Prediction for How Much Kindle Unlimited Downloads Will Pay in July, 2014

Unlimited Books

What Will Kindle Unlimited Pay?

We won’t find out for sure until a couple of weeks into July.

In the meantime, the best we can do is make predictions based on what limited data we do have.

When July, 2014 began, the KDP Select Global Fund was $1.2 million. This was to be distributed among Amazon Prime borrows of KDP Select books in the US and UK.

Prior to the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon typically paid approximately $2 per Amazon Prime borrow.

Kindle Unlimited was introduced a little over halfway through the month of July. $800,000 was added to the KDP Select Global Fund, bringing the total fund to $2 million. Another $785,000 has since been added, bringing the fund to $2,785,000.

A big factor will be that customers can download several Kindle e-books through Kindle Unlimited, whereas Amazon Prime customers can only borrow one book per month.

Thus, the total number of downloads/borrows can be expected to be much higher than the typical number of KDP Select borrows has been in the past.

This will likely reduce the KOLL payments for July, 2014 compared to previous months.

Keep in mind that there are likely to be excessive downloads through Kindle Unlimited for the first couple of months of the program, but this will likely taper off and become steady thereafter. Likely, the KOLL payments will rise somewhat, if not return to normal, by September, 2014.

Update: The results are in now. Kindle Unlimited paid $1.81 per borrow/download in July, 2014, much higher than I was expecting. This is largely due to an unexpected increase in the KOLL fund from $2,000,000 to $2,785,000.

Predicting KOLL Payments for July, 2014

I will base my prediction on the variety of Kindle e-books that I see in my sales reports.

I will also show you how to do the calculation so that you can compare with your own numbers.

You’ll need to visit KDP and get the following numbers:

  • The total number of borrows/downloads from July 1 thru July 30. (We’ll ignore the 31st to get a nice, round number. It will make a small difference, but we’re approximating anyway, so… Be sure to include any UK borrows.)
  • How many borrows you had from July 1 thru July 17. (Look at your Sales Dashboard graph and add up the borrows for those dates. If you’re reading this message in August, change the dates of the report to July. Be sure to include any borrows you may have had in the UK.)

(Only Prime customers can borrow in the UK. So any borrows you see in the UK aren’t from Kindle Unlimited.)

Let me use the following symbols to represent the two numbers that you looked up:

  • D = total number of borrows/downloads thru July 30.
  • C = total number of borrows thru July 17.

I’ll work this out for the following example:

  • D = 48
  • C = 9

Here are the steps:

  1. Take the original KDP Select Global Fund of $1.2 million and divide by $2. This equals 600,000. This estimates how many Amazon Prime borrows in the US and UK combined Amazon was predicting prior to the debut of Kindle Unlimited.
  2. Define B = C x 30 / 17. In my example, B = 9 x 30 / 17 = 16. This approximates how many borrows you would have had without the introduction of Kindle Unlimited (assuming roughly equal likelihood of borrows on any day throughout the month).
  3. Define A = D / B. In my example, A = 48 / 16 = 3. This approximates by which factor your total number of borrows/downloads increased as a result of Kindle Unlimited.
  4. Define N = A x 600,000. In my example, N = 3 x 600,000 = 1.8 million. This is your estimate for the total number of borrows/downloads by all customers in July based solely on your own data. (If your data isn’t representative, i.e. close to what happened on average, then your projection will be way off. But the game is still fun to play, isn’t it?)
  5. Divide $2 million by N. In my example, this is $2 million / 1.8 million = $1.11. This is your prediction for how much each borrow/download will pay. The closer the data for your own books happens to be to the true (unknown, as of yet) average, the better your prediction will be. Update: Divide $2,785,000 by N, since Amazon added an extra $785,000 to the global fund.

My KOLL Prediction for July, 2014

That’s what I did to arrive at my prediction:

  • Based on what limited data I have, I’m predicting that KDP Select borrows/Kindle Unlimited downloads will pay between $1.10 and $1.25 apiece for July, 2014. You heard it here first. (But if I turn out to be way off, please forget that.) Update: My range changes to $1.53 to $1.74 based on this increased fund.
  • Although I have a variety of Kindle e-books on my sales reports, just like you, my data could be well below or well above average. So the actual payment could be much higher or lower.
  • So, to be safe, I’m going to widen my prediction to $0.85 to $1.50. 🙂 This changes to $1.18 to $2.09 based on the increased global fund.
  • If Amazon adds to the KDP Select Global Fund for July, 2014, that may change my prediction considerably. Indeed, Amazon did add another $785,000 to the global fund.
  • I would like to believe that it will be closer to $2 than my data projects, and that may very well turn out to be the case. Authors and Amazon both would probably like for KOLL to pay closer to $2. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, though. Let’s cross our fingers, just in case.
  • I also predict that KDP Select borrows/Kindle Unlimited downloads will pay closer to $2 starting in September, 2014, once many free trials have ended and once customers have had a couple of months to play with this new feature. (Note that I said closer to $2. I didn’t say $2.)

What is your prediction based on your data? The more numbers we see in the comments section, the more data we’ll have to judge by. You don’t have to say how many borrows you’ve had. But whatever your prediction turns out to be, that would be appreciated.

Update: The results are in now. Kindle Unlimited paid $1.81 per borrow/download in July, 2014, much higher than I was expecting. This is largely due to an unexpected increase in the KOLL fund from $2,000,000 to $2,785,000.

What about Sales?

