Will $5.99 be the new FREE?

Free Reading

Book Pricing Strategies

Amazon recently launched Kindle Unlimited, which allows customers to download multiple books all for just $9.99 per month. The selection includes all 500,000 KDP Select books plus an additional 100,000 books, including Harry Potter. (Read more about Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.)

If Kindle Unlimited really catches on—it looks quite promising for readers—it could be a game-changer for pricing Kindle e-books.

Many customers are indeed trying Kindle Unlimited out, and as more customers do this, it will surely impact sales ranks of Amazon e-books.

Let’s look at a little history:

  • 99-cents has often been a popular price-point. It’s cheap enough that customers can buy on impulse and not worry too much if it doesn’t work out. But many also believe that you get what you pay for, and believe this more strongly after a few books don’t work out.
  • When KDP Select first launched, FREE was a popular promotional strategy that worked for many authors. But then FREE lost its luster.
  • $2.99 has been a popular price point. You have to sell 6 times as many books at 99 cents to make the same royalty at $2.99, plus the higher price suggests higher quality than 99 cents.
  • Recent studies have shown that $3.99 to $5.99 is a profitable price-point. Indeed, many customers shop this slightly higher price range, expecting to find better quality here. (The study also showed that $9.99 was highly profitable, but nonfiction and big-name authors have lent popularity to that range.)

In the past, many books have sold in the free to $2.99 price range because many customers have been thinking about saving money—and about the risk of a higher-priced book not turning out well.

Kindle Unlimited customers are likely to have a different mindset:

  • Kindle Unlimited customers aren’t asking, “What’s affordable?” Once you spend $9.99 for the month, every book you want to read is essentially free.
  • So they are instead asking, “What’s the best book I can read?” They are looking for the best book, not the best price. If they do look at price, it’s as a guide to value.

The value of e-books may be changing. It is, at least, for Kindle Unlimited subscribers:

  • Cheap price-points have no value to Kindle Unlimited readers. Free isn’t a good deal to them. Instead, low prices may suggest low quality.
  • Higher-priced books may have more value to Kindle Unlimited readers. You have to read ten 99-cent books to get your $9.99’s worth for the month, but if you read ten $5.99 books, that’s a $60 value.

Since Kindle Unlimited has just launched, it still remains to be seen how much Kindle Unlimited customers will impact book pricing strategies and Amazon sales ranks.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Will 99-cent thru $2.99 books slip in the Amazon rankings?
  • Will $3.99 thru $9.99 Kindle Select books rise in the Amazon rankings?
  • If higher-priced Kindle Select books do rise in rankings, will that improve their sales, too?
  • Will KDP Select freebies and Countdown Deals become less effective?
  • Will BookBub and other promotions become less effective?

Even if $2.99 and lower books are enrolled in KDP Select and receive downloads, if other books—such as $5.99 books—are receiving even more downloads than they are, then those $2.99 and lower books will still fall in the rankings despite the downloads. There may be a lot of books that used to have sales ranks in the 100,000’s moving up to the top and pushing other books down in the ranks.

The effect may not be immediate. Customers also look at reviews. Covers, blurbs, and great beginnings will always matter. Books at the top probably have good packaging and many reviews, and books at the bottom may still need to build reviews. But as more readers try out higher-priced books, their popularity may grow and they may gain more reviews. Many Kindle Unlimited readers will approach the book-buying process differently, and it will eventually have some discernible effects. If the cover, blurb, or Look Inside have problems, this will deter sales regardless of the price-point.

Either way, the book must command the price it has. If you simply take a 99-cent short story and reprice it at $5.99, it’s probably not going to be perceived as a better value suddenly. Plus, if customers think the book is worth much less than the list price, it’s likely to show up in a review.

Rather, if a book really is worth $5.99, but has been priced lower based on how the market had been prior to Kindle Unlimited, if that book is enrolled in KDP Select, it might be a good time to reconsider its list price.

It depends on two things. First, will Kindle Unlimited customers favor higher-priced books? Second, how popular will Kindle Unlimited be? Time will tell.

If sales ranks of lower-priced books slip over the next two weeks, this will become food for thought.

The other side of the coin is that KDP Select borrows pay the same regardless of the list price. Books priced $3.99 and up would earn higher royalties for sales than the KDP Select borrows have historically paid (about $2 per borrow). But if their inclusion in KDP Select generates additional sales because of the perceived value, it may well be worth enrolling those books in KDP Select.

It remains to be seen how popular Kindle Unlimited will become and how much (and what kind of) impact it will have. But authors need to decide which side of the fence to stand on, and how to best plan their marketing strategies around the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, and so authors must make many decisions, such as whether or not to enroll in KDP Select and whether or not to change the list price. These decisions won’t be easy, but they may have a significant impact on a book’s sales in the coming months.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/will-5-99-be-the-new-free/#comments

KOLL Payments for Kindle Select Borrows from December, 2011 thru June, 2014

KOLL Payments

How Much Do KDP Select Borrows Pay?

With the introduction of Kindle Unlimited (read more about Kindle Unlimited by clicking here), many authors are wondering how much Amazon will pay for each qualifying download (i.e. where the customer passes the 10% mark).

Although that’s a complicated question (since customers can download several books through Kindle Unlimited, whereas Amazon Prime customers were only able to read one free KDP Select book per month), we do have data for KDP Select going back to the launch of the program in December 2011.

So I went through my KDP monthly royalty reports for 2011, 2012, 2013, and thru June of 2014 to tabulate the KOLL per-borrow payments by month.

You can see this displayed graphically above. Below, you will find the data in a table.

Notes regarding KDP Select with Amazon Prime:

  • The lowest KOLL payments were December, 2011 ($1.70) and January, 2012 ($1.60), when KDP Select was first introduced.
  • The lowest KOLL payment was $1.60 (December, 2011) and the highest was $2.51 (October, 2013).
  • The most recent KOLL payment was $2.24 (June, 2014).
  • Most months, KOLL payments were $2 and a little change.
  • The average KOLL payment since December, 2011 has been $2.15.
  • The average in 2012 was $2.10, in 2013 it was $2.23, and so far in 2014 it has been $2.15.

