The Kindle Unlimited per-Page Rate Holds Steady in October, 2018

THE KINDLE UNLIMITED KENP PER-PAGE RATE FOR OCTOBER, 2018

In October, 2018 Amazon paid nearly the same amount per KENP page read as it did in September, 2018 for KDP Select books participating in Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime):

  • October, 2018 = $0.00484 per KENP page read
  • September, 2018 = $0.00488 per KENP page read

Both are significantly above the rate of $0.00449 for August, 2018 (which had been approximately the steady level for much of 2018).

The KDP Select Global Fund increased yet again:

  • October, 2018 = $23.5 million
  • September, 2018 = $23.4 million

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Changes to Amazon Product Pages, Reviews, Author Central, Etc.

 

AMAZON IS A DYNAMIC MARKETING ENVIRONMENT

Have you noticed a variety of little changes at Amazon recently? Following are some examples.

  • Customer reviews now display in a single column based on helpfulness. Previously, there had been a second column on the right (if you viewed the product page on a PC), giving the most recent reviews significant prominence. Now, the most recent reviews don’t automatically have more prominence than other reviews.
  • Amazon finally fixed the aspect ratio problem associated with Author Central author pages. Previously, when you clicked on an author’s profile at Amazon to open their author page, the cover thumbnails appearing in the top had all been forced into the same narrow aspect ratio, which distorted covers noticeably when they had a distinctly different aspect ratio. Now, if the cover is wider than the default, you get little gray bars at the top and bottom; the cover is no longer distorted.
  • In search results, at the top or bottom of a list, you often find 1-2 books (or other products) with a subtle Sponsored Products label. You also see Sponsored Products on product pages. These are actually paid advertisements, but the way Amazon did this makes them more effective than usual. Especially in search results, they don’t ‘seem’ like advertisements, since they fit right in. Many customers don’t even realize that there is a Sponsored Products label, and even if they do it doesn’t sound like an advertisement. Sponsored Products receive bonus exposure, now that there is a “Sponsored products related to this item” carousel just beneath the “Customers who bought this item also bought” carousel. If you publish a book with KDP, you can run an advertisement for your book via AMS (from KDP); this is available even for paperbacks.
  • There are other labels at Amazon that are changing. The Best Seller labels don’t always include the #1 before them any more, and in some instances they appear in orange, while in other cases they appear in blue. There used to be a #1 New Release label, then it changed to New Release, and today I don’t see new releases highlighted. I’ve also seen other labels, like for items included in a holiday and toy list.
  • Video Shorts display prominently on a product page, showing higher than the customer review section.
  • The options for Amazon Giveaways have changed significantly. There are now only a couple of types of giveaways with fewer options, but now there is less guesswork in setting one up and from the contestants’ point of view, the giveaways are much more standardized and all have a reasonable chance of winning.
  • Some products (even a few traditionally published books) let you clip a coupon. For other books, sometimes the savings are clearly highlighted in search results.
  • Amazon has really been pushing Audible audio books. You can create one using ACX, and even hire a narrator for your book (with the option of splitting royalties instead of paying up front). One of my credit card companies was even incentivizing Audible audio books recently.

What does this mean? Amazon’s website is a dynamic marketing environment for your book (or other product).

For several years, Amazon’s decisions have appeared to aim towards long-term success. A strong part of this has been long-term customer satisfaction.

Obviously, like any business, Amazon wants to earn profits, but unlike some short-sided business practices that I see all too frequently with other companies, Amazon often seems to make a decision based on long-term gains.

Another thing that sets Amazon apart is that, for such an enormous company, it often reacts quickly to change. This makes it a highly dynamic marketplace, compared to a traditionally much slower publishing industry.

These changes tend to favor customer-pleasing content and long-term marketing strategies. A book (or other product) that most customers really enjoy is more likely to be successful in the long run, especially if it gets good exposure in the beginning (an effective marketing campaign that goes beyond Amazon can help with this).

Sometimes, clever people figure out how to take advantage of the system, but since Amazon is dynamic, Amazon often catches onto this and finds way to make a change that hurts those who are trying to take advantage, and is more likely to reward good products long-term. Amazon has always placed a premium on its customer satisfaction metrics, and these metrics continue to evolve.

It pays to visit Amazon every few months (if you’re not already a frequent customer) to see how product pages, searches, etc. are changing. Knowledge is power, and it can impact your marketing decisions.

My recommendation to authors is to focus on writing engaging content that will satisfy your readers (better yet, write such amazing content that it is likely to earn you recommendations and referrals). The engagement part is important because you need customers to start reading and keep reading all the way through. There are so many other books, and so many other forms of entertainment, and your book is competing with those opportunities.

My second recommendation is to focus on long-term marketing strategies. Think long and hard about ways that might help your book continue to sell for many years, or ways to go about marketing that might bring you continued exposure for many years. Content marketing can help with this: For example, post short articles with helpful information (possible even if you write fiction) relating to your book, hoping to catch daily traffic through search engines. Effective long-term marketing strategies tend to be less susceptible to publishing dynamics.

If you tend to favor short-term promotional strategies, you really need to keep up with the latest changes.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

If You Encounter Problems with the Transition from CreateSpace to KDP…

SOLUTIONS TO COMMON ISSUES WITH KDP PRINT

For most authors using CreateSpace, the transition to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is smooth.

A simple three-step process helps you make the transition. Your books remain available for sale at Amazon and other distribution channels. Your royalties remain the same (except for royalties in Europe for books under 100 pages). The books are printed in the same facilities used by CreateSpace. The guidelines for interior and cover formatting are nearly identical.

It should be a seamless transition, and for most authors it is.

But when millions of CreateSpace books move to KDP in a short time span, a few unfortunate authors are bound to experience one or more issues.

If you happen to encounter one of the following issues, you might try my suggestion or you might contact KDP for help.

THE COVER WAS REJECTED BECAUSE THE SPINE TEXT WAS TOO LARGE

Unfortunately, if you change your list price, change your keywords, change your categories, or even edit your description at KDP, you must republish your book in order for the changes to take effect.

When you republish your book, KDP reviews your interior and cover files. It’s sort of crazy: If you don’t change your interior or cover files, why does KDP even look at them? They were good enough the first time. But it doesn’t help us to ask this question to ourselves. It does help to be aware that it will happen.

KDP is more strict about the size of your spine text (or more precisely, the distance between your spine text and the spine edges) than CreateSpace was. If you (or your cover designer) tried to make your spine text as large as possible (0.0625″ from the spine edges), it’s relatively common for KDP’s measurement to decide that your spine text is slightly too close to the spine edge. KDP is very picky about this.

If CreateSpace passed your cover file, beware that KDP might reject the very same cover file (even if you didn’t upload a new one) when you attempt to republish your book at KDP.