My borrows/downloads were over 5x more frequent than normal from July 18 thru July 30. (Yes, I’ll get to sales. Patience, please.)

That brings my overall number of borrows/downloads for the month to roughly 3 times the usual number of borrows. Hence my prediction of $1.10 to $1.25 for July, 2014.

So even if KOLL pays $1.10, I would still be making over 50% more for Kindle Unlimited downloads than I ordinarily would have made from Amazon Prime borrows. KOLL would have to pay $0.66 or less for my net royalties for borrows to be less than usual. (This remains a possibility, since we don’t know what KOLL will really pay as of now.)

In comparison, my Kindle sales were 15% more frequent than normal from July 18 thru July 30. Yes, my sales improved, too. I would attribute that to the improved sales rank resulting from the many additional downloads in Kindle Unlimited.

Strangely, my best day for Kindle sales in July, 2014 was July 28. My best day for borrows/downloads was July 24. Kindle Unlimited downloads held fairly steady for me all the way thru the 30th, though I’ve heard from others that downloads have tapered off for them.

Disclaimer

This prediction is for entertainment purposes only. I make no guarantees nor warranties. I’m not to be held accountable for any differences between the actual KOLL payments and my prediction. If you blow a fortune gambling based on my prediction, you acknowledge that I warned you—right now—that you shouldn’t have done so. However, if you happen to win big, you’re welcome to send a tip. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Elasticity of e-book Prices

Elastic

Kindle e-book Prices

Here are three important considerations that go into e-book prices:

  • What list price to set
  • What the per-book royalty will be
  • What the net royalty will be

These three figures are related by price elasticity.

The general trend is that a lower list price will attract more readers. But more readers doesn’t necessarily translate into a greater net royalty. It depends.

Suppose you price an e-book for $5.99 and would sell 500 copies at Amazon. Assuming a negligible delivery cost, the royalty would be $4.19 per book, and the net royalty would be $2095.

Pricing the e-book instead at $3.99 may reach more readers. The per-book royalty would be $2.79.

  • If you sell 1000 copies at $3.99, the net royalty would be $2793. In this case, the lower price is worth it.
  • But if you sell 600 copies at $3.99, the net royalty would be $1674. In this case, the higher price earns more.

Sometimes, the lower price may still be advantageous, even if the higher price earns more. That is, the larger reader base may pay off in other ways, e.g. more add-on sales of other books, building a following faster to help sell future books, etc.

A lower price doesn’t always attract more readers. Occasionally, an author raises the price from $2.99 to $3.99 and sales actually improve. At the lower end of the price spectrum, the perception that you get what you pay for can have a significant impact on price. Of course, the book has to appear to be higher quality (and have ample content) to command the higher price, but if it does, the $3.99 to $5.99 price range may actually be more profitable for some books than $2.99 or less.

$2.99 is often more profitable than 99 cents for books that would earn 70% at $2.99, since any book price $2.98 and under earns a 35% royalty. You would have to sell 6 times as many books at 99 cents to earn the same royalty as you would at $2.99. Very short books don’t have much choice; they might not sell at all for a higher price. Series authors sometimes use the 99-cent price point to attract new readers into a series. For authors with numerous books, 99 cents can create some impulse buys of several titles at once.

Predicting Elasticity

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) actually has a new beta pricing tool to help authors see some actual data.

You can find the new KDP Pricing Support tool on page 2 of the publishing process at KDP. Check it out.

What you see is a graph. There is usually an abrupt change in curvature at $2.99, where the royalty changes from 35% to 70%. Sometimes there are a couple of price points where the net royalty is predicted to be about the same. For example, I’ve seen cases where 99 cents and $2.99 have the same net royalty, or where there is scarcely any difference between $2.99 and $3.99. But other times one price really stands out, like $3.99.

What we don’t know is how reliable the data will be for any specific new title, or precisely how Amazon is determining which titles are similar to your book.

But any data is better than none at all, right? At least it gives you something to go on.

Well, you can always get your own data. Try experimenting with your price and you can see the impact first-hand.

I like the new KDP Pricing Support tool. When I’ve used it, the graph has seemed reasonable; i.e. the data resembled my experience and expectations.

Of course, each book is unique, and won’t necessarily follow the trend.

The Amazon Book Team recently offered some fascinating insight into Kindle e-book price elasticity regarding the famous Amazon-Hachette dispute.

You can check that out by clicking here (it’s an Amazon page).

Keep in mind that the change in price from $9.99 to $14.99 is probably much more sensitive than a change in price from $3.99 to $5.99 or from $2.99 to $3.99. At the lower end of the price spectrum, a lower price doesn’t always result in more sales, let alone more profits. But in the higher bracket, like $6.99 and above, lower e-book prices usually draw in many more customers.

I must admit, some of my favorite traditionally published authors have e-books selling for $7.99 and up, not too different in price from mass market paperbacks I’ve read in the past by the same authors, and there are dozens of such books that I ordinarily would have read in the past, which I’ve declined to read in the last couple of years because I felt that they were unfairly priced. They could have had much more of my business, and probably millions of other customers, with lower prices. But some of my favorite authors’ e-books have been priced $6.99 or less, and I’ve read many of those books.

Note that print books are understandably different, where the publisher invested in materials, distribution, etc. I expect to pay more for print books. In the case of print-on-demand paperbacks, the $6.99 to $9.99 price range is often less sensitive to price changes, while much higher prices, like $25, tend to be more sensitive.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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What the Dreck?

