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Are you missing the boat?

Chris Podhola

5000 pages read in one day. It's been an elusive goal for me, but today I finally hit it.

I have to admit that when Amazon changed it so that Kindle Unlimited would be paid based on pages read, I was a little frustrated and worried that my income from Amazon would drop substantially. It did, at first. The first two months of the new system were scary to say the least.

Things started to balance out again during the third month and by the fourth month I was averaging about 2500 pages read per day. I set a goal for five thousand pages read in one day, producing more works to try to help achieve that number.

But it evaded me.

I had plenty of days where the number would climb, threatening to breach 4000. On a couple of days I hit that mark, but my goal of 5000 went unachieved.

Today, I finally hit it, yaaaaaay!

Don't get me wrong. That doesn't make me rich. It's on to the next goal. I want to hit 100,000 pages within a month. Thus far, the best I've done is 75k, but it's out there, the next summit within my sight. I just have to keep my nose to the grindstone.

To the Amazon naysayers, I say ...

Nah ... never mind. They won't listen anyway. he he he.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

To the Amazon naysayers, I say ...

Nah ... never mind. They won't listen anyway. he he he.


Correct.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

Correct.


That's okay, Ernest. You're leaving more of the pie out there for me!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

That's okay, Ernest. You're leaving more of the pie out there for me!


That's OK with me, I just refuse to give up my ownership and control for a few cents, and let those who want to do so go ahead and do it.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

That's OK with me, I just refuse to give up my ownership and control for a few cents, and let those who want to do so go ahead and do it.


LMAO! Once again, you speak of a ninety day contract as if it is a lifetime commitment and you say a few cents, when in reality the amount of money we're talking about is enough to make a house payment on a six figure home.

You're quite the jokester, but again ... have it your way.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

you speak of a ninety day contract as if it is a lifetime commitment


Chris, read the Amazon Terms of Service - then use a dictionary to look up the word irrevocable and tell me it can be cancelled at will by you while maintaining a straight face. Remember, this is the same company that sold stories then stole them back without so much as a hello to the people concerned.

Also, I used to have a story at Amazon, but twice they arbitrarily dropped the price and offered discounts without even giving me any notice of it or asking my permission to do so. On one sale of that book I got nothing at all because after they took out their fees there was nothing left for me. They ripped me off, so I don't deal with them because I do not deal with proven crooks. You choose to, and that's your right to do so.

Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

Chris, read the Amazon Terms of Service - then use a dictionary to look up the word irrevocable and tell me it can be cancelled at will by you while maintaining a straight face. Remember, this is the same company that sold stories then stole them back without so much as a hello to the people concerned.


Blah, blah, blah. It is a contract that must be renewed every ninety days. I can tell you with a straight face that is a temporary contract. I can tell you that I can and have elected not to renew this contract on titles that I was dissatisfied with and I can tell you that I had those stories unpublished after the ninety day contract expired by simply pushing a few buttons. It is irrevocable for the duration of the contract, but the terms of the contract specify ninety days. You clearly do not understand how contracts work.

I have no idea what your experience was about the pricing, but it has nothing to do with the Kindle Unlimited program or that contract.

I also have no issue with your choice not to deal with Amazon for whatever reason you choose not to. If I have issues with the things that you say, it is the inaccuracies with which you describe the contract terms.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Remember, this is the same company that sold stories then stole them back without so much as a hello to the people concerned.


While Amazon could have communicated the issue better to the users, it was the Publisher (this happened with the kindle version of a traditionally published book), not Amazon that demanded it be withdrawn.

IIRC: it was an old back catalog book (but not old enough to be off copyright.) Amazon had obtained rights to produce print on demand copies from the original publisher. Amazon converted it to Kindle on their own (they did pay the publisher for the Kindle copies sold). The publisher that owned the copyright threw a fit and demanded that they recall all the Kindle copies sold.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Chris Podhola


I can tell you with a straight face that is a temporary contract.


From The KDP site today:

Kindle Direct Publishing Terms of Service

Last Updated: January 18, 2016

Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions

3 Term and Termination

... The following provisions of this Agreement will survive termination of this Agreement: Sections 1, 3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and any other provisions that, by their nature, are intended to survive. All rights to Digital Books acquired by customers will survive termination.

5.2.1 Marketing and Promotion. We will have sole discretion in determining all marketing and promotions related to the sale of your Digital Books through the Program and may, without limitation, market and promote your Digital Books by making chapters or portions of your Digital Books available to prospective customers without charge, and by permitting prospective customers to see excerpts of your Digital Books in response to search queries. We will not owe you any fees for any marketing or promotional efforts. You acknowledge that we have no obligation to market, distribute, or offer for sale any Digital Book, or to continuing marketing, distributing or selling a Digital Book after we have commenced doing so.

