Kindle Unlimited Amazon’s Newest KDP Select Program

Amazon has a new subscription program for books enrolled in KDP Select and U.S. readers called Kindle Unlimited. Books already enrolled in KDP Select are automatically placed in the new program, though authors can opt-out if preferred. Readers pay a $9.99 monthly fee for access to unlimited books (that are enrolled).

From their email;

Today we are excited to introduce Kindle Unlimited-–a new subscription service for readers in the U.S. and a new revenue opportunity for authors enrolled in KDP Select. Customers will be able to read as many books as they want from a library of over 600,000 titles while subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. All books enrolled in KDP Select with U.S. rights will be automatically included in Kindle Unlimited.

KDP Select authors and publishers will earn a share of the KDP Select global fund each time a customer accesses their book from Kindle Unlimited and reads more than 10% of their book-–about the length of reading the free sample available in Kindle books-–as opposed to a payout when the book is simply downloaded. Only the first time a customer reads a book past 10% will be counted. (I’m confused–doesn’t that last sentence seem to contradict the first sentence in the paragraph?)

KDP Select books will also continue to be enrolled in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) available to Amazon Prime customers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Japan where authors will continue to earn a share of the KDP Select global fund when their book is borrowed. KOLL borrows will continue to be counted when a book is initially downloaded.

For July, we’ve added $800,000 to the fund, bringing the July fund amount to $2 million.

Learn more about Kindle Unlimited. Visit your Bookshelf to enroll your titles in KDP Select, and click on “Manage Benefits” to get started.

Best regards,
The Kindle Direct Publishing Team

For an indie author, it’s hard to bite the hand that feeds you, but you also notice when a monopoly grows ever stronger. Is this move “ultimately” for a reader’s benefit, the author’s, Amazon’s, some combination or does it benefit everyone? I’d ask some Big 5 publishers, but I have a feeling they’ll decline to respond.

Share any thoughts in the comments.


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Keywords for Amazon Authors: Best Choices for Titles, Categories, Text, Description and more

Keywords for Amazon AuthorsKeywords can be an indie author’s best friend. When used wisely, they help a book come up in search results at Amazon; when not used wisely, a book is destined to only be found via word of mouth.

We had a great webinar training authors to use Amazon’s internal search engine while cross-checking at Google’s Keyword Planner for making smart decisions on keyword choices. We also identified where those words must come up in your KDP dashboard, book’s title, categories, text, description and more.

The webinar was recorded and is still available. It explains:

– What metadata is and how it helps readers find your book.

– How to select the right keywords for your book titles, description, categories, tags and internal text of your book.

– How to use both Amazon and Google’s Keyword Planner for wise decision making.

– How to enhance blog posts and social media mentions like Twitter and Google+ using the same process.

This webinar has been made available to authors here: http://soniamarsh.com/store/products/metadata-keywords-best-choices-for-book-titles. 75 minutes of useful tips, price $15.


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Ebook Retailers Grade for Upload Process

report cardJust finished an update to stay current with the e-publishing industry (not an easy task), then went to the sales venues to submit ebooks and paperbacks. Here’s the graded list in order of most efficient and user-friendly IMO to the least:

1. Amazon KDP. A+, love the subtle changes to their preview mode, still with the ability to both download the converted document or to view the newly enhanced on-screen version with Kindle options and working hyperlinks–very nice and fast. Available in the Kindle store in about 6 hours. This company has always done the most to sell ebooks and help me do it.

2. CreateSpace. A , the interior digital proof and final proof including cover design are miles better than years past. I love this company for paperbacks. Proofs went through in about 12 hours online and a physical copy delivered to my door in 3 days at the slowest shipping speed (because I chose to order a copy). Used to take a week. Fine quality and price is fantastic, can’t be beat by LightningSource or Lulu. Only wish they did more to proof the cover design online before submitting and perhaps add interior template options.

3. Smashwords. A-, some of this is my familiarity and loyalty but they still do a great job and give LOADS of advice on self-publishing. I wish approval times were faster for Premium Status, but it has sped up to around 24-48 hours compared to several days in the past. Also it can be a grizzly bear passing meat-grinder for newbies, but indies should learn proper formatting. SW is doing everyone a service by keeping formatting standards high.

4. Kobo. B, they have a great way of handling uploads for cover, description and content, but their Previewer needs work to get past the B grade. Don’t like the required download to view on Calibre or some other method–Kobo, keep up with the others and create an online Previewer. Props to them for more monthly sales than B & N, a pleasant surprise.

5. NookPress. B-, my first time uploading since the change from Pubit. Definite improvements with the ability to edit within their system and working links in Preview mode and an improved online Previewer. Still not as sweet as the way Amazon handles TOC but getting better. Needs improvements with the Editorial Review department, couldn’t get that to work right or to just delete it altogether. Now if they could fix their Nook Store search engine and get sales going (a long story), which is still affecting their overall grade.