Slush Pile

The Dreaded Slush Pile

Two popular terms among authors and readers make me cringe every time I see them—which is much too frequently. There are some very strong opinions about this subject, too.

  • dreck
  • slush pile

These terms generally refer to the ‘worst’ of the books, but this definition by itself creates some problems.

  • There is more than one way to define the word ‘worst.’ Do you mean editing, subject matter, sales rank, very short books, web content disguised as books, or something else entirely?
  • Thus, some authors take this the wrong way. “Are you talking about my book?”

Any one of these things, by itself, doesn’t necessarily make a book bad:

  • Maybe an author has a fantastic story, but on a low budget, chose not to invest in an editor without knowing if the book would sell. Given a choice, I’d rather have a great story that needs editing over a lousy story with superb editing. (But there are many excellent stores with good editing to choose from, so this isn’t a decision that we really have to make.) My point is that editing alone doesn’t imply that a book is bad.
  • Similarly, if the book simply has poor formatting, it could still have great content. I wouldn’t call a book poor just because it could use some tender-loving formatting care.
  • A miserable sales rank—or no rank at all—doesn’t make a book lousy. Maybe the cover and blurb aren’t attracting attention, but the story is amazing. Perhaps the author didn’t attempt any marketing. Or maybe there is a very tiny audience for the book. These things don’t determine that a book is poor. (Just that the author isn’t getting rich from that particular book. At least not presently—for all you know, it could have sold like hot cakes when it first came out, but just hasn’t sold in recent months.)
  • How about a very short book—just a few pages? If the information is valuable, people will want it. If it’s very well written, what’s the problem? The beauty is that customers can decide if that appeals to them. More people writing short books doesn’t mean that other books won’t sell. It doesn’t mean that shorter books are selling. Kindle Unlimited makes it easier for customers to reach 10% of shorter books, but Kindle Unlimited doesn’t encourage customers to download shorter books. Why borrow ten very short books? Customers spending $120 per year may be more inclined to get the best possible value for their money. But let’s just say that shorter books do start selling more. This means that those books are appealing to customers. If those short books truly are dreck, customers will stop buying them. So if they sell frequently, they must not be dreck just because they’re short.
  • Perhaps you’d like to judge the content as dreck—e.g. certain kinds of romance novels, sales pamphlets, get rich schemes. Return to my last point. If it’s selling and continues to sell, apparently it’s satisfying readers. How can you call something dreck if readers appreciate it? Because if there is something that you’re sure is better, then wouldn’t readers also agree that it’s better and stop buying the ‘dreck’? But again, even if it’s not selling, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the book is bad.
  • There are, indeed, books that we may agree are lousy. Maybe we can judge by the intention of the author. If the author made a poor effort, and was just hoping to turn a quick buck, perhaps that could properly be classified as lousy. If the author tries to deceive readers, does that make the book lousy? If the author recruits dozens of reviews to make a book seem far better than it actually is, when the author knows that nobody would have bought the book otherwise, can’t we call that book lousy?

The worst of the worst, however you want to define them, are important for two good reasons:

  • When a reader experiences a book that turns out far worse than the reader was expecting, it leaves a significant impact on the customer’s reading experience (and it tends to change the customer’s book buying habits).
  • When one of the worst books sells, it frustrates authors who have worked very hard to master their craft and publish a quality book.

Not all mention of the ‘slush pile’ stems from good intentions, though:

  • Some authors feel a sense of superiority and mention the slush pile with a sense of arrogance and disdain. This isn’t expressed as the frustration of an author who worked hard, but comes out as an “I’m better than you” feeling.
  • Some authors feel a sense of inferiority and mention the slush pile to feel better about themselves.
  • It may be in the financial interest of traditional publishers to advertise the slush pile as often as possible, hoping to create a perception that self-published books aren’t worth reading so that more customers will, hopefully, buy traditionally published books.
  • Editors and book formatters may advertise the slush pile, hoping to encourage authors to hire their services. (Editing and formatting are important. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay for such services, just that this might be one of the motivations for advertising it.)
  • Some readers want to feel superior in terms of what they are reading. For example, they might feel superior reading literary works, and thus denounce everything else as dreck.

Personally, I feel that not enough people read. A greater selection improves the chances that everyone can find a book that he or she would like to read.

Here are some truths about the ‘dreck,’ including reasons that I cringe every time I hear it mentioned. (Am I a hypocrite for mentioning it here? My hope is to help improve the perception, and that some good may come from the following points).

  • Every indie author who mentions the slush pile or dreck is marketing a poor image for indie books, which in turn hurts his or her own sales indirectly. Oops!

  • The worst books aren’t in the way of better books. Lousy books that don’t sell quickly fall in the rankings and fall down into the depths of obscurity. Why worry about lousy books that are hard to find?

  • When a self-published author says derogatory things about other authors’ books, how does that affect his or her image? Brand a positive image for yourself. It might even help your sales.

I’m not saying that we should ignore books that have problems.

Here are some positive ways to address this issue:

  • Don’t advertise lousy books.

  • Don’t use the words ‘dreck’ or ‘slush pile.’

  • Do find a few excellent examples of self-published books and advertise those instead of the bad ones.

  • Don’t put other authors down.

  • Do find indie authors who are producing quality books and bring those authors up.

  • If you know a friend or acquaintance who is a newbie author, offer some helpful tips that will result in a better first book.

