Ever-evolving

If there’s one thing you can say about the publishing industry with certainty, it’s that everything is constantly changing. However, this year has been particularly turbulent. I’ve mentioned previously that we authors have been having a hard time with problems with Amazon this year. Many authors had sought refuge from those problems by using a distributor called Pronoun.

Unfortunately, yesterday we learned—very abruptly and with no warning—that Pronoun is shutting down. Very soon. And the shutdown has already begun.

And yes, this affects my books.

First of all: Cheerleaders From Planet X.

Losing Pronoun is going to do immeasurable damage to this book. Unlike Fourth World, which had been previously published to Kindle directly and so already had a backup listing with a strong ranking and a good list of also-boughts, Cheerleaders has never been published anywhere but Pronoun, so I have no backup. Also-boughts are critical, because they help new readers find my book and know what to expect. Right now, I have a great combination of superhero, science fiction and f/f books (both indie and traditional) in my also-boughts. Thanks to all of you and your fantastic support for this book in preorder and beyond, my ranking is strong, which means new readers are easily able to find the book and know exactly what it is based on the other books listed on the page (such as Villains Don’t Date Heroes, which frankly looks AMAZING).

That is going to be completely wiped. I will be starting over from scratch.

After thinking about it all day yesterday, overnight and this morning, I’ve come to the decision that I am going to go back to my original plan for this book and enroll it in Kindle Unlimited. This was a hard decision because, as I explained previously, KU has never exactly been a super great deal for authors, and it’s gotten worse this year. (Frankly, it’s gotten even worse over the last couple weeks.) However, with the loss of Pronoun, Amazon essentially has me over a barrel. The reason I moved most of my books to Pronoun in the first place was because they paid 70% royalties for books at any price, whereas Amazon will only pay you 35% if you price your book below $2.99. This means that when I run a $0.99 sale, I am only getting paid around $0.32 per copy sold (they also take a delivery fee out). With Pronoun I was making twice that. To put it in real-world terms, with my $0.99 preorder for Cheerleaders being listed on Pronoun, I made almost $400. If it had been published to Kindle Direct, it would have been half that. Money is very, very tight for me due to my medical expenses. I need that $200.

The only way to get around this royalty cut is to have the book enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.1)This wouldn’t have worked for the preorder, though, because you can’t schedule a countdown deal until after the book has already been released. In order to give you guys that $0.99 preorder price, I would have had to take the 35% royalties. In KU, I can run a periodic Kindle Countdown Deal where the book will be $0.99 but I’ll get those full 70% royalties like I did on Pronoun. Running $0.99 sales is critical to indie authors, as most advertising venues will only accept your book if you’re running a temporary discount. This gets the book in front of new eyes. Plus, it gives you guys a deal, and I know money can be tight and spending $0.99 is a lot more appealing than spending $3.99. So I absolutely want to have that ability.

But to be in KU, my book has to be exclusive to Amazon. So, unfortunately, I am going to have to remove Cheerleaders from sale on all other retailers. I don’t have a firm timeline on this yet, but I anticipate it will be before the end of the month.

If you are not an Amazon user and you have been wanting to grab a copy of Cheerleaders From Planet X, this is your last chance! I’m sorry but unfortunately it will have to be at the full $3.99 price point. I am unable to change the price on Pronoun any longer.

This also means that the ebook of Cheerleaders will not be available to libraries via Overdrive or Bibliotheca any longer. I’m really sorry.

After the book is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, I will run another $0.99 sale to try to get my ranking/also-boughts back as well as give people a bit of a deal to make up for all this ridiculousness.

Next up: Fourth World and the rest of the Iamos Trilogy.

Unlike Cheerleaders, Fourth World had been published on Kindle Direct before. This means that when I moved the book back to KDP last night, my also-boughts were still there. Thank you, God! So Fourth World is not in as immediate of a crisis as Cheerleaders.