Notes regarding Kindle Unlimited:

  • If it’s like the beginning of KDP Select, the first two months of Kindle Unlimited will have lower KOLL payments than in subsequent months. (But perhaps it will be different.)
  • Kindle Unlimited offers unlimited downloads, whereas Amazon Prime only permitted one free borrow. This may cause the Kindle Unlimited data to be considerably different from prior KDP Select data.
  • Amazon has already added $800,000 to the KOLL Global Fund for July, 2014 (and Kindle Unlimited was only introduced with two weeks left in the month), bringing the total fund to $2,000,000 for July. Will this be enough to maintain per-borrow payments of about $2? That’s the million-dollar question.
  • Update: The results are in now. Kindle Unlimited paid $1.81 per borrow/download in July, 2014, much higher than I was expecting.
  • Update: More results: Kindle Unlimited paid $1.54 and $1.52 in August and September, 2014, respectively.
  • Update: In October, 2014, Kindle Unlimited payments dropped down to $1.33.
2011 December $1.70
2012 January $1.60
February $2.01
March $2.18
April $2.48
May $2.26
June $2.08
July $2.04
August $2.12
September $2.29
October $2.36
November $1.90
December $1.88
2013 January $2.23
February $2.31
March $1.94
April $2.27
May $2.24
June $2.24
July $2.04
August $2.26
September $2.42
October $2.51
November $2.46
December $1.86
2014 January $1.93
February $2.24
March $2.10
April $2.24
May $2.17
June $2.24

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/koll-payments-for-kindle-select-borrows-from-december-2011-thru-june-2014/#comments

How to Borrow Amazon Prime Books without Using Kindle Unlimited

Prime Reads

Borrowing with Amazon Prime

Amazon used to advertise on the book’s product page that the book could be read for free if the book was in KDP Select.

With the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, product pages no longer advertise Amazon Prime’s monthly free borrow.

Instead, they advertise Kindle Unlimited, which makes sense. Customers interested in reading free e-books are more apt to appreciate Kindle Unlimited than Amazon Prime (since they can only borrow one book per month through Prime).

However, Amazon Prime customers can still borrow one KDP Select book per month, as in previous months.

But many Prime members are confused about this.

They don’t see mention of Prime on product pages like they have in the past. So many customers are wondering if they can no longer borrow books through Prime.

The trick is to log into the Kindle device, rather than browse for books on Amazon’s website.

Here are Amazon’s instructions for how to borrow one eligible book per month through Amazon Prime: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200757120.

Amazon Prime is still great for free two-day shipping and for video streaming. Amazon is still advertising Amazon Prime for quick shipping of print books and other physical products.

But Kindle Unlimited is the better alternative for reading ‘free’ books. Well, they aren’t free, but once you pay the $9.99 monthly fee for Kindle Unlimited, you can read as many KDP Select books (and 100,000 others) as you’d like.

Some customers are switching from Prime to Kindle Unlimited, but some customers have both, and yet others have never had Prime but are signing up for Kindle Unlimited.

Those who are keeping Prime only: Yes, you can still borrow one book per month from KDP Select. Be sure to browse for books from your device, rather than searching on Amazon’s website.

UK and other European customers are eligible for Amazon Prime, but presently Kindle Unlimited is only available for U.S. customers.

Kindle Unlimited customers have access to 600,000 titles, whereas Prime customers have access to 500,000, so there are a few books that Kindle Unlimited customers can download, which Prime customers can’t.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Kindle Unlimited & Marketing Strategies (for A-L-L Authors)

Unlimited Books

Kindle Unlimited Affects Every Author

Whether or not your books participate in Kindle Unlimited, this new Amazon program impacts how you should market your books.

Kindle Unlimited allows Amazon customers to read an unlimited number of books—with 600,000 to choose from—for a monthly fee of $9.99. You can learn more about Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Some authors are for it; others are against it. Either way, it changes the effectiveness of traditional marketing strategies, and will bring about new marketing opportunities.

Complaining doesn’t help. Cheering only helps a little. Realizing how this impacts marketing, planning for it, and making the most of it right out of the box—that can give you a marked advantage.

When a new and big program comes out, there are always some authors who take advantage of it. Months later, you hear success stories. Then many other authors try those things, but it doesn’t work quite as well.

It isn’t months later yet (unless you happen to be reading this post many months after it was written). Here is your opportunity.

Changes to Marketing Strategies

Part of your potential readership will be in Kindle Unlimited, but part won’t be. That’s why every author will be affected by this.

Some marketing strategies that used to be effective may become less effective now.

Here are some book marketing strategies that may lose their effectiveness:

  • Promotional prices. Whether it’s a Kindle freebie, permanent free price-match, Kindle Countdown Deal, MatchBook offer, temporary price change, or a Smashwords discount code, it won’t look attractive to thousands of readers who have access to Kindle Unlimited. Even if you aren’t in Kindle Unlimited, some of your potential readership is. Thus, Kindle Unlimited may dampen the effectiveness of promotional pricing.
  • Omnibus. A boxed set won’t have the same value to a customer with a subscription for unlimited reading. Kindle Unlimited authors should remove the omnibus from KDP Select; it only has value to readers who aren’t in the program. Again, since thousands of your potential customers are now in Kindle Unlimited, it will impact the effectiveness of the boxed set.
  • Series. Many series authors make the first book free or 99 cents. That’s not such a good value in the Kindle Unlimited program. If the series isn’t in Kindle Unlimited, a low price of the first book won’t appeal to as many readers as it has in the past. If the series is in Kindle Unlimited, a higher price may seem like a better value to those customers.
  • Low prices. Many 99-cent, $1.99, and $2.99 books have appealed to readers through low prices. They’re cheap, so it’s easier to take a chance on them. But in Kindle Unlimited, higher price-points may be more attractive, as more expensive books won’t cost customers more money; they want to get a better value. Some of your potential readers are in Kindle Unlimited, others aren’t. Fewer customers overall will now be attracted to lower prices.
  • Advertising. In the past, you could advertise a promotional price effectively through BookBub, E-reader News Today, and many other paid and free advertising services. These may lose their effectiveness with many customers moving to subscription pricing. Higher prices may be perceived as a greater value, without the added cost, to Kindle Unlimited customers. There will be fewer customers attracted to promotional pricing.
  • Sales rank. Books in the Kindle Unlimited program that are receiving downloads will benefit in terms of sales rank. This gives books that thrive in the Kindle Unlimited program an advantage over books that aren’t in the program.
  • Reviews. You might think that Kindle Unlimited customers will tend to be more satisfied, since a book that doesn’t suit their needs won’t be a waste of money—just go out and get another book. However, like KDP Select freebies, many customers will stop reading the blurbs and Look Insides and just download books without knowing what to expect, and, unfortunately, Kindle Unlimited books will occasionally receive some crazy reviews from these customers. Every book eventually gets some crazy reviews; maybe reviews where the customer clearly didn’t pay attention are better than some other critical reviews. And once a bad review is posted, it sometimes deters other would-be reviewers from piling it on.
  • Traffic. Kindle Unlimited books may take away traffic from books that aren’t in the program, in addition to helping to boost the sales ranks of books that are in the program. Books that aren’t in Kindle Unlimited need to become more effective at reaching customers who aren’t in Kindle Unlimited.
  • Print books. Customers who prefer print books are less likely to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Authors who aren’t in KDP Select may now want to market their print books somewhat more.

