Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Unlimited Profit: The math behind how Kindle Unlimited is going to make Amazon a ton of money, and maybe you, too!

Ever since the rumors started about Amazon's $9.99 a month unlimited ebook subscription service, Kindle Unlimited (often described as a "Netflix for Books"), there's been a great deal of speculation and doomsaying about what this will mean for book sales. Specifically self-published and small press book sales since the Big 5 publishers aren't included in Kindle Unlimited's initial offering.

The basic breakdown goes like this: readers pay $9.99 a month for unlimited access to the Kindle Unlimited library, which currently boasts upwards of 600k titles, including bestsellers like The Hunger GamesLife of Pi, and every self-published title currently enrolled in Amazon Select, Amazon's exclusive publishing option. (Note, several big name indie authors like Hugh Howey don't have to play by the exclusivity rules. This is great for them! For the rest of us, though, being in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited means we can only publish on Amazon. More on that in a sec.) Self published authors with books in Kindle Unlimited are paid their usual royalty when a reader hits the 10% mark. (UPDATE! I got this wrong!! Select authors are paid a fixed percentage of the global fund just like it was for the Kindle Lending Library, not their royalty. Last month, this worked out to $2.40 per borrow, which was fantastic for people selling $0.99 books, like myself, but not so great for authors with higher priced books who would normally earn more than that with a sale. I'm updating the rest of this post to reflect this information for the sake of accuracy, though my general argument remains unchanged. Sorry about the mix up!) Small publishers have different deals--some are paid when a reader first opens the book, some are paid at 10% like the rest of us--but everyone gets paid at some point when a Kindle Unlimited subscriber reads their book.

Now, if you're following the math above, you might notice a gap between the $9.99 monthly subscription price and the usual cost of books. Plenty of books start at $9.99. Even if you're buying all indies at $2.99 a pop, that's still only 5 books before you hit ten bucks and start getting books for "free." So how is it, then, that Amazon can afford to let people read all they want and pay authors their usual royalty on the books for only $9.99?!

Up until now, the answers I've seen to this question have either been "They're going to cut royalty rates on borrows! We'll all be getting paid pennies in no time! DOOOOOOM!" or some variation of "Relax, Amazon knows what they're doing."

Personally, I'm not really satisfied with either of these. I don't believe Amazon will suddenly slice the royalty rate on the authors that create all the content they're now selling. Authors, I might add, they've been working very hard on wooing away from traditional publishers for years now. Why would they undermine that just to shore up Kindle Unlimited? That's robbing Peter to pay Paul. It just doesn't make sense, especially not for a company as smart and far seeing as Amazon. On the other hand, I also don't believe in blindly trusting giant corporations to have my best interests at heart.

To truly understand why Amazon decided to launch Kindle Unlimited and how they hope to profit off it (and, hopefully, how we can, too), we need to understand the math behind the Kindle market itself. Naturally, of course, we don't have any exact numbers (Amazon doesn't share those with anyone) but we do have a lot of percentages and derived figures, and those numbers paint a very interesting picture, indeed.

But first, let's start by figuring out how many ebooks Amazon actually sells.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I talk Paradox secrets and Nice Dragons with Fantasy Book Critic!

So the absolutely wonderful Mihir at Fantasy Book Critic asked me to come do an interview! We talk all about Paradox, including a lot of secrets and back story that weren't covered in the books (so no spoilers) and about the new Paradox trilogy that I hope to be writing soon! We also talk a lot about my new book, Nice Dragons Finish Last, and what we can expect from the rest of the series.

In short, it's a lot of secret information and a lot of fun! So go on over to FBC and see for yourself!

In other news, the Nice Dragons release was a big success! Thank you to everyone who helped make it so. Now I just have to stop watching sales long enough to actually finish Heartstrikers book 2. o_o

Finally, I am emerging from my hobbit hole to do a signing at the Buckhead Barnes & Noble in Atlanta, GA on Monday, July 28 at 6 PM. If you're in the area, I hope you'll come by and say hello!

Thank you again for reading!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nice Dragons is Out!! -- Official Release Day Post

It's here!!

The day has finally arrived! The first book in my new Heartstrikers series, Nice Dragons Finish Last, is out in the wild!

You can buy the ebook on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo right now for $4.99. All of these vendors pay me about the same, so feel free to use whichever one is your favorite. Or, if you want to try before you buy, you can go here to read the first three chapters free!

I very much hope you'll give it a shot. I'm really proud of this book and I think it's a great addition to my bibliography: familiar, but still very different from my other works. If you liked Eli or Devi, I think I can safely say you'll like Nice Dragons. I'll hopefully be getting it on more platforms as I get better at this self publishing thing. I'm also hoping to add a print version soon. If you'd like me to email you when new stuff comes out, you can sign up for my new release mailing list. I promise there will be no spam, only release info!

Huge, huge thank you to all my fans for supporting me, and thank you to my new readers for giving an unknown book about dragons a chance. I hope you'll read and review. Please review. Good or bad, reviews are author's life blood. They are vital to getting new sales, and I can't say thank you enough to everyone who's already reviewed my books on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever else readers gather. Thank you!!

Yours always, and happy reading,
Rachel Aaron

Monday, July 14, 2014

How I Write - Chain Letter Edition (Plus, Nice Dragons comes out tomorrow! EEEEEE!)

