Do you KU?

If you do, whether as a reader or a writer, then I bet you've heard of the best thing since dark roast coffee - KENP.  It stands for Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count and it's the way Amazon now measures page reads by Kindle Unlimited Subscribers. Beginning July 1st, writers with books enrolled in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program will not be paid per borrow, they'll be paid per page read, meaning, per page as pages are counted by Amazon. It's created a whole new obsession for writers.

Beginning in the wee hours of July 1st, KU authors were huddled over their keyboards with their screen locked on the Amazon KDP reports page, clicking one key, just one key.  Y'all know what that was, right?  Refresh... refresh... refresh.

Yes, my creditors and I are most interested in seeing those page reads rack up.  We don't know what the Zon will pay per page. It will be a rolling target like the old pay per borrow system.  But what we do know is that our payout will be based on pages read. So, like I said, the goons... err, bill collectors... and I have a very vested interest in seeing those KENP numbers rise.  But I've got a secret that I keep from the goons. I'm gonna share it with you, but you've got to promise not to tell them, okay?

I'm really most excited by the new KENP system because now I can see that readers are READING my books.  It's why I write, after all.  I can tell my stories to myself in my head where I see them play out on my inner movie screen.  And after I get to the happy ending of one tale, I can begin to tell myself another. I think we all do that, to some extent, don't we?  Perhaps not, and it's uniquely a "writer's thing." I wouldn't know for sure, having only ever lived in my head. But I choose to believe that many people create stories for their own inner consumption.  What makes a writer is that some of the inner tale tellers aren't satisfied unless they share their stories with other people.

I'm one of those people driven by a rather terrifying need to share my stories. And it is terrifying.  Although the wee, small sane part of me knows that not everyone shares my devotion to over-the-top love stories that are bigger than life, the bad reviews (all writers get them) used to hurt a lot.  The only way to survive the process, for me, has been to stop reading reviews altogether. Oh, I'm not perfect, so once in a while I'll take a quick, quick glance at the top two or three reviews on my "Mary Anne Graham" and "Olivia Outlaw" author central pages at Amazon, but by and large, I've learned not to do that.

KENP gives me the carrot without the stick. I can check and see the pages read adding up and feel a bright, shiny, inner glow.  And I can do it without dreading the people too sane to enjoy a crazy duck lady's stories.  It's all the good with none of the bad and there are very, very few things in life like that.  The only problem with KENP is that it's addictive - surely getting that wild rush from seeing that readers are reading my stories beats any drug ever manufactured legally or illegally. So yes, I admit it --  I'm Kookoo for KENP.

As addictions go, it's not a bad one to have.  This one makes me some money and gives me some happiness.  There's only one thing that would make KENP even better and that's seeing the numbers rise higher, and higher and higher.  It would let me know that more and more and more people are reading my work.

If you're a Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscriber - and really, everyone should be - then here's your new mission --- READ.  Yes, read more.  Read a lot.  Read every page ever written by Mary Anne Graham and Olivia Outlaw.  And once you have, then you Tweet and Facebook and blog about how everyone else should do the same.

It's time for KU subscribers to realize what VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE they are and to understand that they need to cease doing all the things limiting their reading.  I mean, if you're a Big Enough VIP to be a KU Subscriber then you have more important things to do than go to work, go to school, study, cook meals, clean your house or do laundry.

If you're a KU Subscriber then you're a READER and readers should be READING.  Just print off a copy of this blog post and give it to your boss, your spouse, your kids, your boyfriend or girlfriend or your professor.  They'll understand that you're a reader who has found his or her destiny.

And I only have one thing left to say to you.  Why are you still here?  Go - read, read... and then, read some more.

This week, Scribd announced that it is slashing content available to subscribers by cutting an "undisclosed" number of romance and erotica novels. One of Scribd's publishing partners, Smashwords, announced that 80-90% of its romance and erotica novels will but cut.  Smashwords CEO, Mark Coker, noted that the longer, higher priced works in the genres are most likely to feel the ax.  The problem with the books, apparently, is that romance and erotica readers are too prolific.