  • Occasionally share tips in your social media posts that would help fellow authors produce better books

  • Help motivate self-published authors to perfect their books.

  • Do your best when you self-publish. Do some research. Seek feedback. Don’t view your first book as an experiment. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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How to Cook the Look of Your Book

Total IndieChoosing Your Book’s Style

Consider a few things you know about style and perception:

  • A suit makes a more professional impression, right? Yet many consumers are more apt to trust a t.v. model in blue jeans and a t-shirt.
  • Worn clothes with holes reflect poor quality, yes? But have you ever seen anyone pay extra money for designer jeans that look worn and feature holes? And there is a famous tale where Ed McMahon sat down during a sales pitch, when the clients spotted a hole in the sole of his shoe and things began turn around favorably for him.
  • Would anyone be caught dead wearing outdated fashions? Yes! It happens all the time. Not everyone thinks the same way.

Now think about some things you may have heard regarding self-publishing:

  • Don’t include the word ‘by’ on the cover or the words THE END on the last page.
  • Justify full. Don’t use ragged right.
  • Times New Roman looks amateurish.
  • Show more, tell less.
  • We could make a really long list. Some designers are very picky.

There are reasons for these perceptions:

  • There are beautifully designed books that are recognized as top brands, like a Mercedes of books.
  • Some of the perceptions reflect what is typical of many traditionally published books.
  • Book designers want to sell their services, so they want authors to believe that they can’t design books well enough on their own.
  • Publishers, agents, and traditionally published authors want consumers to prefer traditionally published books, so they want to market the perception that their books are better.

Is It Really Better, or Is It a Matter of Style?

Here’s the funny thing.

Many readers may actually prefer to buy books that look a little self-published.

Who is your target audience?

  • If you expect to receive a lot of support from the millions of indie supporters—which include indie authors and their friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, fan base— then you should design your book around people who will support self-publishing. They expect your book to look a little self-published. They expect your book to list CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform as the publisher; heck, many indie supporters specifically search for CreateSpace on Amazon, since they know they are supporting indie authors when they buy CreateSpace books (or when they buy Kindle e-books for which the paperback is a CreateSpace book).
  • Most readers who prefer model books buy traditionally published books. Starting your own imprint that nobody’s ever heard of isn’t likely to drive those readers away from the Big 5 publishers. (Though it is possible to come out with dozens of professional looking books and establish a significant small publisher label. If that’s your long-term goal, keep that in mind as you read this article, as things may be somewhat different for you.)
  • If your book is an apple, maybe you’ll have more success by making it look like a delicious apple, instead of trying to make it look like an orange. Even if you do persuade people to buy your orange, as soon as it tastes like an apple, your marketing will backfire. That is, dress your indie book up as an indie book and play the indie card; trying to make it look like something it’s not may actually backfire.

There are several reasons that indie supporters might prefer their books to look a little self-published.

  • If it reads a little self-published, it might be easier for indie supporters to read. Much of this audience isn’t looking for Pulitzer-Prize-winning fiction. Rather, they’re looking for easy reading, easy comprehension, vocabulary they can make sense of, and grammar that makes sense to them. Sometimes, the rules of grammar seem like they’re wrong when they’re right. For example, it’s correct to say, “It is I,” and incorrect to say, “It is me,” because conjugations of the verb “to be” take a subject instead of an object. But if you know and follow this rule, it might upset much of the indie support system.
  • Not everyone has the same style. People who favor the style of traditionally published books are more likely to favor those books. People hoping for something different are more likely to support indie books.
  • If your Look Inside appears too professional, it might seem that you’re already successful. Some readers are hoping to find a diamond in the rough—i.e. one that doesn’t look like a diamond, but turns out to be. They’d like to support someone who could use a boost.
  • If your Look Inside appears too good, it might be confused for a published book. Not by people looking for published books; they know the real thing when they see it. But by people looking to support books that appear to be self-published; they might get confused by the difference. (Naturally, there will be some exceptions.)
  • If your book has a bunch of five-star reviews early on, it may deter indie support. Traditionally published books are expected to have a lot of five-star reviews, and they send out hundreds of advance review copies to get them; their customers expect it. Indie supporters expect to see some criticism, and know that reviews are hard to come by (and that’s OK). While many readers will support indie authors, many change their attitude where they suspect abuse of the review system (keep in mind they are suspicious of critical reviews, too). Many stellar reviews, with no bad ones, without a sales rank (relative to the publication date) to suggest many sales, arouses customer suspicion.
  • If your book has a bunch of review quotes, you’re playing the same game as traditionally published authors. Readers of traditionally published books know those quotes will be there, but tolerate it. A great thing about indie books is that you often don’t have to put up with that. Talk about hand-picking just the best reviews, this common game among traditional publishers takes that to an extreme.

Notice what I didn’t say. I didn’t say that you could make your book very self-published. I didn’t say that editing, cover design, formatting, and such aren’t important.

I’m saying it’s okay to be different in some ways, but there are some ways where being different can really kill your sales. It’s important to learn the difference.

