cimorene12's journal: change or die

Where are you and where are you going?
cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:33 pm

Viola Grace
An author that I'm looking at right now is Viola Grace. She's selling her novellas for $3.99, and what's surprising about that is she's selling a LOT at that price point. There are many romance writers who sell their full-sized novels for $0.99. She has almost 300 works out.

There's an Amazon forum discussion that asks why Viola Grace is not more popular, given that the books are good. People are saying that it's her covers and her egalitarian feminism (women are strong and equal to men).

As someone who has written a book about a female billionaire, I will say that it doesn't sell nearly as well as the other things. OTOH, there are hundreds of people who want to read about female billionaires - so the market for strong female characters isn't as small as the forumites in that discussion believe.

Babe Ruth Effect
She's a pretty good illustration of the Babe Ruth effect:
What is striking is that the leading thinkers across varied fields — including horse betting, casino gambling, and investing — all emphasize the same point. We call it the Babe Ruth effect: even though Ruth struck out a lot, he was one of baseball’s greatest hitters. — ”The Babe Ruth Effect: Frequency vs Magnitude”
She's wide, and like Bob Frost, her works aren't in the top 100 or anything. With almost 300 works priced at $3.99, though, she's making BANK. She's wide. Let's say that she's selling 1 copy of each book a day across all retailers (as in one copy total across iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, Nook, etc.). That's $807 per day. Except she's selling a lot more copies than that, since her books are sitting next to mine. She's giving up money by not being direct, but maybe she values not having her name out there. The time that it would take me to put together 300 novellas is insane. It's a long road to get to that kind of revenue, but that's the result of quietly grinding away for a long, long time.

She's not in the $0.99 club for the people who are trying to be top authors in KU. But then, she's probably making more money being out than in. It puzzles me that she's not in the top 100 for scifi, though. It honestly doesn't take that many sales to make it in there.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:31 pm

Massive Sea Change: KU Payment per Page Read
I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but instead of paying a flat fee per borrow, Amazon has changed it so that people are paid per page that a reader reads of their book.

I've been thinking for a while about going wide. Now I have the kick in the pants to go chase the novels that I've outlined and had in the pipeline. I've written novels before and not been able to complete them. I know objectively that my novels are not as good as my shorter form work. Amazon springing the extreme change in KU on us - when we are already locked in for 3 months - is going to spur a very large exodus. It's not about the payment, really - it's about their ability to unilaterally completely change our salaries. That's been part of KU since Day 1, but it's mostly lead to griping about the falling borrow rate. If Amazon wants to pay everyone $0.000000000000000001 per page, they can. If they decided to double or triple my income per borrow, awesome, but I'd still be leaving and looking for greener pastures. Why? Because being exclusive to Amazon and subject to Grandinetti's whims is an emotional rollercoaster. Instead of putting many little eggs in a basket held by one giant, I can put my eggs in that basket, another basket held by a little David (iBooks), and another basket held by Toto. And possibly more.

Reading about the change originally felt like a sucker punch. Now it feels like I've suddenly noticed that the cage door is actually open. My plans for July have now fallen apart, but that's the nature of the game. Change or die. ;)

Spartan_Warrior
Posts: 1680
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:24 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:36 am

Well said. It really is about the principle. Amazon has been wearing down my good will for some time and that straw just broke this camel's back. I don't trust doing business with a company that can not only unilaterally change my income on a whim, but thinks it's totally cool and professional to do so with 2 weeks notice and the bare minimum of information possible.

I went wide with most of my main pen name back when KU was first announced, and I didn't regret it. Some months that pen name now makes more from the other venues than from Amazon, and it is comforting to be at least a little diversified.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:40 pm

