Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why Writers Should Embrace Amazon-Kindle

Recently heard around the virtual water cooler someone complaining that Amazon/Kindle cheats its authors. How? They drop your ebook price without telling you; they do it when their bot (function of the hunter robot) finds you have reduced the price and are selling it elsewhere.

Not to quibble...OK, to quibble... LOOK at it this way when thinking that Amazon is out to rob you of YOUR royalties. First off, no one ever in life -- at least not since the advent of the Kindle -- ever, ever offered an author as sweet a deal as 35% on every unit sold PLUS worldwide distribution on a platform you do not have to pay a dime for.

I know some small presses have offered sweet deals of 50-50, 40-60. 30-70 but typically such deals earn you zip and typically the percentage is weighted in the favor of the publisher who is going to send you royalty statement six months down the road to tell you that you have earned out nada, zip because all your heavy hardcover books set at 25 bucks did not actually sell so much as they shipped....and shipped BACK -- returns. Or you were selling a 15 or 16 dollar book and your realized a royalty after six months of $63 -- enough to buy that tuna sandwich you'd been eyeing for those six weeks and splurge on a day at the movies.

With kindle the number of returns is negligible, you do not wait six weeks to a year to see sales figures (in fact, these are not ROYALTIES but sales figures). We have this archaic notion that royalties--something owed us for months--is the proper term here, but NO....this is not an Advance Against Royalties circumstance and never was.

I thank God I can sell a book today at 99c and 1.99 and realize 35% on each sale. I respect Amazon's reasoning that if a book is going to be priced that low, for THEM to make any sort of pennies on it, that the 35-65 split has to kick in. If I do not wish to play that game, I do not lower the price. I have NEVER in 45 titles up on Kindle EVER had Kindle lower a single book price on me. Why is that not happening to me but happening to other now distraught authors?

Think about it. I control the pricing on all those books. I do not have these books on Smashwords or B&N for a lesser price. I understood from the get go that if I place one of my books in any other ebook store for a lower price that Amazon will find me (bot me) and drop my ebook price to the same or lower on Kindle. I never had any problem with that, and in fact decided from the get-go to associate myself so closely with Kindle-Amazon, to be a real partner, that my books are Kindle Exclusive and Kindle App friendly. I also put no restrictions on my books--lending or otherwise.

Earlier I had about 13 or 14 titles with Fictionwise. I got those rights back. There may be a title here or there still up for sale somewhere else but in the main as no other ebook stores are reducing my prices, only one doing so is me, myself, and I. I drop first in a series to 99c or 1.99 and place the other ten or five or four up at a price that will garner the 70% to me.

Now when in life has any author on the planet ever gotten a sweeter deal than 70 percent of each unit sold, a platform/display space/ worldwide distribution/the functionality to create buzz/timely payment/bookkeeping at no extra cost (and even if there are hidden costs, you are still the recipient of the BEST deal a Publisher has ever offered an Author in the history of book-making?

DoEs It MaKe SeNsE?
I feel as though I have my cake and can eat it too.

Just dropped my Vampire Dreams down to 99c....first in a four-book series, and all the other three are above 2.99 -- so I see the 99c as enticement and investment to get all four selling well. I JUST made this drop in price yesterday and I was something like 37,000 in store NOWHERE with the title, but today, WOW...I am now #71 in some category in top 100 and 17,000 something in store paid.

Now my job is to get the word out that for a "limited time ONLY" this book is up for sale at 99c. The terms "" REALLY seem to have an effect as I have dropped other books to 99c without the fanfare or the TERMS of Sale, and people, it would seem, have a Pavlovian response to those simple words-- Sale, Limited Time Only.

Anyhow, onward and upward. My next duty is to spread the word of its now being #61 on said list. Need to go back to check that list....was it horror or suspense or urban fantasy....I think horror but unsure. I got to excited, I dropped my teeth -- and I do not even have dentures (yet).

Please leave a comment; love to hear from you. What has been your experience in this area? How do you feel about amazon? about ebooks, ePricing?

RoboWriter Rob Walker
Vampire Dreams. Brain Stem, Floaters


Jen Blood said...