Don’t Take This the Wrong Way

There are, of course, very important exceptions:

  • The cover is vital. When I say it’s okay to look a little self-published, I mean in every way except for the actual ‘look.’ The cover absolutely has to please your target audience. It doesn’t need to be a cover cliché—like a hunk on a romance cover—but it does need to appeal to the style of your potential readers. Cover appeal is critical. Not everyone wears the same kind of clothing, but everyone has a sense of style and wears clothes that appeal to them. Design a cover that appeals to nobody and you’ll sell books to… nobody. (But you can get away with more in nonfiction. For example, it’s very important for the keywords of nonfiction books to stand out well, and this can make up for otherwise looking a little self-published. For fiction, visual appeal can be everything.)
  • Consistency is key. The most important factor in the design and writing of your book is consistency. Whether you use justified or ragged right isn’t as important as consistent formatting. If some paragraphs are justified, while others are ragged right, that book won’t appeal to anyone. Your book needs to have a definite style.
  • Editing does matter. It’s not so much about having perfect grammar, as it is about (A) having consistency, (B) knowing which rules you can or can’t break, and (C) not having many obvious mistakes. If you’re a writer, everyone who knows the difference between “your” and “you’re,” for example, will expect you to know such basic rules, too. The subtle rules you can get away with to some extent. Occasional mistakes are okay; frequent mistakes can be a disaster. And often the mistakes are far more frequent than the author realizes.
  • Bookstores are different. If getting bookstores to stock your book is important to you, then it’s very important to bring a highly professional looking book with you.
  • Image is everything. You’re trying to gain publicity, so you must be careful not to get negative publicity. For example, one of the big no-no’s is commenting on reviews. Reacting emotionally in the comments section can destroy your reputation even among indie supporters. You don’t have a free license to do whatever you want, if you wish to sell books successfully.

There are some highly popular self-published books (I won’t name names, but I bet you can think of a few) that gained their success while looking a bit self-published. There are some highly professional looking self-published books that are struggling to get by. Just making the book look professional isn’t, by itself, a sales magnet. Just like a salesman with a hole on the sole of his shoe, sometimes it might be best to look a little self-published. Not a lot. Just a little. In the right places.

Be Proud of Who You Are

  • I’m an indie, and I know it.
  • I’m proud to be an indie.
  • I wear the indie badge.
  • See my name. It’s right there.
  • I wear the name proudly, but I wear it well, too.
  • I work hard at it. I’m not lazy.
  • I strive to do my best. I learn more each day.
  • But I have my own style. And that’s okay.
  • I don’t go overboard.
  • I don’t try to be what I’m not.
  • I simply carry out my own style as best I can.
  • It’s not a solo act.
  • We indies are a team.
  • We support one another. Scrupulously, of course.
  • We hear your criticism. It motivates us to do even better.
  • Go, indies!

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Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Kindle Unlimited: The Key Questions

A great set of questions about Kindle Unlimited with great answers.

David Gaughran

amazon_kindle_unlimitedAmazon launched Kindle Unlimited on Friday, giving self-publishers a big decision to make.

The long-rumored subscription service will allow users to download unlimited books for $9.99 a month, and reader reaction has been, from what I can see, overwhelmingly positive – especially because they will be able to test the service with a month’s free trial. Writers have been a little more cautious, for all sorts of reasons I’ll try and tease out below.

The main stumbling block for self-publishers is that participation in Kindle Unlimited is restricted to titles enrolled in KDP Select – Amazon’s program which offers various additional marketing tools in exchange for exclusivity. Author compensation will be similar to borrows under the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library – a percentage of money from a fixed pool. The only real twist is that payment will be triggered when 10% of downloaded books have been read.

At the…

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How to Insert a Dropcap in a Textbox in Microsoft Word

Drop 8

Drop Cap in Textbox in Word

It’s not easy to insert a drop cap into a textbox in Microsoft Word. (Inserting a drop cap at the beginning of a chapter is easy; doing it in a textbox is another matter.)

If you try the intuitive thing, it doesn’t work: Highlight the first letter of the textbox, go to the Insert tab, and the Dropcap button is grayed out. You can’t click it.

Fortunately, there is a way around this problem.

The trick is to join three textboxes together (actually, I prefer to use WordArt for the drop cap, but in Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013, the distinction is fairly moot).

As long as you’re using a textbox, using three textboxes really isn’t a problem. Just group them together when you’re done and you’ll have a single object for your end result.

Here are the step-by-step directions, then following these you can find some screenshots that illustrate key steps:

  1. Put the first letter in its own textbox. You may prefer WordArt for the single letter. Use Insert > Text Box or Insert > WordArt.
  2. Put the first lines of the paragraph in one textbox. For example, if the drop cap will have a height of three lines, put the first three lines of the paragraph in one textbox.
  3. If the paragraph needs to be justified full, place your cursor at the end of the paragraph and press Shift+Enter to make the last line justified.
  4. Place the remaining lines of the paragraph in another textbox.
  5. Select each textbox and go to Format to set the Shape Fill and Shape Outline to No Fill and No Outline, respectively.
  6. Select each textbox and go to Format > Wrap Text > In Front of Text. (They need to be free-floating so you can position them. Once they are joined, you can change the text wrap to something else.)
  7. You will need to adjust the widths of your textboxes. That is, the lower textbox needs to be longer than the higher textbox.
  8. Position the textboxes to form your paragraph. Align the boxes precisely. You want even line spacing between the two parts of your paragraph, alignment at the right edge of your paragraph, and alignment between the left edge of the dropped cap and the left edge of the lower textbox.
  9. You may need to transfer words from one textbox to the other as you adjust their widths. The last line of the upper textbox can have really wide gaps, for example, if there is room for more words on that line and you used Shift+Enter. If so, transfer the first words of the lower textbox onto that line.
  10. If you used WordArt, you’ll need to format it. If you want to remove the automatic shadow effect, for example, click on the WordArt and go to Format > Text Effects > Shadow > No Shadow. You can manually format the font style instead of choosing a default effect.
  11. Ensure that the formatting of the upper and lower textboxes are identical.
  12. To make a single object, select the three textboxes and go to Format > Group > Group. To select multiple objects, grab one, then press and hold down Ctrl while selecting the others.