Kindle Unlimited Marketing Opportunities

Once you understand how marketing strategies are impacted by Kindle Unlimited, you can take this into consideration with your planning.

Here are some suggestions for how to market books enrolled in KDP Select in the Kindle Unlimited era:

  • New groups. Start a new group on Facebook in your genre specifically for Kindle Unlimited readers and/or authors. Or join a new group. There is a new Kindle Unlimited target audience. You want to find ways to reach this audience. Be among the first to do this effectively and it will be a sweet advantage for you.
  • Advertising. Look for new clubs and advertising services specifically geared toward Kindle Unlimited. It won’t be about sale prices, it will be about matching books to readers. It might be a new release email newsletter for Kindle Unlimited customers. Perhaps editors selectively screen submissions for quality content. There are many possibilities. You could even start such a service yourself (which gives you added publicity). The time is ripe.
  • Children’s books. Children’s authors should be marketing the potential of Kindle Unlimited to parents and teachers. Parents may not have realized how easy it would be to read a different bedtime story every night from a huge collection for just $9.99 per month. That’s a steal. Since kids’ books tend to be short (but not cheap), parents and children (and teachers) can really get their money’s worth out of Kindle Unlimited. Parents are likely to read books by authors who help them realize what a value this is.
  • Holiday gifting. This is one promotion that will still appeal to Kindle Unlimited customers. Since they still have to buy gifts for friends and family, promotional pricing for gifts will entice all readers. So you can still market promotional pricing toward gifts. Be sure to mention the gift part in your promotions. Kindle Unlimited subscribers will see the promotional price and think, “No big deal,” until the gift part reminds them, “Oh, yeah, that will cost me money.” Check out Read Tuesday, a Black Friday type of event just for books. This will be a great opportunity to gift e-books for the holidays.
  • Pricing. Consider raising your price. It won’t deter Kindle Unlimited customers; it may help establish higher value. However, keep in mind that if the price seems higher than the book is worth, customers (even in Kindle Unlimited) are more likely to feel dissatisfied (i.e. they didn’t receive the expected value), perhaps leaving a critical review. Rather, if your book is currently priced lower than it’s value based on how the market has been prior to Kindle Unlimited, you may want to reconsider this. Remember that you will still have readers who aren’t in Kindle Unlimited. Also, any downloads you get through Kindle Unlimited will help your sales rank, so you may not have to sweat your sales rank with a higher list price. There are a lot of things to consider regarding price (you can always try out a price change temporarily to see how it works). You might keep your UK and other countries’ prices low, since Kindle Unlimited is presently only available to US customers.
  • Paperbacks. A higher Kindle price may make your paperback look somewhat more enticing, too. Previously, a low Kindle price versus a high paperback price made the Kindle edition seem like a better deal—and it still will to customers who aren’t in the program—but the lower price won’t attract Kindle Unlimited customers. For some books, this might be a good time to push more paperback sales to customers who aren’t in Kindle Unlimited. In fact, some of the readers who won’t be joining Kindle Unlimited are those who prefer print books.
  • Opportunity. Kindle Unlimited is new. There are many opportunities to creatively market your book specifically to these customers. My list may help you get started, but surely I haven’t thought of everything. Put your thinking cap on and you may be among the first to try out and effectively use a new book marketing strategy.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/kindle-unlimited-marketing-strategies-for-a-l-l-authors/#comments

How Much Will Authors Make w/ Kindle Unlimited?

Unlimited Reading

Read All You Want!

Now readers can, using Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited. For $9.99 a month, customers in the United States can download and read as many Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select books as they want. There are presently 600,000 titles from which to choose.

The two-million dollar question is: How much money will authors make when a customer downloads their book?

The first part of this answer is ZERO, unless the customer reads past 10% of the book. This is an important point, as many customers will think they are supporting authors they know just by downloading their books. But if they don’t read more than 10% of those books, the author won’t earn any royalty for the trouble.

What about when customers pass the 10% mark—how much will authors make then?

Well, nobody knows for sure. Amazon can’t tell us up front. Amazon is telling us how they will determine this. And we have some data to judge by, such as prior experience with Amazon Prime borrows.

Update: The results are in now. Kindle Unlimited paid $1.81 per borrow/download in July, 2014, much higher than I was expecting.

Amazon Prime Borrows

Let’s take Amazon Prime as a starting point:

  • Historically, KDP Select authors have received about $2 per borrow.
  • The first month of KDP Select was closer to $1.50, and the same for the following holiday season. Amazon created a lot of buzz for Amazon Prime and KDP Select for the first two holiday seasons, and as a result there were more downloads than usual.
  • However, when the per-borrow royalty was low, Amazon increased the KDP Select Global Fund for other months to bring the per-borrow royalty above $2.
  • Thus, for most months, authors have received $2 and change for KDP Select borrows in the Amazon Prime program.

