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Messages - Dpock

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1
Writers' Cafe / Re: The bubble has burst
« on: May 20, 2018, 04:23:32 PM »
That ease of publishing does not translate to ease of selling or making a living writing books.

The slush pile has moved from basements of traditional publishers to KDP. I think the ease of self-publishing actually makes it harder to make a living as a writer.

2
Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon has reduced author's royalties
« on: May 20, 2018, 03:44:37 PM »
No.

3
Writers' Cafe / Re: The bubble has burst
« on: May 20, 2018, 02:34:30 PM »
Weird and scary, wasn't it? I mean they had stagefright, but still!

Stagefright or they went along with the joke or, in some cases, truly couldn't think of a book because they hadn't read any. There's also a chance they could remember but didn't want to reveal their reading habits.

People who could rattle off dozens of books were of no use to the segment.

4
Writers' Cafe / Re: The bubble has burst
« on: May 20, 2018, 11:41:34 AM »
But no, you don't need to identify a target market before you write your book, that's commodity thinking, and we have plenty of successful writers here who have out and out rejected that strategy.

Most of the energy in this forum is dedicated to writing in the genres where commodity thinking is essential. Their readers have expectations, and in some genres, those expectations get down to exact beats and formulas. If you end your romance with the heroine getting run over while holding a puppy, be prepared for angry mobs.

In another forum, saying you don't need to identify a target market might fly, but not this one.

5
Writers' Cafe / Re: The bubble has burst
« on: May 19, 2018, 06:36:31 PM »
This isn't really fair.

I have a very good read through for my books from one book to the next. Before KU, my books sold for $4.99 a pop, from which I got $3.49 per sale. I made a good six figure income since 2013. In KU, each book is only worth about $2.00 - $2.25 depending on KENPC for a full read-through. I lose about $1.24 to $1.40 for each full read in KU versus a sale based on my price point. I know because unlike many authors who have only been in KU, my career started in 2012 and I was wide, selling on Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Google Play since 2014. When KU started, I saw the effect on my sales. I lost money even when I sold as many equivalent units. I would have to sell about 50% more books (or read throughs) to keep up with what I used to earn through sales alone.

So KU sucks, from my perspective. I know a lot of authors do really well in it, but I made my income off a higher price point and lower sales. That doesn't work as well in the KU world.

Now, it's possible to argue that it's just market forces and a maturing market, but Amazon is so big, it can control the market. Its decisions to create KU and its move into publishing, by creating its own imprints, directly competes with my sales and affects my bottom line. I'm still selling six figures, but it's a lot harder for me now. I do so because I'm wide and keep sales going through a lot of hard work, marketing, trying to service my existing readership and keep growing it. It's a lot more work now because of KU and because of the maturing market.

I don't believe KU brought in a whole bunch of new romance readers. What it did was pay romance authors less per unit and allowed those romance readers to spend their excess $$ in the Amazon store on non-book goods. Which was Amazon's goal all along, from what I can see.

/grumble

Well put. And now that being in KU puts your entire account at risk, I'm surprised there's not a huge exodus out of KU.

6
I must admit while writing shorter, lighter fare I do often stop to question myself on whether or not what I'm doing is a serious enough approach to writing because I find myself having so much fun being silly or pursuing these silly premises then I worry that I'm just 'playing' and not really doing the work. I guess there's a fine line. Or maybe it's not that 'fine' actually.  :)

There are many who say your work should feel like play, and if it doesn't, then you're in the wrong line of work.

7
Writers' Cafe / Re: The bubble has burst
« on: May 19, 2018, 12:25:33 PM »
...you can't just poop something barely literate out and expect it to sell like crazy.

I suspect you still can if you have a crazy ad budget.

8
Writers' Cafe / Re: Which Genres are not over saturated?
« on: May 18, 2018, 03:17:48 PM »
Go to the genre's Top 100 list and check the rank of #100. If it's under 5000 the genre is likely, well, congested. If the #100 ranked title is 10,000 to 15,000, there's more room to get noticed and be on a Top list.

9
Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon rankings
« on: May 18, 2018, 01:06:57 PM »
Not long ago someone stated a sale shows up in the KDP dash more or less immediately, but it won't register in rankings for several hours.

10
One of the funniest books ever written is Candide by Voltaire, a satire. It's funny as hell. Many find it eye-opening and life-changing and it's barely a novella. If you lean toward satire and have a gift for it in your writing, consider yourself lucky and take your talent seriously.

Let others decide for themselves whether you produce serious works.

11
Amanda makes good sense (as always :) ) about how a state/area can have richer and poorer and in-between communities. Here is an interesting list of the richest and poorest area codes in the US.

Under the button to view slideshow there is a link that says "show all" and avoids the annoying clicking through one photo at a time.

https://www.gobankingrates.com/making-money/economy/richest-poorest-area-codes/

I was surprised to see northern coastal California mentioned. It's beautiful there (west of the pot growers, right on the coast). I lived in Marin much further south for a few years and loved it. Today it's out of reach for 99% of the population.