One way to avoid this is the same way that you can correct the problem: Revise your cover so that the spine text leaves a little extra room (significantly more than 0.0625″) between the spine text and spine edges. If you try to cut it close, there is a good chance that your cover will be rejected during the file review process (which occurs after you press the Publish button, and which prevents the changes from going live).

If you just need to revise your book description, it’s better to create an Author Central account at Amazon and use Author Central instead. However, if you do use Author Central, you should copy and paste the HTML version of your Author Central book description into KDP and save it at KDP. Why? Because if sometime in the future you republish your book at KDP, the KDP description will overwrite the Author Central description (years ago, it was different).

If you’re thinking about revising keywords or categories, consider this decision carefully. If your book has been available for some time, it’s possible that your book has benefited from keyword or category associations that your book may have developed. If you change your keywords or categories, you risk losing such associations. When you’re not getting sales, there isn’t much harm in trying. But if you are getting sales and you lose associations that had been helping you (without your knowledge, of course), it could negatively impact your sales.

YOUR COVER ISN’T SIZED AS EXPECTED

CreateSpace was a little more flexible with the cover size. If your width or height were slightly too small, for example, CreateSpace might adjust it for you. If the cover was oversized, it wasn’t a problem as long as the extra space was intended to be trimmed off and the meaningful content was sized appropriately.

KDP’s previewer checks your cover size and expects it to match KDP’s calculation based on your trim size, page count, page color (white or cream), and interior color (b&w or full color).

If your cover size isn’t what KDP’s previewer expects, you will automatically receive an error and you won’t be able to approve the preview and proceed to the next page of the publishing process until you fix the problem and submit a revised file.

YOU ENCOUNTER FUNCTIONALITY ISSUES WITH KDP’S WEBSITE

If a feature isn’t working properly at KDP, it could be related to your choice of web browser.

Very often, when a feature doesn’t work at KDP’s website, simply changing your web browser will resolve the issue. It’s worth trying.

As with most websites, rarely a feature at KDP may be temporarily down. When a feature is temporarily unavailable (which is rare), it usually shows a message at the top of the screen. However, rarely there may be an issue and no message shows on the screen. In this case, if you try again later, the feature may be functioning as it should.

If the feature still isn’t working after a couple of days and switching web browsers doesn’t help, make sure that your computer and browser specs are sufficient to handle KDP’s website (or whatever feature you are trying to use). If so, try contacting KDP help.

YOU PUBLISHED A BOOK, BUT AN ERROR OCCURRED DURING FILE PROCESSING

CreateSpace could handle relatively complex PDF files.

It turns out that currently KDP can’t handle the same level of complexity as CreateSpace could.

When your PDF turns out to be more complex than KDP can handle, here is what will happen:

  • Your interior file will appear to upload just fine. You will see a green checkmark next to the file.
  • A message will show that your file is being processed. This is normal so far. Don’t panic.
  • A red exclamation mark will appear inside of a triangle next to your interior file and you will see a vague error message asking you to check your file. This isn’t normal. One way for this to happen is if your PDF is too complex.

There are a variety of ways that a PDF can be more complex. It’s not necessarily the size of your file either. It’s more about which features you used when typing and formatting your book, which PDF converter you used, and the choices you made regarding formatting and layout.

A number of features available in Microsoft Word can result in a complex PDF. For example, it’s better to format a picture as a JPEG with image software and insert the picture into Word with the text wrapping set to In Line With Text. It’s much more complex to use Word’s drawing tools. It’s also more complex to use textboxes and WordArt. If you wrap pictures or textboxes in front of text, beside text, or behind text, for example, instead of in line with text, this makes the file more complex.

There are simpler and more complex ways to add ordered and unordered lists, or to add borders, or a variety of other features in Microsoft Word.

Browse through your file and ask yourself which design or formatting choices you may have made which could be making your PDF more complex. What can you do to simplify it (without sacrificing quality).

If you make changes, save the original file as backup. That way, if the revisions don’t help your file get processed at KDP, you will still have your original available.

Try using a different PDF converter. Adobe Acrobat is among the best, but even Adobe’s PDF’s are susceptible to this issue at KDP. Throwing money at the problem won’t guarantee a solution.

Ideally, you should flatten images and embed fonts in your PDF, provided that your PDF converter has these options available.

If you’re unable to solve this problem, try contacting KDP help.

PRINTED PROOFS, AUTHOR COPIES, AND APPROVING THE PROOF

At CreateSpace, when you “approved” your proof you were publishing your paperback. At KDP, it’s different. When you’re looking at your book in KDP’s previewer, clicking Approve doesn’t publish your book. It just lets you proceed to page 3 of the publishing process. As long as you don’t click the Publish button when you get to page 3, your book won’t be published.

If you wish to order a printed proof, you can find this option is you read carefully on page 3 of the publishing process.

You must publish your book before you can order author copies. Once your book is published, you can order author copies from your Bookshelf.

What if you wanted to order author copies without making your book available for sale on Amazon. Well, this is a problem.

You could publish your book, making it available for sale on Amazon, and then unpublish your book after ordering the author copies, but this has disadvantages. For one, your book’s Amazon detail page will already be live. For another, your publication date will be set and you will miss out on valuable potential exposure from the Last 30 Days and Last 90 Days filters on Amazon (when combined with other searches, some self-published books get noticed this way). I recommend NOT setting a manual publishing date: Choose the option that your book’s live on Amazon date will be used. Don’t publish your book until you’re ready for it to be available for sale. This will maximize your book’s exposure.

Another option is to publish another copy of your book with another print-on-demand publisher (or a local printer) that will let you order author copies without making that copy of your book available for sale anywhere. You won’t be able to use the same ISBN for both books, but at least you can get copies (other than printed proofs, which now have a not for resale watermark rendering them unfit for use as author copies) before your book goes live on Amazon. You could even get spiral bound books or hardcover using this option; your author copies could be ‘special.’ Check out Lulu and Barnes & Noble Press (this last option only offers author copies; they don’t currently offer paperback distribution to anywhere, unless you’re among the top sellers of Nook eBooks, though it is expanding). KDP’s main competitor is Ingram Spark, but whereas KDP lets you publish for free, Ingram Spark charges a setup fee.

YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE MISSING ROYALTIES

Of course you are! You had dreams of selling millions of books, right?

(But seriously…)

If you made the transition from CreateSpace to KDP recently, note that it’s relatively common for your royalty reporting to slow down significantly (50% or more) for a few days (perhaps even a week). This happened to me and some other authors that I know, but after 5-7 days the royalties picked back up to normal and made up the difference. Be patient.

Amazon offers a surprisingly transparent royalty reporting system. It’s much better than receiving a single statement in the mail once every 3 to 6 months. You can see royalties show up in your reports throughout the day (provided your book sells multiple times per day). It’s really cool (but be careful not to turn into a stats junkie and waste precious time that you could have spent writing your next book).

However, with this amazing level of transparency, any time a normal delay occurs, if you happen to be aware of the sale (because a customer told you about it), it’s only natural to freak out.

