Friday, July 10, 2015

I May Be a Bitch, but I'm Not Amazon's Bitch

... mostly. Yeah, there's still stuff of mine in KU. I'm not pulling them. I'm sticking to my plan as originally intended of letting them expire 'naturally', but as I was sitting here thinking writing fox smut, I thought, "What if I developed a series JUST for a specific distributor NOT Amazon?" The one that came to mind at first was Excitica, of course. I would really like to help indie distributors as well. I'm not saying I'm awesome and yeah, like totally everyone would come aboard, but it would help to get the word out to other distributors rather than just Amazon.

The problem is: I'd be limiting myself to something that's not Amazon. I mean, let's face it, it's got the lion's share of the ebook program. I think I could contact the administrator of the site and ask a question like, "Hey, if I limit this one particular series to JUST here, could I get a bump in visibility?" I mean, it's worth a shot, right? Of course, if it were someone who were much bigger, I think that'd be a yes, but people gotta start somewhere. But someone like Reed could do it, maybe. Some of his stuff seems popular. There's another writer who writes some really good shit, Oleander I think their name was, maybe they could. I'm a nothing right now.

Of course, Excitica has its problems at the moment too. For one, which is majorly annoying, I cannot check to see if I've actually sold something there. It's... there's an error in the order history page. Hence, no stats. I could be moving a ton of books there. I could be moving nothing (a far more likely scenario). I have no idea. The interface isn't as intuitive as Smashwords or Amazon, or even B&N, and B&N (Nook) has a stupidly complex interface for no particular reason, which you have to save on every page. I went through one of my books by hitting 'next', and realized after the fact I have to hit 'save', THEN 'next'. (or whatever the stupid buttons are called) Haven't done D2D or any other platforms yet, because I got lazy. Eventually I'll get around to it.

Second problem, it's a small distributor. If I write something exclusive and it never gets seen... what good is that?

However, it IS a place where shifters can have sex in shifter form. Incest is OK. Sick, depraved shit is OK, to a point. No underage (totally gross, so I agree with that). No necrophilia (except for "vampires", I wonder if other sentient undead are ok, or if they're just deadist? It would be like letting only lipstick lesbians into a place and banning all other gay people. Or only big beautiful brunettes in, and no to skinny redheads, and so on. I would have to think sentient undead would be alright. I mean, ghuls need love too! What about ghosts? Revenants? Zombies? Ok, most zombies are sentient, but some are!)... where was I? Hm. Underage, necrophilia, what else was banned? Oh, yeah, beastiality is still a no-no, but I would assume that's only for real life animals, not mythological ones. And shifters in were form are totes OK. Selena Kitt herself said so! I can also attest going through their categories for how to tag the books I have put up there, they have tags for shit I have never even heard of. So, fellow writer friend of mine who is obsessed with futas--there's a category for that! There's a category for incest, and for scat fetishes and many, many, MANY varieties of BDSM.

So, that's an advantage. I mean, you can kinda let loose there. I don't think anything they ban is anything I would write about... maybe the necrophilia (especially if ghuls or other sentient undead don't count; stupid vampires hogging all the fun), but that would be more at home in one of my horror books anyway.

Now, the last big drawback for Excitica: it's not running https. As in the link is NOT secure. I know a lot of people have balked at that, and I really hope they change it. People's personal info is in there, man, so that could potentially be dangerous.

Anyway, all of that was a thought. I do refuse to be Amazon's bitch. If it means I just fucking sell shit and pull everything out anyway, so be it. I think I will write an exclusive for one of these other platforms, see who might follow or who I might discover. It may even be Delilah's. Her story is still brewing in my head. I see the first few very easily... Maybe it'll be Caprice in Villainess/Queen of Swords. That's almost done too, and it's pretty plot heavy. Plus, she's a fucking psycho. She might be made for a place with a harder edge than Amazon.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Amazon Categories are Sometimes WTF

So, I know a lot of authors will pad their keywords to get into as many categories as possible. I consider this a "black hat" tactic, as it misrepresents a book. I try to keep it to exactly what's IN the book so that people know what they're getting. Makes sense, yeah? Because, y'know, I'm sorry... if I want a horror book, and it's not horror, I'd get mad. If I want romance and it's not really romance, I'd get mad.

With Primal Urges, there's a menage scene in it that consists of our hero of the book, and two ladies he happens to meet who are bisexual lovers living together. There are a couple of paragraphs of just the two ladies making out, then more with pussy eating and whatnot during the menage... and that's it. Of course, I wasn't thinking and put lesbian in the keywords because they are, or rather bisexual. Maybe I put bisexual in there. I'd have to check that, actually. Anyway, it got categorized under literature & fiction > Horror > LGBT / Lesbian. I was like... Ooookaaaay?

It is in there, but it's not the focus of the book, so I feel that I must apologize for any misrepresentation of it. Yes, it technically is in there, so it could technically be in that category, but it's not the focus. I don't want to misrepresent what I wrote: it's horror with a paranormal romance and lots of hot sex. I'm still wondering if that one keyword was enough to bump it into that category. Sometimes, I really don't understand how Amazon determines where goes what, and if people even look at the content at all for all those authors jampacking whatever keywords they can to get into all those categories. I really don't think they do.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Changes. Meh.

This post is going to be about the KDP changes and my opinion on them.

