What Makes Shopping for Books so Wonderful? #PoweredByIndie

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Background image from ShutterStock.

SHOPPING FOR BOOKS

Consider the following Tale of Two Stores.

You walk into a department store. What do you see? Sony. Levi’s. Apple. Nike. LazyBoy. Everything is branded. You’re in a big business. Many of the products for sale were manufactured by big businesses. Ultimately, people were involved at some stage: design, manufacture, assembly, shipping, merchandising, advertising deals, etc. Much of the work may also have been automated.

Now you walk into a bookstore. Obviously, you see thousands of books. And there are big brands around, if you look closely enough to see the names of the popular publishing houses. Yet the experience is vastly different.

Most of the books were conceived of and written by, to a large extent, a single human being. You’re surrounded by thousands of such works. They share unique experiences. They store knowledge. They weave words together in unique ways.

Shopping for books, and reading, these are very personal experiences.

Think about that the next time you’re browsing for a book to read.

Even if it’s not in a bookstore. At Amazon, for example, when you’re searching for a book in your pajamas, you have millions of books at your fingertips. And each work offers a personal experience for you.

Not all of the books are published by the big publishing houses. Many are published by small, even family run publishing houses.

Well over a million are published by indie authors. When a single author handles not just the writing, but also plays the supervisory roles of cover design judge, editing overseer, interior design judge, marketing coordinator, etc. (perhaps even doing much of this work independently), the experience is arguably even more personal.

I’ve read several indie books lately, and I enjoy that personal touch. From unique chapter headers to the little thank-you notes in the back of the book, I appreciate how their personal touches spread from cover to cover and even show on the product page (not just in the author’s biography, but in the product description and selection of editorial content).

Many indie authors have learned, through experience or by necessity or by motivation (or probably a combination of all of these), a great deal about marketing. One of the points that many authors agree on is that the author himself or herself can become a very strong brand.

That’s because readers aren’t just looking for a story or knowledge.

Readers like to feel a personal connection with the author to some extent. Learning more about the author, the person, the man or woman behind the words, even little personal notes… all of these things can help to enhance such a personal connection. (So, authors, you have the chance to begin this personal experience in your marketing.)

Shopping for books and reading can be personal experiences.

A book is much, much more than a mere product.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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

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2017 Writing Goals #PoweredByIndie

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Image from ShutterStock

2017 WRITING GOALS

I’m trying to focus on my main writing goal for 2017:

DEVOTE MORE TIME FOR WRITING!

I think it’s a pretty good New Year’s resolution.

And I’m off to a good start, wearing out my seat cushion and rubbing off the letters from my keyboard as I pound away.

Mostly about physics for now, as I’m wrapping up a BIG project, but I have many writing plans for 2017, and I’m anxious to start on them.

I also hope to spend more time on my blogs in the near future.

A couple of other related goals include:

  • read even more indie books
  • find more time to write reviews

I have a lot of specific goals, and timelines for projects. Goals and timelines help me be productive and stay motivated.

But I’m trying to focus on the main three, posted above.

What are your writing goals for 2017?

Remember to use the #PoweredByIndie hashtag when you post about them on social media.

Amazon is sponsoring this hashtag and supporting indies.

I was lucky, as KDP mentioned my main goal (to devote more time for writing) on their Twitter site.

Check out Amazon KDP on Facebook and Twitter. You can see other great writing goals, and they often share links to valuable publishing tips.

Amazon also has indie New Year’s stories to share: http://www.amazon.com/newyearnewstories

HAPPY 2017!

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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

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Kindle Unlimited above Half a Penny per Page 3 Months in a Row!

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Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED

The Kindle Unlimited KENP per-page rate for December, 2016 is $0.00524.

That makes three months in a row that it stayed above half a penny per page.

Amazingly, the per-page rate didn’t drop during the holiday season. That’s great news.

At the same time, the KDP Select Global Fund has risen from $16.3M to $16.8M.

It’s a nice trend that the global fund continues to rise, while the per-page rate is holding steady at a plateau above half a penny per page.

Copyright © 2017

Chris McMullen

Amazon KDP Supports Indie Authors—and You Can, too, through New Year’s Resolutions #PoweredByIndie

Book Butterfly

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WRITING RESOLUTIONS

First, a little history: Amazon KDP celebrated Indie Publishing Month a few months back. At the time, they featured a special landing page for indie books, and encouraged authors to use the #PoweredByIndie hashtag with relevant social media posts.

With the new year, Amazon Kindle is again supporting indie authors. This time, it’s through New Year’s writing resolutions.