Most of the time, you see a royalty show up in your reports when the book prints, which often occurs the same day, but sometimes takes a few days. If you sell thousands of books, almost all of them will show up in your reports within a few days of the sale.

But there are a variety of exceptions. If a royalty isn’t showing up, it’s most likely one of the following reasons.

  • A family member or friend said, “I bought your book last week,” while secretly thinking, “I didn’t buy your book, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings by admitting this.”
  • A customer told you that they bought your book, but what you don’t know is that they didn’t buy it new directly from Amazon. Maybe they bought it from another online bookstore. Or maybe they bought it from a third party on Amazon. In this case, it might take 4-6 weeks for the royalty to show through the Expanded Distribution channel.
  • If a customer buys a used copy on Amazon that’s being resold by a previous customer, you won’t receive a royalty for the resale. You already received a royalty when the original customer bought your book (unless, of course, you gave that copy away). Most customers prefer to buy new books, especially if the list price isn’t super high compared to $10. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over the sales of used copies (unless you have a really expensive book).
  • Returns. If a previous customer returns a book and Amazon sells that returned copy to a new customer, you won’t be paid a royalty for the returned copy. Suppose customer X tells you that they bought your book, but you never see the royalty show up in your reports. It’s possible that customer Y bought your book a week ago, then customer Y returned your book, and Amazon resold that book to customer X. In this case, you were already paid this royalty last week. (For paperback books, Amazon doesn’t tell you about returns. You have no way of knowing how many books were returned and how many returned copies have been resold.)
  • Delay. For whatever reason, Amazon occasionally uses a third-party printer to source an order. When this happens, it can take 4-6 weeks for your royalty to show up in your reports.
  • Holidays (or Amazon Prime Day). Amazon sometimes stocks up on select titles for the holidays. When this happens, you won’t see royalties show in you reports as the books are sold. Instead, you see a bulk sale (or a few bulk sales). Sometimes the bulk sale occurs when the books are printed, sometimes it occurs later, sometimes it’s spread over a month or two in installments. Sometimes you even see usual royalties sprinkled in between.

If you happen to know the customer, ask for the printing numbers from the last page of the book. Send these printing numbers in a polite email to KDP. They should be able to use the printing numbers to help track the sale of the book.

YOUR AUTHOR COPIES TOOK LONGER TO ARRIVE

Sometimes, CreateSpace proofs and author copies arrived rather swiftly, even when we took the least expensive shipping option.

It won’t always be that quick.

Suppose you need several copies for an event.

My advice is to schedule the event and order author copies several weeks in advance. I order extra copies, just in case.

What if the shipment is delayed? What if there are defects?

With this in mind, I order author copies so far in advance that if there are defects, there is enough time to replace them, and even if the replacements are defective, there is enough time to replace those too. (If that’s not good enough, you were destined to have a problem, and you have the right to feel infuriated.)

If you don’t allow plenty of extra time, you’re taking a risk. It would be ideal if we could always receive perfect copies right on time. But it’s practical to allow for the worst-case scenario.

I take the cheapest shipping option, but order well in advance. This is my advice.

YOU ENCOUNTER SOME OTHER ISSUE

If your issue isn’t on my list:

  • See if your issue has been discussed in the comments.
  • Try asking your question in the comments.
  • Try searching the KDP community help forum.
  • Try asking your question in the KDP community help forum.
  • Try contacting KDP support.

I wish you luck.

YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH KDP IS JUST FINE (OR BETTER THAN YOU HAD EXPECTED)

Hey, this happens to most authors. Those authors are also far less likely to go online and talk about their “problem.”

Obviously, in this case, what you should do is recommend KDP to other authors. You can hope for good karma: Maybe a customer will like your book and recommend it to a friend.

Actually, KDP is better than CreateSpace in a few ways.

Authors based in Europe appreciate that they can order proofs printed in the UK or continental Europe instead of having their proofs shipped from the USA.

KDP’s Expanded Distribution has even surpassed CreateSpace. For example, I see paperback royalties on my KDP report for Japan, and other countries are on the horizon.

You can now choose 7 sets of keywords (instead of just 5), and there is no longer a 25-character limit per keyword set (but I wouldn’t exceed 50 characters including spaces).

You can now choose 2 browse categories (instead of just 1) without having to contact support, and the categories are more aligned with Amazon’s browse categories (though it’s still not perfect).

KDP’s community forum is different from CreateSpace’s. Is it better? I’m not sure. I haven’t seen spam recently (at least, not at the hours I’ve been checking), which is a good sign. There are helpful community members on both forums.

You can now advertise paperback books with AMS via KDP. This wasn’t possible with CreateSpace. Advertising may not be the magic solution you were hoping for, and it isn’t cost-effective for every book. But it’s nice to have a new tool that wasn’t available previously.

You no longer need to separately login to KDP and CreateSpace to check your Kindle royalties and paperback royalties. Now they show together on the same report.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Just Write & Just Dance

JUST DANCE 2019

I love to write, but I know that I also need to exercise every week.

I have discovered a way to exercise that I really enjoy: dancing.

Specifically, I like to dance along to a game called Just Dance (by Ubisoft).

I had never really thought of myself as a dancer before. In fact, I hadn’t danced until I discovered the game.

My daughter was dancing to the game, and I thought to myself: Wow, that’s a pretty good workout.

And it was. I was out of breath after a few dances, while my daughter never even broke a sweat. It showed me just how out of shape I had become.

So I started dancing. This was with Just Dance 2015. A few days ago, they released Just Dance 2019.

Just Dance has turned dancing into a sport. You receive typically 100 to 200 individual scores for various moves during the dance. Possible scores are X, OK, Good, Super, and Perfect. (The Super is relatively new, introduced in 2018.)

You also receive an overall score. When you start out, it feels good to see Perfects. When you see an X or OK, if you are at all competitive, you try to figure out what you did wrong. If you remember your overall score, you try to do better next time.

The most recent versions of the game also have a World Dance Floor where you can dance along with hundreds of players from across the world and see how your score compares on a leaderboard.

There is even an annual Just Dance World Cup. The first stage of qualifying is done online, and you can compete from your living room. (Currently, this stage usually comes in the summer, and then in the following months there are national qualifiers, and sometime after the new year there is a world cup event.)

Whether you dance just casually or competitively, it can be really fun.

You also get a good workout. So you can have fun and exercise at the same time.

(If you want to hear more about Just Dance 2019 specifically, see the last section of this article. Next I will describe platforms and how the game works, and then I will discuss the PS4 camera which can be tricky to use.)

PLATFORMS AND PLAYING MODES

There are two basic ways to play Just Dance:

  • hands-free, where you strive to nail every detail of the full-body choreography (available only with Xbox and PS4)
  • with a remote or cell phone in your hand, where you still strive to do the full-body choreography right, but with more emphasis obviously placed on the right hand (available with Xbox, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Wii U; there is also Just Dance Now for PC players)

Either way, you see a dancer on the screen and you try to do exactly the same thing that you see in sync with that dancer. If you do it perfectly, that dancer would be just like your reflection in a mirror.

