Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I've Been a Bad Boy

Kindle Unlimited
I have been away for too long from this blog. I can throw more excuses out than an NFL wide receiver caught breaking the law (again), but for what purpose?

The truth is, I am back again. I have been writing like mad to hit my self-imposed deadlines (and mostly failing, to be honest). I am in a small lull in writing the rough draft for the seventh installment of the Jake Monday Chronicles (while the 6th installment is getting edited). Therefore, here I am tossing out parenthetical expressions like they are going out of business.

So, here is my update. Mad, Mad Monday will be published as soon as I get it back, make corrections and re-writes, format it, and upload it to the mighty 'Zon. The final book in the series, Monday Bloody Monday will be published in September along with Volume 2 of the Monday Collection (which will contain parts 4 through 7 of the series). Before Christmas, I will publish an Omnibus Edition called Monday: All Week, which will include all 7 installments plus tons of extras (I will brag that Monday: All Week will contain 10% more week!) like an origin story, "the making of Jake Monday," deleted scenes, and a companion story, the first in a series of shorts called Monday Missions. It will be busting at its seams at almost 1,000 pages!

Recently, Amazon unveiled their new program for Prime Members, called Kindle Unlimited. I have heard a ton of great stuff about it so far from readers. Power readers love it. Current Prime members see it as a huge improvement over one book a month from their Kindle Select collection. It is the same collection, now there are no limits. This makes getting Prime ($9.99/month) sound like an even better deal than ever. Amazon really understands how to capture and retain customers.

I have been hearing a totally different song sung by independent authors. For us, Kindle Unlimited (or KU, as we call it), is still an unknown. We understand how it works, but the big question will be on the long tail, how effective it will be at providing us more exposure AND more income. Some estimate that volume will increase, and Amazon has prepared to add funds to our shared kitty, but what happens when the volume increases past Amazon's ability to keep up with the increased demand? Others are worried about a dip in normal sales as more potential "power readers" see a way to make an immediate impact on their bottom line by becoming a Prime Member.

From what many are observing so far, the KU "borrows" effect ranking almost immediately. This creates more buzz for books that Prime Members are excited about reading on their Kindle Unlimited account, which is awesome. However, the potential issue is that to break into the top 5,000 now, an author whose books may not be in Kindle Select will have an even more difficult time. Of course, this pushes many authors to re-think the way they go to market.

Do we give Amazon exclusivity to our product offerings? (I will mention that many of the traditionally published books in KU do not have to maintain that exclusivity, but who am I to rock that particular boat?) Do we abandon our loyal fans that find our books on their favorite reading devices on Barnes & Noble, or Android, or Apple, or Kobo?

For many authors, this is not even an option. The increase in visibility and income from KU will not replace the diversity and volume they are experiencing by having their product in several (if not all) stores. All eggs/one basket is the common cautionary refrain I hear most often.

On the other hand, some authors already have given Amazon their all. Some have multiple product offerings, often under different brands (pen names), with some in and some out of the Kindle Select program. These authors and publishers stand to net the bounty (or downfall) of this fledgeling program.

For the author who does not have all that much traction other than Amazon (like me, for example), will it be worthwhile to pull out of the other stores and abandon diversity for exclusivity even if it is only for the first three months (the length of the contractual obligation to participate in the Kindle Select program)? Some might say: "Go for it! What do you have to lose?" Others may caution: "Don't be a follower. Exclusivity is the wrong move. Don't cave to the big bully on the block with all the best toys."

Both are good advice, but my retort is simply: I am looking at it from all angles. I am not making any rash decisions. I have three titles in Select now. The final three installments of the Jake Monday Chronicles will be in Select until just before Christmas. My only fantasy title available to date is currently in Select. You can read it for free if you are a Prime Member. It is also on sale this week for 99 cents if you are not a Prime Member.

I will wait and see, monitor and observe, calculate and weigh my options. Maybe by Christmas I will have a better marketing strategy other than "wait and see."

How about you? If you are a reader, what do you think about this new program? If you are a writer/publisher, how is it impacting you?