Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Wave of the Future: Subscription Book Services

As a big fan and user of Netflix, I got to thinking about what the new Kindle Owner's Lending Library means for readers. Will a similar program as the unlimited streaming be coming down the pipeline, only with e-books instead of video?

I read this great blog post by author David Gaughran today, which addresses mainly this topic. I'm of two minds about the whole thing, really.

As a reader, I'm excited.

I love Netflix because I get free access to movies I wouldn't have otherwise purchased. That's basically what I use it for--experimenting and finding new, cool things to watch without commiting myself to buying a new Blu Ray or, God forbid, coughing up for a movie ticket.

If I find something I truly love, OR (more likely), Netflix doesn't have it available for free streaming, then I'll buy it or rent it if I've heard it's awesome.  I still have a blu ray collection that I add to every year, so Netflix isn't cutting into my purchasing decisions just because it's free.

As a writer, I'm worried.

In the blog post I linked above, David closes with an excellent point about how we as authors want to get paid. If everything goes subscription-based, then we're basically agreeing to a flat rate, set by the retailer and can never hope to make more than that.  Right now, I get to set my own prices, and the only things determining my earning cap are a) how hard I want to work to produce more content and b) reader interest. 

There is no limit to how much I'm "allowed" to make! If I keep churning out great stories that people want to read, the potential is there to make a nice living. 

However, if my only choice is to be locked into a flat payout (or even worse, some mystery payout like Kindle Select offers), then that will seriously suck. 

I like being in control of my own destiny, and I especially like being paid properly for my hard work.

So, here's my question to you:

Would you use a subscription site as a reader, and if so, how do you think it would influence your book-purchasing habits?

This is a fascinating time to be alive :).  Only time will tell how this all shakes out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kindle Select: A Potential Monopoly?

It has been one hell of an interesting week with the launch of Kindle Select, a new program for indie authors where they can give Amazon 90 day exclusivity of their titles in exchange for a piece of a mysterious pie and the opportunity to promote their titles for free for up to 5 days.

I've been lurking on the forums and listening to peoples' experiences who took this plunge with both feet, and the more I watch, the more concerned I become.

I mean, obviously Amazon isn't creating this program out of the goodness of their hearts, so there must be a reason why they created such a tempting program for indie authors.

From what I've heard from folks who used their free promotions this past weekend, some benefits for Amazon have become apparent:

  • Amazon doesn't let you opt out more than once! 
    • When you sign up for Kindle Select, you get 72 hours to opt out and change your mind. However, if you opt out once, you don't get that same window the next time you sign up. You're in. For 90 days. PERIOD.  They also make you forfeit your opt out window if you have your book go free during that timeframe. 
  • The non-compete clause means no bundles, and probably no excerpts.
    • If you have a short story in their program, you have to unpublish any short story bundle or anything with an excerpt of that story from all other sites.  Doing #samplesunday on your blog? Well, you've got to erase all of that, too, or potentially forfeit any earnings.
  • The "Free" game has changed.
    • It used to be that when your book or story went free on Amazon, it zoomed you up in the ranks. This meant when your story went back to paid, you'd still be at whatever ranking you earned as a free book.  If you hit the Top 100 for your genre, you could get a lot of exposure, and a lot of sales.
    • From friends of mine who went free this weekend, I heard of people going from the Top 20 in their genre, to falling instantly back down to their previous rank when it went paid again, down to 1 billion.  The game has changed. Amazon may have tweaked their algorithms.
All this is to say, AUTHOR BEWARE!

I had one title in this program because I got excited like everyone else, but I've since pulled it.  I don't want Amazon to get a monopoly over indie authors, and I certainly don't want to be part of a program that promises a promotional tool and delivers something else entirely.

It feels very predatory the more I learn.

What do you think?  Any experiences with Kindle Select, good or bad?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Kindle Lending Program: Good for Indie Authors?

I got a very interesting email this morning from Kindle Direct Publishing, letting me know about a new opportunity for indie authors: Kindle Select.

Basically, they have a new program that indie authors can enroll in that will allow people with Amazon Prime memberships to "borrow" their books through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

The kicker is that for every person who borrows the book, the author gets a share of a profit pool..

From the FAQ:


How is my share of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library fund calculated?

Your share of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library Fund is calculated based on a share of the total number of qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles. For example, if the monthly fund amount is $500,000 and the total qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles is 100,000 in December and if your book was borrowed 1,500 times, you will earn 1.5% (1,500/100,000 = 1.5%), or $7,500 in December.


While I seriously doubt most of us will be making $7500 a month from this, it's still very intriguing.

Kindle Direct Publishing even went so far as to sweeten the deal by allowing authors enrolled in this program to make their book free as a promotion for 5 days during enrollment.

Now here's the rub. Nothing is perfect, right guys? ;)

Your book must be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days to participate in this program.

This means if your book is selling in any other store (Sony, iTunes, Kobo, Diesel, Barnes and Noble, etc,) you must take it down from those sites in order to be a part of this new Lending Library.

This article has a very good summary of what the program entails:

Now, I'm hesitant about this because I'm selling well at the other stores. I've heard other indie authors talking this morning about pulling all of their titles from Amazon's competition, and couldn't help but ask "What happens if Amazon gets a monopoly on indie bookselling?" Will they still treat authors as well as they are now?

What happens to our 70% royalty rate once they're the only show in town?

For now, I'm going to sit back and see what happens with the folks who are putting most or all of their books into this program. There could be amazing potential for profit, but there is also a high risk when you rely on one source for all of your income.

What do you guys think?  Should indies jump on it, or hold out to see what happens next?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Back In Action!

Hi, guys!

I apologize for being gone for so long, but I'm happy to say that I'm back, baby, and quite possibly better than ever :).

I have been working diligently on some very exciting things for the past few months, and will have a BIG announcement coming up at the end of this month.  And no, I'm not going to tell you what it is because it's a surprise.  You're just going to have to wait because I'm evil like that ;).

Thank you so much to all who participated in naming the next installment of the Fairytale Assassin short story series. I got distracted by other projects, but then decided to go a different way with the naming, so I wanted to let you know that. I appreciate the support, though, and the great names you guys put out there.  I love this blog. You guys are so awesome!

Anyway, fun stuff is coming down the pipeline, so stay tuned!

I also have 10 authographed copies of the delightful trade paperback version of Legacy of the Empress that I'm currently selling :). I'm happy to autograph these any old way you'd like and may even include some bad artwork if you're lucky, so snap them up for any loved ones who love a great fantasy adventure for under the tree!  You can purchase them HERE.

How many people can say they got a book for the holiday personally autographed just for them? I think that would be pretty darn nifty, if I do say so myself.  I'm using for the transactions, so it's easy and safe for all.

Other than that, you'll be seeing a lot more of me 'round these parts... so hold onto your butts.