GeneDoucette_Eve1400First things first: I just finalized the last draft of Immortal Stories: Eve, more or less on schedule.  It’s done and submitted and I love it and you’ll forgive me if I don’t want to look at it again for a long time, because that’s how self-editing works.

You can pre-order it from Amazon by following the link above, and expect it to be delivered in all its glory on July 14th.

In a day or two–because I just submitted that final draft–Amazon should enable the ‘look inside’ functionality, so you can check out the first few pages ahead of time, if you’re so inclined.

Now, let’s talk about availability.

Actually, let me back up.  A lot has happened.

Kindle Select

You are probably not a self-publishing author, so it’s likely this information is either not important or not interesting, except that it involves a lot people saying bad things loudly about Amazon, which may interest you and might be something you’ve caught snippets of already.

First, I’d like to discuss my business plan up to this point, as it pertained to my self-published series The Immortal Chronicles:

  1. Publish book exclusively in Kindle Select for the first 90 days
  2. Release book ‘wide’ at the end of that 90 days

To you, the not-a-self-publishing-author, this may raise questions, such as: Why exclusively?  Or perhaps, What on Earth is Kindle Select?Kindle-icon

Amazon offers a subscription service called Kindle Unlimited, which is $9.99 a month to borrow as many books as you want. (It’s up to ten books at once before a user has to return one to borrow another, but they can do this as often as they feel like it.)  However, the only books available to users of this service are the books that are in Kindle Select.

What books are in Kindle Select?  Mostly, books by authors who have agreed to put their books there.

There are benefits to doing so, which I’ll get to in a second.  First, understand that in order to get one’s books in Kindle Select, one has to agree not to sell them anywhere else while the book is enrolled.  The minimum enrollment period is 90 days.

Why would anyone do that?

Here’s where things start to get complicated.

Amazon pays the author for each borrow a book receives, provided the renter reads at least 10% of the book.  The amount they pay has varied from month to month. (Payout is based on money earned from the total number of subscribers in Kindle Unlimited in a month, plus whatever additional money Amazon feels like throwing into the pot, divided by the total number of books borrowed.  It is, in other words, a number arrived at by arbitrary manipulation of already self-reported sales numbers.  The number is whatever Amazon wants it to be.)  The figure per-book has come in around $1.35.

All of my books in The Immortal Chronicles are priced at $2.99.  A sale nets between 60%-70% domestically, depending on the vendor, so, about $2.00 a pop.  The difference between this and the borrow payout is not huge, so these numbers make sense to me, especially when considering these points:

  1. A borrow is not necessarily a lost sale
  2. a reader who finds one of my books via Kindle Unlimited may be someone who would never have discovered my work otherwise
  3. that reader may like what he/she has read enough to go find my other books, which are not in Select, and have to be purchased

images-3Add all that up and the fact that I can see the borrows for my books start to peter out after 90 days, and the whole plan makes decent sense.  By day 91, I’m making sales on other vendor sites that earn more than what I was getting from borrows at the tail end of the book’s time in Select.  (For the record, my best non-Amazon sales are from, in order: Nook, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Google Books.  If you’re alarmed that Smashwords outsells Kobo and Google, so am I.)

I was not planning on releasing Eve by following the above plan.  Eve is longer than the Chronicle stories and is priced at $3.99, so that gap between per-borrow and per-sale is more daunting.  Also, I’m trying to encourage those other vendors to sell my books a little bit more aggressively, and releasing wide from day one is a way to do that.

But then Amazon went and changed everything.

The madness of crowds

You may have heard about this.

GeneDoucette_RegencyImmortal1400Amazon recently announced a change in the way they pay contributors to Kindle Select.  Whereas before–as described above–an amount was arrived at based on blah-blah-Amazon-Math divided by books borrowed and read up to 10%, they were going to pay based on pages read, full stop.

in other words, take that big pool of money Amazon invents using some sort of internal back-of-the-napkin arithmetic, then divide it by the number of pages read, total, for the month, by Kindle Unlimited subscribers.  If that number is, say, two cents a page, pay each author by # of pages read in their books X $0.02.

This has, predictably, caused the entire industry to lose its goddamn mind.

Part of the problem is nobody knows what the per-page payout is going to be until Amazon provides the figure for the first month (July) which will be around August 15th.  This means a lot of people have a lot of time to bounce around incredibly low-sounding numbers like less-than-a-penny-per-page.  Amazon did not help matters at all when they gave an example in their announcement that was $0.10 a page, which is simply way too high to be believable.