5.5 Grant of Rights. You grant to each Amazon party, throughout the term of this Agreement, a nonexclusive, irrevocable, right and license to distribute Digital Books, directly and through third-party distributors, in all digital formats by all digital distribution means available. This right includes, without limitation, the right to: (a) reproduce, index and store Digital Books on one or more computer facilities, and reformat, convert and encode Digital Books; (b) display, market, transmit, distribute, sell and otherwise digitally make available all or any portion of Digital Books through Amazon Properties (as defined below), for customers and prospective customers to download, access, copy and paste, print, annotate and/or view online and offline, including on portable devices; (c) permit customers to "store" Digital Books that they have purchased from us on servers ("Virtual Storage") and to access and re-download such Digital Books from Virtual Storage from time to time both during and after the term of this Agreement; (d) display and distribute (i) your trademarks and logos in the form you provide them to us or within Digital Books (with such modifications as are necessary to optimize their viewing), and (ii) portions of Digital Books, in each case solely for the purposes of marketing, soliciting and selling Digital Books and related Amazon offerings; (e) use, reproduce, adapt, modify, and distribute, as we determine appropriate, in our sole discretion, any metadata that you provide in connection with Digital Books; and (f) transmit, reproduce and otherwise use (or cause the reformatting, transmission, reproduction, and/or other use of) Digital Books as mere technological incidents to and for the limited purpose of technically enabling the foregoing (e.g., caching to enable display). In addition, you agree that we may permit our affiliates and independent contractors, and our affiliates' independent contractors, to exercise the rights that you grant to us in this Agreement. "Amazon Properties" means any web site, application or online point of presence, on any platform, that is owned or operated by or under license by Amazon or co-branded with Amazon, and any web site, application, device or online point of presence through which any Amazon Properties or products available for sale on them are syndicated, offered, merchandised, advertised or described. You grant us the rights set forth in this Section 5.5 on a worldwide basis; however, if we make available to you a procedure for indicating that you do not have worldwide distribution rights to a Digital Book, then the territory for the sale of that Digital Book will be those territories for which you indicate, through the procedure we provide to you, that you have distribution rights.

..................

Please note that Section 3 makes it clear section 5.5 survives any and all termination notices. Thus section 5.5 will continue to apply regardless of what you do about termination. And section 5.5 states you give them an irrevocable right to distribute directly and through third parties. Thus it's clear your comments on termination have no legal standing or validity under the Amazon terms of use.

To be in the Kindle Unlimited system Amazon says you must be part of the Kindle Select system and to be in that you must abide by the KDP rules above.

I've had years of training and experience with commercial contract. I've written them, interpreted them, and been responsible for supervising the services delivered under them.

Thus all your termination does is allow them to continue selling your book, but not have to pay you any royalties. What they actually do right now and what they set up to allow them to legally do may not be the same, but you need to be aware of what they claim the legal rights to do.

For some reason the original post cut this last bit off some it's added back in as an edit.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

and any other provisions that, by their nature, are intended to survive. All rights to Digital Books acquired by customers will survive termination.


I have unpublished books after the termination of the ninety days and they are no longer available anywhere. I cannot find them. They are gone.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

They are gone.


No, they just aren't publicly visible at the moment. If Amazon did not intend to ever use the terms they put in their Terms and Condition they wouldn't be there at all. The fact they have them there means they do intend to apply them when they see a reason that's very profitable to them to do so. Which is why I said, in my previous post: What they actually do right now and what they set up to allow them to legally do may not be the same, but you need to be aware of what they claim the legal rights to do. They claim the right, just not exercising it yet.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

Look Ernest. I don't claim to be a legal expert so I am leery about saying in absolute terms, because I don't want others to base their decisions on what I say in regard to this contract, but when I read the portions of the contract that you posted here, I see that Amazon is asking me to allow them to distribute the books I publish. It looks to me like they are asking for irrevocable rights during the contract and it looks to me like they don't want to worry about having to yank copies that they have sold if I should decide to unpublish after the agreement is over. That's what I see when I read that. Apparently, you see something different and more ominous.

But here's the thing...

I have a choice. I could opt to stop using Kindle Unlimited, but I already know the results of that, because I've tried. If I go with another platform, whether it be Lulu or Smashwords, I suspend the ability to market my books in any effective way. Lulu and Smashwords are fine platforms in many regards, but what they lack are effective marketing tools. You put your books onto these platforms and they sit there until someone happens to see them. It is entirely up to me to market and they make NO attempt to help me. They offer me nothing in this regard. Amazon does.

So, you're telling me that you think it is better to publish books on inferior platforms and accept meager sales that I cannot live off of.

In other words:

Publish on Lulu and Smashwords and make $200 a month or publish on Amazon and make $1200 per month (that is about what I currently make now).

Even if you are right (which I don't believe you are), and Amazon decided one day to just up and quit paying me royalties (I don't believe they ever would) and even if hiring a lawyer to fight this outrageous behavior would do me no good (I don't believe that either), I am still better off doing it this way. I still make more money in the end by going with Amazon. It doesn't take very long for the benefit of Amazon to outweigh the potential risk that you describe. Not when the difference is between making $200 on Smashwords (That's the most I ever made using Smashwords and it was just one month), versus Amazon where I make $1200 per month and is a growing income. Every month (shy of the two months where they first switched to pages read versus units sold), my income from Amazon grows and gains momentum. This happens because of the Unlimited program and my ability to offer free promotions to potential customers on a recurring and continuous basis. Without this program, my sales shrink substantially because I then have no effective way to promote.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Chris Podhola


I see that Amazon is asking me to allow them to distribute the books I publish. It looks to me like they are asking for irrevocable rights during the contract


They ask for the rights to distribute your books, then they say the rights are irrevocable and because of Term 3 about the rights of term 5.5 continuing on after contract termination they retain the rights to distribute the book after you end the contract, and irrevocable means this part of the contract can not be change or undone or revoked or cancelled in any way. Which means they retain the right to distribute your books forever and you can't stop them. At the moment they choose not to exercise that right, but they do have it.