It’s easiest to get started when you play with a remote, since it’s easier to get one major body part to do the right thing than it is to get your whole body to do the right thing. However, the game designers are pretty clever, and to some extent that remote can sense when you’re not doing the full-body choreography quite right even though the measurement is made based on your right hand.

More competitive players seem to hit nearly perfect scores across more dances using Xbox One with Kinect, which is hands-free dancing (camera-based) that judges your whole body’s motion. You can take an X or OK on harder moves over something rather subtle, even if the rest of your body is doing great, so when you’re first learning the game, it’s a bit easier to get frustrated when you don’t realize what you’re doing wrong. But once you finally turn a few X’s into Perfects, you learn a few things about what you used to do wrong, and you feel like a problem-solver, which makes the game intriguing. If you can get every part of your body from head to toe in sync with the dancer, you can hit some amazing scores with camera dancing.

PS4 also has a camera, but it’s not quite as easy to setup as Xbox Kinect, and if you don’t have your camera setup properly, it can be somewhat frustrating. I have several tips below that will help you setup the PS4 camera properly if want to try this platform and mode. PS4 also has PS move controllers if you prefer to play with a remote (but in that case you must buy both the camera and the move controllers). With any platform, you can connect a phone (so you’re not obligated to buy a camera or remote), and your friends can play with you with their phones, too.

The multiplayer experience is best with a remote, phone, or with Xbox Kinect.

If you visit the World Dance Floor enough, you will discover that there are phenomenal players from around the world using every platform (it’s not just Xbox producing the best scores; a large number of players who hit top scores across most of the dances seem to use Xbox, but I know players on every platform who hit top scores across most of the dances). When you see somebody hit an amazing score on a hard dance, it shows you that it’s possible; it can be motivating sometimes.

Each dance has a maximum possible score of 13,333 points. If you score above 2,000, you get 1 star, above 4,000 is 2 stars, above 6,000 is 3 stars, above 8,000 is 4 stars, and above 10,000 is a 5-star performance (very good). In 2017, they introduced superstars for 11,000. In 2018, they introduced megastars for 12,000. The top players hit 13,000 on many of the dances (but so far there isn’t any special name for this).

By the way, the Just Dance World Cup online qualifiers usually adjust the scores to help ensure fairness across all of the platforms. So, for example, it might be better to master a platform where the scores tend to be a bit lower and be #50 in the world on that platform than it to use a platform where the scores tend to be very high and be #300 in the world on the easier platform. No matter which platform you choose, it’s not easy to master all of the dances, some dances will seem very hard, and you’ll find some phenomenal players who seem to be amazing at every dance.

HOW TO SETUP THE PS4 CAMERA FOR JUST DANCE

The setup of the PS4 camera can make a big difference in score, especially if you dance well.

Simple things like shadows, adverse lighting conditions, or confusion with objects in the background can give you X’s and OK’s even if you’re dancing well enough to hit Perfects.

It can seem inconsistent because it might affect certain moves but not others.

Xbox Kinect is very easy to use: It’s not picky about most of the details that follow. The PS4 camera is very picky. (Unless you prefer to use PS Move in conjunction with the PS4 camera: In that case, most of the following details won’t matter.)

Following are several tips for how to optimize your Just Dance experience if you choose to use the PS4 camera (hands-free).