Part of the problem is a whole lot of people hate Amazon and/or don’t understand the difference between Kindle Direct Publishing (a service all self-published authors have to use to release books through Amazon) and Kindle Select (an entirely voluntary program).  This led to a number of hysterical articles declaring that Amazon is paying ALL authors by the page.  This one is my personal favorite.

In my mind, the biggest problem is that nobody knows what their read-through actually is.  I would like to think the people who have picked up my books have finished them, but I don’t actually know this.  In Select, all I know is if they’ve read up to 10%.  Outside of Select, I can only speak to the rate of returns (if a book is bought but returned unread) which is low enough–one or two a month–to be ignored.

Reader engagement

The new Amazon approach is rewarding authors who engage readers, and I like to think I’m one of those authors.

Assuming that:

  • people read my books all the way through
  • the per-page payout is at least $0.02*
  • the readers in Kindle Unlimited are (again) not people who would otherwise purchase the book outright

…I should make out nicely.

Those are a lot of assumptions.  But here’s one more point:

  • the new Amazon payment plan is really, really interesting and I really want to see how it will play out

I can’t resist following my curiosity and seeing what happens.

So I owe some of you readers an apology, because a little while ago I said I would be releasing Immortal Stories: Eve wide on July 14th.  I’m going to back away from that promise to give this new Kindle Select a try.  The book will still be released wide after ninety days, but at first it will be exclusive to Amazon, just as the Chronicle books that came before.

I’ll let you all know how it goes.

*   *   *

*UPDATE: Since the day this column went live, Amazon has supplied more information.  Two bits are of particular interest.

  1. Using the June KDP pool provided by Amazon and the total pages read in June also supplied by Amazon, intrepid persons with calculators have come up with a figure of $0.0057 per page.  This is considerably less than the $0.02 I hoped for above.
  2. July 1 also dawned, which was day one of the new program, and the first day anyone had a chance to see what Amazon considered a ‘page’.  Generally speaking, the Kindle Edition Normal Pages calculation is worked based very short pages.  It also appears to favor books with chapter breaks.

My hope for two cents per page was based on an understanding of a page count about three times smaller than the page count Amazon is using.  I don’t know what their page count for Eve is going to be right now–I may not know until it goes live, which is really annoying–but I’m still more interested in staying in and seeing what happens than I am in watching from the outside.

The newest Immortal book, Eve, is now available on Amazon for pre-ordering!GeneDoucette_Eve1400

Place your order here!

Immortal Stories

You will note the full title of the new book is Immortal Stories: Eve.  The title is there to distinguish this story from The Immortal Chronicles, which–like the full length novels–rely upon Adam as narrator.  Eve is a little different because the story isn’t in first-person narration (it’s in what I would call close third).  The story is also longer than any of the Chronicles, which is why it’s priced a little higher.

You will also see this identified as “book one” because I’m optimistic that I may want to write another book about another character in this universe sometime, without bothering Adam to narrate it.  If you have any characters you’d like to see a story about someday, let me know.

Eve will be available on July 14th, and it will be published wide, so expect it to appear for pre-order on other sites in the coming weeks.

I have a confession: I’m terrible at cover reveals.  What I mean by that is, while I know I’m supposed to be teasing a new cover in advance of actually showing off that cover, once I have one I basically want you all to see it right away.

I don’t feel like keeping this in my back pocket.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had a new book around here (I consider three months a long time now, look at me) and I’ve been working on this story for a little while now.  I don’t have a release date yet, and there are a few other things to discuss–like why this is called “Immortal Stories” instead of “Immortal Chronicles”–but we can get to all of that later.

For now, here’s the cover of the next book you can expect to see from me.

GeneDoucette_Eve1400

Hello new readersImmortal_Cover58

Just a quick hello to the many new readers who’ve stopped by over the past couple of days.  Most of you folks probably found your way here due to one promotion or another for the Immortal $0.99 deal.  Or–and this is a long shot–you’re reading this having no idea such a deal exists and you landed here due to some happy accident.  If that’s the case, and you’re reading this post in May, 2015, the deal is still good, so go pick up a copy!

I’d like to apologize for the state of this blog page.  I did sort of know you were all coming, and I should have cleaned up, but I’ve been busy!  I’m working on a new novella about a character from The Immortal Book Series, named Eve.  If you’ve read the trilogy, you’ve already met her a couple of times.

Anyway, I don’t want to keep you!  If you’re interested in keeping track of what’s going on with my and my various projects, you’re already in the right place for semi-regular updates.  Check out the Immortal Books link for a complete accounting of every Immortal-based book, and for everything else, here are some other links:

The Cult of the Immortal (fan page)

Gene Doucette author page

Mailing list

Gene on Goodreads

Gene on Twitter

Gene’s unnecessary Tumblr page

ImageWould you like to hear me talk about Immortalpublishing, first-person authorship, Adam, and a whole bunch of other things?  For thirty-five minutes?