Wait - aren't ebook subscription services supposed to be an "all you can read" platform? Most of the romance fans likely joined Scribd so that they could read prolifically.   Changing the available content is a change to the terms that is unfair to Scribd's customers. It is a business betrayal where Scribd may discover that loyalty is better for the bottom line than their number crunchers accounted for.

In making this change, whether they realized it or not, Scribd was inviting their customers to stop doing business.  And I expect that customers will take Scribd up on its invitation to exit.

In the coming days, the same song should be playing in the heads of Scribd and Amazon execs, though only the latter will find it so catchy they end up humming it.

The song?  Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to Amazon we go.....

This week, at last, at long - long last, Amazon announced a change in the pay structure to authors with work enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.  The change won't just reward writers, it will also reward readers who will now have access to longer books and bundles that writers previously kept out of the program. We'll have to see how it works out because the devil is always in the details, but it looks like Amazon's about face will benefit everyone who plays fair.

Beginning July 1st, KU authors will be paid per page read rather than per borrow. Pay per borrow is the current system.  It resulted in scammers getting rich and working authors being penalized.  Because there was no minimum length for books, the scammers would throw together and upload very short and poorly written pamphlets full of a hodgepodge of useless information culled from the internet.  The pamphlets often feature provocative titles, prompting readers to pick them up and open them.  Because they are so short, when opened to or past the title page, the reader has read 10% and the writer --- err, scammer - gets paid.

The KU payment "pot" is a set fund, and money was paid per borrow.  That meant that the money going to line the scammers pockets wasn't going to authors who took a lot of time and a lot of effort to produce a product that would genuinely entertain or inform readers. It cheated hard working writers, but it also cheated readers who plunked down their hard-earned cash for Kindle Unlimited membership.

How are KU users cheated by the current system -- and how will they benefit from the new one?  They're cheated because writers keep their longer books and bundles out of KU currently and they'll benefit because beginning July 1st, many more of those longer works will be available.  Still, the change isn't universally popular with writers because many of them adapted their work, or structured it, to benefit from the current system.  And now, the authors who built up a huge volume of short stories and very short work will have to change their strategy again.

Personally, I'm ECSTATIC about the change. I try to write books that will hook readers and keep them reading from beginning to end.  I hope that the new system will prove that I'm meeting that goal.  And, I'll be putting into KU the bundles that have been kept out up till now - The Forever Series Bundle, The Dangerous Relations Bundle and The Sultan's Toy Bundle. Mr. Duck has even been hard at work on our newest one - The Carnal Collateral Bundle.  It's up and available for purchase now at Amazon.  On July 1st, the devilishly delightful series will join the other bundles in being available to KU readers.  We hadn't even created the bundle before because we'd never have put it into KU under the current pay structure.

Thank you, Amazon.  I've given you a hard time about the unfairness of the pay per borrow system.  So I want to take a minute to express my appreciation for your considering the problems and making the change.  I do not share the fear and paranoia running rampant in parts of the writing community.  I'm anxious for the new system.  It'll let me know if I'm doing my job right as a writer and, if I am, it will reward me accordingly.

To me, the new system sounds like a HEA - Amazon style.

I needed to hear this today!!  In fact, I often need to hear this.  Author Amity Lassiter posted this on the "Romance Divas" forum.  (Thanks Amity!) I've bookmarked it and have watched it several times already. Of course, I had to share it with y'all.

Shia's RIGHT - there's only one way to change something from a dream, a goal or an ambition into a living, breathing reality.

It's been a bit since I've blogged because I'm presently writing TWO books.  Yes, I know, lots of authors juggle books frequently, but I generally do them one at a time.  This period right here - this is an exception.  There is a single reason for this:  my muse is in hyperdrive but my bank account is not.  That's why I'm presently writing Vlad's Story (A Forbidden Forever) and part 2 of Adam and Evan's Story (Scandalizing Duty from my "Seducing The Guardian" series).

