I’ve been down for the count the past 3 weeks. I’ve been to the doctor twice; the second time showed the crap I had turned into an infection. Strong antibiotics were prescribed for me and my kids. (It was a family affair.) I’m happy to report that my kids are better, but, while I’m marginally better, I’m still far from 100%, which, frankly, just plain stinks. I’ve never been one to just lay around and do nothing. I need to feel productive by the end of each day. I need to feel like I didn’t waste precious time, time my children’s grandmother would have loved to have. But that’s where I’ve been the past 3 weeks: in bed. I struggled to read a mere 2 books. I kept coughing and losing my spot on the page/screen until I eventually gave up. (The same with writing. – Fun fact: I tend to cover my mouth with my dominant hand, a.k.a. my writing hand.) So, I’ve spent most of the last 3 weeks watching over 150 episodes of Bones. I’ve never been so sick that I couldn’t read before. Even recovering from surgery, I’ve always been able to read. It was foreign and scary. It drove me bonkers. It’s still irritating me. Just typing this paragraph, I’ve stopped multiple times to cough. Fingers crossed this post isn’t a jumbled mess.
I’m up because I’m tired of being in bed. I’m up because my to-do list has doubled in the weeks I’ve been recuperating. I’m up because I’m done letting this crud kick my rear asset. I’m up because I have books to write and work to do. I’m up because I’m done being down. I’d rather hack up a lung every couple minutes but accomplish something, even if in bits and pieces, and feel productive than to continue to let everything pile up. (Side bar. – Do you know how messy a house gets, particularly with 3 kids and 2 dogs, when you’re not cleaning it every single day because you’re too sick to? It’s not pretty.)
Now that you know why I disappeared this time around, let’s get down to business.
I’ve always been open with y’all, and it’s about to get real.
Kindle Unlimited changed the game, and then Kindle Unlimited changed.
Like every other author I know, I am both an author and a reader. Since I enrolled all of my titles in Kindle Unlimited, I’ve been a KU customer myself. In the beginning, I was excited. Who doesn’t love the idea of being able to borrow and read an unlimited number of books anytime they want for as long as they want? That first month I borrowed more than my fair share of titles, most of which I’d been eye-balling for some time but couldn’t bring myself to spend beyond my book budget to purchase. The second month, I began reading authors I’d never heard of. I was more comfortable taking risks on newbies because there was no financial gamble. (Fun fact. – I’ve never returned a book, even if I didn’t enjoy it.) By month three, I returned to my top authors, some old and a couple new, and began to comb through their newer content.
And this is where it went downhill.
Authors I’ve always enjoyed were no longer enjoyable. Titles have shortened in length. Authors are writing less in each book to produce more books. (Note. – Many readers aren’t aware, but Amazon has algorithms that affect marketing and promotion of an author’s title(s). For instance, authors who publish more frequently are better represented in recommended buy lists than authors who take their time and publish full-length titles a couple times a year. The magical number? 30 days. Amazon wants authors to publish a new title every 30 days to remain in their good graces and receive visibility.) Knowing the industry giant, I’m totally fine with shorter books. In fact, I prefer them most of the time. (Fun fact. – I love nothing more than indulging in a juicy short story before bed each night.)
What I don’t prefer is more options with little-to-no quality, little-to-no substance.
Since the dawn of self-publishing in the e-book industry, there has been a battle, a long drawn out disregard for self-published titles under the notion that they often lack in quality. I won’t argue that point. Frankly, a lot of titles I’ve read needed an editor, needed a solid proofread before publication yet didn’t receive one. There is no such thing as a perfect book, though. I don’t expect perfection, but I do desire an escape, an indulgent fictional vacation, and, sadly, I haven’t received that since month two in KU.
The KU library of choices has multiplied exponentially these last few months, yet I find myself lacking the patience to sift through countless options seeking something that intrigues me, that captures my attention from the sample onwards, and doesn’t lack in quality. 90% of the authors I used to be able to count on have disappointed me. Kindle Unlimited changed the game, and then Kindle Unlimited changed. In the beginning I was ecstatic at the array of quality options at the top of the lists, at the forefront. Now, I grow weary from searching, from sifting, and typically either read an old reliable title I already own or find some sort of drivel to watch on Hulu.
This is what I’ve noted, what I’ve experienced as a reader with Kindle Unlimited: I’m a desperate yet exhausted reader who is crying out for something decadent to devour on my Kindle, but I don’t have the patience to locate it, to seek and find that luxurious morsel of fiction. The genres are cluttered with sub par partial stories that have made me want to throw my Kindle in the trash, curl up in a ball and sob with disappointment.
As an author, what started out as a way of rejuvenating my sales and rankings has now become the polar opposite; it’s now the detriment to my income. (Note. – Authors who participate in Kindle Unlimited contract titles into the program for 90 days. This contract is typically auto-renewed every 90 days by Amazon unless the author goes into their back office and alters this. During those 90 days, the author cannot publish the content on any other platform without consequences.) (Note. – No matter the price of the title enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon pays a flat fee per borrow to the author. The scary part? The amount to be paid out per borrow isn’t announced until 15 days past the end of that month’s sales. – I didn’t find out how much my March borrows were worth until April 15th.) Currently, my borrows are at an all-time low and my sales are at an all-time low, despite consistently releasing new content. My conclusion? As a KU reader, I was overwhelmed and became disengaged. As an author, I can only assume that my readers feel the same way.
So now what?