Of course you would!

Honestly, I’m listening to the podcast right now, and this might be my favorite online appearance.  Janelle Alex gives good interview.

Here are a few of links:

Authors Talk About It: The Immortal Trilogy

The Immortal Trilogy on Podbean

Authors Talk About It on iTunes

You can own Immortal, the book that started it all, for only $0.99 starting today, 5/7, until 5/31.Immortal_Cover58

If you haven’t read it, now’s your chance!  If you have friends who have resisted all your past demands that they read this book, now is THEIR chance!

It’s the book that leads to Hellenic Immortal and Immortal at the Edge of the World and all five books in The Immortal Chronicles.  It has 77 Amazon reviews for a 4.4 average, and 788 ratings on Goodreads for a 4.08 average.  It’s book one of a long adventure that is still being written.

And it’s only $0.99.

Immortal on Amazon

Immortal on Itunes

You might recall that a few weeks back I took one of my novellas– Immortal at Sea–and discounted it to free.  You may also recall my taking it out of free a little while after that.GeneDoucette_ImmortalatSea1400

So, funny story.  The idea behind permafree markdowns is to expand interest in the other books associated with the free product.  What I started seeing after the paid-for promos I’d run for Immortal at Sea was a sharp drop in downloads of the free book and a marked increase in the purchases of the other books in The Immortal Chronicles, which led me to conclude that I had accomplished what I hoped to accomplish out of it.

Then I took it out of free, and almost exactly a week later my sales fell through the floor.

Seeking advice

It happens I know a lot of writers, and most of those writers are more successful than I am at this.  (Statistically, the odds are pretty good.)  I went to a few of them, on the KBoards and at SFWA, to discuss my problem, which we’ll call an issue of discoverability.

A lot of what came out of those conversations was depressing and hopefully untrue.  (For example: some books have a level, and they will never out-perform that level, so go write other things.  This is true, and it’s good advice, and I don’t think I accept it.)  Two things stuck: one, clearly in the short-term, the free giveaways of Immortal at Sea were driving my other sales and it should stay free.  Image

So, it’s back to free again, and I’ll be running various promos from time to time to keep people interested in downloading it.

Two: the ‘also-boughts’ on Amazon tell a story.

Closed ecosystem

If you go to Amazon and look up one of my books, scroll down the page and look at what the people who bought one of them also bought.  You’ll find they bought my other books.

This is great!  It means if you’ve read one of my books, you’re interested in all of my books.  This is also not great.  It indicates that I’m not getting a lot of new readers who are following another author’s work in order to get to mine.  I’m not reaching enough new readers, in other words, to impact Amazon’s algorithms that match my work with readers of other works.Immortal_Cover58

This is the problem of discoverability.

BookBub

At around the same time I was struggling with this problem, my publisher was lining up a promotion for their SF/F titles for the month of May.  In addition to contributing a couple of guest blog posts for the tour, the plan was to mark down Immortal for part of the month.

This is a fantastic idea.  But for it to work, it needed to be done with more than a blog tour and a social media blitz.  It needed a big hitter.

It needed BookBub.

If you’re an ebook reader, you might know BookBub, and your opinion of them may be different than the opinion of an author.  Both of those opinions are no doubt positive, but still different.

BookBub is the holy grail of book promotion right now.  They run a heavily curated list featuring deeply discounted books from all publishing sources–self, indie, traditional.  Their promotions are very expensive, and very successful.  They are exactly what someone in my position needs: a way to put my best book in the hands of as many people as possible, quickly.logo-fba9a608247bdb9bdff01f6a1f4c2969

Needless to say, because of this it’s really difficult to get a promo scheduled with them.  Their acceptance rate is somewhere below 20%.

I’m happy to say I scheduled one for Immortal.  It’s happening on May 27.

Between now and then

Immortal will be going on sale for $0.99 starting on May 7th and continuing until the 31st.  I’m scheduling additional promotions leading up to the BookBub on the 27th.  (The only other confirmed promo right now is with The Fussy Librarian on the 13th.)  Also this month, I hope to roll out a new website for the entire Immortal universe, I expect to be featured on a podcast–more on this later–and there are those guest blogs I wrote for the publisher’s blog tour.  And of course, Immortal at Sea will remain free.logo

How can you help?  Tell people about Immortal, and tell them it’s going to only cost them a dollar.  And get ready for the end of May.  With any luck, a lot of people are going to know about Adam by then, and you guys are the early adopters.  Be sure to brag about that.

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