6. Draft2Digital C+ My first experience with them and mixed feelings. Love how they’re attempting to simplify approval for authors without formatting experience, but does it currently come at a cost to those of us with experience? Maybe, maybe not. I’m only distributing to Apple through them and have been watching my book in Publishing status for a week now, assuming it will be distributed to iTunes soon. Excited for the promise of “real time” sales reports. Jury still out on this company but since they’re new, that’s understandable. Wishing them the best.

Besides the biggies, I upload to my own websites for direct sales (pdf, epub, mobi) and give that an A+ at both Webs and Yola. So easy and nice to sell books via PayPal.

I may update the samples at Scribd and other venues but doubt to upload again to Google Ebooks-Partners-Play, not even sure what they’re calling it theses days.

Your thoughts?

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Kobo Direct Uploads for Indie Authors Self-Publishing

Kobo logoKobo ebook retailer just announced Kobo Writing Life, a direct method for Indie authors and self-publishers to upload ebooks to the Canadian store’s cyber-shelves. It’s still in beta-mode and scheduled to be widely available by the end of June. Presently, Kobo is most commonly accessed by Indies via Smashwords.com or another distributor.

From their website:

How’s it work?

Bring us your Word documents, your Mobi files, your Text files! We’ll run your manuscript through our advanced open-source conversion process, transforming it into an ePub in a snap so it’s ready for instant publication to hoards of Kobo readers.

Read Freely? Write freely, too!

Unlike some self-publishing portals we could mention, Kobo doesn’t bind you to us. Publish to Kobo and take your ePub to your adoring fans, no matter where they might be. You’re free to sell your eBook the way you want.

From your computer to the world

Set up your free Kobo Writing Life account and start publishing right away. You won’t have to wait long for the accolades (and royalties) to start pouring in! Kobo Writing Life is launching soon. If you sign up now, you’ll be the first to know and get your eBooks out! Sign up link.

Okay, Kobo takes a shot at Amazon’s KDP Select program by mentioning they aren’t requiring an exclusive agreement. While I don’t like the KDP Select program either, pretty sure Amazon isn’t too worried. After all, Indies have the choice at KDP Amazon and besides, what took so long, Kobo?


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D’vorah Lansky Interviews Jason Matthews

Dvorah LanskyAuthor and book marketing wizard, D’vorah Lansky recently interviewed me on the subject of How Authors Can Benefit by Publishing Their eBooks on Multiple Platforms. It’s an hour video packed with info on this topic including questions on publishing with Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iPad, Smashwords, selling pdf files from your own sites, teaching a Udemy video course and more. If you don’t have an hour, read the cliff notes below. You can also learn about D’vorah and her work at both http://www.bookmarketingmadeeasy.com/ and http://DigitalPublishingVirtualSummit.com.

Jason, how did you get involved in the digital publishing / eBook world? In 1992 I wrote a screenplay and eventually signed with a film agent. Then I watched a decade pass with no deals. I finally rewrote the screenplay as a novel and also wrote a sequel, but both of those tasks took seven more years. By that time I had little patience for agents or publishers, so after a few rejections I decided to self-publish. I remember the exact moment it occurred in 2009, watching a college football game with a player named “Kindle” and the proverbial light-bulb turned on in my head. I knew then that my novels must be made available for Amazon Kindle owners and began the investigation of how to do that.

Why do you feel it is important for authors to publish their book digitally? Whether the author is traditionally published, or a newbie Indie or something in between, she/he must make those stories available digitally because ebooks are growing exponentially while print publishing is a flat industry. It’s also been shown that people who read ebooks are far more active readers and buyers. Ebooks enable an enormous portable library for people to read anywhere, even from their cell phones (you’d be surprised how many do).

In addition to Amazon, what are the top publishing options authors should consider, and why? This is currently the big question, and the answer isn’t the same for every author. In my experience Amazon is the king—Amazon is all that matters to me since they sell about 90% of my ebooks. Amazon even has a program called KDP Select, which requires a 90 day exclusive clause that the ebook is only available at Amazon and literally nowhere else including an author’s website. KDP Select offers special promotions and can really help spread an author’s name within the e-reading circles. Surprisingly, I’ve opted not to do KDP Select to keep my ebooks available everywhere possible. Because I teach these methods, my books must be available at Barnes & Noble, Apple, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, directly through my own websites and even as paperbacks via CreateSpace. Incredibly, all of these things are possible to do at no cost. For other authors, Amazon might be all they need although I would recommend having print copies available at CreateSpace, Lightning Source or Lulu. Print copies do not violate the terms for KDP Select.

