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Messages - TwistedTales

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There's an explicit agreement in every contract and it's what's spelled out in the contract -- that's why we have them, after all. :) This contract was pretty clear.

It may be bluntly stated in the contract, but the legal system isn't always quite so easily interpreted or applied. Look, I'm not suggesting anybody do anything. I don't have any axe to grind. If anyone is hot enough under the collar about it then they'll talk to a lawyer who'll let them know if there's any way to play. People will make their own decisions and no doubt most, if not all, will simply move on no matter how angry they may be right now.

I've figured it all out, folks, and it's the fault of many authors here who've been clamoring for the feature for a long time.

The reason KU pages aren't being paid?  It's Amazon's version of Permafree!

Okay, so I'm in a weird mood this a.m. ...

And there I was blaming the flying monkeys again.

You're not the only weirdo around here!  :D

Of course you can sue.

The fundamental difference between the cases sited and suing Amazon, though, is that KU authors agreed to a contract in which they've, effectively, given Amazon the sole discretionary power to decide what's paid and how it's calculated.

There's no valid cause of action and no damage to sue for.

They are different cases and I only quote them as examples of cases that have been attempted, successfully or otherwise. I'm not saying it's worth the trouble and expense, but there is an implied agreement in every contract. If anyone believes the intent has been abused or there's the possibility of fraudulent actions then maybe there's an opening there, but you'd need to engage a lawyer to know whether it'd have any legs.

I wouldn't bother, but stranger things have happened.

The McDonald's coffee lawsuit was actually very legitimate. She lost 5% of her skin (3rd degree burns requiring skin grafts, including her groin region,) had burns on 16% of her body, was disabled for 2 years. 3rd degree burns in the groin region is a pretty big deal; the sensation nerves do not come back.

They made the coffee about 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which can completely burn through human skin in 12 seconds, as happened to 5% of her skin. Meanwhile, home brewed coffee and many other restaurants served it at around 140 degrees, which is still hot but you'd have more time to get it off and avoid permanent disfigurement. Her 1980s car had no cup holder, so she held the coffee between her legs, and I'm not sure if the lid was properly attached.

The "fast food made me fat" lawsuits were ridiculous, but the hot coffee lawsuit was not, in my view.

I have to admit I don't remember much about the case and in my flaky recall it was a guy who sued! I also didn't remember what happened in either case. My only takeaway was you can sue for anything, legitimate or otherwise.

In response to anyone saying you can't pitch a lawsuit against Amazon, I think you can. Whether it's worth the time, money and effort or not is another matter.

This is the key phrase that makes the discussion relatively moot: "... in our discretion ...". They get to decide. If they decide, in their discretion, that page flip reads count as 1, or that going back to page 1 counts as 1, for pages read, then that's it. The contract is that they get to decide and modify how the pool is split up.

There are some grey areas in the law around what's considered reasonable and implied. In theory, you can sue anyone for anything. You might be thrown out of court within the first five nanoseconds, but I believe anyone can pitch a law suit. Remember the person who sued McDonalds because their coffee was too hot? Or the class action claiming a food chain made them overweight. I don't think any of them got anywhere.

Whether you'd win against a multinational corporation with deep pockets and a team of on staff lawyers is an entirely different issue. Maybe if another corporation with equally deep pockets and matching lawyers backed you and probably not even then.

The only remediation is to walk away. Maybe not from Amazon as a sales platform, but certainly from KU. For as long as authors are happy enough with status quo, regardless of whether they're winning in KU or not, then Amazon will own them. It's not nice to be owned particularly if your master doesn't care about you. If anyone wants to own me then I expect fair play and the odd cuddle now and then.

Not nosy at all - that's what we're here for, to share.

On the 30-35k items, yes they sell very well - they are my mainstay. I price these books between $1.99 and $1.50 depending on the series (the danger zone) because not a lot of books price at that, so they get noticed - people look twice thinking they are on discount- and it's always good to be different. Readers say ' well, we took a chance because it was only $.50c more or $1. more than I would have spent on a .99c book, and not as risky as buying a $2.99 and finding out that you didn't like it.' And of course, I can get two books out in the same time as writing my novels so they actually earn me more in the long run.