For one, Amazon created a landing page for indie authors’ writing resolutions and recommendations for indie books (it’s worth exploring, as the page includes many books and audio books geared toward writing and publishing):

http://www.amazon.com/newyearnewstories

Also check out the Amazon KDP Facebook page this month (or any month, as you can often find publishing tips there):

http://www.facebook.com/KindleDirectPublishing

Finally—and this is where YOU come in—Amazon is encouraging indie authors to use the #PoweredByIndie hashtag on relevant social media posts, namely your own writing resolutions and indie book recommendations.

This is a great time to show your support for indie publishing.

  • What are your writing resolutions for the new year?
  • Which indie books would you recommend?

Help readers discover #GreatContent (another cool hashtag) among the world of indie books.

HAPPY 2017!

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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

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Kindle Unlimited Per-page Rates for 2016

ku-per-page-2016

Kindle Unlimited rates (in dollars) for KENP pages read in 2016

WHAT DID KINDLE UNLIMITED PAY FOR PAGES READ IN 2016?

In 2016, Kindle Unlimited began by paying just over $0.004 per KENP page read, but finished strong, paying over $0.005 per KENP page read in the final months, showing a steady increase over the last four months.

Here is a breakdown by month, from January, 2016 thru November, 2016 (in dollars):

January 0.00411
February 0.00479
March 0.004779
April 0.004957
May 0.004686
June 0.004925
July 0.00481
August 0.004575
September 0.00497
October 0.00519
November 0.005375

The KDP Select Global Fund showed continued growth throughout the year (the following figures are in millions of dollars):

January 15
February 14
March 14.9
April 14.9
May 15.3
June 15.4
July 15.5
August 15.8
September 15.9
October 16.2
November 16.3

This means that Amazon is paying approximately $186,000,000 in royalties for Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) pages read in 2016, just for KDP Select books (the traditionally published books in Kindle Unlimited evidently receive a separate payout), and that’s on top of the royalties that they receive for sales.

Actually, Amazon paid even more money because on top of the $186,000,000 they also pay All-Star bonuses (when I inquired, KDP informed me that the All-Star bonuses are paid separate from the global fund).

Paying nearly $200 million in royalties for borrows (primarily) through Kindle Unlimited, this is a very significant share of the royalties paid for e-books.

The KDP Select Global Fund continues to rise (now over $16 million per month), and the per-page rate has also steadily risen the past four months. This data suggests that Kindle Unlimited is growing stronger. Of course, the number of e-books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited also continues to rise (across most categories) significantly.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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

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Kindle Unlimited Back Above Half a Penny Per Page

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Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED

I remember, many months ago, when the Kindle Unlimited per-page rate first dropped below half a penny per page. This was early after the switch to paying for pages read.

There were many prophecies that it would continue to plunge deeper and deeper and would soon be worthless.

Yet many months later, it has again exceeded half a penny per page (though barely). Not only that, the KENP read rate has held fairly steady for eight months.

All the while, the KDP Select Global Fund has climbed up to $16.2 million, though it had been several million lower when the transition to pages read was made.

Both are signs that Kindle Unlimited is thriving.

Update:  If you’re looking for the exact figure, it is $0.005189724 per KENP read.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Self-Publishing Education & Textbooks on Kindle via Amazon KDP

Pattern Puzzles

KINDLE FOR EDUCATION & TEXTBOOK AUTHORS

Amazon recently added a quote from me to their KDP website for Education & Textbooks. Check it out here:

https://kdp.amazon.com/edu

(Thank you, Amazon.)

I started out self-publishing print books with CreateSpace in 2008. Back then, Kindle wasn’t a very good fit for most textbooks.

Textbooks tend to have many pictures, equations, bullet points, and other kinds of rich formatting, which makes the transition from print to Kindle a challenge.

Amazon’s solution to this problem is the Kindle Textbook Creator.

The main benefit of the Kindle Textbook Creator is convenience. It’s actually PDF friendly, and preserves the layout of your print book.

It’s good for textbooks and other books with many images or rich formatting. (It’s not good for a novel.)

The trade-off for convenience is that since one printed page fits on the Kindle screen, and since many customers have a fairly small screen, the e-book is designed to work with pinch-and-zoom, and it won’t be available on all devices.

There are other factors to consider, too. For example, using the Kindle Textbook Creator allows you to embed audio or video, which is great for educational books (but these features will only be available to customers who read your book on a third-generation or newer Kindle Fire device).

I have a free article on using the Kindle Textbook Creator:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/how-to-use-amazons-new-kindle-textbook-creator-tutorial/

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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

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Indie Author Earnings: Should You Be Worried?

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Background image from ShutterStock.

INDIE AUTHOR EARNINGS (3rd Quarter, 2016)

The October, 2016 edition of the Author Earnings Report is out, and the surprising activity has sparked much speculation and debate.

