I’m going to kill a few birds with one stone here, so please bear with me.
Over the last few years, I have received various emails from readers enquiring whether the rest of my books will ever be offered for free, and why my series is not available through the Kindle Unlimited programme. I have never addressed or responded to these issues, but I will now.
So firstly, regarding the pricing of my novels. Contrary to what many people believe, pricing your book low or sending it out into the wild for free (whether permanently or occasionally) does not devalue it. This is definitely a topic of contention, and there are some self-published authors who are extremely vocal in their views. Their initial arguments always start off well, until they inadvertently reveal they believe these books are killing their own sales/visibility. Unfortunately, this is not true. Every reader is unique in their preferred book tastes and some readers will not give a free book a second glance. I have personally discovered a wealth of amazing writers through books that were free on Kindle, and have then gone on to buy the rest of their books – as many readers have done with my own series.
In my opinion, by offering a book for free or 99p/c, the author has acquired new readers – proving this is still a very valuable tool in an author’s arsenal.
That said, while my first novel is currently free (this may change eventually), I have never really done any kind of promo on the rest of the series. Every now and then, I reduce the novella, but I feel that since my novels are full length (ranging between 300 to 700 pages), their prices are fair and reflective of the current market. Although, I’m not saying that they won’t ever be on significant offer in the future. As the series builds, it is an obvious marketing step to discount the next book for a limited time. However, I can confirm that the series will not be offered for free individually in the foreseeable future.
So why is my series not in Kindle Unlimited?
The answer is simple – my series has NEVER been available in KU. The concept of KU is fantastic for readers, as it gives you access to some outstanding novels at a fair price and allows you to discover new authors without further financial disadvantage. Unfortunately, for authors, despite the method of how payment is calculated, Amazon’s reluctance to clean up their house and crack down on those using the programme as their cash cow didn’t give many authors hope of a fair system. Up until recently, the best advice over the last few years was to steer clear.
For those who are unaware, during the summer of 2018, many authors were ousted on Amazon for book stuffing, fraudulently overinflating page counts to game KU, touting for reviews by offering monetary gifts and a whole other raft of accusations and backstabbing were exploding left and right.
Another issue that came to light was the aspect of private writer groups and the self-published authors running them who were exploiting the book themes and readers alike.
For me, the more significant reason why I never enrolled my books in KU is the misconception that you need to produce prolifically – with some writer forums debating that you need to release a book a month to stay ahead. Well, I’m not yet a full-time author, and even if I was, I can’t possibly write a book (or two or three…) per month! In all honesty, unless you write full-time with contractual or personally set self-publishing deadlines, very few can.
So, this leads us to the fact that the book stuffers were actually employing ghost writers (nothing against ghost writers by the way – they get financially shafted by these guys, too) to produce novels for very minimal payment and the book stuffer would then publish as many as they could per month – again, in order to game the KU money pot. In the past, I’ve looked at some of these author’s books and thought ‘Wow, I wish I could write that fast!’. Now, I know they have probably never written one book, let alone the numerous ones they have published.
As a fairly introverted, self-published author who has never hired a ghost writer, has never been involved with these types of groups, and someone who strives to release full length, original, compelling stories, all of this was very worrying. But, unlike some of my peers, I didn’t become embroiled in the unfolding situation. Sadly, some genuine authors did, and they found themselves at the cruel mercy of the book stuffers’ fans and followers online.
Nonetheless, regardless which side of the fence you are on, I can see the flip side of the coin for those writers, who, like me, actually write their own books. Writers who pour their blood, sweat and tears into each word and lay their soul bare on every page. It is disheartening when you see a novel that is clearly ghost written, or a book that has been republished under a different name, overinflated with free rubbish, intentionally formatted wrong, and quite frankly, being sold to game a system upon which so many writers are financially dependant in order to pay their mortgage/feed their families, top the charts. It proves something in the system needs to change.
And change it did.
Amazon got tough and kicked out the culprits who were responsible for some (if not all) of the above. Although the reasons for those authors losing their publishing accounts is merely speculation since Amazon has never confirmed nor denied the same. But we all know that someone else will come along eventually and continue the shady tactics that have marred a good programme for far too long, leaving some readers fed up and disillusioned as to whether or not the book they are purchasing has already been published under a different guise…
More recently, there has even been an alleged case of a Brazilian author plagiarising swathes of other author’s works, word for word, and passing them off as her own. Big names such as Nora Roberts, Bella Andre and EL James were all victims. In the author’s defence, it was the fault of a ghost writer she hired from Fiverr… Subsequently, the ghost writer has confirmed that the author gave him a mish mash of scenes and asked for them to be expanded…
So, even with all of the above muddying the waters, and being a writer who didn’t initially want to be ‘pigeon holed’, ‘controlled’ or ‘exclusive’ to one platform, after four years of being wide, I removed my books from all retailers except Amazon. Now, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably guessed that my entire series is finally available in KU for the first time ever!
This decision wasn’t easy, the same way that removing my works from other vendors that had proved lucrative for me wasn’t. However, life is full of hard choices and we each have to make our own. I won’t go into specific details, but I must do what is best for me and my author brand. While I am quite sad and regretful that readers on the other platforms will no longer be able to buy my books unless they shop at Amazon, I’m actually quite excited to see what new opportunities and readership may arise.
If you are reading this post after selecting my books in KU, please drop me an email and let me know.
Sorry for the long ramble! It’s now time to get back to the WIP, Jeremy is calling me…