  • Ideally, you should place a light directly above and behind the t.v. (When you’re watching the t.v., the light should be on the other side of it, in the narrow space between the t.v. and the wall.) I found a set of 3 photography lights with stands that rise up to 6 ft. for a good price at Amazon, and I currently place one of these directly behind the t.v. I have a photography umbrella attached to the light so that the light doesn’t blind me when I look at the t.v. (Make sure that the light can’t fall and that the umbrella or lampshade doesn’t make contact with the bulb: You don’t want a fire hazard.)
  • Turn all other room lights off. Close the blinds. Close the curtains. You can even add fabric or aluminum foil. You don’t want a lot of daylight coming in. I even close the doors to the room. Side lights and back lights are especially problematic. If you use an overhead light instead of a light behind the t.v., or if your light is off-center with the t.v., you will get a diagonal shadow that causes problems. With overhead lighting, the shadow can also make it harder for the camera to sense that your feet are apart and get your leg angles right.
  • Place the camera on top of the t.v., ideally at least 5 feet off the ground. (You could potentially use a tripod, if you can get your t.v., t.v. stand, tripod, and light positioned properly, without any danger of the light falling and causing a fire.) Make sure that the camera is level. Be very careful not to touch the lenses when you setup your camera.
  • Why should the light be behind the t.v. and directly above its center? Because if you put the camera on top of the t.v., then the camera won’t see your shadow. By placing the light above (and behind) the camera, that’s the one place that you can put the light and not have the shadow cause problems. (It’s a geometry problem: Your body hides the shadow behind it relative to the light source.)
  • You also don’t want direct light entering the camera. (That’s why I put the light both behind and above the camera.)
  • Make sure that the camera and t.v. aren’t blocking the light from reaching your whole dance area. A lightbulb about a foot above the camera (and slightly behind it so that the light doesn’t enter the lens) should do it, but you want to view it from the side and trace out the angle to be sure).
  • Bright white bulbs are ideal (not yellowish). A white lampshade is better. You’re supposed to have “ample” light, though I seem to get good results with a single bright photography lamp with the umbrella blocking the light. Too little light and you won’t get good facial recognition. But too much light and what should be colors (like yellow, green, and orange) will turn white in the video feed (and this can be a problem, too).
  • In my experience, it’s best to wear clothes with solid bright colors (like yellow, green, orange). Avoid patterns like stripes, or even rather solid outfits that have a dark line showing (like some exercise clothes do) and dance with a dark background. Solid bright colors are good (provided they don’t add those dark borders). Unfortunately, wearing dark clothes against a light background didn’t work nearly as well for me, which is a problem because many rooms have off-white walls. It’s not too hard to make a dark background though. I’ve seen it done by hanging dark (but lightweight) fabrics on the wall. There are photography backgrounds that measure 10 feet by 10 feet (though 10 feet wide may be a little too short for a few dances; I used dark blankets to extend mine).
  • I also have a very large dark rug on top of my carpet.
  • Try to make all of the seams as seamless as possible. That is, if two fabrics hang beside one another, you want that edges where they join to appear seamless. The same goes for the background connecting to the floor.
  • Wear exercise clothes that show your arm and leg angles clearly. They should fit tight enough that a bent leg shows clearly, but not so tight as to hamper your movement. You’re probably going to sweat a lot if you dance much, so they should also be able to handle this well.
  • Blacks, whites, browns, tans, beiges, and grays don’t seem to work as well for clothes. These may be confused with shadows or lighting issues. I try to wear bright green, yellow, or orange pants and shirts. White shoes seem to be fine. (I haven’t had much luck when trying to wear red. Maybe it just wasn’t my lucky color. Ha.)
  • If you really want to go overboard, you can wear long sleeves and costume gloves (matching bright color), and add a blue sleeveless shirt (because yellow, green, and orange don’t contrast well for the camera, as bright colors tend to look much the same in the video feed). The bright sleeves might help the camera detect your arms better, and the blue sleeveless shirt aids in contrast when your hands or arms are in front of your shirt from the camera’s point of view. Though it can get hot in a hurry if you dance with sleeves and gloves, so you need excellent A/C, a ton of water, and to really be in shape. It’s certainly safer and more comfortable not to wear sleeves and gloves. You’d hate to pass out from heat exhaustion when you’re supposed to be having fun. (If you’re hitting about the same score with or without the sleeves, definitely don’t bother with the sleeves.)
  • When you first install your camera and turn the game on, it’s confusing. The PS4 expects you to be sitting down apparently, and doesn’t know that you bought the camera to dance. Don’t bring a chair in. Just squat a bit to get your head in the right position for the initial setup.
  • Study the live video feed that you see in the camera setup (or later, where you go to add facial recognition data, or when you first turn on the PS4 and it’s looking to see who you are). Your arms should appear a different color than your chest, otherwise the camera might not detect your hands/arms when they point at the screen or are placed across your chest, for example.
  • When you first use the camera in game play with Just Dance, stand upright. Don’t squat.
  • Before the dance begins, don’t just stand like a statue when you’re trying to get the camera to recognize you. Walk left to right a couple of feet and back, wave your arms slowly, shake a leg. Watch the body-outline picture that you see (which, unfortunately, your face will partially block: by walking slowly right/left, you can glimpse your foot in the adjacent slot). Make sure that it has the shape of a human (no missing arms or legs, no funny blobs attached to your head or feet, two distinct legs showing when your feet are apart). If you see problems here, it can cause problems with your scoring.
  • Occasionally, you see a hole (or a couple of holes) inside of your body-outline picture. Walk right/left a few steps (while facing the same way towards the camera). If the hole stayed behind and doesn’t disappear when you return, you need to clean the camera lenses with appropriate cloth and cleaner. If the holes move with you, it’s an issue with your clothing (some material may be reflective, or maybe it’s the shape or curvature). If the hole disappears when you place your hand on it, it’s proof that the problem is your clothing.
  • Ideally, you should stand around 10 feet from the camera, and you should be able to dance in an area 6 feet to 13 feet from the camera (because some dances require you to move forward or backward if you want to hit perfect scores).
  • Before the dance begins, when you’re trying to get the camera to recognize you, walk forwards a couple of steps with your arms raised high and jump. You want your entire body-outline picture to remain in the camera’s field of view, from your shoes on the floor to your hands up high. Otherwise, you need to adjust the angle of your camera (without touching the lens area). As you walk left/right through your dancing area, note whether your body-outline picture tends to do some something strange in a particular location. There can be an object in the background causing confusion for the camera.
  • If the camera obviously stops picking you up and you’re suddenly taking X on every move through a variety of different types of moves, look up at the body-outline picture at the top of the screen and see if anything is strange about it. Stop the dance, close the game. Closing the game is the best way to get the camera to refresh properly. I like to go add new facial recognition data (without deleting the old data) so it can see how I looked when the problem happened.
  • That camera can continue tracking you between songs and eventually the picture can degrade. Picking up a towel and wiping sweat in front of the camera can potentially confuse it, or coming in contact with furniture. If after dancing to multiple songs the body-outline picture seems to be deteriorating (always check this at the beginning of a dance; you can also see this at the top of the screen during the dance, but ideally you should be focused on the choreography and not this picture), the most reliable way to correct the problem is to close the game and reopen it.
  • Use the newer model PS4 camera. There is an older model for the PS4; it doesn’t work as well.
  • My setup isn’t the only one that can work fairly well. If you watch YouTube videos of Just Dance streams, you can find other setups that seem to work well. However, make sure that you’re watching a video made with PS4 and not Xbox One (because Xbox One works well almost regardless of the color of your clothes and the background and the placement of your lights).
  • The PS4 camera may not be perfect, but on almost all of the dances, my PS4 score is within 300 points of my Xbox One score (and that’s probably a reflection of the fact that I’m far more experienced with Xbox, and may not have anything to do with the PS4 camera not being as good), and some of my PS4 scores are actually better than my Xbox One scores. It’s reasonable to hit megastars on virtually every dance on every platform as long as your whole body is closely mimicking the dancer that you see on the screen.
  • If your setup is fairly good and you’re hitting X’s or OK’s on moves, you’re making some mistake. Occasionally, it turns out to be what seems to be a rather subtle detail, but usually it’s something that you either missed or just didn’t pull off quite right. It can be technique, timing, synchronization, too fast, too slow, or something else (like the coordination between two different body parts, or maybe even things like smoothness or control). I bet the game designers spend time thinking about what the best dancers do well that other dancers don’t do quite as well and incorporate these details into the scoring of some of the moves. Each move is scored differently, so if you experiment and decide that something doesn’t matter, well, it might turn out to matter with some other move (I know this first-hand). It’s really hard to make your whole body copy the dancer on the screen perfectly, so when you see an X or OK, it’s most likely because you didn’t dance quite as well as the game expects.

JUST DANCE 2019 REVIEW

The newest edition of Just Dance has been out for a few days, and I already love it.

These are the best choreographies of any Just Dance, in my opinion.

There are some really cool moves this year. Watch the preview for One Kiss and watch where she lifts off her jacket. The extreme dances have some cool moves, too: For example, Finesse Extreme has two gold moves bouncing off the floor. I don’t remember so many cool moves in any previous version of the game.

So far, the dances have been more comfortable and enjoyable. In the past, there have always been some dances with moves that feel somewhat uncomfortable or seem to wear unnecessarily on the knees or back. There have also been many very high-energy dances where I’m trying to catch my breath after the song ends. This year, everything has been more comfortable and I’ve retained energy to dance more even after the most energetic dances.

There are several popular songs in 2019, like New Rules and No Tears Left to Cry, but even songs that I’ve never heard of before have turned out to be fun to dance to, such as Narco and Water Me (two of my favorites).

It’s also family friendly. Kids will surely love the Pac Man dance and Un Poco Loco. There is also a separate Kids Mode with special dances just for kids.

This year, on the song selection menu you see the Dancer of the Week for each song (the best score of the week so far for that song) instead of the usual global and country leaderboards. At first I missed the old leaderboards, but this is growing on me. I like seeing who is doing well, and having some (usually unrealistic) score to strive towards. If you really want to see how you compare with other dancers, visit the World Dance Floor.

