Wednesday, October 28, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 137 -- No More Kindle Unlimited

Ad Talk Tuesday -- No More KU, Expanded Distribution

So, I finally pulled the trigger and started taking the steps to remove my books from the Kindle Unlimited program. As of December 15th all of my books, romance and the J.J. McCall series, will be available across all channels. 

Nook, iBooks, Kindle, and Kobo. 

I'm still weighing Smashwords. 

Why am I making that move? 

For the first couple of months on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select, I did fairly well. I didn't see a big increase in sales but I didn't see a dip in sales either. 

In the last month, I've seen a significant dip in have a number of other authors in the program. What I've learned through tons of research is that even though there are over a half million books in the KU program, probably close to a million by now, Amazon's algorithms cannot equally promote all authors (or give them visibility), so those authors who aren't high profile within the program or Kindle Select pretty much get lost in the dust. 

Lesser known authors with few books for sale will struggle to build a strong audience in the KU program. Here's why I believe so. 

No More Opportunity Costs

Outside the Kindle Unlimited program, in the world where people actually buy books, there is a cost associated with flipping from author to author. If you find one author's whose books you really love and get curious about another one, you have to pay to give the new author a shot. And in trying the new author, you run the risk getting a disappointing read and dropping money down the drain. So, most people tend to stick with the tried and true authors--which helps build loyalty to the author and a solid readership. In KU, there is no opportunity to cost to skipping around and trying a bunch of new authors. If your first page doesn't excite, they will just move on at no cost. They don't have to force themselves to invest in you because of all the money they stand to lose. 

So I believe those in the program with existing strong audiences will fare well in the is program. Their readers will keep readings. For new, lesser or unknown authors, it's going to be tough to build a strong readership or sustain one. It's especially hard if you're writing one or two books a year.

The counter to this, of course, is if your books are really good and you're releasing frequently. That increases your chances of success. When they love you, there is more to buy. That's how a lot of the big authors have made it--releasing lots of book fast and keeping their hungry readership stuffed with new material

With me, I have a loyal readership but I can't release J.J. books every four months or every two months, so I tend to fall off the radar until my new books come out and at that time I get a bump in my algorithms and sales and borrows go up.

This is what I think based on my research and it seems reasonable what's next?

Lesson Learned -- Patience

The big lesson I've learned in all of my research over the past few months is patience -- in a series, it's better to release multiple books at one time than to release them a year apart. And that means ticking off your readers until you build up your backlist, but it's critical to surviving as an indie. So this is one reason why I'm postponing the release of Joint Deception until I can release Hostile Allegiance with it. 

For aspiring writers, that would be my biggest lesson. If you're writing a series, release multiple books at one time. That way when your readers fall in love with your characters, they can read one book after the other after the other -- Amazon's algorithms will love you for it and you will probably get more visibility on the site. 

Lots of authors are biting mad over the drop in sales. Look at the Kindle forums if you don't believe me. Am I angry with Amazon? 

No. It's a business. They are doing what they have to do to ensure the success of their company. But it's no longer financially advantageous for me to keep my books exclusively there. 

In setbacks, sometimes there's opportunity. And I see this as an opportunity to expand the series to all platforms and build up my readers across all platforms, especially with the new branding. 

If it doesn't work, I can always pull the books down and sign back up with Kindle Select, but I feel like this is a good move--at least for now. I'm giving it two years--and a whole lot of books. Then I'll re-evaluate. I'll keep you abreast.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 136 -- Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday -- Indie Author

Today's author impressed me because she is probably one of the few to have a very well-known literary agent and traditional publishing offers, but she decided to indie publish because she wanted to publish at her own pace.

I can relate to that! When I sold the rights to my first book, I had some really great moment going and blew all of that with my book deal. Taking your book off the market for nearly a year can hurt---big time! Especially if it's your first book and you have no backlist. 

On top of that, she really seems to love to write. I love a writer who really loves writing. Anyway, she published a paranormal series--Celestra--that not only got her on the big lists (NY Times, USA Today), but she also scored a Hollywood deal, getting her books optioned by 20th Century Fox for a TV series.  

Her name is Addison Moore. Check her out here... 

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Monday, October 26, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 135 -- Taking on Too Much!

Anything Sunday

It's official. I'm nuts. 