If you have a book with them and it later takes off you have a mess of legal troubles:

- First, they can continue to distribute and sell the book at whatever price they set (as per term 5.2.1 on marketing) regardless of what you do.

- Second, you can not legally sell anyone else the exclusive rights to your story for any period; and this is a common term with most major publisher. They usually want exclusive rights to the story for a set period of so many months or years. Thus the Amazon contract will have an affect on what you can do with other publishers.

The only thing I'm telling you is Amazon have terms and conditions that are of the major rip-off level. If you want to do business with crooks, that's your choice, but don't jump on or bitch at others because they refuse to do business with the modern gangsters.

As I said earlier, what they do at the moment doesn't have to be what they claim the right to do, but you have to wonder why they want that excessive right to do that.

I'm glad you're happy with what you get from Amazon. The book I had with them for sale at a money value never saw a cent from sales reach me. All the money paid by purchases ended up in the Amazon coffers because they discounted it then took their commission based on the regular sale price and that left nothing for me. That's why the books I now have with them are listed at zero dollars and given away as freebies. I sell a couple of hundred zero charge books a month through Amazon, and I don't mind because I view those books as community service items.

edit to add: The freebies I have via Amazon I also have for free from a number of other sources as well, so Amazon gets no advantage by trying to charge people for it, although I did catch one of their subsidiary companies doing that. They were selling the freebie for $0.99 until I challenged them about, then they dropped it to zero dollars.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Crumbly Writer

@Chris Podhola

Lulu and Smashwords are fine platforms in many regards, but what they lack are effective marketing tools. You put your books onto these platforms and they sit there until someone happens to see them.

Smashwords has really taken a major hit from readers in the ongoing Indie Publishing wars. They're only a fraction of what they once were, and lulu was never a significant player in any case. My sales on SW have dwindled to almost nothing, and my distributed sales (to Apple, B&N, etc. have ceased entirely--as distributed via SW). Ernest originally went with Lulu over print issues, not because of their market reach.

On that I agree with you Chris, Amazon seems to be one of the few legitimate publishing options left. (This seems to be limited by genre, though. Porn and romance have become the big winners, and there are now small ebook publishing houses popping up all over supporting these genres.)

My main objection, which I've stated before, though we've argued about it in the past, is that I believe you (Chris) represent a small niche market who's benefiting under Amazon, whereas the majority of authors are being hurt by their programs (specifically their Unlimited program).

It specifically promotes short stories masquerading as full books, and that market specifically benefits the writers of porn (stroke books, which only need to last a few thousand words to get the job done). You keep insisting that anyone can earn what you are, but I also continually hear from a chorus of authors who feel cheated by Amazon, and who's work doesn't sell under their system. I avoid using those services, while using KDP, because I've seen no indication that my books will do particularly well under their system. I suspect the same objections apply to the majority of authors here.

What Ernest is missing, is the reason why Amazon uses those terms in their contract. Ernest is very good at reading the fine print of contracts, and catch what most of us miss. While they do claim an 'indefinite use of your books', that doesn't mean they own the books outright. What it covers, is their ability to offer 'updates' to the books their sold for an indefinite period. That means, if someone purchases your book, anytime they decide to go back and reread it, they can get the most recent copy of the book, even if it's out of print. There's NO indication they have any intention to sell discontinued book, or to usurp an author's ability to sell and profit from their works.

Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

They ask for the rights to distribute your books, then they say the rights are irrevocable and because of Term 3 about the rights of term 5.5 continuing on after contract termination they retain the rights to distribute the book after you end the contract, and irrevocable means this part of the contract can not be change or undone or revoked or cancelled in any way. Which means they retain the right to distribute your books forever and you can't stop them. At the moment they choose not to exercise that right, but they do have it.


I know this is what you believe, but I still read it differently than you do. I doubt we'll come to a consensus on this point.

The only thing I'm telling you is Amazon have terms and conditions that are of the major rip-off level. If you want to do business with crooks, that's your choice, but don't jump on or bitch at others because they refuse to do business with the modern gangsters.


I have at times elected out of the Unlimited program, submitted stories to other sites (offering them free for a time} and notified Amazon that these titles were being offered free on other sites. They made no issue about it, even though these titles were being offered free, on other sites now, and were previously enrolled into the Unlimited program. When I saw no benefit to doing things this way with the other sites, I had them removed and re-enrolled the titles into the Unlimited program. Again, without issue. This is why I doubt what you say. Again, I am no legal expert, and I am curious to know if a copyright lawyer would come to the same conclusion that you do. When I am making enough money to afford one, I will hire an attorney to review the terms just to see what he says. That won't help us now though.

As far as gangsters... Again. I don't see them that way. They seem to treat me pretty fairly and even though I do have complaints with them, my complaints are minor. They pay my bills and I have a growing business. Something I couldn't say when I was with Smashwords exclusively.

Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

It specifically promotes short stories masquerading as full books, and that market specifically benefits the writers of porn (stroke books, which only need to last a few thousand words to get the job done). You keep insisting that anyone can earn what you are, but I also continually hear from a chorus of authors who feel cheated by Amazon, and who's work doesn't sell under their system. I avoid using those services, while using KDP, because I've seen no indication that my books will do particularly well under their system. I suspect the same objections apply to the majority of authors here.


I don't disagree with this statement. I have had much more success with erotica using this system than I have with other genres. Readers find it more acceptable for erotica titles to be in novella form than they do other works, so I concede your point here.

Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

Smashwords has really taken a major hit from readers in the ongoing Indie Publishing wars. They're only a fraction of what they once were, and lulu was never a significant player in any case. My sales on SW have dwindled to almost nothing, and my distributed sales (to Apple, B&N, etc. have ceased entirely--as distributed via SW). Ernest originally went with Lulu over print issues, not because of their market reach.


I'm actually sorry to hear this. While I do now go through Amazon exclusively, my hope is that another company (or other companies) will rise up to compete with them. I would even consider switching to other platforms if I felt they offered me an equal chance of success.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

Again, I am no legal expert, and I am curious to know if a copyright lawyer would come to the same conclusion that you do.


A copyright lawyer wouldn't have any involvement, but a basic lawyer versed in commercial contracts will. Under the Amazon terms there's no doubt you own the copyright, there's also no doubt you're entitled to sell through other sources (the nonexclusive part of 5.5 makes that clear), but it's very clear once you make a story available through them they have the legal right (under the terms of this contract) to sell the story around the world indefinitely. They don't have to enforce that right if they don't want to, but they have the right and can legally enforce it whenever they choose to do so.

You keep saying they haven't done so, but that doesn't mean they'll never do so. If they have no intention of never enforcing that term then they wouldn't have it there.

As to being gangsters, ask the Hachette authors how Amazon treated them while trying to force Hachette to give Amazon huge discounts on book sales. Amazon's behaviour is a lot like that of Al Capone in his day.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Chris Podhola


I'm actually sorry to hear this (about SW falling in readership and sales). While I do now go through Amazon exclusively, my hope is that another company (or other companies) will rise up to compete with them. I would even consider switching to other platforms if I felt they offered me an equal chance of success.


The emphasis now seems geared towards specific genres (undoubtedly based upon the effects previously discussed about Amazon featuring romance and erotica (almost every book published now (over 90%) is defined as a "Romance")).

That's why the new movement in the Indie market are romance specific publishing groups (which also feature a fair amount of erotica--mostly geared towards women, but not exclusively so).

SW is still racking up sales, but as my previous post implies, they seem to be selling short (under 7,000 word) porn, rather than full length (around 70,000 words) novels. It seems as if the industry has coalesced around novels from the major publishers, and porn and romance from the Indie publishers. If so, it seems the industry as a whole is short-selling the potential of Indie publishers/authors.

Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

As to being gangsters, ask the Hachette authors how Amazon treated them while trying to force Hachette to give Amazon huge discounts on book sales. Amazon's behaviour is a lot like that of Al Capone in his day.


I've said this before and I'll say it again. I'm not a Hachette author and it doesn't bother me that Amazon pulled this maneuver. If I were in the business of manufacturing and providing vacuum cleaners to a company like Wal-Mart for example, allowing them to put their name on my product, I would expect Wal-Mart to offer me advantages over other vacuum cleaner manufacturers who produced their products, put their own name on it, and wanted Wal-Mart to sell their vacuum cleaners in competition with mine.

Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

I'm not a Hachette author and it doesn't bother me that Amazon pulled this maneuver.


Amazon finds they can't force Hachette to give them big discounts, so they try to put pressure on Hachette by screwing over the authors who do business with Hachette by Amazon doing what they can to stop people finding the authors books on Amazon and then telling the authors they'll fix things if they put pressure on Hachette to agree to Amazon's terms. That's the behaviour of gangsters, but it seems you have no problem with that behaviour while I do. Mind you, I am not a Hachette author, so I don't benefit from that conflict in any way. But I do agree with Hachette standing up to Amazon's gangster tactics.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Chris Podhola


I'm not a Hachette author and it doesn't bother me that Amazon pulled this maneuver.


These are very different complaints about Amazon, and they aren't the same. In one, Amazon isn't paying a fair wage for an author's works (at least not enough to allow the traditional publishers to continue). In the other, Amazon Unlimited seems to promote certain types of writing over others, meaning they offer little incentive to most authors (a fact which is reflected on the lack of (percentage wise) novel-sized books. This, I believe, is why readers are now ignoring novels by Indie authors, now purchasing them exclusively (for the most past) from traditional publishers.

P.S. That's another reason why I'm revising my writing style, trying to make my books fit into these different camps more easily.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

Ernest,

I have also said this before and I'll say it again. People have a tendency to rise up against forces that become oppressive. That is why I don't really fear the things that you say as ever becoming a reality. Amazon depends on authors to provide them with content. If they were to start screwing authors over by doing the things you suggest they will someday do, they would put themselves out of business. Taking work away from authors, selling it and refusing to pay those authors their royalties would put them out of business so fast their heads would be left spinning. Take a quick look at the rise and fall of Atari. The company went bankrupt because they were selfish in their rights, refusing to give authors of games credit for the work they did, and refusing to reward their game designers with bonuses for well created and successful games. These designers left Atari and formed their own company called Activision and the new company quickly gained massive market shares, by providing quality games and rewarding their designers. Atari didn't learn from their lessons quickly enough and it wasn't long before the crappy games they were producing drove them out of business.

