Amazon.com recently launched Kindle Unlimited, a subscription-style option for readers essentially permitting them unlimited ebooks in the Unlimited program for a standard monthly fee. What ebooks are in the Unlimited program? All books in the Amazon Select program, whereby readers borrow an ebook for a period of time for free. Because Amazon maintains a “Global Fund,” the borrowed ebook earns for the author a varying royalty determined as a percentage of the Global Fund, which may change from month to month. There are some 500,000 ebooks in the Select program, which are now in the Unlimited program.
You should be aware of two major rules affecting Select, and fherefore Unlimited, ebooks. First, if you decide you want to go this route, Amazon demands exclusivity. Meaning that you are required to remove the book from other vendors, typically Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Second, you are locked into the Select program for three months, whereupon, unless you uncheck the re-enroll box, you are automatically re-enrolled.
I tried Select about two years ago with a title, U F uh-O, A Sci Fi Comedy. This is a novella based on a screenplay I wrote for a producer looking for another “Men in Black” or “Galaxy Quest,” and scored a five-star review on Amazon.com. I had sold a few copies of this ebook on Amazon, Nook, and Smashwords. Then I put the book on the Select program, according to the rules. I got no borrows whatsoever. After three months, I put the ebook back on sale and relisted it on the other vendors.
So my experience with Select was not good and I really can’t recommend it.
Here’s the 5 star review:
A very clever humorous novella! July 26, 2013 Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase “I had never read any work by this author, but I met Lisa on Facebook and twitter and she seemed a very nice person. For that reason, I thought I would try one of her books, but I really had no expectations; being a nice person is no proof that she will be able to write. As it turns out, she also was an excellent author! By about the time I was halfway through the book, I found myself very involved with the characters and wholeheartedly cheering them on! I took a chance on someone I never read before and was rewarded by finding another favorite author. It wasn’t until I had finished the book and read the end material that I learned that she had many other works published and some with pending movie contracts. I would highly recommend this 82 page funny novella to anyone who enjoys a well written book with excellent character development in unusually subtle ways. Read this little book and I’m sure you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was. I am looking forward to reading more of her works as I’m sure you will be, too!”
When Amazon launched Unlimited, they did not notify or ask the permission of Select authors before their books were automatically enrolled, they just went ahead and did it, causing a stir at Publishers Weekly and elsewhere. Because some authors did not wish to become a part of Unlimited, Amazon was forced to offer Select authors a way to unenroll their books from Select, and therefore Unlimited.
Why would you wish not to be a part of Unlimited? Two authors on the Books & Writers group on LinkIn have already expressed their fears that readers would begin borrowing so many books to make their monthly fee worthwhile that the authors’ royalty would be substantially reduced.
This problem is compounded by the fact that Amazon Unlimited counts a reader’s sampling of more than ten percent of the book as a sale! I don’t know about you, but I sample books—for-sale books—all the time to get a sense of the author’s style, how the book opens, and so on. As result of Unlimited’s sampling gambit, a number of Unlimited ebooks have precipitously leapt into the top 100 books on Bowker Ebook Ranking and elsewhere. In other words, Unlimited sampling artificially inflates “sales figures.” The problem became so dire, so quickly, that Bowker removed Unlimited ebooks from its ranking!
Finally, Smashwords has issued a blog denouncing both Select and Unlimited because of the exclusivity rule. Naturally, Smashwords has a vested interest in taking this position—they’re Amazon’s prime competitor after Barnes and Noble. Most authors, including me, list their books directly with Amazon and Barnes and Noble and then distribute to Apple, Kobo, Scribd, and so on via Smashwords. This is a good strategy because Amazon and B&N pay royalties on a monthly basis, whereas Smashwords pays only quarterly. Further, meeting the independent formatting rules of all those vendors is difficult. I find it easier just to let Smashwords handle that through its fantastic conversion program.
So there you have it, my friends. If you’ve never been published before and have written a ebook, you may wish to try Select and Unlimited to try to win readers who are unfamiliar with your name and your work and who don’t have to pay for your book (or your book is included in their fee along with all the other books they borrow). Personally, I think that unknown authors offering their books for free or for a minimal amount is demeaning to their work and an unsound strategy. Better to promote on the social networks, offer free samples, and/or publish stories in an established traditional venue and win name recognition that way.
I’m embarking on the serialization of The Garden of Abracadabra on WordPress and Wattpad today! I’ll let you know how that goes.
Previous Blogs in this Series:
State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Introduction https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/03/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-1-introduction-lisa-mason-sfwapro/
State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 2: Who’s Reading? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/07/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-2-whos-reading-lisa-mason-sfwapro/
State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 3: The Shady Case of Fifty Shades https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/17/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-3-the-shady-case-of-fifty-shades-lisa-mason-sfwapro/
State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 4: The Comet and the Long Tail Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-4-the-comet-and-the-long-tail-lisa-mason-sfwapro/
State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 5: Authors’ Market Share Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/02/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-5-authors-market-share-lisa-mason-sfwapro/
State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 6: Ebooks Versus Print Books Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/19/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-6-ebooks-versus-print-books-lisa-mason-sfwapro
From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony; Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo; My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.
Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!
And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
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