might institute some sort of minimum requirement. There is a lot of gaming the system going on that isn't as blatent as the BS "scamlet."

I don't know what a good solution would be. The real issue is quality, and there are good books and awful books of all lengths. One of the best stories I've read was only ten pages long, while one of the most poorly written pieces of junk I've ever attempted to read had over 300 pages.

Cracking down on blatant scams would be a good place to start. Scammers go where the money is, and if their income potential from Amazon dried up, they'd move on to something else pretty quickly. Other than that, I really don't know what Amazon can do, short of screening every submission, and I don't see them ever doing that. I wouldn't want them to, anyway. At that point, they'd be another publishing  house, which defeats the whole point of offering Indie pubs.

But, if they would make it harder for blatant scammers to exist in their store, I think that would go a long way in helping all of us--both customers and authors.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 10:57:16 AM
My own guess, which I'm surprised I've stayed with for over a year now :-) is this is the new slush pile, from which promising writers of episodic, short, and serial fiction can be found.

This would jive with my other long held belief, that Amazon is more interested in material it can leverage/use in other media (TV, movies, streaming) to build it content vs Netflix, Showtime, etc, than it is "just" selling novels.

Man, it would be so awesome if that was what even ten percent of the serials I see on there are doing.

Episodic fiction is a wonderful art. It's my art. But you have to understand act breaks. You have to understand myth arcs, one-offs, continuity and how to tell a lot of little stories that make up a bigger story. You need to have the audience say 'that was satisfying; I wonder what the next episode will be about', not CLIFFHANGER WHAT IS HAPPEN NEXT WHY NOT WHOLE STORY?!!?!

That's... not what most Amazon 'serials' are. They're mostly just chapters of a novel published serially under the banner of 'DICKENS DID IT' without any real thought given to what Dickens actually did and why it isn't the thing they're doing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on November 30, 2014, 11:07:43 AM
At that point, they'd be another publishing  house, which defeats the whole point of offering Indie pubs.


I have to disagree with that part of your statement. The main difference between Amazon and the other resellers has been that the trads have acceptance limits. I.e. the trads might publish just a thousand books a year. When they reach that limit, they start working on next year, or the year after. Also, the trads fill most slots with books from authors already signed. That leaves just a handful of openings, literally, for books from new authors each year, and that leads to much higher standards for new authors. But having Amazon institute a modest minimum standard for books would not come close to its behaving like a trad house.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 11:15:46 AM
Man, it would be so awesome if that was what even ten percent of the serials I see on there are doing.

Episodic fiction is a wonderful art. It's my art. But you have to understand act breaks. You have to understand myth arcs, one-offs, continuity and how to tell a lot of little stories that make up a bigger story. You need to have the audience say 'that was satisfying; I wonder what the next episode will be about', not CLIFFHANGER WHAT IS HAPPEN NEXT WHY NOT WHOLE STORY?!!?!

That's... not what most Amazon 'serials' are. They're mostly just chapters of a novel published serially under the banner of 'DICKENS DID IT' without any real thought given to what Dickens actually did and why it isn't the thing they're doing.

That's exactly why I don't read serials or series, anymore. Too many authors don't understand the art, and instead of their book leaving me looking forward to the next episode, I felt like I got dropped on my head. I have also run into a number who don't seem to understand the difference between a serial and a series.

You should start a workshop on how to write serials. I know a lot of readers who would appreciate it. ;)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: busywoman on November 30, 2014, 11:40:20 AM
I think we may be overblowing the impact of these short "scamlets" or whatever you guys call them. There are plenty of high quality shorts and novellas on Amazon, and if the incentives are greater to put those on Amazon, so be it. Since when did they ever pay us by the word? And even if there are thousands or even hundreds of thousands of scamlets out there, I doubt they're even putting a dent in the program, since readers are smart enough not to fall for that kind of crap (at least, not in large numbers).

You may be right in general, Joe, but there is clearly an issue that I've run into as a borrower.  It occurs in nonfiction. Sometimes it's not easy to see that a self-help or "tutorial" short book is dreck, until you borrow it.  Because there's no price tag, there's no barrier to borrowing.  It's easy enough to quickly go more than half a book, before returning it to make space for something better.  You can do that with a dozen short books in an hour that way.  So those authors are getting paid as much for that awful 22-page book, the same as an author who has thrown his or her heart and soul into a novel.

If there were a price tag even of $.99 the reader probably wouldn't take a chance on nearly as many of them. The reader takes the chance because KU leaves the subscriber with the sense that the scamlet is free and so there's no risk if the content quality is low.

Many of those short nonfiction scamlets (love the word!) are machine-created drivel.  It's content cobbled together from stuff scraped off the Web and rewritten by software into bland meaningless sentences.  And it is so easy to plow out that crap in a matter of a couple of hours.  If anyone wants to PM me, I can point you toward a software program you can buy that literally creates Kindle books like that in a matter of an hour or two.

Now, Amazon should not put scamlet authors on a par with authors who put more effort into their work.

If Amazon can create a machine that answers questions and interacts with the Web (Echo), they can figure out a better pricing model for KU borrows - IMHO.
 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 11:42:45 AM
I have to disagree with that part of your statement. The main difference between Amazon and the other resellers has been that the trads have acceptance limits. I.e. the trads might publish just a thousand books a year. When they reach that limit, they start working on next year, or the year after. Also, the trads fill most slots with books from authors already signed. That leaves just a handful of openings, literally, for books from new authors each year, and that leads to much higher standards for new authors. But having Amazon institute a modest minimum standard for books would not come close to its behaving like a trad house.


I could have worded that better. I was referring to a human editorial process for quality, whereby a person at Amazon would have the final say as to whether our books were worthy of being published. In that sense, it would be no different to the author than trying to get past the gatekeepers at the trad pubs.

I am all for a moderate screening process, though, and I think it could be done, easily. I would love to see a two step process:

Step 1. Manuscript is uploaded and sent through a plagiarism checker. If it doesn't pass, it gets kicked back. If it passes, it goes on the next step

Step 2. Basic spelling/grammar checker. If it passes that with a score they determine to be fair, it goes live.

Simple, automated, weeds out a lot of the junk. That would be my dream system.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 30, 2014, 12:01:55 PM
I think Holly was not angry about not getting enough borrows, but having too many in comparison with her sales. This means KU is a huge success and that customers love it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: sha66ir on November 30, 2014, 12:04:09 PM
The vast majority of my readers know that the first book in each of my serials will eventually be free. I usually still get enough buys on day one to push me up into under 1,000 in the overall paid store. Most people just can't wait the few weeks it takes for Amazon to price match to free. Perhaps that's just because I have a good fanbase. Not sure. But that's been my experience.
how do you contact your fan base? If you don't mind me asking how big is your mailing list?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on November 30, 2014, 12:24:38 PM
This means KU is a huge success and that customers love it.

Customers LOVE anything free, nearly so, or perceived as such. However, if the program doesn't support the authors, the real authors will drop out. What happens when only the drek is left and Amazon is paying 35 cents per borrow? I think we'll find out in a few months.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 12:25:03 PM
I think Holly was not angry about not getting enough borrows, but having too many in comparison with her sales. This means KU is a huge success and that customers love it.

Dude.

Time and place.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: wtvr on November 30, 2014, 12:31:51 PM
I'm really confused about this. Is OP saying that while she was in KU, her monthly income went down 75%? Or that since she left KU, it's down 75%? Or that some individual titles' revenue was down 75%? Or that sales (but not borrows) were depressed?

This thread has turned into the usual KU-boohoo, so I think we should get a little more real data before sharpening our plowshares. Certainly, if someone with a non-exclusive deal and a 6-7 figure monthly draw can't make it work, that's something really critical to know. Thanks for sharing your information with us, Holly.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 30, 2014, 12:33:49 PM
I just noticed - wait for it - you won't believe it -

Fifty titles loaded by the "same" guy between the 24th and 25th of November.  His top seller is ranked at roughly 5,000 - some more under 10,000 - none ranked higher than 70,000.   
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deke on November 30, 2014, 12:36:32 PM
Is one way to scan KU to publish your 60K word novel in 20K chunks. Maybe have one chunk for a price and the others free. So folks can't rant on about buying only part of the novel (the other parts are free) but in KU you'd be getting three "borrows" instead of just one.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 12:39:37 PM
Is one way to scan KU to publish your 60K word novel in 20K chunks. Maybe have one chunk for a price and the others free. So folks can't rant on about buying only part of the novel (the other parts are free) but in KU you'd be getting three "borrows" instead of just one.

Then they can rant about breaking up a novel instead of publishing it as a single novel, and rightly so. Why should a reader have to read a novel in pieces?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 30, 2014, 12:40:04 PM
However, if the program doesn't support the authors, the real authors will drop out.
For me KU has meant a third more income. It's working for me. It's not working for Viola, Hugh, and Holly, because their sales are being eaten by borrows. I wouldn't mind if writers on their level get their All Star bonus doubled and if we small indies have to pay for it by accepting $1 per borrow, that would be ok with me. I'm making more money thanks to borrows than ever.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KVictoriaChase on November 30, 2014, 12:53:49 PM
I wouldn't mind if writers on their level get their All Star bonus doubled and if we small indies have to pay for it by accepting $1 per borrow, that would be ok with me. I'm making more money thanks to borrows than ever.

Would doubling their bonuses keep them in the program? I doubt it. And I would NOT want to pay for it by accepting $1 per borrow. No offense, but I'm also in business and this $1.33 that it's at now is killing me. Even though I'm making more money being in the program, the borrows are dropping dramatically to the point that come 30 Jan (and a lower royalty rate per borrow), I'm out of the program.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 12:56:11 PM
Is one way to scan KU to publish your 60K word novel in 20K chunks. Maybe have one chunk for a price and the others free. So folks can't rant on about buying only part of the novel (the other parts are free) but in KU you'd be getting three "borrows" instead of just one.

You're doing it wrong.

You break that novel up into 40 3K word chunks so you get the 10% read amount when they only read one page.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: jegarlick on November 30, 2014, 01:02:12 PM
It effected the entire list including books not enrolled bc buyers changed into borrowers, who in turn did not spend money on my other titles. The highest price point I have is $5.99 for newer novels.



THIS. A thousand times THIS. sigh
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 30, 2014, 01:02:29 PM
Would doubling their bonuses keep them in the program? I doubt it. And I would NOT want to pay for it by accepting $1 per borrow. No offense, but I'm also in business and this $1.33 that it's at now is killing me. Even though I'm making more money being in the program, the borrows are dropping dramatically to the point that come 30 Jan (and a lower borrow rate), I'm out of the program.

Holly's drop in income is dramatic, but what about those who were making 3K or 4k a month and are now down to 1K? Or those who were making 1K+ and are down to a few hundred? Whether it's because of a past algo change or KU; they've been hurt just as much, or more. as they didn't have a chance to save anything for the future.

The problem is Amazon never promised us they would let the good times keep on rolling. The program is truly about satisfying buyers.
But when a change hurts you—it hurts you, and the others who were in a similar position.
The best we can do as suppliers of a widget, is try to make our widgets as important as possible to the widget buyers.


Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: jegarlick on November 30, 2014, 01:06:34 PM
Glad to see you on here Holly. Thanks for sharing. Valuable information going forward. We all have careers to keep afloat. Thanks so much for the input! :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 30, 2014, 01:07:49 PM
Okay, but why does Amazon change the algos? To keep it fresh, to keep us on our toes? To control a trend (to create a new one?) if it seems readers are buying X rather than Y? Why do they do it?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 01:08:59 PM
There's quite a lot of people in this thread that are upset about what the scammers are doing.  It seems to me that where there is this type of activity, if you use your business acumen, there's money to be made.

That's what I care about, and that's what I'm doing.  I started a KU complaint thread awhile back--you can find it if you search.  I wasn't really complaining so much as trying to understand the nature of the algo changes and KU rankings I was seeing…as I discussed it more, I saw where I was missing info and what this new info was telling me.

Since that time, I adjusted my strategy and thought through my next moves.  Some of that included holding steady--I kept most of my stuff out of KU, and since then, my sales and rankings on non-KU books rebounded.  I also did some KU specific attempts and found that overall its not a system that was beneficial to my bottom line, so I left it mostly alone, although I've got a fair number of titles in KU (I have a large backlist).

However, there are always opportunities during times of upheaval.  As business people, that's what we should look for, although part of what we need to do is also analyze and maybe complain a bit to let off steam.

Instead of belittling the efforts of those who are chopping up novels or writing ultra short works, maybe some here should consider doing it themselves.  If its not plagiarism, if it's not misleading sales tactics, then I don't have a problem with ultra shorts.  let the market sort it out, and if readers don't want it, they won't buy it or Amazon will tweak something to make it a non-issue.

I'm a business person and a writer--that means I go where I see opportunity to make money via my writing, my craft.  I honestly don't care if that means churning out a hundred 1,000 word novelettes.  That's not what I'm doing, but I'd do it if the climate required it.

Best of luck to everyone.  As for Holly, she's a fighter and is a huge megaselling author and she'll bounce back in a major way, of that I have no doubt...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KVictoriaChase on November 30, 2014, 01:14:49 PM
Holly's drop in income is dramatic, but what about those who were making 3K or 4k a month and are now down to 1K? Or those who were making 1K+ and are down to a few hundred? Whether it's because of a past algo change or KU; they've been hurt just as much, or more. as they didn't have a chance to save anything for the future.

The problem is Amazon never promised us they would let the good times keep on rolling. The program is truly about satisfying buyers.
But when a change hurts you--it hurts you, and the others who were in a similar position.
The best we can do as suppliers of a widget, is try to make our widgets as important as possible to the widget buyers.

I was one of those authors that were negatively affected by the algo change when KU launched. I saw my sales and income drop into the toilet. I put my books in KU after reading about the success of a few authors with borrows. With my borrows approaching daily single digits--like my sales still are (my sales haven't recovered from the summer shellacking), I'll focus more on increasing sales across other channels. The bloom is off the rose.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mercia McMahon on November 30, 2014, 01:19:38 PM
Sometimes it's not easy to see that a self-help or "tutorial" short book is dreck, until you borrow it.  Because there's no price tag, there's no barrier to borrowing.  It's easy enough to quickly go more than half a book, before returning it to make space for something better.  You can do that with a dozen short books in an hour that way. 

This is the reason to treat with a Siberian mine of salt those who use the increasing Select pot and decreasing share payout per borrow to argue that KU is booming. With so many shorts some readers can get through several books each day. The increasing pot may mean no more than increasing skill at playing the system. Another way the figures can be upped is someone coming to the end of a trial with many unread books and deciding to reward the authors by reading each borrowed book on their Kindle at least 10% on the last day of the trial. The scant statistics that Amazon reveal do not allow any reliable guesses at whether KU is booming or glooming.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 30, 2014, 01:19:57 PM
Okay, but why does Amazon change the algos? To keep it fresh, to keep us on our toes? To control a trend (to create a new one?) if it seems readers are buying X rather than Y? Why do they do it?

I answered back on page 11:
Quote

I keep pointing out it's not about getting people good books, it's about capturing email addresses and buying patterns. If someone is buying a scamlet on how to get a better job, you've just told Amazon about another 1,000 products you are likely to buy.
Or on weightloss, ditto...
On raising a lizard,...
etc.

This is what it's about folks.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 01:20:04 PM
I was one of those authors that were negatively affected by the algo change when KU launched. I saw my sales and income drop into the toilet. I put my books in KU after reading about the success of a few authors with borrows. With my borrows approaching daily single digits--like my sales still are (my sales haven't recovered from the summer shellacking), I'll focus more on increasing sales across other channels. The bloom is off the rose.
This is sort of what I mean, by the way.  My sales and rankings tanked around the launch time of KU, and it seemed to me that Amazon had rigged things in favor of KU books to an absurd degree.  During such a time, it's very tempting to throw everything out the window and just jump with both feet into an entirely new strategy for what's hot that moment.

However, what I found, after waiting it out, was that things normalized again after a few months…

Also, some things have changed in ways that allowed me to look harder at what the successful authors were doing and try to emulate their methods. 

I also tested a few different strategies for different books, shorter works in KU, backlist books in KU, waited to see the results…

Largely, I found that staying the course with some minor tweaks was the way to go.  And then I also slightly shifted in how I released some of my newer work, keywords, etc.

These things really help.  There's a lot of ups and downs in this game and I've been at the self-publishing side since 2011.  In that time I've seen a lot of shakeups, authors coming and going, and shifts in my own momentum.  My biggest tool to date has been to just keep putting out a steady stream of books as fast as possible, and to study the market so I always have a shot at writing a hit.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: NoahPorter on November 30, 2014, 01:24:28 PM
Fifty titles loaded by the "same" guy between the 24th and 25th of November.  His top seller is ranked at roughly 5,000 - some more under 10,000 - none ranked higher than 70,000.   

That sums up KU in a nutshell.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 01:25:43 PM
That sums up KU in a nutshell.
I don't know the guy, but if he's aboveboard in what he's doing, then I say good for him.  If he's a plagiarist than obviously he needs to be shut down.  But just complaining because someone's found a successful model with very short work is short sighted and bad business, imo.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: jegarlick on November 30, 2014, 01:29:10 PM
Just to better clarify...what I meant in a prior post...my thought is "if we don't support KU" as a program...meaning not putting our books into select, but still on Amazon...then perhaps people wanting to read our books will be re-trained to actually pay us for our products again. It is all in the way you train people to think about your artistry (very much the same as, the way you react in certain situations trains people how you are willing to be treated.) I'm with Taylor Swift. I think she has the right mindset...these big companies have convinced artists to join these Netflick's style platforms that essentially/eventually, only benefit the big companies, ultimately resulting in the devaluation of the artist's work and sales. Perhaps the benefit of reader exposure isn't worth it, as it is short lived at best. Gone are the days of the feeding frenzy after a period of FREE book offerings. Now if you see a small bump, you're lucky (as a newcomer). Consumers have learned when the sale is over, they move onto the next free book, and they have also learned, authors will be back to the trough to drink again...don't worry they can eventually score that book for free. Who's fault is that? Our own. We are training readers it's okay to treat us that way, just as musicians and singers did during the demise of the music industry, we are training consumers they can expect that they shouldn't have to pay for books/music/art. Why pay for something that they can get for free? I think we all need to rethink these models and adopt Taylor Swift's mindset, and go back to insisting our work has value...$2.99-$5.99 is not a lot to pay for a year or six months work of someone's life. Consumers shell that out for Starbuck's coffee and a treat every morning of their lives. I am not saying free sampling doesn't hold any value...it does...but I think what applies here is the old adage, "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" We really need to think about this, and solve it ourselves. If we stop feeding the market, the demand will diminish, because quite simply the option is not there, and consumers move on. Do you think consumers would have spent $7/$9 on their morning cuppa Jo before Starbucks convinced consumers it was sheik to do so? I've been alive long enough to tell you, NO.In 1980's it was all a a rage to offer breakfast for $1.99 breakfast with unlimited coffee. I remember when water was FREE? and un-bottled? But now COKE has convinced us all that tap water is the enemy in order to sell us their bottled water for $3.49 or more...(more than a BOOK, again!) See, we are just not jerking the marketing chain, people.  It's all in consumer trending, determined by marketing moguls, setting and resetting consumer mindset. WE need a piece of that action. We need to change the mindsets of our consumers in our own favour. WE need to value ourselves and influence consumers to value our work again. We need to collectively swing the pendulum back in our wage-earning favour. We need only buy into models that preserve our existence and our value or work. I've decided, I'm going to spend 2015 thinking outside of the box, as if I WERE the one setting the new trend (not Startbucks) when it comes to marketing, distribution, and book creation, and try to turn over this leaf in the NEW YEAR!!! (Who's with ME!!!)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 01:29:35 PM
The real solution is for everyone to be awful?

Really.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KVictoriaChase on November 30, 2014, 01:30:21 PM
This is sort of what I mean, by the way.  My sales and rankings tanked around the launch time of KU, and it seemed to me that Amazon had rigged things in favor of KU books to an absurd degree.  During such a time, it's very tempting to throw everything out the window and just jump with both feet into an entirely new strategy for what's hot that moment.

However, what I found, after waiting it out, was that things normalized again after a few months...

Also, some things have changed in ways that allowed me to look harder at what the successful authors were doing and try to emulate their methods. 

I also tested a few different strategies for different books, shorter works in KU, backlist books in KU, waited to see the results...

Largely, I found that staying the course with some minor tweaks was the way to go.  And then I also slightly shifted in how I released some of my newer work, keywords, etc.

These things really help.  There's a lot of ups and downs in this game and I've been at the self-publishing side since 2011.  In that time I've seen a lot of shakeups, authors coming and going, and shifts in my own momentum.  My biggest tool to date has been to just keep putting out a steady stream of books as fast as possible, and to study the market so I always have a shot at writing a hit.

Totally agree with you. I've never had all my books in Select/KU and thought I'd give it a try for the holiday season. Plus, I have a new release next month and wanted to see what would come of that (not holding my breath). Guess I should've got in when the borrow rate was still high, lol. You definitely have to be ready to adapt and change your strategy.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 01:33:42 PM
The real solution is for everyone to be awful?

Really.
Your designation of awful is simply an opinion, one that conveniently fits with your own work, which you designate as "very good."  However, I'm sure some people would have the opposite opinion.  I try and keep my own artistic and personal opinions from infringing on my business decisions.  So if the climate forces me to write romance, or write horror, or sci-fi, shorts or novels, I'm ready to adapt.

Whether or not something's "awful" has not much to do with my job of writing what people and the market wants.
P.S. I've often seen that people designate certain genre's or trends as awful or bad when it means reality didn't conform to their wishes.  Unfortunately, reality is what it is, and people read what they read.  My job is not to critique the public but to give them what they want using my craft and my abilities.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 30, 2014, 01:37:22 PM
The scant statistics that Amazon reveal do not allow any reliable guesses at whether KU is booming or glooming.
What is this thread about? Holly's readers LOVE borrowing her books so much that they don't buy them at a higher price. So her income went down. How is KU not booming?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on November 30, 2014, 01:46:08 PM
What is this thread about? Holly's readers LOVE borrowing her books so much that they don't buy them at a higher price. So her income went down. How is KU not booming?

How is one person's experience evidence of anything other than their personal experience?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 30, 2014, 01:50:51 PM
Or those who were making 1K+ and are down to a few hundred?

That was me, pretty much. The biggest thing KU has taught me is that relying on Amazon for the bulk of your income is not the way to build a long-term sustainable business.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 30, 2014, 01:52:14 PM
How is one person's experience evidence of anything other than their personal experience?
Because Viola and Hugh are saying the same. Their readers LOVE borrowing and do rather that than buy their books. That's why all three are saying their incomes are going down.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on November 30, 2014, 01:54:00 PM
Because Viola and Hugh are saying the same. Their readers LOVE borrowing and do rather that than buy their books. That's why all three are saying their incomes are going down.

How does that equate to KU booming?

I really don't know if it is or not, just questioning your logic. :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 30, 2014, 02:04:29 PM
How does that equate to KU booming?

I really don't know if it is or not, just questioning your logic. :)

It's booming because readers are getting great value for money. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on November 30, 2014, 02:07:09 PM
It's booming because readers are getting great value for money. 

How is it booming? Please provide proof. "People getting great value" is only anecdotal proof that "some people" are finding it a great value.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rosalind J on November 30, 2014, 02:08:22 PM
I offer my experience here for what it's worth, though as I'll explain I'm not sure how to interpret it myself.

I was always, from Day 1, all-in with Select. For one thing, it made marketing very easy, allowing me to spend almost all my time writing and editing my books--which, coincidentally, was exactly how I wanted to spend my time.

For another thing, the Select tools, both Free and Countdown, worked very well for me from the start (fall 2012), and kept working despite reports of lower efficacy by others.

When KU started, I saw what other good sellers have: Yes, my books were borrowed. A lot. But my sales also went down. Now, it happened that KU came out about six weeks after my latest novel, and after a big promo period had just ended. So it was a little tough to interpret my lower sales.

That trend continued. And again as it happened, I was "writing ahead" for my Amazon Publishing contract and another book (which will release tomorrow). So this was my first time with more than 4 months going by between books.

What happened? October was fine (4+ months since latest book). But November--whoosh, November took a huge dive. HUGE. I was experiencing "falling off the cliff" for myself for the first time ever, after 6 months without a new release. And in mid-November? I got the $1.30 borrow rate news. Even with an All-Star bonus (not a huge one, but a decent one), considering how many of my sales had been replaced by borrows--this wasn't good news.

So here's what I've done. I've taken 5 books in my best-selling series (which all, coincidentally, came out of Select in the latter half of this month), and gone wide with them for the first time. This leaves me 6 books (including the one coming out tomorrow) in Select. Eventually, I'll take out all but the Novella from Select, leaving my other 3-book series in Select and KU, and the Novella. I've also made my first book free.

How's it going? Um--slowly. Very slowly, after one week. I'm finding that it's not easy to build up sales on other sites. I have ads planned for the next couple months, though, and will see how I build. Meanwhile, I'll keep some eggs in the KU basket as well, since that's an earner for me.

Was this KU? Was it simply that I didn't release for too long? (Wrote, yes. Released, no.) Who knows. But it gave me a needed incentive to go wide with some books. I tell myself that, if for some reason I just cannot sell anyplace but Amazon, I'll go back to Select. But I have to take this risk now and try.

I suspect that a lot of situations are like this--more complex than simply one platform's rules changing. I've been fortunate that I've had other editions--audio and a new German edition--that have performed very well during this slide and given me some cushion. That's made me see that the ideal situation would be to have multiple solutions--one series wide (but with a single novella in KU, to attempt to capture those readers), one series in Select, audio editions (both ACX and Audible-pubbed, I hope), foreign editions, and a trad deal. That will enable me to ride out the bumps without as much panic.

Because it's hard to write feel-good books when you're panicking!

The other lesson, which I already knew but it bears repeating? If you're doing well, don't spend everything you make. Save a good percentage, because things can change in a heartbeat in this business. I'm having my worst month for TWO YEARS. And I've only been published 28 months! It can happen, and it can happen anytime.

I do think it's a great time to be published by an Amazon imprint, as those authors are getting borrowed the most in KU--more and more so, as the bigger-name indies, whether exclusive or not (I was required to be exclusive) leave the program. Alas, my Amazon book won't come out till June! Wishing I'd made the Montlake jump a little sooner, but ah, well, we cannot foresee the road ahead.

And...it's important to keep writing! With that--back to my edits! Best of luck to everybody affected by this change.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 30, 2014, 02:12:39 PM
How is it booming? Please provide proof. "People getting great value" is only anecdotal proof that "some people" are finding it a great value.

The only people with proof are Zon.

Shall I speak for myself? KU is an excellent programme for readers - I have downloaded and read ten books in the last month with a gross value of $48 for a mere $9.99.

Why would it not succeed?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on November 30, 2014, 02:15:24 PM
The only people with proof are Zon.

Shall I speak for myself? KU is an excellent programme for readers - I have downloaded and read ten books in the last month with a gross value of $48 for a mere $9.99.

Why would it not succeed?

Only Amazon knows what their bar for success is and I doubt we have any idea what that is.

As to why it wouldn't succeed? I don't know. But to offer another data point, I don't use it nor do I know anyone (in real life) who does. It doesn't have enough of what we like to read to make remotely worthwhile.

Neither your experience or mine is proof of its boom or bust. In the end, it doesn't matter. It just matters how it works/doesn't work for each author.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 30, 2014, 02:17:14 PM
I don't know the guy, but if he's aboveboard in what he's doing, then I say good for him.  If he's a plagiarist than obviously he needs to be shut down.  But just complaining because someone's found a successful model with very short work is short sighted and bad business, imo.

I totally agree. There is nothing inherently unethical about success, even in a zero-sub game. If you aren't doing anything unethical, there's nothing wrong with putting out fifty books in two days. As for quality, well, it takes a lot of hubris to write off another writer without reading them first.

The jealousy and sense of entitlement that infects these KU threads is just sickening. Well, guess what? The game has changed. You can either get out and go wide or stay in and change the way you play. If you want to stay in, complaining about how other people are playing differently isn't going to win you any points.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on November 30, 2014, 02:20:41 PM
Shall I speak for myself? KU is an excellent programme for readers - I have downloaded and read ten books in the last month with a gross value of $48 for a mere $9.99.

Why would it not succeed?

Because Amazon received $9.99, paid out over $10 to authors, and potentially lost about $15 in royalties on sales of those books. How would a loss-making venture succeed?

Every person complaining about a decline in income from sales means more money lost by Amazon on those sales. Amazon may not care, if they're making money from KU in other ways, but subscription models make little sense on their own.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ScarlettParrish on November 30, 2014, 02:31:28 PM
I totally agree. There is nothing inherently unethical about success, even in a zero-sub game. If you aren't doing anything unethical, there's nothing wrong with putting out fifty books in two days. As for quality, well, it takes a lot of hubris to write off another writer without reading them first.

The jealousy and sense of entitlement that infects these KU threads is just sickening. Well, guess what? The game has changed. You can either get out and go wide or stay in and change the way you play. If you want to stay in, complaining about how other people are playing differently isn't going to win you any points.
Yeah, all of this.

I'd love to be earning the kind of money people are complaining about having to put up with. It's hard to sympathise with authors who earn more in a month than I do in a year.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 02:31:31 PM
The only people with proof are Zon.

Shall I speak for myself? KU is an excellent programme for readers - I have downloaded and read ten books in the last month with a gross value of $48 for a mere $9.99.

Why would it not succeed?

Assuming anything higher than a 99-cent payout for November, you cost Amazon money.

And also denied authors ~30 worth of revenue.

Success!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 30, 2014, 02:31:48 PM
Only Amazon knows what their bar for success is and I doubt we have any idea what that is.

As to why it wouldn't succeed? I don't know. But to offer another data point, I don't use it nor do I know anyone (in real life) who does. It doesn't have enough of what we like to read to make remotely worthwhile.

Neither your experience or mine is proof of its boom or bust. In the end, it doesn't matter. It just matters how it works/doesn't work for each author.

There's going to be a million new KU subscribers by the end of December - and they'll be in it for six months.  There's not a chance Zon will pull it before that six month period is up - and I think little chance they will ever pull it.

This is a writers forum, we are financially invested in KU - whether we have titles in it or not.  Of course there's going to be bitter reports and criticisms here - out in the real world people will be looking at the Kindle Christmas special offer and saying, "wow, what a deal."

We ain't going to beat the consumer - and for all the authors that pull out, more will pile in. And as of today there are

Romance - 56, 128 KU eligible
Erotica - 63,939
Thriller - 54,874
N-F - 340,567
 
And on and on and on - maybe it's an idea to keep track of that.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deke on November 30, 2014, 02:33:35 PM
"Then they can rant about breaking up a novel instead of publishing it as a single novel, and rightly so. Why should a reader have to read a novel in pieces?"

People already read books in chunks…they're called chapters. Does it really matter if they have to download the entire novel in one chunk or two or three (if the total price is the same)?

I can only imagine this is already being done by some. Why would anyone with a huge novel settle for one rental fee when someone with a short story is getting that same rental fee?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 30, 2014, 02:34:26 PM
Because Amazon received $9.99, paid out over $10 to authors, and potentially lost about $15 in royalties on sales of those books. How would a loss-making venture succeed?

Every person complaining about a decline in income from sales means more money lost by Amazon on those sales. Amazon may not care, if they're making money from KU in other ways, but subscription models make little sense on their own.

I think you have your maths wrong - we get paid from a pool.  What was it last month - $6 million?

How many KU subs are there? any more than 600,000 and Zon are in profit.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deke on November 30, 2014, 02:34:59 PM
And the real question, have we reached the point were the negatives of Select outweigh the positives?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on November 30, 2014, 02:35:23 PM
I'm keeping my short fiction in. I'll pull  my novels out, and go wide. That's what makes the most sense, for me. We each will have to decide for ourselves which basket gives the biggest buck.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on November 30, 2014, 02:35:33 PM
I give up, EC. You make all sorts of proclamations without any evidence. Feel free to make them. I don't think KU is going to go belly up any time soon, but that doesn't mean it's a success for authors or readers. It honestly doesn't have to be either for it to be what Amazon wants it to be.

Personally, I wish it into the cornfield. Feel free to wish it wherever you like. :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 02:36:29 PM
I can only imagine this is already being done by some. Why would anyone with a huge novel settle for one rental fee when someone with a short story is getting that same rental fee?

Basic decency + increasingly inexplicable unwillingness to abandon a flawed system?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 30, 2014, 02:37:43 PM
And the real question, have we reached the point were the negatives of Select outweigh the positives?

The answer, as always, is "it depends." ;)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on November 30, 2014, 02:39:06 PM
There's going to be a million new KU subscribers by the end of December - and they'll be in it for six months.

And Amazon will be earning $0 from them, while paying money to authors.

Quote
There's not a chance Zon will pull it before that six month period is up - and I think little chance they will ever pull it.

Agreed. I think it will just fade into irrelevance, like so many other Amazon programs.

Quote
This is a writers forum, we are financially invested in KU - whether we have titles in it or not.  Of course there's going to be bitter reports and criticisms here - out in the real world people will be looking at the Kindle Christmas special offer and saying, "wow, what a deal."

Until they discover that the only books still available are those thrown together for a quick profit in KU, or those Amazon subsidize by paying higher fees than they do to indie writers.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on November 30, 2014, 02:41:25 PM
How many KU subs are there? any more than 600,000 and Zon are in profit.

Only Amazon know whether they're making a profit. But I'd be surprised if they have that many people paying $9.99 a month... many of those 'subscribers' are probably still on a free deal of some kind.

