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I can say from personal experience that releasing the first three books in a series a month apart seems to help launch a series by building momentum. It doesn't always work for me, but when it does, the series will take off on its own with minimal initial marketing. My books are in KU, and maybe that makes a difference. Of course, it also helps to write books that readers like, and I wish I knew how to do that consistently, but a series can catch fire still.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Silly question, but where in the world is Hugh?
« on: June 18, 2018, 06:39:30 AM »
Look here: @hughhowey

Writers' Cafe / Re: Silly question, but where in the world is Hugh?
« on: June 18, 2018, 06:36:31 AM »
Howey, that is.

Hasn't been on Twitter since March. Not a peep on his website (which looks a lot different). I'm pretty sure he deleted facebook altogether too.

I keep thinking about that whirlwind writers-software he was telling us about, but he's not around with any kind of updates...least of all his books. Asking because maybe someone saw/heard something here I didn't.

You're looking in the wrong place on Twitter because he loves it. I think he's still in Fiji, and he's sent probably a hundred tweets from there. Unfortunately, I just deleted my most recent ones, but he's there.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« on: June 17, 2018, 07:30:25 PM »
Ya I guess I should have been a little clearer. I have a very natural split at the midpoint, where the protag receives not only some understanding of his new power, but also the first coupling between him and the love interest. Its not EXACTLY 50% of course, but pretty damn close. Its a sort of pausing to catch a breath. And then, the story picks up again 3 months later, where hes grown into his power a bit and finding his footing, but gets thrown right back into the fire.
My other works in progress definately dont have such a natural breaking point and I doubt I could replicate that in another story (nor would I want to),
Its the sort of point where things wind down but its very obvious that things arent over, lots of questions still to be answered.
So, Reveries, its looking like I may have something like what you had.
I think of something like Hyperion, where the two first books could easily have been merged into one long book. There was a nice end at the first, but literally nothing was yet solved.

Idk its probably a bad idea but good to hear at least one author did this with success.

I suppose the risk would be losing readers.

Basically, a story needs a hero with a serious problem, and at least one antagonist to oppose the hero in solving his problem. By the climax of the story, the hero needs to understand how to solve his problem and goes for broke. Then the hero struggles to a literary climax and either prevails or loses. In that process, the loose ends raised in the story earlier need to be tied up. In a series, it's okay to have couple of unresolved issues, but most of the critical issues need to be resolved at least temporarily, or there's no real climax and resolution.

If the first half of the book contains all those elements, or if you can work it around to where it does, then you have a complete story. Congrats. But if you leave a lot of loose ends unresolved, readers are probably going to be frustrated. They'd be unlikely to keep reading in the hope that you'll get the second book right. That's my take anyway. Best of luck.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« on: June 17, 2018, 07:33:29 AM »
I have a mantra stuck to one of my PC displays that reads "MOPA". It means "My Own Private Amazon", and serves to remind every day that I'm not simply trying to patch together services like BookFunnel and Woo Commerce. I'm creating a full "customer experience" to use the current jargon. My little platform doesn't simply sell books. It has to incorporate the entire process of marketing, discovery, sales admin, and customer support.

Sales tax collection and filing is another part of this process, and, like the reader technology, taxes on Internet sales are messy now and will get messier still for online booksellers. Having correct, up to date info is the first step to coping with your potential liability, and my previous comment in this thread tells where to get it for free. EG, you'll see that there are just two US states that do not collect sales taxes, not "five". You'll also fathom the complexity of "nexus".

Obviously, building an economically viable direct selling platform is not a realistic option for the vast majority of Indie author/publishers. First one has to understand that we're in a trade which, like so many others, roughly adheres to the Pareto principle, where the 20% effort to create a commercially marketable book leads to the 80% effort of production, promotion, sale, delivery, and post-sale reader base/community building. One needs a saleable catalog. One needs a large, qualified list to drive buyers to the selling site/landing page.

A well-thought-through direct selling platform can make this daunting challenge manageable. You may decide you're not a candidate now to build your own selling channel. But be aware that, thanks to BookFunnel's gritty commitment to service and Damon's integration with WooCommerce and other selling solutions, the single messiest part of the direct selling process is solved. We're at the point IMO where direct selling has become viable for a much larger number of Indies than it was just six months ago.

I think you've captured the heart of the issue, namely creating MOPA. Some people enjoy that kind of thing and eagerly face the challenge of creating their own private marketplace. For me, however, I'd much rather focus on writing more books to put on an existing marketplace that sells them pretty well. I don't have any particularly objections to Amazon that I don't have with other large businesses, so I avoid the hassle of selling through other vendors or on my own. It's a personal choice.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« on: June 16, 2018, 01:14:23 PM »
Unless you are the reincarnation of JRR Tolkien, this is probably a bad idea for the reasons stated above concerning story structure. I expect that most readers won't pick up the first book until the second is also available, defeating your purpose in breaking it in two.