Whereas the indie share of the e-book market has steadily climbed in the past, this last quarter of 2016 has shown a marked drop.

As a physicist, when I look at this data, what I see are several data points of continued growth, and a single point of decline. Thinking statistically, one data point isn’t significant.

These data points are a little different, though, when you consider that each “data point” consists of 3 months of data (it’s a quarterly report, roughly).

So the combined sales for three consecutive months show indie author earnings losing a significant share of the e-book market.

Three months is a long time in the e-book publishing industry.

And we’re heading into the big fourth quarter.

So if we could learn anything from the data, or if we could uncover a reason behind the drop, we might be able to use that information to make smarter publishing and marketing decisions this coming quarter.

Still, it’s a big IF, and the information begins with one data point. It’s not much to go on. But it’s the reason for ample speculation and debate on the topic.

ANY IDEAS?

If you simply read the comments on the Indie Author Report, or read any of the many articles that have been written on the topic, you’ll encounter possible explanations.

When I looked at the first graph of the Author Earnings Report, what instantly caught my eye was significant growth in the earnings of Amazon published e-books. Amazon actually has its own imprints (which are by invitation only, last time I checked). For indie authors, you can publish with Amazon if you land a deal with Kindle Scout.

The Indie Author Earnings Report actually discusses this very point. According to the report, KindleFirst had several bestsellers during the quarter, and there appears to be improvement among most of the Amazon published e-books (on average). (By Amazon published, I don’t mean KDP, I mean Amazon’s imprints, Kindle Scout, etc.)

Personally, I think it’s good for Amazon’s imprints to be doing well. I’ve read some of their e-books myself, and so I know that there are good books in there.

Amazon seems to think long-term, and this why Amazon seems to place a premium on customer satisfaction. If Amazon published e-books take a larger share of the e-book market and if this improves overall customer satisfaction, then it would help Amazon maintain (perhaps even grow) its large customer base. Presently, Amazon published books are in limited supply, so you shouldn’t run for the hills worried that they will suddenly saturate and dominate the marketplace. Amazon published e-books have shown a more up-and-down behavior (compared to previous steady growth of the indie share) in the past, too, so we really need more data to see if this will simply drop back down or if it’s really a new trend.

Another thing I see is Kindle Unlimited. Over the past three months, Amazon paid out $45 million in royalties for pages read of KDP Select books. (That’s in addition to royalties for sales, it’s on top of whatever Amazon pays for Harry Potter and other traditionally published books in Select, and it’s in addition to the All-Star bonuses. The $45 million is for KDP Select books, which Harry Potter is not part of, and Amazon published books might also be separate from it, though this last point I’ve never inquired about or considered until recently.)

That $45 million (it was paid as $15 million per month) over the past quarter is significant, and it’s separate from royalties for sales. There are significant indie royalties in the KDP Select Global Fund.

And guess what: Amazon published e-books are part of Kindle Unlimited. So if Amazon published e-books start pulling in more customers, this is good for Kindle Unlimited (which has shown continued growth, with the Global Fund rising from $10 to $15 million per month over the past year or more, and with the payout holding fairly steady just under half a penny per page read).

BEST SELLERS

One thing to remember is that bestsellers hold a significant share of the marketplace. As bestselling e-books switch from indie to traditional to small publisher to Amazon imprints, each share of the e-book marketplace can show a big swing.

For the millions of e-books that aren’t bestsellers, or aren’t even close to being bestsellers (and I’m talking overall bestsellers, or major category bestsellers, not subcategories), what’s true of the e-book market on average is less likely to be directly related to your own sales.

Another thing I know from interacting with authors regularly over the years is that EVERY SINGLE MONTH there is a large group of indie authors loudly complaining about how sales or borrows have suddenly dropped off in dramatic fashion. No doubt you’ll hear the stories from such a group this month, too, only now it will be natural to try to tie it to the latest author earnings report.

If you happen to be seeing a drop this month, it could be completely unrelated to whatever else is going on in the e-book marketplace. It’s very common for sales to drop off after 30 days, after 90 days, or on one random month where the algorithm throws in one of its change-ups that suddenly affects your books.

The best thing is to keep writing, keep marketing, learn new ways to market, thing long-term, and try your best to stay positive and productive (which will be your advantage over anyone who doesn’t).

AMAZON IS ACTIVELY PROMOTING INDIES. YES, RIGHT NOW.

I can offer some proof of this point.

Visit www.amazon.com/poweredbyindie. This dedicated Amazon page (at least for October, 2016) says Powered By Indies at the top.

Amazon is sponsoring #PoweredByIndie and has invited indie authors to participate this October. (I received an email about this from Amazon, and if you subscribe to KDP announcements, you probably did, too.)

