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Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
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VolandoVengoVolandoVoy Offline
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Post: #1
Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
I was just reading this article, which seems very relevant to a lot of RVF members who hustle or have been thinking about hustling with Ebooks.
Basically Amazon is now offering an unlimited 9.99/month Kindle service, and some authors are pissed about it.
I know Roosh has talked a bit about changing up the way he prices, markets, and publishes to maintain sales, etc.
What about those of you out there who are in the biz or trying to break in? What have your experiences been like? Have you been affected by recent changes by Amazon, whether positively or negatively?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/techno...noses.html


Quote:One problem is too much competition. But a new complaint is about Kindle Unlimited, a new Amazon subscription service that offers access to 700,000 books — both self-published and traditionally published — for $9.99 a month.

It may bring in readers, but the writers say they earn less. And in interviews and online forums, they have voiced their complaints.

“Six months ago people were quitting their day job, convinced they could make a career out of writing,” said Bob Mayer, an e-book consultant and publisher who has written 50 books. “Now people are having to go back to that job or are scraping to get by. That’s how quickly things have changed.”


Quote:Holly Ward, who writes romances under the name H.M. Ward, has much the same complaint about Kindle Unlimited. After two months in the program, she said, her income dropped 75 percent. “I couldn’t wait and watch things plummet further,” she said on a Kindle discussion board. She immediately left the program. Kindle Unlimited is not mandatory, but writers fear that if they do not participate, their books will not be promoted.


Brilliant bastards:
Quote:Amazon, though, may be willing to forgo some income in the short term to create a service that draws readers in and encourages them to buy other items. The books, in that sense, are loss leaders, although the writers take the loss, not Amazon.

"Me llaman el desaparecido
Que cuando llega ya se ha ido
Volando vengo, volando voy
Deprisa deprisa a rumbo perdido"
(This post was last modified: 12-28-2014 11:20 AM by VolandoVengoVolandoVoy.)
12-28-2014 11:14 AM
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bacan Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
Yeah I was just reading this. I wonder if it does not apply anymore.

http://boldanddetermined.com/2012/03/21/...ed-income/
12-28-2014 09:58 PM
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germanico Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
Is it optional?

Because the solution would be to actually write good books that people would actually pay for instead of relying on meager royalties from an "unlimited" servide that delivers the crap ebooks nobody wanted to buy.
12-28-2014 10:07 PM
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Post: #4
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
I thought about getting Kindle unlimited as I'm getting a Kindle soon.

Saw the books available, most of the top books (business, management, investing) are unavailable for the unlimited service.

I saw mostly new writers in there along with fiction books.

Edit: Actually, I stand corrected. There's a section for biz books and the selection is quite big. The programming selection has mostly new writers, I was hoping to find the O'riely series in there.

"May get ugly at times. But we get by. Real Niggas never die." - cdr
(This post was last modified: 12-28-2014 11:24 PM by Cattle Rustler.)
12-28-2014 11:14 PM
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Vigo_the_Carpathian Offline
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RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
I've published a fair amount on Kindle (both fiction and non-fiction), and honestly, I've only seen sales increase since KU came online.

This is probably because most of my stuff is below $4.99--the vast majority is $3.99 or under. This means that while I give up about a dollar on each sale, I more than make that up in volume when people read 10% of any of the books they borrow on KU.

I think the article hit the nail on the head: Kindle publishing is trending toward shorter works because that's where the value is. It's unfortunate for fiction writers; why spend 3+ months writing a novel that'll be priced at $3.99 or $4.99 when you can churn out short stories for $0.99 that you get $1.60 or so for when someone downloads them through KU?

There are a few other logical conclusions: I'm increasingly thinking that the way to go (for fiction writers and non-fiction writers alike) is to offer a loss-leader to create an email list, then sell subsequent books directly to that list. I'm thinking of doing this with my next novel when I get around to finishing it--give it away for free to people for joining the list, then charge $7 for the subsequent novel (the final in the trilogy) and deliver it directly to subscribers who buy it. Granted, I've been working on IM-type stuff for a while now, developing my own info products and whatnot, so I've already bought a lot of the infrastructure necessary to do so, but it'll be an interesting experiment in publishing if nothing else. It's tough to feel sorry for the authors in the article when they're already bestsellers who could easily set something like this up, but for whatever reason choose not to.

Increasingly, the main benefit of Amazon/Kindle is simply discoverability. How writers learn to leverage that discoverability into actual cash is the real question. I think you'll see more IM-type tactics start to be employed as the market matures, and/or attempts to provide higher-value products to differentiate the "good" stuff from the sea of crap out there.