The same would happen with Amazon if they started pulling this kind of crap. Authors would leave Amazon in droves, find other companies to publish their works through and Amazon would be left standing there like idiots.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
sejintenej
Updated:

The whole question of contracts is a minefield against which you need a very good legal expert. Whilst I must not say what they are a lot of contracts (many written by lawyers) contain clauses which are simply unenforceable. A few clauses are so bad that if I had tried to enforce them most lawyers would refuse to present them in court and were I to present them the next thing my feet would touch would be the prison cell floor. I have actually seen a 65 page contract reduced to a perfectly acceptable and enforceable 2 and a bit pages simply by abbreviating the necessary clauses and leaving out the bullshit - that was under UK law but a New York lawyer told me that bullshit happens in there also.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


These are very different complaints about Amazon, and they aren't the same. In one, Amazon isn't paying a fair wage for an author's works (at least not enough to allow the traditional publishers to continue). In the other, Amazon Unlimited seems to promote certain types of writing over others, meaning they offer little incentive to most authors (a fact which is reflected on the lack of (percentage wise) novel-sized books. This, I believe, is why readers are now ignoring novels by Indie authors, now purchasing them exclusively (for the most past) from traditional publishers.


Amazon doesn't promote certain works over others (other than works that are already proving themselves over works that are not). It is a demand driven system. You can complain about there being a hungrier market for erotica if you want to, but that isn't Amazon's fault. All it means is that erotica readers read voraciously and they don't mind paying fair prices for novellas, as to readers of other genres who demand full length novels.

If you write in other genres you do have an uphill battle from the start, because readers of other genres are more inclined to stick with authors they already know as opposed to being willing to try newer authors. That's just the way it is. Erotica readers don't necessarily stick to the most famous authors. They simply see a title that interests them and if it is on a topic that suits their needs, they are willing to give it a shot. That's why it is so much harder to break into success when you are writing sci/fi, or fantasy, or mysteries, or even horror. It has nothing to do with Amazon. It has to do with the fact that the average reader will not just pick up a book by so and so and read it. It must be recommended to them by a friend, advertised on television, or reviewed by a source that the reader trusts.

Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

Whilst I must not say what they are a lot of contracts (many written by lawyers) contain clauses which are simply unenforceable.


This is true, some of the Microsoft software EULA agreement terms are unlawful in many countries around the world, but are legally enforceable in many states in the USA despite being unlawful contract terms elsewhere. The US legal system is a major minefield in that regards.

Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

People have a tendency to rise up against forces that become oppressive.


Some do, some don't, but the ones that will rise against the oppressor won't do so until such time as they realise there is an oppressor. Often the oppression isn't visible to people who don't know better. I know authors who post on Amazon and were stunned when they saw the actual terms and conditions because they didn't have the smarts to read them first.

The issue with Amazon is not them taking your copyright or your name off the work, it's them insisting on having the right to sell you books with your name and you have no right to tell them not to once you've agreed to let them.

Much as I hate to bring up his name, but in 1932 only a few people saw a reason to fear Hitler being appointed as the democratic head of Germany, they made their fees public and people told them he's not like that. A few years later they learned those who spoke up at the start were right. He waited his time to show his real colours, and Amazon are doing the same. It's the same story with Lenin and Stalin, a few feared them but most didn't, until after they got the full control they want. At this time Amazon doesn't have the full control they want, so they're biding their time. Once they're ready to act the authors won't have any other choices.

Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

It is a demand driven system.


It's already been proven in court that Amazon does affect changes in their system to push various authors and books they wish to promote with a total disregard to the actual demand. It was this manipulation of the system that was causing a lot of problems for the Hachette authors.

With Amazon there's a real difference between what they say and what really is happening.

Crumbly Writer

@Chris Podhola

Amazon doesn't promote certain works over others (other than works that are already proving themselves over works that are not). It is a demand driven system.

Sorry, Chris, but that's where we differ. Their "Unlimited" program fosters the success of shorter works, at the expense of novel-sized books. Amazon also offers the KDP and the KDP Select program, so you're statement is true in that regard, but you were discussing your earnings under the combination "Unlimited"/"Select" plans, so that was what I was addressing.

However, the fact is that, before Amazon initiated the "Unlimited" program, Indie books were doing better. Now, after the program has been in effect for some time, it's driven the 'novel-sized' Indie market almost out of business (see SW's sales).

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

The issue with Amazon is not them taking your copyright or your name off the work, it's them insisting on having the right to sell you books with your name and you have no right to tell them not to once you've agreed to let them.

Sigh! I keep insisting, and it keeps being passed over, the intent of the passage your quoting (which is now becoming standard wordage in contracts) doesn't have to do with ownership of the work, but with the distribution of already sold works. It concerns the ability of readers of legally purchased works to continue receiving updates after the work has been yanked.

I seriously doubt (along with Chris) that Amazon would ever claim the right to publish a book removed from their catalog, though they'll continue to update legally purchased books for years after the author's remove them from publication. In other words, it's not about sales, but about distribution of legally purchased content.

Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

It must be recommended to them by a friend, advertised on television, or reviewed by a source that the reader trusts.


According to some Amazon sources if you use their preferred status systems to get listed on the Amazon Recommended lists it picks up your sales. And that would appear to be a significant driving force at Amazon.