Extrapolating to Kindle Unlimited

Based on this, here is what I expect with Kindle Unlimited:

  • The first month or two of Kindle Unlimited will feature an incredible number of downloads. There will be many new memberships. Customers will be exploring the program. They will want to get their money’s worth. Authors will be helping to promote the program, hoping to get their share of the $2,000,000 KDP Select Global Fund.
  • Thus, I won’t be surprised if, for the first month or two, the per-download royalty is significantly lower than the $2 per-borrow royalty KDP Select authors are accustomed to with Amazon Prime.
  • However, it’s in Amazon’s interest to monitor this closely. If it looks like the per-download royalty will be too low, Amazon may add additional money to the KDP Select Global Fund. Otherwise, many authors may opt out of the program at their earliest opportunity. (Current KDP Select authors can opt out immediately, regardless of when their current 90-day enrollment period ends. Go to your KDP bookshelf, click Learn More, then Learn More again to find a form specifically for this purpose.)
  • So I will be surprised if the per-download royalty gets too low (whatever that may be). Maybe it will be somewhat low the first month, but, if so, I suspect that Amazon would greatly increase the KDP Select Global Fund, trying to reassure authors that it will be much higher in the future. Time will tell.
  • Keep in mind that Amazon has already added $800,000 to the KDP Select Global Fund for July, 2014. This will help to compensate for the additional downloads coming through the new Kindle Unlimited program. The big question is: Will it be enough? My feeling is: Probably not enough to reach $2 per book, but the overall royalties could be higher than usual, depending. (In a moment, we’ll get into the math.)
  • I think it was wise of Amazon to introduce Kindle Unlimited about halfway through July. This first month will be limited in downloads, as half the month was already gone when this began. It also gives Amazon some valuable data to help project the KDP Select Global Fund for August.
  • There is another big difference. With Amazon Prime, customers can only borrow one book per month. Now, with Kindle Unlimited, each customer will be downloading multiple books per month. This will have a profound influence on the total number of downloads.

Kindle Unlimited Math

Now we’ll have some fun with numbers. 🙂

First off, the July, 2014 KDP Select Global Fund was originally $1.2 million. Amazon added $800,000 to the fund to make it $2,000,000. There will be many more downloads through Kindle Unlimited than there have ever been borrows through KDP Select, but the global fund is also larger, which helps to compensate to some extent.

Here is how Amazon will figure the per-borrow (or per-download) royalty:

Borrow Royalty

Note that borrows (through Prime) and downloads (through Kindle Unlimited) are treated equally, so we can use these words interchangeably in the math.

Note also that what I’m calling a ‘download’ is really a download where the customer reads more than 10% of the book. If the customer doesn’t reach 10%, that doesn’t qualify.

Example: The KDP Select Global Fund for July, 2014 is $2,000,000. If there are 1,000,000 downloads in July (including both Kindle Unlimited downloads and Amazon Prime borrows), then the per-download royalty will be $2.00. But if there are 4,000,000 downloads in July, the per-download royalty will be 50 cents (unless Amazon chooses to increase the global fund as a result of more downloads than anticipated).

Amazon is receiving $9.99 per customer per month through Kindle Unlimited. Each additional member provides $10 more that Amazon could use, potentially, to increase the KDP Select Global Fund. So if Kindle Unlimited turns out to be incredibly popular among buyers, all these customers will be providing additional revenue, and Amazon could choose to share some of that revenue with the global fund. If the per-download royalty is too low, many authors will be thinking about opting out. Amazon has good incentive to make the per-download enticing to authors, and Amazon knows that authors are used to making about $2 per borrow through KDP Select.

On the other hand, if an author receives many more downloads than usual, the per-download royalty could be somewhat lower than the traditional $2 and the author could still be earning more royalties overall. Amazon may consider this, so it’s possible for the per-download royalty to be significantly less than $2. Amazon may choose to look at the cumulative royalties that the average KDP Select author is earning, rather than what the per-download royalty is.

Many authors would be okay with having more readers, but making a smaller royalty per book, especially if the overall royalties are greater than normal.

Another important figure is what Amazon is making. Amazon is charging $9.99 per month per customer. The following equation will be highly important to Amazon, and so it will also impact authors:

Selling Price

Again, by ‘download,’ I mean a download where the customer reads more than 10% of the book. Amazon only pays a royalty through Kindle Unlimited when the customer passes the 10% mark.

Example: If the average customer downloads 4 books per month through Kindle Unlimited, Amazon is essentially charging $2.50 per book. In this case, Amazon could afford to pay authors $2 per download and still make a profit of 50 cents per download. But if the average customer downloads 20 books per month, Amazon is effectively charging just 50 cents per book. Amazon isn’t likely to pay authors $2 per download, while only receiving 50 cents per book; they would be losing money.

Amazon might be willing to suffer a short-term loss for long-term gain. But my feeling is, the greater the average number of downloads by customers, the less money authors will make per download.

But at the same time, the greater the average number of downloads by customers, the more each author’s book is likely to be downloaded. It works both ways.

It Really Comes Down to Percentages

More downloads means Amazon will likely pay less money per download.

But more downloads also means that most authors will have more customers than normal.

These two effects will compensate somewhat.

What really matters to an author is each book’s percentage of downloads:

Percentage 2

Remember, the download only counts when the reader gets beyond 10% of the content.

Example: Suppose there are 1,000,000 downloads in the month of July (including Amazon Prime borrows), and suppose your book is downloaded 50 times. Then you would get 0.005% of the July global fund. Since the July, 2014 global fund is presently set at $2,000,000, this book would earn a total royalty of $100 for downloads for the month. (Note that this agrees with a $2.00 per-download royalty.)

Update: The results are in now. Kindle Unlimited paid $1.81 per borrow/download in July, 2014, much higher than I was expecting.

Good for Indie Authors?

Looking at this from the perspective of percentages, this may be good for indie authors who are enrolled in KDP Select.

Probably not all indie authors, but many may benefit from this.

Kindle Unlimited customers may be more willing to try an indie book, since it won’t cost extra money to do so. The $9.99 monthly fee has already been paid, so if the book doesn’t turn out to suit the reader, the customer can easily find another book.

Through Amazon Prime, customers could only borrow one book per month, so they had to choose wisely. Many have favored a book with a higher list price and more pages, and an author they were already familiar with.

Now Kindle Unlimited customers don’t need to choose just one book. This could be a game-changer for some indie authors.

What About Good, Old-Fashioned Sales?

The more customers who join Kindle Unlimited, the fewer customers will be buying books the old-fashioned way.

Once a customer invests $9.99 for monthly reading, the customer may feel less inclined to spend additional money on books that aren’t in the program. Why do that when you can choose from 600,000 books without spending an extra penny? Kindle Unlimited subscribers may occasionally buy a book that’s not in the program, but it will take a compelling reason.

Thus, as more customers join Kindle Unlimited, authors may be receiving more of their revenue through downloads and less revenue through good, old-fashioned purchases. If so, the numbers may compensate. Kindle Unlimited could potentially make up for any lack of sales and then some. The only way to know for sure will be to wait and see.

