Scott Marlowe
Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited and Why I’m Out

Kindle Unlimited

On July 20 of this year, I wrote a post about why I was going all-in with Kindle Unlimited (KU). KU is one of those things where you don’t know if it’s something that will prove beneficial unless you actually try it. I can now report that I did try it, I did have some success with it, but, ultimately, I personally have not seen a great enough benefit to remain with the program moving forward. Today is therefore the last day the books in my Alchemancer series will remain in the KU program. The remainder of my books will fall out next month.

As a reader, I like the idea of KU and the idea of having an unlimited selection of books to read (yes, I know, some refer to KU as “Kindle Limited,” because the selection is not as good as Amazon will have you believe). However, my schedule does not allow me to read enough to justify the $9.99/month cost. I enrolled in the 2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge, where I committed to reading 50 books in 2014 (I’m currently at 49, so almost there). That’s about 2/month, meaning I’d pay $5/read if I was enrolled in KU. Not bad, actually, but then what if I don’t read 2 books? What if I only read one? I don’t know if I could handle the pressure! Of course, there are a number of short stories and novellas enrolled in the program, so it’d be nice to read those without having to “pay” for them.

As an author, the program started out fair. I was “selling” multiple copies of my Assassin Without a Name shorts and novellas each day, which was kind of nice because I can see some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of recouping some of the costs associated with producing those little gems. Also, I started moving a good number of my novels. In terms of units moved, KU worked out well. But only in the beginning. More on that in a sec.

Then there’s the payment thing. KU works like this: someone downloads a title, but the author isn’t paid until said reader gets past 10% of the eBook. Amazon pays for each read out of a monthly pot. So, each author receives a share, which is basically the total pot divided by the number of reads in the entire program to determine a ‘per read’ dollar figure. The dollar figure for the months I’ve been enrolled has been somewhere in the range of $1.33 – $1.50 (I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it really isn’t important). For a 99 cent short story, this works out great because, before KU, I would get $0.35 per book sold. However, for a $4.99 novel, where I get $3.50 for an actual sale, KU isn’t such a good deal.

NOTE: There’s a bit of back and forth amongst my peers about if a ‘read’ really replaces a ‘buy.’ In other words, just because someone ‘read’ your book via KU doesn’t mean you lost a sale (i.e., that they would have bought it). It’s impossible to know this, so difficult (and pointless) to debate.

The greatest benefit, and the reason I initially was happy with KU regardless of the payout, was that I was moving units. Not thousands or even hundreds, but some, every day and consistently. This was enough to keep me in the program. But then something happened. Right after Thanksgiving, reads dropped off a cliff. Literally. To the point where, this month, I think I’ve had 2 KU reads credited to my account. Fortunately, sales are going pretty well, so this has been offset. But, with no rhyme or reason to the drop-off, and no way to stimulate things back to where they were before, I don’t have any choice but to ‘go wide’ once more and release all of my titles to BN.com, Google Bookstore, iBookstore, Kobo, and others.

So, the first books to drop out of KU are The Five Elements and The Nullification Engine. The rest will fall out of the program around January 15 of next year.

This is actually good news, though, because I have been invited by various parties to participate in some fantastic opportunities in the near future. Since Kindle Select requires exclusivity, I need to get out of the program anyway. You know that saying, when one door closes, another opens? That’s pretty much the situation I’m happily in. I’ll have more on these opportunities as soon as things solidify enough for me to talk about them.

In the meanwhile, I’m in the process of restoring the first of my books back to wide distribution whilst saying a fond farewell to Kindle Unlimited. See ya!

Favorite Reads of 2014

Mostly, I read for entertainment. Most of the titles below fit that bill. Some, like The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe, find themselves on my reading list because I love history (Revolutionary War, Napoleonic, World War II, Ancient Rome timeframes are all thumbs up) and have great respect for anyone who has served in our military. I find their stories emboldening and interesting. Other reads, like What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank, are just fun, and something I hope provides information that finds its way into my writing. There’s one financial-related book in this year’s best because I love what Jim Cramer does for the small investor and I found this book in particular hit very close to home because Mr. Cramer talks quite a bit about the tech bubble of the late 90’s. I graduated college in 1994 and lived in the Silicon Valley area (I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area) during the rise and fall of the stock market during that era. Looking back, it was quite a ride. I don’t think any of us really knew what we were in the middle of, but it was some good times. The rest of the books are the usual fantasy, with a little steampunk thrown in, but all good reads (otherwise they wouldn’t be on this list) I recommend.

 

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Free Kindle Giveaway

Kindle Fire

Over the past several months, I’ve been helping to sponsor the Free Kindle Giveaway promotion, where participants have a chance at winning a free Kindle Fire or $139 in PayPal cash. Entering is easy. Take a look at the form below or visit the site, select one or more (more is better because it increases your odds of winning) entries from the list, enter the required information, and hit ‘enter.’

For example, to enter the giveaway by signing up to my mailing list, scroll down to “Join Scott Marlowe’s Mailing List,” provide your email, and you’re done.

Signing up to my mailing list gives you all of the usual benefits: you’ll find out about new releases first and, as a subscriber bonus only, receive a free copy of each Assassin Without a Name title as it’s released. Next up is Thief’s Gambit, currently in final editing, meaning it should be done soon.

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An update on Thief’s Gambit

Thief's Gambit

The next Assassin Without a Name story is in-progress. Seems like it's been in that state for a while, huh? That's because I took a short break after finishing The Goddard Affair before jumping into the outlining of this next one. Then I got a little side-tracked by the Blackguards Kickstarter project. The plus side of that little distraction is that even if the story I submitted doesn't get accepted as part of the anthology, I wrote it as the 6th (or maybe 7th) story in the AWAN series, so the next story after TG is already ready to go.

But, back to Thief's Gambit. I'm 22,000 words into the rough draft now. Based on the outline, I expect this one to hit around 40,000 when all is said and done, which puts it squarely in novella range. That makes it the longest AWAN story to date, and puts a nice round figure of 80,000 words total for the first five stories (I'm thinking anthology here).

But, first, need to finish up Thief's Gambit. Back to it...

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