So, I have two J.J. McCall novels to finish-- Joint Deception and Hostile Allegiance. I've been outlining and writing chapters but not nearly as much as I want because....

I joined a Valentine book set and have a Christmas deadline to finish a novella for it...but then I also came up with the idea of two more novellas to fill out a 3-novella set which I've already started outlining and then...

I got the idea for the covers for all three novellas and a fourth novella which is the follow up to a romantic comedy I published earlier this year. And then...

I've been taking on a few editing jobs here and there in order to make some extra money and also to give myself a brain break from creativity in between drafts--it helps me go back to my own work fresh. 

Needless to say, I've still got a son to raise and a 9-to-5 job and I have to, you know, live somewhere in there. 

So if you ever find yourself doing this to yourself, DON'T! 

With this said, I am SO EXCITED about every single project on my plate and only wish I had more time to get them done. I need to win the lottery...or sell more books. 

Tell someone to go buy one of my books, please. :) 

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S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 134 -- Hot Links Saturday

Hot Links Saturday -- This Week's Top 5 Publishing Links 

How an industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off theInternet’s craftiest catfishing scheme

This is such an interesting article that talks about yet another way people have been using Amazon to make money at the expense of amazon customers. Take a read of this Washington Post article.  

Amazon's attack of fake reviews is as brilliant as it is necessary

So, the news of Amazon lowering the boom on fake reviewers has lit up the Web this week. I've never used them but they used to hound me like crazy (the ones not associated with Fiverr). The Fiverr ones are the target of their latest clean-up efforts. Very interesting article. Worth a read. 

What Can Publishers Do to Diversify 

A new survey, not surprisingly, found that publishing industry professions are younger and overwhelmingly white--89%. How can the industry diversify? Publisher's weekly is asking the question and offering the general public the chance to provide answers. Get your thoughts in!! 

Why Traditionally Published Authors Are Choosing to Go Indie

Control, freedom to write what you want, higher royalties and earnings (if you have a built-in audience)? Those are my guesses... Makes for a very interesting read, though. Check it out. 

How to Self-Published Books into Stores and Libraries 

Tips from Publisher's Weekly....

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon -- Day 133 - Non-Fiction Friday -- Fool's Mate

Non-Fiction Friday -- Fool's Mate

I found a book that will definitely head straight to the top of my must-read list for espionage fiction reads. It was written by a former FBI Special Agent (our careers overlapped but I don't remember least not by name. I'm more of a face person.)  

He's written a true crime on a Russian spy operating on behalf of U.S. Intelligence at the same time a spy at the NSA was operating on behalf of the Russians...and their lives intersect in a way that gets one arrested. I'm definitely familiar with these cases so I'm excited to get the authors insights. 

If you like reading espionage non-fiction, check out this story. These are such interesting cases.
Here's the summary...
"Fool’s Mate" tells the true stories of two traitors working different sides of the Cold War. One is an arrogant, lonely U.S. Army soldier serving in the highly secretive National Security Agency. The other is an ambitious KGB officer with access to the U.S.S.R.’s most sensitive documents. Both betray their countries, but their fates and motivations are very different. At the height of the Cold War in September 1965, disgruntled U.S. soldier Robert Stephan Lipka walked boldly into the U.S.S.R. embassy in Washington, DC. Inside, he negotiated the sale of highly sensitive National Security Agency documents. The price he demanded for his treason? A mere four hundred dollars. The Soviets could not believe their luck. For the next two years, Lipka delivered a steady stream of important information on U.S. security, before attempting to get out of the spy game as his military enlistment period expired. The KGB, however, continued their interest in Lipka for several years, eventually dispatching deep-cover Soviet illegals to make re-contact. As Lipka exited the scene, KGB officer Vasili Mitrokhin planted the seeds of his own treason, which bore unexpected fruit decades later. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, Mitrokhin fled to the West, offering a treasure trove of archived KGB files in return for protection. Hidden within those documents was incriminating evidence against Lipka, who was then living a quiet life in the Amish suburbs of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After a lengthy surveillance and sting operation, Lipka was convicted in 1997. Thirty-two years after first committing treason, he was finally brought to justice—his conviction ending the longest-running open espionage case in U.S. history. With Lipka’s adamant refusal to cooperate with authorities, it remains unclear just how much American blood he traded for small sums of cash. "Fool’s Mate" reconstructs the Lipka investigation through the eyes of author John Whiteside, the FBI Special Agent who led the case from start to finish, telling a story as relevant today as it was in 1965. With the arrest of ten Russian illegals in 2010 and the 2013 release of classified National Security Agency documents by Edward Snowden, "Fool's Mate" reminds us just how vulnerable national security is to both foreign intelligence services and men like Lipka, willing to sell out their country from within