The number of traditional sales might not even diminish. First, not everyone will join Kindle Unlimited. $120 per year is more than many readers want to commit to for reading.

Also, if Kindle Unlimited succeeds in getting a book more downloads, this may actually lead to improved sales, too. There is such a thing as word-of-mouth publicity. More readers, even with lower royalties, sometimes leads to greater success in the long run. The potential is there.

Another consideration is list price. A higher list price may actually make the book more enticing to Kindle Unlimited, and downloads through Kindle Unlimited will improve the sales rank. This might lead to more ‘sales’ at a higher list price, earning a higher royalty than usual.

It will sure be interesting to see how Kindle Unlimited turns out.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/how-much-will-authors-make-w-kindle-unlimited/#comments

Kindle Unlimited—Good or Bad for Authors?

Read Me

Read Unlimited Kindle E-books

Today, Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited:

  • For $9.99 per month, a customer can now read (and listen to) an unlimited number of Kindle e-books.
  • There are 600,000 books to choose from. The books are enrolled in KDP Select.
  • All KDP Select books are automatically included. (But authors can opt out of KDP Select by completing a form. See below.)
  • Customers don’t need to be in Amazon Prime to enjoy the benefits of Kindle Unlimited.

You can read more about it at Amazon, including the terms of use: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_v4_sib?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201550610.

Authors can learn more about it at Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), where there is also a new form for those who wish to opt out of KDP Select: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AA9BSAGNO1YJH.

Is Kindle Unlimited Good for Authors?

In order to participate in Kindle Unlimited, an e-book must be enrolled in KDP Select.

Here are some advantages of enrolling in KDP Select:

  • You will be paid the equivalent of one ‘borrow’ when a customer (A) downloads your Kindle e-book and (B) reads past 10% of the e-book as part of the Kindle Unlimited Program. Historically, a borrow has equated to approximately a $2 royalty.
  • Many customers will be trying out Kindle Unlimited in the coming months. These customers probably won’t be buying books any other way except through Kindle Unlimited for as long as they remain in the program.
  • You can use either Kindle Countdown Deals or free promos (but not both) as a promotional tool. The value of these promotional tools will probably be diminished as any customer who has Kindle Unlimited won’t gain anything from Countdown Deals or freebies. However, there will still be many customers who aren’t in Kindle Unlimited.

The main disadvantage of enrolling in KDP Select is that you must make the e-book edition of your book exclusive to Kindle:

  • Your e-book can’t be published through Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, your own website in PDF, or anywhere else in electronic format as long as your book is enrolled in KDP Select. Amazon is very strict about this and does automatic checks to find e-books violating the terms and conditions.
  • This exclusivity persists for 90-day periods. If you decide to opt out of KDP Select, you must go to your KDP bookshelf and uncheck the box for automatic renewal. Then you must still wait for the 90-day period to end before you’re eligible to publish your e-book elsewhere. (But if you’re presently in KDP Select, there is an immediate opt-out option available right now. See below.)

Is it worth enrolling in KDP Select? That’s the million-dollar question. This was a heated debate prior to Kindle Unlimited.

The only way to really know for sure is to try it both ways. (Note that you can experience lengthy delays and problems trying to unpublish your e-book from other retailers in order to switch back into KDP Select.)

Kindle Unlimited may be a compelling reason to enroll in KDP Select. There will be many authors returning to KDP Select to try it out. There are also authors opting out with the introduction of KDP Select. Everyone is trying to decide which side of the fence has the greener grass. By the way, I’m staying in KDP Select.

  • Many customers will be trying out Kindle Unlimited, so the program will be popular during the early months.
  • Customers in Kindle Unlimited won’t be buying any books that aren’t in the program.

Want out of KDP Select?

Suppose you’re already in KDP Select and you’re thinking, “They didn’t ask me if I wanted to participate in Kindle Unlimited.”

Not a problem. Visit your KDP bookshelf. Click the Learn More link where it mentions Kindle Unlimited. Then there is yet another Learn More link to click. Then you can click the link entitled, “Complete this Contact Us form.”

Complete that form to opt out immediately. You don’t need to wait until your 90-day period ends, but only if you complete and submit this form (so don’t use the usual method of unchecking the box for automatic renewal).

You might want to consider this choice carefully before you opt out.

What about Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime charges a hefty annual fee (though it turns out to be a little cheaper than 12 months of Kindle Unlimited) and only allows one borrow per month.

Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month, but allows unlimited reading of KDP Select titles.

That one borrow per month pales in comparison. However, there are still many other benefits of Amazon Prime, such as free 2-day shipping.

Customers who bought Amazon Prime primarily to borrow books for free are likely to switch to Kindle Unlimited when their Prime memberships run out.

Customers who bought Amazon Prime for other reasons will probably keep it, whether or not they join Kindle Unlimited.

More Notes about Kindle Unlimited

  • How many books can you really read in a month? That comes out to $120 per year. Would you spend that much in a year on books? $9.99 is a great deal for those who read avidly, but not very enticing for those who don’t.
  • You can’t just horde books. If you cancel your Kindle Unlimited membership, you automatically lose access to all the books you downloaded through the program.
  • Amazon has added $800,000 to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) fund for July, 2014, bringing the total July fund up to $2,000,000. This will help to compensate for the additional downloads through Kindle Unlimited.
  • Borrows usually pay a little over $2 each per month. When Amazon launches a new program, borrows usually pay $1.50 or less per book for the first month or so, but then Amazon has historically been pretty good at adjusting the KOLL fund so that they pay $2 or more per borrow. However, there will be many more downloads through Kindle Unlimited than there ever were borrows through Amazon Prime, so borrows might pay significantly less than normal, at least in the early months.
  • Kindle Unlimited is presently only available to US customers, but there appear to be plans to expand.
  • You won’t receive any payment for downloads through Kindle Unlimited until a customer passes the 10% mark. Just downloading your book isn’t sufficient. So your friends and family, for example, might think they’re supporting you through the download, whereas they won’t be supporting you at all if they don’t pass the 10% point.
  • Unlike Amazon Prime, you don’t have to return your book before you can start reading another one. However, the terms of use do include a paragraph entitled Restrictions, where Amazon will clearly monitor abuse of the download privilege. Customers must not only download the e-book, but must also pass the 10% point before the book will receive a royalty from the KDP Select Global Fund.
  • Amazon is promoting Audible Audiobooks through Kindle Unlimited. Not only do you get free downloads of KDP Select books, you also get free audiobooks. This will entice audiobook customers to try out Kindle Unlimited.
  • What about those really short books? Now customers can read short books for free (but they can read long books for fee, too), provided the books are in KDP Select and they customer has Kindle Unlimited. A customer might read 2 paragraphs of a very short story and that author will earn just as much of a royalty as if a customer read several chapters of an epic fantasy or perhaps a whole book of an omnibus. But will customers be buying short stories? They might feel it’s a better value to shop for books that are ordinarily priced $5.99 and up and have hundreds of thousands of words. Time will tell.
  • This may be great for children’s books. You can read your child 30 different stories in a month for $9.99, reading one bedtime story every night. Children’s authors should be advertising this benefit to customers. It can help children’s authors sell more e-books through Kindle Unlimited.

