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Messages - TwistedTales

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Have your Amazon review numbers gone stagnant?
« on: February 12, 2018, 02:10:46 AM »
I just activated our books on nook and google (again). Within a week reviews have appeared (they happen to be nice ones). BookBub has been accruing followers and reviews as well. I never bother looking at Goodreads because I donít think much of the site. Amazon, on the other hand, removed some reviews in the past 2 - 3 months and at the same time I wasnít getting many, maybe three in total for a book with 600 sales. Since selling around 5,000 books this month on Amazon I think Iíve gotten four reviews.

Maybe social media validation counts for something, but luckily Amazonís review system is quite discredited. Just read some of the reviews and you can hear how cynical readers have become about the 4 & 5 star loading game that goes on. Credibility of source counts, and nobody believes a system thatís turned into a pathological liar.

A lot of authors, if not most, have a lot more reviews than I do, but at least the ones I have (good or bad) are clearly credible, even if some are inaccurate or crazy. Iím never going to start the review loading game because itís just one more pointless wheel in a corrupt system that takes away from the real purpose, which happens to be writing a half decent book. That single objective gets lost in the endless games played out in this business. So, Iíll leave the clueless game play to Amazon and anyone who chooses to dance to their music, while I get back to writing my next book.


Writers' Cafe / Re: 30 Books to 0.01k!
« on: February 02, 2018, 01:35:29 PM »
Itís gonna be tough to live down to that challenge. What do I win at the end of it? Top view and best cardboard box under the bridge?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: February 01, 2018, 03:01:56 PM »
That is true, and with consumers Amazon still has a good reputation for delivering, so I defend my comment. :)

I agree that there is simply no way to judge what Amazon may decide about KU (or much of anything else).

Not to be pedantic, but thereís a difference between brand and product awareness. I might know of Amazon, but not have knowledge about Prime, which I didnít until last year. Also mileage varies so itís hard to make definitive statements about how a company is perceived, good or bad. Usually companies measure themselves and their products through various forms of feedback (direct and indirect) and the profit line for each. They donít usually settle for sweeping assumptions on how theyíre viewed by customers.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: February 01, 2018, 02:40:44 PM »
I doubt people look at it that way. If my grocery store gives away cookies or lowers the price of milk for a few days, I don't assume that means they are low quality. The same is true with Amazon special offers.Whether KU is on its way out? I'm skeptical but it's certainly possible.

Perception of value and quality is complicated. For example, if a well known branded product with a good rep is discounted, then people generally wonít think the product is shabbier for it. If an unknown or untested (i.e. the prospect buyer has no opinion, experience or knowledge about the product) product is discounted, then people might assume itís not worth much. Itís not a one size fits all response either. Some people will have greater knowledge about a product and therefore have formed an opinion, others may know little to nothing so their takeaway will be different.

Is KU on its way out? Maybe in its current form. I donít know what key performance indicators Amazon are using to assess the performance of KU, so even if it looks a bit iffy to me doesnít mean it is to Amazon.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: February 01, 2018, 12:25:29 PM »
But is the book-a-day reader profitable for Amazon if they're also buying things within that ecosystem in addition to books?

I donít know whether ebook buyers rush around the rest of the store buying stuff or not, but if itís true then itís true for any entry point into the store, whether thatís for paid books, KU books, free books, jelly beans or sneakers.

I suspect the 80 - 100 million people with Prime membership and the free delivery that gives them attracts more people to the store to buy stuff than anything else. Prime members make up more than half of Amazonís customer base, and the main attraction is free shipping, so why would they shop anywhere else anyway. I doubt KU makes anywhere near the difference to Amazonís sales as people seem to think it does, but weíre all entitled to our opinions.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: February 01, 2018, 06:22:43 AM »
Iíll add that I donít think content mills will go away because I think theyíve been around in one form or another for a while. There will be a profit tipping point and the ones best at building/maintaining KU mail lists, getting cheap or free or earning content, hitting the right niche/trope points, spending the least amount advertizing, etc will win the toss, until they slip up or someone gets even better at it. You might not be fighting for visibility against the same content mill every week, but there will be another one. Now theyíve spawned there will be no getting rid of them unless the KU model is drastically changed in some way.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: February 01, 2018, 06:14:31 AM »
Astute post, TT.

I may not agree with every detail, but I read your posts because they possess this level of acumen. :)

Thanks, Anarchist. Nice gif.  ;)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: February 01, 2018, 06:08:55 AM »
That's not desperation. It's domination.

"Your margin is my opportunity."

Bezos will continue doing exactly as he's done, until he either dies, or the government stops him. Bet against him at your own risk.

