Amazon Lowers Unlimited Payments

no moneyI don’t personally have anything enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (or Kindle Select, or anything else exclusive), so I can only share what I’ve read.

Apparently Amazon has expanded the Unlimited subscription service (which normally allows subscribed readers to read as many enrolled ebooks as they want for the $9.99 monthly fee) to India where they are only charging $3.00 a month to subscribers, meaning that authors will make less on an enrolled book read in India than if the same book was read in the United States or another country. (I don’t have Amazon’s numbers but I would guess since the fee is roughly 1/3 the cost of the normal subscription, reads would be worth 1/3 as well – again, this is only a guess on my part.)

If you don’t have many Indian readers, you may shrug and say “so?” But the worry of many indy authors enrolled in Unlimited is “What’s to stop them dropping the price to $3.00 everywhere?”  And then cutting the author’s paycheck. This is of especial concern when 1/3 of ALL authors already make LESS than $500 a year. 

The effects could be farther reaching than just author’s Amazon paychecks. As books are devalued – worth less to readers who are used to getting them for free – sales drop on all platforms. I’ve personally seen several reviews on Amazon that state something to the effect of “Wait until the book goes free” – as if the reviewer “knows” that ALL books will eventually be free. Mark Coker of Smashwords (who posted a very good blog about the Unlimited effect) quoted Randolph Lalonde who despite getting good reviews on his $2.99 to $3.99 books has gotten angry mail from people demanding that he make his books free. 

Am I advocating jumping ship from Amazon? No. I don’t advocate abandoning ANY platform.

Exclusivity is a personal decision for an author, and while I refuse to ever do it, someone else may be happy that way – and that’s great. What I think is sad, however, is how many authors I’ve spoken to who AREN’T happy but feel like they have no choice. “Amazon is the biggest.” That’s true, but Amazon is only the biggest because we make them the biggest – not just as readers (quick, and be honest, where do you buy books at?) but as authors. When we list our links most of us (myself included) list Amazon first. We submit books to email lists that cater exclusively to Amazon links.  When we post a link on our twitter profile (or our tweets) we use the Amazon link rather than a personal webpage that has links to all retailers. And I know, if I’m in a hurry in an email message or Facebook comment, I will ONLY give someone the Amazon link because I think “It’s the biggest. Everyone buys there”. Much like reading Twilight, we’re all doing it because “everyone else is” – and everyone else is because that’s where all the links point – that’s where the top link is, that’s where we’re told is the best place to go – either literally or subliminally.

If you’re happy reading Twilight (and some people are – there’s nothing wrong with that!), then you should keep doing it – stay exclusive and post Amazon links everywhere. But, if you’re only doing it because “you have no choice” or “everyone else is”, remind yourself that you DO have a choice. Either way, go check out Mark Coker’s great article. 

New Modifications on Amazon to Look Out For

It’s a good time to be independent. That’s part of the reason this site exists: to make sure authors know that it’s a good time to be independent and we’re here to help you make the most of it. And it’s about to get better: recent announcements from Amazon about modifications to ongoing programs are bound to benefit authors, especially of the independent variety.

The first announcement is a coming change to the KDP Select program and deals with how authors are paid. Currently, authors whose books are available through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library are paid based on how many times those books are “borrowed” through these services. Starting July 1st though, Amazon will start paying authors based on how many pages a customer reads the first time they read the book. If a page is on the screen long enough to be registered, it’ll add to how much the author is paid.

According to Amazon, authors who write longer works and feel short-changed by the current pay-by-the-rent format can stand to earn more if they can write long stories that are exciting and keep the reader involved. At the same time an author who writes a 100-page thriller novel is encouraged to maybe see if they can extend the story a little bit longer.

Of course, one shouldn’t write a book based on this sort of formula (or possibly on any formula(, but it might give some authors encouragement to try a few new things while giving other authors who already write longer books hope for a little extra income through KU and KLL.

The other announcement deals with changes to reviews and rating. You ever get that low review where someone just takes offense at something on your cover art or a typo in your author bio on Amazon or just to say “I did not like this book. It was totally stupid?” Sometimes they don’t even buy the book? Had my first of those recently, brought down my rating a little. Thankfully, with this little change these sort of not reviews will matter less in the grand scheme of things.

Currently, Amazon rates its books by averaging customer reviews. If you have a book with eight reviews, for example, and you have five four-star reviews, two five-star reviews, and one three-star review, your book’s rating will be 4.1 out of 5. Under the new system though, which they are already testing, reviews that are recent, have been written by a customer who bought the product, and are found helpful by other customers will be given more emphasis than other reviews. So if you have a five star review that’s been found helpful by twenty people and it was written last month by someone who bought the paperback, it’ll be given more weight in the rating than other reviews.