My bank account is also the reason I've backtracked from a prior position.  I've re-enrolled all my books in Kindle Unlimited, making them presently exclusive to Amazon.  While this drives Mr. Duck mad to some extent - he puts up with me.  (Maybe I should name him Saint Duck?)  The fact is, like almost (I'd say "all" but nearly nothing is always true) so, like ALMOST all self-published authors, most of my income is from Amazon. Despite that, I don't like the exclusivity and therefore bailed after one term in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program.  I've backtracked because in reviewing the books, I see that I made MUCH more money in KU than out of it.  I think a lot of that is because KU offers the opportunity for promotion - like giving away "leading" books in a series free for a certain number of days a month.  If I do that, then readers are more likely to buy the other books in that series. It adds a lot to the bank account.  Because we're presently bailing out of credit card debt and the baby duck will start college in the fall - the bank account matters.  I apologize if you read books on another device and - I hate to sound like a shill for Amazon but - I suggest you download the Kindle App for whatever device you use and buy your books at Amazon.  There's not another place on the planet that equals Amazon's selection.

Above, I mentioned how my unpredictable and often insane ways torment Mr. Duck.  I know they do, but he puts up with me because he's probably AFRAID of what I'd do if he tried to leave.  (Parts of him might make it.) Seriously, I ADORE my hubby and although there are a billion and one reasons why - you only have to look around this website to get a good look at one of them.  Mr. Duck has put in a LOT of work to revamp the site. Not only have his efforts made QA a thing of great beauty, Google now thinks so too because it's mobile friendly.  With everyone reading so much on phones, tablets, etc., QA needs to be easy on all those eyes, and Mr. Duck's efforts have made that happen.  It's why he's my favorite digital delight and the best technical wizard on the planet - IMHO, anyway.

As I also said a bit ago, my baby duck is getting ready to do the most unbaby-type thing:   yes, QA readers, the SAM duck is about to graduate from high school.  On June 4th, he'll be wearing that black robe and the funny hat and walking across the stage.  Watching the baby duck change his tassel from one side to the other will be his proud parents, his elder brother (the Zack duck), his proud grandparents, and possibly his proud Aunt Jen.  It's a workday, so Aunt Jen may not be able to make it, but she'll be with us in spirit.  We might've had a bigger crew but we only get 8 tickets.  Although his insane-duck-Mother will be prouder than proud, I do expect to shed more than a few tears.  It's not that I don't want him to grow up and become the BEST HISTORY TEACHER ON THE PLANET but - he's doing it too fast!!  He needs to go back, start Kindergarten and do it one more time.  After 12 more years, I might, MIGHT be ready for him to graduate -- or so senile that I wouldn't notice.

It's a busy time at the duck pond, but hopefully, there will soon be a new Mary Anne Graham book and a new Olivia Outlaw book.  Before that, we'll have a graduated duck named Sam and Mr. Duck will have earned several new Sainthood badges.  After all, post-graduation, the Sam duck is flying to NY State to spend a month or so with elder duck Zack.  During that time, Mr. Duck will get ALL my attention and all my worry.  Come to think of it, maybe Mr. Duck should earn more than Sainthood badges. Hmm.....I'll have to see what kind of special reward I can come up with for the King of Duckland.

In the meantime - read a lot, love a lot and DEMAND happy endings!!

Hello my little chitlin's, it's your big daddy Angry Old Fat Man here.

First off, Happy Mother's Day to all of y'all with rugrats, or former rugrats like ours. Remember, if Mama ain't happy, NOOOOObody's happy.

And now the business at hand.

It seems the website for Quacking Alone Romances needs to be brought properly into the 21st Century. I got word the other day that Google is going to start ranking pages according to their ease of use on mobile platforms, like smartphones and tablets. Of course I ran the website through its paces in the Mobile Friendly Test Tool that Google provides and it came back with abysmal results. Not surprising, since smartphones were barely a thing when we first started this romance-writing-and-selling business.