What do you think about Kindle Unlimited?

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/kindle-unlimited-good-or-bad-for-authors/#comments

Get the Most out of Kindle MatchBook

Matchbook 2

Cover design by Melissa Stevens at http://www.theillustratedauthor.net.

Is Kindle MatchBook Working for You?

Note: As of October, 2019, the Matchbook program has been canceled.

If you have a print edition (e.g. through CreateSpace) and Kindle edition for the same book, you may be eligible to participate in the Kindle MatchBook program. (Scroll down to learn more about what MatchBook is and how to participate.)

Authors who are eligible almost always check the box to enroll in the MatchBook program. Why not? Nothing really to lose, but you might generate a few extra sales.

But many authors aren’t getting as much out of this valuable marketing tool as they could be.

If the only thing you do with MatchBook is check that box to participate and select a MatchBook price, you probably won’t get much out of the program.

Why not? Because most people aren’t going to see the offer, and many who do won’t fully realize how beneficial it can be.

  • You can’t see the offer from the Kindle e-book’s product page (unless you’ve already bought the paperback edition). So if the customer was shopping for the Kindle edition, the customer will just buy the Kindle edition without even realizing that MatchBook was a possibility.
  • It’s not very visible on the paperback product page. There’s a little note about it on the right-hand side a ways down, overlooked by most customers.
  • You can only see the MatchBook offer on Kindle e-book’s product page in the following circumstances: (1) the book is participating in the MatchBook program (2) the customer has already bought the print edition from Amazon (3) the customer is presently logged in, using the same account used to purchase the print edition (4) the MatchBook offer is the lowest available price to the customer (e.g. if your book happens to be free or on sale for a price lower than the MatchBook price, then the MatchBook offer won’t be shown).

Among those few customers who do see the MatchBook offer, many won’t realize on their own how they could really benefit from it.

This doesn’t mean that Kindle MatchBook is of little importance and can only add on rare sales.

Rather, it means, just like almost everything else about selling books, you have to learn and apply effective marketing strategies to get the most out of the tool. (The same is true, by the way, regarding freebies and Countdown Deals: Effective promotional strategies help to get the most out of these tools; simply running the promotion might turn out to be a dud, but effective marketing can yield significant results.)

Let me first back up and give an overview of what the Kindle MatchBook program is, then I’ll provide some concrete suggestions for how to take advantage of this promotional opportunity.

What Is Kindle MatchBook?

Kindle MatchBook is a promotional tool available to authors who have both print and Kindle editions of the same book.

The author or publisher can then choose to enroll the Kindle edition in the MatchBook program. A promotional price is set for the MatchBook offer.

When a customer buys the print edition of the book from Amazon, that customer becomes eligible for the MatchBook offer. The customer can then buy the Kindle edition at a special price.

Essentially, the MatchBook program provides an incentive to customers to buy both print and Kindle editions of the same book: Buy both editions and save.

If you would like to learn more about Kindle MatchBook, follow this link to the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) help page for MatchBook:

https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AVJCUBZXDNUM4

How to Get the Most out of Kindle MatchBook

One way to inspire more MatchBook sales is to learn some effective techniques to sell more paperback books. The more paperback books you well, the greater the chances of customers discovering and taking advantage of the MatchBook offer. I sell 8 to 15 times as many paperback books as e-books, and every month some of my Kindle purchases are through MatchBook.

Obviously, some types of books tend to sell better in paperback than others. Many kinds of nonfiction books, for example, tend to sell better in print; many fictional works sell much better as e-books.

But even with books that tend to sell better as e-books, there are still many customers who prefer printed books to e-books. There is a market for print books. You just need to find ways to tap into this market.

Here are some ideas to help you think of ways to market your paperback books:

  • When you include a link to your book, do you only link to the Kindle edition? Well, try including two links, one marked ‘Kindle’ and the other marked ‘paperback.’
  • Or include just the link to the paperback. Yeah, it’s the higher price. Think about it. The customer is considering buying a $13.25 paperback. Then they see there is a Kindle edition for $3.99. Having just seen and considered a $13.25 paperback, your $3.99 e-book looks like great savings.
  • Do a book signing. Gee, customers will need to buy some print editions in order to get their autographs. You make a higher royalty when you sell author copies. Customers who buy author copies aren’t eligible for MatchBook, but these paperback sales may help inspire more sales (see my point about how print sales help with marketing below).
  • Get local bookstores to stock your book. Get the local library to keep a copy of your book. Again, these won’t be eligible for MatchBook, but can help inspire more paperback sales (even on Amazon, through the marketing effect of having more paperback books out there).
  • Perhaps you can find a local or online book club that uses print books to use your book. There are many ways to use your creativity to help market your books; what you really need to do is get your brain churning and focus on where to find your target audience.
  • Use MatchBook to help inspire more paperback sales. It’s an incentive to buy both editions. Buy the paperback and get a discount on the Kindle edition. You just need to let people know about it. (See below for ideas.)

You might be wondering whether or not you want to sell more paperbacks. Suppose you’re making a $4 royalty for Kindle sales and a $3 royalty for paperback sales. That Kindle sale seems better, doesn’t it? (Well, maybe you didn’t price your paperback high enough.) There are other things to consider. For example, if you sell more paperbacks, your paperback sales rank will improve. Plus, you’d ideally like to sell both paperbacks and Kindle editions together using MatchBook. Finally, there is a marketing benefit to selling more paperbacks:

  • Paperbacks are good marketing tools. Every paperback you sell can potentially be seen by a customer reading the book on a bus, or lying on a coffee table when friends come over. If you have an amazing cover, this can really pay dividends. “Hey, what’s that book you’re reading?”

