All posts by jmoellerwriter

Kindle Unlimited For Self-Publishers, Month #2

In October I started an experiment where I put 19 of my older short stories into the Kindle Unlimited subscription program. (My reasoning is explained in this post.) My goal was to have at least 34 Kindle Unlimited borrows, since that would match the sales I lost by removing the short stories from non-Amazon sales platforms, assuming the rate that Amazon pays for borrows stays above $1. (For October the rate Amazon paid per borrow was $1.33, and in November it was $1.39.)

In October, the first month of the experiment, I had 49 borrows.

In November, the second month of the experiment, I had 61 borrows, and I also gave away 1,003 copies of short stories using the free days that come with Kindle Select. GHOST RELICS had the most borrows, 10 total, with GHOST PRICE, THE THIEF’S TALE, and THE ASSSASSIN’S TALE coming in second with 6 borrows each. 43 of the borrows were in the US, 16 of them were in the UK, and 2 were in Germany.

So, what conclusions have I drawn after 1 2/3 months of Kindle Select?

-I definitely would not put any full-length novels in Kindle Unlimited. I am entirely certain the amount of borrows would not make up for sales on B&N, iTunes, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play. Granted, I suspect there are writers for whom that would be true, but I imagine only a few of them. That said, KU still seems to be a primarily US-based program. In 2014 I sold lots of books through iTunes UK, iTunes Australia, Google Play Australia, and Kobo Canada. I couldn’t have done that if those books had been in Kindle Unlimited.

-I have actually made more money off 61 borrows in November ($84.79) as opposed to selling 61 copies of those short stories on non-Amazon platforms. (Roughly $42.48, give or takes a couple of dollars depending on currency conversion rates, and specific retailers’ policies.)

That said, the math only works because I usually sell short stories at $1.99, of which I personally receive $0.70 or so. The math is very different for novels. For example, FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT currently sells at $3.99, of which I personally receive about $2.79. So trading $2.79 of a non-Amazon sale for the $1.39 of a Kindle Unlimited borrow means I would have to have 2 Kindle Unlimited borrows for every 1 non-Amazon sale. That does not seem likely, and may become even less likely if the rate for borrows drops below $1.30 or so.

-There’s also a dark side to this. Lately I’ve been getting emails from people who are annoyed to discover that the short stories are no longer available on non-Amazon ebook platforms. Granted, there are not a lot of these emails. I suspect most readers prefer full-length novels over short stories, and I mostly write short stories to add value to my new-release newsletter. (I do also enjoy writing them.) Nonetheless, there are people who do read short stories. Essentially, I’m trading a slightly wider footprint on Amazon for a narrower footprint elsewhere. Since it takes a long time to build up a footprint on a retailer (reviews and ranking and so on), having a smaller footprint might be a bad strategy long-term.

-The ability to give away short stories for free is useful, but I’m not sure giving away short stories leads people to look at the rest of the books in the series. It’s much more useful to give away short stories to people who were already going to buy the book anyway (such as my new-release newsletter subscribers).

I don’t think there’s a right answer here. Going into Kindle Unlimited has one set of advantages and disadvantages, and not going into Kindle Unlimited has a different set of advantages and disadvantages. It’s a bit like choosing between a PC and a Mac,  I suppose.

Currently, I am planning to drop my short stories out of Kindle Unlimited and back onto the other platforms starting in January, once the three-month term of Kindle Select for the various stories starts expiring. I think that is the best decision for the long-term. Though the fact that I haven’t had any Kindle Unlimited borrows since Dec. 15th does make it an easier decision. :)

-JM

my fourteen favorite FROSTBORN scenes of 2014

Note that this post has SPOILERS for the entire FROSTBORN series to date.

This year I wrote three and a half FROSTBORN books – the second half of FROSTBORN: THE UNDYING WIZARD, and then FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF, FROSTBORN: THE IRON TOWER, and FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN.