Spartan_Warrior wrote:Well said. It really is about the principle. Amazon has been wearing down my good will for some time and that straw just broke this camel's back. I don't trust doing business with a company that can not only unilaterally change my income on a whim, but thinks it's totally cool and professional to do so with 2 weeks notice and the bare minimum of information possible.
It's what I needed. I've had publisher accounts at a ton of other vendors for a while now [thanks to prosaic for commenting that the admin side of being an author was a good idea to have in place BEFORE you break out], but I haven't hit submit on my stories. You can bet that I'm gearing up for August 15. I am drafting my goodbye email with my ASINs to send to KDP support, since Selena Kitt says that they'll allow people to pull books during the first 90 days of the new system. If my payout dramatically decreases, I'll run. Even if it's the same, I'll still probably run.
Page averages will be done using the new “KENPC” system. The current page estimation system will change to the new (KENPC) one once the new KU rolls out in July.
My greatest fear is the KENPC system will lower my page counts. I understand how to have very low words/ebook page. My print editions are equal or less than my ebook versions. It isn't done by doing crazy fonts or crazy spacing, either. I can calculate an estimate of my earnings based on my current page count for my catalogue, but I sure can't calculate any kind of accurate estimate of my earnings based on a page count system that we haven't seen a single example of. I don't know how far anybody reads in my stories, either, since Amazon has never shared that information with authors. It's just a gigantic black box which will determine my wages going forward. If we're wide and people buy our books like DVDs (as Selena Kitt says in her blog post), then I don't have to worry about making people turn the pages.

I write romance (yes, finally, yay!), which means that people rage-quit my stories (I know this for sure) if the sex starts at 80%. I'm sorry that I want to build up a relationship first. Pat Rothfuss has a TON of people get bogged down at the beginning of Name of the Wind (which as an author I can tell you is honest-to-goodness not good). He writes incredible epic fantasy, and he's sold millions. The Goldfinch is famously pretty much never finished.

Selena actually has less to fear at the moment, I think. All of her work that I've read has quickly pulled me forward. What we don't know is how many of our books are DNFs.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 9233
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by jacob » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:14 pm

I admit the KENPC system does not make me cry (possibly because I don't depend on it) because it seems to prioritize content over "sales". That is, what people want to keep reading now has a stronger edge over what people want to download. Internally, I smile whenever policy changes to favor R&D and /or manufacturing over sales.

PS: I opted out of Select very very quickly.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:50 pm

Jacob, you sell (figurative) DVDs. So whether or not people want to finish ERE, you're going to get paid. You aren't an exclusive Zonite, those of us who live under the vengeful eye of Grandinetti. It looks like Spartan isn't either. And I guess technically speaking I'm not either, as I have a handful of stories that I have wide. Nonetheless, the vast bulk of my income from being an author is from borrows which come as a result of being Amazon exclusive. We're hitting a point where it could become very bad to be Amazon exclusive. So many of the Zonites are running around and screaming.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:28 am

Breaking Out in Nonfiction
Last year I read a book by Australian historian David Day about one of my Antarctic explorer heroes – Sir Douglas Mawson. This book made be absolutely bloody furious – this “historian” had really taken an axe to Mawson’s reputation, and I considered much of his criticism to be absolute rubbish. But what could I do about it? Who am I to challenge a respected professional historian?
Taking a huge amount of inspiration from your personal story – I realised that I was no longer without the power to protest, and that I can have a public voice. I decided that I would write a response to this book – and publish it myself on Amazon as an e-book. I really did not care whether it would be a success, I just wanted it out there.
So I set about doing the research, and doing the writing. I’m in my late fifties, and had not written anything longer than a letter since I left university in 1978 – so it took a bit of effort, and some guidance from a highly literate friend to “excavate” my writing skills. When I finished I had a 27,000 word essay – fully footnoted. Effectively the Masters Degree thesis that I never did.
I loved this story because it's totally something that I would do if it bothered me enough. It's worth reading the article.

Less KENPC Panic
Even in the absurd case where every KU book borrowed is never opened, Amazon would distribute those funds equally to every author whose book was borrowed. Here, the page-read average would be zero, so every author would get an equal number, exactly like what we had before, where the payout was around $1.30 per month. If only a single page was read, by a single reader, out of a single book, that author would get $11,000,000!
If two pages were read, one each out of two separate books, that number would be split in half, and both authors would feel like they won the lottery. But of course, that’s not what’s going to happen. Millions of pages will be read. Tens of millions. And authors will get pennies per page, just as Google pays pennies per click-through.
We still don't know what the future will bring. I am willing to wait. My next story is going to be wide, and after that I'm writing a novel (takes a few months). It could be dreadful, but Amazon pays on length, not quality. Reader engagement might be the best metric they can think of, but of course it's imperfect, just as 10% was imperfect.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:21 pm

A Year Ago
A year ago, I had my job offer from the startup. It sounded like a perfect job, and in many ways it fixed the problems that I had when I was at the old company. It was far from problem-free, but I remain extremely grateful for the way that they employed me. Without alternate employment, I never would have made the leap. And I needed to.

