Why I Went All In With Kindle Unlimited

Update 21 Aug: We made $1.80 for July’s borrows. That’s awesome. It still has to settle down, but so far August’s numbers are looking even better in terms of borrows. There is currently some updating going on at Amazon’s end (they are re-adjusting for the 10% read threshold) but I haven’t lost many borrows yet. I’m super pleased with how KU is working out for me.

I’m not much of a risktaker. I once holidayed in Las Vegas for three days and only put ten dollars into the machines,  just so I could say I gambled in Vegas. I don’t buy lottery tickets and if you tell me your sure thing at the horse races I’ll nod politely and change the subject. Even my stockmarket buys require lots of research before I’ll hand over my money.

But when Kindle Unlimited was announced last month my heart began to beat a little faster. A way for people to read your books without risk, and for me to get paid for it. Oh boy, could this really help my floundering sales?

Up until now I have been a strong opponent of the Kindle Select program because of its exclusivity. While I could understand the benefits, none of those were enough to entice me away from sales on other platforms. I was doing well at Apple, less so at Barnes & Noble, and had just starting experimenting with titles at All Romance Ebooks.

But the Kindle Unlimited siren was calling to me, sweetly, softly, seductively.

I opened my spreadsheets and analysed my figures. How much was I really making on the other platforms? Would the rise in borrows offset any profits I lost? What would be the long-term impact? Would this impulsive decision be just too crazy to take, especially for risk-aversion me?

I could clearly see that I was making good money everywhere with my non-fiction, but my fiction was primarily Amazon only. So after discussing it with my husband, I pulled all my twenty-seven fiction titles from the other stores and enrolled them in Select. After all, if it didn’t pay off I could always re-publish after the 90 days was up.

Now, of those 27 fiction titles, four are novels, two are novellas, and the rest are short stories or short story collections. This is important to note, because many of the short stories are priced at 0.99 cents, meaning for a full sale I get $0.35’ish profit. What I get as a borrow with KU is still conjecture, but if it’s higher than my current royalty it’ll be a win. It was this reason I figured that even if it replaced sales entirely, it would be beneficial.

ku aug14 Why I Went All In With Kindle Unlimited
Sales about the same. Borrows significant, often surpassing sales.

Did I make the right decision?

It’s far, far to early to tell. We won’t know what KU pays for a borrow until the next few days. People have been speculating it could remain around $2, while others predict it could go as low as ten cents. We simply do not know. We also do not know what the borrows will be like after customers finish their free trials.

At this stage, even without knowing what the borrow rate is, I’m happy. The borrows have increased my rank and while sales haven’t changed, I’m hitting a few low sub-genre lists. I’m still not making great money yet, although it does look promising.

What about the exclusivity?

It’s true that I don’t like it. But this is a pay to play game, and if I wanted to be in Kindle Unlimited I had no other choice. Each author has different decisions to make and for me, I chose to jump in. Your experience will be different.

I’m holding my breath now waiting anxiously for the announcement to see what my return on investment will be. Will it be low, high, middle? I can’t say, although I’m cautiously optimisitic. Like most new programs that Amazon implements, it’s usually the early adopters that do best.

My only prediction is that we’ll be seeing quite a few news/blogs over the next few days with “I told you so’s” from both camps.

Won’t that be fun.

Tracey

 

 

Happy 3rd Indie Author Birthday

3rd birthday cake Happy 3rd Indie Author BirthdayWhoosh!

Another year has passed on this self publishing journey. As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t written much over the past twelve months. That’s for a few reasons which I’ll outline in this post, but know that I haven’t given up. This little train is still chugging up that hill.

Before I get into this past year, I thought I’d look back at my predictions and promises made last year:

12 books in 12 months: Achievement unlocked: 3 Novels, 1 Non-fic book, 2 Novellas, 11 Short Stories, 1 Collection (Bundle)

Earn $16K or more: Achievement fail. Income was a little higher than year 2 (around $9k) but nowhere near the 16K I predicted.

Author Ranking in Top 500: Achievement fail. Even publishing numerous books under my main pen name, I couldn’t budge it much. Around the 2,000 mark she stays.

As you can see, apart from writing and publishing a bunch of books, nothing much happened. My income and rankings stayed about the same. This was one of the reasons I haven’t blogged much. Nothing I did really worked, so I couldn’t report on anything. Did you really want to read a post titled, So I Didn’t Fail, But I Wasn’t Much of a Success Either. No, I didn’t think so.

But I must have learned something, right?

Sure.