I donít think anyone is betting against him just by not being in KU. Weíre still listing books on Amazon, but we also list and promote other platforms. Sure, we get no help from the so-called Amazon algos, but so what? Iím not sure they were doing much for me without a lot of promotion anyway. This way Iím promoting four platforms instead of one. I might not get page reads, but I am getting sales from four platforms.

Bezos may see my margin as his opportunity, but that doesnít mean I have to give it to him. I donít use AMS, nor am I in KU. He gets 30% plus download fees of my sales. Having ads splattered all over my page means I spend more directing traffic to the other platforms because they donít do that, which means I get more conversions from those ads. If he really does think my margin is his opportunity heís not good at taking it. If anything, heís convinced me to give my margin to someone else.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: February 01, 2018, 03:38:21 AM »
Iíve tried to stay out of this thread because I think itís a worthless argument, but PJ is right to say itís worth discussing providing people can keep emotion out of it.

I couldnít care less about the future of KU or Amazon for that matter. Neither have ever paid my bills. If anything, I help pay theirs. I have no vested interest in the survival of either. What I do want to achieve is getting books into the hands of readers, but I donít care what platform theyíre using.

The following is only my own opinion and you can get offended if you wish, but I think what I think and it is not intended as a slight to anyone else. If we canít just express an opinion, even if itís not the usual one, then what use is a discussion cafe?

What is KU?
Technically itís a subscription service and no one would have cared about it except for two points.

- Amazon make a borrow equal a sale, which skews cat 100 lists.
- Amazon demand exclusivity.

Why do Amazon make a borrow equal a sale?
They could easily set up a separate KU rank the same as they have done for free books. There is no technical limitation so it is deliberate. My theory is if they didnít skew the list then they would be dominated by the trads. The animosity between Amazon and the trads is real, so much so theyíll take any fight to court. I donít think Jeff wants to see his shop dominated by the trads - itís an ego thing. Unfortunately, itís making the site impossible to use.

What did exclusivity do?
I believe originally it was to starve the other platforms of content, but it hasnít worked out the way they expected. In a new ecosystem/model it is hard to predict what people will do. It was supposed to tie a wide range of genres, niches and types of books to Amazon. Readers would be attracted to the cheap sub fee and wide range of exclusive content. What they planned to do once they hooked everyone in is another matter, but itís a moot point now.

What happened was the authors swamped the best selling niches so badly it drowned out everything else. During KU1.0 that was a lot of short erotica books. Now weíre in KU2.0/3.0 itís the sort of tropes in every niche that are read by the book a day reader. Once the trope niches were established, authors realized it was a volume game. Generally every niche/trope book had a ďcapĒ. It would earn say $10,000 and then it was done, so the only way to increase earnings was to pump out more books. Given the content/trope is predictable, it was easy enough to ramp production, hence the birth of the content mill style publisher. Buy it, wrap it, load it, pump it, collect the page reads. Rinse and repeat. There is nothing to stop a well run and funded engine putting out 100 books or more a month and they will. Believe me, easy money is like blood in a shark pool. The feeding frenzy is already well underway, even if you donít recognize them for the pseudo content mills that they are.

Now weíre in a situation of escalating costs. There are some authors left who still have a fan base, although Iím sure theyíre under attack from the competition, so that base will erode over time. For the vast majority of authors (& Iíll discount the outliers because their issues are different to the bulk of indies) itís no longer just about visibility, but one of cost. Can they afford to be visible? Every ad mechanism is swamped so they are forced to discount books and use Eshot providers, but even that tail is eroding so itís becoming too expensive.

What happens next?
You have to see the market as being split into two. The non KU books have a completely different ecosystem, costs and future to the KU books. I have an opinion about the non KU books (which is what I have), but itís a different analysis and not the subject of this thread.

So, if we zero in on the KU books, whatís likely to happen now?
The content mill style publisher have no reason to change what theyíre doing, but each one is operating within their constraints. The one that could afford to have $5k in working capital has been replaced by the one who could have $30k and that one was replaced by the one with $100k. You can see where this is going. The content mill with the biggest budget will win. Eventually we will have a smaller number of mills publishing 100, 200, 1,000 books a month. For a while they will be a mix of outright investment engines and author pools, but I expect the investment engine will outrun most of the author pools in the end.

But will that kill KU? Well, that depends on Amazon. The book a day reader isnít profitable. Amazon collect $10 and pay out say $40. If all the reader can see is the niche tropes then the ones who donít want that (and would have read less books each month and therefore made Amazon money) will leave. Providing Amazon donít mind the top of the shop being full of niche trope KU books AND paying more than they collect, then KU will trundle along. To be fair, they rip back page reads revenue through AMS, but it could well be a zero sum or loss game from their side.