This is a huge change in the review and rating system, and has a number of positive benefits for both Amazon and people who sell their work through Amazon. It’ll not only prevent those fake reviews intentionally posted to bring down ratings, it’ll stop false reviews meant to pump up reviews (Amazon has had a heck of a time trying to stop these reviews, even suing companies that provide positive reviews to authors for a price). And if products have a few flaws around release, once the updates are done and people start reviewing the updated product, the reviews dealing with the product flaws will be less prominent and matter less in the long run.

Right now they’re still experimenting with the new system, and it’s only covering a small group of products, but once Amazon starts using it for all their products, it’ll change everything about the reviewing system! And it can only benefit. Assuming an author writes a very good book, customers looking at the reviews will get access to the most helpful reviews first and foremost.

Like I said, it’s a very good time to be an independent author. And it’s going to get even better. With more chances to get paid for writing the stories you love and not having to worry about length, and a new ratings configuration that keeps bad reviews from totally ruining your rating, authors stand to prosper more from doing what they love and do best. And I cannot wait for these programs to become available for all.

What are some modifications you’d like to see done to Amazon or other book distribution sites?

What are you looking forward to with these new changes?

KDP’s New Age Range Features

I got an interesting email this morning over breakfast. Apparently KDP Amazon has added a new feature or two which is supposed to help market your e-books. You can now select an age-range and (if you’re marketing your books to schools) a grade-range for your works. The former goes from 0 to 18+, the latter from “Board books” and “Picture books” to “Teen and young adult chapter books”. The people who wrote the email recommend you generally space your minimum and maximum ages or grades within 3 to 4 years.

I have to say, it sounded intriguing and decided to try it. Neither the email nor the new options on KDP (listed where you can put and change your e-book’s general information) list how exactly these ranges help get your books to your customers, but I think Amazon probably knows the ages of its customers, and can target books to their customers based on age and past buying experiences. In any case, I thought I’d give it a try and see if anything happens.

The one thing I can see wrong with this new feature is that they don’t go higher than 18+ or “Teen and young adult chapter books”. It would be convenient to have options that go higher, seeing as 18+ is a pretty wide range and I’m sure plenty of people would like to put a range on their books that’s closer to college-level or higher.

Then again, this is the early stages of these options and there’s room for improvements. Maybe in a few months they’ll adjust the ranges to allow for more diverse ranges.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing how author’s book sales are affected by this. Will you be doing these age ranges? Do you see any problems with these new options? And do you think they’ll affect sales that much? Let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Using The Audiobook Service ACX

I think I speak for many of us when I say we’d like to have our books in audiobook form. Besides being a possible way to connect to new readers who don’t necessarily like to sit down with a paperback or e-book and another possible source of revenue, audiobooks have a prestige to them. It’s sort of magical hearing your characters come to life in your car or in your earbuds through sound and description. It’s pretty powerful.

However creating an audiobook can be difficult. In addition to a book to narrate, you need an actor to read your book aloud if you aren’t comfortable or able to do it, plus recording equipment, maybe an engineer, something to edit the book with, and then some! And that can run up in terms of costs.

As one might expect, there’s a service that tries to make the process cost-effective and easy to do. Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX, is a service through Audible.com, which in turn is owned by Amazon, aims to match authors and their books to producers so they can create the audiobook together. I heard about it from an acquaintance of mine who had her book turned into an audiobook and got interested in it. So after some research, I’m sharing with you how it works and if it can potentially help you gain a wider audience.

First, what exactly is ACX? Founded in 2011, ACX is kind of like a matchmaking/dating service with the goal of creating an audiobook. Anyone who owns the right to the audiobook of a novel (such as authors, editors, publishers, agents, etc) can go on and find audiobook producers (narrators, recording studios, engineers, etc) who would be interested in producing your audiobook. The video they have on their website (the link is below) claims that only 5% of authors get their books turned into audiobooks, so they’re trying to change that.

What do you do? If you decide to use ACX, you sign up for the service using your Amazon account. Then you search for your book through Amazon’s database. Create a Title Profile, which include a description of your book and what it’s about, as well as what you are looking for in a producer (gender, special talents or accents they can do, etc). You also must upload a short one or two page excerpt for producers to use.

What happens next is that producers will look for books that they may be interested in narrating (and hopefully they may decide to do yours if they come across it). Producers will audition by taking your excerpt and recording themselves narrating it, and then sending it to you. Once you have a few auditions, you can go over the auditions, as well as find out a little bit more about the producers auditioning for you. You can most likely find out acting and audiobook experience, hourly rate, and so on and so forth. If you find an audition you really like, you contact the producer and make them an offer.

