Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kindle Unlimited

One of the frustrating things about being a self-published author is seeing your sales fluctuate and not knowing why. We have data that tells us how many books we've sold and when, but not data that tells us why these facts are true. That part is a guess.

This month has been the worse month of sales for me thus far. Parts of July were pretty bad, too, but not as bad as this month. In total, I have sold exactly one book this entire month. It's better than nothing, but only slightly better.

I'm not going to tell you what I usually sell, but I have a free book and people download that a lot. Pretty consistently, I've been selling about 10% of the amount of free downloads I get. But for this month, for some reason, I sold a lot less than that.

I am working on writing my novels daily and I know part of the problem is that I haven't released anything new in over a year. But part of the reason for that is because when I release my next book, I will be releasing two books at once (or at least in a relatively short period of time.)

I'm not very good at writing book series. With the Greek myth books, they are stand alones that only mildly effect one another, so I can release them as I write them, but with most books, I need to write the entire series before I release any of the books or I will write myself into plot holes.

I thought I was done writing these books about 8 months ago, but then I showed the novels to my critique partners and their advice basically equated to "rewrite both of them", so now, here I am, starting from scratch with these two novels. I also plan to go through another round of critiques before I publish and send the stories to my editor. All in all, it will take me at least a few more months before they are done.

Anyway, it might be a coincidence, but I noticed that my drop in sales occurred around the same time as Kindle Unlimited happened. I get that if it's what caused it. Who wants to buy a book that costs 1/3 of their subscription, when they can get many more books than that with their subscription!

So after weeks of thought, I have decided to take down Medusa's Desire from everywhere except for Amazon and enroll it in Kindle Unlimited. You can officially download it for "free" with kindle unlimited, in fact, as of yesterday. (Thank you Smashwords for being so quick to take my books down from all those sites! It makes me sad to do this to you because you were so cooperative!) I was selling virtually nothing at the other sites anyway.

But I did it with a heavy heart, I will admit. Part of being a self-published author is enjoying the fact that you are free and in control of what happens to your novels. So therefore, I'm going to be pretty reluctant about throwing all my eggs in one (Amazon) basket. It feels like I am giving the reins of my career over to them. Because as they showed with Kindle Unlimited, they can change everything in a short period of time.

I don't even know for sure if Kindle Unlimited caused this. I don't know how many people are using Kindle Unlimited. (I know that as a reader it sounds like a wonderful deal to me and I am thinking about using it, which is weird and gives me conflicting feelings inside.) I also don't know how many people are actually going to read ten percent of my book.

It's kind of hard on the ego, worrying about that. When I make a sale, that's all I have to worry about. Someone bought my book and even though I'd like them to read it, even if they don't, at least they gave me money for it!

Are they going to treat my book like a lot of them treat my Pandora's Mistake novel? It doesn't bother me, but I know a lot of people download Pandora's Mistake just because it's free and never read it.

But when it's my paid book and the only way I can get income, it sort of does bother me. Will people even be motivated to read it if they don't feel like they had to spend that much money on it? Will they get bored before they reach 10% and I'll never see any of the money?

On Amazon's part, I think they're being genius by doing this. I think they're going to make a lot of money with Kindle Unlimited.

But what will it do to me? Will it help to enroll at all? Will it hurt me because my book is no longer available on Barnes and Noble or Itunes?

And it makes me want to write more short stories. After all, if you write a short enough story, then pretty much they only have to turn one page and they've already read 10% of your book.

Being a self-published author is a lot about experimentation. This is my latest experiment in publishing.

I know a lot of you don't want to try this, but seeing how bad my sales were this month, I am willing to be the guinea pig.

And I hope to tell you how it's going later. (But I might not mention it again if things go bad. That's not exactly what you look forward to admitting to in a blog.) I won't have maps and charts and numbers the way some authors do, but I will have a general idea of whether or not it's helping anything.

So how do you feel about Kindle Unlimited?