Thursday, July 2, 2015

Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, and Why You Should Buy From Smashwords

Amazon has never been friendly to its indie writers.  Their policy of 35% royalties for any book under $2.99 has been annoying from day one.  Many of us, especially erotica writers, write short stories. Readers don't want to pay $2.99 (the point when royalties jump to 70%) for a 5,000 word short.

And then came Kindle Unlimited, where you got a portion of a pooled fund for every borrow.  This was great--after a few months it leveled out to about $1.30 per borrow. Enough for an indie to make a decent living. Now, it wasn't a perfect system. The author got $1.30 if the reader read a 5 page short story, or a 500 page novel. We also weren't allowed to sell our books anywhere else, effectively creating a monopoly.

On July 1 the payout scale changed from per-borrow to a per-page-read system.  We knew there would be some money loss, but we thought it would still be fair. After all, you should get more money when readers read more.

Except, as it turned out, the projected rate is 1/2 a CENT per page read.  A 200 page novel would only earn a dollar and only IF the reader read from beginning to end.

Most of my stories are between 12 and 120 pages.  So I would be making SIX CENTS on a short story. Only 60 cents on a novella.  I'm not a big seller. These numbers turn my sales into next to nothing.

I don't have a day job right now.  Kindle Unlimited was buying my food.

So I have made the decision to pull over 30 stories under four pen names from the Kindle Unlimited program.  Hundreds of other indie authors are doing the same.  (If you are an indie and you want to pull your work, here is the customer support link.)

What now?

I hated leaving Smashwords when Amazon rolled out the Kindle Unlimited program last year, and here's why--Smashwords has always respected the indie artist.

Royalties on Smashwords start at about 53% on a $0.99 cent story and are at 74% on a $2.99 story. And that percentage goes up as the price rises.  Smashwords doesn't censor your work.  You can use the word 'virgin' in your titles.  You can write about step-siblings getting it on without fear.

Smashwords isn't just a store. It's also a distributor.  Publishing through them automatically puts your books into Barnes & Noble, the Apple and Sony stores, Kobo, and more.  You have the option of offering your book to libraries for free.  

The only problem, the only problem, is the fact that Amazon controls almost all of the ebook market--an estimated 65%. So we signed up for Kindle Unlimited. We had to. We gotta eat.

Support indie writers.  Support companies who care about them.  Between now and July 9, all of my titles, no matter what the length, are either $0.99 or FREE through Smashwords.  Even the novellas. Even the new stuff.

You can buy my books here:

Leigh Wilder (Paranormal, Fantasy, Romantica & Erotica M/M, M/F, F/F)

Rosalyn Coleman (Contemporary BDSM/Fetish, Historical M/M, M/F, F/F)

Dominic Rod (M/M Contemporary Erotica, including M/M Incest)

Celestia Dew (Weird Fantasy Erotica--you know, tentacles and shit. mostly M/F)