I switched to being a full-time author a few months ago, when my books finally started making me more money than my part-time job at that startup. They'll still send me a 1099 for this year, but I am glad to be done putting in my time in the mines.

Because I've moved out of Wisconsin, I no longer have rent to pay. And strangely enough, that's hugely liberating.

It shouldn't be. As soon as I left my old job, I shoved enough money to cover my rent for the rest of my contract into a Goal inside of my primary bank account. So it wasn't like I was actually earning rent money and paying with my earnings from my part-time job. It was, in a sense, pre-paid.

Nevertheless, I'm so incredibly grateful to be living the life of a full-time author, with income exceeding my full-time software job salary. I've learned an incredible amount since I left the old company, and perhaps the biggest thing is confidence that I will be able to find my way. The next two months will be full of large changes in my life, but I will learn and adapt.

Image

ffj
Posts: 1583
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by ffj » Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:20 pm

Congratulations! I didn't realize you had gone full-time; that's great news.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:35 pm

@ffj - Thanks :)

Mating Grounds: FI and Dating
Image
"I understand that having nice belongings and being able to express your wealth in clothing, in a well-furnished apartment, etc....taking them out to nice dinners, etc. is super attractive to women."

I listened to that podcast a bit ago, and it's been popping up a lot in my head. The podcast is someone who is pursuing FI in the Chicago area. He thinks/assumes that dating women and pursuing FI are exclusive - or that he needs to 'convince' a woman to accept his frugality and minimalism.

Tucker Max makes fun of this guy a lot.

Here's a bit from something that Tucker did much earlier - his Material Proof podcast:
Macaroni Grill’s basically a chain restaurant, kind of shitty. El Molino is one of the best Italian restaurants in the world. So, and the price is literally ten times the price to go to El Molino as Macaroni Grill. If you take her to Macaroni Grill and then be funny and interesting on the date, and then take her to like mini golf or something really cool. Even more cool than mini golf, whatever. Some awesome fucking sort of thing. That’s way better than taking her to El Molino and being a boring, rich shit head. The Macaroni Grill date, that’s fun and exciting, is going to get you laid all the time. That El Molino date that where you are the boring rich guy is going to get you laid almost none of the time.
Some of what Tucker says I agree with. Some I don't - he says that the need for 'financial independence' is probably rooted in unhealthy attitudes about money. There are a lot of good things said by other contributors. It's attractive to be generous with time with women. In addition, being thoughtful is a very good way to impress a woman.

What that FI guy reminded me of was this article about the dating scenes in Seattle and SF entitled Amazon Is Killing My Sex Life (may or may not have been referenced before).

It's worth it to read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:
The exact same scenario has been playing out in San Francisco for the last few years. One woman, Violet, a 33-year-old who has lived in the Bay Area for eight years, with one of those in the “belly of the beast,” Palo Alto, experienced many of the same things I and other women did. They had money, but they were boring. They had a lot to say about their job, but their development as a complete human being seemed to be stunted. And they exhibited little to no interest in the other person at the table.

“There were a lot of tech men. I could talk a blue streak about them. I don’t have much positive to say. The biggest thing, the thing that bothered me the most is I felt like my intelligence was greatly devalued,” she wrote. ”I am a smart woman. I have a master’s from Berkeley in philosophy."
“I often hear women say they either date A-holes or nerds—or if they’re really lucky, both in one,” she said. “They feel like they’re dealing with someone who has poor social skills, not a lot of style, and isn’t that attractive, or is decently good-looking, successful, or cool, but by default knows it and acts like it, with a huge ego and selfish mind-set in tow.”
“The type of person who is attracted to these jobs and thus to the Seattle area seems to be a socially awkward, emotionally stunted, sheltered, strangely entitled, and/or a misogynistic individual,” she wrote in an email.
On the dates, they flash money around, having never really had it before. One software engineer visiting from the Bay Area was in town for a training session at Amazon before he made the move. He wore a T-shirt bearing the logo of a 1990s industrial band—maybe it was NIN or Skinny Puppy—and paired it with formless dad jeans, but high on his newfound power drank four or five “special” drinks from the craft cocktail bar, Canon, ordered the foie gras, and racked up a $200 bill in less than two hours. (I had one drink and shared an appetizer. I was not impressed.)

