Sunday, July 20, 2014

Should Independent Authors Opt-in to Amazon's New Kindle Unlimited Program?

I received an email from Amazon announcing its new Unlimited program that provides royalties for books read by subscribers to this new service that allows readers unlimited access to all participating author's works for a monthly fee. The new subscription service is Amazon's answer to Scribd and Oyster. It did not take me long to find the usual Amazon catch though: exclusivity. Authors who wish to have their indie books listed in this new service must restrict distribution of their Kindle titles to Amazon--just like KDP Select. In keeping with the Select paradigm, Amazon will add $800,000 to its Select global fund for author's royalties under this new service.

While this may be a very welcomed addition for authors who distribute their books exclusively through Kindle, the exclusivity arrangement is unappealing to me and I will not participate, just as I no longer participate in KDP Select. I already enjoy access to Scribd and Oyster as well as BN, iBoks, Baker & Taylor, Library Direct, Overdrive and other retailers (including Amazon) through Smashwords.  Although I would gladly participate in this new Amazon subscription program as a reader and author if exclusivity were not required, giving up much more appealing distribution channels for an Amazon-exclusive  distribution is about as appealing as buying shares of the Brooklyn Bridge. Ayone feel differently about this?

Smashwords: Is Kindle Unlimited Bad for Authors?

Smashwords: Is Kindle Unlimited Bad for Authors?: Amazon today unveiled Kindle Unlimited, following in the footsteps of Smashwords partners Scribd and Oyster. When I first heard of Kindl...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Audiobook version of short story collection approved for distribution via Audible, iTunes and Amazon

I've just approved the final audiobook version of my Mindscapes short story collection which will go live within two weeks at Audible, iTunes and Amazon. Dale Wilcox has produced the audiobook and narrated the ten short stories in the collection and I am very pleased with the result. I'll post links to the audiobook when they become available, as well as the book's audio sample here. I do not know and cannot control pricing which will be set by Audible/Amazon, but I'll get my copy by signing up for a free month's trial membership to Audible when the book becomes available. Meantime, more information about the eBook and paperback versions of the book is available by clicking HERE.

As always, I am grateful for your interest, encouragement and support.


Coming Soon . . .

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Do Book Giveaways and Other Low-Cost Advertising and Promotion Activities Help Independent Authors Sell Books?

In my experience, book signings, personal appearances and constant direct-sales efforts are the only low cost (not in time, though) activities that actually yield significant sales for independent authors. I think too many new authors have an unrealistic expectation that if they write a good book and put it out there it will be read. Unfortunately, with few niche exceptions (e.g., erotica, zombie novels, etc.) most independently produced books sit on countless lists without attracting the attention of their intended market. And most affordable professional marketing services are profitable only to the marketing professionals that tout them. This includes the services provided by POD services like Amazon and CreateSpace.

Yes, there is evidence that spending a lot of money on marketing plans works, but for most indie authors unable to manipulate book rankings with underhanded and expensive schemes such as those recently in the news is not feasible (even if one overlooks the obvious ethical and legal issues involved in perpetrating massive fraud on the reading public by manipulating book rankings on the NY Times Best Seller's list and elsewhere through expensive schemes to buy one's own books). With few exceptions, most unknown indie authors will not recoup the cost of advertising. I know those who provide such services will protest and cite examples of fabulous sales by a handful of authors. If they are so certain that their services will not only pay for themselves but make authors a lot of money, I challenge them to provide them on a contingency fee basis--let them provide the service for a royalty split with the author of any increased sales for a period after the advertising campaign launches, or make their fees contingent on increased sales (e.g., guarantee their results or forfeit their fees). No agency will take that deal for a new author's ad campaign even as they point to the potential goldmine that their services can bring.

For most indie authors the only reasonable way to sell books is the same self-marketing approach taken by self published authors from the days of vanity presses through today's equivalent print on demand (POD) services: personal appearances, book signings, direct selling and constant promotion of their work.

I don't do personal appearances because of the time constraints of my day job which leaves relatively little free time even in "vacations". Also, frankly, self promotion and direct sales is not something I am willing to do to any significant extent. I also don't sell through independent bookstores that would carry my books (especially the intellectual property book that sells fairly well for an indie book with no advertising of any kind beyond an occasional mention in one of my blogs). The problem for me is that independent bookstores typically want 50% of the selling price as their commission for carrying the book which would force me to sell it at a much higher price than I want and would also take more time than I have to travel to these bookstores (and to service these "accounts"). Some also want up front listing fees on top of a 50% commission on the retail price. If/when writing becomes my full time job, then I will revisit my strategy. For now, even blogging takes more time than I have available.

Indie authors need to be true entrepreneurs in promoting themselves and their product if they expect to have more than nominal royalties as compensation for their efforts. There is no substitute for having a reasonable business plan and carrying it out through consistent hard work. (I teach law for the entrepreneur, a course I developed, and was the dean of the business division at BCC for a very rewarding and productive four years prior to deciding to return to the classroom, so the business end of writing is not much of a mystery for me.) I love the movie Field of Dreams, but also know that with regard to writing, there is absolutely no guarantee that "if you write it, they will buy it".

Monday, July 7, 2014

Two free science fiction short stories from B&N, iBooks and Smashwords

My Mindscapes short story collection is in production as an audiobook and will be released this summer through Audible and Amazon. The two shortest stories in that ten short story collection (Justice and The Riddle of the Sphinx: Solved) are currently available for free download from Smashwords in a variety of eBook formats and can also be downloaded free of charge from Barnes and Noble and iBooks. You can download a free copy by clicking on the Mindscapes link for the book here. 

The Mindscapes audiobook version currently in its final editing stage is read by Dale Wilcox, but if you’d like a different (rough, unedited) audio version of my short story Justice read by me, you can access (an equally rough) YouTube book trailer by clicking on the Mindscapes link from my YouTube listings here.

 Product DetailsProduct Details