And, as mentioned, you also have to consider the lost revenue from sales not made, as well as new revenue from subscriptions.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on November 30, 2014, 02:45:00 PM
One could say that the offer for half off a year is a sign that not enough people are signing up without some incentive.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 02:45:23 PM
Because Amazon received $9.99, paid out over $10 to authors, and potentially lost about $15 in royalties on sales of those books. How would a loss-making venture succeed?

Every person complaining about a decline in income from sales means more money lost by Amazon on those sales. Amazon may not care, if they're making money from KU in other ways, but subscription models make little sense on their own.

But your example does not take into account all the people who paid $9.99 and only downloaded one book, or even zero. It happens. That's how membership platforms pencil out. It's how insurance companies stay in business. Pay out less than you take in.

I've been a member of Netflix for years and there have been many months when I don't borrow any movies. I cannot see how KU would be any different.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on November 30, 2014, 02:46:36 PM
LK - I can't seem to find what hours, days, etc... it runs.  I see it starts Monday - but when? And then it ends January 30th.  It sounds great - can you tell me where to find more information?

Thanks!

For the record, I don't think the OP has a sense of entitlement at all. It's the novelists who thump their chests against anything they see as unfairly cutting into their turf, as if longer works are inherently better or that they should be paid based on the length of their work. It all comes down to what the markets will bear, people. KU is a closed ecosystem with its own set of unique incentives, just like anywhere else.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 30, 2014, 02:48:51 PM
Only Amazon know whether they're making a profit. But I'd be surprised if they have that many people paying $9.99 a month... many of those 'subscribers' are probably still on a free deal of some kind.

And, as mentioned, you also have to consider the lost revenue from sales not made, as well as new revenue from subscriptions.

Take that up with Scribd and Oyster - Zon had no choice but to intro a sub to compete with them.  It would have been a dereliction of corporate duty to have done otherwise.

 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 02:50:48 PM
Instead of belittling the efforts of those who are chopping up novels or writing ultra short works, maybe some here should consider doing it themselves. 

If more Indies start chopping up novels, readers like me will stop reading Indies. Is that really what you want? I'm fine with short stories. In fact, I prefer them, but only of they were written as a short story. Buying what I believe is a short story, only to get to the end and find out it was a portion of a full length novel p*sses me off.

Business 101: Don't p*ss customers off.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on November 30, 2014, 02:52:52 PM
Take that up with Scribd and Oyster - Zon had no choice but to intro a sub to compete with them.  It would have been a dereliction of corporate duty to have done otherwise.

Not if Amazon lose money as a result.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on November 30, 2014, 02:54:41 PM
But your example does not take into account all the people who paid $9.99 and only downloaded one book, or even zero. It happens.

But relying on people to keep paying for something where they don't get their money's worth doesn't seem a good business plan. Sooner or later, most wise up.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 30, 2014, 02:55:15 PM
Not if Amazon lose money as a result.


When did Zon ever care about making money?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: jakedfw on November 30, 2014, 03:04:42 PM
This thread is frustrating because everyone keeps trying to apply the same logic to selling books as to renting them. It is a completely different business model, and you need to re-think everything when considering KU. Complaining about borrows being lower than your royalties is pointless--It's like saying your royalties are a lower percentage on a 99 cent book than on a $2.99 book. It's not wrong or right. It just is, and you have to adapt your strategies around it.

The economics of KU demand that you step back and re-think everything. The new landscape is undoubtedly more complex. KU can be really powerful for some writers and devastate others. Going into KU and then saying, "This is killing my sales" means that you probably shouldn't have been in KU in the first place.

The single biggest thing that sucks is that no one took the effort to outline this up front. Maybe no one knew, so this was a unavoidable shock. But even as a shock now, it doesn't mean KU is objectively bad. It means it is bad for some books. No one should feel angst over leaving KU. Assess it as a tool and then use it or not.

As to the financial health of KU, it is one of the easier risks for Amazon to manage as they have a fixed cost pool, as was outlined above. If it grows and generates a huge amount of usage, then that cost management becomes even easier for them. And, honestly, having a ton of strong-selling books leaving KU is irrelevant and won't hurt much at all. Book buying is a hit-driven business. Having Harry Potter and a bunch of big sellers that Amazon refreshes every so often combined with a bunch of new stuff that readers can experiment with at zero marginal cost is a perfectly viable business model.

Basically, the midlist goes away and becomes available for sale only. That doesn't mean that KU will fail. It means it is evolving into a separate ecosystem.

Here's a rule of thumb: If Amazon doesn't offer you full royalties for a KU lend (as it does for J.K. Rowling and some others), then they won't care if you're in KU or not.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on November 30, 2014, 03:04:54 PM
I give up, EC.

October borrows: 4,135,338 24% rise from previous month
September borrows: 3,311,258 27% from previous month
August borrows: 2.6 million

So readers LOVE KU!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 03:14:00 PM
People already read books in chunks...they're called chapters. Does it really matter if they have to download the entire novel in one chunk or two or three (if the total price is the same)?

Yes. It matters a lot. Why on earth would you want to inconvenience your readers like that? If that reader happens to be me, enjoy that single borrow share, because you won't be getting another one. Seriously. I think you underestimate how fed up some readers are with those kinds of shenanigans.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: books_mb on November 30, 2014, 03:14:07 PM
October borrows: 4,135,338 24% rise from previous month
September borrows: 3,311,258 27% from previous month
August borrows: 2.6 million

So readers LOVE KU!

Also:

July 21: 645,790 books in KU (23.3 % of total)
Sept 29: 778,659 books in KU (24.2 % of total)

Authors seem to be drawn to KU as well.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on November 30, 2014, 03:16:31 PM
October borrows: 4,135,338 24% rise from previous month
September borrows: 3,311,258 27% from previous month
August borrows: 2.6 million

So readers LOVE KU!

This going to sound rude but I mean it to be helpful:

If you think those numbers prove anything then you need to take BUS-101 again.

Example: It could also mean those subscribers now have to borrow 10 "books" to get what was once 1 novel.

Nobody knows but Amazon. Debating it is a moot point.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 03:31:53 PM
Yes. It matters a lot. Why on earth would you want to inconvenience your readers like that? If that reader happens to be me, enjoy that single borrow share, because you won't be getting another one. Seriously. I think you underestimate how fed up some readers are with those kinds of shenanigans.
I am not saying that anybody SHOULD do it.  If it works, then by all means I find it as legitimate a way to do business as writing and offering up a full novel.  You are just one reader--it may  p*ss  you off, but if 70 others are fine with it, then I honestly don't mind losing 1 reader.

Of course, I'm not happy to lose a reader over something like that, but ultimately this is my livelihood, and if I need to chop a book up to make money (because of the Amazon KU structure) than that's what I'll do.  If it works, it's because readers are going for it and Amazon is allowing it, and thus it's in my best interests too.

This isn't about my personal opinions or preferences.

Personally, I love Mad Men, Game of Thrones, horror and suspense novels.  That's my personal viewing and reading entertainment, but I've had to switch from writing thrillers/horror to the romance side of things in order to survive in this independent book publishing venture.

I didn't cry about it (well okay, maybe a little), but I did change and adjust when necessary.  I don't take issue with people having personal opinions, likes and dislikes, but thinking that your personal opinion is reflective of the mass of readers is just not accurate and it creates bad business decisions.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Atunah on November 30, 2014, 03:32:47 PM
"Then they can rant about breaking up a novel instead of publishing it as a single novel, and rightly so. Why should a reader have to read a novel in pieces?"

People already read books in chunks...they're called chapters. Does it really matter if they have to download the entire novel in one chunk or two or three (if the total price is the same)?

I can only imagine this is already being done by some. Why would anyone with a huge novel settle for one rental fee when someone with a short story is getting that same rental fee?
Yes, it matters. I am just a reader and a subscriber to KU from the first week up until a week ago. I finally cancelled  Why? Because I already gone through a lot of the stuff I wanted to read and in the genre I love, romance, there has been a sea of crap uploaded. Try looking at the new uploads. I can't sort my new and popular anymore because those don't change much and I either already own them free, already read them with prime, or am not interested. So the other browse I used to love is new published. I tried doing that a few times while on KU and it got worse and worse. Its almost nothing but chapter particles of "books" and porn and erotica. Almost nothing is even romance anymore. I sat there plowing through like 30 pages of that and gave up. I am not going to download chapter by chapter to read something. I want to read books. And in the genre I am looking at.

You really think us readers don't look through that after a while? Sure, readers get the free month, or a gift of a discounted 6 month subscription. But everywhere I go as a reader to hang with other readers, I hear the same comments. Content is just not there. Its getting harder and harder to find anything with all that broken up stuff being stuffed into it. And all the mis-categorized stuff.

Yes, it matters.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 03:36:17 PM
I want to read books. And in the genre I am looking at.

You really think us readers don't look through that after a while? 
Yes, it matters.
As far as I'm concerned, it only matters if enough readers have your reaction that it impacts my bottom line more than the paltry borrow rate Amazon is doling out per book that I write.  Everyone thinks from their own point of view.  You're angry that you don't get a full novel, but I hardly want to spend three or four months crafting a novel that I price at 3.99 or 4.99, and amazon gives me a 1.50 or 1 dollar royalty on a borrow.

It doesn't add up and so I'm going to naturally turn to writing shorter works.

It's just business, and if enough readers revolt, than of course I'll adjust once more.  Nothing personal.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on November 30, 2014, 03:36:56 PM
This whole Kindle Unlimited thingy is very divisive. I hope it will go away sometime soon.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jenny Schwartz on November 30, 2014, 03:43:44 PM
Starting late with self-publishing, I've never put my books out without KU in mind. All of my stories are in it. I naturally write short, so KU might prove the best fit for my work. So far my stuff ranges from short stories to novellas, and includes two book length collections. Have I had any success? No, but I'm pretty much starting from nowhere despite some books out with other publishers. If KU gives me some borrows-money and discoverability, that's a win. But it's all about where we're at, what our plans are and how we decide to view risks and opportunities.

On a side note: Given some of the repeated complaints from readers about cliffhangers, I think Amazon/Goodreads needs a little button of a figure dangling from a cliff that reviewers can add ;)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 03:48:02 PM
I am not saying that anybody SHOULD do it.  If it works, then by all means I find it as legitimate a way to do business as writing and offering up a full novel.  You are just one reader--it may  p*ss  you off, but if 70 others are fine with it, then I honestly don't mind losing 1 reader.

It's not just me. Spend some time in reader groups if you want to know how many really feel the same way. It will be very educational. Better yet, post what you just posted here and watch what kind of response you get.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Caddy on November 30, 2014, 03:57:11 PM
Quote
On a side note: Given some of the repeated complaints from readers about cliffhangers, I think Amazon/Goodreads needs a little button of a figure dangling from a cliff that reviewers can add ;)

Well, people b*tch and b*tch about cliff hangers, yet there are many authors making big money using cliffhangers. Both traditional and indie. People may b*tch but enough buy them to make some authors a very nice living.

Note: I'm not saying cliffhangers are good or bad. I'm simply saying they work for many.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Sophrosyne on November 30, 2014, 04:17:06 PM
I just saw this thread, so my response is not relevant to the chop-em-up discussion, just to the beginning discussion.

Holly, I'm so sorry. I don't know how you're even functioning with that kind of worry hanging over you. The last thing you need is to get your income whacked.

I've been thinking about this KU thing. And what I'm starting to think is that the authors who are big sellers, when they go into KU, are the ones who stand to lose the most, while the mid-listers and low-level writers probably stand to gain the most.

I have found that borrows cannibalize my sales. So, when I did a 99-cent sale, I advertised it as a way for fans who had borrowed the new book to be able to own it for 99-cents and be able to get the audiobook for a discounted price of $1.99 instead of the full $24 price. And that seemed to work.

However, on the positive side, I've found that KUF increased my income on titles that weren't seeing a lot of sales traction previously.

It may wind up being that putting short stories into KUF and keeping novels out, may be the way to go -- at least, until Amazon figures out a better system. And if KUF winds up full of nothing but short stories and serialized novels, Amazon might feel motivated to take another look at how to make it work.

However, for authors who are selling like crazy, like Holly, it does seem like it would be better to stay out of Select. For mid-listers and newbies, whose books only tend to sell at Amazon anyway, it may still be worth the gamble.

And wow, big hugs to you, Holly. You're dealing with so much. I hope you get your sales back to what they used to be -- and more. That really sucks that you got walloped by taking a chance on KUF.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on November 30, 2014, 04:36:26 PM
Man, it would be so awesome if that was what even ten percent of the serials I see on there are doing.

Episodic fiction is a wonderful art. It's my art. But you have to understand act breaks. You have to understand myth arcs, one-offs, continuity and how to tell a lot of little stories that make up a bigger story. You need to have the audience say 'that was satisfying; I wonder what the next episode will be about', not CLIFFHANGER WHAT IS HAPPEN NEXT WHY NOT WHOLE STORY?!!?!

That's... not what most Amazon 'serials' are. They're mostly just chapters of a novel published serially under the banner of 'DICKENS DID IT' without any real thought given to what Dickens actually did and why it isn't the thing they're doing.

Vaalingrade, I like what you're saying, regarding continuity, arcs, and little stories telling a bigger story. Reminds me of the best of the half hour TV shows I really like, like The Middle and Two Broke Girls and Mike and Molly and Big Bang. Stories within stories with a continuity arc, mirroring of events and themes. All that. I see that your book, We Could Be Heroes Book 1, had seven episodes? Did you publish them separately at first?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D. Zollicoffer on November 30, 2014, 04:41:04 PM
The KU borrows reached an all-time high today (40), but I'm still pulling out. Meanwhile my sales are lagging (only 12 today).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Navigator on November 30, 2014, 04:46:09 PM
Reading this thread has made me glad I'm pulling my books out of KU. They'll be out mid Dec.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on November 30, 2014, 04:51:12 PM
Little food for thought.
If you put a chopped up book on Amazon,  readers can report you.    Amazon can pull your account.   You can put serials but not just chapters.

Now everyone needs to do what is best for them.

And why would Amazon get rid of the door opener?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 05:27:00 PM
It's actually not that difficult to see what readers are choosing and go from there.  You're of the opinion that many readers don't like serials, don't like cliffhangers, etc?

There's a simple test for that theory.  Just go to the bestseller lists and do some looking, analyze what you see in terms of books in the top 100 of the entire store, then drill down from there by genre.  You'll see fairly quickly what readers like, because those are the books that sell.

As for individual reader preferences, they are as varied as snowflakes--no reader is exactly alike.  Many readers (and writers for that matter) are quite entitled and believe that their personal opinion reflects the majority, which it usually doesn't.

Me, I'll take my cue from the readers who buy the majority of my books and other books, and let the chips fall where they may.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 05:33:43 PM
I wouldn't go to reader groups that hate serials & ask their opinion of serials. What a few vocal readers say they want & what most people actually buy are two very different things. The top selling indie romance author on all of Amazon right now is Deborah Bladon. Not in KU, books are mostly "chapter books." I'm willing to bet the silent majority of buyers has far less problem problem with serials & cliffhangers.
Yes, that's a great example.  I have a hard time fathoming the notion that Deborah Bladon (and many others like her) is doing what most readers hate with her short serialized work.  Does she get individual reader complaints?  I would bet she does, maybe even a lot of them over time.  But individual readers, as we know, can find fault with just about anything.  Doesn't mean I need to change my business decisions because of it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 30, 2014, 05:36:49 PM
I wouldn't go to reader groups that hate serials & ask their opinion of serials. What a few vocal readers say they want & what most people actually buy are two very different things. The top selling indie romance author on all of Amazon right now is Deborah Bladon. Not in KU, books are mostly "chapter books." I'm willing to bet the silent majority of buyers has far less problem problem with serials & cliffhangers.

Wow! Deborah Bladon is doing very well with serials. Really 87 pages for $0.99 isn't so bad. There are/were plenty erotic romance books for the same length and shorter for more. Then she bundles a three part series for $2.99. Surely, someone couldn't say she's cheating someone for a book almost 300 pages for $2.99.

Besides that, she's open about it being a serial and that it's a cliffhanger. People still buy--a lot of people.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 05:41:25 PM
Wow! Deborah Bladon is doing very well with serials. Really 87 pages for $0.99 isn't so bad. There are/were plenty erotic romance books for the same length and shorter for more. Then she bundles a three part series for $2.99. Surely, someone couldn't say she's cheating someone for a book almost 300 pages for $2.99.

Besides that, she's open about it being a serial and that it's a cliffhanger. People still buy--a lot of people.

Yes, but until someone brings up a concrete example, you have writers in these threads claiming that serialized work is ruining the store, that readers are turning against it, that short work is just "chopped up novels."  It's silly and even if some people are ham handedly chopping up novels, so what?  That's not hurting anybody, at least not by what's allowed currently.

If I'm finding it tough to compete, maybe I need to raise my own game.  That's actually what happened to me recently.  I was floundering and had to make some adjustments.  It hurts.  Sometimes this business can feel mighty cruel.  But when writers sit there and try and diminish the success of other authors who've found a system or formula that works for them, it's just a waste of time.

Find your own system.  Try new things.  Instead of crying foul all the time, take a different shot at the basket, play defense, rework your playbook.  But don't just think the world will change itself to suit your opinions, cuz that doesn't seem like a good bet.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 05:47:20 PM
The only people who profit from silence in response to bad behavior are the perpetrators.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 05:50:37 PM
The only people who profit from silence in response to bad behavior are the perpetrators.
Crying foul every five minutes doesn't seem like particularly intelligent and outspoken behavior.  It strikes me more like little kids trying to whine to their parents or teachers every time something goes slightly wrong--and they don't get what they want.

There's a huge difference between pointing out plagiarism and the like vs simply labeling every form of writing you don't personally enjoy as some crime against humanity.

If you want to succeed in the business of writing, you work in the world that's been set forth and try to navigate the best you can.  Yelling at the heavens repeatedly is just a waste, it's not accomplishing much.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 06:05:25 PM
Vaalingrade, I like what you're saying, regarding continuity, arcs, and little stories telling a bigger story. Reminds me of the best of the half hour TV shows I really like, like The Middle and Two Broke Girls and Mike and Molly and Big Bang. Stories within stories with a continuity arc, mirroring of events and themes. All that. I see that your book, We Could Be Heroes Book 1, had seven episodes? Did you publish them separately at first?

It's... complicated, but I'll try to explain what I'm doing with it.

First, We Could Be Heroes started out as a Free Comicbook Day gift to the readers of my webserial.

I'm not really doing the same thing as most people are here, my model is based on those of successful webcomics, an industry that is very much like self-epublishing, but which has had a good decade more to evolve. As part of it, my main series and a lot of subseries are published as free and ongoing on the website with the serial being the 'advertisement' while revenue comes from ad impressions, swag and collected editions.

Which brings me back to how I'm publishing the edited, collected versions. As I'm just now cracking the seal on Descendants #81 and have ~5 million words armed and ready to put out there, I just cannot afford to do the 200+ covers it would require to do each issue. I asked my readers what they would want to buy and the answer was they would happily pay for half-volume collections and full volumes plus extras.

So what I'm putting out now are those: either collections of 6-7 issues plus whatever 'extra' oneshots were part of the main series, plus a big, honking Complete Volume that's 12 issues plus bennies.

That takes my total number of covers for the main series from 81 to 16 and the Complete Series, being basically a Collector's Edition can have a supremely lazy cover.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 06:06:15 PM
Crying foul every five minutes doesn't seem like particularly intelligent and outspoken behavior.  It strikes me more like little kids trying to whine to their parents or teachers every time something goes slightly wrong--and they don't get what they want.

There's a huge difference between pointing out plagiarism and the like vs simply labeling every form of writing you don't personally enjoy as some crime against humanity.

If you want to succeed in the business of writing, you work in the world that's been set forth and try to navigate the best you can.  Yelling at the heavens repeatedly is just a waste, it's not accomplishing much.

Silence is agreement.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 06:09:49 PM
See, this same tactic is trotted out time and time again to try and silence dissent and normalize objectionable behavior.

The complainer is always wrong. Keep your head down and do as you're told. If you fight back, if you point out wrongs, you're crying and whining and being a narc. Let's apply some peer pressure to silence those who don't go along.

Except it's so plainly obvious now. It's so transparent I see daylight.

And I say thee nay.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 06:25:29 PM
There is a big difference between a serial and a novel that has been chopped up.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: delly_xo on November 30, 2014, 06:34:20 PM
There is a big difference between a serial and a novel that has been chopped up.
I love Bladon's work - I honestly feel like her stuff is the true nature of 'serial'. At the end of every section, I find myself eagerly waiting and anticipating what's coming in the next one. Even though now, I can tell she's got a formula (and she's sticking to it), it's like watching my favorite TV show during the season in which it airs.
She's a pro.

Not to mention - those readers of hers that don't like the build-up? They now choose to wait until she boxes them all up in a set and releases the full thing. Her writing, character development, and plot twists are phenomenal. That's what keeps readers coming back.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Davout73 on November 30, 2014, 06:41:21 PM
Silence is agreement.

With us or against us, eh?

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on November 30, 2014, 06:43:39 PM
It's... complicated, but I'll try to explain what I'm doing with it.

First, We Could Be Heroes started out as a Free Comicbook Day gift to the readers of my webserial.

I'm not really doing the same thing as most people are here, my model is based on those of successful webcomics, an industry that is very much like self-epublishing, but which has had a good decade more to evolve. As part of it, my main series and a lot of subseries are published as free and ongoing on the website with the serial being the 'advertisement' while revenue comes from ad impressions, swag and collected editions.

...

So what I'm putting out now are those: either collections of 6-7 issues plus whatever 'extra' oneshots were part of the main series, plus a big, honking Complete Volume that's 12 issues plus bennies.

That takes my total number of covers for the main series from 81 to 16 and the Complete Series, being basically a Collector's Edition can have a supremely lazy cover.

Impressive, truly! I wrote a post about a year ago saying I felt Scribd and Oyster were (re)opening the door to serials, and I'd say KU has now blown the door wide open, and things will continue to evolve from here. Need to get to sleep, have a rare 5:30 a.m. fitness boot camp tomorrow. At 64, I need a lot more than just beauty rest :-)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: sela on November 30, 2014, 06:46:54 PM
There is a big difference between a serial and a novel that has been chopped up.

What matters is what pleases readers. If readers like buying Deborah Bladon's serialized romance novels, one chunk of 87 pages at a time, paying 99c for each episode, or waiting until it's done and paying $2.99 or $3.99 for the bundle, that's their choice. Bladon has done really well, so she is obviously tapping into a format and content that a LOT of readers like or they would not buy her books.

Some readers like to read smaller chunks. They read on their smartphones on the subway or between classes or on breaks. They might read more at night, after work, before bed, on their tablet or dedicated eReader. If they buy it, and if the reviews are good, and if the rank is good, it's fair to say that readers are good with the format and price and content.

Right now, Deborah Bladon's RUIN series is #56, #72 and #57 in the Kindle store. She has 1121 reviews with an average rating of 4+ Stars. 772 of those reviews (69%) are 5-star reviews.

The internet, smartphone, tablet devices and the digitalization of content are changing more than just the format of books. It may change the way we read and the format of what we read such that people prefer to buy their books in shorter chunks. There is less risk if you buy an 87 page novella for 99c from a new author than a full-length 250+ page novel for $3.99. For new authors breaking into self publishing, this could be a draw that attracts new readers.

This approach to publishing is not a scam. It is a different way of publishing and consuming content. If readers hated it, they would not buy it. Given how easy it is for readers to return books at Amazon, I'm sure they would if they hated the format so much.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: audreyclaire on November 30, 2014, 06:55:05 PM
I like shorter works myself, under 50k. When I get a book on my Kindle and the locations go on forever, it's daunting. I'm very impatient. I want to read it and get to my next book I have waiting. I will avoid buying long books. Not that I haven't read long ones. I've read the entire Harry Potter series. Lol. There's a place for shorter even if you hear "it's too short" every time. There are plenty of people like me who want shorter. I like urban fantasy under 50k. So much is long.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on November 30, 2014, 06:55:35 PM
What matters is what pleases readers. If readers like buying Deborah Bladon's serialized romance novels, one chunk of 87 pages at a time, paying 99c for each episode, or waiting until it's done and paying $2.99 or $3.99 for the bundle, that's their choice. Bladon has done really well, so she is obviously tapping into a format and content that a LOT of readers like or they would not buy her books.

Some readers like to read smaller chunks. They read on their smartphones on the subway or between classes or on breaks. They might read more at night, after work, before bed, on their tablet or dedicated eReader. If they buy it, and if the reviews are good, and if the rank is good, it's fair to say that readers are good with the format and price and content.

Right now, Deborah Bladon's RUIN series is #56, #72 and #57 in the Kindle store. She has 1121 reviews with an average rating of 4+ Stars. 772 of those reviews (69%) are 5-star reviews.

The internet, smartphone, tablet devices and the digitalization of content are changing more than just the format of books. It may change the way we read and the format of what we read such that people prefer to buy their books in shorter chunks. There is less risk if you buy an 87 page novella for 99c from a new author than a full-length 250+ page novel for $3.99. For new authors breaking into self publishing, this could be a draw that attracts new readers.

This approach to publishing is not a scam. It is a different way of publishing and consuming content. If readers hated it, they would not buy it. Given how easy it is for readers to return books at Amazon, I'm sure they would if they hated the format so much.


This is a fantastic post, I think.  It really gets to the heart of the matter, which is that things are changing fast.

We indies tend to make fun of those crotchety old "trad published" folk who cry and moan about the "tsunami of crap" and all of the other memes that protect them from facing the changing times.  We laugh at the fact that these old school thinkers really believe that paper is going to dominate forever, that readers hate indie books, that gatekeepers are a necessity, etc.

But can we look at our own currently evolving landscape and see that even this is transforming, and that the very way readers are taking in content is also transforming?  Shorter, more immediate works are selling better for a reason.  The reason is economic, but its also rooted in the technology, the attention spans, the need for instant gratification and so on.

I don't like KU at all, but I need to find ways to address its impact on my business.  There's a lot that makes me uncomfortable about the publishing landscape (number one being the dominance of Amazon and the faltering competition of the other platforms), but regardless of my discomfort I need to find ways to evolve and continue to move with the times.

Otherwise, we end up on the dinosaur scrap heap of old bones just like the publishers/agents/writers from the traditional mindset.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on November 30, 2014, 07:13:19 PM
Impressive, truly! I wrote a post about a year ago saying I felt Scribd and Oyster were (re)opening the door to serials, and I'd say KU has now blown the door wide open, and things will continue to evolve from here.

Unfortunately, those doors then collapsed on top of real serials and caught fire.

It is hard. Extremely hard to market an actual serial now because misbehaving authors have taken to using those words for their elaborate KU schemes and now one one trusts a serial to be something they can read and enjoy episodically.

The second they even see 'serial', people get wary now because of get rich quick conmen looking to reap quick money and skeedaddle ruining the reputations of people who are building worlds and mythologies one largely self contained brick at a time.

What comes next is it getting worse. Eventually the many, many complaints are going to generate a (bigger) backlash and we all see how wide a swathe Amazon's responses to these things carve into the industry. They're going to set it all on fire and move on to the next scheme while real serials burn.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on November 30, 2014, 09:30:43 PM
The internet, smartphone, tablet devices and the digitalization of content are changing more than just the format of books. It may change the way we read and the format of what we read such that people prefer to buy their books in shorter chunks. There is less risk if you buy an 87 page novella for 99c from a new author than a full-length 250+ page novel for $3.99. For new authors breaking into self publishing, this could be a draw that attracts new readers.

This approach to publishing is not a scam. It is a different way of publishing and consuming content. If readers hated it, they would not buy it. Given how easy it is for readers to return books at Amazon, I'm sure they would if they hated the format so much.

I have not seen anyone here say that short stories and serials are scams, or that there was even anything wrong with them. Again, there is a difference between quality short stories and serials that were written as a serial, and a novel that has been chopped into pieces.

When I refer to something as a scam, it's because it is clearly a scam. It has nothing to do with the length, and I am not lumping all short stories in with the scamlets, nor am I lumping all serials into it. A serial that was plotted, planned and written as a serial is fine. A short story is fine. A ten page doc that was scraped off wikipedia and sold as a short story is a scam. A novel that was chopped up and published in pieces in not fine, nor is it a serial.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: sela on November 30, 2014, 10:36:28 PM
A novel that was chopped up and published in pieces in not fine, nor is it a serial.

Why is it not fine, if readers are happy and the author is happy? If readers want to get their book in chunks instead of all at once, does that make it bad?

What exactly is bad about it?

It's not conventional, but we're in a period of rapid "disintermediation" and "technological disruption". Perhaps the chopped-up novel is one product of that process.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and while you may not approve of this approach to publishing, it appears that a lot of readers do approve. For an author, that has to count for a lot.

From Wikipedia (yes I know -- don't attack me for citing Wikipedia, but there are two studies cited in this):

"Serialization was so standard in American literature that authors from that era often built installment structure into their creative process. Henry James, for example, often had his works divided into multi-part segments of similar length.[11] The consumption of fiction during that time was different than in the 20th century. Instead of being read in a single volume, a novel would often be consumed by readers in installments over a period as long as a year, with the authors and periodicals often responding to audience reaction.[12]

You're getting quite technical in your definition of "serial" but terms evolve to reflect new realities. Perhaps due to digital revolution and the new technology used to read digital fiction, serialization may become popular once more. Whether it be a novel is written and then "chopped up" into parts or written in parts and published as the parts are finished, each part with its own story question/arc, I see no difference if the end result is the same.

Deborah Bladon publishing parts of a longer novel in instalments isn't a "scam" and it seems fine with a heck of a lot of readers in the romance genre. Hugh Howey did pretty well with it, too, in the SF genre.

If people enjoy getting their fiction in this format, and if authors like to publish in this format, I don't see any reason to condemn it as "not fine".

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: daringnovelist on November 30, 2014, 10:59:41 PM
There is only one rule... well, TWO rules:

Rule #1 - Whatever the unit you are selling, it has to be satisfying - but different audiences will find different kinds of things satisfying.  Just chopping it up at chapter breaks may be just fine.

(This isn't to disagree with those who say there is an advanced craft in creating serialized fiction -- but that doesn't mean that's all there is.  There's a real artform to poetry too, that doesn't mean people shouldn't write prose.)

Rule #2 - You have to communicate to the audience as fairly and effectively as possible what they are getting.  (Sometimes this is impossible, and that's what returns are for.  Also many many people only see what they want to see, but that's their problem)

If you want to charge 19.99 for a monthly haiku, that's your business, as long as the audience knows what they are getting.

Camille

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mike_Author on November 30, 2014, 11:44:01 PM
I just noticed - wait for it - you won't believe it -

Fifty titles loaded by the "same" guy between the 24th and 25th of November.  His top seller is ranked at roughly 5,000 - some more under 10,000 - none ranked higher than 70,000.   

Let me guess - Archie Fraser/Robert Smith/etc etc?  If so, check out my thread on him on here...probably the worst scammer on Amazon IMO.

If not, let us know who it is - I am betting it is just another Archie Fraser pseudonym (covers all in the same font, photo background, basic MS word font/text)...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on November 30, 2014, 11:56:27 PM
Let me guess - Archie Fraser/Robert Smith/etc etc?  If so, check out my thread on him on here...probably the worst scammer on Amazon IMO.

If not, let us know who it is - I am betting it is just another Archie Fraser pseudonym (covers all in the same font, photo background, basic MS word font/text)...

No, it's under another name - I've seen the author(s) you are talking about - this appears to be from someone else.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on December 01, 2014, 12:16:58 AM
For me KU has meant a third more income. It's working for me. It's not working for Viola, Hugh, and Holly, because their sales are being eaten by borrows. I wouldn't mind if writers on their level get their All Star bonus doubled and if we small indies have to pay for it by accepting $1 per borrow, that would be ok with me. I'm making more money thanks to borrows than ever.

Generalisation. My sales are down 60% and not in Select, so no, borrows aren't eating my sales. I'm sure Hugh has lost sales to borrows, but a lot of us are not in Select.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on December 01, 2014, 12:21:48 AM
The issue with regards to what constitutes a "real" serial seems to stem from the fact readers are paying for the content. Because fan fiction is hugely success as serialized fiction, and you don't see people complaining about that. On the contrary, people eat that stuff up, and eagerly await the next chapter/instalment. So whatever's happening on Amazon isn't a new phenomenon, and it has its audience. Works like this aren't just chopped up novels, they're planned and written episodically, in most cases without a novel in mind. 

I think the definition of serial needs to be expanded to include things like this.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mike_Author on December 01, 2014, 01:07:54 AM

Instead of belittling the efforts of those who are chopping up novels or writing ultra short works, maybe some here should consider doing it themselves.  If its not plagiarism, if it's not misleading sales tactics, then I don't have a problem with ultra shorts.  let the market sort it out, and if readers don't want it, they won't buy it or Amazon will tweak something to make it a non-issue.


Isn't that the very definition of "a race to the bottom"?

I would have thought most authors think more highly of their readers than to emulate what the scammers are doing.

If someone is doing something dodgy, that makes the reading experience worse for customers, the right thing to do is call them out on it and try to get them to act ethically, not join them, I would have thought...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mike_Author on December 01, 2014, 01:10:07 AM
Your designation of awful is simply an opinion, one that conveniently fits with your own work, which you designate as "very good."  However, I'm sure some people would have the opposite opinion.  I try and keep my own artistic and personal opinions from infringing on my business decisions.  So if the climate forces me to write romance, or write horror, or sci-fi, shorts or novels, I'm ready to adapt.