My titles are locked in for 90 days from their last date of enrollment or auto-re-enrollment. I can’t change that until my KU contracts end. But, when they do, I will be cycling everything out. Almost every industry continually evolves, continually changes. Few things ever remain the same. Admittedly, though, I’m disappointed that KU didn’t pan out long-term for me as a reader and as an author.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely dismissing Kindle Unlimited. It’s a great idea, a genius concept, but, it’s far from perfect. Any book platform, retailer, and/or publishing model that encourages the sacrifice of quality should be ashamed. Think of the classics. If the greats were forced to publish every 30 days to satisfy an algorithm, they would likely no longer be great. Inside and outside of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon practically demands consistent new content to achieve any margin of success with its customers.
I’ve never been comfortable rushing. I’ve never been (morally and ethically) able to relinquish quality for quantity. That’s why some of my titles have been delayed with the publisher: I refuse to lower my standards from where they currently are. I’ve grown exponentially as a writer in four years. I’m not the same author I used to be. I string words differently, better. I would be doing everyone a disservice by releasing old content that is now below my current par.
As my contracts end with the Kindle Unlimited program, my books will once again be available through all vendors, including many new ones, such as Google Play. Going forward, I probably won’t enroll my new titles in Kindle Unlimited until their sales have stagnated across all other vendor sites. I believe this is the most ethical way to utilize Kindle Unlimited. When it comes to politics, I’ve never chosen sides. I take everything in, weigh the pros and cons to their proposals, each candidate’s proposed solutions, and then decide, not based on red or blue, but based on hard truth, on plausibility and on fact. The hard truth is, I doubt my sales and borrows will recuperate during the remainder of my contracts with Kindle Unlimited. Do I regret participating, as a reader and/or an author? Absolutely not. Experience is everything. You can’t beat first hand knowledge. Admittedly, in the beginning KU saved me financially after a difficult year, both personally and professionally. I’m grateful for it.
But every good sailor knows when to jump ship, and every good businessman knows when to adjust his approach.
I’ve learned so much in the four years that I’ve been published. Like every industry, publishing is full of ups and downs. Like any commission based job, my income has fluctuated all over the chart. My single victory? I’ve survived it all. (Fun fact. – I’ve always been stubborn. Once I set my mind to something, there is no altering my course.) I will never stop writing. I will likely never stop publishing what I write either. Every author is a business owner. And every business owner knows that complacency is the first sign of their demise.
Kindle Unlimited was merely the first of many changes I’m certain will come in the publishing industry for the e-market. It’s a valiant, triumphant effort on Amazon’s part in many ways. But, like most things in life, it’s far from perfect. For me, KU has officially become a passing fancy. I will likely switch reading platforms for the time being and only purchase titles on Kindle from authors that haven’t disappointed me, authors I know by name to seek out. As an author, I will be branching back out and no longer contributing to a monopoly on the e-book market. The fact is, I doubt anyone will ever trump Amazon. The best part of that? To this day, there are far more Windows computers in use than Macs, despite Macs being far less susceptible to malware, viruses, and general breakdown over time. Apple isn’t secondary in quality. They never have been. The difference between Windows and Mac to a user? Preference.
Success is based on (customer) preference in the majority of industries.
As a customer, I no longer prefer KU, and, as an author, I feel the same.
If you are a KU subscriber, borrow my titles while you can. Several books will be removed from the lending library on April 27th with the others following sporadically through July. By July 30th, 98% of my titles will no longer be participating in the Kindle Unlimited program. Again, if sales drop off for a title across the board, I’m not opposed to (re)enrolling it in the program, but, as of right now, that will likely be the only exception.
Final fact. It’s taken me 3 hours to type this…because I’ve coughed more times than I can count. My work station is pleading to be doused in Lysol.
Here are a few title updates:
1. Unbreakable is no longer available as a 4-part serial. It is only available as a single book option, however, I did enroll it in Kindle Unlimited as a courtesy for those who borrowed any of the first 3 parts since its original release.
Buy or Borrow it Now:
2. Each title in the Alpha Doms series is no longer available individually. The box set is the only purchasing option at this time. Again, as a courtesy to readers who have borrowed a few of the (individual) titles already, I enrolled the box set in Kindle Unlimited.
Buy or Borrow it Now:
3. My most recent series, Military Quickies, will continue. I have more titles in the works, however, they will not be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited upon release. So borrow these while you can.
Buy or Borrow it Now:
*A FUN AND SPICY READER FAVORITE!*
Buy or Borrow it Now:
Buy or Borrow it Now:
4. One Cajun Night Part 2 is still in the writing phase due to being sick. It is coming, though, along with Karley’s Surrender, Wolf Charming (tentative title for Cade’s story, from Two Times the Charm) and many more.
5. Print release(s) have been pushed back by the publisher to 2016. As of right now, the only definitive print release date I have is for the One Soldier series. The revised and updated version of One Letter, One E-mail, One Christmas and One Note (new!) will be bound together and released in bookstores on March 18th, 2016. As soon as I know any other release dates, I will pass them along.
6. Every year I’ve released a new Christmas title. By July, you will see those holiday books bundled and offered at a discounted rate for purchase. (Christmas in July, anyone?)
If anyone will be attending the Innocence Network Conference in Orlando April 30th – May 2nd, I will be speaking and participating in a panel on publishing at the conference. Feel free to say hi! You can find a full list of speakers here: CLICK ME. – I will be attending other conferences and conventions later this year. I’m working on creating an events page to share these dates. Check back soon for that.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it again and again. THANK YOU! Thank you to each and every one of you who have purchased and/or borrowed any of my titles. Thank you for continuing to support me, and in turn my family, for four years now. Thank you for your patience, your loyalty, particularly as I wade through the ever-changing market. I adore you. I appreciate you. I would not be where I am without you. I wouldn’t have survived for four years without you. And I won’t survive the next four without you. I’m hyperaware of that, and will forever be humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude because of that fact. You’re invaluable. Thank you, thank you, thank you! – Christin