He spent the entire time talking about his job and the opportunities it was going to bring him. He didn’t appear to have any other interests—he certainly didn’t seem to have any interest in me. I am a journalist, so I am very good at asking questions to get people to talk about themselves. But this was like squeezing blood from a stone.
@Iamuhura wrote: “I honestly am thankful every single day that I’m no longer single. Tech dudes are generally 7s looking for 10s. But they think they’re 11s and spew that entitlement wherever they go.”
“There were a lot of men to date with disposable income who wanted to take women out. It’s just, it was so boring,” she said. “My dating life went from dating artists and writers and going on cheap but exciting dates, to men who thought the ability to buy someone an expensive meal made them interesting.”
That last bit is the essence of the whole article. There are men who 'make it' and they take women out on dates. And they think that simply the ability to pay for dinner makes them worthwhile.

It doesn't.

Pursuing or being FI doesn't preclude dating women at all. If you cook Italian wedding soup (extremely easy) and bring it out to the park for a first date, that's awesome. Bonus points if you bake something with chocolate in it for dessert. That girl, if you're not absolutely terrible at social interaction, will probably go on a second date with you.

You can afford to take a different girl to El Molino every night and still never be successful with women. There are billionaires who are terrible with women. A lot of guys seem to have this script in their heads: IF I have money THEN I can be successful with women ELSE I won't be able to date anybody. And then they find out that earning a decent amount of money (I consider $80k pretty solidly middle class) isn't enough to be successful with women. Tucker talks about the times when he was living on Ramen and he was dating lots of women who would bring him food, because he was so generous with his time and connections and made them laugh.

Also from Material Proof:
Like you wouldn’t believe how many guys I know who are fuck ass wealthy. I mean like, they have their own planes and shit right? And they own buildings and they are billionaires. I know a couple of billionaires actually. I mean, I know quite a few but I know a few billionaires who are terrible with women and basically don’t get girls or the type of women they get are really awful gold diggers and they hate it. Or even if they get pretty decent women in terms of the scale of gold diggers, those guys feel super inadequate and don’t like it because they know those women are with them because they have money and no other reason. That they don’t give a fuck about them at all. They only care about their money.
There are ~1740 billionaires in the United States. If you are a billionaire, you are much wealthier than the rest of America. You can still be terrible with women, even if you're basically at the top of the heap wealth-wise. Successful dating strongly correlates with the guy being interesting and fun and much less with the guy throwing around a lot of money during dates.

User avatar
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 917
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:50 am

Nevertheless, I'm so incredibly grateful to be living the life of a full-time author, with income exceeding my full-time software job salary.
Congratulations on making it as an author! Do you feel like it is stable enough to live off of? For the long term? Are you going to continue writing or do you have other plans?

Dave
Posts: 273
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:42 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Dave » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:50 am

Your journal has been very enjoyable to read, and your transition to authorship is very inspiring.

Like GdP, I am also curious about your thoughts on writing - do you have plans to write for a long time? IOW, now that you have achieved a degree of success do you see writing as a means to an end or an end in of itself?

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:21 pm

Gilberto de Piento wrote: Congratulations on making it as an author! Do you feel like it is stable enough to live off of? For the long term? Are you going to continue writing or do you have other plans?
Thank you! Sales are extremely volatile on a day-to-day and even month-to-month basis. Yes, the income is stable enough to live off of, especially if you've already pared down your living expenses to MMM level, let alone ERE level. Yes, I am going to continue writing. Yes, I have other plans.
Dave wrote:Your journal has been very enjoyable to read, and your transition to authorship is very inspiring.

Like GdP, I am also curious about your thoughts on writing - do you have plans to write for a long time? IOW, now that you have achieved a degree of success do you see writing as a means to an end or an end in of itself?
Thank you, Dave! Yes, I have plans to write for a long time.

Art and Money
When I began, I knew that it would be good for me to write stories, even if I didn't actually earn solid money off of them.

Image

I wrote art in the beginning. It was selfish. I wrote the books that I wanted to write. I still write those kinds of stories sometimes just to make myself happy.