The real ‘trick‘ to inspiring more MatchBook sales is to turn this into a promotional tool:

  • With all the marketing you already do, just add a brief note at the end of it to the effect of, “Get the Kindle edition for 99 cents (or whatever it is) when you buy the paperback from Amazon first.” Or you can shorten it something like, “Kindle MatchBook price: 99 cents,” then describe briefly what the customer needs to know about MatchBook in a footnote or endnote.
  • Even better, advertise an incentive for customers to buy both the paperback and Kindle edition together through MatchBook. Show customers how this can be handy. For example, you can buy the paperback edition as a gift and read the Kindle edition for yourself.
  • That’s perfect for Christmas and birthdays. Advertise this during the holiday season: “Give a great gift and keep a copy for yourself.” Mention how MatchBook allows you to gift the paperback and keep a Kindle edition for yourself at a discounted price. MatchBook is a great Christmas marketing tool.
  • This year, one way authors can participate in Read Tuesday (a holiday marketing opportunity—it’s free—that I created; it’s like a Black Friday just for books) is by making the MatchBook price free. I’ll promote the gift potential that MatchBook provides as part of the Read Tuesday marketing. Check out www.readtuesday.com. (It still has the 2013 info there, but that will update in the coming weeks. I have some new ideas for making Read Tuesday even better, and it started with a nice bang last year.)
  • Set the MatchBook price to FREE for a limited time. Run this as a promotion and spread the news: “For two weeks only, you can get the Kindle edition free through MatchBook when you buy the paperback edition.”
  • A free MatchBook offer (even if it’s temporary) can help you stimulate more paperback sales. Provided that you advertise the offer. (If you want to improve your paperback sales rank or take advantage of some of the marketing that paperback sales bring, MatchBook can help you do it.)
  • When you interact with people in your target audience (something you should be doing as part of your marketing anyway), mention how they can take advantage of MatchBook and show them why this may be useful (i.e. mention the gift idea).

MatchBook isn’t the magical tool that will do all the work for you and end your marketing woes all by itself.

But MatchBook does have amazing potential as a marketing tool. You really don’t have to do additional marketing to take advantage of MatchBook. You just need to briefly mention the MatchBook potential in the marketing you already do.

Some authors excel at making the most of the free marketing tools at their disposal. You could be one of those authors. What it really takes is the determination and motivation to succeed at it.

Check your MatchBook royalty on Page 2 of the publishing process at KDP. Make sure you’re happy with the royalty (and realize that this will be in addition to the paperback royalty.)

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/get-the-most-out-of-kindle-matchbook/#comments

Marketing Books with QR Codes

author-2

QR Codes

Why should you care about them?

Three good reasons:

  • Humans are more likely to pursue an option that allows them to be lazy. Extra work deters sales.
  • People can easily make mistakes when typing a website address. Typos cost sales.
  • Many of your potential customers are into the latest technology. Give them an opportunity to play with their toys.

QR codes make it easy for your customers to find your Author Central page, book’s product page at Amazon, Facebook author page, Twitter page, WordPress blog, Goodreads author page, or other websites.

What Is a QR Code?

A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode. QR stands for Quick Response.

It’s very common in the consumer industry for a QR code to contain the information for a website url.

You can see a sample QR code above in the image I used for this post.

Here’s how the QR code works:

  • You visit a website that allows you to generate a QR code for your website. Some QR websites do this for free.
  • Then you download the JPEG or PNG file for your QR code.
  • Include your QR code on your book marketing materials.
  • Smartphone users can download free apps that scan QR codes.
  • The customer uses the QR scanner on his/her smartphone to scan the QR code. It’s just the phone’s camera reading the QR code.
  • When the QR code is scanned, the phone’s browser opens the website address associated with the QR code.
  • You can even track statistics associated with QR code scans, which is great for marketing.

Quick and Easy

Really, it’s incredibly easy.

If you have a smartphone, you just open the app, which opens your phone’s camera, point the camera at the QR code, and that’s it. The phone beeps, the phone’s internet browser opens, and the webpage appears on the phone.

Many smartphone owners have already installed free apps on their phones to scan QR codes. Many people recognize QR codes when they see them and scan them.

If you’ve never scanned a QR code before, what are you waiting for?

  • Get your cell phone out and search for apps.
  • Type QR code into the search query. Browse for free QR scanners.
  • I have an android phone. I tried a few. I like one called QR Droid.
  • Install the QR scanning app on your phone.
  • Test it out. You can scan the QR code above if you like (it will take you to my Amazon author page). Or the next time you buy a soft drink in a fast food restaurant, see if there is a QR code on the cup.

It’s just as easy for authors to generate free QR codes to help market their books. You just find a free website, enter your website url, and download an image file with your QR code.

Marketing with QR Codes

There are several websites that specialize in generating QR codes. Many offer free QR codes. Many allow you to track statistics.

I tried scanova.io and really liked it. I tested out Scanova and some other popular QR generators, and found Scanova most suitable for my needs.

When searching for a QR code generator, consider these features:

  • Will customers see advertisements on your website? Some of the generators require you to pay a monthly fee to avoid this.
  • Do the QR codes work reliably? Make a free one and test it out.
  • Do they offer free tracking of statistics?
  • How many trackable QR codes can you get?
  • How many trackable QR codes do you need?
  • Do they offer color or visual QR codes?
  • Is there a limit to how many QR scans customers can do per month? Some charge a fee to raise or remove this limit.
  • One of the fancy paid QR services that I explored in my research offered you the chance to create a QR code that goes to one page that shows your website, Facebook, blog, Twitter, etc. It was an all-in-one page. Of course, you could create your own free webpage somewhere and put all this together on that page, then use a free QR code to go to that page instead of paying for this special feature.

Don’t like the way QR codes look? Not a problem. Scanova and other QR code generators offer visual QR codes. You upload an image, such as a logo, and they turn it into a visual QR code.

Plain QR codes are more likely to be instantly recognized as QR codes, and it’s possible that they will be easier to read. You can test out a visual QR code and a plain one to compare them.