 

Drop 1

 

 

Drop 2

Drop 3

Drop 4

Drop 5

Drop 6

Drop 7

Drop 8

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Microsoft Word Tutorials

Find more free Microsoft Word tutorials here: https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/word-tutorials.

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More KDP Select Books on Bestseller Lists

Best Seller

Amazon Bestseller Changes

In the past week, several books enrolled in KDP Select have landed themselves on the bestseller lists at Amazon.

This is according to data tabulated at Publishers Lunch: http://lunch.publishersmarketplace.com/2014/07/daily-update-influence-kindle-unlimited-amazon-bestsellers-grows/.

You can easily check the top 100 bestsellers at Amazon to see the current list.

The reason for the change is the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s new $9.99 per month subscription service (learn more here).

Many customers are signing up for Kindle Unlimited, then downloading Kindle e-books from Amazon.

This is boosting the sales ranks of participating books, while hurting the sales ranks of other books.

600,000 titles are participating in Kindle Unlimited. This includes 100,000 published titles (such as Harry Potter) and all 500,000 KDP Select books.

So who’s benefiting?

  • Self-published KDP Select books that are attracting Kindle Unlimited customers.
  • Amazon Publishing books. (Did you know that Amazon publishes books? I don’t mean self-publishing. Amazon has its own imprints, too.)
  • Small presses that agreed to participate in KDP Select.

Who’s not?

  • Big traditional publishers and other publishers that aren’t presently participating in Kindle Unlimited.
  • Self-published books that aren’t enrolled in KDP Select.

We’re only a few days into Kindle Unlimited, yet bestseller lists have already seen a big swing, with roughly double the number of self-published KDP Select books landing on the charts.

Kindle Unlimited isn’t helping every book in the program, but many books are receiving boosts to their sales ranks through it.

It appears that Kindle Unlimited is—at least in the early going—having a strong influence on Amazon sales rank.

Obviously, landing on the bestseller lists is amazing for exposure, and falling off really hurts exposure.

Love it or hate it, one thing is for sure: Kindle Unlimited is creating an impact, and it’s having some fascinating effects.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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How Can Kindle Unlimited Improve Your Sales?

More Sales

Kindle Unlimited

For $9.99 per month, customers can check out up to 10 Kindle e-books from an extensive library of 600,000 titles at Amazon. All books enrolled in KDP Select are participating (plus 100,000 others from mostly small presses). Authors will receive royalties in the form of KDP Select borrows. The July, 2014 KDP Global Fund has been increased to $2,000,000. You can read more about Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Authors need to decide whether to opt in or opt out of KDP Select. The big question to ask is whether or not participation in Kindle Unlimited will improve the book’s sales.

Obviously, some books will thrive in this program, others will not. The difficult question is predicting how your book will do. I will discuss the pros and cons of Kindle Unlimited by focusing on how it could improve sales, and then I will discuss the opposite.

How Can Kindle Unlimited Improve Your Sales?

  • Kindle Unlimited customers can download KDP Select books for free. They can store up to 10 borrowed books on their devices, then download more once they return any of those 10. Every time a customer downloads a book and reads past the 10% point, you receive a royalty. For Kindle Unlimited customers, your book is permanently free (well, they do pay $9.99 per month for the privilege) AND you earn a royalty when it’s read. Customers are looking for books to download.
  • Kindle Unlimited offers customers the opportunity to try newbie authors or indie authors without risk. Bad book? Doesn’t cost a penny. Just get a new one. There are hundreds of thousands of indie authors, though, so just because many customers will be trying out indie authors doesn’t mean you’ll be one of those authors. As always, you need good content, good packaging, and effective marketing to make the most of the opportunity.
  • KDP Select books that succeed in getting numerous downloads will have an advantage over books that aren’t in Kindle Unlimited. It allows indie books to compete with traditionally published book more than ever. Every download improves your sales rank. That improved sales rank helps you generate even more sales. Books that thrive in the program can reap many benefits. Not all books will thrive; the better your book, packaging, and marketing, the better your chances (but that’s true even if you opt out of KDP Select).
  • Another benefit of frequent downloads is more exposure through customers-also-bought lists. Kindle Unlimited naturally helps books that help themselves through good content and marketing.
  • More downloads also leads to more reviews. Some books won’t get additional downloads, so none of this will help those books (but for those books, opting out might not be any better). Kindle Unlimited puts a premium on writing the best book you can.
  • The best benefit of more downloads is for books with excellent word-of-mouth potential. Here is where Kindle Unlimited can really favor fantastic books. Succeed in getting frequent downloads in Kindle Unlimited, and if you also have great content, you may see a very significant long-term growth through word-of-mouth sales. Many books don’t succeed in generating word-of-mouth recommendations, but those that do can really take off.
  • If your book is perceived as a great value, Kindle Unlimited subscribers might be attracted to your book. Since they can get any book free, they aren’t shopping for the cheapest book—they’re shopping for the best value. Suddenly, a higher price seems like a better value (since it’s free, why not read higher-priced books?). In addition to price, they will look at the length of the book and the quality (it could be that longer books are a better value; time will tell). But with a higher list price comes higher expectations, and your book better deliver on those heightened expectations to thrive in the long run.
  • If you have a great book that customers want to keep, the customer might want to keep it permanently. The customer can only store up to 10 borrowed books on the device. When a customer cancels Kindle Unlimited, all the books disappear. So the customer might want to buy your book—as a sale through Kindle, or as a paperback. This way, in time, outstanding books may actually sell two copies to some customers (once as a KDP Select borrow, once as a sale).
  • Thousands of customers are using the free 30-day trial. When the trial ends, some will cancel their subscriptions. Now suppose they downloaded your book during the free trial period and wished they could continue reading it. Well, they can. Now they just have to buy it. Many books will actually earn two royalties in the first couple of months of the program because of this.
  • Like any tool, the tool itself might not have much value to you, but if you do effective marketing with the tool, it can pay significant dividends. Kindle Unlimited seems like it may be just like such tools. The more sales you drive through effective marketing, the more sales rank, reviews, and word-of-mouth sales can help your book. The quality of the book and packaging are important, too. For example, try using the #Free with #KindleUnlimited hashtags, or look for Facebook groups specifically for Kindle Unlimited, or show parents what a value Kindle Unlimited can be for their kids. Where there is a will…