There is no obvious answer about the future of KU because we donít know what Amazonís tolerance levels are. Are they happy to fill the cat 100s with niche trope books, even if itís driving away other types of readers? Is it ok if they pay more than they collect for KU books? Do they care if many of the midlisters leave KU because they canít compete with the content mills and trope niches for visibility? Does it matter if the bulk of the KU subscribers are the book a day reader where the bulk of them want specific niche tropes? Do Amazon mean to be servicing that type of high volume reader over the lower volume reader who wants to find different types of books?

I donít know how Amazon would answer any of those questions. If I go by my extensive corporate consulting background then I can guess at the answers, but thatís not the same as having an answer. And therein lies the problem and why these threads dissolve into arguments. There isnít an answer, so any answer given always contains a bit of wish fulfilment thinking.

I donít have a wish. I did, but I got over it. I just looked at the state of play and worked out where I fit in it, what I want, and what Iím prepared to invest. Thatís why I went wide, not because I care about the future of Amazon or KU, or even what theyíre doing today.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: January 30, 2018, 06:28:02 AM »
All of which would be fine with me--if they realized their vendors actually needed to make money.

Initially, they offered a month fee. More recently, they have been cranking out an increasing number of three-month discounted offers. If they were getting enough people paying the full price to make them happy, I doubt they would be doing that. However, a pattern like that could also mean that they're finding KU customers really are big spenders on other things, in which case an effort to expand their numbers could really pay off. (Why not make more money on a loss leader if you can?)

In the US, Iím sure Prime membership does a good job of bringing people to the store, what with free shipping Ďn all. Iíve never bought in on the claim KU brings people to the store who then launch off and buy expensive items. Maybe it was true once, but thereís something like 100m plus Prime members in the US alone.

I suspect thereís a very different set of reasons for the deep discounting and free three months, but no one wants to explore why because it might not conclude anything good about the health of KU and itís possible future.

Nuff said.  ;)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: January 30, 2018, 06:17:49 AM »
They've already got my bank details as it's the same card I use for all Amazon purchases.

I had Kindle Unlimited once before, but couldn't find much that I wanted to read so I cancelled after the first free month.

Just make sure they donít auto deduct now youíre registered on KU. They tried that trick when I was registered with Prime and I had to manually stop the deductions post the first month.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: January 30, 2018, 06:10:04 AM »
Iíve seen them offering three free months. Iím guessing theyíre charging the notional fee of 1.99 to get your bank details. Youíll need to be sure to stop the auto deductions when they try and up the price. Youíre in the U.K. and Iím not sure their take up for KU is good there.

Free and such heavy discounting doesnít send out a good message to the market. Whether they mean to or not, theyíre pretty much saying the books in KU arenít worth paying much for.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Article on fake Twitter followers in NYT
« on: January 29, 2018, 12:35:24 PM »
Iíve been testing boosting posts on FB. The first boost usually results in likes and link clicks that make sense, as in if you check the profiles they look real. The second boost resulted in very odd profiles that had only one or no posts and were from unusual countries. I canít work out (a) why those accounts, and (b) if they were real accounts. If they werenít then it doesnít say anything good about FB.

As for twitter, buying fake accounts has been around for a long time. The sellers openly advertize it as a service. Of course, that leave Twitter with a credibility issue. My last tweet had a ďpromoĒ option so I checked it out. Twitter wants to charge me $50 - $5,000 to promote that tweet, not that I ever would because it really wasnít that special. Worse still, it promised me 100 ďengagementsĒ (which can just be someone clicking on the image) for $50 and it wouldnít even let me choose the countries (what kind of targeting is that). By comparison, FB will boost a post for as little as a few dollars and I get to target by region, interests, etc.

Twitter need to lift their game. You canít have articles like this highlighting half their members are fake and expect to charge top dollar for non targeted boosts. How stupid do they think we are? I feel vaguely insulted.

Writers' Cafe / Re: The WEIRDNESS of rankings for USA vs Other Countries
« on: January 28, 2018, 06:14:19 AM »
Itís not so much the markets being hugely different, we frequently share movies and TV programs, so weíre not that far apart.

One of my objectives is to have a presence in all markets, so I promote equally between international and US. All regions sell, but itís taking less sales to get some algo (all be it not much) support in all countries other than the US. I believe this is because the content mill publishers (itís cutesy to call it ďcollaborationĒ, but a lot of the time itís more about pumping as much volume as possible out the door as quickly as possible) and KU marketing money (largely through AMS) is directed at the US site. Also, other countries havenít fully implemented AMS yet, so thereís less competition once you drive traffic to your page.