What sort of offers are there? There are two sorts of offers you can make to a producer once you’ve made a decision, and knowing which one to use is very important, so consider them carefully before sending a producer an offer. These are the sorts of deals available:

  • Pay a flat out fee. This is where you pay for the production costs of the audiobook. Each producer has his or her own rates, and you pay that amount for every finished hour of audiobook there is (for example, if I have an audiobook produced of either of my novels and the finished product is eight hours long and my narrator charges one-hundred dollars per hour, I would pay $800). You pay this fee at the end of the production period when you have reviewed the final product and given it your full approval. The fees vary wildly between producers, usually somewhere between $50-$200 with the average being around $100. You can also negotiate rates with your producer on their rates. The upside of this is that you get all the royalties at the end of production of this and you can decide whether to do exclusive distribution rights (which means the audiobook can only be sold through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes and you gain 40% of the royalties) or non-exclusive rights (which means you can sell the audiobook through other distributors and receive 25% of the royalties through the companies listed above).
  • Royalty Share Deal. In this deal, you forego fees and instead agree to split the royalties of any sales with your producer. This deal is handy because you don’t need to pay any fees upfront. However you can only distribute your audiobook through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes with this option and you only get 20% of the royalties, with the producer getting the other 20%.

Most narrators do a combination of these methods, so you’re probably going to find someone who is willing to either of these methods. Once you’ve hashed out the details with your producer, you’ll send them the official contract, which says you’ll work together to produce the audiobook, and that Amazon can distribute it for seven years, which is how long the contract lasts.

What’s the process like? The production process takes about 3-8 weeks, depending on the length of the book and the producer’s schedule. The producer will upload the first 15 minutes of the audiobook to the ACX secure website for you to get a sample. If you don’t like it, you can stop the process there or start a dialogue with the producer to see what could be fixed. After that, the producer will upload the book chapter by chapter until the whole book is completed and the author approves the final product. Once that is done, the producer will upload the book onto Audible/Amazon/iTunes, and you as the rights holder will get a notification email.

What happens after the book is uploaded? Hopefully people will buy the audiobook. In any case, Amazon has a contract with you that allows them to distribute through them (exclusively or non-exclusively, depending on the deal you made) for 7 years. After that, you can take down the audiobook, decide to have a new version produced, or extend the contract for another year. As the rights holder, it’s all up to you.

What if I want to narrate the book myself? There’s a process for that where you can do that. Basically you produce the audiobook yourself and upload it onto ACX’s website. Makes giving an offer easier, from what I hear.

What if I decide at the last minute the whole thing’s a mess or I don’t want my book in audio form? Well, then you can cancel the contract. As the rights holder, it’s well within your rights to do so. However, if you do that you’ll have to pay a fee one way or another so that the producer can come out of this with something. Depending on what deal you took, you could pay up to 75% of the producer’s fees or $500 plus whatever costs the producer incurred for producing the book.

How do I design a cover? ACX has their own cover guidelines that are too much bother to go over here, so I’m linking the page that has the guidelines to this article. Once you have some idea of what they’re looking for, it’s up to you to create or find someone to create the cover according to these guidelines.

What’s a Bounty Payment? As I understand it, if a new buyer to Audible buys your audiobook, you get a $50 bonus from Audible. It’s a great bonus system, from what I’m told. It encourages authors to advertise about their audiobooks, so new listeners will be encouraged to get the audiobook through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

What countries is ACX available in? At the moment ACX is only available in the US and Great Britain, though ACX is hoping to expand to other countries soon, most likely Canada and other North American countries before becoming established elsewhere. So keep your eyes peeled if you want to do an audiobook through ACX.

How much will my audiobook cost to buy? Depends on the length of the book in terms of hours. The more hours the book is, the more they charge. To guess at the price of your book, an hour of audiobook is about 9,300 words, so do some math and then visit ACX’s website and go to the price chart on the Distribution page to figure out how much your book will probably cost.

Should I do an audiobook? Well, that depends. Personally I’d recommend only going through the process if you feel there’s a demand for your audiobook. It’d suck to go through the whole production process and, whatever sort of deal you have with your producer, only receive a couple dollars here and there, or maybe nothing at all. So before deciding to try and produce an audiobook, see if there are a lot of people who’d want to buy an audio version of your book, and how much they’d be willing to pay for it.

 

There’s a lot of potential in audiobooks, no matter how you look at it. Perhaps your book will be read by a great many in audio form, if you decide to go this route e to produce it.   Jut make sure you feel that it’s right for you, for your book, and that there is a demand for your audiobook before you do so.