That's an interesting price break. Does that mean you only earn 30% royalties? I've always avoided anything under $2.99 because of the 70% royalty cut off, but I guess it would work if you had a lot of books.

I did pitch my first series at 80,000 words. Nowadays I pitch at 60,000. I'm trying a new thing right now. I released book one of a trilogy, but my next release will be the full trilogy rather than the individual books. As I'm developing a following I'm finding my full series sell well. This way will save a lot fussing loading and maintaining the books on the platform. I've got one four book series priced at $8.99 that sells surprisingly well considering the series has been out for almost a year, so I thought I'd try it this way and see what happens.

There were a lot of mutterings in a large reader group that I belong to that couldn't understand where all the shorts had gone. They had checked out the kinds of books that were in KU before they signed up and they weren't happy with what was left. Novels are all well and good for the people that like novels, but a lot of people liked the shorts and saw them in the same way they did a TV series. Pop in for an hour or two - no hard slog to get to the HEA and if there was no juicy bits by the end then they didn't feel too cheated.

Now as they see it - they've been cheated, because now they have KU which they hardly use and have to buy the shorts.

I don't have time to invest in a full blown novel. I like shorts, or novellas and never buy novels. It's much the same way as I don't buy trade and haven't bought anything trade published in about five years.

I suppose just as the short authors have moved out of KU so the shorts readers will/have too. Life is just too busy for novels and who wants to wait for the next time you can pick it up again? Not me.

I've always enjoyed short stories as well as novels, so I'm sure KU readers were disappointed. One of my main concerns when they cut over to KU2.0 was they would damage the KU reader profile. I thought we would lose many people who subscribed for kids books and shorts, but I didn't quite know how it would play out.

I think the KU reader profile is narrowing. Firstly, you'll only subscribe if you read a lot of books, otherwise there are plenty of free and 99c books to choose from. Secondly, people who stay in KU are those who read say ten or more books a month. Unless they have a lot of time to read then they're more likely to skim books. The kind of books I skim are pretty easy reads. I skim Lee Child because his books are repetitive with simple plots.

My page reads did very well until around September. They didn't fall off a cliff, but they declined to my 2015 levels. I don't think I suddenly became unpopular in that the sales largely held their own. I can only assume my reader base left KU. Now the books are coming out of KU sales are improving. I now wonder if there are readers out there who prefer not to read books that are in KU.

What's happening to KU is interesting. It seems to be evolving into something that doesn't work well enough for many of us so we're leaving. It makes you wonder what will be left. Will it be viable and profitable? If all that's left in KU are readers who get through ten or more books a month then I'd have to say probably not. Amazon will be paying more to the author than they can reap from a reader who gets through ten or more books a month.

I definitely think something is going on, especially considering my erotica sales are increasing substantially while my page reads are falling just as dramatically.

I was surprised to see my sales go up as well. The pages read are dropping slower than I expected given how many parts of series are already out of KU. Judging by the sales, KU readers are buying next in series if it's no longer in KU.

It makes me wonder if a lot of middle and low range readers are leaving KU. By that I mean people who either didn't read many or only 2 - 5 books a month. If they left then the total number of pages read might only decrease by a small number (total pages read in Amazon has decreased by about 10% since September) because the readers who get through 20 or more books a month are still in KU.

It could explain why there's been a drop in pages read for some authors and not others. Maybe their reader base are the ones who don't read as many books and they've been leaving KU. It would also explain why sales are picking up - those readers are now buying. So many books are now 99c or free that there's not a lot of reason to be in KU if you only read 2 - 5 books a month.

I could go on, but when you look at everything that's happened in the past year it's pretty awful. We're treated like trash and tomorrow they could do something else that will wipe out another group of author's earnings without warning. Remember the introduction of KU2.0? They wiped out legitimate shorts authors with that.

Could you explain what you meant by "They wiped out legitimate shorts authors with that." Are you talking about a few, or the majority or what?