However, I take the US site as the template Amazon will follow for all countries, which is why Iím determined to stay wide. I can already see how destructive KU has been to the US for anyone who isnít in it. Knowing that wonít make me sign up for KU because I find it annoying when a company or a person behaves like a bully, but it does mean Iíll focus more on the other platforms.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Walmart teams up with KOBO
« on: January 27, 2018, 11:59:47 AM »
I've already written it, created the over-priced membership site, the free cheesy podcast, created the facebook group for questions (no self promotion unless it's me promoting my books) and have dates lined up for when I'm opening doors and closing doors to get people salivating. I"m currently seeking false testimonials or at least exaggerated ones, doesn't matter how old they are or if you are no longer making money as long as you are smiling and you say lots of good things about me in the video.  Please apply to


You are my hero. *swoon* :-*

PS Donít forget to run a conference where everyone must apply to attend and you can bestow your kindness on your favorites groupies.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Do USA Today & NYT Only Track US Sales?
« on: January 26, 2018, 11:57:10 PM »
I'm still dreaming of a BookBub feature like that. It makes everything so much easier.

I'm also struggling with this letters business. Ultimately, I don't care, and I can't imagine readers caring. I have it listed on my author page, and I have the changes from my cover artist, but I find myself dragging my feet on actually updating the covers. I do not care, one way or the other. As a reader, I look at covers, blurbs, and reviews. The only time such letters mean anything to me is if they are something like "Hugo Award Winner" or something like that. I pay almost no attention to USA Today Bestseller at all. Now that I know what is actually involved with NYT Bestseller, I may actually notice it, but it wouldn't be something that prompted me to actually read the book. It's just a sign that the book had been popular, and I don't read a book just because it's popular. Something else has to grab me.

Listing awards for books is an old trick used by the trads, but Iím probably a typical reader in that I donít know anything about them. If anything, smothering a book with awards can make me think the publisher feels obliged to oversell what is really just a bad book.

Of course, all these multi author box sets claiming letters will dilute the value of having them. I donít believe getting the title from a multi author box set is equivalent to getting it for a single author book. But I also donít believe getting them for a heavily discounted single author book is the same as getting them for a full priced book.

The bottom line is you canít fake a genuine fan base, and just making it look like you have a fan base (however you fake that) wonít get you one. You can play all the games in the world (in or out of KU for that matter), but if youíre not genuinely popular then your apparent success will be short lived, so itís probably better to spend your energy producing a better book than trying to make it look like the one you have is better than it is.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Second row of sponsored AMS ads is now also viewed
« on: January 26, 2018, 11:46:35 PM »
Thatís what Iím seeing, but your question made me check. Whatís funny about that is my name is a regular target for a specific group of KU authors. Now that I can see the ďalso viewedĒ it makes it quite clear that the AMS ads arenít working because none of their books are listed there.  :P

Writers' Cafe / Re: Do USA Today & NYT Only Track US Sales?
« on: January 26, 2018, 05:12:15 PM »
Excellent point! I think most indie authors daydream about receiving that kind of accolade, and I'm sure it feels great when it happens, but it's a hard target to hit and I'm sure requires a big ad spend to even have a chance. If an author has that kind of money to throw around, there may be better uses for it.

One of my books did hit the USA Today list last year with over 7,000 sales on Amazon and 600 on iBooks (they take the numbers from a 7 day period). I had a BookBub feature deal plus some low cost FB and AMS ads. I think all up I spent around $1,200 for the week, give or take a $100. I earned back the cost of the week long campaign within a matter of hours. I didnít try to get on the list and didnít even know I had until someone told me. To be honest, until then I didnít even know the lists existed.

But it proves you donít need to spend huge amounts of money or be part of a multi author boxset to make the list.

The real question is whether having the ďlettersĒ means much. I do include them on some of my covers and ads, but not all of them because I forget and it doesnít seem to make any difference. I think they mean more to authors than they do readers, and I didnít realize many of the multi author box sets are created just to try and make the lists. Seems like a huge waste of time and money to me.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Walmart teams up with KOBO
« on: January 26, 2018, 01:01:03 AM »

FYI. An author can go direct to google now. You just have to apply via their contact form.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Walmart teams up with KOBO
« on: January 26, 2018, 12:59:39 AM »
Those content mills will be turning on each other when they are the only ones left. Amazon's reaction will be interesting to watch over the next little while. Do they wait and see how many leave or do they get proactive and start being nice to us again?  Do they clear out the scammers, stuffers, and do what authors have been asking for? Do they pay us for page-flip? Do we get KU-100? Do they go to def-con 1?