12
Writers' Cafe / Re: Check your bank account carefully...
« on: May 17, 2018, 07:00:55 AM »
That sort of thing is only getting worse. I use a dedicated, pre-paid, low limit card for all online transactions with no linkages to other accounts. I also never, ever use Paypal. It's the worst service out there for processing payments and horror stories abound. That means certain services are unavailable to me. Their loss.

13
As Cassie says above, this illustrates how focusing solely on Amazon US rankings skews reality big, big time.

I once sparked a s***storm here when I said that when I look at someone's rankings on Amazon US, and they're in KU, my rule of thumb is that their books at 10,000-20,000 are earning exactly the same as mine at 100,000 - 200,000.

I have no doubt that's true. A KU subscriber makes no real commitment when they borrow and there's a fair chance they're continually deleting the books they didn't get to make room for more downloads. Still, the rank boost from their borrows is useful if you want to stick in the top charts for visibility and sales. My guess is only one-in-five borrows leads to a full read.

For me and for now KU is just a tool that includes a varying bonus. We'd all be better off without it, including those other platforms.

14
I write a lot of novellas with the sole intent of always have free days to promote. It works to move the back catalog so far. The second I start to see a drop I do a free day and I go right back up within a day or two. All the stuff I wrote a year ago still makes me money every day. Sometimes, it even still hits the sub-charts out of the blue. I think you are right. I don't spend tons of money on launches. It's my back catalog that keeps me going.

I keep forgetting I have those free days to use... Aside from that, when you use them, do you pair them with a paid promotion? The free days I have used I just made them free. The results have lacked excitement.

15
Writers' Cafe / Re: Are Also Boughts Gone?
« on: May 16, 2018, 03:59:07 PM »
I'm seeing ABs on all the books I checked (PC/Google Chrome Incognito).

16
I have a trilogy ranking around there or even a little higher in the Amazon US store that made $500 last month. Times that by 10 for thirty titles and that's $5,000 per month on backlist. Add in one strong new series running at the same time and $100K in revenue seems possible even with "bad" ranks on most of the titles. It's when the books are in the millions that they're really not earning anything. And, of course, that assumes that U.S. Amazon ebook store is where earnings are coming from, which is not true of all titles.

I'm not doubting you in the least but using the TCK sales calculator, 150,000 translates into one sale or borrow a day. I know that's a guess, but it aligns with my personal experience fairly well.

I experimented with a book at $4.99 with a KENP of 777, so either a sale or full-read borrow brought in the same revenue. Theoretically, if it ranked at #150,000, it would earn $104 a month, so three of them ranked the same would bring in $314. A book with a more average length of 350 KENP at $2.99 would earn about $55 a month, so three books ranked at 150,000 would earn about $164. Thirty books would total $19,600 yearly. That's still very respectable for backlist books. Those thirty books would need an average rank of 50,000 to earn $100,000 a year.

17
Not to bring the thread back to the original topic or anything, but there was a survey I saw that showed that most authors making 100K+ had an average of 34 books out. That seems about right.

Thirty-four, with the bulk of them selling. I'm more concerned with my older books selling than with new launches "succeeding". I've seen loads of shelves with twenty or more books where only the latest is selling while the older ones rank in the mid to high 000,000s or even millions. A book ranking at 150,000 or higher isn't earning much.

18
  I agree with Becca that it's hard to make a rational decision with so much unknown.

Several caught in the bot fiasco have had their accounts restored. Until those stories evolve further we won't know how they did it or if they're under any kind of probation.

In the meantime, I think a rational position is if you're in KU and so far unaffected, sit tight. If you note any suspicious activity in you KU reads, report it. If the next sweep gets you, pull out of KU immediately and go wide. It appears the second "infraction" brings the threat of account suspension, not the first, and the only way to avoid it is to leave KU completely.

Later, if the scam-bot situation disappears, reconsider KU.

19
If you assume nobody has any money and they're all just running up their credit cards, let me ask you this. Do you think the banks are stupid? That they are loaning money to all these millions of people who don't earn enough to pay it back?

Let's say there are loads (millions) of people who get credit cards to make payments on their other credit cards, or their car leases, even mortgages, then get second mortgages to pay off their overloaded credit cards, a few of which they used to pay the processing fees on the second mortgage, the excess money from which goes into jet skis, a cruise and new iPhones for everyone in the family. Banks love these people. Banks are not stupid. They're greedy as hell. Half of their CC customers will pay enormous interest on their balances. Then banks will increase their credit limits. The few who can't make in the end give up their houses -- to the bank. It's crazy.

The problem for many is, once they hit the $100,000 lifestyle, they leverage it into a $150,000 lifestyle, but they're only taking home $60,000 - if they're lucky.

20
I suspect that legit authors will give up in despair and the content mills will own the school. Actually, it would be interesting to see them duke it out with the scammers, whom I believe are a different group of people: Plastic books versus fake books.

Though I haven't investigated, I suspect the output of content mills is degraded product (I'm not speaking of ghostwriters generally). They feed a non-discriminating audience which, though large, is not broad. I doubt most sincere authors would want to go head-to-head with them. Content-mill production (or in some cases, cabal production) may be crowding upper tiers of some Top 100 lists, but that speaks to the market.