Even serializing a novel is difficult because each part needs its own structure. It sounds like you've already written at least half of the book, so you'd have to go back to the beginning and change it into a serialized novel. Good luck with the story.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« on: June 14, 2018, 08:07:37 AM »
The question is not: Can I convince my dedicated fans to buy my book on sale directly from me?

The question is: Can I actually generate NEW BUSINESS selling directly from my site or increase my per sale revenue enough to justify the expense, time, and resources involved?

Julie has it exactly right.  The question for the author is whether it's worth the time and hassle to go in direct competition with Amazon and the other major retail outlets.

The main advantage for the author seems to be keeping Amazon's 30% of the retail price, but the real question is why would the reader switch to a process much more difficult to navigate? The main attraction for a reader seems to be getting the book for less money, but I'm 99% sure Amazon isn't going to like an author discounting below the Amazon price. At a minimum, when it figures out what you're doing, they're going to price match, and you will get much less net income from what it probably a much bigger market than selling on your own website.

In short, maybe this makes sense for a non-fiction author where direct selling has been common, or for someone with a large backlist or extremely popular books, but I'm skeptical that it's worth the hassle for most self-pub authors.


The entire KU system is basically the Hunger Games. Authors are pitted against one another to fight over a finite pile of money in an arbitrary pool.

Actually, it's not at all like the Hunger Games. I can't remember the last time somebody snuck up on me in KU and put an arrow in my back. When you have to exaggerate so much to make a point, it's a sign that your underlying argument is weak.

KU is just a different kind of business option. Lots of companies use subscription services, particularly when it comes to electronic media. KU has pluses and minuses, and everybody can judge for themselves whether they'd like the option. If not, fine.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Breaking the fourth wall
« on: June 12, 2018, 09:23:04 AM »
Breaking through the wall seems easy, but doing it well is a lot harder than it looks. And this technique has downsides.

I write in first person past using a conversational tone, but ideally, I want the reader to become the narrator and fall into the story, in contrast to thinking of themselves as reading to a story being told by someone else. I think the reader becomes more emotionally involved in stories they share in that odd way we can become someone else in fiction.

I'm also disappointed with the TechCrunch article. Did they even speak to any authors? It doesn't seem like it. It has a bunch of pretty critical inaccuracies, and is pretty much exclusively focused on Chance Carter. Which is also unfortunate, as there is quite obviously a wider issue here I would rather journalists focus on. The piece here if anyone wants to see it:

Much more welcome is this more properly researched piece from Pajiba. It's very well done, calls out a few of the major stuffers (there are many more of course), and it documents a few aspects of the entire scheme with screenshots and the like. It's a great piece overall:

I didn't have anything to do with either of these particular articles but all I'll say is... lots more to come! There is also a big meeting happening in Seattle today about all of this. Can't wait to hear the outcome.

For the stuffers who still are stuffing: you really want to call that formatter of yours. This might be your last chance. And drop the formatting hacks too. We see those...

Thanks, David, for keeping on top of this issue for everyone while trying to keep your own publishing empire growing.

And yet, you're looking in the wrong place. Those authors get the ranking boost from being in KU and doesn't actually reflect the top 100 authors by earnings or popularity because wide sales aren't taken into account. That's like saying JK Rowling writing under a pen name for infants is doing badly because you can't see the big picture.

ETA - Read your last post and wanted to add that Izzy Shows posted on another forum the other day to say that in the first eight days of going wide, she'd made up lost KU reads and had gotten her first bookbub. Yep, wide is bad.

On Amazon, I can see for myself how successful UF authors are in KU. If you think there's actual proof of success on other forums, I'd love to see it. KU and Author Earnings say Amazon is where people are finding success. If there's other evidence even remotely comparable, I'd love to see it.

My point was that just because KU is working for those authors doesn't mean that wide wouldn't work for them. If few UF authors are trying wide, how do they really know wide would work? I didn't suggest they're "acting against their own self-interest". That wasn't my point at all. Saying, "We're all in KU and KU is working well for us, so KU must be the only place where UF can succeed, and if you write UF and want to succeed, you have to do be in KU" is short-sighted and circular reasoning.

I don't think UF authors are unwilling to try new things like going wide. You would know better than me how many self-pub UF authors are on Kobo, but there have to be some. Same with Apple and B&N and Google. There have to be UF authors trying to be successful outside of KU.