Whether or not something's "awful" has not much to do with my job of writing what people and the market wants.
P.S. I've often seen that people designate certain genre's or trends as awful or bad when it means reality didn't conform to their wishes.  Unfortunately, reality is what it is, and people read what they read.  My job is not to critique the public but to give them what they want using my craft and my abilities.


linked to my previous post, search for Archie Fraser on Amazon (the subject of the main scammers thread on here) and give us your view as to whether "awful" could be purely subjective...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KerryT2012 on December 01, 2014, 03:15:06 AM
Find your own system.  Try new things.  Instead of crying foul all the time, take a different shot at the basket, play defense, rework your playbook.  But don't just think the world will change itself to suit your opinions, cuz that doesn't seem like a good bet.

I agree, everyone's journey is different. I must admit I am a fan of Deborah Bladon and I do buy her series. She states there are cliffhangers and people buy it based on her storylines and characters. This has to be treated as a business and the same way Amazon, Apple etc come out with new models, we have to do the same thing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jan Hurst-Nicholson on December 01, 2014, 05:27:47 AM
@ Joe: scamlets is a combination of pamphlet and scam.   The term refers strictly to the short copy and pasted short brochures.    Usually found in the self help category.
Love,
creator of the word scamlet.

At last - a new word that we know the origin of (sorry about ending the sentence with of  ::)).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 01, 2014, 05:41:39 AM
Quote
scamlets is a combination of pamphlet and scam.   The term refers strictly to the short copy and pasted short brochures

And maybe the people who are responsible for them should be called scamleteers.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 01, 2014, 06:40:30 AM
Isn't that the very definition of "a race to the bottom"?

I would have thought most authors think more highly of their readers than to emulate what the scammers are doing.

If someone is doing something dodgy, that makes the reading experience worse for customers, the right thing to do is call them out on it and try to get them to act ethically, not join them, I would have thought...

What about writing shorts is unethical, though? Scamlets that trigger the 10% after the title page, I can understand, but anything else, what's the big deal? Even auto generated content isn't technically unethical if the original content is cc or in the public domain.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: AnyaWrites on December 01, 2014, 07:20:04 AM
My experience with KU was positive. I had one series in (6 short stories) and one out (4 short stories). Both were past the 30 day mark. Although my sales decreased on amazon, borrows more than made up for it, and sales for my other non-KU series increased. It was amazing how my series that's not in KU kept getting increasing sales even after the 90 day mark. I can contribute this to two things:
1. People borrowing a book in KU and then wanting to read another of my series.
2. Having the first book permafree.

I'm out of KU now, and I've started publishing those books across all platforms. My sales on amazon have remained steady without KU but won't equal last months since I have no borrows. My Barnes & Noble and Google have doubled from last month so this will make up the difference.

I think KU is an ideal place to get new readers. But as soon as the 90 days are up on those books, I'd move off the KU island and publish everywhere you can. Recycle, repeat.

Caveat: My experience is with erotic romance.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 01, 2014, 07:22:22 AM
Quote
And maybe the people who are responsible for them should be called scamleteers.

Almost snorted tea out my nose. Thanks for that!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on December 01, 2014, 08:35:43 AM
I've mentioned this elsewhere, Holly, but I know where you're coming from. My Amazon sales are 40% of pre-KU numbers. The recent BB has increased this month's royalty by around $1000 but even with that I am down around 50%. The BB is obviously short term so next month I assume the 60% drop will be back as my new normal. Thank God for the other channels is all I can say. Without them, I might have needed a (cough cough) real job again!

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

Only 2 of 12 titles are in Select. I think they'll come out in Jan.

Ditto on audio sales. They've vanished.

Someone mentioned that my lost revenue (and others) should be showing up elsewhere, but it's not. The funds should have flowed somewhere else, but Amazon as a whole took a huge hit 3rd quarter. The buyers didn't reinvest their new found funds into something else on Amazon. Instead, Amazon just lost their revenue. (Yes, I realize part of their losses has to do with the amazing phone that flopped). But we are all part of the same ecosystem.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on December 01, 2014, 08:40:27 AM
Short works, books priced under $2.99, new releases, Serial Novels. Those are the only things I would consider good choices for KU. Serials would most likely benefit your other, novel-length, books if they tied into them in some way. That way KU is working to boost the sales of your higher priced works.



That was my thinking, but nope. The only titles I enrolled were priced at $2.99 or lower and shorter works. It didn't increase novel sales enough to offset the loss. Actually, it didn't increase novel sales much at all b/c the KU buyer and your reg buyer are 2 different ppl. Basically, KU cannibalized revenue. :(
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on December 01, 2014, 08:47:19 AM
Yes! I have always considered Select and now KU as a set of marketing tools. How they impact our sales will depend on how skillfully we learn to use them.

Oh man, they are NOT. And it they are, then they have the worst ROI known to man.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 01, 2014, 08:51:14 AM
Yes, but until someone brings up a concrete example, you have writers in these threads claiming that serialized work is ruining the store, that readers are turning against it, that short work is just "chopped up novels."  [redacted]

Who said that? I sure didn't, and I don't recall seeing anyone else say that, either.

Isn't that the very definition of "a race to the bottom"?

I would have thought most authors think more highly of their readers than to emulate what the scammers are doing.

If someone is doing something dodgy, that makes the reading experience worse for customers, the right thing to do is call them out on it and try to get them to act ethically, not join them, I would have thought...

Thank you!

What about writing shorts is unethical, though? Scamlets that trigger the 10% after the title page, I can understand, but anything else, what's the big deal? Even auto generated content isn't technically unethical if the original content is cc or in the public domain.

Nothing is wrong with shorts and serials. What appears to have happened is a couple people came to the conversation, late, when we were discussing scammers (one topic), and how there is a difference between a serial and a novel that has been cut up and sold in pieces (a different topic), and assumed we were lumping all short stories and serials in with the scammers.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 01, 2014, 08:52:27 AM
And maybe the people who are responsible for them should be called scamleteers.



Love it!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 01, 2014, 09:12:03 AM
Quote
And maybe the people who are responsible for them should be called scamleteers.

Almost snorted tea out my nose. Thanks for that!

Sorry bout that. Hope it didn't make your keyboard too sticky!  :)

Love it!

Thank you.   :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 01, 2014, 09:25:51 AM
That was my thinking, but nope. The only titles I enrolled were priced at $2.99 or lower and shorter works. It didn't increase novel sales enough to offset the loss. Actually, it didn't increase novel sales much at all b/c the KU buyer and your reg buyer are 2 different ppl. Basically, KU cannibalized revenue. :(

Just to play devil's advocate, though, what about the thirty and ninety day cliffs? If borrows affect ranking and rankings affect the also-bots, then by not being in KU, especially for the first three months after a release, isn't that going to set you back?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on December 01, 2014, 09:26:58 AM
Oh man, they are NOT. And it they are, then they have the worst ROI known to man.

Holly, I really respect you. But for some authors they have been a great marketing tool. I've had readers tell me they wishlisted my novellas and then got them on KU. They weren't going to buy the books until they discounted in price.

My ROI has been great for KU, but it is starting to peter out now that I've been in for 6 months. I am now planning to take my books out because I'm changing tactics. But I wouldn't be able to do that without the money I've earned since July from KU. For me, an author just rebooting my career in a new genre, that happens to sell well, the 2,000 + borrows I've had was real money that I was not making on other channels. Now that I have a decent catalog building, and my borrows per title has dropped significantly in the program, I can afford to go to other channels.

The new normal is that some readers are using KU. That's not going to change. As publishers, we just have to figure out if that population of readers will borrow our books enough to offset the earnings of other channels. For you, that didn't happen. But other authors have seen great earnings in KU. It doesn't change what or how the KU program behaves, the only variables are the individual books and authors.

Anyway, I appreciate you sharing information. I'm sorry to hear about your child, and I hope you find a way to rebound your earnings. :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 01, 2014, 09:41:51 AM
The issue with regards to what constitutes a "real" serial seems to stem from the fact readers are paying for the content. Because fan fiction is hugely success as serialized fiction, and you don't see people complaining about that. On the contrary, people eat that stuff up, and eagerly await the next chapter/instalment. So whatever's happening on Amazon isn't a new phenomenon, and it has its audience. Works like this aren't just chopped up novels, they're planned and written episodically, in most cases without a novel in mind. 

I think the definition of serial needs to be expanded to include things like this.

There's nothing wrong with the extreme long form.

However, there are still arcs in that. That isn't what's going on here because people on this very board have talked about how they have a complete novel done and ready, but instead of publishing it as-s or re-jigging it to be a serial, they intend to just put it out chapter by chapter purely to abuse the mechanics of KU.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 01, 2014, 09:42:34 AM
In the news today:

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Amazon.com (AMZN) are down 2.75% to $329.32 after Moody's investors service lowered its outlook for Amazon's credit rating to "negative" from "stable" after the online retailer said it would issue a "substantial" level of new senior unsecured notes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

◾AMAZON.COM INC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year.

--------------

My, what a surprise.   "...experienced a steep decline in earnings per share..."     "...somewhat volatile earnings..."
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mercia McMahon on December 01, 2014, 09:50:26 AM
I like shorter works myself, under 50k. When I get a book on my Kindle and the locations go on forever, it's daunting. I'm very impatient. I want to read it and get to my next book I have waiting. I will avoid buying long books. Not that I haven't read long ones. I've read the entire Harry Potter series. Lol. There's a place for shorter even if you hear "it's too short" every time. There are plenty of people like me who want shorter. I like urban fantasy under 50k. So much is long.

This is exactly my view, but we are not two a penny on kboards. Like you I get frustrated with wordcount bloat because I want to get on to a new story. 50,000 word novels were the norm back in the 80s and I hope that POD brings wordcounts back down again from the eBook inspired anything not an epic is not a novel outlook. Of course if the wordcounts drop then the subscription services are in even more trouble.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 01, 2014, 09:54:11 AM
Oh man, they are NOT. And it they are, then they have the worst ROI known to man.

Holly, do you feel Scribd paying out a 70% royalty of list price makes it more viable for authors, or are there other considerations? Thanks!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on December 01, 2014, 10:40:13 AM
My sales are down 60% and not in Select, so no, borrows aren't eating my sales.

Yeah, but look at it on the bright side. Every book you are no longer selling is sold by some other writer. That's positive. I mean the sale is not lost. It just that someone else gets it. Ebook sales didn't go down 60 per cent overall.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 01, 2014, 10:50:08 AM
Yeah, but at it on the bright side. Every book you are no longer selling is sold by some other writer. That's positive. I mean the sale is not lost. It just that someone else gets it.

I'm sorry, but I just HAVE to ask this. Are you over twelve years of age?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on December 01, 2014, 10:55:59 AM
Someone mentioned that my lost revenue (and others) should be showing up elsewhere, but it's not. The funds should have flowed somewhere else, but Amazon as a whole took a huge hit 3rd quarter. The buyers didn't reinvest their new found funds into something else on Amazon. Instead, Amazon just lost their revenue.
The book part of Amazon did not lose revenue. So your lost sales did go to other writers. I think it might be smart if you Rosalind and Hugh talked and came with a roadmap that would work for indies your size. Again I don't mind if they lower the borrow rate to $1 for us small indies to double the All Star bonus for big indies. You guys are part of the ecosystem. You guys being part of KU also floats my boat.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on December 01, 2014, 10:58:53 AM
Yeah, but at it on the bright side. Every book you are no longer selling is sold by some other writer. That's positive. I mean the sale is not lost. It just that someone else gets it. Ebook sales didn't go down 60 per cent overall.

Nope. See this:

In the news today:

NEW YORK (TheStreet)

AMAZON.COM INC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 01, 2014, 11:08:39 AM
Generalisation. My sales are down 60% and not in Select, so no, borrows aren't eating my sales. I'm sure Hugh has lost sales to borrows, but a lot of us are not in Select.

Sorry to hear that. I've seen a number of people, both those in Select and those who aren't, report their November sales were significantly lower than previous months. I haven't done any research on November sales in previous years, but I do wonder how much of this decline could be seasonal. Thanksgiving dinner is fun but can get expensive, traveling to see family is costly, so people may be spending less on things like books. They may also be saving up for Christmas.

I'd love to see some data on Nov. book sales, year over year.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 01, 2014, 11:13:11 AM
The book part of Amazon did not lose revenue.

Where did you see that data?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: tessblunt on December 01, 2014, 11:14:26 AM
I'm sticking with KU for now and here's why:

Amazon is 90% of my revenue, and of that, KU borrows (assuming $1.00/borrow) account for 40%.
I honestly don't understand how people sell books on iTunes/B&N/GP/Kobo, and I have zero faith in any of those companies surviving in the book selling business long-term anyway. For me, my time and resources are better spent maximizing sales on Amazon. That being said, I have a very short-term outlook for this business in general. I know in my heart that books are a commodity and that eventually consumers will not want to pay for books al la carte. There's just too much content flooding the market; not to mention we're competing with tv, movies, music, videogames, facebook, etc. for people's time and money.

I've seen the writing on the wall for years now. I remember in 2011 when a sales rank of 1500 meant you were making 500-600 sales per day. Nowadays you can break the Amazon top 100 with 600-700 sales (not even). We can add decreased visibility, increased competition, lower sales, and lower price points to the list with death and taxes.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 01, 2014, 11:19:53 AM
The book part of Amazon did not lose revenue.

Please could you post the link or tell us where you found out about this data?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 01, 2014, 11:22:39 AM
Sorry to hear that. I've seen a number of people, both those in Select and those who aren't, report their November sales were significantly lower than previous months. I haven't done any research on November sales in previous years, but I do wonder how much of this decline could be seasonal. Thanksgiving dinner is fun but can get expensive, traveling to see family is costly, so people may be spending less on things like books. They may also be saving up for Christmas.

I'd love to see some data on Nov. book sales, year over year.

Anecdotal, but last year, November was miserable around here too.

I figured it had something to do with almost a million people being put temporarily out of work last year, but it was the same for most this year. Unsurprising given travel costs, saving for the holidays, etc.

No data for the year before last, as I was too giddy about getting $20 back then to notice if that was good or not.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SevenDays on December 01, 2014, 11:24:48 AM
Where did you see that data?

I'm sure the mods would frown very hard if drno posted a picture of his butt.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on December 01, 2014, 11:34:18 AM
Just to play devil's advocate, though, what about the thirty and ninety day cliffs? If borrows affect ranking and rankings affect the also-bots, then by not being in KU, especially for the first three months after a release, isn't that going to set you back?

I had new releases that were launched while in KU and total sales + lends were WAY lower than normal. What does that mean? Not sure. Maybe ppl grabbed the book and never opened it. Or they grabbed it, turned on airplane mode, and then deleted it before KU knew it was read. No idea. On average, I release 2 books per month. There was a decline in sales when KU launched, but not 75% worth.

I had non exclusive terms, so this doesn't account for other platforms, only amazon while in KU for 60 days. They also advertised one of my books. It didn't help make up the difference. Some ppl may be thinking that's b/c I'm an anomaly. I thought that too until I started talking to other writers who are in my ball park. They're seeing the same thing. I have 60+ books, lots of new titles, and if I'm at the top of the KU list for the entire 60 days I was enrolled and lost a LOT of money, then something is wrong with the model.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lydniz on December 01, 2014, 11:34:41 AM
I'm sure the mods would frown very hard if drno posted a picture of his butt.

I think I love you. :-*
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 01, 2014, 11:39:56 AM
I think I love you. :-*

Laughing so hard I can't breathe!

Anecdotal, but last year, November was miserable around here too.

I figured it had something to do with almost a million people being put temporarily out of work last year, but it was the same for most this year. Unsurprising given travel costs, saving for the holidays, etc.

No data for the year before last, as I was too giddy about getting $20 back then to notice if that was good or not.

Thanks for your input, Vaal. That is what I suspected. I'm going to try to dig up some hard data on it tonight, if there is any to be found.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SevenDays on December 01, 2014, 11:40:15 AM
I think I love you. :-*

;D
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 01, 2014, 11:42:39 AM
I'm sure the mods would frown very hard if drno posted a picture of his butt.

Time for the cattle prod! ;D
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Monique on December 01, 2014, 11:43:25 AM
Sorry Holly, are you saying your sales at other outlets were roughly the same as usual? And it was just Amazon that suffered the 75% earnings drop?

This and also, would you mind sharing what % of your overall sales are AZ?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on December 01, 2014, 11:43:35 AM
Holly, do you feel Scribd paying out a 70% royalty of list price makes it more viable for authors, or are there other considerations? Thanks!

Ah, Scribd. That's a hot button for me. They've been allowing the pirating of my books and have been such a PITA that I had to hire someone to manage it. I've sent thousands of take down notices to them. I still think they're not looking out for the author. None of my books are supposed to be over there. :(
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on December 01, 2014, 11:49:11 AM
Sorry Holly, are you saying your sales at other outlets were roughly the same as usual? And it was just Amazon that suffered the 75% earnings drop?

Yes, it was only Amazon and it occurred AFTER enrolling the books in KU. So I lost 75% of my income from kdp in 60 days. As soon as the books were withdrawn, sales began to perk back up. Amazon makes up more than 50% of my sales. Apple is gaining ground, then B&N, then Kobo.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on December 01, 2014, 11:50:43 AM
I had new releases that were launched while in KU and total sales + lends were WAY lower than normal. What does that mean? Not sure. Maybe ppl grabbed the book and never opened it. Or they grabbed it, turned on airplane mode, and then deleted it before KU knew it was read. No idea. On average, I release 2 books per month. There was a decline in sales when KU launched, but not 75% worth.

I had non exclusive terms, so this doesn't account for other platforms, only amazon while in KU for 60 days. They also advertised one of my books. It didn't help make up the difference. Some ppl may be thinking that's b/c I'm an anomaly. I thought that too until I started talking to other writers who are in my ball park. They're seeing the same thing. I have 60+ books, lots of new titles, and if I'm at the top of the KU list for the entire 60 days I was enrolled and lost a LOT of money, then something is wrong with the model.

I'm not at your level Holly, but from a purely business point of view your theory makes sense. Ppl are loading their plates at the KU buffet and its showing in just about every other place.

I pulled my books two months after KU started. I feel I was lucky that my 90 days ended when it did so I had the opportunity to make that move. Went wide with everything. B&N is up 28%. Apple is up 34%. Kobo is up. Everywhere is up. Except Amazon, which is way down.

For the first time since I published I'm looking forward to Googles numbers more than I am Amazons. I think that says it all right there.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on December 01, 2014, 12:02:49 PM
I'm at the top of the KU list for the entire 60 days I was enrolled and lost a LOT of money, then something is wrong with the model.
I'm afraid there is nothing wrong with the model. It seems to be industry wide.

response 1: book revenue did not go down, it went up: Before the third quarter, North American media sales were increasing an average of 15 percent year over year. The latest increase was less than 5 percent, which made it the slowest quarterly
growth for the category in five years.

Holly's problem explained: Amazon’s chief financial officer, Thomas J. Szkutak, said in a conference call with analysts after the earnings were released that a shift to renting textbooks rather than buying them ...... were responsible for the drop.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/technology/to-gain-the-upper-hand-amazon-disrupts-itself.html?_r=0

The people here saying Amazon had lost 250 million are wrong: Analysts were expecting the usual gangbusters third quarter. But it was about $250 million short of forecasts.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 01, 2014, 12:04:56 PM
Ah, Scribd. That's a hot button for me. They've been allowing the pirating of my books and have been such a PITA that I had to hire someone to manage it. I've sent thousands of take down notices to them. I still think they're not looking out for the author. None of my books are supposed to be over there. :(

Thanks Holly. I do know that when folks like me ("very" low totem pole) distribute through Smashwords or D2D, there's a digital ID created that then searches for similar or same work, and takes care of pirated editions.

For you, I "believe" at your level you can distribute directly through Scribd (no idea about Oyster) and get the same protection that way.

Evidently, because of the massive pirating, Scribd had to initiate something that worked pretty well to some degree to get the distribution contracts with SW and D2D.

Regardless of whether Scribd's model is "sustainable" - I would think you could distribute through them while they're around and collect full royalties within a subscription program, and not be exclusive. My contact at Scribd is Alison, and she can direct you to whoever handles an author of your sales level. All the best, for "all" of us :-)

Disclosure, I've kept a few titles in Scribd (via Smashwords), am 2/3 of the way trying Kindle Unlimited, and, if I return in-total or in part to Scribd, will probably opt for D2D.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 01, 2014, 12:06:02 PM
I'm sure the mods would frown very hard if drno posted a picture of his butt.

BUM TIMES FOR INDIES!!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on December 01, 2014, 12:24:20 PM
I'm afraid there is nothing wrong with the model. It seems to be industry wide.

response 1: book revenue did not go down, it went up: Before the third quarter, North American media sales were increasing an average of 15 percent year over year. The latest increase was less than 5 percent, which made it the slowest quarterly
growth for the category in five years.

Holly's problem explained: Amazon's chief financial officer, Thomas J. Szkutak, said in a conference call with analysts after the earnings were released that a shift to renting textbooks rather than buying them ...... were responsible for the drop.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/technology/to-gain-the-upper-hand-amazon-disrupts-itself.html?_r=0

The people here saying Amazon had lost 250 million are wrong: Analysts were expecting the usual gangbusters third quarter. But it was about $250 million short of forecasts.


Thanks for that link. Yes, that article does explain what's happening pretty well. It posits what some of us have been asserting: books are a loss leader. Amazon does not care about making a profit on books.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Molly Tomorrow on December 01, 2014, 12:25:48 PM
Thanks Holly. I do know that when folks like me ("very" low totem pole) distribute through Smashwords or D2D, there's a digital ID created that then searches for similar or same work, and takes care of pirated editions.

The fact that Scibd will only proactively combat piracy if you sign up with them is the one reason I will never sign up with them.

I'm all for maximising income, but that one just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 01, 2014, 01:00:17 PM
The fact that Scibd will only proactively combat piracy if you sign up with them is the one reason I will never sign up with them.

I'm all for maximising income, but that one just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

It's not that they WILL only proactively combat piracy for books in their catalog, it's that it's the only way they CAN.

See, the way they detect piracy is via a program that matches text vs. other books in the catalog. If you're not in their catalog, they can only spotfix things as they're bought to their attention and the pirates* are very aggressive about adding books back when they're taken down.


*The guys abusing Scribd are not pirates, they are plagiarists. They're trying to profit by posting your work, not just taking it to read on their own.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Evan of the R. on December 01, 2014, 01:11:21 PM
Where did you see that data?

Please could you post the link or tell us where you found out about this data?

I'm sure the mods would frown very hard if drno posted a picture of his butt.

Thanks for that link. Yes, that article does explain what's happening pretty well. It posits what some of us have been asserting: books are a loss leader. Amazon does not care about making a profit on books.

Guys...

Look, I'm not drno, nor was meant to be, and I don't know about Amazon's present quarter financials.

But I do know that when the Justice Department investigated Amazon's books, they found that Amazon's ebook division had never lost money.

As Chris put it at TeleRead,

Quote
Yes, it discounted a lot of (but not all) New York Times bestseller hardcovers to $9.99. But it turned a profit on e-books overall. (The government acknowledged this, in its anti-trust complaint, calling Amazon’s e-book business “consistently profitable”—exactly what a predatory pricer would not be.)

Source: http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/amazons-monopoly-is-not-predatory/

Original document: http://ia601206.us.archive.org/6/items/gov.uscourts.nysd.394628/gov.uscourts.nysd.394628.113.0.pdf

In this case, drno very well might be right. When it was investigated by the Justice Department, the ebooks division of Amazon had always turned a profit.

There's no need for anyone to post any pictures of any butts.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 01, 2014, 01:25:40 PM
He did say that Amazon did not lose book revenues. But they did take a profits hit on digital sales which includes ebooks....so revenues were down. Semantics et al.... Anyway, I'll butt out.


(https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcReeVo-rvXoftoYPWag13cvFPbcvigE2L-DUgcbotwx0ioh9Cy4)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 01, 2014, 01:42:05 PM
Quote
BUM TIMES FOR INDIES!!

Colin, that's the second time today you've made me almost lose my tea.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SevenDays on December 01, 2014, 01:51:03 PM
BUM TIMES FOR INDIES!!

LOL!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 01, 2014, 01:55:10 PM
It's not that they WILL only proactively combat piracy for books in their catalog, it's that it's the only way they CAN.

See, the way they detect piracy is via a program that matches text vs. other books in the catalog. If you're not in their catalog, they can only spotfix things as they're bought to their attention and the pirates* are very aggressive about adding books back when they're taken down.


*The guys abusing Scribd are not pirates, they are plagiarists. They're trying to profit by posting your work, not just taking it to read on their own.

Better said than what I was trying to come up with :-)

It's not a perfect system (YouTube has a similar system with similar pros & cons) but seems to work pretty well so far.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 01, 2014, 02:03:45 PM
Kindle sales with Kindle Unlimited are very strong as per this report : http://www.iknowtoday.com/2014/12/01/amazon-kindle-fire-sales-soar-black-friday/

Whether the borrow rate will reach a floor, rise, or continue dropping, there's gonna be millions more folk using KU, even if for a short time.

Will this push Apple into offering a subscription program for ebooks, pre-bundled on every iPhone, iPad, and Mac?

This is like a cliffhanger in real life folks! :-)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: B.A. Spangler on December 01, 2014, 02:14:28 PM
I honestly don't understand how people sell books on iTunes/B&N/GP/Kobo, and I have zero faith in any of those companies surviving in the book selling business long-term anyway.

Who is to say that Amazon will survive long term?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: John Ellsworth on December 01, 2014, 02:24:52 PM
I submitted book 6 of my 6 book series to preorder publication today. It did not go into KU. 3 books of my series drop out of KU this month.

I'm getting my rights back.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 01, 2014, 03:27:23 PM
Quote
BUM TIMES FOR INDIES!!

Colin, that's the second time today you've made me almost lose my tea.

Very sorry CG.

Perhaps you should try coffee. 

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: 555aaa on December 01, 2014, 04:11:00 PM

Will this push Apple into offering a subscription program for ebooks, pre-bundled on every iPhone, iPad, and Mac?


No because an iPad is a tablet, not a reading device. A Kindle is a reading device and sometimes it's a tablet also and sometimes not.

I did hear an interesting remark on CNBC this morning, that iPhone users purchase 4X as much stuff online per capita as Android users. That's the Apple way - have the 25% of the market that has 75% of the money.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on December 01, 2014, 04:12:46 PM
I did hear an interesting remark on CNBC this morning, that iPhone users purchase 4X as much stuff online per capita as Android users.

Well, yes. Who wants to give their credit card to Google?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 01, 2014, 04:25:08 PM
No because an iPad is a tablet, not a reading device. A Kindle is a reading device and sometimes it's a tablet also and sometimes not.

I did hear an interesting remark on CNBC this morning, that iPhone users purchase 4X as much stuff online per capita as Android users. That's the Apple way - have the 25% of the market that has 75% of the money.

I think all these big media, now multi-media companies, like Apple and Amazon, are positioning themselves best they can while they can. Win, and they stay world class enterprises. Lose, and it can be a mighty quick fall, ala Barnes & Noble. Not that any one company can't come back, but the speed a competitor zips by and takes market share - wow! It's good we can communicate in places like here, and share what we know, or at least think we do :-) Best wishes. Heading for an evening of TV and reading with wife. 'Night all.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mike_Author on December 01, 2014, 04:29:57 PM
What about writing shorts is unethical, though? Scamlets that trigger the 10% after the title page, I can understand, but anything else, what's the big deal? Even auto generated content isn't technically unethical if the original content is cc or in the public domain.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing shorts that are written as shorts, or even the traditional serial which is chopped into sections, each with its own particular natural arc.

We are talking specifically about novels arbitrarily chopped into pieces to game KU and annoy readers in the process. 

I saw someone a few pages back suggest that readers don't mind this - a proposition which boggles the mind.  Who on earth would prefer to have to return to Amazon, navigate to each page and click the buy (or borrow) button for each chapter?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: LyraParish on December 01, 2014, 04:37:17 PM
I enrolled also thinking it was the best thing to do and I wish I never would have. I'm in no way a heavy hitter but my 30-50 books sales per day have dropped below 10, sometimes even 5, and my KU borrows look like Grumpy Cat averaging 2-5 a day. Can't wait until January 11th comes so I can forget it ever happened. :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: busywoman on December 01, 2014, 05:23:58 PM
What about writing shorts is unethical, though? Scamlets that trigger the 10% after the title page, I can understand, but anything else, what's the big deal? Even auto generated content isn't technically unethical if the original content is cc or in the public domain.

Nothing about writing short form is unethical or even bad. Short - by itself - isn't the issue.

Scamleteers who steal others' work is the problem. Amazon subsidizing them is a problem. The two are interrelated problems.

Scammers deliberately do shorter works because (1) it is faster to generate shorter items when you're a thief; (2) it is easier to get 10% read. Amazon gives a nod and a wink to the whole thing.  Amazon pays them for stealing other people's work by giving them the same borrow payment as authors who write original works.

Amazon needs to implement better quality control and a better author payment model that doesn't allow scammers to have open season.

I don't have any books in KU.  But I have had my work stolen and used as the basis for machine-generated drivel that Amazon is giving scammers the financial incentive to create. My work  (nonfiction) is published online. Just because it is online does not mean it is in the public domain. It is copyrighted work.

What Amazon is doing right now is similar to what Google enabled for years with "made for AdSense" or MFA websites.   It took pressure to get Google to deal with the problem. That scam went on literally for years. My fear is that it ends up taking Amazon as long to crack down as it took Google.

Obviously I care about this particular issue in nonfiction because MY bottom line is being affected.

That said, it is not the sole or even the main reason authors are seeing sales drop. It is part of a multifaceted set of problems.  It is symptomatic of an author payment model that needs adjustment.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steph Ran on December 02, 2014, 09:49:41 AM
I had new releases that were launched while in KU and total sales + lends were WAY lower than normal. What does that mean? Not sure. Maybe ppl grabbed the book and never opened it. Or they grabbed it, turned on airplane mode, and then deleted it before KU knew it was read. No idea. On average, I release 2 books per month. There was a decline in sales when KU launched, but not 75% worth.

Customers have limited Time and Money. When books cost too much money, customer choose safe bets, like you and other people who already made it to the big lists. That way they don't "waste" their money.

When KU said, "Money = flat $10 for UNLIMITED select titles," suddenly time was the only currency, a currency with less immediate risk. So they were able to take risks and try new things, like us lower tax bracket indies who before no one wanted to take a chance on.

When KU hit, my meager profits trippled, maybe more, though the scale is a lot smaller. Your usual new customers went wide and borrowed maybe your first book, then my first book, then A, B, and C's instead of taking the usual safe route of hoarding all of the popular books to stay up with the trends at work/school.

@everyone else, I agree that I prefer shorter books and long series! If Harry Potter was 21 books, I probably would have actually read them all by now. If the Sword of Truth series was 36 books, I probably wouldn't have just listened to the audio instead of reading them.

Does anyone remember John Norman's Gor series? It's like 30 shorter books that are perfect for a few hours of reading time and feeling like something is accomplished.

Narnia anyone? Those books are very short, but all together make up a nice, rounded series that just about everyone's read by age 30.

I have adult ADD, as I'm sure many readers have even of they don't know it. I also have a day job, a family, and an extraordinarily slow reading speed, so I don't have a lot of time when I'm not busy to just read.

If I pick up a book and I can't finish it in a week, I'll either never finish it because I'll forget what happened earlier and it will be a subject of personal shame to me and I'll NEVER get to the other books in the series, or I'll just listen to it with my Kindle's robo vox in the car for 2 20-minute trips to and from work and finish it slowly.

20-40k is the new "book" size for modern series readers and that works perfectly for actually encouraging me to finish a "book" without being overwhelmed, perfect for my attention span, and perfect for KU ROI.

TL;DR: Modern readers are busy with ALL THE things. We like short books, short paragraphs, and long-running series.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Daniel Knight on December 02, 2014, 10:19:28 AM
Customers have limited Time and Money. When books cost too much money, customer choose safe bets, like you and other people who already made it to the big lists. That way they don't waist their money.

When KU said, "Money = flat $10 for UNLIMITED select titles," suddenly time was the only currency, a currency with less immediate risk. So they were able to take risks and try new things, like us lower tax bracket indies who before no one wanted to take a chance on.

I think that is a pretty reasonable theory. Since this thread started I've been trying to figure out where the sales for the big names would have gone too (since they aren't being made up in borrow volume) - and I think you have figured it out.

Also, I hope you are right about the tastes of the Modern Reader, as I have been working a long time on a series of novella length stories (while fighting off that little voice in the back of my head that parrots conventional wisdom that longer works sell better). As for series length, I'm planning on it running something like 120 episodes, so we'll see if I can find some readers who want to join me for the long haul. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rosalind J on December 02, 2014, 10:30:17 AM
I think it just depends on the reader. All the new short stuff is great for readers who prefer that and haven't had that option until now. My own readers really, really like long books. When I've written shorter things, they don't sell as well, and readers complain! They want long!

So--each author needs to find the best strategy for their books. I just went wide as I announced previously, first time ever, with 5 books in my first series. I'm about 10 days in, and so far so good. For novelists, I think that may be a better strategy, at least with some of your list. (I've been an All-Star each month of KU, so it's not like KU doesn't "work" for novelists, but it did cannibalize my sales, and if you sell at $4.99 or up--that does hurt.)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kathy Clark, Author on December 02, 2014, 10:37:56 AM
I wonder how much of the KU popularity right now is economy related.  With gas prices going down to $2 / gallon people can save $10 on a single tank full of gas now and jobs are much more plentiful even though the quality of jobs available are really lacking and will for years to come...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steph Ran on December 02, 2014, 10:46:09 AM
Realistically, what anyone sells ebooks for is based on an imaginary perception of value: you spend a long time on it, you think it's worth more. You're famous, your fans think it's worth more. Ebooks are just a MB or two of electronic data passed from one system to another.