Dance Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks, science books, and self-publishing guides

Looking for CreateSpace? What’s the Best Alternative Now?

 

THE BEST PLACE TO PUBLISH A PRINT-ON-DEMAND BOOK

For 10 years, I have heartily recommended CreateSpace for self-publishing a paperback book.

But now if you visit CreateSpace, you will be directed elsewhere.

So what is the best place for print-on-demand now?

The two major options are Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark. There are a couple of other options, such as Lulu and BookBaby.

AMAZON KDP

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is Amazon’s original self-publishing service.

kdp.amazon.com

Although it used to be exclusively for Kindle eBooks, it has recently expanded to offer paperbacks.

It has also evolved so that it either matches or surpasses CreateSpace in the most significant ways.

CreateSpace didn’t disappear. Rather, CreateSpace simply merged with KDP.

KDP’s paperbacks print on the same facilities used by CreateSpace.

You get the same quality with KDP as you could expect from CreateSpace.

Since KDP is Amazon’s company, KDP is the natural feed for Amazon sales, and most indie authors sell the vast majority of their books on Amazon.

KDP lets you self-publish for FREE. (But I do recommend investing in one printed proof before publishing.) KDP’s main competitor, Ingram Spark, charges a setup fee.

KDP is also the most convenient option. When you finish self-publishing your paperback, you can self-publish a Kindle eBook edition with the same publishing service.

The distribution is slightly better with KDP than it was with CreateSpace (now that KDP added Canada distribution and Expanded Distribution, and is expanding to other countries like Australia, Japan, and Mexico—actually, I already sold a book in Japan).

KDP offers a free ISBN option.

You can now advertise paperbacks on Amazon by publishing with KDP.

As with CreateSpace, the free Expanded Distribution channel will get your book into the Ingram catalog, and if you use the free ISBN option you may get into Baker & Taylor.

The royalties are the same (except for sales in Europe for books under 100 pages).

Authors based in Europe can now have proofs printed from the UK or continental Europe instead of in the states.

If an author was looking forward to using CreateSpace, in principle KDP should seem just as compelling.

For most authors, I recommend checking out KDP’s print option first.

INGRAM SPARK

Ingram Spark and KDP are the two main print-on-demand companies.

www.ingramspark.com

Ingram has been a major distributor in the publishing business for decades and the Ingram catalog is famous in the publishing industry.

Ingram does charge a setup fee, and you may spend more ordering proofs or author copies (depending).

Some successful illustrated children’s authors who self-publish sell hardcovers well. For a print-on-demand hardcover, I recommend Ingram Spark.

(If you just want hardcover author copies and don’t need to sell them print-on-demand, another option is Nook Express. Note that Barnes & Noble’s Nook Express doesn’t currently offer print-on-demand with distribution; it’s currently for ordering author copies. However, Nook Express has been growing and expanding recently, so perhaps this will change in the future.)

A few indie authors who thoroughly research how to format their books with stores in mind, how to prepare an effective PR kit, and how to approach bookstores in person effectively may find it beneficial to self-publish with Ingram Spark. Most indie authors struggle with bookstore sales unless they sell author copies in person to local stores, in which case you could have these printed at KDP. But if you’re among the few who can get bookstores (and other types of stores that sell books, which can be valuable) to order directly from Ingram’s catalog, you might be able to set a discount to help with this (they could order from Ingram through KDP’s Expanded Distribution, too, but there you can’t control the discount).

Authors who aren’t based in the US and who expect significant sales in certain countries through Ingram’s distribution channels might benefit from Ingram Spark.

These are a few examples where Ingram Spark’s print-on-demand option makes sense compared to KDP.

Though I will say, in general, Ingram seems attractive with its potential distribution. But getting into the catalog is the easy part. Getting stores to order through those distribution channels is the hard part. Even KDP will get you into the Ingram catalog through the Expanded Distribution option. And if you’re worried about KDP’s imprint name showing as Independently Published, simply buying your own ISBN from Bowker (in the US at least) will solve that problem (and let you create your own imprint name).

OTHER OPTIONS

BookBaby is an interesting option for both print-on-demand paperbacks and for eBooks.

www.bookbaby.com

BookBaby has a big advantage for authors who are already planning to invest a significant amount of money on a variety of publishing services, such as formatting or editing.

Among eBook aggregators and distributors, BookBaby also stands out in terms of its Kindle offering (with a KDP Select option).

I generally encourage new self-published authors to try to learn formatting on their own and to keep their overall publishing costs to a minimum. You have no way of knowing whether you will sell enough copies to recover your costs, and many new books don’t sell particularly well, so it makes sense not to risk too much when starting out.

Also, if you wind up publishing several books, and most successful indie authors do, think of how much you could save in the long run by learning how to do some of the work, like formatting, on your own.

However, if you do need to hire professional services, BookBaby offers a variety of paid services in addition to what appear to be competitive distribution options.

BookBaby also posts a satisfaction guarantee on their website.

I featured an inspirational story on author Cheryl Holt on my blog last year. Cheryl is one example of a top author using BookBaby. (But of course, there are no guarantees that you will have success, regardless of how you choose to publish. My example just shows that it can be done.)

Another print-on-demand option which has been around for years is Lulu. You might find Lulu to be more expensive for a typical paperback, but you might also discover some publishing options at Lulu that are hard to find elsewhere. For example, suppose you wish to order author copies with spiral binding.

www.lulu.com

If you were among the few authors who could have benefited by directing customers to the CreateSpace eStore, Lulu or BookBaby’s BookShop may be of interest to you (but you may have to use BookBaby for all of your distribution channels, and you may need a minimum investment to publish with BookBaby).

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Kindle Unlimited per Page Rate * Increase * for September, 2018

HOW MUCH DID KINDLE UNLIMITED PAY FOR PAGES READ IN SEPTEMBER, 2018?

In September, 2018 Amazon paid $0.00488 per KENP page read for books participating in Kindle Unlimited through KDP Select.

That’s nearly a 10% increase over August, 2018, which paid $0.00449 per page.

This is a nice surprise, as the per-page rate has been very steady for much of 2018.

The KDP Select Global Fund hit yet another record high, this time $23.4 million for September, 2018.

Compare with August ($23.3M), July ($23.1M), June ($22.6M), and May ($22.5M).

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Moving from CreateSpace to KDP: Sales, Royalties…

Image from ShutterStock.

FROM CREATESPACE TO KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING

As you may know, Amazon is merging its two print-on-demand publishing services. CreateSpace is becoming part of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Originally, KDP was for Kindle eBooks, while CreateSpace was for paperbacks (and videos and even audio).

However, in recent months KDP has added print-on-demand publishing for print books. It has slowly evolved, and now matches CreateSpace in terms of quality, service, and prices (with a few subtle exceptions). Overall, in a few ways, KDP’s print-on-demand is a little above and beyond CreateSpace (it wasn’t originally, but now that it has finished evolving, it is now).