Remember, just because it can improve sales doesn’t mean it will. Some books will thrive in the program, but others won’t.

Even if the KDP Select per-borrow royalty goes way down (it’s usually around $2), if you have more customers than usual, it may be a fair trade-off. Additional readers gives you:

  • Long-term potential for valuable word-of-mouth sales.
  • Improved sales rank.
  • More reviews, on average.
  • Greater exposure.

If your book enjoys any of these benefits, in the long run, it may even be worth staying in KDP Select even if your net income diminishes slightly.

And if you opt out, there’s no guarantee that will turn out to be any better. But it could be, so let’s look at the other side of the coin.

Could Kindle Unlimited Hurt Your Sales?

  • Well, if you choose to opt out KDP Select, any customers in Kindle Unlimited may be reluctant to buy your book when there are 600,000 others that they can get for free. But for the remaining bullet points, let me focus on how staying in KDP Select may actually hurt your sales, or where opting out may be the better option.
  • The biggest drawback of KDP Select still is, and always has been, exclusivity. You’re not allowed to publish the e-book edition of your book (or one similar to it) on Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, or anywhere else. Some books sell primarily on Amazon; those books will probably be better off in KDP Select than not. Other books sell 25% or more through other sales channels; for these books, it’s possible that exclusivity isn’t worth the sacrifice. Though Kindle Unlimited may squeeze Kindle’s competition, reducing the potential to draw sales from other channels.
  • If your book doesn’t thrive in Kindle Unlimited, your sales rank will slip and that will in turn deter sales somewhat. You can actually get a few downloads every day and slip in sales rank because so many other KDP Select books are getting more downloads than you are. This will in turn diminish your prospects for reviews and word-of-mouth sales.
  • If Kindle Unlimited readers perceive that your book doesn’t have enough value, that may deter sales. They may deem that the price is too low (it would take 10 99-cent books just to make the $9.99 per month fee pay off), maybe the book is too short, or maybe they will scrutinize the Look Inside and pass on anything that doesn’t seem to be high in quality.
  • One of the bad things about freebies may be true of Kindle Unlimited: When customers can get something for free, they don’t always read the description or check the Look Inside carefully (or even at all!). Then they leave bad reviews because the book didn’t turn out as they had imagined. Sometimes bad reviews actually improve sales (especially, when it’s clear the customer made a mistake), but sometimes they do hurt sales, too. You won’t have to worry about customers hoarding books and not reading them, though, because they can only store 10 on the device.
  • If you’re used to stimulating sales through promotional strategies—freebies, 99-cent prices, BookBub, etc.—these marketing tools may become less effective. What will a Kindle Unlimited customer care about freebies or low prices? They can get $9.99 books for free!
  • Series authors are impacted by Kindle Unlimited. It may be wise to remove the omnibus from KDP Select (but you’re probably still bound by the exclusivity terms if your individual volumes are in KDP Select). The omnibus will lose its effectiveness with Kindle Unlimited readers (though this may help the sales ranks of your individual volumes). If you ordinarily make the first volume free or 99 cents, or price all of your books at 99 cents, this strategy may not be appealing to Kindle Unlimited readers looking for a good value. Maybe a higher price would appeal to these readers more. (Or if all your volumes are cheap, maybe it does make sense to leave the omnibus in KDP Select—that volume may offer enough value to receive a download, if the individual volumes don’t.)
  • Mismatched value could lead to frustrated buyers and negative reviews. For example, if you take a book that’s really not perceived to be worth more than $2.99 and raise its price to $6.99, customers hoping to get a $6.99 value may be disgruntled. Higher-priced books are only favored if they deliver on the higher expectations.
  • If you have a long book and customers aren’t enjoying the beginning enough to reach 10%, you could potentially receive a bunch of downloads, but never see the royalties. More than ever, it’s important to engage the reader immediately and hold the reader’s attention.

Additional Notes

  • If your book wasn’t selling to begin with, Kindle Unlimited probably isn’t the answer to your sales woes. It could be the cover, the blurb, the Look Inside, reviews (maybe even the good ones), the idea, the lack of marketing… Don’t expect Kindle Unlimited to be that magic wand you were hoping for.
  • It doesn’t make any sense to compare July, 2014 to June, 2014, i.e. to compare your income with Kindle Unlimited to your income the way things used to be. The way things used to be just isn’t an option. What you really want to know is, will you be better off in KDP Select, or out of it?