Designed books are different. As a self-published author, my biggest job is marketing. Not writing. Marketing is not just advertising. Before you ever begin a book, the first thing that you do is look at the market trends and make financial projections for how much you'd make off of a certain kind of book with the right elements. Instead of taking my direction from a publishing house, I'm effectively forced to figure out what book I should be writing. A big misconception about authors in general is that we just sit down at a desk and write down our flights of fancy all day, perpetuated by authors who feed the media what they want to hear.

Amanda Palmer did her typical straight talk in this article in The Guardian from December 2014:
Perhaps the stickiest problem when comparing art and business is that the definition of “success” becomes muddied when you opt for a career in music. On the one hand, you’re told you haven’t “made it” until you’re a megastar – making a living at your art isn’t enough – and, on the other hand, musicians aren’t supposed to be concerned with profits if they’re “real” artists – Didn’t you get into this job just for the love of it?
You look at books in the top 100 on Amazon. You read the writing on the wall. You write that book. That's the first bit of the journey, and not all that important.

Then you send it out to review teams and do a gazillion things to shout from the rooftops HEY GUYS I HAVE A BOOK YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ COME AND GET IT. Shouting from the rooftops is something that eats a LOT of time. More time than writing. The more you shout, the more money you make. Some kinds of shouting have better returns than other kinds. Sometimes you lose money.

Who knew that the glamorous, fun life of an author was actually about pimping yourself constantly?

There are some people who don't market - who have books that they say are so good that they sell themselves. Awesome for them. But I'm probably outselling them 2 to 1, based on the sales numbers they disclose.

Writing What You Want
The exception seems to be Amanda M. Lee, who is capable of writing a full-length novel a week (published on several different names) and is a top 100 author on Amazon with at least one name. She is the kind of person who is capable of writing books that people want to read and therefore makes 7 figures a year, with a solid amount of that coming out of KU.

It seems like quite a few authors come out of journalism. Neil Gaiman was a journalist. Lev Grossman is a journalist. Neil Strauss was, too. And Amanda M. Lee was until she quit around January of this year. Amanda gets to write what she wants BECAUSE her craft is honed to the point where it's easy for her to write well and in huge quantities. If I were capable of writing an entire novel in a week, I, too, would just be writing what I wanted to write. She barely markets, just scheduling a Bookbub now and then.

When the KENPC news dawned, I wrote something that I was obligated to write. Then I wrote something that made me happy, that was absurd, that will never make me any serious amount of money. The second story is not published.

If I go back into full-time employment, the rate of my publishing will slow. That's ok. Writing is always going to be there for me - the landscape changes constantly, but I'm pretty confident of my ability to figure out the best practices even if I come back in 5 years and everything's different.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:09 pm

$.00577
The per-page payout was very grim.

I did look with a lot of interest at the All-Star numbers. I thought that it would require about 3 million page reads to get spot #100. I was wrong.

From a compilation on kboards:
KU All-Stars AUTHORS August 2015 *Based on July 2015 Page Reads*

US
Top 1-10 Author; Pages Read: 14,600,000+
Top 1-10 Author; Pages Read: 12,950,000+
Top 1-10 Author; Pages Read: 8,600,000+
Top 11-20 Author; Pages Read: 7,740,000+
Top 11-20 Author; Pages Read; 7,000,000+
Top 31-50 Author; Pages Read: 4,700,000+
Top 31-50 Author; Pages Read: 4,100,000+
Top 31-50 Author; Pages Read: 3,800,000+'
Top 51-100 Author; Pages Read: 3,100,000+
Top 51-100 Author; Pages Read: 2,745,000+
Top 51-100 Author; Pages Read: 2,100,000+

UK
Top 1-10 Authors; Pages Read: 2,090,000+
Top 1-10 Authors; Pages Read: 1,700,000+
Top 11-20 Authors; Pages Read: 930,000+
Top 31-100 Authors; Pages Read: 603,000+
Top 31-100 Authors; Pages Read: 510,000+
Top 31-100 Authors; Pages Read: 450,000+
Top 31-100 Authors; Pages Read: 400,000+
Top 31-100 Authors; Pages Read: 279,000+