But now, with everybody and his brother, aunt, uncle, and teapot Chihuahua using iPhones and Samsungs, AND with Google busting our virtual balls, we're forced to update the site. Luckily, I decided to give the heavy lifting of the website coding to WordPress early on in our business start-up. That decision will allow one dude, moi, to update the entire site in a matter of days if I simply find the right theme to institute and tweak.

So that's the big announcement. Look for huge changes soon in the website you're looking at right now. And in the meantime, buy Olivia Outlaw's latest same-sex romance Seducing The Guardian, Book One - Tempting Duty.

Over and out, kiddies.

As the whole world knows by now, in this week's episode of "Grey's Anatomy," Dr. Derek Shepherd, a/k/a Dr. McDreamy died.  Yes, died.  For a huge, massive number of viewers, when he died, the show died too.  It will continue, in a living dead sort of fashion, but the numbers will not justify it living long, and the plug will be pulled.  But it will have company --- ABC will be shopping for a whole new Thursday night.  Why?

Because in killing Dr. McDreamy, Shonda Rhimes killed more than a character -- she killed the bond of trust she spent a decade building with viewers.  That's a bond that can't be re-built.  We'll never trust Shonda again and we'll never risk watching any of her shows -- not Grey's, not Scandal, and not How to Get Away With Murder.  Shonda's as done as her shows.

Shonda's feud with Dempsey gained a lot of attention recently.  She who doesn't like leaks suddenly liked them a LOT now, didn't she?  She fed the media a bunch of stories about how Patrick Dempsey was suddenly too much of a "Diva" to tolerate.  It was entirely too sudden and entirely too convenient.  When Katherine Heigl's movie career blossomed, tales of her Diva demands blossomed too.  But they didn't start as a full grown rose - they started as a bud that grew and grew and grew.  But Dempsey became a Diva overnight. Ain't that peculiar, people?

The truth is that Dempsey has wanted off the show for a while.  His whole life has been on the sids recently.  He's lost a marriage and couldn't figure out how to balance racing and Grey's.  He discovered racing too late and it's grown into an addiction of sorts, or so it seems to me.  And I completely understand how much it must enrage Shonda that the poor, "no-career" actor she cast a decade ago, now doesn't have time for the show that changed his destiny.  I get that.  I just think that Shonda let her rage overcome her judgment.  Couldn't any of the writers talk her off the ledge before she jumped?

Apparently not.

Rhimes and Dempsey are both people who have duties to the American public. Yes, they've entertained us for a decade but we've given them careers beyond any they could've imagined a decade ago. Just as Shonda changed Patrick Dempsey's destiny, America changed hers. And Shonda was Queen of the Grey's empire so she responded with a ruler's rage ---- "Off with his head," she commanded. In killing her creation, she has killed her empire.

It didn't have to be this way.  The pair could have sat down and pared Dempsey's appearances down to Skype chats with Meredith and loving bits and pieces that could be pre-recorded and played back over all of next season.  Shonda could've brought an amazing offer from Cristina that required Derek immediately. Because Cristina is Mer's "person," she'd offer Mer a job that would be open whenever Mer was ready.  As Mer's person, she'd know that Mer wasn't ready now, but she'd be ready very soon.

But Shonda wanted to do more than kill Dr. McDreamy.  She has decided to diminish him until Meredith begins again......  a new man, a new father, a new life....  And she can do that because Grey's is HER Kingdom, right?  WRONG.  It was only hers until the first show aired.  Just as a book only belongs to the writer until it's published, a show only belongs to its runner until the first episode airs.  Then it belongs to its fans, the way a published book belongs to the readers.

Queen Shonda forgot that.