Last week, I transferred my paperback titles from CreateSpace to KDP. It was quick and easy. However, the reporting gave me some anxiety at first, and it took 4 days to catch up. It seemed a bit scary for a few days, but all is fine now.

I SURVIVED THE MERGER BETWEEN CREATESPACE AND KDP AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE!

Hopefully, you will, too. Be sure to order your survival t-shirt. (Just kidding. But really, if you order a custom-made one, that would be pretty cool.)

DO YOU HAVE TO TRANSFER YOUR TITLES?

Well, on the one hand, if you just sit and wait, it will eventually happen automatically. Maybe at the end of the month, if they’re ready.

On the other hand, if you initiate this yourself, you get the opportunity to login to KDP during the process and basically say, “Hey, this is the exact account on KDP where I want my books to be transferred to.” That’s why I did it myself.

The transfer is very simple. Log into CreateSpace and look for a message asking you to transfer your titles to KDP. It will transfer all of your books in one shot. (Sorry: right now, it’s all or nothing.) It will ask you to use your KDP login, and then you need to agree to the transfer. It will take a couple of minutes.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ROYALTIES

You will basically have a one-month delay in receiving your royalty payments.

If you sell a lot of paperbacks each month, this is going to hurt, especially if you write full time or count on that money for a mortgage note or car payment.

It’s a shame that this most significantly hurts Amazon’s bestselling indie authors of paperback books. If you’re significantly impacted by this delay, I feel for you. I’m not a big fan of it myself. (I did contact support to let them know.)

Why is there a delay?

CreateSpace pays royalties 30 days after the end of the month, but KDP pays royalties 60 days after the end of the month.

So, for example, every royalty that you earn in September from CreateSpace will be paid at the end of October (assuming, of course, you meet the standard criteria for receiving a monthly royalty payment). If you transfer your titles during September, every royalty that you earn from KDP will instead be paid at the end of November.

I have a second important note about royalties later in my article.

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER YOU TRANSFER YOUR CREATESPACE TITLES TO KDP

You should find all of your titles on your KDP bookshelf.

I counted my CreateSpace and KDP titles before the transfer and wrote them down on a piece of paper.

Amazon actually gave me the same numbers on the screen during the process, which was reassuring.

After the transfer, I checked that all of my titles were there. But there’s a catch. Some of my CreateSpace paperbacks and Kindle eBooks automatically linked together on my bookshelf, but others didn’t. Eventually, I was satisfied that everything showed up.

If any titles didn’t match up and link together (that is, paperback and corresponding eBook), you can do this manually, but it’s optional. This has nothing to do with having their product pages linked. It’s just the convenience of having them together on your bookshelf.

It didn’t take long before my CreateSpace royalties showed up at KDP.

At the bottom of the Sales Dashboard, these show separately in the bottom 4 rows, so you can see what you’ve earned at KDP versus what you’ve earned at CreateSpace. But up higher in the graphs, the CreateSpace and KDP data are lumped together (unless you choose a specific marketplace from the dropdown menu).

A nice thing about the Sales Dashboard graph is that you can easily compare your average daily paperback sales from before and after the transfer.

(If your CreateSpace royalties for the month show a higher figure at CreateSpace than they do at KDP after the transfer, don’t worry. CreateSpace will pay you what CreateSpace says they owe you, not KDP, so if KDP shows that your CreateSpace royalties are a bit less, it really doesn’t matter. What I think happens is that KDP captures your CreateSpace royalty balance when you initiate the transfer, and if CreateSpace reports a few more royalties after that, CreateSpace will show a slightly higher figure for the month.)

ANOTHER IMPORANT NOTE ABOUT ROYALTIES

When I transferred my CreateSpace titles to KDP, my royalties at CreateSpace had been coming in steadily throughout the morning.

Almost immediately after the transfer, CreateSpace stopped reporting new royalties. I can still see my royalties in my reports from before the transfer (though presumably that option won’t be around much longer), but no new royalties are showing up at CreateSpace.

That was expected. But what was unexpected was how slowly paperback royalties started coming in at KDP after the transfer.

The first day was very slow compared to normal. The second day was about half a normal day for me. The third day was much slower than that. I was worried.

But later in the third day, sales started to pick up a bit. Then I noticed something cool. The royalties from the two previous days were slowly growing.

When I woke up on the fourth day, the third day was close to a normal day for me, and the two previous days had grown considerably. The fourth day turned out to be much better than the previous days.

It took about 4 days in all for royalties to catch up with their usual behavior.

So if royalties seem very slow compared to normal (about half or less than usual), don’t worry. Give it 4 days or so and see if things eventually catch up. Write down the number of sales that you have at the end of each of the first few days, so that you can see if those numbers grow on subsequent days (mine did).

The Sales Dashboard histogram will help you compare daily sales before and after the transfer.

A FEW COOL THINGS

When I checked out the Historical report and saw my life-to-date numbers, including CreateSpace, it was pretty cool. I didn’t realize that my lifetime royalties added up that high.

After the transfer, I still see Expanded Distribution showing up at CreateSpace.

If you want, you can use AMS via KDP to run an advertisement for a print book. We didn’t have the option to do that at CreateSpace.

European authors can order both printed proofs and author copies printed from the UK or continental Europe. That’s convenient.

Expanded distribution at KDP now matches CreateSpace. Actually, it surpasses it. For example, there is now distribution to Australia, with Mexico coming soon.

You can select two browse categories during the publishing process, whereas with CreateSpace you had to email support to request a second category. Also, the browse categories line up with Amazon’s browse categories better than from CreateSpace (though it still doesn’t seem perfect).

You can enter up to 7 keywords instead of 5, and you don’t have a 25-character limit. (By the way, you can enter several keywords in each of the 7 keyword fields.)

THE GRASS THAT ISN’T GREENER

Not everything is necessarily better.

For shorter paperbacks available in the UK and continental Europe, the royalties are a little less with KDP than they had been with CreateSpace.

If you use Cover Creator, you’ll find that it’s not quite the same.

Proof copies have a band that state Not for Resale across the cover. Though actually I like this, as it makes it easier to tell my proofs apart from my author copies.

New titles will say Independently Published instead of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Previously published titles are unaffected.

KDP’s community forum is somewhat different than CreateSpace’s. (Ironically, when I visited CreateSpace’s community forum the other day, there wasn’t any spam, now that it’s about to lose its relevance.)

But the main things are the same or better, such as printing quality, printing locations, US royalties, etc.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

What Did Kindle Unlimited Pay for Pages Read in August, 2018?

KINDLE UNLIMITED PER-PAGE RATE FOR AUGUST, 2018:

Kindle Unlimited paid $0.00449 per KENP page read for August, 2018, the same (to three significant figures) as for July, 2018.

The per-page rate has been very steady throughout 2018.

The KDP Select Global Fund continues to rise, reaching $23.3 million for August, 2018.