Over the past years, Amazon has regularly highlighted stories of successful indie authors.

It appears to me that Amazon wants many indie authors to succeed, and no doubt many indie books have benefited from Amazon’s internal marketing and Amazon’s algorithm. Amazon tweaks their internal marketing (like customers-also-bought lists) and their algorithm periodically (the latter is usually intended to improve customer satisfaction in various ways, and is sometimes responsive to attempts to manipulate the algorithm). Even if Kindle sales are down for indie authors overall this last quarter, I still see Amazon as being very indie-friendly (compared to the much of the publishing industry, Amazon is rolling out the red carpet to indies).

Again, this is just a single data point. I’ll wait for more data, and I’ll continue to focus on writing and marketing, which will serve me well regardless of the future of the e-book market.

Good luck!

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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

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Kindle Unlimited vs. the Naysayers #PoweredByIndie

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Images from ShutterStock

KINDLE UNLIMITED: CURRENT STATUS

Back in January, Kindle Unlimited had taken a little dip (which happens every holiday season), and the naysayer propaganda was in full force.

It’s now October. For the year 2016, Kindle Unlimited has beaten the propaganda.

  • Paying $0.00497 per KENP page read for September, Kindle Unlimited has been amazingly stable since February.  That’s 8 months strong.
  • Presently at a relative high of nearly half a penny per Kindle page read, the payout hasn’t suffered the continual drop that had been predicted. There have been some pleasant jumps, and not just with the September payout.
  • Here’s another cool fact: There are now 1.4 million books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. There were 860,000 books enrolled in February, 2015.  That’s an increase of over half a million books in 1.5 years (a 60% increase). Remember all the stories about indie authors running for the hills? The data shows otherwise.
  • My favorite number is $15.9 million. That’s the KDP Select Global Fund for September, 2016, another of many record highs. Amazon continues to pay more and more money in Kindle Unlimited royalties. Amazon will pay close to $200,000,000 in royalties for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows for the year 2016 (that’s aside from the royalties for the sales of those books; we’re just talking borrows), and that’s in addition to what they pay for All-Star bonuses (that’s right, the All-Star bonus isn’t taken out of the Global Fund, it’s paid in addition to it; I asked KDP about this specific point).

$200 million in royalties for Kindle Unlimited pages read in one year: That’s a significant share of the e-book market, and a rather indie-friendly share, too.

The continued rise in the KDP Select Global Fund and a fairly stable payout of just under a half-penny per page (though it will probably take its usual dip in December and January, and then likely return next February) suggest that the Kindle Unlimited customer base continues to grow. A great sign.

With 1.4 million books to choose from, with nearly 50,000 added just in the last 30 days, there is also growing competition for this customer base. The way to deal with the increased competition is to keep writing, try to write better, and try to improve your marketing skills. Competition is a good sign. It helps to bring in more customers, and it shows that this market is worth competing for. Good writing and marketable ideas help to provide good long-term prospects.

Celebrate Great Indie Writing with the #PoweredByIndie Hashtag in October, 2016

You can find some great indie writing in Kindle Unlimited, for example.

Many of those 1.4 million books were self-published. There are 100,000 or so traditionally published books in the mix, too; it’s not exclusive to self-publishing. But indie authors have really helped to make Kindle Unlimited strong enough to attract and grow a significant customer base.

Kindle Unlimited, in a strong way, really is #PoweredByIndie. But we must also give credit to Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Amazon’s imprints, and other great titles, too, to help attract customers. It’s great writing that attracts customers, regardless of how it is published.

Strive for great writing and good things are bound to happen.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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

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Celebrate Great Indie Writing #PoweredByIndie

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CELEBRATE GREAT INDIE BOOKS

Indie authors often support one another.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a giant company with huge marketing power took a month to highlight many wonderful indie authors?

We all know that Amazon gave indie authors a chance when they opened the self-publishing door. And Amazon occasionally highlights indie author success stories.

But now Amazon is actually celebrating great indie books for the month of October.

Check out Amazon’s Powered By Indie page:

  • Visit www.amazon.com/poweredbyindie.
  • Note the image text: Celebrating great writing.
  • There are 4905 Kindle e-books listed, including 154 new releases (and 5 coming soon).
  • Only about 1/3 are in Kindle Unlimited.

YOU, too, can celebrate great indie writing:

  • Use the #PoweredByIndie hashtag when you post related tweets (select stories will be shared).
  • This is a great time to post a list of indie books that you’ve enjoyed.
  • Or post what you love about being an indie author.
  • Share Amazon’s Powered By Indie webpage with other authors (and readers).
  • Read, read, read. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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

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