Under KU1.0 everyone was paid around $1.40 for every download. When they moved to KU2.0 and paid by the page then children's books and short books were paid significantly less. Some people earned their living writing books so it paid their bills. Children's books and shorts writers received a massive cut in earnings with about two weeks warning.

I'm not arguing whether it was fair to pay a ten page book the same as a three hundred page book, that's an unanswerable question. It's how such a sudden change with no warning caused considerable pain for anyone caught by it. It's not a fair or reasonable way to treat the authors. Amazon are well within their legal rights to do as they please, but the lack of warning was without excuse. It was done in a way that caused a lot of unnecessary pain, which could easily have been eased had people known what was coming.

There's legal ground and then there's good code of conduct. Just because something is within your legal rights doesn't mean you should ignore the impact of your actions. This is a classic example where we were railroaded by Amazon and some people were really harmed.

Whoa - really? Not heard that one before. :o

Oh yeah, that was "special". Multiple people posted the email they received from Amazon. I don't have the link, but the gist was if you admitted you'd committed fraud and promised not to do it again (this was around the bots reading pages) then they might reinstate your account.

Were those people committing fraud? Who knows, but if Amazon knew they were for sure then they wouldn't have sent an email like that. So, they couldn't have been 100% sure of their facts, which meant they were banning accounts on the off-chance that they were.

It's such a one sided relationship and we all know how they usually turn out.  :(

I think that's true, and I'm pulling all of mine out of auto-renewal.  Until we hear that KU's been fixed, for those of us who've gotten hosed, KU is useless anyway.

I wouldn't say I got hosed, but I flaked for a bit and then sort of came back by about 70 - 80% of where I expected to be. It's been a lesson more than anything. I didn't like it when Amazon went so abruptly from KU1.0 to KU2.0. It did me no harm whatsoever, but it showed how quickly they could change the playing field. Since then they've:

- reduced the page counts at will
- made multiple widespread payment and pages read adjustments without explanation
- introduced "page flip", which we all know doesn't count pages
- taken some books at a fixed payment, which in some cases is zero, into Prime Reading
- ignored repeated requests for an explanation about how KU pages read has been performing
- closed some author's accounts because they claim they've committed fraud
- demanded authors admit to fraud on the off-chance they'll reopen their accounts once closed

I could go on, but when you look at everything that's happened in the past year it's pretty awful. We're treated like trash and tomorrow they could do something else that will wipe out another group of author's earnings without warning. Remember the introduction of KU2.0? They wiped out legitimate shorts authors with that.

I feel like I'm being bullied and more than anything I'm tired of it. I like to write books. I'm happy to spend real money marketing them. It gives me a buzz when they're read. I'll lose money walking out of KU, but I'd rather do that than be at the whim of Amazon. I have a day job that pays exceptionally well. Maybe I'll look at KU again in 2018, but right now I don't need this BS.

Folks, KU for some of us appears to be dead. For what reason, I don't know, but no amount of whining or begging or threatening  is going to change the parent company's mind. Are they running a test or are they simply down on some of us, or is this some sort of great cosmic accident? Who knows, and they certainly aren't going to tell us. I've done the only thing that seems to make sense. I've bid them adieu. Going wide is way more complex, but it still offers us a chance to stay in the game. I am interested, though, for those of us who have experienced this downturn, what path are you plotting?

Me? I've put one book out through D2D and Smashwords. I added a second book this morning. I wish us all luck.

We've decided to go with iBooks, Google and Amazon. Our books are falling out of KU now and the last one is at the end of December. We're putting together a launch plan for January and February with a rolling schedule of advertising after that.

Interestingly, since many of our books are no longer available in KU our sales on Amazon are improving again, especially for those books no longer in KU. It implies some KU members are buying books.

I'm tired of KU. It seems to be one headache after another. The reader type is skewed towards particular types of books. There are endless scams of various types. People keep digging up loopholes and calling it marketing. Amazon are ruthlessly trying to stop bad behavior, so honest authors get hate mail or suspension by bots (hasn't happened to me, but I've read about it). The exclusivity means I have to monitor for real piracy when I'd prefer to ignore it. Payment method is subject to change whenever Amazon feel like it. There's zero transparency so we never have enough information to know what is going on.