Just my thoughts--interested to hear from other guys who've published on Kindle and the other platforms to get their take.

Vigo
12-29-2014 02:12 PM
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VolandoVengoVolandoVoy Offline
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RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
Thanks for that Vigo, very good perspective.

"Me llaman el desaparecido
Que cuando llega ya se ha ido
Volando vengo, volando voy
Deprisa deprisa a rumbo perdido"
12-31-2014 07:48 PM
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WestIndianArchie Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
@Vigo

Love to see a data sheet on publishing for Amazon.

Wouldn't mind penning something

WIA
12-31-2014 07:56 PM
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Duke Castile Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
Vigo,

Could you start selling single short stories rather than a collection?

Or give away the story in parts and sell the finale?

We were meant for far more than to suffer in our self created prisons only to die alone. It doesn't have to be that way. It never did.
(This post was last modified: 12-31-2014 08:26 PM by Duke Castile.)
12-31-2014 08:25 PM
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memcpy Offline
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Post: #9
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
The only downside for an author signing up with Kindle Unlimited is you are "locked" in and can't sell the book on any other platform. It's putting all your eggs in one basket. If an author has many works of short stories and novels then it would be beneficial, like Vigo said.
12-31-2014 11:21 PM
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Beyond Borders Away
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RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
It seems like there must be room in the market for a publisher of electronic books that tightly screens for high-quality.

At least in my mind, Amazon Kindle is becoming synonymous with half-assed books. When I go search for books on a particular subject there, I now wade through the results and spend time reading reviews and seriously checking it out before buying. Sure, that's what those features are for, but for a purchase of 2.99 - 9.99, it seems ridiculous to have to spend that much time making a decision you're still unsure of.

Because even with that screening, I often end up with a book that seems watered down and churned out far too fast, as is the trend, and the reviews often can't be trusted.

An online platform that sold only books of a particular standard would be nice. I have noticed that quality books from authors with clout often go from somewhere between $10 - $20, and even with the surplus of reading material for pennies on the dollar, and even though I can get a lot of halfway decent books for free elsewhere, I spend the extra cash. Just goes to show there's a market for quality.

On the other hand, maybe this is Kindle's way of creating two different distinct markets on their one platform. They know a large portion of these self-published books are crap - of course they have "no comment." They also know that authors worth their salt aren't going to sign up for Unlimited because they don't have to and it would go against their best interest. The books by authors who can't carry their own name and do their own marketing will thus be easily accessible and it will be clear which books are worth your money because they won't be.

And as the surplus of low-quality work goes up, so does the demand for something truly worth reading.

Writers still have more control over their own future than they did in the past; it's just not going to be a lay-up like they've been thinking it will be for the past five or so years. It will take hard work and effort, and that's as it should be.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.
To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you'll be lonely often, and sometimes
frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Kipling
(This post was last modified: 01-01-2015 01:39 AM by Beyond Borders.)
01-01-2015 01:16 AM
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Vigo_the_Carpathian Offline
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Post: #11
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
@Fisto: Sure, could do whatever you wanted. In my experience, short stories don't sell terribly well on Kindle--the "discerning customers" (read: cheap bastards) who shop there see all of the shitty $0.99 novels they can get, so they tend to pass on $0.99 stories. The real trick, as BB alludes to (more on that in a second), is building a premium brand/reputation and charging $2.99 per short story. Some of that brand-building can be done on Kindle (pro cover, killer blurb, etc.). Additionally, a $2.99 short story is more attractive for Kindle Unlimited borrows psychologically--if it's that good that the author can charge $2.99 for it, then it's worth taking a look at. However, increasingly, I think that a lot of that high-end branding has to occur on a platform outside of Kindle, be it a website, Facebook, Twitter, even a site like Wattpad.

The one thing I'd advise against is straight-up giving parts of a story away on a site like Wattpad (which caters to teenagers anyway) and then charging for the last installment--too "gotcha" for my liking. You'll have a lot of customers begrudgingly giving you cash, and then if you don't deliver, not only will they swear off your stuff, but they're more likely to tell their friends to actively AVOID reading you.

Instead, what's worked well for some people is to give away a chapter a week on Wattpad, then have the complete work on Amazon and link to it at the end of each installment in case they want to "read ahead." This forces you to write better cliffhangers and is a softer sell--instead of holding the reader hostage, you're providing them value/a benefit for cash.

