If you’re a reader of my blog, you’ll recall that my advice to authors and would-be authors is to sit down at the keyboard and write. Write every day. If you’re not writing, work on the plot. If you ever intend to write as a professional, you can’t wait for the ‘muse’ to strike.
I take my own advice. We’re approaching the end of July, and I published my 11th novel, NEO: Near Earth Objects, yesterday (on Amazon).
So what does this have to do with ‘write every day’? It’s the third novel this year. I published The Ship last December. Since then, I’ve published the second book of the series, NFI: New Frontiers, Inc in March, The Return, the fourth book in the Darwin’s World series in mid-May, and NEO yesterday. I’ve got four months to go…and I’ve already got two new projects waiting on my desktop.
Take a look at NEO; I think it’s my best book ever. It’s $3.99 to buy, free to borrow if you have a Kindle Unlimited account. I hope you like it. https://www.amazon.com/NEO-Earth-Objects-Three-Frontiers-ebook/dp/B01J8HUWKS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1469794091&sr=8-4&keywords=Jack+L+Knapp
An update: I sent off Chapter 9 of The Ship this morning, which means I’m about a third of the way through the book.
There are holdups, however, which have nothing to do with writing. First there was the Anniversary, which went off very well. Since then, it’s been one medical/dental procedure after another, some for me, some for my son John. He needed transportation there and back after wisdom teeth extraction, so I was happy to help out. I’m getting my own teeth worked over, including ‘preventive’ fillings. One yesterday, and three next week. Sigh. Then there are the pre-surgery exams, etc. I’m working part-time at best.
Sales and borrows are going well; this will be my best month ever, and it’s not over yet.
For you budding authors: Amazon’s new borrowing system promises to be very nice for me. As you know, I write mostly novels, and Amazon says they’ll begin paying by the page read instead of a flat rate for each borrow. We’ll see how that works in practice, but it should pay those of us who write longer works more while paying the short-story and novella writers less. Personally, I’m happy to see the change.
For authors, and for readers:
I suspect Amazon just drove a stake into the heart of traditional publishing. Allow me to explain.
If you’re a voracious reader, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program is the best thing you’ve ever found. Just think, pay a $10/month subscription fee and read as many books as you want! Imagine a library with hundreds of thousands of books waiting to be checked out, and you can select ten of those and keep them as long as you like. As soon as you read the first book, return it and borrow another.
The only fly in the ointment is the selection; not many NYT Bestselling authors put their books in the Select program, so they’re not eligible for borrowing through KU. You do get access to a few bestsellers, but most are books written by Independent authors and publishers.
The drawback for authors is that a borrow through KU or Amazon Prime nets the author only about $1.33, half of what a sale would bring. Until now, a borrow of a 10-page short story earned exactly the same as a borrow of a 300-page novel.
That’s about to change.
Starting next month, Amazon will begin paying authors by the number of pages that a borrower reads. Their example indicated that an author with a 200-page novel that gets borrowed 100 times (using figures that may or may not be true) and read all the way through would earn about $1000.
My books tend to run in the 250-plus page length, and I’ve already had more than 100 borrows this month.
Good for me, not good for the writers of short stories. And it’s a huge source of new cash for authors, which means that you can expect to see lots of NYT Bestselling authors sign up for Select so they can get some of the pie. The hook? If you’re in select, you can’t digitally publish on Apple or B&N or any of the other publishers.
Lots of books from traditional publishers are showing up now as digital editions, but not on Select; they sell for twice to three times what an independent author gets, and they aren’t available for borrowing. But when the borrows begin paying almost as much as a sale, expect to see in influx of bestsellers. Which will bring in more KU subscribers. At the expense of Apple, B&N, Random House, etc.
Some will continue to buy paper-and-ink books, but price trumps almost everything. Prediction? Probably lawsuits, although I can’t see a basis for it. But the lawyers are sharpening their pencils now, because this is going to cost a lot of wealthy publishing houses huge amounts of money. There will be a huge influx of new subscribers to Amazon’s KU program. The subscription price may go up, even double, but it’s still a good deal for the avid reader. One hardback, $25, vs maybe a hundred high-quality books for less. LOTS of books available to read.
But only through Amazon.
RIP, traditional publishing.
Seems like I’ve been doing this forever.
I get up each morning, check my overnight sales and record the information, keep a running tally of how much I’ve made during the month. Check the calendar, look at upcoming promotions, consult my list of promoters and consider trying a new one. Which book should I promote? Most promotions have been failures; I’ve lost money, sometimes $5, sometimes up to $20. Should I try a different one? The two I’ve found that are ‘reliable’ at generating sales are often booked up. I submit a book to be promoted, wait, perhaps put that on the schedule or get refused and start again. Promoting books, the dreary business part of writing and publishing as an Independent, takes a lot of my time and creativity.
Is it important? Yes. Promote, or perish. New books flood in every day, millions of potential readers decide to look for an ebook, and if you want them to find your needle in the publishing haystack, you’ve got to get their attention.
The bad news, it takes time, creativity, and money. The good news, if you do it right, you’ll see success.
So why is this essay about Time? I began writing fiction less than two years ago.
And I’ve been an Independent Publisher for less than a year.