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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#Free #ebook w/ #KindleUnlimited (**New** Twitter Amazon Hashtags for Kindle Unlimited) #AmazonCart

Kindle Unlimited Hashtags

Amazon recently launched Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service where customers can access 600,000 titles (including all 500,000 KDP Select tiles plus 100,000 more from small presses, with some popular series like Harry Potter in the mix) for $9.99 per month. A customer can borrow up to 10 books on the device (which doesn’t have to be a Kindle) before needing to return one to make room for another. Authors receive a royalty in the form of a KDP Select borrow for each Kindle Unlimited download after the customer passes the 10% mark. You can read more about Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Like it or hate it, neither praising nor complaining are marketing strategies. If you enroll in KDP Select, you want to find marketing strategies that help you benefit from the program; if you opt out of KDP Select, the presence of Kindle Unlimited still impacts how to market your book effectively. Adapting to change and finding effective marketing strategies are proactive ways to reap benefits while others idly watch, wait, and remark.

For example, you could be using hashtags to help with your Twitter marketing. If you have already built a large fan base and release a new book, Twitter can help with that, but some authors use Twitter effectively to do far more than that. For one, you can use hashtags effectively. For another, if you become an active, appreciated member of a Twitter network, you can garner much support for your occasional promotions in the form of retweets, for example.

Here are some hashtags that you might be using to market your KDP Select e-books in the Kindle Unlimited era:

  • Hashtag #KindleUnlimited. Make it easy for Kindle Unlimited customers to see that they can get your Kindle e-book for free.
  • Hashtag #Free. Like the example I made with the title of this article, you can combine these hashtags (#Free with #Kindle Unlimited). You might also include Reg. $5.99 (or whatever the list price is).
  • Hashtag #AmazonCart. This new feature helps Twitter customers quickly add your Kindle e-book to their carts to buy later, and offers you the ability to monitor the effectiveness of your promotional tweets. Click here to learn more.

You don’t want to spam your followers to death, but if you learn to use Twitter effectively, build a following, and become a respected member of your network, it is possible to use Twitter effectively to promote your e-book.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Marketing Children’s Books with Kindle Unlimited

Childrens Reading

Marketing Opportunity for Children’s Authors

Children’s authors—and to some extent, even tween and teen authors—have the potential to use Kindle Unlimited as a marketing opportunity.

There are many parents, teachers, educators, and librarians who would love kids to READ much more.

Kindle Unlimited is an incredible value for parents:

  • Bedtime stories. Kindle Unlimited gives access to a huge collection of children’s stories, far more than can be stored on a bookshelf. Some of those children’s book are pretty expensive, too, but Kindle Unlimited offers an amazing selection for $9.99 per month. Kids will love the opportunity to read along on a Kindle Fire (or another device) as the parent operates the device.
  • Reading fluency. From elementary school to young adults, access to tens of thousands of children’s, tween, and teen stories for $9.99 per month is a great opportunity to encourage kids to develop a love for reading by finding books that interest them. Get a book they didn’t like? No problem: Find another! The more they read, the more fluent they will become (it helps not only improve English, but also writing and vocabulary—years of practice will be valuable on standardized exams), and the more they will want to read as they get older. Help make reading a habit.
  • Educational resource. Need homework help? Need more practice? Want to learn more about a topic that caught your interest in school? Kindle Unlimited provides access to numerous Kindle educational titles that can help with learning, study aids, and nonfiction reading. Parents can learn more, too, or discover books that help them teach particular skills. All that at your fingertips for $9.99 per month.
  • Access to a library on your fingertips. Would you rather have your child searching on the internet—where they can find lord knows what—for school help, or would you rather have access to a huge library of published e-books for $9.99 per month? You can check out up to 10 titles at a time. Then simply return one title to check out another.

If every parent takes full advantage of Kindle Unlimited there would be an astronomical amount of downloads (thereby diminishing the KDP Select download royalty). But many parents won’t realize the full potential, and there are many people subscribing to Kindle Unlimited who aren’t parents or who aren’t subscribing for the benefit of their kids. There also is a Restrictions paragraph in the terms of use. Amazon didn’t specify a number, but if you go overboard downloading books, that paragraph might become applicable.

But Kindle Unlimited is an amazing resource for parents. I’m certainly subscribing.

Authors of children’s, tween, and even teen books can take advantage of this. Show parents what a value this is for their children, with examples of how they can use it well. Emphasize how it can help with reading and learning.

The more parents who use Kindle Unlimited to help build reading fluency or improve learning, the more children’s authors in KDP Select who will be benefiting from more downloads through Kindle Unlimited.

You have the opportunity to gain visibility among parents while advertising the educational benefits of Kindle Unlimited. Surely, many parents will check out your children’s books for helping them see the benefits.

All authors enrolled in KDP Select need to be thinking about possible benefits of Kindle Unlimited for their books, and striving to find marketing strategies to help realize these benefits. For example, if you’re a flash fiction author, you want to advertise to flash fiction readers how they can get a great value from Kindle Unlimited.

It’s not just KDP Select books or just indie books. There are 100,000 books from various (mostly small publishers) in addition to 500,000 books from KDP Select. Harry Potter and many other books that your kids may want to read are in the mix.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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