Quite frankly, I wish they'd just charge us a monthly fee to have our books on Amazon like they charge for other products. KU adds a loss of control and complexity that I don't want to deal with anymore. My pages read numbers did do a level of recovery, but this latest hiccup was the last straw. Any author with a dependency on KU is building their empire on quicksand. I'd rather just market and sell books and stay out of the KU cesspool.

Writers' Cafe / Re: AMS dashboard
« on: November 21, 2016, 12:19:51 AM »
I've never seen one. I rarely see any in search results.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

That is odd. I see my ads all of the time. It's not right. It does sound like you have a problem that only Amazon can resolve. It's not an error I've ever heard affect a single author. Usually that sort of issue is widespread. You might want to suspend your $5 a click ad because they may fix it before they tell you and the ad will reactivate without you knowing.

Writers' Cafe / Re: AMS dashboard
« on: November 21, 2016, 12:09:04 AM »
That's what I thought at first, so I set a test ad with a daily budget of $500 and a CPC bid of $5. Even that got no clicks. Not sure what's going on, but something's funked.

Have you tried clicking on your own ad? Also, be careful with the delayed metrics. They don't always show up immediately. You may be getting clicks and they're not reporting immediately. If it were me, I'd probably click on it and then suspend the ad while I wait for three to five days to see if it shows up.

Writers' Cafe / Re: AMS dashboard
« on: November 20, 2016, 02:42:26 PM »
Sorry, but no problems with AMS reporting for me. Occasionally I get the delayed metrics banner, but otherwise they work well enough.

Maybe you're not getting clicks. I have noticed a slow down over the past month where I'm not running through the money as fast. I've had no problems changing bids or budgets. Sales are doing well enough so the ads are working.

I think there are two different types of authors. One writes pretty much exclusively to win the KU reader and the other writes stories they want independent of the market. If you happen to write what does well in KU or choose to target that market then you'll want Amazon to rule forever. If you don't then you'll probably be more inclined to go wide.

I write what amuses me and my plot designer. We like selling the books and they do well enough. We have a growing reader base on Amazon, but the money is a secondary issue to the pleasure of writing together. Sometimes our stories happen to resonate with the KU reader profile and sometimes they don't. I'm removing the books from KU and now our readers are buying instead of borrowing. Taking them out of KU doesn't seem to be having much effect.

It doesn't matter anyway. We'll go wide in January. We're redesigning the formatting to make it sharper and scheduling promotions for the platforms we're adding. I suspect longer term we'll sell more this way, but it'll take a while to get established. I don't write with the KU reader in mind. That hasn't stopped me from selling/borrowing tens of thousands of books to date, but I do have to work the marketing hard to compete with the books written for KU. They dominate the ranks so I don't often get much help from the ranking system unless I happen to have accidentally written something that appeals to the KU reader.

Should we promote other platforms? I think it depends on what you write. If it isn't something that appeals to the KU reader profile then you'll go wide and by default promote the other platforms.

Writers' Cafe / Re: A new annoyance has been introduced by Amazon.
« on: November 20, 2016, 01:14:01 PM »
Amazon told me that it doesn't allow you put a box set in a series. It has to be separate. However, on my series page, my box set is shown. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

The first response I got from KDP support was it couldn't be done. I escalated, showing them a link to an existing box set series and objected to being treated like an idiot. I didn't get a reply, but my box sets now have a series page. My issue is that if they don't want to do series pages for box sets then be consistent. Either do it or don't. Don't tell me it can't be done when it clearly is being done.

I think your problem is that it's book two and there's been a long gap between it and book one. As a general rule advertising book two onwards is tricky. Unless a reader knows the series they're likely to bypass it because they haven't read book one.

I recently released book nine (final) after almost a year. The fans bought it, but otherwise it'll only ever sell as part of the whole series so I don't market it.