Not bad for someone who turned 75 last month!
The books I’ve promoted have achieved success; only one has failed to find an audience. I liked it, but something appears to be missing.
This month I’ll be promoting the Wizards Trilogy, which needs a name change; I’ve begun working on The Veil of Time, a fourth book in the same category. I still need to do research, but I began the writing yesterday. Paranormal time travel? I don’t know if anyone has explored that idea yet. The trick is to keep the paranormal aspect under tight control while comparing/contrasting the past with present day culture. As with all my books, I’ll let the characters drive the action. They’re ordinary people with extraordinary abilities, just a little bit more than what most of us can do.
So if you’re a reader of ebooks, watch for mine. They’re not expensive now, but during the sales, they’ll drop to $0.99. The promotions will happen in the US and also, for the first time, in foreign markets.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently analyzing sales and patterns.
Despite having four novels and a novella on Apple, B&N, Kobo, and Tolino, the best sales continue to come through Amazon. The numbers are overwhelming.
Yesterday, I published Home, the third book in the Darwin’s World Series; I put it on Amazon Select, which means it’s eligible for the the Kindle Unlimited lending program. While my sales to those other outlets bring in better royalties, that means nothing if the books don’t sell. I should also mention that my recent promotion efforts have listed those other outlets as well as Amazon. Still few or no sales, even though my most recent promotion went very well.
I’m now working up a method of rating the companies I promote through. I track sales carefully up to the day of a promotion, then freeze the numbers as soon as the promotion email goes out. I also include cost of the promotion and include second-day results; some don’t read the emails the first day, so in most cases, there will be additional sales on the second day. I make it a point not to raise the price of the promoted book until the third day.
Results, so far: ENT delivers approximately twice the break-even value in sales. BookSends delivers about 1.2% of breakeven.
What does this mean?
For my most recent promotion, I paid $15 to promote The Trek at $0.99. Break-even, figuring $0.35 in royalties per sale, was about 43 sales. The promoted book sold not quite twice as many the first day, but brought the numbers up the second day to twice break-even. Result, 200% of cost.
I also ran a recent promotion via Fussy Librarian, which claims a high number of subscribers. Result, $14 paid, less than half break-even achieved. I did get a couple of sales from Apple/B&N Nook, so I also included those.
If that promoter charged $7 for a promotion, you’d have a good chance of at least breaking even in my categories, action-adventure/science fiction. At $14, you’ll get about 0.5 of cost back, 50%.
Kindle Book Review had the worst results, less than 1% return on investment.I intend to continue this rating system. Let me know if you have similar information.
Meantime, here’s my newest book, just published: http://www.amazon.com/Home-Book-Three-Darwins-World-ebook/dp/B00TCZBVWK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423487128&sr=8-1&keywords=Home+by+Jack+L+Knapp
I’m one of many who’ve become disenchanted with the KU program. I read an article this morning, published by the NY Times. It’s excellent. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/technology/amazon-offers-all-you-can-eat-books-authors-turn-up-noses.html?_r=1
The writer got one thing wrong: Amazon doesn’t pay 70% royalties, at least not for domestic sales. Foreign sales, yes; but few of us have huge international presences.
If, when, Amazon drops their demand for exclusivity, I’ll consider allowing them to include my books in the KU program. I’ll also be interested in how much Amazon pays in royalties; their current amount is worthwhile only for short stories and novelettes/novellas. If you read the article, note that Amazon pays exactly the same rate for a short story of 2500 words that they do for a novel of 125,000 words. The list price of the item means nothing.
It’s a good deal for readers, especially if you’re a reader who goes through several books a month. If you read just five books a month, you’ve more than paid for your subscription. But for authors, it’s profit for Amazon, pittance for writers.
My novella Hands is being featured on Thursday December 11th 2014 at eBookSoda, a new readers’ site where they’ll send you ebook recommendations tailored to your taste. www.ebooksoda.com.
It’s available on Amazon for $0.99.
I’m about half finished with the final book in the Darwin’s World series, working title Home. I work on some aspect of writing every day; I write two chapters a week, sometimes three, edit other material, deal with my editor and cover artist, look for new ways of marketing, and when I need a break from that, I read the woes of other struggling writers.
OK, struggling isn’t really what I do; writing doesn’t pay the bills. It’s still a kind of hobby that takes up a huge amount of time and occasionally brings in a pittance.
And when I’m feeling burned out, there’s always Facebook.
I don’t whine as much as others do about FB, for a reason. I log on, post something, read other somethings, and the replies come literally from around the world.
If you’re missing that, the international experience, there’s no need to. It’s out there. Don’t sweat the language, most of the world appears to speak English as a second language.
I grew interested in international matters beginning in 1965. That’s continued since, and now my correspondents come from the Philippines, China, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as from most of the US.
You should try it; much of what you read in the news outlets turns out to be wrong. All those foreigners? They’re just people, with ordinary interests.
As a side effect, some of the even like my books! Still, that’s not why I’m an internationalist; after all, I’ve only been writing since 2013. I follow their posts, see what’s going on in their world, because it’s interesting.
Thanks, Mr Zuckerberg; you did something important when you created Facebook.