I'm sure there's some crossover between content-mills and scammers, but they remain separate issues. Only the second one is a clear violation of Amazon's TOS.

The scammers should be Amazon's problem, not ours, but Zon sees it differently. They're accusing legitimate, innocent authors of manipulating the system, failing to realize they have no control over bot behavior. I understand Zon's method is to wipe the slate clean--suspend any account affected by bot inflation. That's tossing out the baby with the bathwater stuff. It's one way to go, but it isn't fair.

There are a lot of innocent authors now withdrawing from KU, including some big names. I doubt it's reached a threshold that would provoke emergency meetings at Amazon's HQ, but I'm sure it's been noticed. The 20To50K FB group has their ear. We need to add to their momentum.

Everyone one of us in the KU community, whether affected yet or not, in the $100k club or not, now has this threat hanging over their heads. None of us now has a right to feel secure. When we sit down to write today we should also be wondering if we'll have an account in sixty days to receive the output. That's our current reality.

21
BTW, not so sure about building yourself to be big enough to protect yourself in KU.  Colleen Hoover is a very successful romance writer and put one of her best selling books Hopeless in KU but got the email because her page reads looked suspicious - yeah that's because that book is wildly popular and people went nuts over it. The book has almost 20,000 reviews on Goodreads and 9,000 on Amazon. She pulled her book and didn't get paid for all of her reads.  It's on her Facebook page.

There's been a fair number now of high profile authors falling into the victim's camp.

22
Did this idea come from a reliable source? And are there any other related details you can share?


Came second hand from an old college friend, now an acquisitions editor at Macmillan.

23
All I know is this. If I get the dreaded email, I'm not going to wait another month to see if they fix it.

That's a perfectly reasonable response and I would take the same course. However, I do wish a collective effort was underway to address the issue en masse--maybe there is. I'm not very connected to the broader indie community. If the RWA took it on Amazon might listen. So far, only "Reverse Harem" seems affected (in romance. I assume that's romance).

I don't know if this board has a voice with Amazon. Some recent posts here mentioned the KU page reductions and suspension threats were "lower order" issues. It's my view that Amazon should treat all indies equally and fairly, a view I suspect this board endorses.

I've only ever looked at KU as cream. It's half of my income, but that isn't what keeps me in KU. That would be rank as borrows count as sales. There are rumblings that Amazon might end this practice. If they do, KU income would fall considerably (I would think) as KU titles became less visible.


24

Just on this board, many, MANY have reported issues.

Twenty-seven so far, drawing from ONE of several threads covering the issue. They range from newbies to the $100,000 club.

EVERYONE in KU is vulnerable, no matter how successful or connected to Amazon.

25
Authors who've had problems in KU and posted about it on the Writer's Cafe are a tiny subset of a tiny subset of a tiny subset. Probably with even more subsets. They're outliers, just like Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking, and Bella Forrest.

Going wide is better for some authors and catalogs, regardless of these issues. I wouldn't allow fear of a nastygram to change my decision about KDPS enrollment, because becoming popular in KU and the Kindle Store generally will serve to insulate you--how many people with access to a human rep at Amazon have had these problems? Conversely, if you're a smaller fish, how would it be possible for Amazon to tell whether your sudden spike in KENPC was caused by a bot you paid for or something beyond your control? Which assumption do they have to make in order to deter bad actors?

The indy community spends a great deal of time worrying about these lower order problems. It comes at the expense of the higher order problem, which is that you don't have enough committed readers to be successful. The enemy isn't piracy, or scammer bots, or Amazon's caprice, or releasing on holidays, or not having reviews--no, the enemy is obscurity. The enemy is the force of Resistance that keeps you fixated on problems you can't control, instead of working on the ones you can.

Do the things that everybody does in order to reach and energize a larger readership. Improve your covers. Grow your mailing list. Perfect your craft. Create work that you are proud to share with the world. Delight your readers. And yes, if it's appropriate for you and your catalog, offer your books through KU.

Problems like KU-related nastygrams will tend to recede once you master the fundamentals that are within your control. Nothing else you can do will ever make them go away.

A few with energized readerships have been affected. Success isn't a shield

This just happened to me.

Every book I release hits the top 100 or 200 of Amazon, and my books are well-known in the genre that I write in, so I have not experienced any abnormal growths or rises in my page reads whatsoever. They have been steady for a long, long time.

Amazon basically decided to randomly strip 50% of my page reads in April, making it my lowest month since I can remember.

The said that they detected malicious marketing, but the only marketing I have is AMS ads and Facebook ads. I don't work with any other third parties.


I don't know how they can get this so wrong... I've been publishing for years and have been a six-figure author for some time. The idea that I would randomly start using bots or something when I'm doing just fine is ridiculous. And them just deciding that they're going to take half of my page reads away and give me one of my worst months ever is scary as hell. I don't know what to do other than email them back. I doubt I'll get anywhere but hopefully they will reason with me.

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