Thanks for this explanation of terms, Rob. My novel will be out in the fall, and I am looking into the myriad of ways to promote, price, and sell with a combination of excitement and apprehension. It does seem to me that Amazon has leveled the playing field admirably for authors in providing an opportunity for us to reach a global readership and see a profit. For authors to then criticize Amazon for approaching the endeavor from a business standpoint by ensuring that Kindle prices remain competitive in a fierce marketplace seems a little naive. But that could just be me.
Congratulations on the success of your Limited Time Only sale - I'm off to pick up a copy of the book now!

Debra St. John said...

I think the world of electronic books is growing, so whatever way publishers and authors can make that work and get books out to the reading masses is fine with me.

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

I don't see how or why amazon, kindle, would benifit from ripping off authors.Tthe books are wide open, unless they not recording all the sales, which again, would be more hassle for them then not.
But I only have two books there, and they don't sell, no I matter what I do I might get a sale a month, it's pathetic lol.
I suppose I don't have twenty or thirty books and years of building a reader ship. And my writing has been described "defies categorizing" which is probably a nice way of saying, it has no market. Or, "the author challenges the reader all the way through." which is probably code for, it sucks, lol. that's ok. If it sounds like I'm whining, I'm not. I write what I want, when I want, and how want, It just seem my readership is such an odd mix of folks that attempting to target seems impossible. I'll take what readers I can get. It's a game of numbers and endurance as much as anything else anyway. I didn't do it for the money, although some would be nice.
I'm not worried about amazon ripping me off, (I do know some writers that are.)That's the last thing I'm worried about. I'm still buillding my library, my platform, my readership and amazon has given me the tools to do that and for that I'm really grateful.
It's going to be interesting see what amazon does with the e-book publishing indistry, it isn't finished morphing, that for sure.I can't wait to see what's next I'm very interested in seeing what energy's (if any) they plan to put into some of the books and writers just starting out. little worried about that, since that's me. Thinking createspace and lulu may end up in that dust box in the attic. You know one.

Rob Walker said...

Kevin -- you may want to locate my thread on KDP -- the BIG ONE that has had 68,000 or so visitors and has gone to 100 pgs. I jsut started Thread #2, went back and posted up the FIRST post from Thread #1 -- to reign it in. LOTSA good advice there about getting on the marketing/PR horse for you ebooks.

JEN -- thanks for your remarks as well. Very insightful, my friend.

Debra - as always looking on the bright side. Thanks for that. We can only hope.

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

I have been there Rob,(been a while, and I've already done or doing most of what I read there) and as soon as I finish up this book I'm writing now I'm going to take a break (always say that and never do) spend the summer months climbing back on that "PR horse"
I'm patient when it comes to writing, but very impatient when it comes to everything else, ha.
Konrath posted a blog at his place, that was really good, "why aren't my books selling" (or something like that.
pretty sure I don't act like an "ass clown" lol (maybe sometimes)
And I know my stuffs not great,but I've read worse that's selling better. "It takes time." Like a year, maybe more, and that's the thing that's hard for me, personaly because I'm not an old man, but I'm not young any more eithier.
just for grins
my word verification word today is "rearope"
Thaaaat's just great, lol

Morgan Mandel said...

The Amazon people are withing their rights to enforce the rules they've set.

They don't want to be undersold somewhere else, and that's part of the publisher's/self-publisher's agreement with them.

If the publisher goes back on that agreement, it should be enforced. Like Rob says, Amazon is already affording a great deal to publishers and their doing so should not be abused.

Morgan Mandel

SBJones said...

From what I have been able to gather, most of the people complaining about being ripped off, are the people who jumped into this head first and did not take the time to understand the business.

I recall one person saying they had sold hundreds if not thousands of books and not seen a dime. On further investigation I asked if he realized his publisher pays out every 6 months.

Even eBooks if offered through an extended distribution channel can take months even quarters of years to see the royalties

It sort of comes down to doing things yourself. Every time you add someone to the mix like a middle man company createspace or smashwords ect. It becomes one more variable outside of your control with their own agenda.

Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

Good advice, Rob. As always.