If it was me I'd try bundling the two books and then marketing the bundle. A two book series can be priced as a two for one. To reinvigorate the advertising I'd use the second book as the cover for the bundle.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Twitter for Authors. How do you Tweet?
« on: November 18, 2016, 06:46:16 AM »
I do sell books through Twitter, plus I chat with people who are either fans or become readers. I've been on Twitter for 2 years now. I have around 6,500 followers mostly interested in my genres.

1. Tweet once a day - I do, but almost never my books. I mostly tweet genre related memes with my links.
2. Retweet every other day - I don't RT frequently and only ones that catch my attention, which is never books.
3. Spend 10 minutes a week following others with shared interests - I follow anyone who RTs me. More than half follow back and if they don't then I unfollow later.
4. Update their profiles with new books - I do keep my profile and website up to date.

I use a well positioned promoter to tweet my books for me. He always did it for free until I persuaded him to start charging. He's still kind of loose about that and is barely willing to charge me, although he is earning something for his hard work now. He has Twitter, FB and Instagram presence, with well over 50,000 genre fans on Twitter. His tweets work. He kindly sent out an FB post for me the other day and I immediately sold some series.

I think the promoters on Twitter aren't well understood. The "tweet blasters" aren't the only promoters. In fact, everyone on Twitter is a promoter of sorts and you need to connect with them. Some are genre fans and others are fans of specific movies, TV series or games. Gaining the support of these tweeters can do a lot for a book.

I also have fans who have their own accounts and they like to tweet the books. That does a lot as well. These are people who have read the books and they tell their followers about them.

I think a lot of authors and product promoters just blast out their product tweets and wonder why it doesn't work. You have to get into the groove with Twitter, really understand how the real promotions are done. You can't just buy your way into it.

Twitter do have click ads and they can be good for finding new genre fans. However, if you have no street cred on Twitter then your ads won't do much. People will check your name and if you look like just another book tweeter then they'll largely ignore you. It's very important to make sure your feed is interesting and not littered with only books or boring RTs. I guard my feed carefully so anyone who looks at it will get the messages I'm trying to convey. RT carefully. People do check your feed and if it's full of disconnected material or only books then they won't follow you.

Anyway, these are a few of things I've learned along the way.

I have.  My longer work exits KU this December, and I'll have to learn how to distribute it using other means, like D2D.  At least, as far as I know, the AMS ad campaign requirement that a work be in KU to advertise has been lifted.  (Is this still so?  Anyone know?)

Between the KU thing and the election results here in the U.S., I am in one hell of a depressed mood.  Still, other folks have it worse. Double still: it makes motivating myself difficult.  I've got another book almost finished and the thought of even opening the file in my word processor nauseates.

The one thing that keeps me going is the ability to post messages in forums frequented by intelligent people.  If I didn't have that, I'd go nuts.

Yeah, that's definitely lifted, BUT given there was no announcement it could also be take away with equally zero warning. My guess is it's another Amazon "beta" to see how well it does and how it's used.

As for motivation. Everything in the book business changes pretty much all of the time. Think of this as only a window until the next thing changes. The industry is still in flux and it's a long way from what it will become once it's stable. Every step, whether you're a winner or loser in it, is only temporary until it shakes down into something that genuinely makes sense and works at all levels.

We're not there yet. For the most part every change has been fine for me, sometimes better than what it was before, but I know it'll change again. Your best bet is to ignore it. Nothing is set in stone and whatever is going wrong for you right now might be different in a week or a month or possibly even tomorrow.

It's one of the things I like about this business, you just never know what's going to happen next. Tomorrow losers could become winners and today's winners will be wishing tomorrow had never come!  :D

Writers' Cafe / Re: World War II questions
« on: November 11, 2016, 09:56:31 AM »
So there are no definitive sources of information that anyone knows of of World War II (not Korean or Vietnam) conscription in the US? That is amazing.

I really thought it was my search skills failing me. Of some help is The "Selective Service Regulations. Volume Three. Classification & Selection, 1940" which can be found online but it doesn't by any means answer everything especially about when the severely injured were discharged.

