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Friday, 18 September 2015

Kindle Unlimited

So I did this today. Putting books two and three of my series into Kindle Unlimited was approximately as terrifying as writing book one had been. Which sounds totally ridiculous, because why would a marketing plan that targets readers be terrifying? Or, for that matter, why would writing a book about a free-running tagger (I fall in slow motion, according to my husband) who time travels to Jack the Ripper's London (haven't been there because - you know, we've moved on) be scary? Well, except for the part that I COULD SUCK AND NO ONE WOULD READ IT.

Since then, of course, a couple of people have told me Marking Time doesn't suck. And those people actually went on to buy Tempting Fate and Changing Nature, and apparently those don't suck either. But, writing the books is hard enough. Marketing them is its own monster under the bed, only able to be faced with one part luck, one part research, and three parts kind people who like to read time travel books.

The research I've done into KU, especially since they changed the payout system for borrows to a per-page rate, has been compelling, and much, much wiser people than I (Hugh Howey's blog post on the subject is excellent) have written extensively on the subject. But then, a couple of weeks ago, my lovely friend, Penny Reid and I were talking about the Yukon (my summer) and babies (her life) and raising kids to be decent, interesting human beings (a universal challenge), and she brought up KU.

"You should put your books in KU," she said, during a very rare pause in the conversation. "They're really long, so the money could work in your favor when people borrow them, and everything in my research has shown that Amazon promotes KU books, especially the new releases, more than wider releases."

I'm paraphrasing, of course, because I think my brain stopped on the I-should-put-my-books in KU part. But one thing to know about Penny is that when she researches something, she's not kidding. That woman's statistical brain is phenomenal and utterly intimidating, and all I can say is thank God we're friends, because her books are awesome, and I get to benefit from her love of numbers.

"But," I argued, (to Penny, on the phone) "my first book is free, and if I put it in KU it can't stay free." For anyone who doesn't already know how to make an e-book perma-free, it's all about Amazon's commitment to being the lowest-priced game in town, so even though they don't offer the option to make a book free, other outlets do. Then Amazon has to price-match your free book in order to keep their low-price promise to customers.

The conversation went back and forth about whether readers would discover the first book when they saw books two and three in KU, and if it even mattered. But always in the back of my mind was the fear that everything would fall apart, people would stop downloading the books, sales would fall off, and ... well, you know, cats and dogs would start living together and life as I know it would cease to exist.

Or, three months could pass (the commitment to exclusivity in KU) and I could change my mind.

So, because I'm a writer, I just wrote a whole blog post full of fears and concerns, with some dialogue, and honest self-doubt sprinkled in for good measure. If I were just cutting to the chase, like I finally did today, I'd say this:

Dear Readers,
I've put Tempting Fate and Changing Nature into KU. The paperbacks are still available anywhere, but for the e-books, readers will have to download the kindle app to read them. I plan to release Waging War in KU before my three months for the other books are up, hopefully capitalizing on the increased exposure Amazon gives to KU new releases. If you read on a Nook or a Kobo device, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, and I'll be offering several paperback giveaways at release time on Facebook. The jury is still out on whether I'll ever put Marking Time in KU, because free is free, and, well, people like free so they still find it.

Oh, and thank you for your patience with Waging War. That's the subject of a whole other blog post that I don't yet have the courage to write, but I promise, it's coming.
Warmest Regards,