Compare with July ($23.1M), June ($22.6M), and May ($22.5M).

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

CreateSpace and KDP Are Merging

CREATESPACE MERGES WITH KDP

It’s a logical business decision.

The one significant change has to do with when royalty payments are made. See the section entitled Royalties towards the end of this article.

In 2008 I published my first book with CreateSpace, and in 2009 I published my first Kindle eBook.

When I was learning about publishing with Kindle, I asked myself the following question:

Why does Amazon use a different company for publishing eBooks than it does for publishing paperbacks?

It seemed like it would be convenient for authors and cost-effective for Amazon to have a single self-publishing service.

This is finally happening in 2018.

This is the way it should be, and should have been all along.

THIS IS GOOD FOR AUTHORS

It benefits authors for CreateSpace to merge with KDP.

  • It’s convenient to check royalty reports at a single location.
  • It’s convenient to have a single account for logging in.
  • It’s convenient to publish both paperback and digital editions at the same site.
  • Migrating titles from CreateSpace to KDP will actually improve Expanded distribution, with Amazon Australia, Japan, and Mexico as examples.
  • Migrating titles from CreateSpace to KDP offers the option to advertise paperback books through AMS.
  • Authors based in Europe will be able to order proof copies and author copies printed in Europe, which will save time and money.

NOTHING TO FEAR

You shouldn’t be worried about CreateSpace merging with KDP.

You probably aren’t losing anything.

You’re probably gaining a few little things.

Overall, this is better.

The few losses have already occurred months ago. That’s now in the past.

  • It’s been a year since CreateSpace discontinued the CreateSpace storefront (called an eStore) whereby customers could purchase books directly through CreateSpace. Few authors sold books through their eStores (almost all sales came through the Amazon.com sales channel instead, while a few came through Expanded Distribution). The few authors who were significantly affected by this change have already had to adapt.
  • It’s been months since CreateSpace discontinued their paid services. If you really need to pay for editing or illustration services, for example, even when CreateSpace offered these services, in many ways you were better off shopping for freelance services instead.

You really aren’t losing anything:

  • Your paperback books will still be available for sale through the Amazon.com sales channel.
  • Your paperback books will still be available for sale through Amazon’s European sales channels.
  • If you enabled Expanded Distribution, your paperback books will still be available through the Expanded Distribution channel. (In previous months, KDP print’s Expanded Distribution wasn’t quite as wide as CreateSpace, but things have changed. KDP’s Expanded Distribution is actually on par with CreateSpace now.)
  • KDP print now offers Expanded Distribution through Canada, Japan, and Australia (with Mexico coming soon).
  • The one significant difference has to do with when KDP issues royalty payments. (See the section entitled Royalties below.)
  • KDP has a community help forum (much like CreateSpace has).

THE QUALITY WILL BE THE SAME

According to Amazon:

“On KDP, your paperbacks will still be printed in the same facilities, on the same printers, and by the same people as they were on CreateSpace.”

Over the past few months, I’ve already migrated some of my CreateSpace titles over to KDP.

I haven’t observed any difference in quality.

ROYALTIES

The royalties paid for KDP paperbacks are virtually identical to the royalties paid for CreateSpace paperbacks.

One exception has to do with very short books sold through Amazon UK and Amazon EU. If you have a very short book that sells through the UK and EU channels, you may wish to compare the printing fees and royalty rates between KDP print and CreateSpace. Visit the KDP help pages for paperback printing fees here: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834160.

There is one significant difference between KDP and CreateSpace: That has to do with when royalty payments are made.

  • CreateSpace pays for royalties 30 days following the end of the month. For example, at CreateSpace you get paid on September 30 for royalties earned in August.
  • KDP pays for royalties 60 days following the end of the month. For example, at KDP you get paid on October 30 for royalties earned in August.

From now on, Amazon will pay royalties based on KDP’s royalty payment schedule.

This means you will see a one-month delay for CreateSpace royalty payments once the transition begins.

It looks like we’ll still be paid on September 30 for CreateSpace royalties earned in August.

But after August, you can expect a one-month delay.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO?

Amazon is making updates that will allow you to move your entire CreateSpace catalog to KDP in a few easy steps.

You can already move books one title at a time. My advice is to wait until you can transfer your entire catalog at once in a few easy steps, instead of manually transferring titles. However, if you still want to do this, log into KDP, add a paperback book, and check the bottom box to indicate that the book has already been published at CreateSpace. KDP will then automatically transfer your book’s information to KDP while you wait (just a couple of minutes). If you do this, if you had Expanded Distribution at CreateSpace, double-check that this box is checked on page 3 of the publishing process.

In a few weeks, Amazon will begin automatically transferring titles.

My advice is to be looking for the option coming soon that will allow you to move your entire catalog in just a few steps. Will this option show up at KDP or CreateSpace? Look for it at the top of your member dashboard at CreateSpace. I saw a message there earlier, but not it’s gone, so it will probably show intermittently for a while (and possibly not always in the same place).

During the transition, your books will remain available for sale and you will continue to earn royalties.

Your reviews will stay intact, and your sales rank history will remain. (There may be a little fluctuation in sales rank during the transition, but if so, it’s temporary and then it should behave as usual. This may be the case if you migrate a title manually. Perhaps by transferring your entire catalog with the new option the transition will be seamless.)

After the titles are transferred, log into KDP, visit your bookshelf, open one of the titles, and visit page 3. Make sure that Expanded Distribution is checked or unchecked as you prefer. Just in case this changes on you, you don’t want to be caught by surprise. I’m not saying it should change: It just seems like a wise precaution.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT INDIE PUBLISHING

According to Amazon’s email announcement on the consolidation of CreateSpace and KDP:

More than 1000 authors earn more than $100,000 per year from their work with CreateSpace and KDP.

When you think about it, that’s actually a pretty large group.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The number grows rapidly when you ask how many earn more than $10,000 per year, and even more rapidly for earning more than $1000 per year.

It’s a positive indicator. Use it as motivation. If others have done it, so can you.

This good news about indie publishing means that you shouldn’t be worried about the merger. It’s not a sign of difficult times coming for indie authors. (But no matter how good the times are, it’s always wise to have a back-up plan in mind, just in case.)

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read KENP per-page Rate for July, 2018

JULY, 2018 KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ:

For July, 2018 the Kindle Unlimited per-page rate was $0.00449.

Compared to June ($0.0046), May ($0.00454), and April ($0.00456), it is just slightly less for July. The last few months show that the KENP rate is holding fairly steady.

While the per-page rate has been steady, the KDP Select Global Fund has risen steadily for years.

In July, 2018, it hit another record high, coming in at $23.1 million.

Compare with June ($22.6M), May ($22.5M), and April ($21.2M).

In just 3 months, Amazon has paid out an extra 9% in royalties for Kindle Unlimited borrows through KDP Select.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides