Monday, December 29, 2014

Amazon's at it again.

And authors are apparently upset, at least according to the New York Times.

Why? Amazon created Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service that allows unlimited downloads for a monthly fee.

Within a month, author H.M. Ward saw her income fall 75 percent.

"Six months ago people were quitting their day job, convinced they could make a career out of writing," according to Bob Mayer.

'Those people' may be out there, but I am most certainly not one of them. I've never contemplated quitting my day job in order to make a living as a writer. Seems like an impossible pipe dream from my perspective, to be honest. And having finally launched the book, it feels even more unobtainable. That, however, is my own fault, as my material is quite niche.

I would be remiss not to mention that Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) really is amazing. I was able to put up a book and have it available for purchase all over the world. And Amazon lets authors in Kindle Select earn up to 70 percent of every sale, far more than any traditional publisher.

On the other hand, publishing is changing so quickly one cannot safely rely on it for an income, as the bottom of the boat can fall out at any time.

Ms. Ward, fortunately, has sold over six million books since 2011 and likely has a decent cushion to land on. Authors who left their jobs and were just scraping by are in a different situation entirely. I feel for them. It takes guts to follow your dreams. Writing, however, seems to be something of an income roller coaster, fluctuating monthly, so you'd best have a strong stomach and solid cash reserve before you try it.

In 2010, Amazon had 600,000 e-books in its Kindle store. Today it has more than three million.

That's a lot of books. At some point, books will be produced faster than people can read them. Revenue from ebooks in 2013 was three billion. Three billion! Now that's a lot of mystery, romance, and erotica. Just how much can people read? How long before the market is hopelessly saturated and a need arises for services vetting titles? Will the user star rating system be enough? How many will be compelled to game the system? Inquiring minds and all that.

Apparently the goal of Kindle Unlimited is to draw in readers and entice them to buy even more books.

The books, in that sense, are loss leaders, although the writers take the loss, not Amazon.

But authors are not impressed. As Kathryn Meyer Griffith says: “They’re doing a good job of recreating that whole unfair bogus system where they make the money and we authors survive on the pennies that are left.”

One of the ways to deal with the changes Amazon has implemented is to release shorter books more frequently. That had already occurred to me. For example, kboards only allow you to have one promotional thread per book. You get one discount period per ninety days per book. Multiple titles means multiple promotional threads, multiple sales periods, and greater exposure. To top that off, people only notice you if you have multiple items in your inventory. 

H.M. Ward's first book was 500 pages. Her new books are roughly 100 pages. 

Kindle Unlimited pushes this trend even further, as you get the same amount of money no matter how long the book is. 

Ward now plans to release volumes every month. 

“I’ve started working with four co-authors,” she said. “If you’re not constantly putting out new material, people forget you’re there.”

Seems wise. Other authors are breaking their books into sections and publishing each chapter separately. 


Everything changes, only faster.

It's an interesting article. Check it out.

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