  1. Novels, even in the uber popular romance genre, aren’t a guarantee of riches. My standalone novel is lucky to sell a few copies a month, even with good reviews.
  2. Series/Serials sell. The short story collection I wrote eons ago is still my best seller. The only thing I can determine about this, is that they are in a series. Go series.
  3. Non fiction (for me) is my bread and butter. This is unfortunately true even though I want to be a fiction writer. It’s clear that readers want me to write more non-fic even though I’m resisting.
  4. Changing covers,blurbs,pricing doesn’t always work. I’ve heard it on all the popular forums, book not selling? Change the cover! Still not selling? Lower the price! Nope. Nothing I’ve done here has made much of a difference to my sales. High/low price – it sells the same.
  5. Free isn’t as effective as it used to be. I was a huge proponent of the perma-free model. I still like it in theory, but I have noticed it’s not as strong as it once was. Recently I took everything off free. I’m making more money. Go figure.
  6. I suck at smut. Yes, I tried my hand at erotica. I failed. It is not the cash machine that I’d heard about. At least it was fun to write.

Of course, your experience may (and probably will) vary. Everyone has an opinion on what works and what doesn’t based on their experiences. But really, no-one knows. Even those who are successful don’t really know what it was that made a particular book reach the stars. Some books take off, some don’t. You just have to do everything you can to give it the best chance – good writing/cover/title/blurb/price etc. Then cross your fingers (and start the next book, because that one might be the one.)

And that’s another reason I haven’t blogged here. I don’t know much more than you do. I thought I did. But I don’t.

So what now? What’s up for the next year?

I’m not entirely sure. Obviously what I’m doing now isn’t working, so I plan on changing things up. I’m going to go back and write some sequels, prequels, and freequels to those books that aren’t selling. We’ll see if putting them in a series makes a difference (worth experimenting with at any rate).

I am contemplating going back to non-fic for a while. It’s where the money is for me, even though my heart’s not really in it. Maybe.

I’ll limit my time on forums and blogs. They confuse me with all the conflicting advice. I see a good theory and get all gung-ho on it, only to find it doesn’t work quite as well as promised. (ha, shades of my internet marketing adventure days – is that something new and shiny over there? scamper, scamper).

But mostly, I’m going to take things easier on myself.

  • I’m not a success? Oh well.
  • I missed a (self-imposed) deadline? There’s always tomorrow.
  • I didn’t write today? Have a nap instead.

Goals for the next year:

Ha, ha, ha, Tracey, you are so cute. Goals? I don’t need no stinkin’ goals. So no goals. I’ll take everyday as it comes.

And if I DO find something that works for me, I’ll blog about it.

Promise.

 

 

Write Something, You Slacker!

I’m of course referring to myself, who hasn’t updated this blog (or any of my other blogs) for quite some time.

It’s seems, with me at least, novel writing and blogging do not go hand in hand. It’s either one or the other. And since novel writing makes more money (money? ha!), blogging get’s pushed to the side.

So what’s a writing mama like me to do when I get behind schedule?

Why sign up for Nanowrimo, of course!

nano challenge Write Something, You Slacker!

You all know the drill – 50,000 words in 30 days. 1,666 a day. 69 words an hour (you can write for 24 hours, right?). 1 word every minute. Or something like that.

Since I average about 1,000 words an hour that means about an hour and a half of writing something.

Sure. No problem.

REALITY CHECK

50,000 in one month? Are you cray cray crazy?

Probably. But that’s beside the point. I actually don’t think Nano is all that difficult if you commit.

That it’s in November kinda sucks, because it’s right in the middle of getting ready for Christmas, which as you know, means shopping, decorating your house, and making delicious (fattening) food.

But since you’re a writer, you don’t need food to get fat – just exercising those butt muscles by sitting at your computer for an hour and a half a day [cough - twelve hours on Facebook - cough] is enough to get the same result. And who needs a pretty house when you have Pinterest pictures to cry over? And shopping? Well, even Grandma wants a copy of your latest tentacle dinosaur billionaire romance, doesn’t she? There, shopping done.

BUT I DON’T WRITE FICTION / I’VE ALREADY STARTED SOMETHING / I ONLY WRITE SHORT STORIES

Well last I checked, there was no Nano police. No one is going to send you a report with a big ‘F’ on it if you don’t follow the rules to the letter. Besides, there are whole forums for Nano Rebels who jump in with half written books or write whatever they like. The only real criteria for ‘winning’ is that you finish your 50K. And that’s easy (as I’ve just proved above – it’s one measly word every minute).