All of that said, I've never tried Wattpad before, simply because I'd rather own the list of buyers and be able to sell to them again and again--hence why I'm thinking of trying the other strategy. I guess an alternative would be writing a novel, putting it up on a site like Wattpad, then giving the rest away for free to get the person's email. Essentially, building a list is the most valuable long-term project for me, as a fiction writer, right now, so that I'm not beholden to Amazon or any other company in the future.

@WIA: Happy to do so, and then publish that datasheet (and probably the copywriting one) on Kindle in like 48 hours just to show how easy it is. The originals would stay here so that like-minded dudes could read them, free of charge, but non-RVFers would effectively pay a Cat lady/tard tax.

I do know that there are a couple other Kindle threads out there, but no real datasheet. Is it bad forum protocol to make a new thread for it? Or should I just add on to this one?

(01-01-2015 01:16 AM)Beyond Borders Wrote:  It seems like there must be room in the market for a publisher of electronic books that tightly screens for high-quality.

At least in my mind, Amazon Kindle is becoming synonymous with half-assed books. When I go search for books on a particular subject there, I now wade through the results and spend time reading reviews and seriously checking it out before buying. Sure, that's what those features are for, but for a purchase of 2.99 - 9.99, it seems ridiculous to have to spend that much time making a decision you're still unsure of.

Because even with that screening, I often end up with a book that seems watered down and churned out far too fast, as is the trend, and the reviews often can't be trusted.

An online platform that sold only books of a particular standard would be nice. I have noticed that quality books from authors with clout often go from somewhere between $10 - $20, and even with the surplus of reading material for pennies on the dollar, and even though I can get a lot of halfway decent books for free elsewhere, I spend the extra cash. Just goes to show there's a market for quality.

On the other hand, maybe this is Kindle's way of creating two different distinct markets on their one platform. They know a large portion of these self-published books are crap - of course they have "no comment." They also know that authors worth their salt aren't going to sign up for Unlimited because they don't have to and it would go against their best interest. The books by authors who can't carry their own name and do their own marketing will thus be easily accessible and it will be clear which books are worth your money because they won't be.

And as the surplus of low-quality work goes up, so does the demand for something truly worth reading.

Writers still have more control over their own future than they did in the past; it's just not going to be a lay-up like they've been thinking it will be for the past five or so years. It will take hard work and effort, and that's as it should be.

Really good observations here, BB--a few comments:

1) Traditional publishing has been trying to figure out the solution to the "purveyors of quality" problem for years--they've tried to position themselves as the gatekeepers of fiction, especially, for years. Yet they still publish a lot of bombs.

That would be the main problem for the platform you propose: you'd have to make sure that all of the titles that stick around are "winners." How do you determine that? Is it a democratic "cream-rises-to-the-top" system for ebooks on certain topics, where a book has to sell a certain number of copies at a higher price over (say) 3 months, to stick around? Or do you just have a top-notch editorial staff of experts in the field go through and vet each book instead of some recent liberal arts grad, like most publishers have? It's an interesting problem, and one that I trust the minds on here to be able to work out over the out-of-touch liberals in traditional publishing, and the vast majority of the "buy my piece of shit book" crowd among indies/self-pub types.

2) The second problem is the price ceiling that Amazon is effectively setting. There are a lot of great info products/ebooks that are sold through clickbank and more "IM-like" channels that can't be put on Amazon because of the royalty split--effectively, Amazon wants to be treated like an affiliate taking a 65% cut on anything over $9.99. If they'd bring that down to 50-50%, or even 55% or so, the quality (and price) of books on there would go up, since a lot of these Clickbank money-makers would also be on Amazon. Of course, so would some Clickbank stinkers, too--probably the majority of products on there. Maybe that's why they're hesitant, but the big Clickbank moneymakers with solid sales copy would likely sell pretty well on Amazon, too, which would make Amazon more cash. Amazon's not really the type to leave money on the table if it's there to be made, so I'm sure they've thought this through.

3) Where the price ceiling really hurts is marketing books on Kindle. If the price of a book on Amazon is capped at $9.99, and the publisher keeps 70% of that, they're making roughly $7 per copy on each book sold. To get paid marketing down below around $5 per copy sold is pretty tough, and rarely worth it without a large, targeted ad buy. As the price per book goes down into the $4.99/$3.99 territory, then you're really stretching things to make an ad buy work.