It's NOT like one ounce of gold = $1,600 USA, there's no supply shortage to drive up a price, people might just be acting greedy if they can look past what they tell themselves their reasons are for boosting prices.

As a legitimately poor person, I don't buy ebooks for more than 99c unless I'm crazy about the series. I hope other people realize that there are a lot of people like me and they might make more money at $2.99 or 99c due to gross numbers than at their current lofty prices.

When people say things like, "My $5 is being borrowed for $1 and it sucks," I just think, wow, someone liked your entertainment format so much that they will pay for a service which pays you so they can spend their valuable escapism time on your material. That's lucky.

We're all lucky any of us are being paid for pressing buttons while using our brains to imagine things.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D-C on December 02, 2014, 10:57:55 AM
...Ebooks are just a MB or two of electronic data passed from one system to another.


Wow. I guess I should stop buying music too. Cos, y'know, a song is just MB passed from one machine to another.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kathy Clark, Author on December 02, 2014, 11:02:48 AM
Yeah this thread is broken...if there are authors making a living writing out there that view their work like another bag of sugar on the shelf....as a commodity, then they should just price their work for free.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rosalind J on December 02, 2014, 11:08:19 AM
Doctors (excluding surgeons) mostly get paid for listening to/looking at people, thinking, and talking. (And the education it took to get them to that point.)
Lawyers get paid for pressing buttons, listening, and talking.(And ditto.)
When I was a marketing executive, I was paid for pressing buttons, listening, and talking. (And ditto.)

Authors who sell well typically are paying a bunch of other people (even if you think the author's own efforts aren't worth compensating). But really, the amount/type of manual labor you do doesn't have much correlation to how much your job pays, and the amount of time/effort/education/money it costs a author to produce a book doesn't have much to do with the cost of tea in China. Books are "worth" what readers think they're worth. Just like movies. Some movies, people will gladly fork over the money to see in a theater. Others, they'll wait for the DVD. Still others, they wouldn't watch if you paid THEM. It's entertainment.

That said, of course if a reader can get all your books plus a slew of others for a flat fee of $10/month, vs. buying each of them for $4.99? Some of them are going to go for that.

(Others will say that there aren't enough authors in the KU pool whom they want to read--I hear that a lot.)

I don't think it's a moral judgment. It's just what works for each author and his/her individual books.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steph Ran on December 02, 2014, 11:17:30 AM
Yeah this thread is broken...if there are authors making a living writing out there that view their work like another bag of sugar on the shelf....as a commodity, then they should just price their work for free.

I'm not one of those "make all information free" neo hippies, I'm all about making a living from my work. I'm just tired of reading Allstars on the net complaining about how they're making less now that they have to share with us newbies. If it isn't working for them, they should bail. I feel for medical issues though.

And just because someone who's strongly opinionated with an unpopular view "the thread is broken"? Really?

I'm sorry for being grumpy. I read all 18 pages of this in one sitting so I'm all hopped up. Moody day I guess. I need to get back to my life-sucking, timesync where I literally click the mouse thousands of times a day day job (that's my main reason for being frustrated I think).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ChristopherDavidPetersen on December 02, 2014, 11:23:34 AM
Ok, some of you already know, but I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. Thats counting borrows and bonuses.  :o My sales dropped like a stone.

I wish I had seen this post a couple of weeks ago. I put my time travel series up on KU and INSTANTLY lost all my sales. After a week, some sales started trickling in. I'm currently running at about 75% of my previous sales levels. NEVER AGAIN will I trust any of Amazon's BS propaganda about what they can offer me.

I did write Amazon complaining about the problem and asking if they could remove my books from their program. After some "veiled" threats, one of their representatives agree to pull my books from Select without penalty. I haven't done so yet for fear they might attack  my other books (withhold their advertising). I'm holding my breath, hoping for the xmas season to "magically" increase my sales to an acceptable level.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 02, 2014, 11:36:21 AM
Realistically, what anyone sells ebooks for is based on an imaginary perception of value: you spend a long time on it, you think it's worth more. You're famous, your fans think it's worth more. Ebooks are just a MB or two of electronic data passed from one system to another.

It's NOT like one ounce of gold = $1,600 USA, there's no supply shortage to drive up a price, people might just be acting greedy if they can look past what they tell themselves their reasons are for boosting prices.

As a legitimately poor person, I don't buy ebooks for more than 99c unless I'm crazy about the series. I hope other people realize that there are a lot of people like me and they might make more money at $2.99 or 99c due to gross numbers than at their current lofty prices.

When people say things like, "My $5 is being borrowed for $1 and it sucks," I just think, wow, someone liked your entertainment format so much that they will pay for a service which pays you so they can spend their valuable escapism time on your material. That's lucky.

We're all lucky any of us are being paid for pressing buttons while using our brains to imagine things.

As you said, with a slight paraphrase on my part, a book IS NOT like an ounce of gold. An ounce of 99.9% pure gold is exactly like another ounce of 99.9% gold. However, a 100k word novel by one author is definitely not the same as another 100K word novel written by anyone else. That's where your 'short supply' analogy falls apart. And that's where the higher price is justified. Producing books is a skill. Some people have basic inherent talents, and if nurtured, they can grow to become a formidable presence in the literary world. It's up to the individual to develop their basic skills.

For years I've been telling people who aspire to become authors and novelists that it's always QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Those who ignore that simple advice, in my opinion, are merely writers. That distinction doesn't agree with the simplistic definition from a standard dictionary, which makes all such terms synonymous, but it serves for my elucidation. Amazon and its KU reward writers, while authors and novelists are falling behind. Ultimately, if the present system persists, authors will have to step down to the level of writers in order to succeed on Amazon. You can't spend four to six months writing a book, paying substantial sums for quality editing, proofreading and cover art, and then give it away for a buck or less through the KU. It makes more sense to write short stories, ignore editing, and get your covers from people through FIVERR. In other words, at Amazon, drek now pays.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 02, 2014, 11:41:48 AM
I'm just tired of reading Allstars on the net complaining about how they're making less now that they have to share with us newbies. If it isn't working for them, they should bail. I feel for medical issues though.

So, poor people are the only people who have a right to be upset when their income tanks? And this isn't about an Allstar complaining about sharing sales with newbies. It's about anyone who worked hard to get where they are taking a loss. It hurts. It hurts whether you were poor to begin with, rich to begin with, or somewhere in between.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steph Ran on December 02, 2014, 11:47:13 AM
That's a great point. There's still an unlimited supply of each ebook, but skill and quality do play a large roll in value. That makes sense. If there were unlimited ore for swords, you don't care about the ore price, the price is demanded by the skill of the sword smith.

And your other point is good too, to a point. Amazon doesn't care about quality (OBVIOUSLY lol) as we see time and time again. If people buy, Amazon sells it. They don't care if X and X's fans consider X's swanky quality a bonus, they want global boosts in sales, thus the new, more even playing field of KU.

I really hope someone big (Alibaba maybe) steps up to 50:50 the market share a little better.

@vlmain: Not everyone worked hard to make it big. Some were quite surprised. I've been writing and editing since I was fourteen and dragging myself through the mires of life and I don't complain when I have a month of no sales. I celebrate the spikes I get :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 02, 2014, 11:52:47 AM
First off two little things:
Where is gas $2 a gallon?   Paid 2.50 for the cheap stuff yesterday.
And gold is under $1200 an ounce right now.
PS if you need a job, I know where there are hundreds.    Just bring your own place to sleep.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 02, 2014, 11:58:57 AM
@vlmain: Not everyone worked hard to make it big. Some were quite surprised. I've been writing and editing since I was fourteen and dragging myself through the mires of life and I don't complain when I have a month of no sales. I celebrate the spikes I get :)

I was pleasantly surprised when my business took off. That doesn't mean I didn't work my *ss off.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 02, 2014, 12:05:18 PM
I'm not one of those "make all information free" neo hippies, I'm all about making a living from my work. I'm just tired of reading Allstars on the net complaining about how they're making less now that they have to share with us newbies. If it isn't working for them, they should bail. I feel for medical issues though.

Despite what a certain someone is spewing, HM Ward's lost profits do NOT translate into more sales for you.

She isn't losing money because she lost market share, she lost money because KU's model just straight up pays her way less. Just like it pays you way less unless you're trading only in 99 cent books.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on December 02, 2014, 12:08:49 PM
So, poor people are the only people who have a right to be upset when their income tanks? And this isn't about an Allstar complaining about sharing sales with newbies. It's about anyone who worked hard to get where they are taking a loss. It hurts. It hurts whether you were poor to begin with, rich to begin with, or somewhere in between.


+1. How the OP reached his/her conclusion is beyond me.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on December 02, 2014, 12:11:49 PM
For years I've been telling people who aspire to become authors and novelists that it's always QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Those who ignore that simple advice, in my opinion, are merely writers.
I guess I'm one of those so-called "writers" publishing the "drek" that Amazon encourages us to produce.

However, I've been fairly successful at it--enough that I'm doing it full-time now for the last three plus years, and making more than I ever did in corporate America.

I think your analysis is fanciful, in that it's based on how you think the world should work and how you'd like it to be.  In that world, true artists who produce what you consider "quality work" of merit are rewarded in the end.

That doesn't square with the reality I've come to experience in this book selling business.  I spent years writing novels, crafting them, going through countless revisions, working on the stuff I deeply cared about.  And I got mostly nowhere, although i did hone my craft.

However, in the end I had to analyze the market and use my skills to write what the market and the reading audience seems to want.  In that case, I've put quantity as my absolute first priority, and it's worked out wonderfully for me.  I care about quality, but it's not spoken of with the hushed reverence that many writers seem to want to give it.

If that makes me a mere writer, I'm more than happy to take on that mantle and wear it with pride.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steph Ran on December 02, 2014, 12:26:37 PM
Despite what a certain someone is spewing, HM Ward's lost profits do NOT translate into more sales for you.

She isn't losing money because she lost market share, she lost money because KU's model just straight up pays her way less. Just like it pays you way less unless you're trading only in 99 cent books.

Despite how you feel about my vehemence, HM literally started this thread to complain about losing monthly income. She has a right to do that, and it sparked a great discussion, but she isn't the first Allstar (meaning more per month than most make per year) to talk about it and it just seems petty by now. KU market share loss for outliers is very old news by now.

KU has been a godsend to a lot of us in the community. If someone not famous had started this thread verbatim, it wouldn't have made it past page 2 in comments. A big voice wants to weigh in and people, even people who are doing great in KU, are starting to worry if they made the right choice based solely on another outlier lost market share, which might hurt their smaller businesses in the long run.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Molly Tomorrow on December 02, 2014, 12:48:51 PM
For years I've been telling people who aspire to become authors and novelists that it's always QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Those who ignore that simple advice, in my opinion, are merely writers. That distinction doesn't agree with the simplistic definition from a standard dictionary, which makes all such terms synonymous, but it serves for my elucidation. Amazon and its KU reward writers, while authors and novelists are falling behind. Ultimately, if the present system persists, authors will have to step down to the level of writers in order to succeed on Amazon. You can't spend four to six months writing a book, paying substantial sums for quality editing, proofreading and cover art, and then give it away for a buck or less through the KU. It makes more sense to write short stories, ignore editing, and get your covers from people through FIVERR. In other words, at Amazon, drek now pays.

I'm a hack. I'm a writer. I'm apparently some kind of morlock, but quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive. And for writers or whatever you want to call people who don't take six months to write a novel it does not, in my experience, make more sense to ignore editing and get covers from fiverr. Drek can pay on Amazon, it always has been able to if you know what you're doing. Quality pays better.

I'm a hack because I don't write for myself or art or whatever exactly it is that distinguishes true authors from the unwashed masses. I write to a market and I write fast. But that doesn't mean I scrimp on quality.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 02, 2014, 12:59:29 PM

I think your analysis is fanciful, in that it's based on how you think the world should work and how you'd like it to be.  In that world, true artists who produce what you consider "quality work" of merit are rewarded in the end.


In my 'fanciful' world, authors like John Grisham, Steven King, Tom Clancy (may he rest in peace), and many others would sell millions of copies of their books at prices of $15.00 and up. Oh, wait, they do. And please don't tell us that's just an anomaly. We all know different. And it's not just advertising either. You can sell millions of copies of one high-priced book by an author to the masses through advertising, but when they come back time and again, it's because of the 'quality' of the writing. And I'm not talking about perfect prose. I'm talking about skilled storytelling and 'decent' prose. A few Indies have gone on to sell millions of copies of their books, but usually it's because the books are sold at bargain basement prices. The ones who sell millions at bookstore prices, although their roots might be Indie, have generally moved to the trads.

On Amazon these days, a writer can make a damn good living writing drek. And that's fine, for as long as people will buy it. The question is, how long will Amazon, who is bleeding millions of dollars each quarter, continue to pay up to four times the normal royalty amount for drek. I wish you continued success as a writer.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steph Ran on December 02, 2014, 01:01:03 PM
Twilight. Nuf said.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 01:02:25 PM
At this point in my career, Google Play is paying me more than Amazon. Still, I attempted to launch a new pen name using only KU, and I agree that it doesn't pay.

The thing that we have to pay attention to is that services like KU are probably where the ebook market is heading. So while it doesn't pay compared to the current, perhaps dying method of selling ebooks, it may be the only real option going forward. At this point, there is no reason for Amazon to try anything else. They have absolutely no reason to find a better solution for us authors. They have all the power and have positioned themselves to set future selling trends. If they decide that we make five cents per KU read, then we have no choice but to take it with a smile on our faces, as I believe this is where the ebook market is currently trending. A lot of us are really interchangeable with other authors. If readers can't get my random new paranormal romance book through KU, I have no doubt they'll simply choose an author that provides that option.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 02, 2014, 01:03:31 PM
Cream will rise to the top. But given the right conditions, so will dross.

Just sayin'.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on December 02, 2014, 01:05:55 PM
In my 'fanciful' world, authors like John Grisham, Steven King, Tom Clancy (may he rest in peace), and many others would sell millions of copies of their books at prices of $15.00 and up. Oh, wait, they do. And please don't tell us that's just an anomaly.

---

I wish you continued success as a writer.


Two of the three authors you listed are in my top five authors that I've read for years and years.  One of those three is a writer whose style my earlier books absolutely emulated, so you won't get any argument from me that they are truly awesome.

But I will say that they're anomalies on many levels, not least of which is their talent.  They also came up at a very different time, with much different market circumstances.  It's like you're trying to say that all new rock bands should come up playing in the same clubs The Beatles did…clubs that no longer exist, to gain contracts with labels that no longer exist…for music that isn't even as popular anymore.

Thanks for your well-wishes, I absolutely will do my best to continue evolving with the changing times.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 01:07:18 PM
For years I've been telling people who aspire to become authors and novelists that it's always QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Those who ignore that simple advice, in my opinion, are merely writers. That distinction doesn't agree with the simplistic definition from a standard dictionary, which makes all such terms synonymous, but it serves for my elucidation. Amazon and its KU reward writers, while authors and novelists are falling behind. Ultimately, if the present system persists, authors will have to step down to the level of writers in order to succeed on Amazon. You can't spend four to six months writing a book, paying substantial sums for quality editing, proofreading and cover art, and then give it away for a buck or less through the KU. It makes more sense to write short stories, ignore editing, and get your covers from people through FIVERR. In other words, at Amazon, drek now pays.

It's always been like this. Compare book sales of Nobel winners compared to people like Stephen King. I'm not saying Stephen King is drek, or that popular authors are drek, but a lot of "authors" consider them to be. "Quality", whatever that may mean to people, is often unpopular.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 02, 2014, 01:10:06 PM
I'm a hack. I'm a writer. I'm apparently some kind of morlock, but quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive. And for writers or whatever you want to call people who don't take six months to write a novel it does not, in my experience, make more sense to ignore editing and get covers from fiverr. Drek can pay on Amazon, it always has been able to if you know what you're doing. Quality pays better.

I'm a hack because I don't write for myself or art or whatever exactly it is that distinguishes true authors from the unwashed masses. I write to a market and I write fast. But that doesn't mean I scrimp on quality.

It appears that my post has struck a nerve. That's a mighty big chip you have on your shoulder. As we move forward, let's just be clear on one point-- the expression 'distinguishes true authors from the unwashed masses' is your verbalism, not mine. And I never said that quality and quantity were mutually exclusive. That's another assumption by you. I said Quality OVER Quantity for people aspiring to be authors. And my term was writer, while you have chosen to call yourself a hack. The term 'hack'  leaves definite negative connotations in my mind. In my opinion a writer can be a hack if they choose to be.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Daniel Knight on December 02, 2014, 01:11:25 PM
Despite what a certain someone is spewing, HM Ward's lost profits do NOT translate into more sales for you.

She isn't losing money because she lost market share, she lost money because KU's model just straight up pays her way less. Just like it pays you way less unless you're trading only in 99 cent books.

Except HM Ward did say her total volume of sales+borrows was down dramatically, not just that she is getting paid less for borrows. This is what really peaked my curiosity. Where are all the missing sales/borrows going? Is this a downturn across the board?

Why would KU have any effect on this? Steph did present an interesting theory that the Allstars could be seeing volume dips because KU encourages people to try more unknowns - so the volume could be shifting to lesser knowns. I don't know if that is happening - but it is an interesting theory.

If that isn't the case, then what other theories are there about why KU would result in an overall volume reduction?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on December 02, 2014, 01:12:39 PM
It's always been like this. Compare book sales of Nobel winners compared to people like Stephen King. I'm not saying Stephen King is drek, or that popular authors are drek, but a lot of "authors" consider them to be. "Quality", whatever that may mean to people, is often unpopular.
Well this sums it up, really.  One person's drek is another person's pulitzer prize winning book.

I always wanted to be able to write for a living and now I do.  Call me and my books whatever you like  :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 01:15:08 PM
Except HM Ward did say her total volume of sales+borrows was down dramatically, not just that she is getting paid less for borrows. This is what really peaked my curiosity. Where are all the missing sales/borrows going? Is this a downturn across the board?

Why would KU have any effect on this? Steph did present an interesting theory that the Allstars could be seeing volume dips because KU encourages people to try more unknowns - so the volume could be shifting to lesser knowns. I don't know if that is happening - but it is an interesting theory.

If that isn't the case, then what other theories are there about why KU would result in an overall volume reduction?

The reality is that KU sales are probably flagged differently than regular sales in Amazon's various promotional algorithms. Well, there's no probably about it. It's the only explanation.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 02, 2014, 01:19:04 PM
Call me and my books whatever you like  :)

All that REALLY matters is what you think of yourself.   ;)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 02, 2014, 01:20:00 PM
I guess I'm one of those so-called "writers" publishing the "drek" that Amazon encourages us to produce.

You do advocate super-hard for it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 02, 2014, 01:22:16 PM
First off two little things:
Where is gas $2 a gallon?   Paid 2.50 for the cheap stuff yesterday.
And gold is under $1200 an ounce right now.
PS if you need a job, I know where there are hundreds.    Just bring your own place to sleep.

It's still $2.50 in Midland? That surprises me. I heard that in Texas, it could drop to under $2 this week. I'm heading down there this Christmas, so I definitely hope so!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Daniel Knight on December 02, 2014, 01:33:09 PM
The reality is that KU sales are probably flagged differently than regular sales in Amazon's various promotional algorithms. Well, there's no probably about it. It's the only explanation.

I have no reason to doubt that - and I have seen several threads that suggest KU titles are getting greater visibility or rankings boosts. So I wouldn't be surprised if a bunch of sales are becoming borrows instead - but that still doesn't answer why the total volume would be going down.  Why is (sales before KU) > (sales + borrows after KU) for the Allstars (if this in fact true across the board for the top earners)? And here I'm talking about unit sales - not "royalty" or money from the KU pool. It's clear that the shrinking payout for KU borrows will impact revenue, but I'm trying to figure out why KU would cause less total units to be sold and/or borrowed.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 02, 2014, 01:36:08 PM
It's still $2.50 in Midland? That surprises me. I heard that in Texas, it could drop to under $2 this week. I'm heading down there this Christmas, so I definitely hope so!
Joe,
Parts of Texas probably.    Where it comes out of the ground, the prices are higher.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 01:40:31 PM
I have no reason to doubt that - and I have seen several threads that suggest KU titles are getting greater visibility or rankings boosts. So I wouldn't be surprised if a bunch of sales are becoming borrows instead - but that still doesn't answer why the total volume would be going down.  Why is (sales before KU) > (sales + borrows after KU) for the Allstars (if this in fact true across the board for the top earners)? And here I'm talking about unit sales - not "royalty" or money from the KU pool. It's clear that the shrinking payout for KU borrows will impact revenue, but I'm trying to figure out why KU would cause less total units to be sold and/or borrowed.

Because it's the opposite. A borrow is likely weighted less than a sale, if it's flagged at all, on the Popular lists, which is how most people browse. This means that even if a borrow paid the same as a sale, you'd rather have people buying than borrowing. Borrows are siphoning sales -->Lower placement on Pop lists --> Less sales than normal --> Even lower placement on Pop lists. Whatever visibility KU is giving authors, it doesn't make up for the lost visibility for people that know how to use Amazon's algorithms to push sales.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steph Ran on December 02, 2014, 01:41:26 PM
I have no reason to doubt that - and I have seen several threads that suggest KU titles are getting greater visibility or rankings boosts. So I wouldn't be surprised if a bunch of sales are becoming borrows instead - but that still doesn't answer why the total volume would be going down.  Why is (sales before KU) > (sales + borrows after KU) for the Allstars (if this in fact true across the board for the top earners)? And here I'm talking about unit sales - not "royalty" or money from the KU pool. It's clear that the shrinking payout for KU borrows will impact revenue, but I'm trying to figure out why KU would cause less total units to be sold and/or borrowed.

Maybe being an outlier under one author name is a bad thing in the long run, good in the short run. There will always be new readers, but what if they're getting tired of X niche/X author and some outliers there are basically market saturated? Maybe like an enevitable migration from some hyper-prolific authors because their books are starting to blend together and seem boring?

Maybe people like HM need to start new pen names that write similar material to adapt to the new market. Linsay Buroker started a new prolific pen name and made $3000 in the first month with sales and KU.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 01:47:00 PM
Maybe being an outlier under one author name is a bad thing in the long run, good in the short run. There will always be new readers, but what if they're getting tired of X niche/X author and some outliers there are basically market saturated? Maybe like an enevitable migration from some hyper-prolific authors because their books are starting to blend together and seem boring?

Maybe people like HM need to start new pen names that write similar material to adapt to the new market. Linsay Buroker started a new prolific pen name and made $3000 in the first month with sales and KU.

HM Ward's name, social media network and mailing list is more valuable than anything starting a new pen name can give you. That's just silly. :P
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on December 02, 2014, 01:47:48 PM
If someone not famous had started this thread verbatim, it wouldn't have made it past page 2 in comments. A big voice wants to weigh in and people, even people who are doing great in KU, are starting to worry if they made the right choice based solely on another outlier lost market share, which might hurt their smaller businesses in the long run.

Bull. This concerns ALL of us. From the new authors to the outliers. Its the same concern that poor people have about the Death Estate Tax. They may not be rich enough NOW for it to affect them, but they all aspire to be rich one day, so what changes take place today can influence their future very much.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: tessblunt on December 02, 2014, 01:52:46 PM
It's clear that the shrinking payout for KU borrows will impact revenue, but I'm trying to figure out why KU would cause less total units to be sold and/or borrowed.

It's because of the hundreds of thousands of shorter works that flooded into KU that readers are now reading because they don't have to pay for them al la carte. It's not that readers aren't interested in reading "Daddy Milks Daughter 5" because it's only 17 pages long, it's that before they probably weren't willing to pay $0.99-$4.99 to read a 17 page book. I'd argue that KU has allowed for shorter works to steal marketshare from longer works, pushing them out of sales rankings, search result rankings, also boughts, top 100 lists, and overall visibility.

You think I'm wrong? Go read any of the popular erotica forums, those writers are cleaning up like it's 2012 again.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Daniel Knight on December 02, 2014, 01:53:53 PM
Because it's the opposite. A borrow is likely weighted less than a sale, if it's flagged at all, on the Popular lists, which is how most people browse. This means that even if a borrow paid the same as a sale, you'd rather have people buying than borrowing. Borrows are siphoning sales -->Lower placement on Pop lists --> Less sales than normal --> Even lower placement on Pop lists. Whatever visibility KU is giving authors, it doesn't make up for the lost visibility for people that know how to use Amazon's algorithms to push sales.

This topic came up a bunch when KU first started. A lot of people seemed to think borrows were getting weighted more than sales as a way for Amazon to tilt the game in favor of KU. But when the smoke settled it seemed like most people agreed that borrows and sales were weighted equally for ranking. If that is the case then trading a borrow for a sale shouldn't impact a person's visibility (or total unit volume).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rosalind J on December 02, 2014, 01:56:32 PM
I think one reason Holly started the thread was simply to share her experience with others, to let them know that even for her (without the exclusivity requirement), KU had a negative effect on her sales.

That does not, of course, mean it will have a negative effect on everybody's sales. But Hugh's latest data seemed to point to the same conclusion: that for authors already selling well, KU was not beneficial. (He did point out that it could be quite beneficial to those looking for visibility.)

I shared my own experience for the same reason that (I believe) Holly did: as a much less successful author but one who is doing well, and as somebody who WAS required to be exclusive to be in KU--it also doesn't seem like the best spot for me.

I'm sure it can seem like "whining" for people who are selling well to say that they are now selling less well. On the other hand--it's by sharing our experiences that we can all make more informed decisions for our own businesses. And I do think everyone who sells well feels fortunate. They're well aware, though, that this business is ever-changing and fickle. Being on the top of the heap like Holly is--that's a pretty nervous-making spot. Even being halfway up the mountain, because all it takes is one change like this, and you're falling back, wondering if this is it. I suspect that a lot of authors harbor a nervous suspicion that everybody is going to find out that they can't really write after all, and will stop buying!

(And others seem perfectly stable and don't get emotional about the ups & downs, and just keep putting in those 80-hours weeks and trusting it'll work out. I aspire to be one of those people. Someday.)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 01:57:39 PM
This topic came up a bunch when KU first started. A lot of people seemed to think borrows were getting weighted more than sales as a way for Amazon to tilt the game in favor of KU. But when the smoke settled it seemed like most people agreed that borrows and sales were weighted equally for ranking. If that is the case then trading a borrow for a sale shouldn't impact a person's visibility (or total unit volume).

This changes constantly. When Select was first released, free "sales" were weighted for pop lists, meaning that when you came out of free, you did very well. At some point, this changed, and Select became pretty much worthless. I'm really not sure about KU's history when it comes to Amazon's algorithms. All I can say for sure is that as soon as Amazon decides they're making more money pushing sales than borrows, they'll adjust their algorithms to push books not in KU.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steph Ran on December 02, 2014, 01:58:20 PM
@Randall Wood: What I meant was, not everything that's bad for a big company is bad for a little business who might me looking up to the big company for advice. If I said "KU is killing my sales, bail out!" no one would care and I'd get Internet laughs and maybe gifted a bicycle helmet sticker for my signature.

But if Hugh said to bail out of KU and hope for the best on all the other platforms where you don't already have a following, it'd work for him since he has a big name now. I don't even have to say his last name and you know who I mean. If a ton of his fans who are also indies do it, it could be detrimental to the little business, even if in the long run it might work out for them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 02, 2014, 02:03:21 PM
Looking at just Rosalind, 
If I were to buy all her books, I would have to spend $50 roughly.    It takes me roughly 3 days to read one of her books.   I could read all 10 in KU for $10.
So which would be the smarter choice for me?
(This is going on the assumption that I the reader know nothing about how it works for authors.)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 02:07:28 PM
What I meant was, not everything that's bad for a big company is bad for a little business who might me looking up to the big company for advice. If I said "KU is killing my sales, bail out!" no one would care and I'd get Internet laughs and maybe gifted a bicycle helmet sticker for my signature.

But if Hugh said to bail out of KU and hope for the best on all the other platforms where you don't already have a following, it'd work for him since he has a big name now. I don't even have to say his last name and you know who I mean. If a ton of his fans who are also indies do it, it could be detrimental to the little business, even if in the long run it might work out for them.

I understand. :)

I don't look at it that way though. I don't take HM Ward's and Hugh's advice because they're big sellers. I'm nowhere near as big, and I know very well that not all of their advice applies to me. But, I do know that they both have an understanding of Amazon's promotional algorithms and how to "sell". And I very much agree with them. If you know how to sell on Amazon, KU isn't a good idea. No matter how big your name is, you'll make more money releasing a book and supporting it by your ebook sales knowledge than you will supporting it by KU.

That doesn't mean that KU is useless. KU is great for people that do not want to go perma free, do not sell well at other outlets or don't know how to promote. There's lots of these people out there, and I'm glad that they've found something that is helping them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 02:08:45 PM
Looking at just Rosalind, 
If I were to buy all her books, I would have to spend $50 roughly.    It takes me roughly 3 days to read one of her books.   I could read all 10 in KU for $10.
So which would be the smarter choice for me?
(This is going on the assumption that I the reader know nothing about how it works for authors.)

Mhm.

The KU model is likely the future. It's just going to suck for us writers. ;)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SevenDays on December 02, 2014, 02:10:19 PM
I think one reason Holly started the thread was simply to share her experience with others, to let them know that even for her (without the exclusivity requirement), KU had a negative effect on her sales.

That's how I read it, too. I found the information useful, and I'm glad she shared.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KOwrites on December 02, 2014, 02:11:56 PM
The reality is that KU sales are probably flagged differently than regular sales in Amazon's various promotional algorithms. Well, there's no probably about it. It's the only explanation.

+1
From my own experience with KU (and subsequently getting let out of it ~ twice!), I can affirm that is exactly what happens. There is most definitely an algorithym that boost KU titles.

I am a Prime customer and tried for over an hour to go through my Kindle and borrow a book before November ended. I found two Prime books after scrolling through over 1,000 titles (on romance and literary fiction searches) and those two Prime titles were Kindle First features. It's a lot of drek and a lot of miscategorized drek at that such as Sally Does Jethro type titles and covers all labeled with KU. It's really bad. I'm not exaggerating. Use your Kindle and check it out via the supposed Kindle Lending Library link. It's terrible.


Back to Holly, I'm sorry for your troubles with Amazon and income in a time when you need it for the medical issues with your son. I hope things get better. In an aside, there has been a lot of talk about KU on this board for a long while since KU first came into being, however, like some have intimated up-thread those dissenting from glee about KU tend to get shut down. I hope your sales get better and your son gets well too and that you are also better. Stress and finances can wreak havoc. Take care of yourself and yours.

Here's my experience as a user of KU as well as author in KU

User: First of all, I signed up to get a feel for what the book offerings might be and easily peruse the competition in Romance and New Adult

I can't get to the books I've borrowed fast enough. I've returned a few to make room for the allotted ten for others. I'm still behind. I've read thirty-five books this year and if I get another five read; great. There's just no way I can make this program work for me. The gym membership analogy works for this.

I've read a few more nonfiction than I would have read otherwise, but I tend to reference back to books which I'm borrowing but referencing isn't supported since you have to return them.

$9.99 does seem like a bargain in some cases for KU, but I've arrived at a saturation point where the majority of what I want to read isn't in KU. (As I outlined at the beginning on my Nov. Prime search).


Author in/out of KU:
I have been in twice (thrice when Amazon screwed up for a few days and put my books into KU without my permission). Funny. I got more borrows in those 2 days than the last time I was in. I put everything (five novels) back in KU for over a week (first part of November) before asking to pull all books back out again. And yes, they sent me a nasty little email threatening to dump me from KDP altogether if I didn't follow the rules next time. 

So. After being let out of KU in mid-November, my ranks instantly went from the 3,000 level to the 6,000 level (overnight) and this ranking and number of sales is with the same targeted advertising with FB that I've been doing all along for my series. Yes, there are algos in there that favor KU, Kindle First, and Amazon Imprint titles. That is easy enough to see in just cruising the Top 100 in the Kindle Store.

It does cannibalize your sales.

Yes, you get some readers who will only read you if you're in KU. Those might be the same bargain readers that only read Free books and don't move onto the next book in the series.
 
My fanbase that largely reaches out to me on FB are also Nook readers, iPad readers, and Kindle readers. Some buy my books in print after reading all five. Few seem to be KU subscribed because none of asked me about the program and I have only received one complaint when I announced I was out of KU. One.

I left KU because I finally had to ask myself--in cutting the cord with KU/KDP Select--if marketing single-threaded was wise. If being discovered only at Amazon was a strategic enough move. The answer was an easy no. The $1.33 payout was also a factor for me, and I just wanted to be in control of my own destiny. Frankly, the nasty email from some KDP rep lecturing me about the TOS but letting me out of the KU/Select program proved to be validation that I was making the right move. Yes. I want to be in control. Amazon doesn't care about me. They are a distributor of my books just like all the other outlets. So. I'm starting all over being direct at Apple, Kobo, iTunes, and Google Play but I'm doing it my way because my marketing strategy remains that it's easier to be discovered wide than narrow. And that is what I can live with and what I write for.