These have just become interesting times.

Unfortunately Amazon can be as dumb as a box of hammers and they donít pay any attention to content, despite how that lack of attention to detail keeps biting them in the a**.

I donít think Amazon would recognize a content mill any faster than they would an actual scammer. Letís face it, Bezosís preference for bots over humans means if the bot donít know it then neither does Amazon. It makes his ecosystem vulnerable to scammers, content mills, badly written books, et al. I can only assume someone got his coffee order wrong once and heís hated all humans ever since.

Iím encouraged enough by Walmart and kobo teaming up that Iím finally going to load my books to them. In fact, recent developments in Books, Google, B&N and now kobo have convinced me to go wider and shore up my multi platform marketing campaigns. Amazon are actively trying to destroy any author not in KU so itís time to return the favor. Collectively, midlisters represent higher sales and larger marketing budgets than all of the content mills combined, so if we put our weight behind the other platforms it will make a difference. Amazon donít care about midlisters, because whether theyíre in or out of KU, theyíre no more visible thanks to the content mills.

Fun times ahead!  8)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Kboard problem
« on: January 25, 2018, 07:31:01 AM »
Not just you. I got it as well. They just need to renew the certificate and it doesnít mean youíre dealing with a ďfake kboardsĒ...or are we?  :o

This is good news for us. I've been loyal to amazon since day one, being in KOLL and keeping all my books in KU for the switch. I've been caught up in every one of amazon's KU twists and turns and lost well over half my revenue on page reads, page decreasing, page-flip, and now with this AMS scam of be in it or lose all visibility it feels like I'm spending almost as much as the book is taking just to stand still.

Well, as amazon have shown no loyalty to the authors who have built their platform, I don't have a loyal bone left in my body. I'll be happy directing traffic to any company that isn't amazon if they are going to take amazon on. Authors made amazon and they can break amazon, as long as there is a player in the market willing to do what it takes to challenge them. Viva the revolution.

Too right. I had no negative or positive opinion about Amazon before I published, but I do now and itís not kindly. Iíve got the time and money to create distance between myself and Amazon. Iíll support any company whoíll help me to escape the rat hole Amazon has become.

Itís good to see Books and Google doing something.  Even if we donít know where itís leading, itís enough for me to start changing my advertizing tactics. I had been willing to direct traffic primarily to Amazon, but Iím sick of having up to 1,000 competitor books on my page. I have zero interest in KU so I will not be enrolling my books. Due to KU skewing ranks the Amazon platform offers me no visibility.  Iím not creating or selling paperbacks through amazon anymore. And I wouldnít touch their ACX offer from the start.

I can live with all of the above, but Amazon have given me good reason to target my ads so they send traffic to Books and Google. All the BS Amazon keep  pulling adds up to making them non competitive against other platforms. Sure, itíll take a while for the buying market to shift, but for those of us who are sale only, I suspect itíll pay off longer term.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Latest Author Earnings Report has been posted
« on: January 25, 2018, 02:43:54 AM »
Iíve read the ďmethodologyĒ used to build up the so-called author earning report and these are the underlying assumption for the subscription/KU piece.

1. 50% of rank is KU downloads.
2. 85% of all downloads are read.

The 50% of rank being KU downloads was based on a poll on kboards during the conversion from KU1.0 to 2.0, which was 2.5 years ago and flaky at the time. I have no idea why anyone would assume 85% page reads for every download, seems arbitrary to me. For one thing, they brought in page flip and we know readers donít finish most books (even ones they paid for). TPs have done some interesting surveys about that and the equivalent page reads was surprisingly low.

In my opinion, data guyís numbers could easily be so far wrong that I donít know why anyone would pay for the KU ďdataĒ (only Amazon have the actual data, everyone else is guessing). As for whether TPs care about the indie performance numbers, Iím not sure they do. They might be interested in the ďsale onlyĒ data to check out how their competitors are performing in specific areas and price points, but thatís probably a ďnice to haveĒ. Letís face it, theyíve done well enough for long enough without it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Latest Author Earnings Report has been posted
« on: January 23, 2018, 03:24:01 AM »

Where does that number come from?

It's the one number Amazon wont tell us. It's the one number we want to make sense of the reads numbers.

Or are they guessing based on the book's rank?

I donít know, but itís why I donít understand some of indie numbers. If you donít know how many pages were read, then the ďearningsĒ numbers for authors in KU arenít known (unless Amazon or the author tell you and even then Iím not sure all authors would be honest about it).

Iíve asked this question before, but Iíve never gotten a satisfactory answer other than data guy is a magician, which Iím pretty sure he isnít.  :P

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