KU All-Stars TITLES August 2015

US
Top 1-10 Titles; Pages Read: 8,170,000+
Top 1-10 Titles; Pages Read: 4,700,000+
Top 11-50 Titles; Pages Read: 1,713,000+
Top 51-100 Titles; Pages Read: 1,400,000+
Top 51-100 Titles; Pages Read: 1,332,000+
Top 51-100 Titles; Pages Read: 1,276,000+
Top 51-100 Titles; Pages Read: 1,133,000+

UK
Top 11-50 Titles; Pages Read: 670,000+
Top 11-50 Titles; Pages Read: 512,000+
Top 11-50 Titles; Pages Read: 500,000+
Rosalind James, who is exactly the kind of author who is poised to do the best in the new system, reported 4.5 million pages in July. Not all of her titles were in there for the entire month.

She's said that her 100k (actually ranging between 90k-120k) books clock in around 500 KENP apiece. She has 17 works in KU. Three of them are three-novel box sets. One of them is a 36k novella. 13*500+3*3*500+180 if she's getting 200 words per page = 11,180 KENP

In order to get 4.5 million pages in August, now that everything that she can put in is in, she would need ~402 people to read all of her published works from cover to cover per month.

Caveats:
1) 4500 of her total KENP are repeats of other books available in box sets
2) Romances get completed 62% of the time according to Kobo stats for North America, if we're focusing on the American market. Does the fact that Canadians are included in a Canada-based company (cough, excluding and ignoring the acquisition by Japanese Rakuten) skew the data too much? I don't think so. I mean, we're talking about ballpark figures here.
NYT
In Italy, 74 percent of romance novels purchased via Kobo were finished — the best completion rate of any genre across Kobo’s markets — compared with 62 percent in North America and 60 percent in Australia and New Zealand.
3) I am ignoring the idea that people only partially complete stories, because it's impossible to get statistics on that. Amazon has those details, but they are not available to the rest of us.

If those 402 people who read represent 62% of her downloads from KU, then she needs 648 new people to download all of her books per month. That's completely, absolutely, 100% do-able.

You don't build that catalogue overnight. It represents several years of work on her part.

We've also seen the top earners in KU earn a bit less. In May, 56k KU borrows (representing $75,488 in KU borrows without any bonuses) wasn't enough to hit the top 10. Now, someone in the top 10 in the US is making around $50k off of borrows. All the people who had novels where people didn't read past the 10% mark are getting more money now. As soon as readers open your book, you are earning the pitiful per-page amount.

It hasn't cut down on scammers, either. Scammers are just completely taking stories from other people, bundling them, and putting them into KU.

It HAS increased the length of stories in KU, though, which I am sure that they were going for. The top 10 in romance has been hit by several well-established authors popping in the previous 2 novels into their third release's ebook file. It is possible to make an incredible amount of money when your book is in the top 5 total on Amazon, meaning that you are getting 4k borrows and sales per day. That's a lot of money if your file is three 100k novels long.

At the same time, less prominent people who padded their ebook files with their other stories have gotten really nasty reviews from people who hit the 50% mark and discover that the novel is done and the rest is filler. Even when the author has a little note at the end of the first story (Hey, there've been some changes, so I'm including some bonus material), reviewers have been brutal because their expectations have been violated. There were so many angry reviewers when there were very short pieces like Hannah Ford's. Now there are angry reviewers because they are given very long pieces where the story that they thought they were picking up only is half of the total file.

I think that it's hard for Amazon to come up with a policy that's better than the one that they have, though. They wanted longer books, and they got mega-bundled files.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 9:06 pm

Hitting Lists
I wrote a novella which defied the laws of KU 2.0 and put me into the Top 100 Fantasy authors pretty much on its own. It was a major kick to see my name right next to Patrick Rothfuss' and later right above Terry Pratchett's. Just crazy.

I've hit the Top 100 Romance authors now, and I was briefly in the Top 100 Literature & Fiction. I'm gunning for the USA Today/NYT lists during this coming holiday season. We'll see if I can grab something. It's really cool to be here around the one-year anniversary of my first live book.

Women's Fiction
People REALLY like women's fiction. That novella is women's fiction and fantasy put together. 'Women's fiction' wasn't something I had even heard of before self-publishing. Now I'm writing it.