However, it all comes down to you trusting Amazon the way Chamberlain trusted Hitler, and me not trusting Amazon the way Churchill didn't trust Hitler. You can go your way and I'll go mine. But the evidence to date is my take on Amazon is a lot closer to the truth than yours is.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon.com_controversies

Replies:   Dominions Son
Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

Sorry, Chris, but that's where we differ. Their "Unlimited" program fosters the success of shorter works, at the expense of novel-sized books. Amazon also offers the KDP and the KDP Select program, so you're statement is true in that regard, but you were discussing your earnings under the combination "Unlimited"/"Select" plans, so that was what I was addressing.


This is flat out wrong, CW. I'm sorry. On a case by case basis, I move more individual copies of my full length novels through the unlimited program than I do my novellas. My full length novels outsell my novellas by two copies to one. It literally takes all thirty plus of my novellas to match the number of pages read for my three novels even though there are five times as many pages when you accumulate all of the novellas together compared to the number of pages for my novels. Your opinion here is completely void of any factual basis.

As far as Indie books doing better in previous years, that was more because of the influx of the massive amounts of readers who were purchasing tablets for reading materials. It was a new and hot trend where everyone wanted to try it. This massive influx also began to draw a massive number of writers into self publishing. When the sales of tablets began to level off but the numbers of writers continue to pour in, that's when the tables began to turn. The number of competitors out there are making it much more difficult for each individual author to succeed.

Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

Sigh! I keep insisting, and it keeps being passed over, the intent of the passage your quoting (which is now becoming standard wordage in contracts) doesn't have to do with ownership of the work, but with the distribution of already sold works. It concerns the ability of readers of legally purchased works to continue receiving updates after the work has been yanked.

I seriously doubt (along with Chris) that Amazon would ever claim the right to publish a book removed from their catalog, though they'll continue to update legally purchased books for years after the author's remove them from publication. In other words, it's not about sales, but about distribution of legally purchased content.


I'm not passing this point over. I read it and I agree with it, so I didn't comment on it.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I keep insisting, and it keeps being passed over, the intent of the passage your quoting (which is now becoming standard wordage in contracts) doesn't have to do with ownership of the work, but with the distribution of already sold works. It concerns the ability of readers of legally purchased works to continue receiving updates after the work has been yanked.


Sorry CW, I have to disagree with you on this, because other e-book sellers allow clients to update purchased works without that wording. Also, a friend who buys books from Amazon has told me that the copy you get and download to your account at Amazon is the copy you get to read all along, if the author does a revisions you have to buy a new copy to get the revised version. I don't buy e-books from Amazon, so I don't know how true this is.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

which is now becoming standard wordage in contracts


BTW the only companies I've seen using that wordage are all under the Amazon corporate umbrella, so I wouldn't say it's now becoming standard. None of the older e-book publishers I looked at have it, nor do the traditional publishers who also sell e-books.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

It specifically promotes short stories masquerading as full books,


No longer.

Amazon made a change to counter what you're saying. You get paid now on a read page, so it doesn't matter if the story is 100 pages or 1,000 pages.

So someone with 10 short stories of 100 pages each is equivalent to someone with a novel of 1,000 pages. If a reader reads the entire novel and all 10 short stories to the end, the payouts are the same for the two authors.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

Amazon made a change to counter what you're saying. You get paid now on a read page, so it doesn't matter if the story is 100 pages or 1,000 pages.


SW, a lot depends on the reading habits of the Amazon clients. If they're already trained to only look at short stories or read for x amount of pages or minutes, that's all they'll do, regardless of the size of the story. However, as things are no one has access to any reasonable usage statistics to draw any worthwhile conclusions about how it's going now compared to before. Amazon say the changes level the playing field, and they should, if carried out exactly as they say.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

if the author does a revisions you have to buy a new copy to get the revised version.


You don't have to buy it again, but you do have to download it again.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

No longer.

Amazon made a change to counter what you're saying. You get paid now on a read page, so it doesn't matter if the story is 100 pages or 1,000 pages.

So someone with 10 short stories of 100 pages each is equivalent to someone with a novel of 1,000 pages. If a reader reads the entire novel and all 10 short stories to the end, the payouts are the same for the two authors.

OK. I'll admit, my research into the matter essentially stopped before the latest change. After they instituted the change, I noted the sales of the larger books didn't pick up substantially, so I (incorrectly) assumed it didn't have the intended effect.

The reason why the short stories are being sold seems to be occurring across the board (as my earlier post about SW shows), rather than it being a result of "Amazon Unlimited".

I'll admit, I followed the discussions about the "Unlimited" program fairly extensively. After they made the change, each side had already made up their minds, so the opinions didn't change--which I assumed was evidence the situation hadn't changed.

Guess I'll have to try publishing something under the program and see what results I get--but again, the key (from what Chris has said) seems to be the number of books offered and the frequency of postings, regardless of book length, which works against me, rather than for me. He states that his free books help sell his pay books, which is harder to swing for a 70,000 word novel.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

However, as things are no one has access to any reasonable usage statistics to draw any worthwhile conclusions about how it's going now compared to before.


The change had nothing to do with readers' reading habits. It had to do with what authors were publishing.

Before the change, it benefited authors to have shorter stories so authors published shorter stories. On wattpad, one even said she broke a novel into 3 short novels so that she'd get paid 3 times as much.