One of the best references for WWII was a documentary series called "World at War". It primarily focuses on the British involvement, but there is an episode dedicated to the US. It's been decades since I've watched this series, but it is held up as one of the best. The research and footage is excellent. I don't know how you'd get access to it. Maybe YouTube or the web have the episodes somewhere.

I've never found book tweeters do much for me. Setting up your own click ads does something for profile. Sending daily tweets and engaging with replies definitely sells books, even it's kind of a slow way to do it.

I've never used Fivver for Twitter, but suspect they only do book tweets, which I tried with no discernable results. They seem to get lost in all of the general book noise on Twitter. To make it work you need pretty good images or gifs rather than book covers and a cheap service like Fivver is unlikely to do that for you.

For lazy marketing I'd try AMS or other click ads. They cost more, but once set up you don't have to do much to manage them.

Writers' Cafe / Re: World War II questions
« on: November 11, 2016, 05:25:23 AM »
Any injury that stopped a person from completing basic training meant they were entitled to be discharged. They didn't have to take a discharge and could be reassigned to a non combat or non front line role. However, psychological injuries were not considered a barrier, which was the running joke of the guy wearing a dress in MASH.

Specific ailments would stop you from even being enlisted, but again they related to your ability to complete basic training or a chronic illness such as lung disease, effects of childhood rickets, tuberculosis, etc. These individuals had to provide evidence of their illnesses either through military diagnosis or a registered medical practitioner. Little to no psychological testing was done for basic recruits, so being crazy was not considered a chronic ailment.

People who were considered "critical" resources, and that wasn't always a specific profession, were exempt from the draft. Professions varied as it depended upon what role they played in their community or the home based war effort. For example, some factory managers were exempt because their role in producing arms and ammunition was considered critical.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How long does it take you to outline a novel?
« on: November 08, 2016, 06:10:59 AM »
For those who've lost their pants -- or never even wore them to begin with :P -- about how long does it take to outline your books?

Depends on genre, whether it's a first in series and how much research is needed. For sci fi you can be designing entire worlds and societies so I find it can take quite a while. For stories set in the current times, it can take anything from a few hours to a day to map out the primary characters and sequence of events into chapters.

I keep a notebook with handwritten plots for stories, but it can take me a year to get around to plot mapping it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Facebook ads or Twitter ads?
« on: November 08, 2016, 06:03:26 AM »
So my birthday is next week and I'm doing a big Select Free run ($0.99 on wide titles), cause why not. I'm tempted to throw a few ad dollars at it as well, but am on a super tight budget so I'm going to have to pick my battle and not run ads everywhere like in previous years.

Which is better for authors these days, Facebook or Twitter ads? They've seemed to do about equally well for me in the past, but since I'll have to pick one I want to go with the most effective.


I've used AMS, Twitter and FB ads.  Here's what I've found:
- AMS costs more per click, but you can usually sell 2 - 8 books per 100 clicks, possibly more if you're pricing at 99c. The best I ever got was around 18 sales per 100 clicks at 99c, but that was when AMS first came out. The price per click to get ad space varies with genre and competition. The higher you bid then the faster you'll get clicks and, in theory, sales.
- Twitter is better for raising profile rather than selling books. You'll get ads even at a very low cost per click, but mostly you'll attract followers who might later become buyers. Good for profile, but not fast sales.
- FB can have very cheap clicks (as low as a few cents per click), but they rack up fast. The ads can promote a lot of engagement (likes and comments) and I was able to attribute some sales to them, but how many is questionable. The issue I have with FB is that they always spent to your daily budget no matter what it was set at whereas the other click ads varied.
- You can pay people to blast Twitter, but I never found that effective other than for a small amount of profile raising. These days I run my own Twitter ads.

If I had a limited budget then I'd probably run an ad through one of the email providers such as ENT. If I couldn't do that and I wanted fast returns then I'd use AMS over FB and Twitter. AMS "interest" ads tend to run through budget faster unless you know how to tweak the bids, so I'd use "sponsored". The problem with sponsored is that you can end up buried in the strip ad so no one ever sees you, but you don't pay unless someone clicks so it doesn't cost you anything.

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