Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The New Kindle Unlimited – What It Means for Authors & Readers

Well, authors and readers, the heyday of erotica shorts filling
Kindle Unlimited may be coming to an end. I hope you made hay while the sun was shining, authors. And readers, I hope you got your fill of the all-you-can-eat buffet that was 
Kindle Unlimited while it lasted, because many of the erotic shorts that glutted the program may be going back to sales-only and being distributed wide, if the rumblings of authors about this new "pay-per-page" system is any indication. I know some (non-erotica) authors who think this is a great thing!

It's not.

For erotic or non-erotic authors, this is a slide toward being paid by the word. And not words SOLD, like our old friend Charles Dickens, but words READ. If I go into a restaurant and order a steak, but I fill up on drinks and chips and salsa, do I get to send the steak back because I'm no longer hungry? No. If I buy a DVD but never open it (I have Keanu Reeves in "The Day the World Stood Still" AND "Pumpkinhead" on my shelf still in shrinkwrap... sad...) do people not get paid for it? Uhhh no. If I get sick in the middle of a movie and spend 3/4 of it in the bathroom, do I get my money for admission back? No. If I pay for concert tickets and my car breaks down on the way, do I get my money back? No.

So why in the world would an author not get paid for a sale/borrow, based on the initial interest of the consumer to buy/borrow it? Why are authors opting into Kindle Unlimited (the best place for a self-published author to make the most money with the vendor who happens to have the largest share of the ebook market) now going to be paid by "pages read?"

Because Amazon's been losing money on Kindle Unlimited. And this is a way to "spin" it to make it look as if Amazon is actually listening to authors, while screwing both short and long writers. Yay! Oh wait...

Amazon said: One particular piece of feedback we've heard consistently from authors is that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers. We agree. With this in mind, we're pleased to announce that beginning on July 1, the KDP Select Global Fund will be paid out based on the number of pages KU and KOLL customers read.

So those of you who were complaining that "short erotic dino porn" was glutting up the
Kindle Unlimited program and eating up all your precious borrows in the global fund pot?  Be careful what you wish for. You got it now. I guess we'll see how many people are actually reading to the end of your 500 page epic fantasy tome. ;)

I predict that many "shorts" authors will opt out. (Poor Chuck Tingle - from $1.30 a borrow to... probably less than a $0.99 buy would net. But I guess we'll see! Not that I'm dissing Chuck Tingle - if there's an audience for Sharknado, there's an audience for anything!) Not that you should, but many may, just out of fear. But shorts are, in our attention deficit world, not necessarily a bad thing. Erotica writers have always written short - and we've generally been paid more for it, too. (Much to the chagrin of authors in other genres!) But for those, like this guy, who say that anything under 30 pages is a "scam?" Dude, go tell O'Henry that, eh?

I know there are scammers out there who have been taking advantage of the 
Kindle Unlimited program - writing (literally) 500 words, throwing it up there with provocative covers and blurbs to make people one-click, and boom! Just opening it is 10%, so they now collect $1.30ish per borrow. And that sucks. There are always a few bad apples, right? But let's not lump shorts writers in with scammers, okay? To each their own. If my readers want to read a hot little short about an illicit relationship between stepsiblings, why not? That's not a scam. Nor is it or should it be penalized, simply because it's short.

The SkyJump in Vegas costs you $119 and lasts a few minutes. I rest my case. :P

I predict that mystery, thriller/suspense and horror writers will make a killing. People read those books to the end to find what happens! I predict short chapters with "cliffhanger" endings. I know people have been complaining about serials and cliffhangers - but I think we'll see more of them. Because cliffhangers! I predict the sweet spot will be 25-35K. 50K at most. I predict pages of short, snappy, untagged dialogue! ;) Oh the places authors will go...

As a publisher (and self-published author) I had some questions for Amazon about the new system. Below is a summary of what I was told. I'm providing it to you as information. Do with it what you will!
  • Borrows will be displayed as PAGES now instead of BORROWS. So TOTAL number of PAGES (not broken down by number of borrowers) will appear on the report where the "borrow" appears now. We'll be getting no other information besides this. We won't know the number of people who borrowed each book - will will JUST know the TOTAL number of pages read in each book.
  • Pages will display and count in the report as they're read by the reader. This will be when a user syncs up. Whether that's hourly or monthly. Pages will appear as they're read/synced, and you'll get paid for those during the next payment period.
  • The 10% rule applies no longer. Pages are pages. They click into it and back out? One page. Click in and swipe left? Two pages. Swipe all the way through the backmatter? You get paid for all the pages.
  • There will be an SRL (Starting Read Location) determined by Amazon (start of Chapter 1). The ERL (end read location) defaults to the end of the Amazon book. If someone flips all the way to the end, you'll get paid for backmatter pages. However, linking from the TOC to the end of the book? That would be two pages, no matter how many there were in between.
  • They do not have "average number of pages read" information up to this point (yeah, sure) and cannot provide that information currently.
  • Page averages will be done using the new "KENPC" system. The current page estimation system will change to the new (KENPC) one once the new KU rolls out in July.
  • You only get paid for pages once. If they read the page again, it doesn't count.
  • Rank - ghost borrows for rank will still have the same effect. A person borrows, rank goes up, but they may never open or read the book, meaning you may never get paid for it. But authors will still get the same rank boost for being in Select.
  • For the first 90 days, everyone enrolled in KU will be able to opt out AT ANY TIME. You are NOT TIED TO THE 90 DAY PERIOD. This is the best and most important news (which is why I saved it for last? heh) This will apply for at least the first 90 day period of the new system.
So authors, if you're thinking of jumping ship, Amazon wants you to stay. They'll let you opt out as you wish for the first ninety days. Clearly, they're trying to prevent a mass exodus here. That, of course, will depend on how much a "page" ends up being worth. And we'll have to wait until mid-August to find that out... Ooooo a cliffhanger! I see what you did there, Bezos...! Curses!
Selena Kitt Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget LATEST RELEASE: Highland Wolf Pact: Compromising Positions

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