The ever lovely Karina Cooper tagged me for this on Twitter. I thought it would be a fun update, so here's my current Writing Process!

1. What am I working on now?

The sequel to Nice Dragons Finish Last (our tomorrow!! And Fantasy Book Critic liked it, so you should totally give it a try!), which I'm calling One Good Dragon Deserves Another. I'd hoped to be on the third book by this point, but 2014 has been an awful year for my family personally. My husband's father died suddenly and unexpectedly, my grandfather died (not suddenly or unexpectedly, but still very sad), and my four-year-old son got very close to dying due to a rapid onset strep infection in his leg (SCARIEST THING EVER. Seriously, parents, if your kid has a fever and is complaining about sharp pains that seem to have no corresponding physical injury, take them to a doctor STAT).

So yeah, not a good year for us, and writing suffered correspondingly. But everyone's fine now (knock on wood) and we're back on the writing train!

2. How does my work differ from others' in the genre?

Considering I've got three series in three different genres (Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction, and now Urban Fantasy), that's a tricky question. Rather than go into individual differences, I want to talk about the stuff that links my books together through all those different shelf spaces. No matter what the genre, I like to think I write some pretty hilarious and charming people. Whether in space or with magic, the fun feel and epic scale of my story is always there. My goal is that if you like one of my books, you'll like all of my books, even if they're in a genre you don't normally read. I have a lot of fans who tell me they never read Science Fiction before I got them into with Fortune's Pawn! That's pretty cool :D

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because it's cool? Because I have to? ¯\_(o_o)_/¯

As much as I know about my writing, I'm not actually sure on this one. As Karina said in her own answer to this question, "Once upon a time, I would have said simply, 'because these are the things I enjoy', but I enjoy rom-coms, too, and I don't write those." I feel exactly the same way. I mean, clearly I jump genres a lot more than Karina, but I've had a killer idea for a contemporary romance for years now, and I've never felt the urge to write it. Same with a great Western. 

I'm not sure why I write some stories over others. It's not for money, that's for sure. I have ideas I know would be surefire hits, but no impetus to write them. I've tried, trust me, but even though I can see the whole thing like it's already finished, I just don't care. Other ideas, however, hit me like lightning and I just have to write them, even if they're horribly difficult and I'm not sure if they'll sell.

I've been trying to figure out what triggers this "OMG OMG OMG MUST WRITE" reflex for one story over another for years now, but I still have no idea. Personally, I'm just glad it hits! The all encompassing drive to write is one of my true joys in life, not to mention the source of my income. Whatever book the subconscious Rachel wants to write, I'll make it work.

4. How does my writing process work?

Step 1: Get awesome idea. Preferably a lot of awesome ideas that all sort of fit into the same world/story.
Step 2: Plot.
Step 3: Write.
Step 4: Rewrite/Edit
Step 5: Give book to husband/friends for feedback, bite nails.
Step 6: Edit again (see Step 4)
Step 7: Send to my in house editor/professional editor I hired (if self publishing). More nail biting.
Step 8: Edit again.
Step 9: Copy edits.
Step 10: Finished book!

Step 1 can take years on the sidelines of other projects. Steps 2-4 generally take from 2-4 months depending on how many problems the book has. Steps 5-8 go by very quickly or very slowly, depending on how busy the editor is. Step 9 is at least a week, and Step 10 can be pushed off forever depending on nerves :P

There's more to it, of course, but that's the general skeleton process for every book I've ever written. 

So that's how I write!

I hope you enjoyed this quick little update/overview of the novelist in her native habitat. I'm a very excitable novelist today because I'm uploading Nice Dragons Finish Last for it's release tomorrow RIGHT NOW! HOORAY!

Given the timelines for how quickly my stuff has shown up online before, it might even be up early. If you want to know the moment the book is available, please sign up for my mailing list! I'll email you the moment the book is available (and no other time. I hate spammy newsletters!). 

Thanks for reading, and I'll be back tomorrow with a big release post/self-publishing post with numbers about the self publishing process (for those of us who are into that sort of thing). 

- Rachel

PS: This was a tagged post, so for my tag, I'm going to tag all of you! I love to hear about how other authors work, so if you're a writer, tell me: how do you write? If you want to participate, just link your answer in the comments and then tag someone else at the end. Sort of like a chain letter, only actually useful and informative!

Monday, July 7, 2014

"You’re doing what?" – Why I Decided to Self-Publish My Next Series

So I wrote a guest blog post for the always amazing Civilian Reader about why I decided to hitch my star to the indie author steamroller.

This is the most I've ever talked about my decision to go self-pub (there's an unwritten rule in publishing that you don't discuss business decisions in public, which is one of the big reasons the industry seems so mysterious). I admit, there's very little drama, which is kind of the point of the post actually. Still, I hope you'll find it interesting!

And on that note, my new novel Nice Dragons Finish Last, come out in less than ten days!!

As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: stay quiet, don’t cause trouble, and keep out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't cut it in a family of ambitious predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience. 

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ--a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit--Julius has one month to prove to his mother that he can be a ruthless dragon or lose his true shape forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are seen as monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test. 

 He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons.
You can read the first three chapters here to get a taste of what's coming July 15! Thank you everyone for reading, and I hope you enjoy my guest post