Unleashed July 18, 2014 on all indie authors published in KDP Select on Amazon and Amazon readers, too, Kindle Unlimited is a new subscription service. $9.99 a month. Readers can download unlimited titles for $9.99 as opposed to Amazon Prime that allows only a single title borrow per month. Critical to authors–in order to get paid a portion of the global fund $ set aside in KOLL, a reader must read at least 10% of the book. Subscribers to Amazon Prime need only to ‘borrow’ the title for the author to get a royalty. No reading required. Indie authors across the internet and in blogs and forums are looking askance at Kindle Unlimited and wondering what the heck it means. Asking how they’ll get paid for the download–if ever.
I’ve said it before and I’m saying it here again, Jeff Bezos does not eat stupid for breakfast. There is more going on than meets the eye and you better believe there are some new algorithms toting up facts and figures. Algorithms already count reviews separating them into one to five star. An algorithm counts how fast those reviews come in during and after a promotion on FREE or a launch book and determines where or NOT a book will get placement in front of Amazon browsers. If a readers gets past that 10% of your book which is just beyond the “look inside” limit–the author gets paid. That’s great. I like it.
Here’s the snag and I’ll bet a Bingo $ on it. The new algorithms are gonna be toting up the reviews on those indie books by subscribers who stop reading before 10%. Amazon has always kept an eye on reviews. Now it is taking a closer look. The indie book market has matured. Most indie authors are producing well-constructed, if not grammar-perfect–books that are at least as fine as trad pubbed titles. We’ve learned on the mistakes of others to format to perfection. But! This continues to happen: Indie authors scramble for early five star reviews from friends and family. They trade five star reviews with a covey of authors pals. Those five star reviews don’t hold up once stranger reviews arrive on the book. Readers are ticked. Here is a savvy reader/reviewer comment I plucked off of Amazon recently:
“Because my time is valuable and I work quite a bit for the extras I have, I try to wisely choose how I spend both my time and money. I felt duped by the excellent reviews and went back to the [5*] ratings to see what [other books] the reviewers had commented on. I was not that surprised to see that several had only reviewed BOTH of the author’s books and not single other book. Hmmm. That is what I call ‘stuffing the ballot box.’ Very disappointing!” And woefully misleading.
Whoa! That detailed one star review was well-written and scathing. It was followed by a dozen other readers rating the book one and two star. Even the kindness of a reader rating the book three stars mentioned how awful the writing, the stilted dialogue, story threads unfinished, grammar and punctuation mishaps. The reviews killed
the book’s sales. I feel bad for the author. Her enthusiasm was once lovely to behold. Now she is scrambling for an editor for a fix.
Now, I am only a year into indie authorship but IMO Amazon is going to start weeding out these awful indie books. Indie publishing on Amazon is a privilege. The privilege has been abused by authors who do not produce a decent book. Readers are becoming more and more vocal. Not just in reviews but in Amazon forums, where they really let loose. It ain’t pretty. Any indie author brave enough to go live in one of the forums would probably be drawn and quartered. More than that, Amazon does not make money on a book that doesn’t sell. The development of the Kindle Countdown Deal is a tool to help indie authors sell books to benefit both the indie author and Amazon. Hey! Pennies add up. Sometimes it is more than pennies. On a recent KCD I earned almost $700. Amazon earned $318. My book picked up 17 five star stranger reviews. Those won’t be discounted or looked at askance. Not every reader will like my book–but they won’t be lead astray because there are some 3 and four star reviews , too.
The Kindle Unlimited program includes all titles enrolled in KDP Select. Amazon is boasting of 600,000 titles for your reading pleasure. Every single indie author enrolled in KDP Select is included. That’s telling. IMO it will serve well those indie authors producing a good story and a quality book. It will not serve the indie author who does not. Amazon does not need those badly written, badly produced books to anger its readers and subscribers. You watch. Amazon is gonna clean house. May take a while because it is a dang big house–global in structure. My business sense says it is gonna happen sooner rather than later.
Here is another half-formed thought hanging on the edge of my primitive brain stem. The KCD was designed to prompt indie authors to promote and sell books. Here’s why: Many indie authors do not overtly promote their books. KCD jacked them up. Some indie authors didn’t sell ten books a year. Now they do. Yes, I understand the internet is vast and infinite and it is no skin off of Amazon’s nose if a book lingers until death into infinity, rotting away in stats sucking mud to China. But it has been ever true from the innovation of a Sears Catalogue–which you may be too young to recall–smart business owners (Sears) dropped every single item from their catalogue that didn’t sell year in and year out, or that didn’t work as described or were returned as unfit for use in daily living as promised. When we write a book and publish it, we are making a covenant with the publishing venue and the reader that we’ve produced the best product we can. Some indie authors forget that and fail the test. Skewing reviews is cheating the reader. They don’t like it. Amazon doesn’t like it. It is not good for business. We’ll know more once thousands of subscribers sign up for Kindle Unlimited. I’m gonna be a subscriber. I’ve got a new Kindle Fire to fill up. On the flip side, I’m gonna make dang certain all of my reviews are legit.
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