What is women's fiction, really? Mostly, to me at least, it's all the stuff that hasn't been very popular up until now. Carry Me Home is an anti-campus rape manifesto published by Amazon Publishing. Rosalind's second APub book, Hold Me Close is all about a domestic abuse survivor. I used to volunteer at a domestic abuse shelter, and it's so intense and right that it's giving me flashbacks of intense memories from that time period. It's coming out in December, but she has an excerpt up. There was an article which I can't remember or find now that talked about women's fiction talking about everyday tragedies such as the loss of a child, the most poignant of which isn't in a book for me...it's Baby Boy Bakery, which is written by a mother who lost her young son in an instant from a car accident.

Someone said to Rosalind's husband something to the effect of, "Who knew you could just write trashy books and make a ton of money?" The idea of equating the books that Rosalind James writes with Harlequins is just absurd. Writing about your little one dying has never been something that's really taken off until now. And it's not commercial, either, to share your grief...which is why I was surprised to see my women's fiction called 'crass, cynical commercialism'. It's not a book that I really wrote to make money. It was more of a passion project. I've learned by now that there are people who are going to dislike me regardless of what I do. The more popular that books get, the more notorious I become. I know that Jacob and MMM have faced those people in the form of Internet Retirement Police, and I'm starting to see more of them.

Spartan_Warrior
Posts: 1680
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:24 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Mon Nov 16, 2015 4:33 am

Congrats on the awesome rankings. Glad to hear you're surviving and thriving in the KU2niverse.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Nov 28, 2015 2:37 pm

Thanks, Spartan.

The Fiction Factory
I've been reading a free Project Gutenberg book called The Fiction Factory. It was written by a pulp writer a very long time ago.

What was interesting about it was that it very closely mirrored my own experiences as a writer. He talks about the excitement of getting "in cloth" (trad pub nowadays, I guess), and he talks about j-money with plays falling through (see Don Lancaster for the definition of j-money, which I consider to be like leprechaun gold).

He had tuberculosis, and it made me feel silly or letting something like ulnar nerve entrapment slow me down.

There is a distinction between slick-paper writers and pulp fiction writers. I'm not trying to write something like Patrick Rothfuss' 400k Wise Man's Fear or even Rosalind James' lengthy women's fiction. I'm generally writing unremarkable stories, much shorter and more disposable. To be fair, I really like some of my stories. I have a novel that chronicles what it's like to move to Wisconsin, and I have a novella about working at a software company. Both are semi-autobiographical. It hurts more to get one-star reviews on books that I genuinely love than books that I don't care about that sell like hot cakes.

Erle Stanley Gardner
That's a paid book about his methods. It still seems pretty similar to Fiction Factory so far. It's not as engrossing, though. I stayed up until 2 AM reading Fiction Factory; ESG is really interesting, too, but not as much.

Trying to Hit a List
It's an intense amount of work. I knew that it must be, but it's eaten up most of this month.

It used to be easier to hit the NYT (and I'm not expecting to hit it, haha, I'm not Bella Andre). I was looking at Eileen Wilks' Blood Challenge, which helped her hit the extended list in 2011. It was easier to hit when there were 35 spots. That same list now has 15 spots.

The NYT is not mathematically objective. The case of Legion taken from Book History:
Image

Tim Ferriss called the NYT editors for discriminating against his Amazon Publishing book, The 4-Hour Chef, back in 2012. He moved more ebook copies than the #1 book on the NYT ebook list for the debut week.

Dueling Ailes Bios
We kept getting booked at small, independent bookstores like Bookends in Ridgewood, NJ, and Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla. We loved it. But we noticed that we sold a lot more books at a big box than at an independent bookstore signing. It was my job to manage these logistics, so I would ask Miramax, “Why do you keep scheduling us into independent bookstores, when we sold 1500 books at the Staten Island Costco?”

We were always told by Miramax’s able and knowledgeable publishing industry pros that it’s because the New York Times over-samples adorable little stores and under-samples chains. And it really under-samples non-bookstores that sell a lot of books, like Costco and BJ’s.
Technically, the WSJ, NYT, and Publishers Weekly all pull from BookScan, but there's variation in their lists.

The USA Today is the one that's the most transparent, and a little easier to hit, with 150 spots regardless of fiction, nonfiction, format, etc.