But I've been following Kboards pretty regularly for years, and I haven't seen any threads from UF authors saying they're having great success with going wide. In fact, most of the posts I see about authors  going wide in general say that it isn't working out so great. Whereas, KU is a natural environment for UF readers who love to read a lot.

I suspect this is kind of a confirmation bias thing. Indie authors writing UF put their books in KU because they believe that's where the primary UF audience is and that they kind of have to put it in KU. That doesn't necessarily mean that KU is actually necessary for UF books to succeed. (Speaking as someone who doesn't use KU, mostly prefers to buy from Kobo, and really enjoys UF.)

Right now, there are only four books in the bestseller ranking for Paranormal and Urban Fantasy that are self-pub and aren't in KU. Now, maybe some bestselling authors simply follow the crowd, or maybe, like me, they don't want to mess with going wide. Nevertheless, in my experience, the average UF author is a rational creature. He puts his books in KU because it pays off, and he stays in because it keeps paying off.

That doesn't mean every UF author is in KU, but the fact that almost all of the bestselling UF self-pub authors are there is a lot more persuasive to me than a theory that says they are acting against their own self-interest.

Well, you obviously don't follow romance, because many, MANY big names have dropped out of KU. And here's a data point for you. During my best month in KU 2.0, I netted nearly 70K, in a single month. With no stuffing, trickery or click farming. So you'd say that KU has been very good to me. Well, guess what? I'm mostly out.

You're right, I don't follow romance, and maybe there are "many, MANY big names" who have dropped out of KU recently. If so, I hope Amazon is noticing and starts to work harder to clean up KU. You've obviously decided KU isn't worth it anymore, and that's perfectly fine. Everyone should make their own decision based on their own best interests.

But I'm still not persuaded that enough KU authors are leaving to get Amazon's attention. I just took a look at the Kindle Romance best sellers, and out of a those 100, 94 are in KU or were published by one of the big traditional publishers (only a handful). And I do follow urban fantasy, and by a wide margin, most bestselling authors in that genre are in KU as well.

Considering the likelihood that at least one of the major players in the scam operations is someone on the inside at Amazon running a little side business, I'd say there's someone making it hella difficult for the bot operations to be found and shut down. Find one, you'll find a lot more. So what do you do? You interfere as much as possible so that as few as possible are found. You create "solutions" that aren't really solutions at all. You hem and haw and stall and put up roadblocks and you keep the gravy train rolling for as long as you possibly can because it's like printing your own money.

*wildly speculating now* (I will not deny)

(But seriously, you know someone's doing it.)

Really? Have you got any actual proof that's happening? If so, what is it? If not, maybe it's time to dial back the wild speculation. I still haven't seen anything with regard to the latest KU scandal that can't be explained by simple incompetence. Amazon is playing whack-a-mole, and not very well.

Despite the ever-increasing fury on Kboards, I don't see any evidence that big KU authors are leaving or that significant numbers of other authors are either. Maybe that's because, for most KU authors, this is still the best thing going. And if that changes, getting out is easy.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Complete a Series?
« on: June 10, 2018, 08:04:47 AM »
No one says that you'll need to do anything before seeing sales. In fact, you can do everything and still not see sales.

What we're saying in the other thread is if you're a new author, by the time your series is three books in, and you're not seeing a number of sales that makes you happy, it might be wise to cut it off and try something different.

Or, if you like the series and don't care about sales, or are determined to carve out your own niche, then keep going.

This ^^^

I hate to leave readers hanging, but if you've already put out four books in a series, that's enough. Some series take off and some don't, and damned if I can figure out why. I'd try something new, and if you love your initial series, you can always add to it later. Good luck.

Writers' Cafe / Re: new book question
« on: June 03, 2018, 01:02:48 PM »
Sites vary. Many that require reviews will exempt new releases, but they may want reviews for other books in the series. I generally don't promote the most recent book with ads but the first book in the series each time a new book comes out. So all that matters to me is whether the first book qualifies an ad. Best of luck.

These are all great ideas, and I've used many of them myself because everybody faces the fear of putting something out there that isn't as good as it could be if you just worked on it harder.
I would also suggest writing one book just for yourself. Promise yourself you won't publish it, and instead use it to see whether you actually like writing. You may or may not. Loving the idea of having written a book is different from loving the process of writing a book.

As someone hit in the most recent page read reduction, and still faces the possibility of it happening next month, I have taken all my books out of KU, and are changing things up.

That said, the wide stores are mostly a joke. And a bad one at that. I WANT TO SUPPORT THEM, I want there to be competition, but damn do they make it hard to. You put your book up on their stores, to crickets. They don't help you in anyway, there is no way to promote on most of them (unless it's Kobo, and good luck getting in one of them, or you know someone in the company, like Apple).