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogaothon Day 132 -- Craft Talk Thursday

Craft Talk Thursday -- Writing Discipline And Mindset For Authors With James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is one of my favorite authors of books on the craft of writing--although he also writes thrillers. This video is really about how writers can make a living as writers which I think goes along with getting the craft right, first. So watch this...but also check out his line of craft books. I regularly refer to all of them. 

This has some good information about book sets (which I'm doing next year), writing discipline, and a bunch of other stuff. check it out!

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S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 131 -- What's New Wednesday

What's New Wednesday - One Stop for Writers

Sorry, folks! I'm so behind and it's probably going to stay that way until after the New Year. And maybe after that. I will keep providing what so many people have told me is great and useful just may not be as timely as I hoped! 

So featured today on What's New Wednesday is a new writing tool -- One Stop For Writers

This is a cool tool for those of you like me who are really great at spinning plots and envisioning emotion and scenes but you don't describe things very well. You know what you want to say but not quite how to say. You want to give your characters physical characteristics and show emotion through something other than them yelling, smiling, or crying. 

So, One Stop is actually a storehouse for descriptions--not for you to use word for word, rather for you to use as a foundation and then take it from there. 

If you check out the link to the website, it provides a full description of all the features on the web page.

I have not tried this, but I probably will. Take a poke around and see if it works for you!! 

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 130 -- Ad Talk Tuesday -- Cover Reveal

As you all hopefully know by now, books 4 and 5 -- the last two books of the JJ McCall SpyCatcher series are coming out back to back in 2016. 

This is Book 4...

Annnnnnnnnnd--This is Book 5! The story will conclude with a humdinger of an ending. Can't wait. 

They will be released back to back. Stay tuned for release dates!!

Monday, October 19, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 129 -- Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday - Bob Mayer 

The Mindset of Successful Indie Authors

I've been following Bob Mayer's blog for years (look to the right on my blog roll). He's a super successful indie author and I believe he's also publishing with Amazon. But this is the first time I've ever seen this interview. 

All I can say is WATCH THE WHOLE THING. 

Wow. Very enlightening discussion and I've learned so much to help me in my planning for the way forward through 2016. I'm on the right track. 

This is fantastic motivation and contains great information on the business of indie publishing. 

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon -- Day 128 -- Anything Sunday

General Updates 

Can you believe it? Only 237 days left before my blog challenge is complete.

I haven't blogged ever day, but I've posted a blog for every day...far more than I've ever written in my life.  Today, just a couple of things.


Amazon Updates Update

If you've been following my blogs, you probably know about my Amazon drama...and how the Kindle Automatic Updates don't REALLY automatically update, even if you have your Kindle set up automatically update.

In order for your readers to receive updated material on your books (if you upload corrections or updates), then you have to write Amazon Customer Service so they can review your updates to determine how extensive they are and then decide whether they will announce your updates via email...or just enable the updates on your books.

For me, they classified my updates as "Quality Updates" and did not email all of my customers, but they did enable the updates on the books.

What does that mean for you? Well, if you purchased any one of my books under the old branding, you can enable your updates to get the new updates, and covers. If your updates are already set in the "On" position, then when you open the books, they will automatically show the updated versions.

As I found out on my Kindle...and I was very relieved to see. The old version I bought ages ago to check for quality was updated in both exterior and interior.


No more Kindle Unlimited -- For Now

In related yet completely unrelated news, my seven novels currently on Amazon, including the current J.J. McCall Novels, will be pulled from Kindle Unlimited in the coming months so that I can upload them across all platforms--Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. Probably not Smashword. Starting November 15th (next month) they will phase out every couple of weeks until December 15th, so if you're planning to read them on KU, do it while you can. 

I'm in the process of converting the versions to ePubs and getting them uploaded. With that said, my books upcoming in 2016, including the last two JJ books, will be available in KU for a limited time. When they are published.

I will announce publication dates in the coming weeks.