Kristen Callihan

I've been staring longingly at Kristen Callihan's The Game Plan. She debuted at $4.99 and poured incredible amounts of money into ads, and she's hit the USA Today list for three weeks running. If she had concentrated her efforts on the first week, she probably would've hit the NYT, but she'd have sold fewer books overall. She's a great example of someone wide who is doing everything right.*

She has paranormal books, the Darkest London series, and those are traditionally published. She's also represented by an agent megastar, Kristin Nelson.

*(There are a lot of people who are Amazon-exclusive who are bagging enormous amounts of cash but not hitting lists. Liliana Hart says that you have to be available on at least BN (beyond being on Amazon) to hit a list. She should know - she's hit the USA Today list ~10 times and I think she's hit the NYT ~6 times.)

User avatar
fiby41
Posts: 760
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:09 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by fiby41 » Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:37 am


Successful dating strongly correlates with the guy being interesting and fun and much less with the guy throwing around a lot of money during dates.
A workaround that is to find someone as boring as you are, relatively speaking.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:07 pm

fiby41 wrote:A workaround that is to find someone as boring as you are
Dude, I write romance novels for a living. I have to believe, to a certain degree, that there's someone out there for you who'll blow your socks off.

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 11:43 am

Post-Mortem of Failing to Hit the Bestseller Lists
My December attempt to hit the bestseller lists was a failure. Despite moving enough copies to hit the NYT extended list in another month (basically any month besides December), we didn't even hit the USA Today list.

One issue is that we didn't know some things for sure. There are shadowy rumors that have been proven empirically.

A lot of the information that I found as we found what we'd been missing is encapsulated in David Gaughran's post and the comments:
https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/201 ... ller-list/

A lot of these things are "possibly true." He doesn't consider himself to have all of the information. I can say that, to the best of my knowledge, a lot of what David included in his post about trying to hit the NYT and USA Today lists is true.

I'm making another run in a less competitive month.

User avatar
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 917
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Mon Dec 28, 2015 7:11 pm

Does "we" mean you've hired a team?

Congratulations on your successes even if you didn't make it on the bestseller lists this month.

User avatar
GandK
Posts: 1934
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by GandK » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:20 pm

Gilberto de Piento wrote:Congratulations on your successes even if you didn't make it on the bestseller lists this month.
+1. :D

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:06 pm

Gilberto de Piento wrote:Does "we" mean you've hired a team?
I don't have the pull to hit a bestseller list solo, like Angela Quarles. I've got to participate in multi-author anthologies.

@GandK - Thanks!

User avatar
Dragline
Posts: 4450
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:50 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Dragline » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:31 pm

GandK wrote:
Gilberto de Piento wrote:Congratulations on your successes even if you didn't make it on the bestseller lists this month.
+1. :D
+2

cimorene12
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:46 pm

@Dragline - Thanks - Trying to hit a list takes a long time and a lot of prep.
***
Curious George Reinterpreted
George, I am going to take you to a big city. You
will like it there.

(Was that a promise or an instruction?)
Now run along and play,
but don’t get into trouble.
Be Good.
What is Good, George asked the man in the yellow hat.
Good is what I tell you to do, the man said.
Good is something you will find out.
But it is easy for little monkeys to forget.
On the deck he found some sea gulls.
He wondered how they could fly.
He was very curious. George had not yet learned to be Good.
He was still himself.
But George cannot be both.
He is going to have to choose.
Which would you choose: Good or Yourself?
Someone re-wrote the story of Curious George into something a lot more scary. The scariest part is that the re-write stays pretty close to the original.

Feedback to Authors
Patrick Rothfuss shared that story above, and I went to his page. I noticed that someone had posted on it to say:
I noticed an error on page 513 of Day Two.
Noticing an error is fine. Saying that in a review, forum, reader's group, etc. is fine. Going to the author's FB page and publicly pointing out the error seems...strange to me. The reader found an error in a ~400k book. Is it a logical next step to post on Pat's FB page?

I think that the vast majority of readers wouldn't. He's sold over 10 million copies worldwide at this point, and not all of the comments on his FB page are about problems. (There are a lot of visitor posts in Spanish, for some reason.) He has a private contact form for people to reach out to him.

What makes someone walk up to an author and, completely uninvited, publicly point out flaws in the book?

Post Reply