I am very happy with those who are finding success with KU. However, as a reader, when I did read a sample of one of the authors frequenting these boards and could only read a paragraph because that is how short the book was, I found it extremely annoying. I didn't borrow the book. And I certainly didn't buy it.

I write 100K novels. I have to hope someday Amazon has a place for those again. lol.




Kindle tidbits:
I had the Kindle 3. The one with the keyboard? It failed after only a year and I rarely used it except in the sun. I bought a Paperwhite because Amazon gave me a discount for shipping back the defective Kindle 3 to them. I rarely shop on the Paperwhite through the Kindle store because the endless scrolling drives me crazy and I never did borrow a Prime book for Nov. (or Oct., Sept, Aug. because of same problem described above.)

My daughter had a Kindle Fire. Two years old. Failed completely. It won't take a charge. It's out of warranty. I'm sure Amazon will grudgingly give me a discount. But take note. That's two failed Kindles in as many years with this customer (me). Now, we're looking at an Mini iPad for her because she likes mine which I have had for two years and it has never failed and she can do everything on it with Apple apps which she prefers.
 
What does it all mean for Amazon? Tablets are going to continue to cut into their market. I think better quality will outweigh the cheap factor if a buyer like me has to replace or return a Kindle Fire more than once. It's annoying even if there are YouTube videos on how to take it apart and fix it. Amazing that I would have to resort to that and I won't.

In the meantime, daughter gets an iPad Mini for Christmas. Don't tell her...

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rosalind J on December 02, 2014, 02:13:34 PM
Looking at just Rosalind, 
If I were to buy all her books, I would have to spend $50 roughly.    It takes me roughly 3 days to read one of her books.   I could read all 10 in KU for $10.
So which would be the smarter choice for me?
(This is going on the assumption that I the reader know nothing about how it works for authors.)
Interestingly, I now have 5 books in one of my series out of KU, and 3 in.
The next-to-last book is out, the one before that is in. They both have about the same rank. But I'm earning a lot more money on the one that's out of KU--and that's just on Amazon. So for me--the borrows are certainly cannibalizing the sales. This isn't true, of course, for Amazon Publishing titles, which seem to make up the bulk of good-selling KU titles. Those authors are earning royalties on their borrows. So it really doesn't matter to them either way whether people borrow or buy.

In some genres, it seems like the borrows really are just gravy. But in higher-priced romance (novels), it seems like that's not the case. I suspect that's because avid romance readers are probably amongst the biggest adopters of KU.

It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Meanwhile, one series in, one out seems like a reasonable choice. And by the way--it's still an uphill climb to build readership on the other sites, even if you sell very well on Amazon. Those other folks don't know you! No easy answers in this business, and I agree, depending on where you are in your career, what genre & length you write, even this month vs. last month--the answer can change.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 02, 2014, 02:15:55 PM
I use my kindles on a very regular basis but I hate the mobile Amazon store.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 02, 2014, 02:47:01 PM
Quote
The other lesson, which I already knew but it bears repeating? If you're doing well, don't spend everything you make. Save a good percentage, because things can change in a heartbeat in this business. I'm having my worst month for TWO YEARS. And I've only been published 28 months! It can happen, and it can happen anytime.

This makes me sad. Rosalind, you are one of the kindest and most generous authors here. If anyone deserves good karma, it's you! I hope you go to Scribd through D2D and Smashwords. People who are voracious romance readers do frequent those sites, but unlike KU, you'd get fair compensation. I also think that a BookBub promo would launch you like a kite in Barnes & Noble and Apple, and a first free in series would do great things for you in Kobo (it would only take a few months).

I know you'll do great.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rosalind J on December 02, 2014, 03:52:00 PM
This makes me sad. Rosalind, you are one of the kindest and most generous authors here. If anyone deserves good karma, it's you! I hope you go to Scribd through D2D and Smashwords. People who are voracious romance readers do frequent those sites, but unlike KU, you'd get fair compensation. I also think that a BookBub promo would launch you like a kite in Barnes & Noble and Apple, and a first free in series would do great things for you in Kobo (it would only take a few months).

I know you'll do great.
Oh, thank you. That is so kind.

I haven't checked out Scribd yet--been pretty overwhelmed doing all the rest of it. But thanks--I'll try that.

I did do a BookBub yesterday to launch myself on the other sites, and it worked quite well. I've been selling some books since, so I'm hoping I can build my audience over the coming months. I also put my first book free everywhere--we'll see how that goes as well. I'm expecting it to be a climb; people say 3-6 months. I'm also continuing to do audiobooks, have a book out with Montlake in a few months, and a couple other things--I think the more irons we have in the fire now, the better off we are. (Although audio...there's another scary subject, huh?)

Not a business for the faint of heart!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mike_Author on December 02, 2014, 04:03:22 PM
My only evidence around the relative weightings of sales and KU borrows is our old pal Archie Fraser and his cohorts.  As you may recall, the first thing that caught my eye was the fact that every single one of his scamlets, despite being released only a week or so earlier, were all at the top of their niche and around #5000 in the entire Kindle store.  The only way for his scam to work is via a borrowing racket, as it would be uneconomical to purchase enough copies to get those rankings for all 20 or so of those scamlets he released (or 50 including the other aliases like Robert Smith).

So I (unscientifically) deduce that KU borrows must have a decent weighting.  This is also roughly confirmed via my own books.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 02, 2014, 04:56:07 PM
Quote
I haven't checked out Scribd yet--been pretty overwhelmed doing all the rest of it. But thanks--I'll try that.

Scribd and Oyster are both accessible through Smashwords. D2D supports Scribd (it sounds like you're actually going direct everywhere else).

I actively promote Scribd and Oyster. I have had people say how much the love my books but are watching every penny, so I have posts that say all the ways people can read my work for free with posts like this one on my blog:
http://ibringthefireodin.tumblr.com/post/103124676245/you-can-read-all-of-my-books-for-free-ive-picked

I reiterate the info on my Facebook page too.

Scribd promotes itself as the place for romance: they have all the Harlequin books. You might try to get there.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Stacy Claflin on December 02, 2014, 05:40:40 PM
I did do a BookBub yesterday to launch myself on the other sites, and it worked quite well. I've been selling some books since, so I'm hoping I can build my audience over the coming months. I also put my first book free everywhere--we'll see how that goes as well. I'm expecting it to be a climb; people say 3-6 months.

Have you put your free book in the thread for Free Free in Series on Kobo? In the last month I've more than tripled what I made all of last year over there since having my book featured.
 
Also, if you put your freebie on Wattpad, you could get featured there too.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rosalind J on December 02, 2014, 05:57:18 PM
Have you put your free book in the thread for Free Free in Series on Kobo? In the last month I've more than tripled what I made all of last year over there since having my book featured.
 
Also, if you put your freebie on Wattpad, you could get featured there too.
Thanks! Somebody from Kobo already put it in some sort of "featured" deal, and I've had quite a few downloads--I'll have to check out if there's someplace else I should put it, what that's all about. Much appreciated!

Edited to add: I don't see where the thread for "Free first in series" would be? Can you direct me?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: MajesticMonkey on December 02, 2014, 06:10:04 PM
Here you go.

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,185364.0.html
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 02, 2014, 06:40:23 PM
The KU model is likely the future. It's just going to suck for us writers. ;)

I agree the subscription model is here to stay (for now, anyway :)). However, there will always be people who prefer to buy a la carte. Like me. I spend way more than $10/mo on books and I know I could save a lot of money by subscribing, and yet, I have no interest in doing so.

What I find interesting is how products, like books, DVD's, etc., that have traditionally been purchased a la carte are moving toward subscription based sales, while services that have traditionally been subscription based, such as cable TV, are moving toward a la carte.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 02, 2014, 06:41:57 PM
Quote
The KU model is likely the future. It's just going to suck for us writers. ;)

No, I don't think this. I think that KU is a great place for beginning authors. It might be a way to break out of the slush pile. But I don't think it is good for authors past a certain point--what that magical point is I have no idea! I'm still figuring this all out.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D. Zollicoffer on December 02, 2014, 06:53:25 PM
It's like Taylor Swift removing her music from Spotify. If you're a big time author KU will probably do more harm then good. Going back to the Spotify example, a small indie band will probably gain more fans and make some extra cash by putting their music on the service.

So to echo what others have said -- KU seems better for beginners/writers who haven't broke out yet.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Arkan9 on December 02, 2014, 07:00:53 PM
It's genre-specific, folks. You guys making generalized statements about "beginning writers who haven't broken out yet" are way off. You cannot categorize a space-opera writer with a romance writer and draw those kinds of conclusions. Doesn't work. Different markets completely. Different dynamics in regards to KU completely. We need about thirty of these threads, each one addressing a specific niche genre/market before one can benefit from the advice given therein.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SB James on December 02, 2014, 07:11:50 PM
My only evidence around the relative weightings of sales and KU borrows is our old pal Archie Fraser and his cohorts.  As you may recall, the first thing that caught my eye was the fact that every single one of his scamlets, despite being released only a week or so earlier, were all at the top of their niche and around #5000 in the entire Kindle store.  The only way for his scam to work is via a borrowing racket, as it would be uneconomical to purchase enough copies to get those rankings for all 20 or so of those scamlets he released (or 50 including the other aliases like Robert Smith).

So I (unscientifically) deduce that KU borrows must have a decent weighting.  This is also roughly confirmed via my own books.
Back when I had a phantom borrow while my first book was still in Select, I saw my ranking shoot up for apparently no reason. It is definitely weighed as a book sale, even if the reader didn't make it through the 10%. I can also envision a KU borrowing racket, almost like the click farms Facebook uses to buy fans for people's pages. SMH.
Yes, going wide to other vendors is not easy, but I feel it is worth it. I know that KU is working for some people. I also know it is not directly hurting others, especially if there are not a lot of other KU books in your genre. I know that it did not work for me very well, not for these books anyway.
I'm glad to know that 20-40K novellas seem to be getting more and more popular again. My books clock in at about 65K each, but I'm sure Book 3 is going to be about 75K. But this is just the way I write. I didn't start this series with the idea that it would be an episodic that favors more, shorter volumes. If KU is still around by the time I get to work on another series, I can certainly structure it differently.
But by the time I get around to it, the royalty for a borrow will probably be $0.34...
 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Rosalind J on December 02, 2014, 07:14:19 PM
Here you go.

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,185364.0.html
Oh hey--I'm featured on there! Fourth book or something. (At least when I click.) So I guess somebody put it up there.

Babe in the woods here, going-wide-wise....

Many thanks, all!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Briteka on December 02, 2014, 07:19:15 PM
It's genre-specific, folks. You guys making generalized statements about "beginning writers who haven't broken out yet" are way off. You cannot categorize a space-opera writer with a romance writer and draw those kinds of conclusions. Doesn't work. Different markets completely. Different dynamics in regards to KU completely. We need about thirty of these threads, each one addressing a specific niche genre/market before one can benefit from the advice given therein.

I'm not really sure that's true. This all boils down to the way Amazon promotes, and the algorithms are the same for all genres, though the numbers needed to hit certain benchmarks are different for each. IF KU is cannibalizing sales, and IF this leads to lower placements in Amazon's promotional ecosystem, then KU is going to be bad for everyone that successfully uses Amazon's ecosystem to drive sales.

My own experiment tells me that my sales strategy drives more sales (completely disregarding actual income, which is a lot lower as well) than letting KU do it for me, and the two are mutually exclusive. There are certain types of writers that KU will help, but I'm confident enough to say that KU is a losing strategy for anyone that publishes often, uses permafree or has a large social media network.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Martitalbott on December 02, 2014, 08:15:22 PM
Holly, here's the really scary thing for the rest of us. Your author rank Looks like this:

Amazon Author Rank 
#33 in Kindle eBooks > Romance > Contemporary
#38 in Books > Romance > Contemporary
#66 in Kindle eBooks > Romance
#74 in Books > Romance

If you down 75% and still ranking in the top 100, what does that mean for the rest of us?

Last I checked I was sitting at 200 in Historical Romance and my sales are way down too.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 02, 2014, 08:56:05 PM
It's genre-specific, folks. You guys making generalized statements about "beginning writers who haven't broken out yet" are way off. You cannot categorize a space-opera writer with a romance writer and draw those kinds of conclusions. Doesn't work. Different markets completely. Different dynamics in regards to KU completely. We need about thirty of these threads, each one addressing a specific niche genre/market before one can benefit from the advice given therein.

This x10.

I have been trying for years to say that the advice on these boards is off more often than not because we fail to take genre into account, yet whenever I've tried to start a genre-specific thread, it's been met with crickets.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mercia McMahon on December 03, 2014, 01:45:47 AM
This all boils down to the way Amazon promotes, and the algorithms are the same for all genres, though the numbers needed to hit certain benchmarks are different for each. IF KU is cannibalizing sales, and IF this leads to lower placements in Amazon's promotional ecosystem, then KU is going to be bad for everyone that successfully uses Amazon's ecosystem to drive sales.

You need to pull back from worshipping at the feet of the Amazon tech department. It does not matter how alogrithms work if fans of certain genres are less attracted to the likes of KU in the first place. Romance fans are known for being voracious and speedy readers and wanting the next fix now. They are also known for driving a lot of the innovations in digital reading (as they were in non-bookstore print distribution before that). Compare that to science fiction fans who still worship at the feet of print as a visit to a World Science Fiction Convention will quickly reveal. If you are prone to reading hefty print tomes (or short story magazines) then £7.99 for a month's reading on KU has a lot less appeal no matter what mathematical magic the Amazon tech wizards wave at it. The fans of different genres have different reading cultures and therefore will differ in terms of uptake of subscription services.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jane_Dough on December 03, 2014, 04:37:04 AM
It's genre-specific, folks. You guys making generalized statements about "beginning writers who haven't broken out yet" are way off. You cannot categorize a space-opera writer with a romance writer and draw those kinds of conclusions. Doesn't work. Different markets completely. Different dynamics in regards to KU completely. We need about thirty of these threads, each one addressing a specific niche genre/market before one can benefit from the advice given therein.

I agree.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: NoahPorter on December 03, 2014, 04:42:51 AM
I agree.

I disagree.

Between my wife and I (and our various pen names), we've published in romance, steampunk, erotica, cozy mysteries, non-fiction, hard-boiled detective, zombie apocalyptic, dystopian sci-fi, historical romance, and everything in between.

KU has affected them all equally, regardless of genre. Down $5,000+ last month and this month is off to the same, terrible start. KU is like a wet blanket that pushes all fires down equally. Sure, some fires burn higher than others, but KU smothers them all with the same gusto.

Except short, low-quality spamlets, apparently. Those seem to be the cockroaches of KU - surviving and thriving.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Molly Tomorrow on December 03, 2014, 04:56:42 AM
KU has affected them all equally, regardless of genre. Down $5,000+ last month and this month is off to the same, terrible start. KU is like a wet blanket that pushes all fires down equally. Sure, some fires burn higher than others, but KU smothers them all with the same gusto.

This is something I'm struggling with in this and some other posts on the topic. How do you know? Anyone who has been doing this for a while knows that income can fluctuate a great deal. How do you know how much of it can be attributed to KU? In many cases some people seem to be attributing it all to KU.

I had two month-on-month 20% drops earlier in the year (before KU was a twinkle in JeBee's eyes). I don't even know why, sales just took a tumble. New releases ended up getting me back on track, but books released prior to that never really recovered. My income rose the first few months when KU was released, it dropped a lot last month. This month it's recovering a little (but that's pretty meaningless three days in).

I'm not arguing with anyone's conclusions here. I'm just wondering how much of the fact you were down $5k last month you're attributing to KU, and how you reached that conclusion... for purely selfish reasons because I have no idea how to figure it out for my own stuff!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: NoahPorter on December 03, 2014, 05:09:04 AM
I'm just wondering how much of the fact you were down $5k last month you're attributing to KU, and how you reached that conclusion... for purely selfish reasons because I have no idea how to figure it out for my own stuff!

We've been doing this for close to 4 years. My wife is a statistician by trade (handy!) and has kept meticulous records for the past 4 years. Sure, there are usually general fluctuations here and there. But there was a marked, noticeable, distinct, unique (whatever word you want to use) drop off right after KU was introduced, and which has continued to this day. Sales are way down. Borrows are down. Sales on other channels have remained steady or grown. We've continued to publish new material. The only thing in the equation that has changed is KU.

And if it was just us experiencing it, I'd say fine, maybe it's just a strange self-publishing anomaly that we got caught in and we did something to bring this on, or market flavors have changed, or whatever.

But it's not just us experiencing it. More and more people are speaking up about it, not just here on kboards but on other author forums, on reddit, on Facebook, in personal conversations we have with other authors. We're all experiencing the same thing - a huge drop off in sales and borrows directly correlating to the release and rollout of KU. That's the only thing all of these drops have in common.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: RM Prioleau on December 03, 2014, 05:10:08 AM
I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that this is happening to. What I had feared since KU came out is a reality. My post from a few months ago (http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,195956.0.html) also illustrates the negative impact KU has had.

I'm sorry to hear about your sick kid, Holly. I hope things get better for you. I agree, something needs to be done about how both readers and authors can benefit. Since KU rolled out, people aren't buying books as much as they used to. And why should they, when they can just pay one price and get all the books they want for essentially 'free'?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Molly Tomorrow on December 03, 2014, 05:37:35 AM
But it's not just us experiencing it. More and more people are speaking up about it, not just here on kboards but on other author forums, on reddit, on Facebook, in personal conversations we have with other authors. We're all experiencing the same thing - a huge drop off in sales and borrows directly correlating to the release and rollout of KU. That's the only thing all of these drops have in common.

Thanks for the explanation and you're the only person I've seen report a drop-off in borrows as a result of KU!  :o

However, even in this thread, Holly's experience doesn't match yours. She reported a drop in income at Amazon only when she put her books in KU, which was a couple of months after it rolled out. Since then she pulled them she's reporting an increase in Amazon revenue. For her the introduction of KU wasn't what changed things. It was being in KU. The subject line is a little misleading in that respect.

Even looking at the post that follows mine from RM Prioleau and the graph they linked to. I'm just not seeing a negative impact in in KU from that graph (maybe Ms Porter could take a look). I'm seeing declining sales across multiple retailers that started well before KU launched. It's certainly not true in my case. Like I said I had a big drop in November, but it wasn't nearly as big as a drop I had back Feb/March. And I'm not publishing low-quality spam... I promise :D

I haven't seen as many people reporting "a huge drop off in sales and borrows directly correlating to the release and rollout of KU" as you, but I'm keeping my eye out. In other more private venues where people are a bit more open with figures  I'm seeing a lot of cases where the rot set in long before the introduction of KU. And now a lot of those people are attibuting ongoing poor sales to KU. And they might be absolutely right! I guess I'm a little concerned that the focus on KU as the big bad might lead to a lot of people ignoring other issues.

Threads like this in particular can get a little confusing because it's shifting back and forth between loss of income from being in KU against not being in KU and loss of income from KU even existing and the two are very different things.

FWIW I'm not fan of KU. It throws a big unpredictible spanner in the works. But it ain't going anywhere so I just have to take it into account. Even though I've benefitted from it (considerably) financially in the short term by being in it, which is something I'm continually re-evaluating. Oh well, interesting times and all that :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on December 03, 2014, 05:44:05 AM
I have been trying for years to say that the advice on these boards is off more often than not because we fail to take genre into account, yet whenever I've tried to start a genre-specific thread, it's been met with crickets.

Well, for my part, the readers who like my sort of space opera are NOT KU customers. Sales on the books I still have in KU (until Saturday, yay!) are far more than borrows.
I tried it, I didn't like it, I moved on.  I may try it again later. When something else comes along.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Randall Wood on December 03, 2014, 05:56:25 AM
"...the algorithms are the same for all genres"

Not arguing, but how do you know this?
 
I think if every book had the same algo the top 100 would be all romance...forever.

I'm more in line to think that the Zon takes into account a number of things before it assigns an algo to a book. Genre is one. Length, Sales Churn, Reviews ( number and frequency and overall average), publication date, Price, Select/Non-Select, and now, KU. Then it assigns an algo that's best for the Zon.

If Algo A is better for discovery and sales than Algo B, and B is better than Algo C, and so on, then Amazon has tight control over the success of your book. If an author chooses to take part in the programs that Amazon wishes them to, and give them exclusivity, I imagine the algo they get in return is higher on the list. (I also think you can promote your way to a better algo, as many have done, but the promo method seems to have a shorter lifetime than it once did.[Algo change])

I'd bet that right now to get into the top three algos you have to be in KU with your books. If not, you are stuck with a D level algo or lower.

Am I crazy? Maybe, maybe not. But it would explain a lot.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 03, 2014, 06:22:23 AM
I subscribe to both Scribd and Kindle Unlimited. Whether I'll stay in both down the line, I don't know yet. But I find plenty of both fiction and non-fiction between the two.

I read across a spectrum: thrillers, mysteries, classics, some romance, self-help, image (photo) books, and anything that catches my interest.

With non-fiction, I read the portion I immediately want or am interested in, and return to the book to have room for something else.

With fiction, I read short, long, and mid-length works. If I don't like it, I return it and try something else. I've had a few books I've returned and retrieved several times, having gotten over whatever it was I didn't like about the book, and gotten curious about it again.

Because of subscription plans, I'm now able to dabble and experiment with reading serials, nano-shorts, screenplays, and much more. Though I haven't found a serial (yet) that holds my interest the way a well crafted Brad Thor or Joe Konrath thriller can. But I don't have much doubt I will. Even if I need to write it myself :-)

I rarely bought books before subscription services came out, and even more rarely do so now. Between 99¢ ebooks, free ebooks, and places like Half Price Books here in Texas, I can get just about anything not in a subscription program. And I've recently joined my local library here in Austin, haven't gotten anything digital from them yet, but it's all there.

As a writer, and I'm about as low on the totem pole as one gets and still get a few sales (though it's building), I have nothing to lose being in any subscription program at this point. And is frequently pointed out, the vast vast majority of us writers are in that position.

But, I'm also very sympathetic to what Taylor Swift has done with her music, withdrawing it from a streaming service telling her she has no choice but to play along for pennies. She's an exception of course, in terms of success, and in another art field.

But it's good, I think, that folk like her, and Holly who started this thread, speak up.

Then we make our own decisions, what's best for each of us.

Sharing those decisions, I believe, helps all of us.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: CoraBuhlert on December 03, 2014, 06:45:19 AM
Thanks for the explanation and you're the only person I've seen report a drop-off in borrows as a result of KU!  :o

However, even in this thread, Holly's experience doesn't match yours. She reported a drop in income at Amazon only when she put her books in KU, which was a couple of months after it rolled out. Since then she pulled them she's reporting an increase in Amazon revenue. For her the introduction of KU wasn't what changed things. It was being in KU. The subject line is a little misleading in that respect.

Even looking at the post that follows mine from RM Prioleau and the graph they linked to. I'm just not seeing a negative impact in in KU from that graph (maybe Ms Porter could take a look). I'm seeing declining sales across multiple retailers that started well before KU launched. It's certainly not true in my case. Like I said I had a big drop in November, but it wasn't nearly as big as a drop I had back Feb/March. And I'm not publishing low-quality spam... I promise :D

I haven't seen as many people reporting "a huge drop off in sales and borrows directly correlating to the release and rollout of KU" as you, but I'm keeping my eye out. In other more private venues where people are a bit more open with figures  I'm seeing a lot of cases where the rot set in long before the introduction of KU. And now a lot of those people are attibuting ongoing poor sales to KU. And they might be absolutely right! I guess I'm a little concerned that the focus on KU as the big bad might lead to a lot of people ignoring other issues.

Threads like this in particular can get a little confusing because it's shifting back and forth between loss of income from being in KU against not being in KU and loss of income from KU even existing and the two are very different things.

FWIW I'm not fan of KU. It throws a big unpredictible spanner in the works. But it ain't going anywhere so I just have to take it into account. Even though I've benefitted from it (considerably) financially in the short term by being in it, which is something I'm continually re-evaluating. Oh well, interesting times and all that :)

I think there was an algorithm change this spring, a few month before the KU roll-out. From April to May, my sales at Amazon.com dropped by 60% and in fact May was the worst month of the year for me. Amazon.com sales stayed low in June and July, though sales at other vendors and excellent sales on Amazon.de offset this problem. When KU started, sales at Amazon.com actually began picking up a little again, though that was likely due to a new release. But most of the growth I've seen in 2014 is due to other non-Amazon vendors.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on December 03, 2014, 07:09:31 AM
KU has increased my borrows by 700% 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ShaneJeffery on December 03, 2014, 07:13:39 AM
KU has increased my borrows by 700% 

So you had 1 before KU and now you have 7?  8)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EliseInAZ on December 03, 2014, 07:18:26 AM
I'm one of those relatively unknown authors who has benefitted from KU. I wasn't in Select before KU and hesitated to make the change. But I was selling nothing on other venues and at least something on Amazon, so it didn't seem like much of a risk. There were other factors involved: I put a new cover on my first book and released my second. Still, I enjoyed better sales in November than any other month in the last year and got enough borrows to be happy. For now.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Molly Tomorrow on December 03, 2014, 07:20:17 AM
It's almost as if KU has affected a wide variety of authors in a wide variety of ways!  :o
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on December 03, 2014, 07:27:48 AM
 
So you had 1 before KU and now you have 7?  8)

How did you know?  ::)

Nah, I was a  steady 20/22 before - and now it's a steady 150/160.

I have one title that generated 34 borrows last month - I'm sure some of those borrows would buy that particular title due to the subject matter, so it's being pulled from select and going wide. D2D - here it comes.

To me, that's the point of KU - evaluate it on a title by title basis.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Anna Drake on December 03, 2014, 07:42:54 AM

I haven't seen as many people reporting "a huge drop off in sales and borrows directly correlating to the release and rollout of KU" as you, but I'm keeping my eye out. In other more private venues where people are a bit more open with figures  I'm seeing a lot of cases where the rot set in long before the introduction of KU. And now a lot of those people are attibuting ongoing poor sales to KU. And they might be absolutely right! I guess I'm a little concerned that the focus on KU as the big bad might lead to a lot of people ignoring other issues.


I don't think the drop in sales in attributable so much to KU as it is to the combination of KU, Oyster, and Scribd. i suspect the heavy readers have signed up like mad for these services and and are no longer buying our books. That's probably the loss being noted by individual writers -- especially the well-known ones. While their sales may pick up after abandoning KU, some of those readers will never return. I mean with Scribd readers have access to authors they probably never bought before because the trad-pubbed prices were too high. Now, they can read best selling authors for about $10 a month. What a deal.

That's what I think is happening, but pessimism mostly rules in my life.


Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on December 03, 2014, 07:53:53 AM
I don't think the drop in sales in attributable so much to KU as it is to the combination of KU, Oyster, and Scribd. i suspect the heavy readers have signed up like mad for these services and and are no longer buying our books. That's probably the loss being noted by individual writers -- especially the well-known ones. While their sales may pick up after abandoning KU, some of those readers will never return. I mean with Scribd readers have access to authors they probably never bought before because the trad-pubbed prices were too high. Now, they can read best selling authors for about $10 a month. What a deal.

That's what I think is happening, but pessimism mostly rules in my life.




Well that;s a valid point - I keep saying Zon had no choice but to follow Scribd and Oyster - the latter two must be soaking up a lot of the market.

And yet - people continue to vilify Zon -

Googleplay will be next - there's already a sub service corporate mentality within Google, ( music sub.)  Apple will follow, and in two years time people will revive this thread and scoff - "you were getting a whole $1.33 per borrow, and you complained?"

It wouldn't shock me if Alibaba came in with a $2.99 sub, just to get it up everybody.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ChristinePope on December 03, 2014, 08:01:28 AM
But at least Scribd is paying me a decent rate per borrow. Can't say the same for Amazon, which is why none of my books are in KU except for one novella.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jim Johnson on December 03, 2014, 08:12:53 AM
It's almost as if KU has affected a wide variety of authors in a wide variety of ways!  :o

That's just crazy talk. Next you'll be saying that there's more than one effective indie publishing strategy.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 03, 2014, 08:15:34 AM
Well that;s a valid point - I keep saying Zon had no choice but to follow Scribd and Oyster - the latter two must be soaking up a lot of the market.

And yet - people continue to vilify Zon -

Googleplay will be next - there's already a sub service corporate mentality within Google, ( music sub.)  Apple will follow, and in two years time people will revive this thread and scoff - "you were getting a whole $1.33 per borrow, and you complained?"

It wouldn't shock me if Alibaba came in with a $2.99 sub, just to get it up everybody.

Ditto all your points, EC.

And at that point, if not before, hopefully Amazon will drop the exclusivity requirement for KU.

They could keep that clause (possibly) in Kindle Worlds, Kindle Scout, etc., since I'd be surprised they're not looking for potential multi-media projects they'd have first option on.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 03, 2014, 08:16:34 AM
It's almost as if KU has affected a wide variety of authors in a wide variety of ways!  :o

Exactly. There are so many variables. Every author's experience is going to be unique to them. And I also agree with Joe that genre is one of those variables.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on December 03, 2014, 08:16:40 AM
This x10.

I have been trying for years to say that the advice on these boards is off more often than not because we fail to take genre into account, yet whenever I've tried to start a genre-specific thread, it's been met with crickets.


Here is an active speculative fiction thread. It's all squabble at the beginning, but it gets better by page 10 or so.  ;D

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,173316.0.html
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 03, 2014, 08:17:54 AM
That's just crazy talk. Next you'll be saying that there's more than one effective indie publishing strategy.

:P
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Edward M. Grant on December 03, 2014, 08:22:54 AM
I don't think the drop in sales in attributable so much to KU as it is to the combination of KU, Oyster, and Scribd. i suspect the heavy readers have signed up like mad for these services and and are no longer buying our books.

Scribd are supposedly making a profit. With their royalty rates, I can't see any way that can happen unless readers are subscribing and then not reading many books.

You can't have a cheap subscription service unless someone is getting screwed: either the reader isn't getting value for money, the company isn't making money, or the writers aren't making money.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Stacy Claflin on December 03, 2014, 08:24:45 AM
I think there was an algorithm change this spring, a few month before the KU roll-out. From April to May, my sales at Amazon.com dropped by 60% and in fact May was the worst month of the year for me. Amazon.com sales stayed low in June and July, though sales at other vendors and excellent sales on Amazon.de offset this problem. When KU started, sales at Amazon.com actually began picking up a little again, though that was likely due to a new release. But most of the growth I've seen in 2014 is due to other non-Amazon vendors.

That somewhat matches my experience. Like I said earlier in thread (page 8?) my sales TANKED in May. Although KU really made no difference in my sales when it rolled around. I'm selling more now, but I attribute that to: rebranding my Transformed series, releasing a new thriller trilogy, and getting some good promotions - including getting picked up by POI and being featured on Kobo and Wattpad.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KelliWolfe on December 03, 2014, 08:43:32 AM
Scribd are supposedly making a profit. With their royalty rates, I can't see any way that can happen unless readers are subscribing and then not reading many books.

You can't have a cheap subscription service unless someone is getting screwed: either the reader isn't getting value for money, the company isn't making money, or the writers aren't making money.
The only thing keeping any of the ebook subscription services afloat is the massive infusion of millions of dollars from venture capitalists. Scribd has sucked in over $25 million that way, and Oyster over $17 million. Even the big publishers who have their books in the services have said that they're not sure how in the long run they can avoid devaluing books and cannibalizing their own sales.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Marian on December 03, 2014, 09:01:55 AM
"...the algorithms are the same for all genres"

Not arguing, but how do you know this?
 
I think if every book had the same algo the top 100 would be all romance...forever.

I'm more in line to think that the Zon takes into account a number of things before it assigns an algo to a book. Genre is one. Length, Sales Churn, Reviews ( number and frequency and overall average), publication date, Price, Select/Non-Select, and now, KU. Then it assigns an algo that's best for the Zon.

If Algo A is better for discovery and sales than Algo B, and B is better than Algo C, and so on, then Amazon has tight control over the success of your book. If an author chooses to take part in the programs that Amazon wishes them to, and give them exclusivity, I imagine the algo they get in return is higher on the list. (I also think you can promote your way to a better algo, as many have done, but the promo method seems to have a shorter lifetime than it once did.[Algo change])

I'd bet that right now to get into the top three algos you have to be in KU with your books. If not, you are stuck with a D level algo or lower.


As always, you make absolute sense.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 03, 2014, 09:08:03 AM
Well that;s a valid point - I keep saying Zon had no choice but to follow Scribd and Oyster - the latter two must be soaking up a lot of the market.

And yet - people continue to vilify Zon -



People vilify the 'Zon because they're like Microsoft back in the day. A small company would begin developing a new software product that sounded extremely exciting, so they'd announce the product in hopes of attracting development capital. Microsoft would then announce they were developing a similar product, and that they expected to bring it to market in a year. That squashed the startup before they even got rolling. The market later learned that Microsoft had no such product in development, and had no intention of developing such a product in the near future. Microsoft's action effectively killed the competition before they even became competition. These products became known in the industry as 'vaporware.' Microsoft was using its clout to kill the competition before they could pose a threat. The real loser was the consumer and the industry as a whole, who were deprived of innovative products.

The 'Zon's approach is a bit different, but it has to be because the startup costs for a subscription service is nowhere near the level of a manufacturing operation's startup costs. The 'Zon begins by offering a program to attract publishers, and the punch comes from requiring the publishers to become exclusive to the 'Zon. That forces publishers to withdraw their books from the competition, thus harming the competition's catalog. A small company couldn't do that effectively, but the 'Zon has the marketing clout to pull it off. The losers in this case are the suppliers because Amazon is engaging in restraint of trade practices to accomplish its goal, and because the 'Zon isn't paying nearly as well per borrow as the competition. It tries to make up for the lower royalty through volume, but its considerable marketing draw has pulled in every get-rich-quick scammer around.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: RickGowans on December 03, 2014, 12:11:47 PM
Great stuff.