Has anyone here used ACX before? What was your experience like? What tips do you have for authors considering using it?

And here’s the link to the website if you want to do more research on your own.

When Trolls Attack!

You know, that sounds like the title for one of those B-movie horror films that are played at three in the morning. When Trolls Attack! “Don’t cross that bridge. You may not like who wants you to pay the toll!”

But all kidding aside, internet trolls are a hot topic as of late. With the anonymity of the internet to protect them, trolls go skulking around the forums and the discussion groups and the blogs and Twitter, using threats, name-calling, false reviews, and a plethora of other despicable tools at their fingertips for just one purpose: to hurt the targets of their e-bile. Authors seem to be a special target for these trolls. Get on the wrong side of one and they will take great pleasure in trying to bring down the rating of your books or leave hurtful comments on your blog.

And the world has not let this phenomenon go unnoticed: thousands of authors, self-published and traditional, large and small, have signed petitions trying to get Amazon and other retailers to take measures against the intentionally hurtful reviews trolls leave behind (I’m happy to have signed one myself). Authors like Anne Rice have taken to Facebook to encourage others not to be discouraged and to fight back against trolling. Articles have been written on blogs and in newspapers and magazines, and a recent study on trolls has come out, confirming what we already know about them: that the people who engage in troll behavior are “everyday sadists” who enjoy cruelty and seeing others in pain.

Yes, we are fighting the trolls as well as coming to understand them. However, it can still be pretty traumatic when a troll decides to target you. If, God forbid, one should set their sights on you, here are some tips in order to hopefully mitigate the damage and maybe even fight back:

1. Take a deep breath. If a troll leaves a nasty review on Amazon or a cruel comment on your blog, take a moment to calm down. Remember, trolls will target just about anyone, and what one is doing to you isn’t out of any personal grudge. So take a deep breath, get a cup of tea, do whatever you have to do to calm down and approach this rationally. When you’ve calmed down, talk to someone about it if you need to, preferably someone who understands the effects bullying can have on others.

Once you’ve calmed down a bit, the next step is to:

2. Create a record of the trolling. Even if the post or comment or review isn’t threatening or violent, it’s good to keep a record of the harassment. If this same troll keeps coming back to make you a victim, you cn use your record to prove there’s a history of harassment and fight back.

3. Try to get rid of the post, if possible. Once you have a record, you can delete the false review or cruel comment if you want. I certainly would, if I felt that it was in my interests. It might take a little work, but you can even get Amazon to get rid of a review made by a malicious bully.

4. If the harassment continues or starts to get threatening, don’t be afraid to contact the authorities. I know some people might be wary of approaching the police or contacting a lawyer, especially if the harassment is restricted to the Internet. However, not fighting back only encourages a troll, and no one should make you feel uncomfortable, especially not some coward who hides behind a keyboard to hurt others. So if the bullying doesn’t stop, and if it starts getting threatening, don’t hesitate to take action to protect yourself.

Now, sometimes those in the authorities will hear that this is happening on the internet, and will immediately stop listening. To them, you might as well be talking about Wonderland, Atlantis, or the planet Raxicoricofallipatorius, crazy talk that has no bearing on the real world. If this happens, don’t get discouraged. Ask for the supervisor, talk to a lawyer. Keep pushing, because this is your safety and your mental health at stake.

5. Fight back. Once you’ve taken care of yourself, it’s time to fight back. Talk aobut your experiences, advocate for ways to control or stop what trolls do. Signing that petition is one way. And remember, you are not alone. Other people have experienced trolling and survived. You can all band together and work together to stop the continued persecution that internet trolls revel in.

Now, I’ve never experienced trolling personally (and I hope this post doesn’t lead to me experiencing it). But I’ve talked and spoken to and heard from people who have been attacked by trolls, heard how they reacted and I’ve taken what I’ve learned from them to form this article. If anything I’ve said sounds inaccurate or like a bad idea, I do apologize for my inexperience and naiveté.

But if this post helps in any way to fight against trolling and makes it easier for you to deal with their sadistic tendencies, then I am glad to have been of some sort of service. Because if we wish for the world to change, we must be the agents of the change in the world. Nothing’s going to get done unless we do it, and I’m just trying to do my part.

CreateSpace’s New Distribution Options: Pros and Cons

Recently, CreateSpace added several new free distribution options to their distribution channels. This includes distribution to bookstores like Barnes & Noble and your local bookshop, academic institutions and libraries, and to CreateSpace Direct. These options, once available only to authors who were able to afford them, are now available to self-published authors with all sorts of incomes, writing styles, and fan followings.