That's why your average self/small publisher is better off using free sources of marketing, like social media, making a press release, emailing reviewers, etc. This takes a shitload of time, and until you have a few titles out and make a few connections with the right people on the right sites, isn't terribly effective.

On the other hand, if you do get into these circles, that's another "crap filter"--if Big Time Blogger X runs your guest post, you can bet they looked at your covers, blurbs, samples, etc. to make sure they're not backing some shit-for-brains idiot who can't string a couple of sentences together.

But you're absolutely right about creating this weird class of books on KU especially. It's helpful for someone like me--not a bestseller, but my books are selling. It's helped me build up reviews organically, which in turn feeds sales. Unfortunately, it doesn't feed me, full-time at least tard, hence the need for a new strategy/doing more IM-centered info products.

Good stuff all around--happy to answer questions as always.

Vigo
01-02-2015 05:54 PM
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ColSpanker Offline
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Post: #12
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
Thought I'd give this post a bump since it contains such good information.
I have a book/movie review blog/website of my own and I can tell you the amount of quality works out there is staggering. I tend to buy things off Amazon, then convert them over to epub for my Sony e-reader. F*ck Amazon trying to control what I read on Kindle.
I've also received an ungodly amount of shite to review for said blog/website. Just last week some poindexter sent me his latest action novel because he'd seen my positive review of a book by a professional author who, he claimed, was similar to his writing style. Jesus H Fucking Christ, it was one of the most confused messes I have ever encountered. Didn't even have a clue how to structure a paragraph.
So I agree you need a good filter before wading into the self-published ebook sea. There are a few authors whom I tend to follow. If they recommend a book, I'll usually buy the electronic version because I trust their judgement. Anything else, I'm going to have to read a chapter or so before making a decesion.

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
02-04-2015 08:31 AM
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Beyond Borders Away
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Post: #13
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
One thing that I've really always believed is the idea that you should always (well, maybe "always" is a bit strong) be doing what the herd is not doing. Most of you have heard entrepreneurs talk about this in terms of real estate or stocks - if everyone is selling, it's time to start thinking of buying. If everyone is buying, you should be selling. It applies to business in a lot of areas.

Sometimes what worries me about the self publishing thing these days is everyone and their little sister thinks they're an author now. We've talked about the consequences of that in this thread.

You know what people aren't doing? Pursuing traditional book publishing deals. You know who is? Quite a few top authors who could certainly afford to outsource their cover design, editing, etc, and make it a fixed cost instead of an ongoing expense. Top authors with the budgets, connections, and agents to do so. Even many that tinker around with self-pubbing for a while seem to wander back to the publishing giants.

If it was really such a clean-cut decision, why would those with the most potential to gain from it essentially give away such a larger percentage of their royalties for something they could pay for and organize on their own? I'm not jumping to make a case for the traditional route, but it's something to think about.

And personally, I don't think traditional publishing will fully die; like everything else, it will more likely evolve.

Of course, jumping on a sinking ship just because everyone else is jumping off may not be the best idea, but it's something to think about. Sometimes I wonder if now might not be the time to be landing a traditional book deal, assuming you can bring the quality to the table, which I believe I can.

Anyone have thoughts on this? Is anyone here pursuing the traditional route at the moment? Or have in-roads and insights to the industry?

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.
To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you'll be lonely often, and sometimes
frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Kipling
(This post was last modified: 03-11-2015 09:56 AM by Beyond Borders.)
03-11-2015 09:48 AM
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RXB Offline
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Post: #14
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
As someone who runs an eBook publishing business I'll chime in.

Kindle Unlimited (KU) is great, and here's why:

1. It is basically the Netflix of Amazon. You subscribe, get all the KU books you want (up to 10 at once) and never pay an extra cent. It's probably saved me about $500 a month.

IN ADDITION, the author gets paid a flat fee per borrow. It varies from month to month (usually between $1.33 and $2.55).

No matter the price of your book, you get paid that rate. Title costs $0.99 to buy but someone borrows it, you just got $1.50 instead. For low priced books this is great.

2. Authors choose to enroll. There are actually rules to being in the KU program. For example, Roosh cannot enter. Why? Because all KU books (minus a few big name titles) have to be exclusive to Amazon.

If you don't want in for this program you don't have to join.

3. KU lets you game the system. More people will borrow than buy. I personally see a 4:1 ratio. What most authors do is write a bunch of short titles and price them at $2.99. You get the borrows and customers think they saved money.