But...

Sales dropped 50-75% at amazon for Mrs. Ward.

What % did they drop at other outlets?

It's a selfish question. I'm releasing my first novel. Trying to decide on KU or all platforms.

I've read that sales slow down in the fall--ON ALL PLATFORMS. I'm wondering how much is seasonal and how much is KU.

Thanks all. This place is an amazing resource. So many good people giving so much time.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 03, 2014, 12:34:39 PM

The Microsoft comparison is moot.  Scribd and Oyster did start the sub service, and did change the business model. 


And the innovative software companies did develop the software sufficiently to demo it. They needed the venture capital to get the operation going because manufacturing operations are expensive. Microsoft shot them down before they could get rolling. So the comparison is not moot. It's usually the new entrepreneurs that come up with the innovative systems, just as Bezos was innovative twenty years ago. Now all he can do is respond and try to squash the competition instead of being innovative.



All of the above are stupid? not nearly as stupid as believing that Zon are even ten percent as powerful as you think.



Tell Borders that the 'Zon is a joke. Tell B&N that the 'Zon is a joke. And try to tell any of the suppliers they bleed on a daily basis that they aren't powerful. I'm guessing you've never worked the corporate end of retail.



Will ya'll stop pretending that Zon are in control - you can no more control internet retail than Canute could hold back the sea. The little guys are coming - and it is they who decide where the market is going.


If you think the little guys control the market, you should stop smoking whatever it is you bought in Colorado or Oregon.  ;D
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: anniejocoby on December 03, 2014, 12:42:14 PM
My sales aren't great right now, either. But I figure that I have two options - give up, or try to work around the issues. If KU is only good for short books, then short books is what I'm going to write and put into KU. I just uploaded my first short erotica yesterday, with many more to come. That won't be my bread and butter, of course, but hopefully it will give me a cushion until my next hit.

I'm panicking just like everyone else,  but I feel that I have to have a solution. If the short erotica writers are partying like it's 2012, as another poster said, then I'm going to join that party.

It's either that or cry.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on December 03, 2014, 12:58:53 PM
Sales dropped 50-75% at amazon for Mrs. Ward.

What % did they drop at other outlets?
I agree with others here saying that KU is releasing the power of the long tail. Where traditionally every season had its own hits and everyone pretty much read the same, subscriptions like KU allow readers to drill down in the categories they like and read books they would never have given a chance before. I think where previously lets say 90 per cent of books people read were newly published books by a select few, now that percentage is way down and books with a rank of 1 million even get borrowed, because there is no reason not to try it out. I think where previously maybe 20 per cent of published books on Amazon saw sales, now with KU it's much higher allowing for many more writers to have consistent sales. This obviously means the top sellers selling less and the bottom sellers selling more.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jim Johnson on December 03, 2014, 01:46:20 PM
I think where previously maybe 20 per cent of published books on Amazon saw sales, now with KU it's much higher allowing for many more writers to have consistent sales. This obviously means the top sellers selling less and the bottom sellers selling more.

I'm struggling with this a bit. I don't think KU = sales. I think you're right in that more titles are finding more visibility through KU (speaking from personal experience--why not read everything in KU that interests me? Reading to 10% is a small investment of time), but I don't think it's really accurate to call a borrow read in KU a 'sale'. Might be semantics, but maybe semantics is throwing some folks off. Rather than expect 'sales' out of KU, look at it from the perspective that you're getting paid for someone to read at least a sample of your work, which is more than you're getting from a permafree 'sale' or a borrow out of a library, or a pirated copy of your book.

Just some thoughts I'm noodling on thinking about KU and getting deeper into it as a reader and eventually a publisher.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Bluehorseshoe on December 03, 2014, 01:51:01 PM
drno, i disagree. The brutal sales decline has been felt from bottom to top. So your theory doesn't hold weight, but its all meaningless without facts.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ChristinePope on December 03, 2014, 02:09:40 PM
Rather than expect 'sales' out of KU, look at it from the perspective that you're getting paid for someone to read at least a sample of your work, which is more than you're getting from a permafree 'sale' or a borrow out of a library, or a pirated copy of your book.

Just some thoughts I'm noodling on thinking about KU and getting deeper into it as a reader and eventually a publisher.

I'd agree with that except for the exclusivity clause. I'd rather have people downloading my perma-free books on a variety of platforms and therefore have the chance to have them move on to other books in the series on those platforms. I'd actually be okay with being in KU if it weren't for having to be exclusive, despite the crummy borrow rate.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on December 03, 2014, 02:23:54 PM
Great stuff.

But...

Sales dropped 50-75% at amazon for Mrs. Ward.

What % did they drop at other outlets?

It's a selfish question. I'm releasing my first novel. Trying to decide on KU or all platforms.

I've read that sales slow down in the fall--ON ALL PLATFORMS. I'm wondering how much is seasonal and how much is KU.

Thanks all. This place is an amazing resource. So many good people giving so much time.
A while back, Russell Blake said that he was only seeing the seasonality thing on Amazon. From what I've observed over the last 2 years, I agree with his theory.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on December 03, 2014, 02:53:49 PM
I'd actually be okay with being in KU if it weren't for having to be exclusive, despite the crummy borrow rate.

This.
But at this point I haven't even been paid yet so I'm pretty sure Amazon could not possibly care less what we're okay with.
I wonder if they've run out of money...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 03, 2014, 03:00:41 PM
A while back, Russell Blake said that he was only seeing the seasonality thing on Amazon. From what I've observed over the last 2 years, I agree with his theory.
Same. Once things blew up on BN and Kobo, they stayed up with little to no churn.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 03, 2014, 08:12:32 PM
Man... Borders.

"Derp, sure we'll let our coupons be used on Amazon! Also our gift cards! Welp, now that we're shoulder deep in Amazon NOW is the time to make our own website. Excellent plan!"

They didn't even have time to shout "Curse you and your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!".
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on December 03, 2014, 10:38:12 PM
Here's my idea for a new Walmart TV commercial:

For everything Amazon can't get to you before it spoils, there's Walmart!

You're welcome, Walmart. Feel free to use it.  ;D
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 03, 2014, 11:23:51 PM
I think where previously maybe 20 per cent of published books on Amazon saw sales, now with KU it's much higher allowing for many more writers to have consistent sales. This obviously means the top sellers selling less and the bottom sellers selling more.

I have access to sales figures for 100+ authors and the numbers don't tally with your theory. In fact, if an author's sales were modest before KU, I've seen virtually no evidence to suggest that being enrolled in KU has improved the situation.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Petra A. Bauer on December 04, 2014, 01:28:11 AM
Dear Holly,

your experience is very helpful, although painful for yourself  :(

In Germany, authors are still trying to figure out, whether KU is good or bad for them, because it's rather new to us.

Now I know, I'll neither use KD Select nor take part in KU.
Thx for this helpful post!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: J.B. on December 04, 2014, 02:04:09 AM
The following article is the most annoying click-bait I've ever seen.

Based solely on this post - and requiring website login after 1 paragraph!

Bestselling Author H M Ward Says KU Crushed Sales
 (http://lunch.publishersmarketplace.com/2014/12/bestselling-author-h-m-ward-says-ku-crushed-sales-things-kindle/) - Dec 03, Publishers Lunch

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 04, 2014, 07:35:30 AM
The following article is the most annoying click-bait I've ever seen.

Based solely on this post - and requiring website login after 1 paragraph!


I hate it when web sites do that! And this one requires a credit card to register.
   
Quote
While much of our content (such as the Job Board, rights postings, and our members' Web pages) is available to anyone, you must register for a Publishers Marketplace account for access to our premium services.

The basic fee of $25.00 per month gives you access to all our features. You can:

Apparently, reading the rest of the article is a premium feature.  :o
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: D-C on December 04, 2014, 07:49:49 AM
I hate it when web sites do that! And this one requires a credit card to register.
   
Apparently, reading the rest of the article is a premium feature.  :o

lolz, maybe they should upload that article to KU ;)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 04, 2014, 02:16:21 PM
Quote
olz, maybe they should upload that article to KU ;)

Heh, heh, heh ...
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Bluebonnet on December 05, 2014, 02:23:11 AM
The following article is the most annoying click-bait I've ever seen.

Based solely on this post - and requiring website login after 1 paragraph!

Bestselling Author H M Ward Says KU Crushed Sales
 (http://lunch.publishersmarketplace.com/2014/12/bestselling-author-h-m-ward-says-ku-crushed-sales-things-kindle/) - Dec 03, Publishers Lunch

It's disgusting to see that Publisher's Lunch apparently scraped Holly's post and put it on their site, implying it was their article. Not only did they [allegedly] scrape Writers' Café content, but they have the gall to try to charge people money to read it!  >:(

This makes me think it's one more reason why the top-selling indie authors quit posting here regularly. We thought it was because they got targeted for one-stars whenever they talked about their success. But it could also be because they've learned that any really useful posts they make might be scraped and used without their knowledge or permission on other sites.

Speaking of charging money to read posts copied from here, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the KU scamlets on indie publishing topics turned out to be made of posts swiped from Writers' Café. We members often comment on how much useful information is posted here. The scamlet "authors" can see how useful it is too.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Annie B on December 05, 2014, 03:41:19 AM
It's disgusting to see that Publisher's Lunch apparently scraped Holly's post and put it on their site, implying it was their article. Not only did they [allegedly] scrape Writers' Cafe content, but they have the gall to try to charge people money to read it!  >:(

This makes me think it's one more reason why the top-selling indie authors quit posting here regularly. We thought it was because they got targeted for one-stars whenever they talked about their success. But it could also be because they've learned that any really useful posts they make might be scraped and used without their knowledge or permission on other sites.

Speaking of charging money to read posts copied from here, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the KU scamlets on indie publishing topics turned out to be made of posts swiped from Writers' Cafe. We members often comment on how much useful information is posted here. The scamlet "authors" can see how useful it is too.

No, we quit or go anon because of the one stars and down votes.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Dobby the House Elf on December 05, 2014, 03:50:34 AM
No, we quit or go anon because of the one stars and down votes.

^^ This.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: vlmain on December 05, 2014, 07:39:31 AM
It's disgusting to see that Publisher's Lunch apparently scraped Holly's post and put it on their site, implying it was their article. Not only did they [allegedly] scrape Writers' Cafe content, but they have the gall to try to charge people money to read it!  >:(

I don't think they scraped it. It appears they have been following this thread and wrote an article about what happened to Holly. Of course, that is based solely on the one paragraph I could read for free. ;-)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Jim Johnson on December 05, 2014, 07:43:23 AM
I don't think they scraped it. It appears they have been following this thread and wrote an article about what happened to Holly. Of course, that is based solely on the one paragraph I could read for free. ;-)

This. I don't have a PM account any more because I wasn't getting my money's worth out of the monthly fee, but I don't remember them ever scraping an article. I'm confident this is an article discussing Holly's post, but doesn't repeat the whole thing.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: H.M. Ward on December 07, 2014, 03:00:58 PM
This. I don't have a PM account any more because I wasn't getting my money's worth out of the monthly fee, but I don't remember them ever scraping an article. I'm confident this is an article discussing Holly's post, but doesn't repeat the whole thing.

It's popping up in more places. It looks like PL wrote an article on this post, but I'm in transit and haven't been able to sign in and see how they spun it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Honeybun on December 07, 2014, 04:22:28 PM
It's popping up in more places. It looks like PL wrote an article on this post, but I'm in transit and haven't been able to sign in and see how they spun it.

Do you feel that your privacy has been invaded with the creation of the article?

I feel bad that this has happened.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Gennita Low on December 07, 2014, 04:27:28 PM
There is no privacy on a public forum. Not your name (if it's real), any information attached to that name, your stories that you post, and any other comments regarding anything, including the name of your pet :).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 07, 2014, 04:37:54 PM
There is no privacy on a public forum. Not your name (if it's real), any information attached to that name, your stories that you post, and any other comments regarding anything, including the name of your pet :).

Yep. This forum is not a private place. It might be poor journalism to just copy and paste from this thread, but them's the breaks.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Patty Jansen on December 07, 2014, 05:09:51 PM
Do you feel that your privacy has been invaded with the creation of the article?

I feel bad that this has happened.

Everyone is constantly reminded that this is an open forum. People still manage to be constantly surprised that it is so and ergo that information ends up elsewhere.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Patty Jansen on December 07, 2014, 05:10:35 PM
Yep. This forum is not a private place. It might be poor journalism to just copy and paste from this thread, but them's the breaks.

I'm pretty sure that's pretty much the definition of journalism: reporting what other people say or do.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Martitalbott on December 07, 2014, 05:23:04 PM
I'm pretty sure that's pretty much the definition of journalism: reporting what other people say or do.

Hum, that might turn out to be the best free promotion Holly ever got. We'll have to see if an increase in her sales prove my theory.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 08, 2014, 10:57:13 AM
I just hope Amazon doesn't retaliate.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Bluehorseshoe on December 08, 2014, 11:56:04 AM
Retaliation from Amazon would not surprise me.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 08, 2014, 12:49:08 PM
Why would Amazon retailiate?  And retailiate against what?  Holly saying something?? Look Amazon made Holly a deal.   There was a caveat that if it did not work out, she could pull the books out of KU at anytime.   
She got out of KU and the only thing Amazon will do is sell her books.
Do you have any clue how much money Holly brings to Amazon?  Do you know how many customers Holly brings to Amazon?


The problem Holly had was too many of her readers started borrowing instead of buying.
Holly was too big and has too many books in her serial to be in KU.

Amazon and Holly could not take into account consumer behaivor because KU is too new.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KOwrites on December 08, 2014, 01:31:17 PM
Why would Amazon retailiate?  And retailiate against what?  Holly saying something?? Look Amazon made Holly a deal.   There was a caveat that if it did not work out, she could pull the books out of KU at anytime.   
She got out of KU and the only thing Amazon will do is sell her books.
Do you have any clue how much money Holly brings to Amazon?  Do you know how many customers Holly brings to Amazon?


The problem Holly had was too many of her readers started borrowing instead of buying.
Holly was too big and has too many books in her serial to be in KU.

Amazon and Holly could not take into account consumer behaivor because KU is too new.

Amazon can and does pretty much whatever they want. THAT is becoming more apparent by the day.

I'm pretty sure even as they were talking to Holly about coming on board that the all-stars incentive was also coming into play as way to make some of these high-selling authors whole. The all-stars idea/incentive was to keep high-selling/big name authors in KU (even when Amazon didn't require exclusivity of them). It only took 60 days for Holly to reconsider and pull her books out of KU because the low income from book sales was so drastically low and the borrow rate was incredibly high and still not making up the lost $$ in her income.

Amazon isn't all that great at PR so it's not a surprise that they didn't mitigate Holly's unhappiness with their KU program. She is free to speak unless she signed an NDA which they don't seem to do too often. But just know, Amazon can do whatever they want. And they do! The Hachette dispute showed that on a much grander scale.

So, no, Vaalingrade is not off base here. It'd be easy for them to tweak the algos, and THEY most certainly do. For instance, the Top 100 best seller list right now features all four Amazon Imprint titles in slots 1 - 4.  That's not a coincidence that's "Captain "Jeff Bezos" Picard saying make it so. http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/ref=pd_dp_ts_kstore_1 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/ref=pd_dp_ts_kstore_1)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on December 08, 2014, 01:34:43 PM
Yep. This forum is not a private place. It might be poor journalism to just copy and paste from this thread, but them's the breaks.
Wouldn't it be plagiarism if they don't list the source?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 08, 2014, 01:40:15 PM
What did Hatchet prove?  It didn't say a thing about Amazon.  Rather like Ted Turner and Charlie Ergen.   
I think Amazon is too customer centric to do something like that.   How is Vaal right?  All he did was make a comment.
Lisa, plagiarism is if they claim the work as their own.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on December 08, 2014, 01:46:01 PM
What did Hatchet prove?  It didn't say a thing about Amazon.  Rather like Ted Turner and Charlie Ergen.   
I think Amazon is too customer centric to do something like that.   How is Vaal right?  All he did was make a comment.
Lisa, plagiarism is if they claim the work as their own.
Actually, when you don't reference the original author, that is also plagiarism. That was drilled into us in uni from day one.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 08, 2014, 01:47:21 PM
Actually, when you don't reference the original author, that is also plagiarism. That was drilled into us in uni from day one.
I forgot that one.   I thought he was smart enough to give credit.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on December 08, 2014, 01:50:42 PM
Wouldn't it be plagiarism if they don't list the source?


The reporter does list the source.

It would be copyright infringement if he used more than a short excerpt, which he didn't.

I concur this is the very definition of journalism: reporting what others have said. I also agree this is probably good publicity for HM Ward, Mimi Strong, Hugh Howey, and the other authors who were quoted in that article.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 08, 2014, 02:29:44 PM
There's a difference between plagiarism and poor journalism. Poor journalism would be to write a story that cuts and pastes from responses on this thread, then fail to follow up on any other source. After all, KBoards is so representative of self-published writers and none of us would ever lie about our numbers, right? /sarcasm
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Deborahsmith author on December 08, 2014, 02:31:38 PM

The reporter does list the source.

It would be copyright infringement if he used more than a short excerpt, which he didn't.

I concur this is the very definition of journalism: reporting what others have said. I also agree this is probably good publicity for HM Ward, Mimi Strong, Hugh Howey, and the other authors who were quoted in that article.

Absolutely. PL is a respected site; as a small press publisher I subscribe to it, list my authors' books there, post notices in their rights section, etc. Their reporting is considered legit and is highly respected. They generally provide inside info on the industry. It's a site primarily used by agents, editors and publishers. Ward's comments have been reported in a number of places.   
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 08, 2014, 03:43:18 PM
Why would Amazon retailiate?  And retailiate against what?

Bad press. If this gets bigger and convinces a lot of writers they could otherwise rope in to back off, they won't be happy and we've seen they're not afraid of using the stick in addition to the carrot.

And while Holly is significantly less expendable than us, that doesn't mean they wouldn't be above applying some pressure.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 08, 2014, 03:49:21 PM
Bad press. If this gets bigger and convinces a lot of writers they could otherwise rope in to back off, they won't be happy and we've seen they're not afraid of using the stick in addition to the carrot.

And while Holly is significantly less expendable than us, that doesn't mean they wouldn't be above applying some pressure.
Yes, I get this.   But that leads to the question: are Holly's customers expendable?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 08, 2014, 04:47:44 PM
Yes, I get this.   But that leads to the question: are Holly's customers expendable?

Aside from those that post here, and those who go to Holly's site (assuming she posts about it IF it happens), how are they going to know? And how would the target of any sort of 'creative algorythms' going to prove it? It's not like a self-pubber, even the big ones have a powerful marketing arm that can compensate for that. They don't need to stun and delay someone's books, they can just tank their visibility.

Plus, how many readers are hardcore enough bans to boycott in defense of a given writer? I would get into a fistfight to defend Brandon Sanderson's (and one to besmerch Terry Books and GRRM's), but I don't think I would stop shopping somewhere that move their books to a lower shelf out of petty spite.

I'm not saying stuff like this the scare anyone, it's just really REALLY important to understand how vulnerable we are, even the most successful of us. At the moment, even when we gather and talk, we are alone when it comes down to the business end.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Steven Konkoly on December 08, 2014, 04:57:06 PM
"It'd be easy for them to tweak the algos, and THEY most certainly do. For instance, the Top 100 best seller list right now features all four Amazon Imprint titles in slots 1 - 4."

This is not tweaked algos. Imprint books get more promotion bandwidth because Amazon is their publisher. They're listed in slots 1-4 because they are selling more than the rest. That's the massive benefit of taking an Amazon imprint deal...if offered.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on December 08, 2014, 05:06:52 PM
...[Amazon doesn't] need to stun and delay someone's books, they can just tank their visibility.

Plus, how many readers are hardcore enough [f]ans to boycott in defense of a given writer? …

I'm not saying stuff like this the scare anyone, it's just really REALLY important to understand how vulnerable we are, even the most successful of us...


I agree.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 08, 2014, 05:18:20 PM
Aside from those that post here, and those who go to Holly's site (assuming she posts about it IF it happens), how are they going to know? And how would the target of any sort of 'creative algorythms' going to prove it? It's not like a self-pubber, even the big ones have a powerful marketing arm that can compensate for that. They don't need to stun and delay someone's books, they can just tank their visibility.

Plus, how many readers are hardcore enough bans to boycott in defense of a given writer? I would get into a fistfight to defend Brandon Sanderson's (and one to besmerch Terry Books and GRRM's), but I don't think I would stop shopping somewhere that move their books to a lower shelf out of petty spite.

I'm not saying stuff like this the scare anyone, it's just really REALLY important to understand how vulnerable we are, even the most successful of us. At the moment, even when we gather and talk, we are alone when it comes down to the business end.
My apologies.   I misunderstood your idea of retaliation.   I thought you meant retaliate.   Messing with the algos to me would not be retaliation.   Retaliation to me would be taking the author's books down.    So now with that definition: do you think Holly's customers are expendable?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KOwrites on December 08, 2014, 05:24:30 PM
"It'd be easy for them to tweak the algos, and THEY most certainly do. For instance, the Top 100 best seller list right now features all four Amazon Imprint titles in slots 1 - 4."

This is not tweaked algos. Imprint books get more promotion bandwidth because Amazon is their publisher. They're listed in slots 1-4 because they are selling more than the rest. That's the massive benefit of taking an Amazon imprint deal...if offered.

All four titles are in the Kindle First program (Prime customers are offered the book for a free read a month prior to publication). Seriously? You think that's just magic with the sales for all four to hit the top spots? I don't think so. I've watched some of these imprints for a while now. They haven't always taken the top spots on the top 100 list in the Kindle store. For a long while, they were floundering. That's not the case anymore. They are getting the promos and the lift to keep them in these spots. Frankly, as a prime customer, I can't find a book to borrow via the Kindle Lending Library anymore. (It's all KU books no longer prime only books when you do a search via Kindle.) The team in charge of Kindle First must be getting some accolades about now. The Amazon imprint authors must be happier with the sales and the visibility prior to release. I have seen a few "Kindle First" titles get the lift prior to publication and then tank after the book releases. Bad reviews can't save it but you can be there at the top of the list where there might be some algo in there to lift these books up prior to release.   
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Natasha A. Salnikova on December 08, 2014, 06:22:08 PM
I can stop scratching my head now. The last few days just a pure disappointment and I couldn't understand why.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 08, 2014, 07:24:49 PM
My apologies.   I misunderstood your idea of retaliation.   I thought you meant retaliate.   Messing with the algos to me would not be retaliation.   Retaliation to me would be taking the author's books down.    So now with that definition: do you think Holly's customers are expendable?

Do I think that? Of course not. I don't find any readers are expendable unless thhey set me off personally.

When it comes to 'zon? Well her fans will still find her and like I said, it's unlikely they'd find out what they did, so for them, expandability of those consumers is a non-issue--they're not risking them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 08, 2014, 08:15:43 PM
Do I think that? Of course not. I don't find any readers are expendable unless thhey set me off personally.

When it comes to 'zon? Well her fans will still find her and like I said, it's unlikely they'd find out what they did, so for them, expandability of those consumers is a non-issue--they're not risking them.
The point I was making is Amazon will not retaliate because if Holly leaves, then her customers are not going to Amazon and buying other stuff.   
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KelliWolfe on December 08, 2014, 08:53:24 PM
The point I was making is Amazon will not retaliate because if Holly leaves, then her customers are not going to Amazon and buying other stuff.
But is that really true? Oh, I have no doubt that a few truly die-hard fans will send nasty emails to customer service and go elsewhere, but how many Kindle owners are really going to dump Amazon?

Was there a mass exodus by readers from Amazon over all the authors who complained about how they were suffering under the Hachette dispute? Or did business pretty much go on as usual?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 08, 2014, 09:43:30 PM
The point I was making is Amazon will not retaliate because if Holly leaves, then her customers are not going to Amazon and buying other stuff.   

I kind of doubt that's what would happen.

As I am found of saying, in the end we are all dancing monkeys. Very few people care what happens to us as long as the content flows. When it comes right down to it, they could pick fights with JK Rowling or Steven King and still not really suffer all that much backlash. The producer end of things just does not command that much loyalty. I know plenty of people who love certain series, but couldn't even name the author on the spot.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: finchambooks on December 09, 2014, 05:29:50 AM
I joined KU in November and I'm regretting every minute of it.  The exclusivity, the restrictions on choosing between free promo and Countdown Deal per one enrollment, plus you can't do anything for 14 days prior to the end of the enrollment, etc, etc, is not worth the trouble, IMHO.

Worst decision I ever made... okay, worst decision this year  :P
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cwashburn on December 09, 2014, 06:37:45 AM
My sales were no where near yours but I definitely noticed a serious drop after Kindle Unlimited was introduced.  It's like readers decided they would no longer pay anything to read a book.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Victoria J on December 09, 2014, 09:36:49 AM
It's destroyed mine as well and just when things were starting to look up for me. I put a bunch of short stories in and a couple of novels. Worst decision ever. I can't wait until January when I can pull them all out. This is the last time I  will *EVER* try any of Amazon's exclusive programs. It hasn't done anything to help my sales at all. In fact it's nearly killed sales.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 09, 2014, 09:43:19 AM
But is that really true? Oh, I have no doubt that a few truly die-hard fans will send nasty emails to customer service and go elsewhere, but how many Kindle owners are really going to dump Amazon?

Was there a mass exodus by readers from Amazon over all the authors who complained about how they were suffering under the Hachette dispute? Or did business pretty much go on as usual?
I am not talking about just picking up a few e-books.  On your question,  no because the books were still there.   
Let me try one more time.
If a person has to go somewhere else to find a book, then they will not be clicking the continue shopping button that is on every thank you for your purchase page.
Holly is a door into the entire Amazon store.   

On the bad PR, Holly actually never said anything bad about Amazon or KU.   She just said it didn't work for her.    And she did leave Amazon just their little subscription program.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KOwrites on December 09, 2014, 11:02:34 AM
My sales were no where near yours but I definitely noticed a serious drop after Kindle Unlimited was introduced.  It's like readers decided they would no longer pay anything to read a book.

+1 This (the what I bolded part). Yes, I believe, this is exactly what is going on. KU is literally changing the way readers get their books. If they don't mind returning the borrowed book after they've read it, it's a win for them. And from a psychological perspective, the book feels free even though they are ponying up close to $10/month to participate. So they borrow a book or two or three of yours and move on. How do they remember your name, the book they read by you? They don't. They move on and read somebody else's stuff.

Holly may very well recover all of her income (I think she stated she was on her way to regaining ground in terms of revenues), but I seriously doubt that will reflect what other writers/author-entrepreneurs will experience in the way of sales revenues versus borrows revenues. KU is a game-changer from a variety of aspects. It may very well be changing the demographic makeup of a reader. On the surface, it will look successful. (Probably along the same lines as to how free looked when those books were featured side-by-side paid ones.) Amazon will be looking at revenues from a win-loss perspective. They might be willing to lose revenues on the sales side of things for a long while with ebooks, which is a stark reality (at least to me) that must be considered along with everything else.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 09, 2014, 11:09:57 AM
I am not talking about just picking up a few e-books.  On your question,  no because the books were still there.   
Let me try one more time.
If a person has to go somewhere else to find a book, then they will not be clicking the continue shopping button that is on every thank you for your purchase page.
Holly is a door into the entire Amazon store.   
Who said anyone would have to go anywhere else to find her books? Tanking visibility keeps new people from finding you, not the ones who know to search for you.

Quote
On the bad PR, Holly actually never said anything bad about Amazon or KU.   She just said it didn't work for her.    And she did leave Amazon just their little subscription program.

She's one of the first people to point out the Emperor has no clothes that people are listening to.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kirkee on December 09, 2014, 12:06:08 PM
The truth does hurt, but yes––that's what we are: dancing monkeys. It's always been like this for us creative types.
Entertainment has value, but, clearly, other factors are far more important: food, shelter, love, etc. Without us, the world still goes on. Just a fact. Look what was done to Vinnie van Gogh. The only painting he ever sold in his lifetime was to his brother for forty (not dollars, either).

Perhaps the following is also worth noting: if Holly's  legion of fans could not find her books on the 'Zon, they would seek them out elsewhere: Kobo, iToons, etc. Would it hurt the 'Zon in any way? Only if her following (or anyone else's  following) amounted to thousands.

But the reminder of us being dancing chickens (or monkeys) is quite sobering...and very real. Kind of reminds me of Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker. Before he met Elvis, Parker, not his real name, was part of a traveling carney show, and called one of his acts: The Dancing Chickens. What this entailed was Parker placing his fowl on a plate––that was heated... And voila: you got your dancing chickens. This is what KU reminds me of. They turned on the heat (behind the scenes stunts & maneuvers), and we started dancing like Col. Parker's chickens. Well, it's gotten a little too uncomfortable for some of us... After three long months of hopping around on the hop plate... it's time to HOP off.
 
I feel for every one of you dancing chickens, believe me.   :'(
Yes, we still support the 'Zon, and all that––just don't care for KU & exclusivity.   
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Moist_Tissue on December 09, 2014, 12:09:41 PM
I just want to poke my eyes out with hot pokers everytime I see "Zon" used.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: T. M. Bilderback on December 09, 2014, 12:27:15 PM
The authors that are opting out and are vocal about it have impressive numbers, both in the amount of sales, and with the number of the authors themselves.

But, I wonder how many authors are deciding that KU, Select, and exclusivity are not for them, and are just very quietly "unticking" those little boxes in Select and just aren't saying anything about it?

I bet there are many, many more than we'll ever guess.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Al Stevens on December 09, 2014, 12:41:38 PM
...if Holly's  legion of fans could not find her books on the 'Zon, they would seek them out elsewhere: Kobo, iToons, etc.
Those readers with Kindles would run into the obstacles of (1) needing the books in .mobi format, which few of the other platforms support, and (2) figuring out how to sideload the downloaded files into their Kindles. Sure, it's doable, but it's a pain.

Fans are fickle. They take the paths of least resistance. If you barricade the click/read paradigm, they'll find another author to patronize.

I have only two titles left in Select, and when their term expires (12/31) I'll have none. If all the top authors and trad publishers would do the same, KU would probably fade away, not because of author desertions but because of reader desertions.



Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kirkee on December 09, 2014, 12:45:12 PM
Moist T. Please don't do that. It might hurt.  :'(
What if, instead, we went with the Mighty Z.?

(You have to understand that folks around here get
tired of using the full name––for one reason or another.)
So we opt for the shortcut. But really, this is no different
from all the other terms we see used constantly: LOL, WTF;
many others.

Good question, T.M. Makes you wonder. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 09, 2014, 04:29:03 PM
The truth does hurt, but yes----that's what we are: dancing monkeys. It's always been like this for us creative types.
Entertainment has value, but, clearly, other factors are far more important: food, shelter, love, etc. Without us, the world still goes on. Just a fact. Look what was done to Vinnie van Gogh. The only painting he ever sold in his lifetime was to his brother for forty (not dollars, either).

Perhaps the following is also worth noting: if Holly's  legion of fans could not find her books on the 'Zon, they would seek them out elsewhere: Kobo, iToons, etc. Would it hurt the 'Zon in any way? Only if her following (or anyone else's  following) amounted to thousands.

But the reminder of us being dancing chickens (or monkeys) is quite sobering...and very real. Kind of reminds me of Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker. Before he met Elvis, Parker, not his real name, was part of a traveling carney show, and called one of his acts: The Dancing Chickens. What this entailed was Parker placing his fowl on a plate----that was heated... And voila: you got your dancing chickens. This is what KU reminds me of. They turned on the heat (behind the scenes stunts & maneuvers), and we started dancing like Col. Parker's chickens. Well, it's gotten a little too uncomfortable for some of us... After three long months of hopping around on the hop plate... it's time to HOP off.
 
I feel for every one of you dancing chickens, believe me.   :'(
Yes, we still support the 'Zon, and all that----just don't care for KU & exclusivity.   
Kirkee,
Yes Holly has thousands of followers.     
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Moist_Tissue on December 09, 2014, 05:40:10 PM
Moist T. Please don't do that. It might hurt.  :'(
What if, instead, we went with the Mighty Z.?

(You have to understand that folks around here get
tired of using the full name----for one reason or another.)
So we opt for the shortcut. But really, this is no different
from all the other terms we see used constantly: LOL, WTF;
many others.

Good question, T.M. Makes you wonder. 

I know, I know. It just makes me cringe.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: NoahPorter on December 19, 2014, 07:43:44 PM
Is permafree dead for anyone else now? On top of KU crushing sales, it appears to be crushing permafrees too, at least based on my wife's books and those of 85% of our author friends.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 19, 2014, 07:49:58 PM
Quote
Is permafree dead for anyone else now? On top of KU crushing sales, it appears to be crushing permafrees too, at least based on my wife's books and those of 85% of our author friends.

Not dead for me. My downloads have stayed about the same, but my sell-thru dropped a lot. I have gradually built them back up but it took over two months a BookBub and a new release. I also actively promote free ways to get books on my blog and Facebook page. I mention that my work is in Scribd and Oyster, and that I'm available in libraries through Overdrive. I also promise discounts for my all new releases if peeps are on my mailing list.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Darryl Hughes on December 19, 2014, 09:15:19 PM
Wow. Seems KU is the cause of a lot of hurt. Not just the permafree folks, you should see the posts on the KDP forum. Sales went through the floor in the last month for all ebooks it seems.

