by Todd

Why I’m leaving Amazon’s KDP Select program.

July 22, 2014 in Blog, For Writers by Todd

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On Friday, Amazon launched a new service called “Kindle Unlimited.” It’s a subscription service where, for $9.99 a month, a consumer can have access to over 600k Kindle titles, as well as their audio equivalents. You can get up to 10 books at a time. Authors who have titles enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select program (which allows for free promotions, inclusion in the lending library, countdown deals, and matchbook prices) had their titles automatically enrolled in the program on Friday.

I am not a publishing guru or pundit by any stretch of the imagination. I only know what works for me, so if you are looking for guidance on this new program, allow me to point you toward Chuck Wendig or Dave Gaughran.

That said, I’m writing this post to voice my opinion on the matter, as well as to outline a direction I’ve decided to take going forward.

Simply put: I opted out of KDP exclusivity on Saturday. After August 15th, A LIFE TRANSPARENT will no longer be a part of the program. THE LIMINAL MAN will follow in mid-September.

What does this mean for you?

It means that if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you will not be able to borrow those books for free. It also means that if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you will not be able to download my books for free.

Why?

Back in 2012, I enrolled my first novel in KDP Select because it wasn’t selling anywhere else. Upon re-release, ALT was initially available on Amazon and Smashwords—which also distributed to B&N, Sony, iTunes, Kobo, Diesel, etc. However, sales through all of those other channels were surpassed by Amazon. At the time, going exclusive with Amazon made sense.

The free promotions were working for other authors, so I gave them a try. I gave them a lot of tries. While they were successful in getting my novels into the hands of a LOT of readers, they were not successful in converting into new sales. For all the times ALT was downloaded, almost no one bought TLM despite significant hype, promotion, award nomination, and price experimentation.

This leads me to one of two conclusions: either all of those people read ALT and hated it, or they simply didn’t read it at all. Knowing how vocal people can be when they don’t like a book, and considering how few negative reviews of ALT there are on Amazon, I’m inclined to believe the latter: no one read it.

Other benefits of KDP Select (lending library, matchbook pricing, and countdown deals) have not yielded much better results. Although I haven’t compiled the metrics, I’m inclined to say that my two novels have been borrowed fewer than 20 times over the last two years.

Meanwhile, since the release of my second novel and the ULT series, I’ve heard from readers asking if they can get my work on the Nook. This is the risk of exclusivity with any retailer. Two years ago it made sense, because I had a year of sales data to show that my book wasn’t selling anywhere but Amazon.

Now things have changed.

Amazon’s free promotions are far less effective now, for starters. The way their algorithms have changed in the last two years has, in my opinion, completely negated the point of doing a free promotion. The other features never really had any bearing on my sales in the first place. In all honesty, I’ve been questioning the point of KDP Select for a while now, and this new service they’re offering has left a bad taste in my mouth.

As a consumer, it’s a great idea—all the eBooks and audio books I could ever want for $10 a month? Sign me up. But as an author/publisher/content creator, it worries me.

The way authors/publishers who opt into the program are compensated for downloads is similar to how things have worked with the KDP Lending program. With KDP Lending, Amazon sets aside a pool of cash every month, and every author is compensated from that fund each time their books are borrowed. So far it’s worked out to be about $2 a download. That’s great if you’re selling a 99 cent eBook, and it has parity with the royalty for a $2.99 sale. But what if you’re selling a book that’s more? Yeah. You lose money. I mean, on one hand, it’s better than nothing at all, right? Sure it is.

Kindle Unlimited works sort of the same way. Amazon added an additional $800k to their fund for the month, topping it off at an even $2 million. If someone downloads a book through that program and reads more than 10% of it, the author will be compensated from the fund.

Here’s what worries me about that: The KDP Lending program was only available to Amazon Prime members. Kindle Unlimited is available to anyone with $10, month to month. Consider the potential influx of new subscribers downloading books—and look at the hit that fund is going to take. More readers and downloads will diminish the fund and reduce the amount paid per download. Suddenly authors are losing more than a couple of dollars per download on their eBooks.

Is there an argument to be made about volume? Absolutely. There’s a possibility that the number of downloads will make up for the lost revenue, but I think the authors who are already struggling to maintain consistency with their sales will have an even harder time trying to bridge that gap.

I know this is all conjecture, and that there’s really no true way of knowing how this is going to shake out until it actually does shake out. However, based on my previous experiences with KDP Select and the potential losses that could result from this new program, I think it’s time I part ways with the program for a while, get my books onto the shelves of other retailers again, and test the waters. Being able to re-launch these stories in new markets may garner a whole new crowd of readers. Who knows?