First off, let me say this straight out: my income does not depend on publishing. At most, I've made about 220$ a month, least much less than that (first month and all). It seems to be averaging around one to two hundred a month, which was nice. It was even more especially nice when I took a pay cut for switching jobs. However, this is not my livelihood. I'm a hobby writer. The extra cash is nice, but not necessary.

Second, let me say I'm still of the 'wait and see' variety of author when it comes to this. We just don't have information to make accurate judgments yet. We can make some very good guesses, but they are just that: guesses.

So, with the changes to the kindle unlimited program, authors get paid per page read. In theory, this would be a nice way to reward each author evenly for reader entertainment. In practice, I don't think it's going to pan out that way, but I don't know yet. What I do know is that short stories, specifically erotica as that's my experience but it applies to all shorts, won't get paid nearly as much as they were under the old system. The old system seemed to have stabilized at around 1.35$ per borrow, so every time someone read past 10% of a book, the author would get that much for the KU user who borrowed the book. Many, many erotica writers made a lot of money under this system, many and more less so but a decent amount for beer money, as they say. I'm of the second variety. I know of several authors who quit their jobs because they were making so much smut money. That was terrific for them! It's the dream, yeah?

With the new changes, it won't be that. Now, the market is in upheaval. People are pulling their books out of KU and putting them in other markets, going "wide" as it's called. Other people aren't, or don't plan to. Still more are waiting. I'm of the third variety, but I was already putting my plan into motion of going wide anyway, and I was doing it BEFORE the changes were announced. Why? After the first couple of months, shorts tend to fall off the radar, so why not put them into other, newer markets where they'd get more exposure? That was my thinking anyway.

There are theories going about that authors will be getting paid (and there's math, I'm just lazy so I'm not rehashing all that, go Google it) $0.0057 per page read. That just over half a cent. Even with "increased" page counts--and the page counts seem to be about 175-200 words per page, give or take--a short is suddenly worth about twenty cents on the borrow. Forty if it's a bigger short. Other people have already done the math, and under that payment rate, a person would have to write like 250 pages or something, a full sized if shortish novel, to get the current pay rate. (No, my numbers may not be accurate. I'm lazy. I'm not looking it up. Google it yourself. Suffice it to say it's an estimate, and it's a pretty close estimate from what I was reading)

Even if it was a full cent, or even two, many erotica short story writers will be losing a lot of money compared to the old system. Many are upset. They have every right to feel what they feel. I understand being upset. I'm vaguely upset by that as well, but that's because I was envisioning being able to save up smut money to get the crowns on my two teeth that I've been needing. It will just take longer now. Much longer.

There are some people who write longer novels who are gloating over the changes. It's ok to celebrate your good fortune, but some of the posts I've seen talk about people "deserving" money for their work. That's what is very upsetting to me. There is no "deserving" in this. Flat out, it's a fucking business. People are in it to make money. End. Of. Story.

For Amazon, it's a business move. It's to save money, and they put the spin on it that it's to fairly reward authors for their pages published and read. That's just spin. It's fucking business. That's. All. BUSINESS.

For the authors, it's business as well. Amazon's move has hurt their business, which is upsetting. Beyond a doubt it's upsetting. There's a movement to "release the rate" for the borrows accumulated and how much per page is getting paid. I agree with that, because it's impossible to know what's going to happen. Without that vital information, authors can't figure out for themselves if they want to continue with the KU business model or move on to another pasture. That information should be given out, or updated throughout the month or something. It's a needed figure for authors to figure out where their business needs to be, how to grow it, and so on.

Even for me, a hobby writer, it's to make money. It's a fucking business. I don't... ok, I do do this for my own entertainment, but it's also to make money. I'm still kinda middle of the road here, but... being honest, I wanna make some cash too.

So, for Amazon, it's a business move to save them money. They have every fucking right to do that. It's even stated in the KU terms and conditions that it can change at any time. Whether or not they used strong-arming tactics to get people to enter KU to begin with and then to stay is a moral question, not a business one. We can only take this from a business perspective.

However, on the other side, this is the author's livelihoods that are being changed. It's business for them too. I understand the frustration and feeling of helplessness, but you can't change other people's actions. You can only change how you react to things. Granted, it would very much be helpful for authors if Amazon gave them the tools which were needed to make an informed choice... but that's a telling thing already, isn't it? If they aren't telling you and constantly change the rules, then do you want to stay?

In the end, I'm coming down in the middle so far. What I don't like is the negativity. I know a lot of authors are upset, and they have every right to be. However, let's all learn from our "Dear Negative Reader" from Laurell K. Hamilton and Anne Rice meltdowns in the past. Give Amazon your arguments in clear, concise terms, and then wait. Be polite. On the other side, for some douchebags out there saying that "If your income goes down, someone more deserving is seeing their income go up" is completely fucking wrong. Nobody fucking deserves money. We are mother fucking working for it, asshole. Whether some someones think that writing 5K of smut isn't work, well, I challenge them to put out 10-20K publishable words per fucking week for months on end and see how long they last. It is work. Those who don't keep up the pace aren't paid as much as those writers who can. So, for those people, stop gloating or rubbing it in the faces of people who are losing money on their business where it was once booming. It shows what kind of person you really are, and I'm seeing a lot of people on both sides of the argument I really don't want to be around because of the sucking vortex of negative energy.

Instead, I am focusing on a fellow writer's words, "You just keep doing what you do." Keep writing. That's where I'm at.