Now there are definite perks to doing this. Authors would love more readers, and if they are able to reach readers in places previously unavailable to them due to monetary concerns, this can only be good for them. And bookstores, which have been suffering with the rise of the e-book and online distributors, will probably benefit being able to cater to the fans of authors whose works were before only available on certain online retailers. In a way, it’s a symbiotic relationship, both for authors and booksellers.

Not only that, but the books of self-published authors are sometimes rejected by libraries and academic institutions because they are self-publsihed in the first place, or their self-published status means that the books don’t come from certain distributors. If authors are able to get their works into libraries, that means people who don’t own e-readers or who can’t afford to buy books online can now read the books of self-published authors through this new distribution system.

And, using the expanded distribution channels means a potentially higher royalty rate for every copy sold.

However, there are drawbacks to this. Amazon, which owns CreateSpace and it’s print-on-demand services, determines minimum prices for all works published through them. They calculate these minimum prices by determining the length of the book, how much it’ll cost to print, how much they get from the sale of the book, and how much they need to give the author. Recently when I published my novel Reborn City, I saw that the minimum price they gave me was a little less than nine dollars, much higher than I’d expected. I wasn’t happy about it, but I decided to go with it and make the best of it.

When today I decided to try these expanded distribution options on RC, I found out that in order to use these expanded distribution channels, the list price would go up to at least thirteen dollars. In other words, the increase didn’t cost anything for the author, but it did cost extra for the reader.

I decided not to take these extra distribution channels because of the price hike it’d require. Some of my friends and family would not be able to afford a paperback copy because of a list price, or they’d be much more reluctant to buy it because is it not  their genre in addition to being over thirteen dollars. Plus, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t want to make people pay too much for his work more than he wants them to actually read his work. Terrible character flaw, I know, but I live with it.

However that’s my own personal choice. If you wish to, go right ahead and sign up for these new channels. It’s your choice, which as I’ve said before is one of the best perks of self-pbulishing.

And who knows? You could see your sales go up dramatically, and your fanbase expand like a hot-air balloon. Not to mention the joy of telling friends and family that your work is now available in bookstores and libraries.  That’s always something to make you feel good. And for some books, the increase in the list price might not be too high, so if you have my problem with pricing books too high, it may not be so bad after all. I might still use these channels for my collection of short stories, which is already very low-priced.

What do you think of these new distribution options? Are you planning on use them? If so, why or why not?

*Note: Since this post’s publication, I’ve had a change of heart and I’ve decided to try distributing my books through these new channels in the hope of reaching more readers. Whether or not I’m successful, we shall see. Wish me luck, as well as everyone else using these options for the first time.

How to (Potentially) Notify Customers of Book Changes UPDATED

You’ve edited your book and reuploaded it. Maybe there were a lot of typos, maybe you had some bad reviews, maybe it just needed a touch up. No matter the reason, the new version is sitting on Amazon’s servers, all shiny and new, and you wish you could let the people who’ve bought it know. After all, if they bought the old version and haven’t read it yet, when they finally get to it and leave their review, their criticisms may not even apply. Or it could be a nice “hey remember you downloaded me? You might want to read me now,” reminder to people who got your book in a flurry of free day promotions.

If Amazon judges the changes to be significant enough they may actually notify all your customers for you. But first you have to send them an email and let them know you want it done.

I used the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of my KDP dashboard page, and choose the “topic” of “Making Corrections”. Is this necessary?  I have no idea. Then I wrote something like this:

Please fill in the following information:
ASIN or name of book: Shades of Gray / B002RHP5D6

I recently uploaded a second edition of Shades of Gray. Changes include rewriting multiple scenes, correcting information, changing conversations, for instance to better explain character’s motives, to explain how Katelina was able to recover after the fight at Claudius’ etc., and removing roughly 2,000 words (after all the additions). I would appreciate if you could make the new version available to past customers if possible.

Thanks

As I mentioned, the changes must be considered “significant” for them to notify customers, so you want to list them out. Obviously you don’t want to  lie just to make it seem like a huge change so that people will get the notice, but you do want it to seem like they should be notified.

In a day or so you’ll get a reply like this:

Hello,

We received your request to provide updated content to customers who purchased your book. Thanks for providing specific details about the changes made. We’ll perform a review of the changes to determine the most appropriate way to describe the updates to your customers. This review will complete within four weeks, and the possible results of our review are listed below.

1. If the changes made to your content are considered critical, we’ll send an email to all customers who own the book to notify them of the update and improvements made. These customers will be able to choose to opt in to receive the update through the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com. www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/manage

2. If the changes made to your content are considered minor, we won’t be able to notify all customers by email, but we will activate their ability to update the content through the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com.