Some scenes, of course, are more fun to write than others. Of course, this often has no bearing whatsoever on which scenes the readers enjoy most. On multiple occasions, I’ve heard something that I threw in or changed at the last minute was a reader’s favorite scene or line in the book, whereas no one notices something I planned to put in for months.* It is always amusing to see how it shakes out.

That said, here are the fourteen FROSTBORN scenes I enjoyed writing the most in 2014:

14.) Anytime Brother Caius, Kharlacht, and Jager start arguing about theology.

13.) Anytime Calliande and Morigna argue or have to work together (usually while arguing). Deep down, they both badly want to punch each other, but they’re smart enough to realize that would not be helpful.

12.) Ridmark and party exploring the dwarven ruin of Thainkul Dural in FROSTBORN: THE UNDYING WIZARD. I love dungeon crawls. This may not surprise you. :)

11.) Mara and Jager meeting for the first time in THE ASSASSIN’S TALE.

10.) Morigna joins Ridmark’s group at the end of FROSTBORN: THE UNDYING WIZARD.

9.) Calliande, Morigna, and the rats at the end of FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF.

8.) The moment when Paul Tallmane realizes that he really shouldn’t have listened to the Artificer in FROSTBORN: THE IRON TOWER.

7.) Jager settles with Paul Tallmane once and for all at the end of FROSTBORN: THE IRON TOWER.

6.) Ridmark and Jager defeating Rotherius and the other assassins of the Red Family at the end of FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF.

5.) Gavin and Truthseeker in FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN.

4.) Mara conquers herself in FROSTBORN: THE IRON TOWER.

3.) Mara successfully fools the Warden in FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN.

2.) The Warden tells the truth to Calliande and Ridmark in FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN.

1.) Really, entire second half of FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN.

*Mara herself is an example of “throwing something in”. When I originally outlined FROSTBORN, she was just “Jager’s girlfriend”, and I didn’t think she’d be in the series past THE MASTER THIEF. Then I decided that she was a former assassin of the Red Family. Then when I actually started writing THE MASTER THIEF, in typing her first scene I suddenly decided that she was half dark-elven. Now THAT threw the plot in a whole new direction! I kept having to rewrite the series outline every time she did something.

-JM

another excerpt from GHOST IN THE RAZOR

In today’s excerpt from GHOST IN THE RAZOR, Caina reminisces:

“Aye,” said Caina, waving a hand at the buildings. “This used to be part of the Alqaarin Quarter, but the Padishah’s father expanded the Alqaarin Harbor, and the traffic moved to other parts of the city. Most of these buildings were abandoned, and in recent years the Saddai began settling here.”

“What drove them to Istarinmul?” he said.

Caina’s mouth twisted. “Anatsius Nicephorus, the Lord Governor of Rasadda. He abused his office and started forcing the Saddai off their lands, creating estates for his friends and selling the dispossessed farmers into slavery. His misrule almost drove Rasadda to revolt from the Empire.”

“I heard of Nicephorus,” he said. “What happened to him?”

“I did.”

“Ah.”

Fun fact: I named Lord Governor Nicephorus for the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus I, who was killed in battle against the Bulgarians in 811 AD. After the battle, the Bulgarian khan Krum had Nicephorus’s skull turned into a silver drinking goblet.

2nd fun fact: Nicephorus spurned Charlemagne as a pretender to the imperial title of the Roman Empire. However, Charlemagne died of old age and his bones are in interred in a golden coffin in a cathedral in Germany to this day, while Nicephorus was killed in battle and had his head turned into a Bulgarian khan’s trophy tumbler. So Charlemagne seems to have had the last laugh.

-JM

a free Caina story for Christmas?

A few people asked if I was going to do a free GHOSTS story for Christmas the way I did last year. The answer is yes! Sometime before Christmas I’m going to publish a Caina short story called GHOST KEEPER, and subscribers to my new-release newsletter will be able to get the story for free via Smashwords coupon code.

You can sign up for my new-release newsletter (if you haven’t already done so) at this link.

-JM