So Amazon did the right things. They took the length of the story out of the equation. Now a page is a page is a page no matter the story length.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

the key (from what Chris has said) seems to be the number of books offered and the frequency of postings, regardless of book length, which works against me, rather than for me.


The words of wisdom from the authors I speak to on wattpad who were able to quit their day job is just that. They say if you publish one book (as I did) you don't stand a chance. You need many books. The sales of one drives sales of others. And you have to write fast (which I don't do) because a reader you pick up will forget about you if you don't come out with a new novel in a reasonable time (a few months).

Lubrican sort of told me the same a long time ago. He said he makes his money on volume.

demonmaster62

Maybe just a little off topic,but I love these discussions of self publishing.

Obviously I was hoping to eventually do so through Amazon, BUT as most of what I write is out and out porn, some of it with incest and at least one underage character, though nothing under 14 which was set as cut off here.

IS there anywhere to be able publish a completed work like this? It seems that there are "Boutique" publishers turning up everywhere, but I'd rather deal straight with the source. Is there something like this out there?

I've seen you guys mention Smashwords, and Lulu, but niether one of those seem to fit the bill either.

Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

Volume helps for sure. You can't gain momentum if you're only producing a book or two per year and if you're sticking to novels exclusively, regardless of genre, you're making it harder on yourself.

I full admit that life is easier with erotica. It's an easier market to break into, but the principals I apply will work with other genres, it's just a slower climb. Producing novellas in erotica and offering them on free promotion can get you an average of fifty to a hundred new readers per day. Not all of them will go on to buy your paid works but I find that about five percent will.

In other genres, the numbers are lower. I've tried it with fantasy and sci/fi both. The numbers were similar. I got in between 10 and twenty new readers for the free books per day and a couple sales along with them. Much slower in the beginning for sure, but as you develop a following (if you stick with the program) You start getting repeat business adding to your momentum.

Switch Blayde

@demonmaster62

Is there something like this out there?


I don't believe so. They stay away from underage sex (18 years old), incest, and bestiality.

Replies:   demonmaster62
demonmaster62

@Switch Blayde

Thank you, SB

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

But the evidence to date is my take on Amazon is a lot closer to the truth than yours is.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon.com_controversies


Never trust wikipedia as a source on any controversial topic.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The words of wisdom from the authors I speak to on wattpad who were able to quit their day job is just that. They say if you publish one book (as I did) you don't stand a chance. You need many books. The sales of one drives sales of others. And you have to write fast (which I don't do) because a reader you pick up will forget about you if you don't come out with a new novel in a reasonable time (a few months).

I picked that up a long time ago, when I started posting the "Catalyst" series nearly a month apart. I'm now cranking out books, but there's still no way I can justify giving away a 70,000+ word book for free, whereas it's simple to do with a 5,000 to 10,000 word book. That's why I keep harping on the notion of Amazon serving a niche market, rather than a broader publishing market. They don't give every book equal play, not by design, but by how they've developed their system over time.

Crumbly Writer

@demonmaster62

Maybe just a little off topic,but I love these discussions of self publishing.

IS there anywhere to be able publish a completed work like this? It seems that there are "Boutique" publishers turning up everywhere, but I'd rather deal straight with the source. Is there something like this out there?

Great question. Amazon is problematic, as they explicitly say NO incest accepted. However, it's virtually impossible to enforce. You can try it, but you have to realize that, if someone objects, Amazon will freeze the payments they've already collected until the issue is resolved. If you remove the book, they keep all those funds (last I checked, at least). Also, if you get caught a second time for the same offense, they'll ban both you, and any other ID using the same bank account. You can dance around this by incorporating under a pseudonym and opening a bank account for each ID, but most of us are trying to build a following, rather than reaching for the quick bucks.

Smashwords seems like a safer alternative, but the numbers just aren't there anymore. With the lower volume, it's hard to reach enough people. However, since they don't submit works to Amazon (like Lulu does), it's a safer option, and you earn more for each book sold than you do elsewhere (a higher percentage of the retail price). Just remember, remove Kobo and libraries as a distribution partner, as those will get you in trouble as well.

The thinking with the 14 figure is that few prosecutors are likely to make a big deal about such stories, while they'd gladly jump on a story featuring someone younger in a moment, given the likelihood of National headlines. However, there's NO legal protection if they decide to go ahead!

The key, though, is that books get banned because of reader complaints. Thus putting pictures of young girls (or even worse, young boys) is a virtual guarantee someone uninterested in the book will register a complaint (even if they don't purchase it, if they're regular Amazon purchasers, Amazon treats them the same). The safest option is to simply leave any references to age, family status, or images of such, off of the cover and the book description. That way, the only ones who may report you will be your readers, who are unlikely to.

Hope that helps. I realize it's not what you were hoping for, but it's my collected wisdom on the topic after watching several others crash and burn over the years.

Replies:   demonmaster62
Capt Zapp

@Chris Podhola

but I still read it differently than you do. I doubt we'll come to a consensus on this point.


If you both read it and can't agree on what it says/means, why not have it looked over by someone who would have to fight it in court? Find a lawyer!

Capt Zapp

@Ernest Bywater

People have a tendency to rise up against forces that become oppressive.