Dee
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on December 19, 2014, 10:11:49 PM
Same. Once things blew up on BN and Kobo, they stayed up with little to no churn.

Yes. Amazon graphs are up and down like saw teeth. Outside Amazon's choppy waters, the other channels are placid. Growth is slow and steady.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Patty Jansen on December 19, 2014, 10:21:47 PM
I just want to poke my eyes out with hot pokers everytime I see "Zon" used.

+1

Cutesy little nicknames are for your pets, your kids or you friends. Not for world-domination-ambitious companies that steamroll over everyone after changing on line of code.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 19, 2014, 10:35:11 PM
Sales went through the floor in the last month for all ebooks it seems.


Most authors I've spoken to have said their sales began to drop in July when Zon began offering the free 30 day trial. As more and more readers availed themselves of the free test period, sales continued to drop dramatically. And we have to remember that it's not just the authors who are hurting. Every lost sale also represents lost income to the Zon. The loss of their 30% or 65% on tens of millions of ebooks has to be hitting their bottom line like a sledgehammer. The $9.99 collected by the Zon for KU participation can't be coming close to making up the shortfall from lost ebook sales. I have to wonder if it's even covering the $6.5 million payout.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Darryl Hughes on December 19, 2014, 10:53:09 PM
Most authors I've spoken to have said their sales began to drop in July when Zon began offering the free 30 day trial. As more and more readers availed themselves of the free test period, sales continued to drop dramatically. And we have to remember that it's not just the authors who are hurting. Every lost sale also represents lost income to the Zon. The loss of their 30% or 65% on tens of millions of ebooks has to be hitting their bottom line like a sledgehammer. The $9.99 collected by the Zon for KU participation can't be coming close to making up the shortfall from lost ebook sales. I have to wonder if it's even covering the $6.5 million payout.

I'm not going to cry for Amazon. They more or less shot themselves in the foot with KU and that's hurting the self publishers as well. And I can't believe you actually said "The Zon"? Seriously?

Dee
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 19, 2014, 11:18:41 PM
I'm not going to cry for Amazon. They more or less shot themselves in the foot with KU and that's hurting the self publishers as well. And I can't believe you actually said "The Zon"? Seriously?

Dee

I never apologize for not being politically correct, and as Shakespeare wrote, 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.' It's not a pet name, it's simply a shortened version.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: kathrynoh on December 19, 2014, 11:20:40 PM
Your shortened version has one more character than the actual name if you count the space!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lady Vine on December 19, 2014, 11:31:51 PM
I know rankings aren't everything, yada, yada, yada, but I've been looking at the rankings of several big names not in KU, and WHOA! Some of these guys only a couple of months ago were riding high. Now, they could be anyone. Amazon's making a very bold statement here.

You know that mass exodus some of us spoke of? This is precisely why it isn't happening: Fear. Fear that their sales will collapse if they decide to go wide.

Ah, duress. Don't you just love it?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 20, 2014, 12:30:51 AM
Some of us have always gone wide. KU has only convinced us that we need to go wider.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lionel's Mom on December 20, 2014, 01:18:43 AM
I know rankings aren't everything, yada, yada, yada, but I've been looking at the rankings of several big names not in KU, and WHOA! Some of these guys only a couple of months ago were riding high. Now, they could be anyone. Amazon's making a very bold statement here.

You know that mass exodus some of us spoke of? This is precisely why it isn't happening: Fear. Fear that their sales will collapse if they decide to go wide.

Ah, duress. Don't you just love it?
I don't know if this is true for everyone regarding rank, but my books' ranks def fell (or rose, I guess you'd say) when KU started, however, my sales remained relatively the same, with the expected slow slide in between releases.
So, higher rank but about the same sales. I attributed it to the heavier weighting of KU borrows to books in that program. So, a book getting less or the same amount of sales as mine would rank better if it got even a couple borrows, correct?
It could be the people not in KU, whose rank has seemed to rise like whoa are making the same amount of sales as they always have.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SB James on December 20, 2014, 04:13:41 AM
Some of us have always gone wide. KU has only convinced us that we need to go wider.
And now it is beginning to pay off, at least for me.
It is a natural thing that your ranking will be better if you have all your fans buying your books exclusively from Amazon. If I was exclusive to Amazon, but simply not in Select, anyone who wanted to buy my book would have to buy it from Amazon, and thus (especially for the permafree) my ranking would be better.
Unless... they don't like Amazon, which I personally think is the case with some people. I believe that some of my readers are grateful they can get my books elsewhere. I'm sure I as well as other authors will get an even clearer picture of how our readers feel coming into the new year.
And you may have notice I don't truncate Amazon to Zon either. It's a bit too cutesy, IMO.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: rosclarke on December 20, 2014, 04:21:24 AM
Moist T. Please don't do that. It might hurt.  :'(
What if, instead, we went with the Mighty Z.?

(You have to understand that folks around here get
tired of using the full name----for one reason or another.)
So we opt for the shortcut. But really, this is no different
from all the other terms we see used constantly: LOL, WTF;
many others.

Typing "Amazon" is actually quicker than typing "the 'Zon".

And is a thousand times more likely to make people take you seriously.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 20, 2014, 04:49:53 AM
Your shortened version has one more character than the actual name if you count the space!

And yet amazingly it reduces the word from three syllables to one when reading the posts.  :o
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 20, 2014, 04:57:38 AM

And is a thousand times more likely to make people take you seriously.


That's the group that John Gruber is so fond of ridiculing.   ;D
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on December 20, 2014, 05:12:21 AM
True story.  I have a massive commercial company in my series. Without realizing the connection until well after publication, I named it Azon Corp ! 
Funny how the mind works.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' on December 20, 2014, 06:14:18 AM
Is permafree dead for anyone else now? On top of KU crushing sales, it appears to be crushing permafrees too, at least based on my wife's books and those of 85% of our author friends.

Not completely dead, but it's mostly in single digits the last few months. Without permafree, sales have been very slow. December is usually slow but definitely not this. When I compare sales to last December, it looks like I'm down about 70% unless Christmas Kindles get filled up with my books.

I'm not even bothering to advertise my permafree.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Hoop on December 20, 2014, 06:44:27 AM
That's the group that John Gruber is so fond of ridiculing.   ;D
If people are so desperate to ignore your point that they'll hyperfocus on an abbreviation and waggle their finger at you about it, it's their loss.
I've been here at the Cafe for over a year, and have seen the abbreviation of "Zon" that entire time. How funny that *now* suddenly folks are turning up their noses at it and insisting that in order to fit in (aka "be taken seriously" by themselves), you shouldn't shorten the name. Were they not bothering to read the Cafe for the past year and beyond, are they trying to make themselves seem more refined, or do they simply want to argue about something?

It's an abbreviation, people. Get over it, or start whipping up your righteous indignance over "B&N", "WC", and every other common abbreviation used here.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on December 20, 2014, 06:50:39 AM
If I recall correctly, quite some time ago people here started to refer to The Great and Mighty Zon quite facetiously as some sort of god or overlord, someone to whom goats and unicorns are sacrificed in order to maintain sales.
So, to me, "Zon" is used rather sarcastically and not in any way as an endearment or shortcut.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: NoahPorter on December 20, 2014, 07:01:25 AM
It's an abbreviation, people. Get over it, or start whipping up your righteous indignance over "B&N", "WC", and every other common abbreviation used here.

Seriously. People have nothing else to worry about? Jesus, what charmed lives we lead.

Back to the actual topic at hand, has anyone found any convincing means to boost permafrees? I know they aren't ever going to go back to being as effective as they were before KU, unless Amazon decides to change the algorithms again, but maybe something will work to help draw more eyes to them?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KelliWolfe on December 20, 2014, 10:02:19 AM
Back to the actual topic at hand, has anyone found any convincing means to boost permafrees? I know they aren't ever going to go back to being as effective as they were before KU, unless Amazon decides to change the algorithms again, but maybe something will work to help draw more eyes to them?
I may be the outlier here, but I've actually had a big jump in my permafrees. After KU started my 4 permafrees were running around 75 downloads per day. In late September I started moving some titles into KU and did bknights promos on a couple of the permafree titles. By November 1 I was consistently hitting 200 downloads/day. I kept putting new titles into KU as I wrote them and did a genrepulse promo the 1st week of November on two of the permafrees. Since then I've been doing 250-300 per day. Because I did all of this in tandem with moving books into KU it's difficult to say how effective the promotions have been in terms of sales/borrows, but it is evidence that it's still very possible to boost freebies.

As for sales... Sales had sunk like a rock along with permafree downloads when KU started. I started putting titles into KU the last week of September and since the middle of October my borrows have stayed fairly steady despite the addition of new titles to KU, up until about a week ago when they dropped off a cliff. Actual sales began to shift up in early October after I ran the first bknights promo - about a week after I put the first 5 or 6 books in KU - and then leveled off around 40% higher than where they had been in August and September. Again, it's really hard to separate the effect of putting books into KU and running the promos. The day-to-day data is extremely jagged and interpreting anything statistically significant out of the noise is more trouble than I'm going to go to.

One thing that's interesting is that for the most part KU borrow patterns track very closely with sales patterns - despite the fact that it doesn't seem like the KU people are buying books outside of KU. Since late September there are only maybe half a dozen places on my sales graph where the up/down patterns really diverge, and the overall trends are similar. Something weird happened around the end of the first week of December though, and while sales have been on an upswing since then my KU borrows seem to be heading towards zero.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: PhoenixS on December 20, 2014, 10:22:06 AM
I often refer to Amazon as Amagod. Or Ammy when I'm feeling chummy. McDonald's hasn't seemed to be hurt by respected economic and news outlets referring to it as The Golden Arches. Are we seriously debating what's appropriate when discussing a business name? For the love of Amagod ;)

SMP as a whole saw a 40% decline from July to December despite new releases *every* month and BookBub ads for each of the core authors. That was in 2013.

In 2014, we didn't have *any* new single-author releases between July and Dec, but we did have monthly BookBub ads - and we saw about a 45% decline.

I don't think all the decline many are seeing is strictly a by-product of KU. Some is seasonal. Some is algo-driven. Some is overall-market-driven. I think we especially need to be keeping an eye on market conditions right now.

We have a few titles in Select - and those titles are doing better in KU than they were doing outside it. But I don't have all our single-author titles in by a long shot. As I've always said regarding Select, it's a decision to be made by book (or series), not by inventory.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Gennita Low on December 20, 2014, 10:30:16 AM
My sales have dropped 70% at Z and have gone up 40% at Apple. So hopefully, the latter will continue and I won't have to depend on Zon for the majority of my sales in 2015. KDP sent me a survey and I told them the same info. I even greeted them, "Hey, Zon!" ;)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: gorvnice on December 20, 2014, 10:40:38 AM
I experienced a pretty steep decline around the time of KU's emergence, and then have rebounded substantially in the last couple of months. 

Put out a box set a few months ago that did very well at Amazon and saved my bacon.  Since then, did some advertising for the first time in 3 and a half years of self-publishing (never felt I needed it before now).

Tried some shorts written specifically for KU and decided the payoff wasn't even worth it.

Have a bunch of low performing books and shorts in KU just for the heck of it--can't say if it's made much difference.

Otherwise, have just worked harder to get on a better release schedule and kept all my big performers in wide release, and so far its paid off.  Lots of ups and downs but I think the KU effect is not as strong as it was, but maybe that's just the luck of my box set having rescued me.

Anyway, that's what's going on from where I sit.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Michael Parker on December 20, 2014, 10:45:55 AM
I haven't been on this board for most of the year because of health problems and moving back to England. Next year I'll spend some more time here. Meanwhile I would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 20, 2014, 11:31:16 AM
Quote
We have a few titles in Select - and those titles are doing better in KU than they were doing outside it. But I don't have all our single-author titles in by a long shot. As I've always said regarding Select, it's a decision to be made by book (or series), not by inventory.

I always appreciate your thoughtful, rational advice.

Quote
I'm not even bothering to advertise my permafree.

You have to advertise if you use permafree I've found.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: tessblunt on December 20, 2014, 01:20:05 PM
Most authors I've spoken to have said their sales began to drop in July when Zon began offering the free 30 day trial. As more and more readers availed themselves of the free test period, sales continued to drop dramatically. And we have to remember that it's not just the authors who are hurting. Every lost sale also represents lost income to the Zon. The loss of their 30% or 65% on tens of millions of ebooks has to be hitting their bottom line like a sledgehammer. The $9.99 collected by the Zon for KU participation can't be coming close to making up the shortfall from lost ebook sales. I have to wonder if it's even covering the $6.5 million payout.

Not to single you out specifically but do you really think eBook sales revenues mean anything to Amazon? Ebooks are just a small part of the bigger picture. They can take massive losses on eBooks for decades to come and their market cap will still increase. This isn't about books, or literature, or telling the stories that need to be told. It's about giving the consumer masses the content they want to consume and providing a customer experience to keep them coming back to the Amazon store to make all their purchases.

Think long game here, short-term profit margins mean nothing to Amazon and the millions of people invested in them.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Kathryn Meyer Griffith on December 20, 2014, 01:22:14 PM
I, too, have seen my sales plunge since KU...and I pulled my best selling 4 novels (90-100,000 words, 2 dinosaur books and 2 murder mysteries) out in September; went wide. So far the D2D and Smashwords 4 books aren't selling hardly anything (?) and my Amazon sales have plummeted to almost nothing, but I've accepted the new world and am preparing for it by knowing I won't make a lot of money any longer, like the last two years which were fantastic, until I get more self-published books out there. I, too, put out some short stories in KU and they're not selling, either. Same thing with my 18 ACX (Audible, itunes and Amazon) audio books; they're selling slow also and Whispersync sometimes drops my royalty to .50 cents, so revenue is down there as well. It seems to me that Amazon, with Whispersync and KU has effectively dropped our royalties to a lot below 70%...and I fear that's the future and will get worse as Amazon/ACX want more of the royalty/profit pie from us - just like my old publishers of yore where I was lucky to get 4-18 %. Hmmm. Yes, the world's changed and we're going to have to change with it.
I'm grateful for whatever money my eBooks make these days because the days of yore were so awful that even with KU I'm far better off. Anyway...HAPPY HOLIDAYS ALL!!!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 20, 2014, 01:41:38 PM
Not to single you out specifically but do you really think eBook sales revenues mean anything to Amazon? Ebooks are just a small part of the bigger picture. They can take massive losses on eBooks for decades to come and their market cap will still increase. This isn't about books, or literature, or telling the stories that need to be told. It's about giving the consumer masses the content they want to consume and providing a customer experience to keep them coming back to the Amazon store to make all their purchases.

Think long game here, short-term profit margins mean nothing to Amazon and the millions of people invested in them.

First, let me respond to a previous poster who said, "I'm not going to cry for Amazon."

My post was not intended to elicit sympathy for Zon. It was to point out that the company has to be losing millions of dollars every week over what they might have gotten prior to the KU introduction. I suspect that their next quarterly statement is going to make interesting reading.

No, as to your comment, "do you really think eBook sales revenues mean anything to Amazon?"

I was in the corporate side of cut-throat retail. We sometimes measured our successes in pennies per sale over net cost per item sold. Yes, those millions of dollars that Amazon is losing does mean something to the bean counters at the Zon. My retail company would have killed (figuratively) to make a consistent 35%- 65% on items we didn't have to stock, inventory, clean, return, etc. All those wonderful other products that Amazon is carrying don't make 35-65 percent profit. Sure, Zon can sell a million dollars i
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: PamelaKelley on December 20, 2014, 02:04:52 PM
First, let me respond to a previous poster who said, "I'm not going to cry for Amazon."

My post was not intended to elicit sympathy for Zon. It was to point out that the company has to be losing millions of dollars every week over what they might have gotten prior to the KU introduction. I suspect that their next quarterly statement is going to make interesting reading.

No, as to your comment, "do you really think eBook sales revenues mean anything to Amazon?"

I was in the corporate side of cut-throat retail. We sometimes measured our successes in pennies per sale over net cost per item sold. Yes, those millions of dollars that Amazon is losing does mean something to the bean counters at the Zon. My retail company would have killed (figuratively) to make a consistent 35%- 65% on items we didn't have to stock, inventory, clean, return, etc. All those wonderful other products that Amazon is carrying don't make 35-65 percent profit. Sure, Zon can sell a million dollars i

I suspect that Amazon researched KU very carefully before rolling it out. Everything they do has a purpose even if it seems on the surface to be a money-loser. As others have mentioned, it's just another way to lock in the customer. They don't just want your book sales or borrows, they want you to buy everything else there too. Silly example, my local grocery store was out of disposable cat litter boxes, just for kicks I searched Amazon to see if they carried them and was surprised to see that they do. Who would have thought? I one-clicked and they will be arriving on Tuesday--free shipping cuz I have a Prime membership.

That said, I don't think KU is a good thing. As a consumer I like it, why wouldn't I?  But as an author, I think it's a huge game-changer that is devaluing books like nothing else, even permafree has. Because now people expect to read for free. If torn between two books, one in KU and one not, guess which one probably wins? The only good thing about KU for authors is that it may reach new readers who were on the fence about you.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 20, 2014, 02:28:53 PM
I suspect that Amazon researched KU very carefully before rolling it out.

I think we ascribe way, WAY too much intelligence to Amazon than their actions over the past 18 months would support in evidence.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Saul Tanpepper on December 20, 2014, 02:59:21 PM
I suspect that Amazon researched KU very carefully before rolling it out.



I have no doubt this is true. But it's still possible to get it completely wrong. How else would you explain the author backpash (and, yes, it's everywhere ) and the fact that they failed to predict the abuses?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Chrissy on December 20, 2014, 03:04:18 PM
I have no doubt this is true. But it's still possible to get it completely wrong. How else would you explain the author backpash (and, yes, it's everywhere ) and the fact that they failed to predict the abuses?

We don't know they failed to predict the abuses. Maybe they DID predict the abuses but set a margin of tolerance, meaning as long as the abuses stayed within a certain range it would NOT impact their agenda. 

If the abuses ever did go over the tolerance levels then they change the algo to subvert the abuses.  Easy-peasy.  :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Chrissy on December 20, 2014, 03:08:22 PM
I think we ascribe way, WAY too much intelligence to Amazon than their actions over the past 18 months would support in evidence.

What's smart about Amazon is they are customer-driven, data-driven, think long term and when something doesn't work, they don't react, they regroup. 

So if they aren't smart at first, they grow smarter over time because of the above and their willingness to change and to reinvent themselves before their competitors can.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KelliWolfe on December 20, 2014, 03:12:21 PM
The KU launch helps Amazon in a lot of ways that don't have anything to do with increasing their ebook sales bottom line.

They get more eyes into the Amazon store. They starve other distributors of content because KU requires exclusivity. They force other subscription services like Scribd and Oyster to keep their author payouts ruinously high and their subscription costs very low. They train new authors to expect much lower payouts.

It's pretty much a win-win for Amazon no matter how it turns out.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: KL_Phelps on December 20, 2014, 03:13:45 PM
I suspect that Amazon researched KU very carefully before rolling it out. Everything they do has a purpose even if it seems on the surface to be a money-loser.


Hey kiddo   ;D , while they might have researched, what effect it is having for them vs what they thought it might have for them may be two very different things.  Don't they have like 70-80 million worth of amazon fire phones sitting in their warehouses. I'm quite sure they did some homework before they launched that. Not everything they touch turns to gold.


As I think I said in this thread before, as a tiny newb in the word of self-publishing, KU has definitely gotten my books into more hands thank it likely would have. I don't for a minute think all those KU  borrows (and by all those please don't think I am am even talking about a big number) would have been sales for me. So for me KU is a positive, but for someone with a large established fan base I can see how it burns them.

The only thing certain about the future of the publishing world is that it's uncertain. And if I think about it too much it scares the heck out of me  :P
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Hoop on December 20, 2014, 03:23:06 PM
In all 26 (so far) pages of this thread, it seems that one assumption is prevalent: that borrows would have been sales had the ability to borrow not been present.
This is a complete fallacy.

Looking at Holly's claim of a 75% loss it seems that she may have even fallen victim to this thinking, as well - although at one point she does say that borrowers and buyers are two different people. It looks as if she may have been both projecting expected revenue due to an assumed price point on a borrow, AND comparing net income to what it would have been if all of those borrows had been sales.

300 borrows is NOT "300 sales lost". Many of those borrowers would never have purchased a book at its full price - we even have numerous people in this thread stating outright that they couldn't afford Holly's books (especially considering the length of the series) and would never have bought them - but once they were available for a borrow through KU then they picked them up.
Those are profits *gained*, not a sale lost.

Yes, SOME of the people who would have purchased the book instead borrowed it - but you cannot ever assume that ALL borrows or even a majority of the borrows would have been sales had KU not made them available as borrows.

For anyone debating whether to pull out of KU:
- Do not look at Sales vs. Borrows. Look at your gross income. Has it risen or fallen?
- If it has fallen, then the decision becomes weighing $X gross loss to increase your fanbase. Is it worth it? Do you have the backlist to support that fanbase? Can you release new books in a timely manner to capitalize on that increased fanbase? Are you doing everything possible to capture and monetize those new fans, such as giving them good backmatter links, getting them to sign up for your mailing list, directing them to your website/social media pages? IOW, have you created a good sales funnel and are you moving them through it?
- How are YOUR new releases faring in KU? Are you getting a significant boost, visibility, and ranking? (This will be different with every author due to many variables such as genre, cover, writing quality, blurb quality, etc.) If so, can you replace or boost your income by releasing a new book and then trickle those borrows/sales down through your backlist?

It's not such a cut and dried thing. Everyone has to make their own decision based on their own experience, genre, fanbase size, etc.. Just make sure that you're comparing hard numbers, such as gross income, rather than apples and oranges such as sales vs. borrows. A borrow is NOT a potential sale lost, it is a potential "skipper" (someone who skips over your book due to the price) giving you additional money via the KU payout and possibly increasing your fanbase.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 20, 2014, 03:27:01 PM
In all 26 (so far) pages of this thread, it seems that one assumption is prevalent: that borrows would have been sales had the ability to borrow not been present.
This is a complete fallacy.

Looking at Holly's claim of a 75% loss it seems that she may have even fallen victim to this thinking, as well - although at one point she does say that borrowers and buyers are two different people. It looks as if she may have been both projecting expected revenue due to an assumed price point on a borrow, AND comparing net income to what it would have been if all of those borrows had been sales.

300 borrows is NOT "300 sales lost". Many of those borrowers would never have purchased a book at its full price - we even have numerous people in this thread stating outright that they couldn't afford Holly's books (especially considering the length of the series) and would never have bought them - but once they were available for a borrow through KU then they picked them up.
Those are profits *gained*, not a sale lost.

Yes, SOME of the people who would have purchased the book instead borrowed it - but you cannot ever assume that ALL borrows or even a majority of the borrows would have been sales had KU not made them available as borrows.

For anyone debating whether to pull out of KU:
- Do not look at Sales vs. Borrows. Look at your gross income. Has it risen or fallen?
- If it has fallen, then the decision becomes weighing $X gross loss to increase your fanbase. Is it worth it? Do you have the backlist to support that fanbase? Can you release new books in a timely manner to capitalize on that increased fanbase? Are you doing everything possible to capture and monetize those new fans, such as giving them good backmatter links, getting them to sign up for your mailing list, directing them to your website/social media pages? IOW, have you created a good sales funnel and are you moving them through it?
- How are YOUR new releases faring in KU? Are you getting a significant boost, visibility, and ranking? (This will be different with every author due to many variables such as genre, cover, writing quality, blurb quality, etc.) If so, can you replace or boost your income by releasing a new book and then trickle those borrows/sales down through your backlist?

It's not such a cut and dried thing. Everyone has to make their own decision based on their own experience, genre, fanbase size, etc.. Just make sure that you're comparing hard numbers, such as gross income, rather than apples and oranges such as sales vs. borrows. A borrow is NOT a potential sale lost, it is a potential "skipper" (someone who skips over your book due to the price) giving you additional money via the KU payout and possibly increasing your fanbase.

THiS.   
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Andrew Ashling on December 20, 2014, 03:54:30 PM
This is only based on a hunch, but I suspect the Zon made the launch of KU coincide with a drastic adjustment of its algorithms. Or, otherwise put, it covered a major change in our business relation with the fireworks of KU. They're telling us we have to be good soldiers and promote all things Zonian by leaving links to our books, preferably exclusively on the Zon, all over the Internetz, because they aren't going to promote our books anymore. Not necessarily. Not to the same amount.

Blaming KU exclusively for a decline in sales isn't the complete answer.

We're basically a gateway drug. In our teeming tens of thousands we bring customers to the Zon. If the minute transaction that buying one of our books is completes to the customer's satisfaction, they may trust the Zon with even more of their money. At its best, it's a three-way win situation, but if someone is going to suffer a loss in revenue, it won't be the Zon.

There have been a lot of eggs-and-baskets-threads, and some of us were of the opinion that as long as the Zon made them serious money they weren't going to go wide. I wonder how they're doing and/or adapting to the new reality. I don't see them as much around anymore. Even one of the marketing-gurus, whom I thoroughly respect, continuously had his book in the 3,000 - 7,500 range in the Amazon rankings. These days he can barely keep them in the 20 to 30,000 range.

KU and the umpteenth adjustment of algorithms can't explain everything. There's also the continuous influx of new writers. They, and the veterans, are constantly being told they have to publish often. Nobody is telling readers they have to breed faster, though. Somewhere, somehow, something had to give.

I have no real answer because I'm a total klutz at this promotion thing, except I suspect going wide is the most sure course in the long run. That, and trying to build our own channels to reach our readers so we're not dependent anymore on the Zon or the Face.

We have to be quick on our feet and ever adapting. And, guess what? Indies, in contrast to our traditionally published colleagues, can be just that, Zonny boy.



Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 20, 2014, 04:00:12 PM
Andrew would you really want readers to breed?   I ask this because can you afford to feed the babies?   Do you know how much baby readers eat?    The hungry baby will need at minimum 300 words per minute.     Some babies consume more than that.   Can you keep up with that?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Chrissy on December 20, 2014, 04:03:34 PM
This is only based on a hunch, but I suspect the Zon made the launch of KU coincide with a drastic adjustment of its algorithms. Or, otherwise put, it covered a major change in our business relation with the fireworks of

Perhaps the rollout of KU and the algo change go hand in hand - meaning they were meant to go together.

Was the algo change meant to encourage people to stay in Select or force them to??

Typically algo changes tend to make things less sticky. So if this algo change did the same, but they provided KU as a way to get reader attention (for less $$ per borrow though  >:(  ) that would seem to make them a one-two punch.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Colin on December 20, 2014, 04:10:24 PM
...Don't they have like 70-80 million worth of amazon fire phones sitting in their warehouses...Not everything they touch turns to gold.

Very pertinent.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ellenoc on December 20, 2014, 04:11:28 PM
It's not such a cut and dried thing. Everyone has to make their own decision based on their own experience, genre, fanbase size, etc.. Just make sure that you're comparing hard numbers, such as gross income, rather than apples and oranges such as sales vs. borrows.

This is a very timely post for me. I'm sitting here right now beating my head against this very problem. What I have come up with so far is that my 2013 income from all non-Amazon vendors on ALL of my books (6 in 2013) was $500 less than what ONE book and ONE short story earned in KU in 4 months of 2014. What to do? What to do?

I'm putting the books most likely to earn new fans in KU and leaving the ones fans seem more likely to buy after they're committed out. (1) I think there are some readers who only read what they can get through KU. Borrows from those readers is gravy I wouldn't get any other way. (2) I think some percentage of KU readers will buy books from an author they discover through KU. That's true for me, and it's true from the only other KU subscribers I've queried. (3) The books not in KU will be available for the epub crowd and will be in Scribd and maybe pick up some new readers there. (4) I'll continue to have paperbacks available.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Andrew Ashling on December 20, 2014, 04:12:24 PM
Andrew would you really want readers to breed?   I ask this because can you afford to feed the babies?   Do you know how much baby readers eat?    The hungry baby will need at minimum 300 words per minute.     Some babies consume more than that.   Can you keep up with that?

Me personally? No. But I'm sure I'll get help.  ;D
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on December 20, 2014, 04:22:34 PM
They starve other distributors of content because KU requires exclusivity.

Looks to me like they're driving good number of authors TO other distributors. Authors who would otherwise been perfectly happy to stay with Select, if not for KU.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Quiss on December 20, 2014, 04:25:54 PM
This is only based on a hunch, but I suspect the Zon made the launch of KU coincide with a drastic adjustment of its algorithms. Or, otherwise put, it covered a major change in our business relation with the fireworks of KU.

This. If you look at your daily or weekly numbers for the past year, you will see a definite something happening on May 1 and another during the second week of October.
Some of this will be blurred by sales or non-sales we attribute to KU, but it's there.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: CoraBuhlert on December 20, 2014, 04:41:15 PM
This is only based on a hunch, but I suspect the Zon made the launch of KU coincide with a drastic adjustment of its algorithms. Or, otherwise put, it covered a major change in our business relation with the fireworks of KU. They're telling us we have to be good soldiers and promote all things Zonian by leaving links to our books, preferably exclusively on the Zon, all over the Internetz, because they aren't going to promote our books anymore. Not necessarily. Not to the same amount.

I'm pretty sure that there was an algorithm change in May, i.e. two months before KU started, because my Amazon.com sales pretty much collapsed that month and dropped by 60%. The other Amazons as well as non-Amazon dealers kept me afloat, but May was still the worst month of the year for me. My Amazon.com sales stayed anemic throughout the summer and then slowly rose again in August and September.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Chrissy on December 20, 2014, 04:48:42 PM
I'm pretty sure that there was an algorithm change in May, i.e. two months before KU started, because my Amazon.com sales pretty much collapsed that month and dropped by 60%. The other Amazons as well as non-Amazon dealers kept me afloat, but May was still the worst month of the year for me. My Amazon.com sales stayed anemic throughout the summer and then slowly rose again in August and September.

Question: Was the drop in older books, new releases or both?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Dobby the House Elf on December 20, 2014, 05:07:35 PM
Since KU came out, my sales have been better than ever. The market is always changing, that's what I've learned since being on these boards for three years. I'm not suggesting anyone is particularly wrong/or right, but that this is a fickle market and to expect your income to remain the same with this kind of risk feels as if the risk isn't being weighed into the equation. Amazon is in charge, and we all agree to this when we sign up. They are also a corporation and the corporation does what's in its best interest. That may, or may not benefit indie publishers.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 20, 2014, 05:09:56 PM
Quote
Since KU came out, my sales have been better than ever.

My sales are better than ever now too; but I did have a dip for a while. I agree for everything you said though. You have to adapt.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: CoraBuhlert on December 20, 2014, 05:28:49 PM
Question: Was the drop in older books, new releases or both?

All across the board.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Mercia McMahon on December 20, 2014, 05:29:14 PM
Regularly in kboards we have members telling others that Amazon knows best because they have always been so successful before. To clue you in: Jeff Bezos does not agree. He moved to the borders of Redmond to set up Amazon because that is where Microsoft were based, the company that then ruled the world and could apparently do no wrong. Bezos can see what has happened to Microsoft right on his doorstep. He knows that Amazon is forever one wrong product launch from doing a Microsoft.

KU was not well planned. Remember the leaked launch? Remember the introduction of All Stars part way in rather than at the start? Remember the botched launch in France (recently launched, but supposed to be at the same time as Germany in early October). KU was planned about as well as the hardly firesome smartphone.

KU is not a marketing tool to draw people into the Amazon shopping experience. There was been little marketing to promote KU to those who are not already fully paid up members of the Amazon experience. The most common benefit cited for KU over Scribd is that you can read your books on a Kindle. KU is an added extra to the Amazon experience. It is a stay factor, not a pull factor.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ChristinePope on December 20, 2014, 05:38:15 PM
Looks to me like they're driving good number of authors TO other distributors. Authors who would otherwise been perfectly happy to stay with Select, if not for KU.

I'm definitely one of those authors. I would've probably stuck with my strategy of launching a new series in Select to take advantage of the free days, but it's just not worth it, since my books are all 80K and up in length. I also probably wouldn't have put my books on GP and Scribd. But I did, and I'm glad, as even the Scribd income is more than I made with the books I tried having in KU during its first three months.

This isn't sour grapes -- my sales are up significantly, so KU hasn't hurt me personally. It's just not a good fit for me.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on December 20, 2014, 11:02:37 PM
Not to single you out specifically but do you really think eBook sales revenues mean anything to Amazon? Ebooks are just a small part of the bigger picture. They can take massive losses on eBooks for decades to come and their market cap will still increase. This isn't about books, or literature, or telling the stories that need to be told. It's about giving the consumer masses the content they want to consume and providing a customer experience to keep them coming back to the Amazon store to make all their purchases.

Think long game here, short-term profit margins mean nothing to Amazon and the millions of people invested in them.

This.

Not only KU and not only ebooks, but all books are loss leaders for the Zon (gateway drugs). A look at the Zon's annual reports will confirm this for you.

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=97664&p=irol-reportsannual
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Cherise on December 20, 2014, 11:16:14 PM
We don't know they failed to predict the abuses. Maybe they DID predict the abuses but set a margin of tolerance, meaning as long as the abuses stayed within a certain range it would NOT impact their agenda. 

If the abuses ever did go over the tolerance levels then they change the algo to subvert the abuses.  Easy-peasy.  :)



They might not care about the abuses. They set a cap on how much they spend, regardless of abuses, by paying all KU borrows out of a pool.