What I do know is that, for me, the benefits do not outweigh the cost right now. And if it doesn’t work out, I can always re-enroll. No harm, no foul.

So that’s why.

It doesn’t make sense to me anymore, and this new direction scares me a little. That being said, if I’ve missed something, or if there’s an alternative I haven’t considered, please speak up. Civil discourse is always welcome.

TK

P.S. Yes, this means my novels—as well as the ULT series—will be released on the Nook platform in the near future.

by Todd

[EVENT] Join the Geeky Writer Gang Tonight!

July 21, 2014 in Blog, Video Blogs by Todd

Geeky Writers

I bet you thought we weren’t going to do another one of these, didn’t you? You were wrong. The Geeky Writer Gang™ is getting together one more time to talk about their work, publications past and present, and any other inappropriate topics that come up during the conversation (and yes, folks, there will be plenty).

What? This one’s on a Monday night? Yeah, you read that correctly, folks. We’re mixing things up a bit by kicking things off at 9 PM on a weeknight. We’re calling it the “Late Night Edition” because it’s catchy and sounds better than “Monday @ 9 PM Edition.”

As with past iterations, we’re going to broadcast live via Google Hangouts and stream to YouTube. Links will be posted to the FB event page & social media a few minutes before we go live. You can tune in to YouTube to catch our antics, and ask any questions you might have on the event page. We’ll do our best to respond to them.

We hope you’ll consider joining us!

TK

by Todd

Addressing Misconceptions + Announcements

July 15, 2014 in Blog by Todd

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Hey folks. I received some messages from folks recently on my FB author page, asking questions about what’s in the ULT hardcover package. Considering this information is already available elsewhere, I’m just going to copy & paste it for you here:

Each copy of ULT LE will be signed, numbered, and personalized. The book is 296 pages and contains the following:

  • A foreword written by Anthony J. Rapino, author of Reality Engineers and Welcome to Moon Hill.
  • The four original ULT stories.
  • A separate section titled “Skeletons in my Closet,” which contains an additional twelve stories from Keisling’s archives. These are stories that have been out of print, or in some cases, have never been published before, including Keisling’s award-winning novella, “Migration of the Butterfly.”
  • An entire section titled “Story Notes,” in which Keisling discusses the origins behind every story in this volume—even the old stuff.
  • “For the Fans,” a special surprise for readers of the Monochrome Trilogy. If you’re following Donovan Candle, you do not want to miss this.

Each book will come with an ULT-themed bookmark and a 4 x 6 print of an ULT Kindle cover design, signed by the author’s wife and designer, Erica Keisling.

Oh, and one more thing: In each book will be a second 4 x 6 card with instructions. What sort of instructions? We’re glad you asked . . .

Each instruction card (lavender-scented, just like Maggie Eloquence from The Harbinger) comes with a password and address to a website set up exclusively for those of you who pre-order this book. On this website you’ll find a ton of extras, including:

  • “The Harbinger” in audio book format (and free to download).

  • Scans of the editor’s notes.

  • Early and unfinished story drafts.

  • Concept & design sketches for the covers.

  • Early access to the next release in the ULT series–available to you free of charge before it hits Amazon.

Remember, the deadline for preorders is August 16th, which leaves you just a little over a month to place your order. This edition is NOT going to be available anywhere else, so if you don’t preorder, you will not be able to get a copy later on. It’s an exclusive one-time thing.

In other news . . .

I had two stories accepted for publication last Friday. Yeah, two in one day. Insane.

The second ULT story, WHEN KAREN MET HER MOUNTAIN, will appear in WIDOWMAKERS, an anthology being put together to help out author James Newman who suffered severe injuries earlier this year when a tree branch fell on him. All proceeds will go to helping cover his medical bills. Other authors in this anthology include Brian Keene, Paul Anderson, Tim Marquitz, Mercedes M. Yardley, and many more. Here’s the full TOC.

My new story HOUSE OF NETTLE & THORN (yeah, the one that gave me so much trouble last year) will appear in DEAD HARVEST, a new anthology by Scarlet Galleon Publications. I don’t have a full TOC for that one yet. I know Mark over at Scarlet Galleon is still sorting out everything since the anthology will be released in two volumes. I’ll post more info on that when I have it.

Geeky Writers

The Geeky Writer gang is getting together again next Monday, July 21st @ 9 PM EST. I’ll post details for that in a separate entry, but you can get a head start by joining the FB event.