Some do, some don't, but the ones that will rise against the oppressor won't do so until such time as they realise there is an oppressor.


And sometimes they don't realize it until it is too late to do anything.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Capt Zapp

And sometimes they don't realize it until it is too late to do anything.

Recent court rulings--including those by the U.S. Supreme Court--have consistently held that the fine print on the on-line sign-ups that no one ever reads is binding, including limited one's ability to sue in situations where the company is clearly at fault!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Recent court rulings--including those by the U.S. Supreme Court


Not completely true. There is one site (an e-commerce site that exist to push a single product) recently that has been smacked down in the courts over a clause purporting to allow them to fine users for negative comments on on-line review sites.

demonmaster62

@Crumbly Writer

Thank you, very much CW. You have actually given me a little hope back. The lowest I've ever gone age wise in a story is 15. Since it was a "Western" and in that time period if threy weren't married by 16 they were "OLD MAIDS" I was able to ease my mind about it.

In my long running story, the youngest is 17. Part of the story is her doing "Everything" but actual intercourse, until the night of her 18th B-Day. But I have put her in very sexual situations in which she participates (Anal, Oral).

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@demonmaster62

Part of the issue is regional laws. The U.S. is clear about what's allowed, as we've fought multiple censorship laws concerning everyone's freedom of speech (the case DS mentions was resolved because it affect FoS, rather than users 'accepting' limitations to their 'normal' (not-Constitionally protected) rights). However, companies like Amazon are concerned with selling the exact same books in America, China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. If a particular book would be banned in any single country, they'll forbid it across the board. It has nothing to do with content, it has to do with Amazon's not being banned in other countries.

The other businesses (lulu, smashwords and D2D) follow the same principals, but they've got a much smaller international presence than Amazon does.

Ideally, you could sell your books via your own website, and as long as they were all within the U.S., you'd be fine, since our "Freedom of Speech" guarantees protect anything you say. However ... if you did, you'd be personally liable if some overaggressive prosecutor went after you trying to get elected to a higher office. That's why it makes sense to incorporate under your author name (even if it's your own name). That way, if you're ever sued, they can only take your earnings, rather than any of your possessions or savings.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

However, companies like Amazon are concerned with selling the exact same books in America, China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. If a particular book would be banned in any single country, they'll forbid it across the board. It has nothing to do with content, it has to do with Amazon's not being banned in other countries.


I don't believe that's what it is at all. A lot of content in novels on Amazon would not be allowed in other countries.

It's simply a legal matter. Freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment, but obscenity is not. So they drew the line with underage sex and bestiality. Why incest was thrown in I don't know.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I don't believe that's what it is at all. A lot of content in novels on Amazon would not be allowed in other countries.

My point wasn't that it was a clear cut distinction, merely that the response to content is stricter based on the amount of foreign sales. And it's not completely legal. After all, there are plenty of countries which might sue, but as a multi-national, Amazon's more worried about sales and their reputation. They don't want to be painted as being 'the evil empire', so by taking a hard stance about a few things, they're seen as doing their part. The companies like smashwords or D2D, with fewer foreign sales, aren't as overbearing about it, though they still forbid it.

Capt Zapp

@Switch Blayde

Freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment, but obscenity is not.


Which does not seem to apply to 'music' of certain styles.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Capt Zapp


Which does not seem to apply to 'music' of certain styles.


I guess it can apply to any form of art. It's up to the District Attorney to decide which to prosecute, and child porn is on top of many lists, especially the younger and more abused the child is.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp

@Switch Blayde

Which does not seem to apply to 'music' of certain styles.

I guess it can apply to any form of art. It's up to the District Attorney to decide which to prosecute, and child porn is on top of many lists...


My comment was about 'obscenity', not porn. I guess it all depends on who it offends. It seems like the new guideline is "If you're white, we don't care if you are offended."

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Never trust wikipedia as a source on any controversial topic.


In this case it's a fairly good summary of the over 100 articles referenced at the end of the wiki article. Often wikipedia is a good place to start, but a lot depends on the references it's from. Also, I remember many of the controversies being in the news at the time they occurred.

typo edit

Switch Blayde

@Capt Zapp

My comment was about 'obscenity', not porn.


I was talking about obscenity.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I was talking about obscenity.

This is SOL, we're always interested in obscenity! 'D "More please."

By the way, Chris, I've been whittling down my word counts, so it should be easier to drop my prices. I may try giving away more books. I typically drop the price of the first books in a series, but I haven't tried offering them for free yet.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

By the way, Chris, I've been whittling down my word counts, so it should be easier to drop my prices. I may try giving away more books. I typically drop the price of the first books in a series, but I haven't tried offering them for free yet.


What do you mean by whittling down your word counts? And my opinion on pricing depends on more than just word count. To me, it's as much about specific market standards than word count alone. With erotica, for example, I can get away with charging $2.99 for a 10,000 word novella, but I would never attempt this with a fantasy or sci/fi novella of even two or three times that length. With other genres $.99 or perma free to help promote longer works is automatic.

Are you considering enrolling anything into KDP Select? That's the only way I have had any luck with free items. I've tried using Smashwords to put works for free (forcing Amazon to price match), but did not experience the same degree of success that I've had using the KDP Select promotional tools.

If you are considering using Select, email me with the specifics of what you are planning to offer in select, and I will offer you guidance if you want it.

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