3. If the changes made to your content have caused unexpected critical issues with the book content, we’ll temporarily remove your book from sale. We’ll notify you of any issues found so you can fix them. Once the improvements are made, just let us know and we’ll then email customers as in case 1.

I hope this helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.

And then you wait.  I honestly don’t know how significant your changes need to be for an email notice; I’ve never received one for any of the books on my kindle, however, I do know what it looks like to customers when there is simply an update available (aka the minor changes)

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Have you ever requested that Amazon notify your customers of a new edition? What were the results? Do you know of a way to do this on Barnes and Noble or other retailers? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

UPDATE:

Thanks to a one-click buy mishap a year or two ago, I actually own a copy of my own book, and so since posting this I got the “Updated content” letter from Amazon.

Hello Joleene Naylor,

An updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Shades of Gray (Amaranthine) by Joleene Naylor is now available.

The updated version contains the following changes:

  • Significant editorial changes have been made.

You can receive the improved versions of all your books by opting in to receive book updates automatically. You can do this by going to Manage Your Kindle and clicking on the Manage Your Devices section. You will find the option labeled Automatic Book Update.

Alternatively, you can get the updated version of this book by going to Manage Your Kindle. Find the book in your Kindle Library, click on the “Update Available” link next to the book’s title, and then follow the update prompts. All your devices that have the eBook currently downloaded will be updated automatically the next time they connect to wireless.

We thank you for your business with Amazon.
Sincerely,
Customer Service Department
Amazon.com

 

Now we know.

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Kindle Match Book

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

I got an email from Amazon’s KDP today, and I’m sure I’m not alone. What are they “selling” this time?  Called “Kindle Match Book“, the idea is that if you have a paperback version of your book (sold through Amazon – and yes, this includes Create Space books) you can choose to discount the kindle version of that book to readers who have already bought the hard copy. According to the FAQ you can even set the price to free. After KDP Select and it’s exclusivity clause I have been poking around to make sure that a similar thing wasn’t hiding in the Match Book program. So far there doesn’t seem to be any special clauses involved.

So what the heck, I gave it a try on some of my books. To enroll in it go to your kdp dashboard, pick your book, then skip to the second section, Rights and Pricing”, and it is now #9 in the setup option.  According to the email it is not going “live” just yet. From the email:

By enrolling your book, you will be among the first to be able to take advantage of this new program. The Kindle MatchBook discount you select will not appear on Amazon.com until the program is fully launched in the coming weeks. We will notify you by e-mail as soon as your Kindle MatchBook discount is live. Your readers will soon have an easy and affordable way to read your book in both print and digital formats.

Is this a good thing? is it a bad thing? Can it do anything for your profits one way or the other? I don’t sell a lot of paperback copies, so I  doubt it will make an ounce of difference to me. But what could it mean to you? Do you see a potential for lost profits (after all, some readers do buy both and are doing so at full price right now) or, as Amazon suggests, so you think you will sell more?

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How to Publish with KDP

(this is an overdue companion to How to Publish on Create Space and How to Use Create Space Cover creator and How to Publish on Smashwords)

Go to http://kdp.amazon.com and sign in with the big yellow sign in button. You will want to use your amazon account for this, even if you have never used KDP before. I accidentally made a new account and now have two amazon accounts that use the same email address (originally they had the same password, too!) and it created quite a mess. Don’t make my mistake.

Once you’ve logged in you’ll be taken to your dashboard. Depending on whether you have books published or not, your may look slightly different. Click the yellow “Add New Title” button.

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click for full size

This will open a new page. The first option you’re confronted with is whether or not to enroll your book in KDP select. There are a lot of divided opinions on this, and you should do some research before deciding, but the run down is that if you join KDP select your ebook must be available ONLY on Amazon for three months and in return you get some marketing “tools” including five days that you can set your book to “Free”. There’s a lot more to it, and a lot to consider such as whether you will lose sales from other channel (again, your ebook can only be on Amazon and no where else), and I’m not going to cover all of that here, or tell you which is better. It’s a personal decision and you should do what is best for you. If you want it, check mark the box. If you don’t then do NOT check mark the box.

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Scroll down and enter your book title. If your book is part of a series then check mark the series option, otherwise skip it.  If you have an edition number (such as second edition) then fill it in, and if you have a publishing imprint put that under “Publisher”. I don’t, so I leave it blank.

The next option is your description, which you should have prepared. You can see the < p > in mine; this is HTML code that will make it skip a line. you can do some light html code in your description, such as bold or italics.