As I said in a previous post, the Zon just looks at books, ebooks included, as a way to get customers to their store to buy everything else.

We bought an air conditioner from them last summer. The ironic thing is that we tried to buy from our local stores, but they were all out of stock because of the heat wave. That's where Amazon shines. It might be out of stock on one brand, but I've never seen it be out of stock on an entire item.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: pauldude000 on December 21, 2014, 01:50:36 AM
Whatever goes on with the retailers has never made any sense to us.  My first months were 7/2012 through 10/2012.  Then our sales dropped 40%+ until 9/2014.  Last month and this month were at 120% of the 2012 level.  In the valley months of 11/2012 through 9/2014 we tried every other channel to market out there and never had all of them together, all of them together, surpass 1% of the Amazon sales that month.  1%...not a joke or an estimate but an actual metric.

My back list sold well over 3 million units in it's day and I had my share of best sellers and award winners and since going on Amazon in 2012 our most recent 9 books have sold in the top 10 in various genres and occasionally hit the top 100 overall Amazon and we've won numerous awards.

But I cannot understand why and how sales rocket and dive and why some authors can sell through some channels and others cannot.  It is clear that this is not a pure marketplace and the channel masters do pick winners and losers and when something good or bad happens to a title in the marketplace it is impossible to learn why and therefore impossible to improve your books and their presentation.  The only thing that is consistent is that increased visibility increases sales.  All we can do is keep writing, add to our Street Team membership, strive to improve reviewer feedback.

 

Absolutely true except for the 'write more' statement in the last sentence. Writing more does not improve visibility unless the market is equal, and as you said, "the channel masters pick losers and winners." The changes since mid 2013 have tended for obscurity -- even less visibility of books than before, and the removal of effective promotion even using their system.

I can give an example of the visibility issue. The free giveaway days are now a promotional joke. I recently tested this to check bump in visibility and now wish I hadn't. My book was ranked in the top 100 in category, and I sponsored a two day free giveaway to see how much of a bump downloads give to the algorithms. I gave away a ton of free books, and the ranking of that particular book went all the way to #458 in the kindle store.

Shortly after the promotion was over, the book was no longer in the top 100 and its paid rank in the store tanked. By tanked, I mean the book lost over 20,000 ranking points. There was no bump at all, even on a popular title. That book is slowly climbing back up in ranking, but it is now anemic. Previous uses of the Kindle Countdown Promotions were anemic at best.

Amazon is actively throttling visibility. Writing more will not mean much at all if you consistently go broke between books, even the traditional publishing companies have learned that lesson now. 

It makes me wonder whether they are getting ready to announce paid promotional advertising for ranking on their site -- imagine something similar to paid Adwords advertising on Google for site ranking. The more you pay, the more hits you get on your keywords and book ranking is by sales alone.

We must remember, after all, that Amazon is basically a warehouse and digital online store with a search engine for a front end.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: PaulineMRoss on December 21, 2014, 03:50:17 AM
Shortly after the promotion was over, the book was no longer in the top 100 and its paid rank in the store tanked. By tanked, I mean the book lost over 20,000 ranking points. There was no bump at all, even on a popular title. That book is slowly climbing back up in ranking, but it is now anemic. Previous uses of the Kindle Countdown Promotions were anemic at best.

This is interesting. My first attempt at a free promotion (2 days) back in October went like that, with 800 downloads, but no follow-through and straight back to the previous telephone number ranking. But a more recent 3-day promotion, with more paid ads, produced 4400 downloads, a spike in paid sales afterwards and a vastly improved paid ranking (even before the paid sales kicked in). Wayne Stinnett saw a similar effect (15K downloads, followed by a big jump in paid ranking).

No idea why, but one theory was that a small percentage of people end up borrowing the book rather than 'buying' the free copy (either accidentally or intentionally), and thereby bumping the paid rank, even during the free promotion. It would only need a small number doing this - maybe 1 or 2 per thousand downloads - to produce this sort of effect.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: darkline on December 21, 2014, 03:56:33 AM
This is interesting. My first attempt at a free promotion (2 days) back in October went like that, with 800 downloads, but no follow-through and straight back to the previous telephone number ranking. But a more recent 3-day promotion, with more paid ads, produced 4400 downloads, a spike in paid sales afterwards and a vastly improved paid ranking (even before the paid sales kicked in). Wayne Stinnett saw a similar effect (15K downloads, followed by a big jump in paid ranking).

No idea why, but one theory was that a small percentage of people end up borrowing the book rather than 'buying' the free copy (either accidentally or intentionally), and thereby bumping the paid rank, even during the free promotion. It would only need a small number doing this - maybe 1 or 2 per thousand downloads - to produce this sort of effect.

One of my books' free promotion produced this sort of effect: it got 15-20 borrows a day during the free promotion and shot up the paid ranking to ~2000 in Kindle store.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 21, 2014, 09:04:50 AM
On your free days the option to borrow is still there.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 21, 2014, 11:09:46 AM
On your free days the option to borrow is still there.

I think that's a fabulous option!
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: K.B. on December 21, 2014, 03:44:34 PM
That's somewhat awesome news! I plan on doing a free day or two starting January 5th.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on December 21, 2014, 04:47:59 PM
I've used both Ammy and Zon. It depends on my mood, and since it's a steam rolling entity without emotions it couldn't care less what I call it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Maria Romana on December 21, 2014, 06:01:59 PM
KU is not a marketing tool to draw people into the Amazon shopping experience. There was been little marketing to promote KU to those who are not already fully paid up members of the Amazon experience. The most common benefit cited for KU over Scribd is that you can read your books on a Kindle. KU is an added extra to the Amazon experience. It is a stay factor, not a pull factor.

Thank you! I keep hearing people say KU is a way to get folks interested in shopping at Amazon. Seriously? Is there a person alive who owns a computer or smartphone who isn't aware that Amazon is a place they can buy stuff? Sure, maybe you see other items while you're at Amazon looking for books, but that was true without KU. And anyone who reads with a frequency to justify a $10 per month subscription was already well aware of Amazon's offerings. KU was designed to damage the book-selling/subscribing competition and (hopefully for Amazon) to squeeze authors into a pennies-per-copy future.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Chrissy on December 21, 2014, 06:25:15 PM
Thank you! I keep hearing people say KU is a way to get folks interested in shopping at Amazon. Seriously? Is there a person alive who owns a computer or smartphone who isn't aware that Amazon is a place they can buy stuff? Sure, maybe you see other items while you're at Amazon looking for books, but that was true without KU. And anyone who reads with a frequency to justify a $10 per month subscription was already well aware of Amazon's offerings. KU was designed to damage the book-selling/subscribing competition and (hopefully for Amazon) to squeeze authors into a pennies-per-copy future.

I believe KU was Amazon's way of competing with Oyster and Scribd in the book subscription model.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: cinisajoy on December 21, 2014, 06:37:12 PM
As long as I am on Amazon I might as well pick up other stuff too.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' on December 21, 2014, 06:39:28 PM
As long as I am on Amazon I might as well pick up other stuff too.

I buy a lot more "stuff" than books from Amazon.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: pauldude000 on December 21, 2014, 06:47:53 PM
This is interesting. My first attempt at a free promotion (2 days) back in October went like that, with 800 downloads, but no follow-through and straight back to the previous telephone number ranking. But a more recent 3-day promotion, with more paid ads, produced 4400 downloads, a spike in paid sales afterwards and a vastly improved paid ranking (even before the paid sales kicked in). Wayne Stinnett saw a similar effect (15K downloads, followed by a big jump in paid ranking).

No idea why, but one theory was that a small percentage of people end up borrowing the book rather than 'buying' the free copy (either accidentally or intentionally), and thereby bumping the paid rank, even during the free promotion. It would only need a small number doing this - maybe 1 or 2 per thousand downloads - to produce this sort of effect.

I had over 1700 free downloads, but only a few borrows during the promotion. It could be though. However, those borrows would have been there even without the promotion, so the promotion ultimately was still worthless. Just today the book dropped another 30,000 points. It could be a change in numbers of downloads required to provide a 'bump'. Basically, I suspect that there is a ratio involved, something like N/X, where N is the number of downloads and X is a constant. Increase the value of X, and the result for a given value of N is much lower.

It is just a guess, and there is probably a far more complicated formula involved, but the basic formula I put forth is suitable to get across the concept.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Lisa Grace on December 21, 2014, 09:46:03 PM
Kindle Unlimited is about data collection and now they're going after the Scribd and Oyster crowd. It is not about authors and books. If it was, they would work harder to get more trade books in. I stand by my opinion. Read up on business analysis outside of the book world.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 21, 2014, 11:17:23 PM
AWS is wormed into half the pages on the planet. Probably Scribd and Oyster even. I'm not sure they'd need a half-baked subscription service to stea... I mean collect that information.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 22, 2014, 08:18:32 AM
I must be in the "don't have much to gain via re-go going wide again" crowd, 'cause the majority of titles in KU are in their last day before renewal, and I'm staying in for another round.

This was my first round. And as posted on my site, first month was a zero dud. Second month was a burp. And this month has a a few tasty dishes of results coming in.

I wasn't doing much better elsewhere, I've consolidated my time and begun to regain family time and some fitness, and sales and borrows (for me) are ok.

Giving myself another 90 day round is worth the risk at this point.

Best wishes and holidays everyone (smiles).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: ireaderreview on December 24, 2014, 05:06:23 PM
H. M. Ward

thanks for sharing. hoping your sales go back up and your kid's health gets back to 100% fine.

*******

I think authors should look very carefully at what's happened and what's happening in

1) Music
2) NEwspapers
3) Apps

Musicians are completely getting hammered by subscription services. Taylor Swift took her music out of Pandora recently. More and more musicians are going to do this.

Beware geeks bearing gifts.

Nearly all 'subscription' and 'combinator' services lead to a destruction of the ecosystem and a destruction of the value perception of the content. The geeks bearing gifts are happy to take a market that was $25 billion a year and destroy it down to a $500 million a year business - as long as they get their $100 million to $200 million a year.

Remember that - all the subscription services would gladly destroy the entire paid market if they saw a path to a much smaller revenue stream that they controlled.

Pandora, Youtube, etc. - none of them are profitable. And they don't care. They just destroy the content markets and are content.

*******

You have to be painfully aware that

1) No one except for content creators will value content. It's impossible. For a person who writes an engine that collates together results from 10,000 newspapers each article is one out of millions. It's not 'someone's weeks of work'. It's 1 result out of a million.

These are not people who have written books. In most cases they don't even read books. They just see a book as a unit, a commodity.

With them, your precious book written over years and painfully crafted is just an onion in a market alongside 1 million other onions.

It's folly to expect the market owner to think of your book as anything other than a replacable onion.

The only way to win is TO WORK WITH HUMAN NATURE and not against it.


FIRST: Use human nature to get people interested in your books - have the first book cheap or free.

SECOND: Use human nature to make money - if readers like your book then they have to gradually pay more and more.

First book: Free
Second book: $1
Third Book: $3
Fourth Book: $5

etc.

THIRD: Focus on customers of good intent. There will always be a section of people who think everything digital should be free. Stay away from them. No amount of catering to them will get you good sales.
At the same time there are lots of good readers who understand the implicit social contract in reading - you get to sample the first book for cheap or free, and if the quality of writing is there, you'll buy the rest.

FOURTH: Don't become dependent on one vendor.

FIFTH: Don't let people think of your book as a replaceable, fungible onion.

If all your books are 'free' via a subscription service, then they are exactly that - onions.

*******
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Bluebonnet on December 24, 2014, 06:02:22 PM
Beware geeks bearing gifts.

That's something we should all remember.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 24, 2014, 06:26:33 PM
"But that dude covered in the flaming rubble of the industry is rich! That means he's smart and my friend! Also something about horses and buggies because that's a mantra that helped my cognitive dissonance."
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 24, 2014, 06:28:39 PM

The only way to win is TO WORK WITH HUMAN NATURE and not against it.

FIRST: Use human nature to get people interested in your books - have the first book cheap or free.

SECOND: Use human nature to make money - if readers like your book then they have to gradually pay more and more.

First book: Free
Second book: $1
Third Book: $3
Fourth Book: $5

etc.

I agree with most of your message. Where our opinions diverge is on the pricing. I never recommend free. If you feel you must reduce the price to get people to try a book, at least charge a penny. At that price, you're running a one cent sale. Giving a book away for free sends an entirely different psychological message. It doesn't matter if the one cent sale goes on, and on, and on, it's still a sale, not a freebie.

No gradual increases. That sends a psychological message that the earlier books are inferior. If you intend to sell your books for $5.99, make all other books $5.99. The first book is the sampler. If the customer doesn't like that, they aren't going to buy additional books, even if the second book is only a dollar. And if they DO like the work, it won't matter that the price is $5.99 (or whatever price you set.) When people find an author they like, they stick with them. Don't leave money on the table.

I offer a full length novel for $3.99 as the introduction to my work. I also have a 51,000 word novella priced the same. The rest of my books are all $5.99 or $6.99. 
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: bpmanuel on December 24, 2014, 06:32:44 PM
H. M. Ward

thanks for sharing. hoping your sales go back up and your kid's health gets back to 100% fine.

*******

I think authors should look very carefully at what's happened and what's happening in


*******

Schumpeterian creative destruction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction

For starters, I feel that stopping to look at the forces that would be are to look at it within the context of using what forces are available and keeping ahead of your competition. Which is just about everyone and not just focusing on your craft. Visual artists to be successful either have to teach or network their asses off and build an outstanding resume and portfolio to get work. It gets easier over time for the artist as they find a following, but breaking in is very, very difficult.

Geeks bearing gifts, are mainly the computer programmers that are trying to seek out speciation within a complex multi trillion dollar economy. You reference Taylor Swift, but we must also look at what markets she is succeeding in. She has a deal with some exclusive content that Target has, among other merchandising options available to her. This also means that musicians have to actually tour again to make ends meet, and they can bring in a large haul since live performances are a one off.

At the end of the day, I simply cannot stop the next Gates, Jobs, or Bezos. What I have to do is to look at what is possible, and look at what remains a good profit margin and experiment hither and thither as a businessperson. You experiment, you have more than one source of income in this day and age. Seriously, as someone whose read what the Lost Decade did to Japan, I'm scared to death to see what happens in the US without structural readjustments. However, this means being more entrepreneurial with risk, but also calculating a cost-benefit analysis when approaching profitability. As one creates and becomes more successful, greater risks are then able to be engaged upon without having to eat your seed corn.

Taylor Swift has to compete against Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur still, after all these years. Not only for records, but also against them as holograms. Jackson and Tupac brought their A-games as artist. And guess what? Authors have to compete with everything, including a guy named Homer or the unknown authors of the Bible, still after all these centuries. We compete with just about everyone.

For starters, ask questions. Work your ass off, and don't quit your day job. It's a difficult life and life isn't fair. What you have to do is to constantly learn, experiment, and keep looking forward. At the very least, thus far those "geeks with gifts" aren't personally attacking you in a predatory way. Granted, there's some bills like the orphan works bill and other such that went with the SOPA shenanigans a few years ago, but I digress. As a craftsman, you need to think like a craftsman.

I don't know everything, what I do know is that change happens and it's either keep up with change or quit and live in a cardboard box.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 24, 2014, 06:58:15 PM
I really don't understand the hostility to subscription services.

Kindle Unlimited seems like a great thing for authors with one book.

Scribd and Oyster pay decently per borrow.

I just don't get the hostility.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: scribblr on December 24, 2014, 07:17:00 PM
I really don't understand the hostility to subscription services.

Kindle Unlimited seems like a great thing for authors with one book.


And what about all the authors who have more than one book? And what about all the authors who are trying to sell full length novels at a decent price?

And how does borrowing a book help authors with one book? After the book disappears from the Kindle, people will forget the author's name if he or she doesn't have something ready as a follow-up.

The real advantage is to the folks who have flooded the KU with 99 cent dreck, and who Amazon is paying $1.39 instead of $0.35. So much for the geniuses of Seattle.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: C. Gockel on December 24, 2014, 08:37:08 PM
Quote
And what about all the authors who have more than one book?

After the first few months, I didn't notice Kindle Unlimited dragging me down anymore. I have a permafree. I have a chart that I keep that shows sell thru from downloads of part 1 thru sales of part 5.5. I can judge pretty accurately how much I will make per month based on downloads of part 1. Before KU, when I only had part 3.5 out, I could expect about $500 per 1,000 downloads. KU came out and that tanked--even with the release of a related short story and a full-length part 5.5 I wasn't making that. But it's back to what I initially estimated it would be. I think a lot of people jumped on the KU bandwagon, but now they're leaving because they're not finding the stories they want. Other hyper readers are using it when they can, and buying when they find an author they like enough.

Quote
And what about all the authors who are trying to sell full length novels at a decent price?

I'm one of those. I'm not on KU. I think my pricing is about right for my genre. I'm doing okay.

Quote
And how does borrowing a book help authors with one book? After the book disappears from the Kindle, people will forget the author's name if he or she doesn't have something ready as a follow-up.
Why do you say that? When I had no money and only borrowed books from the library I didn't forget the author's name, I still went back for seconds (and thirds).

Quote
The real advantage is to the folks who have flooded the KU with 99 cent dreck, and who Amazon is paying $1.39 instead of $0.35. So much for the geniuses of Seattle.

Although there are some scamletsTM stolen from the intertubes, I think that there are short romantic serials that people really enjoy that are being gobbled up in KU. Because they're short and romantic/romantic-erotic doesn't mean they're drek. Readers like them, they take them out of their lives for a while. A lot of romance authors have given a lot more joy to a lot more people than I have. I try to make my stories fun and addicting, but I don't have as many readers and I think in some ways that makes my stories are more selfish, I haven't given as much joy to the collective well of karma.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: EC on December 24, 2014, 08:45:44 PM
And what about all the authors who have more than one book? And what about all the authors who are trying to sell full length novels at a decent price?

And how does borrowing a book help authors with one book? After the book disappears from the Kindle, people will forget the author's name if he or she doesn't have something ready as a follow-up.

The real advantage is to the folks who have flooded the KU with 99 cent dreck, and who Amazon is paying $1.39 instead of $0.35. So much for the geniuses of Seattle.


They are achieving what they want to achieve - a vast flood of titles pouring exclusively onto their platform.  Hey, give it a few weeks and the'll be boasting - "choose from over a million exclusive ebooks for only $9.99 a month." 

That's genius. 

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' on December 25, 2014, 10:11:15 AM
I really don't understand the hostility to subscription services.

Kindle Unlimited seems like a great thing for authors with one book.

Scribd and Oyster pay decently per borrow.

I just don't get the hostility.

Me, either.

I won't go with KU because I don't do well with borrows and I'm doing decently on the other venues. But Scribd is another income stream for me.

Subscription services such as MS Office, give Microsoft a guaranteed income knowing that most people buy Office once and then don't upgrade for many years. It's all about money now for subscription services. We're paying in advance for future goods and services.

Scribd has been going along just fine. I just got a 12 month subscription for $50. Can't beat that as a reader.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: dalya on December 25, 2014, 10:16:24 AM
One of my pen names has been an All Star the last 2 months. I really don't like the program at all. If the people who are supposedly "winning" at KU hate the program, that doesn't say great things.  Of course, I'd probably be happier if Amazon merchandised some of my books onto their feature pages and created a self-fulfilling prophecy of successful sales volume, the way they have with a few select series.

I suppose I wouldn't despise KU so much if it didn't have the exclusivity requirement. It really sucks to pull our titles off the other venues and lose any customers gained there.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: adanlerma on December 26, 2014, 09:09:57 AM
I really don't understand the hostility to subscription services.

Kindle Unlimited seems like a great thing for authors with one book.

Scribd and Oyster pay decently per borrow.

I just don't get the hostility.

C. Gockel, I tend to agree.

I think that, as usual, and normal, there's vested interests. Mr. Coker likes Scribd and Oyster, but not KU. Owners of music streaming services like "their" services, but don't think Apple's version would be a good idea. Taylor Swift, whom I support and whose music I love, isn't against subscription services per se (I believe) but the current terms.

Some articles I've read detail how various musicians are trying to renegotiate streaming terms that leave plenty for the creators of these services, but also a more than pittance to the music creators and performers.

It's all in the terms. And who's profiting.

It can be a more shared business.

And I may not be hearing about it, but I don't hear the same outcry about participants in Netflix.

From the little I understand, most musicians were robbed blind of all rights and monies before subscriptions.

Same is still currently true of most writers with traditional publishing, with little say in anything once they sign away all rights to all mediums, including (especially) all derivative use.

A subscription service like Scribd or Oyster, whether forced to go through a middleman like Smashwords or D2D, or like Kindle Unlimited, with its 90 day exclusivity, allows authors to keep all their content rights: for movies, TV, video, stage, translations, derivative spin-offs, toys, t-shirts, audio, gift merchandise, pricing on hard covers, personalizing, and who knows what else.

If anything, musicians want more of what they see authors getting.

And as content creators, we all should want it all! (smiles)

Why not?  :)
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Hoop on December 26, 2014, 09:54:43 PM
Same is still currently true of most writers with traditional publishing, with little say in anything once they sign away all rights to all mediums, including (especially) all derivative use.
Hear, hear.
I still remember last January when Wendy Higgins wrote her tell-all blog post (which her publisher made her take down) detailing exactly how much she was making per paperback. After the publisher and agent got their cuts, she received .50 cents per paperback. In addition, for that princely sum she has no rights to her characters, the storyline, no control over covers, editing, promotion, discounts, etc.  She can't even give away an e-book for a blog to review because it would cost her SIX DOLLARS to do so. She didn't get paid for 18 months after her first book hit the shelf. Now that she's a few books into her series, she gets paid once every six months - and she doesn't get to see the numbers. She's locked into a no-compete clause. She's locked into a First Look clause.

Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't be striving to make as much money as possible, and/or being fairly compensated for our quality work.
I'm saying that a little perspective on what the alternative is might help deter some of these "sky is falling" and "this is the worst thing in the world" mindsets.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: devalong on December 27, 2014, 07:57:40 PM
KU started at almost the same time I hit publish on my first book, so I don't know any other world.

It would be nice if they stabilized the payout with at least a minimum - that would make planning for covers, promotions, and the occassional sandwich easier :).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Chad Winters on December 28, 2014, 11:24:39 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/technology/amazon-offers-all-you-can-eat-books-authors-turn-up-noses.html?_r=0&pagewanted=all

This made the NYT print and online with links to KB as the sources. Thought that was pretty cool
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: drno on December 29, 2014, 09:41:28 PM
One of my pen names has been an All Star the last 2 months. I really don't like the program at all.
I suppose I wouldn't despise KU so much if it didn't have the exclusivity requirement.

So is KU working for you or not? My idea is that higher per borrow prices will solve 80 percent of indie writers' grievances about the program.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: AuthorX on December 29, 2014, 10:32:53 PM
KU has evened the playing field and allows less-known authors and new authors who write good books a better chance at being discovered, rather than the marketplace being dominated by the same "Best Sellers" month after month or the guys with the best marketing team. This isn't so great for the guys who were already getting millions from their books sales every year, as they now have far more competition, but it's good for writers as a whole and encourages authors to step up their game and not "set it and forget it".

As a KU unlimited subscriber I couldn't be happier. I've read so many gems that I would've never tried if I wasn't able to borrow them. I used to buy maybe 2 or 3 books a year. That's roughly $15 I was pumping into the book market every year. Now I'm pumping about $120 into the book market via Kindle Unlimited, and I'm reading a whole lot more. It allows me to "try" things without fear of disappointment, read short stories, novels, and a whole array of things that I would otherwise be turned off from. I've read best-seller quality works by no-name authors, and I'm happy that my little borrow of their title edged them one step closer to competing with the big boys, because they deserve it.

Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Vaalingrade on December 29, 2014, 11:08:47 PM
I'm trying to figure out how KU is supposed to have 'evened' the playing field when the big authors were still dominating the lists, just making less money in the process.

Almost all the big names dropping out were still All-Stars.

Also, equality achieved by tearing others down... isn't.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SamSpade on December 30, 2014, 02:33:57 AM
If anyone wants to continue the conversation from the other thread, feel free to ask questions. I know the moderators of this forum were getting a lot of reports due to my data, hopefully you guys can keep your fingers off the trigger for long enough to debate some actual numbers.







Edit: reports received had to do with the tone of the prior thread, not with the data.--Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 30, 2014, 03:10:10 AM
Can you restate the argument again, and explain why the inconsistencies can't be explained by ghost borrows?
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SamSpade on December 30, 2014, 03:22:36 AM
Can you restate the argument again, and explain why the inconsistencies can't be explained by ghost borrows?

My next post will contain the original post I had (to restate the argument), but to answer this question first: If we ignore ghost borrows, the numbers posted indicate that her revenue in September went to somewhere between 500% and 800% of her August revenue. In order to massage the numbers to get from, for instance, 500% of her revenue down to a loss of 75% (or 25% of her former revenue), we'd have to make the assumption that 95% of the borrows and sales that were coming in were never read to 10%. A more reasonable (though still higher than I believe possible) suggestion of 33% of her sales + borrows being ghost borrows as calculated by Edward W. Robertson in the last thread led to a revenue increase of 200% (or 300% of prior revenue), not a revenue decrease of 75%. There was some loss of revenue across the rest of her catalog, but as The Arrangement was the best performer of her catalog and the loss of revenue on other titles was not as severe as previously stated (something like 25%), there's no way to massage the figure down to a 75% loss.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SamSpade on December 30, 2014, 03:23:14 AM
Before I begin, I have no agenda here but the pursuit of truth. There's an author on another forum that I frequent who brought it to my attention that, for all the respectable news outlets reporting on this "indie falling out" with Kindle Unlimited, there hasn't been a whole of fact checking going on. In fact, during a search, I haven't found a single news organization that has critically looked at Ms Ward's often-repeated "75% loss". From Ms Ward's own posts (and please excuse me for cherry picking):

Ok, some of you already know, but I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. Thats counting borrows and bonuses.

both months I was an 'All Star'

It effected the entire list including books not enrolled bc buyers changed into borrowers, who in turn did not spend money on my other titles.

That was my thinking, but nope. The only titles I enrolled were priced at $2.99 or lower and shorter works.

There was a decline in sales when KU launched, but not 75% worth.

I had non exclusive terms, so this doesn't account for other platforms, only amazon while in KU for 60 days.

Yes, it was only Amazon and it occurred AFTER enrolling the books in KU. So I lost 75% of my income from kdp in 60 days. As soon as the books were withdrawn, sales began to perk back up.

So, to sum up: Ms. Ward's series "The Arrangement", all volumes of which are priced at $2.99, were enrolled in Kindle Unlimited on or around September 5. No works higher priced than $2.99 were ever enrolled.

The following graph shows the sales rank of several of The Arrangement's volumes over the course of 2014. This information was obtained from Novelrank and can be verified independently.

(http://i.imgur.com/xrj02fT.jpg)

Note the time period between September 5 and November 1, in which the sales rank went from around 4000 to around 500. A low sales rank indicates more sales and borrows. No other author has come up with credible evidence that borrows are weighted higher than sales, so we're left with the conclusion that her sales plus borrows increased to about 800% of their previous level. Of course, as people will be quick to point out, a reader doesn't have to actually read the book for the borrow to affect sales rank, thus creating the "phantom borrows" effect. And I could believe that it could be a pronounced effect for the first book, maybe even the second book. But not the seventh book, and certainly not the thirteenth book. This graph was also taken from Novelrank and can be verified independently.

(http://i.imgur.com/50OvDCW.jpg)

With an increase to 800% of sales and borrows, if we assume that every one of those was a borrow and an average loss of revenue of 33% per borrow versus a sale, it would take a ratio of twenty unread borrows for every copy read to at least 10% to account for a 75% loss in revenue. This is simply unrealistic.

But, as noted above, Ms. Ward also takes into account the fact that, now that her shorts were in Kindle Unlimited, nobody bought her novels anymore. However, the data that I was able to find showed a natural decay in sales, no different than anyone else experiences with their books. For every novel that we were able to get data on, we got similar results. This graph was also taken from Novelrank and can be verified independently.

(http://i.imgur.com/9JAAQse.jpg)

She specifically points out that this was Amazon only. With the data that I have (which can not be verified independently, I apologize), I have speculated that she easily made the Top 10 KDP All Star list in September, and probably landed between 9 and 12 on the list in October, with several of her books receiving individual All Star bonuses. If we add that into her sales figures, it adds something like 75 cents per borrow for that time period, bringing her average rate per borrow to parity with the royalty received from a $2.99 sale during the months of September and October.

There are other factors, of course. The Arrangement 16 was released in late August and remained in the top 100 for the first part of her Kindle Unlimited stint, but fell out quicker than usual. This may be due to a myriad of factors (including other authors taking advantage of Kindle Unlimited) but, with no release in October, her sales began to flag, though not even close to the level we saw in early September (the time before she entered Kindle Unlimited).

I've never seen when this 75% drop is supposed to cover, exactly. If she's talking about a 75% drop from October 2013 to October 2014, that's a pretty disingenuous statement. If she's talking about a drop from March 2014 to October 2014 (the earliest time period that I can see this possibly being true), that's still disingenuous. The only honest time frame is comparing sales of August 2014 with sales of September 2014 or October 2014, the time immediately preceding her time in Kindle Unlimited compared with the time that she was in it. And I'm not seeing it.

I don't know what Ms. Ward's motives are in misrepresenting this data and I don't care to speculate, but I think that it would behoove the multiple establishment newspaper and other reporting agencies to do the minimum required fact checking before running articles such as this. I don't expect Ms. Ward to respond to this but I would be curious to see what kind of explanation she has for this huge disconnect in numbers.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 30, 2014, 03:40:26 AM
What about the bundles for the series? If we assume a 50/50 split between ghost borrows and true borrows, could the loss be explained by falling bundle sales?

For the record, I don't think Holly was purposefully lying to us. Instead, I think it's much more likely that there was an honest and unintentional flaw in her own analysis and conclusions (or perhaps in yours).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SamSpade on December 30, 2014, 03:44:28 AM
What about the bundles for the series? If we assume a 50/50 split between ghost borrows and true borrows, could the loss be explained by falling bundle sales?

For the record, I don't think Holly was purposefully lying to us. Instead, I think it's much more likely that there was a flaw in her own analysis and conclusions (or perhaps in yours).

I'm confused, where are the bundles for the series? An assumption of 50/50 is still way way too high. And if there was a flaw in her analysis (I speculated in early November when she first withdrew that she may have been reading the Six Week Royalty Report which does not include money from borrows at all), she has had plenty of time to issue a correction. Instead, she's rolling with it, even going to the New York Times with the information.

You are welcome to point out the flaws in my analysis and conclusions, but please take a look at Ms. Ward's catalog first. It is impossible for me to respond to every "what if" scenario that is as vague as the one listed above (bundles that do not exist coupled with a 50/50 ghost borrow rate).
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 30, 2014, 03:49:52 AM
Also, with such a long series, it's possible that the rate of ghost borrows increased with later books. People who read and enjoyed the first one might have immediately added the other books to their borrow slots, but just not gotten around to reading them. So no, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect to get more ghost borrows for the later books than the earlier books.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Joe Vasicek on December 30, 2014, 03:54:00 AM
I'm confused, where are the bundles for the series? An assumption of 50/50 is still way way too high.

From what Ed shared, he apparently was getting a ratio of 1:1:1 for sales: borrows: ghost borrows.

Also, I'm on mobile right now so I can't easily check Holly's catalog. I just assumed that she bundles her series into box sets, since that's kind of a standard practice.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SamSpade on December 30, 2014, 03:54:10 AM
Also, with such a long series, it's possible that the rate of ghost borrows increased with later books. People who read and enjoyed the first one might have immediately added the other books to their borrow slots, but just not gotten around to reading them. So no, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect to get more ghost borrows for the later books than the earlier books.

As pointed out above, you are stating that, when twenty people bought or borrowed the book, of those twenty, nineteen of them were people who borrowed the book but never read it. That's 95%. And even then, the rest of her catalog that was not enrolled did not lose 75% of its income.

Nineteen out of twenty borrowed all sixteen volumes but then couldn't be bothered to actually read it.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: SamSpade on December 30, 2014, 03:56:22 AM
From what Ed shared, he apparently was getting a ratio of 1:1:1 for sales: borrows: ghost borrows.

That's a third, for those of you playing along at home. If we assume that there was a 1:1:1 sales : borrows : to ghost borrows effect, and all of those borrows are worth $0, then her sales would be down 66% if the rank stayed the same and didn't go from 4000 to 500.
Title: Re: KU Crushed My Sales :(
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on December 30, 2014, 04:00:05 AM
Folks,

Locking while we discuss.  SamSpade, you already posted what appears to be the exact same post in another thread.  We don't generally allow people to start locked conversations over again in a new thread.  It kind of defeats the purpose of locking the thread.  And yes, we are still discussing this...  Some of us had to sleep.

If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to PM me..

Betsy
KB Mod

~~~

Update from Harvey:

We have banned the Sam Spade account. It's not about the data or findings presented or that questions were asked; rather, the inflammatory tone of her posts and her personal insinuations about the motives of others is inconsistent with our forum decorum rules for civil discussion. For those interested, we based this action on:

a) our observation that it's a brand new account, anonymous, and apparently started with a single agenda in mind; b) we've had reports from numerous KB members concerned that the posts contain personal attacks and are designed to inflame; c) the member continued to make similar posts in another thread after an earlier thread was locked; and d) further research shows it to be an account from an author who writes in the same genre as the OP, which raises questions of a competitive over-zealousness.