Saturday, July 3, 2010

KINDLE Goes to 70% Royalties

You might have noticed my books have not been available on Kindle the last few days, or that I no longer have them listed with deep discount prices or free on Smashwords. That's actually good news. Two of them are back up on Kindle, and the other two will be soon. Here's what's going on:

As of June 30, the new 70% royalty rates are available on Kindle. This change, announced in May, doubles the previous 35% royalty rate, which was Pikersville compared to what competition was paying- 65 to 85%, depending on the site. But with Kindle selling possibly 90% or better of ebooks in general, self-publishing ebook authors couldn't afford not to use Kindle as a distributor. Amazon's one driving force all these years has been to capture the entirety of the market, though, and competition from smaller sites, which often offered free ebooks, or discounted rates, was beginning to cut into their game. After all, if an author gets 85% of the cut, as on Smashwords, he/she can sell her books at a heavily discounted price and still make more per book than through Kindle because if there's anything ebook buyers love, it's cheap or free ebooks.

But naturally, considering its true nature, Amazon found a way to leverage the increased royalty rate into a competition-bashing weapon. And authors can't really turn it down if their aim is making sales that have some meaning.

Kindle will also keep the 35% royalty rate, and authors may choose. But they can only have the 70% rate IF they do not offer their book on a competitive site for less money. In addition, the book must be priced between $2.99 and 9.99, and it must be priced at least 20% lower than the retail price of the same book in print. And, the book may not be in the public domain. The author or publisher who puts the book up on Kindle must have legal rights to its publication. In addition, there is a delivery fee based on size of file, which amounts to about a nickel on my books.

There are a few things that seem sort of contradictory, and I'm researching them, but it seems clear to me that I cannot offer my books on Smashwords or another such site, or my own site, for any price under $2.99, and clearly I cannot give them away or offer them at "Name your own price" , which I had been doing.

That was, unfortunately, one of Smashwords' best draws. But if, for example, I sold one book in a hundred for a price of about $1- and that's about how much one gets with the "Name your own price" pricing, I'd have to give away huge number of books to equal 70% of $2.99, minus $.05, or $2.04 for every book. I can count on each of my books selling at least 10 books a month, and many times, a lot more. It's kind of unpredictable. And yes, I admit I haven't been promoting in the most effective ways on Amazon, so they could be doing much better than this. To make better use of Smashwords, I'd have to give up 35% in royalties from Kindle. I can't afford that.

The question is, of course, what will Smashwords do to counter Kindle's move? I am no lawyer, but I see this strong-arm method of grabbing the competition's customers as pretty close to an anti-trust move. That's never scared Amazon off from trying similar tactics in the past, but in almost all cases they've had to back down. So I wonder what will happen next?

For those of you who are considering re-issuing your older books for which you have your rights, or if you're thinking about e-publishing some stories you don't plan to put through the traditional publishing process, maybe this increase, coming from the biggest seller of ebooks in the industry, could be good news. It's good for me, overall. With this increase, I'll be making more money per month from my older books than I ever made through a publisher in an entire quarter. And from the last owner of the company, more every month than I made in the entire year.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bulwer-Lytton Awards Announced!

This is a must read for every author, and actually anyone who loves a bad pun or revels in the worst of prose:

Awarded every year since 1982 by persons nobody seems to know, they are in honor of the worst piece of prose ever written:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Note I copied it straight from the B-L website and it is not a copyright infringement. The more appropriate question might be whether some prose could actually be so bad as to be unworthy of copyright. Unfortunately any group of words strung together in sufficient number as to be identifiable and unique, and using any barely meaningful grammar so as to be roughly intelligible is considered to be under copyright from the date of its creation.

But you'll have to go to the site itself to read this year's Big Winners. Or Big Losers, as the case might be.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Non-Geek-SpeakerStruggles On

In keeping with my latest venture with Blogger, I've been trying out different kinds of headers to go with different templates. I don't want to get into actual template design at this point, but I would like to learn how to install custom backgrounds. I read the directions. They are very clear- until they get to the point where there's something I don't know that I need to know. Then they just elide right over that one little thing as if it ought to be obvious. Hey, come on! I don't speak Geek!