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Scroll down and click the “Add Contributors” button

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This will give you a pop up. Type in your author name and then use the drop down button to select “author”.

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If you have other contributors to list then choose “Add Another”, otherwise click “Save”.

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The contributors will now be listed on the page. make sure you’ve spelled them correctly, and then select the language your book is in by using the drop down box. English is default, so if it’s in English you can skip to publication date. I always leave this blank, as the publication date is whenever I publish it, but you can set it if you want to by clicking the calendar.

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You’ll notice that the available days to click are today and BEFORE, not after, so this does NOT work to pre-publish or make your book available for pre-order. You can’t choose a day in the future.

Once you pick your day, be sure to drop a check mark in the “This is not a public domain work” (unless it is) and then click the “Add categories” button.

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This will give you a pop up. Some categories have sub categories, for instance, under FICTION you can see that African-American has a plus sign. If we click that it will drop down with more choices such as general, christian, etc. 

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If you’re not sure what to classify it as then look around; go ahead and add as many as you want because you can remove them before you hit save. My particular book is Fiction>Fantasy>Paranormal. You can actually choose TWO final categories, but there isn’t another one that fits this book (I usually also file under Romance> Paranormal, but there’s not really any romance in this as it is a freebie of shorts), so I am only going to choose one. I recommend that if you can find two categories that fit to choose two. The more you have, the more lists your book will be in.

Choose them by check marking the box next to the final sub category. When you’ve got your list, use remove to whittle it down to two, if necessary, and then click save.

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Your categories now appear above the button. Fill in up to seven key words that describe your book. For instance this is a collection of flash fiction “prologues” that take place the day before Heart of the Raven, my novel, takes place, so I used the series name (Amaranthine), Heart of the Raven (the novel title), short, flash-fiction (because that’s what it is), vampires and paranormal (because it’s about vampires) and add free because it is free on the other channels, so Amazon should make it free too (I will cover this later).

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Now it’s time to add our cover. You have two options: Browse for your cover or use a cover creator (currently in beta). I will “cover” the cover creator in another post (ha ha!) so fir the point of this we’re going to upload our cover.

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Clicking browse will open a dialog box where you can navigate to the image saved on your computer. It MUST be a .jpg or a .tiff (these are file extensions) and should be between 1000 and 2500 pixels on the longest side.

In this box click browse again to get a pop up and navigate through your files. Select the cover file and click open

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Once it has the file path in the text box, hit the upload button

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When it finishes you will see a thumbnail view of the cover. It will look pretty rough – this is NOT what your “official” cover thumbnail will look like, but rather a rough version so that you can make sure you’ve uploaded the right picture. The final thumbnail will be smoother.

If it looks good, hit the x in the upper right corner.

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Now it’s time to upload your book and choose whether you want DRM enabled. DRM means Digital Rights Management, and is something that amazon will put in the “code” of your book to keep people from pirating, think of the old VCR tapes that used to turn the movie a rainbow color if you tried to tape them to a second tape, or DVDs that won;t copy if you try to rip them. DRM is a hot button issue, some people feel it is a waste and only makes it harder for consumers and others think it is a great idea. You will have to choose what is right for you.

Once you do, use the browse button to find your book file, the same way that you found your cover. It should be a .doc file.

After it uploads, you’ll get a little box that says:

This may take a few moments. If you have completed all required fields above, click “Save and Continue” to move forward while conversion continues.

However, I just stay there until it’s done.

When it is finished converting you will get a screen saying that it was successful, and you may get “suggested” spelling errors.

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Click “view them” and a pop up will show them to you, then you can decide if they are really typos or not:

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After a double check, I have determined that Hikaru is the correct spelling of his name, and free online dictionary states that “woosh” is a valid form of “whoosh”, so, for good or bad, I am going to leave them by clicking “Ignore All” (please no comments on whether you agree or disagree about woosh/whoosh). However, if you have errors you want or need to change, then you shouldn’t do that. If there’s a lot you might want to mail them to yourself, and if there are only a few then just leave the screen up, open your document and use the “find” feature of your word processing program to find and then fix them. Once you’re done, close the pop up out with the x in the upper right corner of it and reupload.

Now we’re ready to preview the book. You can either use the online previewer, or you can download and install a previewer application. I am just going to use the online feature.

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The preview will pop up. Because I have been doing this for so long (taking screen caps and hopping back and forth) I had to sign in again. If you’ve taken a long time setting up, you may, too.