If an author has published to Amazon, what benefits are there to also publishing to Barnes and Noble’s Nook? I know some authors who have great sales at Barnes & Noble. A small number sell more there than at Amazon and some sell with reasonable amounts like 25% of what they sell at Amazon. My ratio used to be about 15%, but lately it’s plummeted to 3% for Barnes & Noble sales compared to Amazon. However, that could change at any time so it makes sense for me to keep my books on their shelves. It’s really difficult to pull books from a retailer when they have sold well in the past. Anything could happen in the months ahead.

I know you have a video series in progress where you talk about how you take great care to publish and harness the marketing tools for both Kindle and Nook but your Kindle sales still overtake your Nook sales at a rate of 39:1. What can you share with us about your findings? Some of that is my venting to Barnes & Noble, meaning I wish they were doing the same business for me as Amazon. I find the entire platform at B & N less reader/author friendly including how their search engines operate, a lack of categories, lack of tags and how they recommend books to readers based on demonstrated preferences. Part of it is also this—I believe B & N got into the e-reading game reluctantly and a bit too late. They resisted the initial digital surge until finally realizing the brick and mortar design alone could not stand afloat, and so they introduced the Nook in Oct. 2009, well after the Kindle was established in Nov. 2007. It’s a great product and B & N was a great store, but why did it take them so long to get on board digitally? In the past week Microsoft invested heavily in Barnes & Noble with a pledge of $600 million to help the company compete with Amazon and Apple. Okay, we knew Microsoft didn’t like Apple, but it doesn’t take much now to see Microsoft and Amazon aren’t in bed either. Personally, I think Bill Gates may have just dumped over half a billion dollars. I wonder if Barnes & Noble is a doomed company still relying heavily on brick and mortar sales. If that’s true, it’s a good thing for Mr. Gates that he can easily afford the $600 million.

Are you familiar with publishing aggregates such as Lulu.com and Smashwords.com and what can you share with us about these companies? I’m a huge fan of Smashwords, a company that’s done more for ebooks and Indie authors than anything outside of Amazon. I met the CEO, Mark Coker, at the 2010 San Francisco Writers Conference and got his autograph (first one he’s signed). Smashwords helps new authors in more ways than I can list here. It does a dual publishing job of converting documents into multiple formats to be read on many devices while also distributing ebooks to companies like Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo and Diesel for sales. Smashwords does a tremendous amount of work while taking a smidgeon of profits (around 5%). Lulu, in my opinion, used to make more sense than it does now. For publishing ebooks, just upload directly to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple (if you’re a Mac user) and Smashwords for distribution to the rest. For paper versions, I recommend CreateSpace or Lightning Source over Lulu, but Lulu is not a bad platform either. CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, which makes the integration of ebook and print versions on their site seamless.

Jason, what else would you like to share with our community of authors, coaches, and speakers, regarding publishing their eBooks? This question could be answered in an entire book, or several–believe me because I’ve written them. If I could only impress one idea to a new author getting a book released, it would be this; experiencing success as an Indie author is most likely to happen if you do three things well. First, your book must be fantastic. It must be well-edited and make people want to read it entirely then share it with others who might benefit. Second, you must do everything possible to get the word out about your book, and this is probably wiser with free methods like blogging, participating in forums and using social media. Third, you must have thick skin for the nay-sayers while also having devout persistence when the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years. These things typically don’t happen overnight. There are a million Indie authors releasing ebooks, but only a tiny fraction will succeed. To be successful, you must have those three attributes to rise above the masses.

What one thing would you have our listeners do, in the next 24-hours, to take action on what you shared with us today?

Build an Internet Platform or Internet Presence list and identify your strong areas and those that need work. Think of it like a checklist or an outline or even a marketing plan, whatever works best for you. Items on the checklist don’t need to be worked on in a specific order, all can be done simultaneously in bits and pieces. These should include:

  • Writing the book
  • Editing the book (and this can be done in a several ways)
  • Cover design
  • Formatting the ebooks for Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and your own sites
  • Formatting for print versions (CreateSpace, Lightning Source, Lulu)
  • Building social media presence (Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube)
  • Building a blog and/or website
  • Identifying the best forums for your subjects and participating at least occasionally.

Once you have the list (checklist, outline or marketing plan), refer to it monthly to identify which elements need the most work and stick with it.

Succeeding as an author today is perhaps equally as difficult whether one attempts to get published traditionally or enter the world of self-publishing. In both cases, the author will be required to market her/his books. The main benefit in choosing the self-publishing route is bypassing the waiting game; getting a book out there in little time and working on sales is a rewarding momentum boost for many Indies.

If that sounds like you then I recommend my book, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free. It’s a guide for learning everything it takes to make and sell books in a digital world on a budget everyone can afford. There is also advice for those who’d like to spend money wisely.

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