I even type my name into some of them, and either don't come up at all, or an erotica writer comes up with my name, but reversed. I don't expect the red carpet to be rolled out, but they can at least throw a new author putting their books up on their websites something. Like, I don't know, a tiny, insy bitsy bit of visibility, or an email telling you how you can promote on their websites. I had to hunt around for how to promote on Kobo, and even then, everything is curated and seems geared toward trad pubs and genres that aren't ones I have written in.

I'm sure if I put up 5 books in a series up on Amazon, even with no promotion, I would still get some sales, or downloads. But in the wide stores, you are 100% invisible. It totally relies on you to get anyone to even know your books are there. Plus, their categories and lack of keywords in some cases is so far behind Amazon, it's not funny.

It's like most of them don't even try. They half A*** everything they do. And we're meant to care about them and hope they succeed when they won't even help themselves...

You have experienced first-hand the main reason why KU continues to grow. There is no good alternative at the moment. Walmart and Kobo are supposed to be creating something that might become an incentive to leave KU, but it doesn't exist yet.
The other current online outlets for self-pub ebooks are terrible, and Apple, B&N, and Google aren't doing anything about that. That's why people are so frustrated with Amazon. Most self-pub genre fiction authors can't simply take their beautiful ebooks to another online retail outlet and get the same results most get from KDP and KU.
It's simply business. The self-pub book market  isn't important enough to justify a company fighting Amazon for market share in one of its core areas of expertise. Hopefully, Kobo and Walmart will come through with a viable alternative, but it isn't here yet.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Reputable Cover Designers, anyone?
« on: May 24, 2018, 09:25:34 AM »
I have decided I intensely dislike my book's cover, :D so I desperately need a new one.

I'm looking for something for the fantasy/paranormal genre. This is only the first book in an eight book series, so if I find a designer I like, I will stick with them for many, many books.

Cost is not my number 1 worry right now, but the cheaper the better would be wonderful as I am a new author and a university student so funds are tight.

My dream cover designer would listen to the image of my cover that I have in my head, offer suggestions, and create a masterpiece that both looks incredible and suits my book and genre. I'm not hugely picky so I doubt a lot of revisions would be necessary, but I would like to have that option in case our thoughts are just not lining up.

If you know of anyone to recommend, please reply here! :)

Check out Natasha Snow. She is particularly popular for her urban fantasy/PNR covers, and she has a thread on Kboards. She made all of the covers below.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KU Payout
« on: May 19, 2018, 08:32:56 AM »
Meanwhile, another month rolls along, and KU is in the process of paying out another twenty million bucks to those poor fools who put their books in KU in March.

One time while I had too much time on my hands, I did a perusal of the Top 100 writers in the whole store and the Top 100 writers in SFF. Other than a couple of outliers such as the guy who wrote The Martian, all of the writers on the list had at least 25 books published. The average was 45, which was skewed by Nora Roberts and a few others.

Very interesting information. I'm not surprised Nora screwed up the average. She amazing. At 67, she's still writing excellent books and is as productive as ever.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KU Payout
« on: May 15, 2018, 03:06:12 PM »
By my reckoning the KU page read payout for .com for April was .0045. Which I'm pretty happy with. Unless anyone else got a different figure.

You should know better than to express any sort of happiness with KU on Kboards. Just keep spending all that extra income in silence.

As an unpublished author who is just starting out and will be launching probably next month, this scares me so much. I wanted to do KU, heard great things and I really need the visibility to get started. But if I were by some miracle to have a hit and my rank took off, I'd be in fear of Amazon thinking something suspicious was going on. Still trying to decide if I wanna be in KU or wide. Would be nice to have the income boost, but I'm not sure if it's worth it long term. Also, I keep hearing that readers in KU aren't author loyal and don't really come back for more. They just want the next book as fast as possible and I can't write like that.

Don't lose perspective. When you see the various threads where real people report real problems, it's easy to get the wrong impression about KU. It's a massive program paying out tens of millions of dollars a month to authors. Of course, there are occasional problems as there would be in any massive program. But the vast majority of KU authors are doing fine. If they weren't, the Kboards thread about the problem would be a thousand pages long overnight.

Whether or not you should put your book into KU depends much more on your genre and overall plans as an author, not the limited problems people have experienced in the past. As for my own experience in KU, I've never had a problem, and all my books have been in it from the beginning.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Quitting Your Day Job
« on: May 08, 2018, 02:52:07 PM »
The short answer is virtually no self-pubbed author should quit their day job in favor of full-time writing because the income stream from writing is so variable. The longer answer is Amanda's answer, but very few self-pubbed authors are as successful as Amanda.

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