Additionally, Fourth World was listed at other retailers via Draft2Digital, which is not closing. The only retailer that Fourth World will no longer be on will be Google Play, which was exclusively available via Pronoun. It is possible it may be available again sometime in the future if Draft2Digital is able to work out a distribution deal with them.

Fourth World will continue to be available to libraries as an ebook through Overdrive, though there will likely be a gap as the listing migrates from Pronoun to Draft2Digital. The ebook will no longer be available to libraries who use Bibliotheca (I think most use Overdrive, though, and it’s also available to any library that uses SELF-e, so between the two of those libraries should be set with regards to ebooks).

Additionally, I mentioned this in my newsletter last week, but the print editions of all my Snowy Wings Publishing titles are available to public and school libraries through Brodart. So if you are a student or library patron who would like to see Fourth World in your library system, just ask your librarian (many libraries even have an online form where you can request titles).

I do not have any plans at this time to enroll Fourth World in Kindle Unlimited. Even if I’m losing money on sales, my goal for this series is to get it in front of as many kids who need it as possible, and not every teen has a Kindle. (I know not every teen has an e-reader at all, but the odds of them having an iPhone are probably better than anything else, so I don’t want to take that away from them.) If this changes in the future, I’ll let you know.

What about Perchance to Dream?

Unfortunately, the ebook of Perchance to Dream will no longer be available after January 15. So if you want a copy, grab it now. The paperback will continue to be available on all major online retailers (Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, etc). Like the Iamos Trilogy, it is also available to schools and libraries through Snowy Wings Publishing. Frankly, we think this book is a great resource especially for schools, so we highly encourage you to ask your librarian if they might be able to order it for your high school or public library.

Okay, what about your short stories? “Gale” and “Seven Years Among Dragons”?

“Gale” will be re-enrolled in Kindle Unlimited after January 15. It will continue to be $0.99, but it will only be available to purchase on Amazon. And obviously, if you have a KU account, you’ll be able to check it out and read it for “free.” (I mean, you are paying a subscription fee, so it’s not quite free. But you know.) I may periodically run a Kindle Countdown deal on it to make it free for limited times.

“Seven Years Among Dragons” is going to be the biggest thorn in my side. Unlike every other retailer, Amazon does not allow books to be permanently free. The only way they technically allow free books is if you’re in Kindle Unlimited2)I can’t have SYAD in Kindle Unlimited because it’s also published in the Wings of Renewal anthology. and you run a Kindle Countdown deal. How are there all these millions of other free books on Amazon, you ask?

  1. The author used Pronoun, which will no longer be an option after January 15.
  2. They listed it for $0.99, published it for free on all other retailers, and then clicked the “Report a lower price” button on their Amazon listing over and over and over and over until Amazon finally gave in and lowered the price to free.

As you can imagine, Option 2 is a huge pain in the butt and very unreliable. I had SYAD on Amazon for months at $0.99 and they Would. Not. Price-match the damn thing. That’s why I finally moved it to Pronoun in the first place.

Because of this, as with Cheerleaders, I’m going to lose my rank, my also-boughts, and, unlike Cheerleaders (because Cheerleaders has a paperback edition that I can use to link everything), most likely my reviews as well. I am still working out what I’m going to do about that and whether I will be able to salvage my reviews. Still, it will likely take quite a while for it to become permafree on Amazon again. Sorry about that. You will still be able to get it free on other retailers as well as Instafreebie in the meantime.

So, that’s what’s going on with my books and what’s going to happen with them in the future. Thank you all for your understanding as I try to clean up this mess.

NOTES   [ + ]

1. This wouldn’t have worked for the preorder, though, because you can’t schedule a countdown deal until after the book has already been released. In order to give you guys that $0.99 preorder price, I would have had to take the 35% royalties.
2. I can’t have SYAD in Kindle Unlimited because it’s also published in the Wings of Renewal anthology.

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