The previewer “looks” like a Kindle:

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You can scroll through the pages and make sure they look the way you want. This is where some authors (Ruth Ann Nordin, for example) read through the whole book. I am going to admit that I don’t because by the publishing stage I have usually read it thirty times or more, and have it memorized anyway. But at the very least you should check your chapter headings and endings and your opening pages to make sure there are no strange page breaks or weird formatting.

You can use the drop down box to select different devices, such as the paper white, etc.

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It’s up to you how thorough you want to be. But, when you’re finished, choose Back to Book details in the upper left of the screen. you can then upload a new version if you need to and preview again, etc. I am happy with mine, so we’re moving on.

At the bottom of the book setup page select Save and Continue to go to the next page of steps.

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Now it’s time to tell Amazon where you have the rights to publish this book. If it’s yours and has never been published by another publisher, then you have worldwide rights. Mark that dot and move on. But, if your book has been published previously by a publisher, you may not have all the rights, as your publisher may still own some of them. For instance a book published through a small press in the United States may have had rights for the UK and US in the contract but not for India or other countries, in which case you would select the second option and then choose only those countries that that publisher does not have rights for. If you’re unsure, you may need to speak to your previous publisher and/or a lawyer.

My book has never been published by anyone else, so I am picking the easy option.

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Now we’re going to choose our royalty – 35% or 70%. As with the other big choices, the decision depends on what is right for you. If your book will be priced below 2.99 (mine will) you have to choose the 35% option, but if it will be priced $2.99 or higher you can go for the 70% option. I will say that I have chosen 70% for those books I have published that cost more than $2.99, but the choice is yours.

In this case I have to go 35%. So I will check mark it and I will put in the price.

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I just check mark the “set price automatically” feature for all the other channels, but you can set them individually if you want.

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Now it’s time to decide if you want Kindle lending or not (this allows someone who has bought your book to loan it to anther person’s kindle once). If you opted for 70% royalties this will be grayed out.

Make sure to check mark that you are confirming all rights, then hit Save and Publish.

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A pop up let’s you know that it’s being published and that’s it – time to go back to your dashboard and wait until you get your “congratulations” email.

But wait. Didn’t I say that I wanted this book to be free? Why did I then set the price to $.99?

Because Amazon won’t let you choose free as an option. What you have to do is use a price match. In other words, that book has to be on another retailer’s site for free. At the moment, that book is on Smashwords, B&N, and others for the low, low price of nothing. Now, I can wait until Amazon notices it and sends me that nasty little “Tut, tut,” email (which might take days) or I can speed things along by “reporting it” myself.

But, I need to wait until it’s published. I doubt you want to stare at this spot for twelve hours, so I am going to use my magic wand to fast forward time.

BLING!

And look at that! The book is published! For some reason they have done something odd and linked it to Heart of the Raven the novel, but I’ll suss that out with an email later. In the meantime, let’s report that price.

Go to your book’s page and scroll down to the Product Details and click on “tell us about a lower price”.

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Now you’ll get a little pop up. Click the mark next to “website”.

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the box will expand with an area to paste a link into. At this point you need the link from the lower listing page – i am going to use Smashwords. Enter the url, the price (in this case 0) and the date, I dropped it back to August 1st but you don’t need to.  Then click Submit Feedback.

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It will then say “Thank you for your feedback” and give you a “close window” button – and that’s it. Now we just wait for Amazon to get it and say “tut-tut”.

If you set a book free via price match and later want to charge for it, can you get it switched back? I assume so, but I have never tried it, so if someone with more experience wants to chime in in the comments, that would be great!

Look for the cover creator post soon!

 

 

Kindle Worlds: Legal Fan Fiction?

I’m behind, but I’ve just come across the new “Kindle Worlds” – a paying platform for… Fan Fiction?

You can read the announcement here.

At the moment it seems they only have licenses for  Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar; Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard; and Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith. Meaning you could write stories with their characters, publish them on Kindle Worlds and sell them – for royalties – with this program.

I’m all for fan fiction, but I don’t know. This is getting a little… odd. Personally I don’t care if people write fan fiction for my books (I actually have some friends who borrow my characters for fun stuff)  but they’re not making money on it. Of course, I realize that under this program the eligible worlds would only be those Amazon has licensed, so even if they went berserk and got license grants from indie authors it would still be up to the individual author, so it isn’t as though they could “steal” the characters (at the moment – however whats to say a clause as such won’t show up in later kdp contracts) but even so it just sets a bad precedent.  Or maybe not. After all, Star Wars books may be licensed by George Lucas, but they’re really just fan fiction that the authors get paid for and that are “okayed” by the creator of the universe, so it’s the same principle. Or am I just over thinking it? What’s your opinion? (Please keep it nice, folks.)