4. KU was built for porn. No really, Kindle's biggest money-maker is erotica. Bored housewives will chew through 10 - 20 "Raped By Bigfoot" stories in an afternoon. The people who (generally) profit the most from it are folks who crank out erotica and romance. Horny soccer moms will download an author's whole catalog in an afternoon. 20 "free" books a day is a lot. If you have a big enough inventory you will make $30 to $50 from a single customer.

5. The KU syndicate is a great way to boost sales. Here's something that's completely allowed by Amazon: borrowing your own books. This pays you (you can borrow each title once) and boosts your visibility on the site. A lot of author's make writing groups where they all download each other's work. No one spends a cent and the book rating goes way up.

6. "Everyone can make money off eBooks" is a lie. Getting a self-published book to sell is just as difficult as getting a traditionally published one to move units. Those guys who write articles about pumping out junk eBooks through Elance or whatever, never make any considerable amount of money. Don't believe me? Go on Amazon's "Top 100 Kindle" page and tell me how many junk self-help eBooks are there. Answer: None.

Long story short, KU is great if you know what you're doing. If you don't, well you probably weren't going to make much anyway.

If anyone has any questions about publishing books hit me up. I'll write up a guide.
03-11-2015 11:00 AM
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Beyond Borders Away
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RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
^ Guide sounds great, Man. Look forward to it.

Do you focus more on marketing the books off of Amazon or on getting good rankings and lots of purchases within the system?

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.
To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you'll be lonely often, and sometimes
frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Kipling
(This post was last modified: 03-11-2015 11:37 AM by Beyond Borders.)
03-11-2015 11:36 AM
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WestIndianArchie Offline
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Post: #16
RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
How does Amazon make money on this?

sounds like something you need to jump on now, because it will change soon.

WIA

(03-11-2015 11:00 AM)RXB Wrote:  As someone who runs an eBook publishing business I'll chime in.

Kindle Unlimited (KU) is great, and here's why:

1. It is basically the Netflix of Amazon. You subscribe, get all the KU books you want (up to 10 at once) and never pay an extra cent. It's probably saved me about $500 a month.

IN ADDITION, the author gets paid a flat fee per borrow. It varies from month to month (usually between $1.33 and $2.55).

No matter the price of your book, you get paid that rate. Title costs $0.99 to buy but someone borrows it, you just got $1.50 instead. For low priced books this is great.

2. Authors choose to enroll. There are actually rules to being in the KU program. For example, Roosh cannot enter. Why? Because all KU books (minus a few big name titles) have to be exclusive to Amazon.

If you don't want in for this program you don't have to join.

3. KU lets you game the system. More people will borrow than buy. I personally see a 4:1 ratio. What most authors do is write a bunch of short titles and price them at $2.99. You get the borrows and customers think they saved money.

4. KU was built for porn. No really, Kindle's biggest money-maker is erotica. Bored housewives will chew through 10 - 20 "Raped By Bigfoot" stories in an afternoon. The people who (generally) profit the most from it are folks who crank out erotica and romance. Horny soccer moms will download an author's whole catalog in an afternoon. 20 "free" books a day is a lot. If you have a big enough inventory you will make $30 to $50 from a single customer.

5. The KU syndicate is a great way to boost sales. Here's something that's completely allowed by Amazon: borrowing your own books. This pays you (you can borrow each title once) and boosts your visibility on the site. A lot of author's make writing groups where they all download each other's work. No one spends a cent and the book rating goes way up.

6. "Everyone can make money off eBooks" is a lie. Getting a self-published book to sell is just as difficult as getting a traditionally published one to move units. Those guys who write articles about pumping out junk eBooks through Elance or whatever, never make any considerable amount of money. Don't believe me? Go on Amazon's "Top 100 Kindle" page and tell me how many junk self-help eBooks are there. Answer: None.

Long story short, KU is great if you know what you're doing. If you don't, well you probably weren't going to make much anyway.

If anyone has any questions about publishing books hit me up. I'll write up a guide.
03-11-2015 05:49 PM
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RE: Changing Economics of Ebook Publishing
(03-11-2015 11:00 AM)RXB Wrote:  Long story short, KU is great if you know what you're doing. If you don't, well you probably weren't going to make much anyway.

If anyone has any questions about publishing books hit me up. I'll write up a guide.

You mentioned romance and erotica. In your opinion, is this business model only successful in certain genres, or is KU suited to all types of books (assuming quality writing and pre-existence of SOME audience demand)?
03-12-2015 12:39 AM
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