Book Marketing

You want customers to visit your author page, blog, social media sites, Amazon product page, etc.

So make it easy for the customer to do this. That’s what QR codes are for. Why type that url when you can just scan it.

Online, the customer would simply click on the link. That’s easy. But what about when it’s not online?

Anytime you print your url, add your QR code, too:

  • On the author page of your print book, include the QR codes to your WordPress blog, Facebook author, and Twitter pages.
  • When you print bookmarks for your book, add the QR code to the book’s product page at Amazon.
  • Add a QR code for your Amazon author page to your business cards.
  • Create flyers for a Goodreads giveaway or Rafflecopter contest. A QR code makes it easy to enter.
  • Send postcards to your client lists, notifying them (with a personal touch!) when your new book comes out—with a convenient QR code.

If you want to go overboard, you can even tattoo a QR code on your forearm or paint one on the door of your car! (Hey, you just might get the local news to make a story out of it for extra publicity.) Be sure to put a QR code on your pet’s id tag! 🙂

Really, you don’t have to do extra work to use QR codes in your book marketing. Just add a QR code to anything you’d ordinarily print, including your book, bookmarks, business cards, etc.

It’s free. It’s really not extra work. So why aren’t you using QR codes? What’s there to lose?

In addition to helping you generate additional traffic, QR codes offer tracking statistics. If you succeed in getting customers to scan QR codes that take them to your book’s product page at Amazon, you get tracking data that you wouldn’t ordinarily obtain.

Are QR Codes Dead or Alive?

I’m not saying that QR codes are so popular that everyone is scanning them, and that this is the easy solution to all your marketing woes.

What I am saying is that QR codes are easy to make, easy to use, and can help you generate additional traffic without much extra work.

Who can’t use extra traffic without extra expense and with very little work?

QR codes are in use. Many big-name fast food restaurants include QR codes on their disposable products, such as soda cups. Big retailers are keeping QR codes alive. You can take advantage of this.

There are alternatives to QR codes, but again, there are many people who recognize and use QR codes, you can make them for free, it makes it easy for customers to find your website, it offers you tracking data, and it requires almost no work to take advantage of this free marketing resource.

You

That’s right! You! 🙂

What can you do?

Install a free QR scanner on your smartphone.

The next time you come across an author’s QR code and you’re curious about the author or the author’s book, scan the QR code and check out the website.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/marketing-books-with-qr-codes/#comments

Cart before the horse (Not always a bad thing)

Some great marketing ideas.

readful things blog

As any author will tell you, writing the book is the easy part. After that comes the fun of editing, cover design, book blurbs and the ultimate in evil, MARKETING.

Most authors are already aware of how this all works, but there is a question that many authors don’t think to ask until they are finished or nearly finished with their books. When should you start marketing your work?

Beginning the first stages of marketing before your book is complete can be an important factor in success. I’m not saying you should write your first sentence and then begin pushing the book. Sometimes books become something other than what we intended them to be, plus having a general idea of word count and the ability to put together a book blurb and some excerpts for promotional use is necessary.

There is no exact right time for promo, but

View original post 796 more words

Dictionary Phobias in the Digital Age

Fear of Long Words

Reading in the Digital Age

—Have you heard the argument that most readers want easy reading, which doesn’t frequently send them to the dictionary? This is the subject of much heated debate, which isn’t the focus of this article (though I would say different authors have different styles and different audiences—if there is a significant audience for a style that you can write, it would make sense for you to write to that audience). Put your opinion on whether or not we should make reading vocabulary friendly aside for a moment. As I mentioned, I didn’t bring this up with intention of stirring that debate. I want to just call attention to the fact that there is a dictionary phobia in the Digital Age. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that there is one? Technology should be making it easier to deal with and improve vocabulary. If so, why are many people still afraid of encountering words they might not know? Here is my point:

  • I just opened a book on my Kindle Fire.
  • I encountered a word I didn’t know.
  • I touched the word with my finger until it was highlighted in blue.
  • A window popped up showing me the pronunciation key and definition.

Back when I was a kid (and we had to walk uphill both ways—if you want to enjoy a little humor, look for my ‘proof’ of this toward the end of this article—into the wind, too!)… …There was a mammoth unabridged dictionary sitting on its own table in every classroom. If a student asked a teacher what a word meant, said student would soon be standing at that table thumbing through said dictionary. …Sometimes, we’d be reading on the bus, with no dictionary in sight. Now it’s so easy. If you’re reading a digital book, all you need to do is touch the word. It’s almost like having a magic genie, except it’s a hundred times easier to press the word than it would be to rub the lamp and make a wish (and then you only get three wishes and each wish has unintended side effects).

When it’s so easy to look up a word, why are so many people afraid of seeing words they didn’t already know?

I think it’s a good question. There are probably some answers. That is, some reasons. I really mean, some ways to explain why it is the way it is. But maybe that isn’t the way it should be. Reading is a great way to develop better grammar, improve your vocabulary, and improve your writing. Now it’s so easy to look up any word you don’t already know. Okay, let me address the obvious exception:

  • If you have to look up every other word, even pressing the word in an e-book will become a chore and detract from story enjoyment. My question relates to occasional words, not this extreme.

Proof that we had it harder when I was a kid

So, I said, albeit in jest, that we had to walk to school and it was uphill both ways. I’m sure you ‘know’ that can’t be true, so I’m going to apply my knowledge of physics to prove you wrong. Here’s the deal. As illustrated below, the school was located on the side of a mountain. The school was very tall. The town was situated halfway up the mountain. First period was at the top of the school, so we had to walk up to get to the top of the school. Last period was at the bottom of the school, so we again walked up to get back home in town. QED.

Uphill Battle

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

Isn’t that a great word? You gotta love it!

How do you pronounce hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia? What does hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia mean? Forgive me for my repetition, but any chance to use hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia in a sentence just can’t be squandered. 🙂

  • Hip·po·po·to·mon·stro·ses·quip·e·da·li·o·pho·bi·a (Hip’-uh-paw-tuh-mahn-stroe’-ses-kwip’-uh-dah-lee-owe-foe’-bee-ah) n. (hippopoto– Greek-derived for fear, –mostr– Latin for monstrous, –sesquipedali– Latin for long word, and –phobos Greek for fear)—fear of long words.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/dictionary-phobias-in-the-digital-age/#comments