Work slowly stumbles forward with NONENTITY. ULT is taking up most of my time right now, but I’m chipping away at the book when I can. I hit a road block yesterday, and I may have to jump to a different place in the storyline for a while so I can overcome it. Which is fine, I guess, considering I’ve never written these novels chronologically anyway. Not really.

That’s all I’ve got for now. More soon.

TK

by Todd

ULT Trailer!

July 6, 2014 in Blog by Todd

by Todd

Keep calm . . .

July 4, 2014 in Blog by Todd

keepcalm

by Todd

Pre-order UGLY LITTLE THINGS: VOLUME ONE right now!

July 2, 2014 in Blog by Todd

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The window for pre-orders of UGLY LITTLE THINGS: VOLUME ONE has opened! Click here for details! Remember, the window will only remain open until August 16th. After that, no more orders will be taken. This is a one-time opportunity, so act fast!

RELEASE THE HOUNDS!

TK

by Todd

When this timer reaches zero . . .

July 1, 2014 in Blog by Todd

weeks
0
-4
days
0
-2
hours
-1
-6
minutes
-1
0
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-1
-1

. . . this pre-order page for the ULT limited edition hardcover will go live. Stay tuned.

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by Todd

Mark your calendars: ULT goes up for pre-order July 2nd!

June 30, 2014 in Blog by Todd

The galley proof for the ULT hardcover showed up on Friday. It’s beautiful:

 

But this post isn’t about photos. It’s about announcing details on how to get your hands on this beautiful edition–and what it contains. In fact, Precipice Books already announced it this morning, so I’m just going to copy & paste from there.

Each copy of ULT LE will be signed, numbered, and personalized. The book is 296 pages and contains the following:

  • A foreword written by Anthony J. Rapino, author of Reality Engineers and Welcome to Moon Hill.
  • The four original ULT stories.
  • A separate section titled “Skeletons in my Closet,” which contains an additional twelve stories from Keisling’s archives. These are stories that have been out of print, or in some cases, have never been published before, including Keisling’s award-winning novella, “Migration of the Butterfly.”
  • An entire section titled “Story Notes,” in which Keisling discusses the origins behind every story in this volume—even the old stuff.
  • “For the Fans,” a special surprise for readers of the Monochrome Trilogy. If you’re following Donovan Candle, you do not want to miss this.

Each book will come with an ULT-themed bookmark and a 4 x 6 print of an ULT Kindle cover design, signed by the author’s wife and designer, Erica Keisling.

Oh, and one more thing: In each book will be a second 4 x 6 card with instructions. What sort of instructions? We’re glad you asked . . .

Each instruction card (lavender-scented, just like Maggie Eloquence from The Harbinger) comes with a password and address to a website set up exclusively for those of you who pre-order this book. On this website you’ll find a ton of extras, including:

  • “The Harbinger” in audio book format (and free to download).
  • Scans of the editor’s notes.
  • Early and unfinished story drafts.
  • Concept & design sketches for the covers.
  • Early access to the next release in the ULT series–available to you free of charge before it hits Amazon.

We wanted to make the book special to readers, and it’s become a labor of love for everyone involved. As a result, the book will NOT be available through Amazon, B&N, or any other retailer. The only place to order this book is through our pre-order page.

Take note: The pre-orders window will not remain open forever. In fact, it will close on August 16th, and once it closes, we will not be taking any more orders. In other words, only those who order a copy will receive one! This is an exclusive, one-time deal. If only 50 people order, then only 50 copies of this book will ever exist–making the book a true collector’s item for fans of Keisling’s work.

The price for the ULT LE package will be $50 domestic / $65 international. These prices include shipping. Payments will be processed via PayPal until August 16th. After that, the window closes and no more orders will be taken. We’ll place an order with the printer, ship them to Mr. Keisling for signing & personalization, and then he will ship them out to you.

The pre-order window opens on 12:00 AM Wednesday, July 2nd. Bookmark this page and prepare yourself. Things are going to get ugly.

And there you have it. Midnight, July 2nd. We’ve worked very hard to make this book something special for the fans, and I think you won’t be disappointed. Now, I’m going to go back to my cave so I can finish editing the audio for The Harbinger audio book . . .

TK

by Todd

ULT Cover Reveal!

June 24, 2014 in Blog by Todd

Yesterday I promised followers on my Facebook page that I’d reveal the cover spread for the ULT limited edition hardcover if I reached 600 likes before Friday. Well, we hit that number, so I’m owning up to my part of the bargain. I’m not quite ready to announce details (I’m waiting for a proof copy to arrive first), but for the time being, here’s what the ULT hardcover will look like:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Stay tuned.

TK

by Todd

Because I’m an ugly little tease.

June 22, 2014 in Blog by Todd

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