But the headers, now that's something I understand. I've done a number of them for friends, and quite a few for myself in the past. I enjoy changing the look of my blog. I wouldn't wear the same dress every day. Why should I want to wear the same blog every day?

For the most part, custom headers need to be distinctive and enhance the entire blog, but they need to be background that showcases the blog owner and blog title. My friend Tori Scott wanted a deep red or burgundy color, something dramatic, and had in mind a burgundy-light chocolate-black combo she had used in decorating a room. We had to compromise a little because the same colors tended to not work as well for our purposes here. Check out the whole blog design here:

We've all seen those blogs that are so busy they scream at the reader, calling attention in a hundred directions at once. I'm trying not to do that. I want to give a design that enhances what the author has to say, not screams for attention on its own.

I've been playing with the basic idea I used for Tori's site, and I have to say it's fun and versatile. The basic background involves two layers, the top one rounded beveled and shadowed like a website button, and the bottom one slightly larger, usually contrasting in some way, as a base. I'm posting a few of my attempts here. They look nice on their own but they really stand out when combined with a compatible template. I'm putting my own name on some of them, and a fanciful title, but they can all be changed. In the meantme, they're a good idea to experiment with, and will probably lead to even more ideas.

I tried "Impressions" on a very soft watercolor type landscape that echoed the colors, and the Window Template has a semi-transparent post background that carries out the mood. I believe the original is a JMW Turner painting, but I haven't been able to find it recently to verify it. Someone told me it was by Claude Lorrain but I doubt it. This is entirely Turner's style, especially that brilliant splash of sunlight in the middle.

"My Secret Cay" is a double play on "Key". When I was a teen I read a book about a couple who bought Marina Cay in the Caribbean and lived there alone for a year. Recently I found an old scrapbook and in it was the map of the island I had traced from inside the front cover. The Desert Island principle, I think- it always fascinated me. I looked up the book on Bookfinders and copies now sell in the hundreds of dollars. And I'll bet the library threw it away when it got doggy.

The measurements I've been using for these headers is one that works pretty well with all Blogger templates: 3"x9" @300 ppi. Always "shrink to fit" when installing. The height could be 2" or even 1", if you want a narrow design.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Mexico blog

I've just finished the first of my pictorial blogs under The Most Beautiful Place on earth. My description of the MBPoE is simple: The one where I am, or have been. And every now and then it might be a place in the past, or one I have no hope of ever seeing. But today, that place is our March, 2006 trip to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and I'm featuring two of the most famous of the Mayan cities.

You can follow this link here
OR, why not take the more leisurely journey and go through the tab above where you can check out the proposed links to future posts on The Most Beautiful Place on Earth?

Monday, June 28, 2010

UPDATE in the Blogger Experiment

I've discovered how to do tabs, which means I can add extra pages. No, that's not enough for me. I added two new blogs, which I'm trying to connect via the new pages. Both my "About My Books" and my "Visit the Most Beautiful Place on Earth" tabs expand into supplementary blogs.

But I'm not too knowledgeable about making connecting links, so be sure to check out those links above. I really love the secondary blog site I developed for the About My Books page, but I think I have to do a little more to make it un-confusing (is that a word? If not, it should be, because I need it NOW.)

I would like to connect directly to those new blogs instead of having an intermediary page. I've had lots of helpful suggestions on this project, including Maggie Jaimeson's suggestions on linking directly from my website. I'm still undecided on this. The one thing, I think, that concerns me is whether people looking for my website but getting a blog instead might feel confused or misled.

In the last two days, I've expanded the information on the pages, but still have a long way to go. I mustn't forget I'm a writer while I do all this! Yet I'd like to have the task finished.

About Me

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I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.