So you are going to do Nano with me, aren’t you?

Come on, write something – you slacker!

icon smile Write Something, You Slacker!

How To Write 10,000 Words a Week

Since pushing myself (and getting a little over-enthusiastic at my abilities), I’ve come to settle into a rhythm of a comfortable 10,000 words a week.

I know that probably doesn’t sound impressive considering some authors can manage nearly that per day (I’m looking at you Dean Wesley Smith and Rachel Aaron), but with a three-year old still at home (who is currently applying for the most annoying girl in the world when mummy is having computer time), a surly seven-year old who hogs the computer to watch minecraft videos (what’s he going to be like as a teenager?), and an obsession with decorating blogs (oooh look what she did with a piece of string and a picture frame), I think 10,000 words a week is still pretty damn awesome.

Plus who wants to compete to be the word count winner when it stresses you out? No thank you – I have enough stress in my life. Is that banana smushed into the couch again – groan.

So how do you write 10,000 words a week when you have a crazy life?

Planning and good time management.

  1. Push yourself to see where your limit is.
    I tried 15,000 words a week (my thinking was that I could finish a 60,000 novel in a month on that word count). Couldn’t do it. I hurt my shoulders, back, and got stressed. (I already had a shoulder cuff injury that bothered me, but that’s another story). But by starting higher than you think you can do, you’ll see that you can do more than you believe. I wouldn’t have tried for 10,000 words a week if I hadn’t tried for more and cut back.
  2. Schedule (but keep it flexible).
    Twice a week my youngest is in childcare (the other is in school). So for those precious hours between 9.30 and 3.30, I’m kidless. The house is quiet and I can relax. But not too much, because these two days is when I get the bulk of my writing done. Sometimes I can manage around 5,000-6,000 words during these hours – allowing for breaks. Generally though it’s more like 3,000-4,000. Just those two days I can get to around 7,000-8,000 words. For the rest of the week I write at night – an hour here, half an hour there. This is where I make up the shortfall so I can hit 10,000.
  3. Try productivity hacks
    I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique. It’s 25 mins writing, 5 mins break, repeat four times then have a longer break. I use the 30/30 iTunes app for it set into 25/5 intervals and then just go. During the 5 min break I either get up and walk around or simply close my eyes thinking about what comes next in the story. There are other really good productivity hacks you can try – many of my friends are fans of the Seinfeld Don’t Break the Chain method – where you must write everyday so you don’t ‘break the chain’. I don’t use this however because …
  4. Have a day (or a weekend) off.
    I don’t write everyday. I need at least one day break to clear my head. That’s why the Don’t Break The Chain method doesn’t work for me – but if you do like to write everyday you might want to check it out. I used to only write five days a week, but now I’ll usually fire up the laptop on a Saturday night too if I haven’t made my word count. We are trialing Switch Off Sunday’s in our house. No technology, for no one, every Sunday. (It’s probably worse on me as I’m picking up the iPad before I even get out of bed to check my email). But balance is good.

If you can keep up the pace of 10,000 words a week, that’s 500,000 words a year (assuming 50 weeks a year – come on, we need holiday’s too).

500,000 words a year is:

  • 8 novels (approx 60,000 words), OR
  • 20 novellas (approx 25,000 words), OR
  • 100 short stories (approx 5,000 words each)

8 novels, here I come …

 

12 books in 12 months (probably not going to happen)

I’ve injured myself.

Too much time hunched over a laptop in bed, and not enough time sitting with correct posture at my desk. My neck hurts, my back hurts, my shoulders hurt. I have a torn rotator cuff shoulder muscle (although that’s from carrying my three-year old and catching her when she jumps off the table).

A few weeks ago I posted that I was writing novellas and had planned on getting out one of these each month. The first two published just fine. But then I changed my mind about length and I’m a quarter way into a novel for my October book.

I figured I’d write 15,000 a week so that after four weeks I’d have a 60,000 word novel.

Sigh.

15,000 words is not going to happen. I need to rest my body.

I can manage 10,000 though, so the October novel will still make deadline. But that means I’m only writing two days a week instead of five. And it will take me five or six weeks (or more?) to write a novel instead of four.

Which means my goal of 12 in 12 is looking less and less likely unless I go back to short stories or novellas. Which I don’t want to do.

So be it. It is what it is. It’s my own fault for slumping and hunching.

Let this be a lesson to you. Look after yourself while you sit at your computer.

Tracey icon smile 12 books in 12 months (probably not going to happen)

P.S. Here’s some neck exercises to stay limber. Go do some now.