The romance between Meredith and McDreamy captured viewer's hearts. They rewarded it with their loyalty. A decade of magic ensued. Grey's could have continued after McDreamy left.... it could continue after Mer leaves.  Except now, it can't.  Now, it's dead. Shonda killed it when she committed the ultimate betrayal.  Grey's might have grown in a strong new direction with a "shadow" Derek and a "shadow" Cristina, appearing in the occasional voice over.  A Derek alive, elsewhere doing other things and a Meredith alive in Seattle responding to some of those things and acting in ways that caused others - now that is quite a different proposition.  It could be an odd notion from the odd duck lady or the distressed ponderings of a fan -- or both.  Regardless, it's not to be, absent a giant "mea culpa" from Shonda.  It would take a new season beginning with Mer awakening from a dream (in an over the top nod to "Dallas") or with Mer awakening to find a concerned McDreamy beside her bed, relieved that she'd stopped her fever-produced hallucinations. None of that is likely, because a Shonda who could kill McDreamy is likely beyond redemption.

MASH killed Henry Blake but learned its lesson.  It never killed "Hawkeye."  Perhaps the runners of that show had more respect for magic or perhaps they were wise enough to know that a knife in the back of Hawkeye landed most painfully in the backs of every viewer who adored him. It's too bad that Shonda killed Izzie and still didn't learn that lesson.

Grey's began with a one night stand that grew into an epic fairy tale romance so fans believed it would end with the happily ever after we were trained to expect, the same one we've always awaited. But Shonda killed the hero and now she says viewers will watch Meredith discover what life is like after the fairy tale ends.  But viewers won't discover that because you know what we do when the fairy tale ends? We close the book. That book is closed for me, and a group on Facebook has started a page to boycott Shonda's shows.  You can find it here.

America has not YET adopted my romance novels with the fervor it once reserved for Grey's, but now is a fine time to start.  Pick up a Quacking Alone Romance by Mary Anne Graham, also writing as Olivia Outlaw.  At the end of any of my books you'll never be pulling a knife out of your back or wiping away tears after the hero is brutally killed by a semi-truck.  Instead, you'll be cheering for the fairy tale, full-on happily ever after that I guarantee you'll find when any of my couples' tales end.

The tombstone in next week's episode should read:  "Here lies Grey's Anatomy, born March 27, 2005.  It died at the hands of its creator on April 23, 2015." Let me know what it says because I won't be watching.

This is a brief post because my Muse is yelling in my ear.  Not whispering or conversing, mind you - she's yelling.  Muse has been waking me up at night to send me stumbling to my laptop at 3 a.m.  Why? Because it's time for Vlad's story.

Those familiar with my Forever Series will know Vlad very well.  The Russian gypsy first appeared in "A Golden Forever" and he's been in every book since.  But it was never time for his story -- until now.  I've had many readers email, asking whether there would be more "Forever" stories.  I gave them the assurance that there would be - someday.  Well, someday is now.

I'm also working on my third set of "Olivia Outlaw" stories.  There's another "Isle of Bliss" tale half written on my hard drive.  I may be juggling Vlad and Mala with Adam and Evan for awhile, but both sets of stories are on their way.  They'd be here a lot sooner, if I didn't have that pesky day job practicing law and trust me, I'd much rather write full time.  But the best any of us can do is make the most of what we have, right?

I've been concentrating on the "Bliss" stories of late, and it's been quite a long while since I wrote the last "Forever" book, so I just thought I'd let fans of that series know that a new one is on the way!!  Vlad has to get his happily ever after now, doesn't he?

The horrific, senseless, and utterly evil killing of the late Walter L. Scott is not a justifiable action.  This post does not, in any way, attempt to justify it.  This post is about why my state's lowcountry region has not been torn apart by vandalism and violence masquerading as protests.  This is about why the North Charleston/Summerville area of South Carolina is not and will not become the next Ferguson, Missouri.

A week ago today, on Saturday, April 4th, Mr. Scott, a black man, was stopped by a white North Charleston police officer for a very minor infraction - I believe it was a broken taillight on his vehicle.  In the course of the stop, Mr. Scott fled his vehicle and ran from the officer who gave chase.  A taser was employed but ultimately the officer pulled his gun and shot the fleeing Mr. Scott a number of times in the back, causing Mr. Scott's tragic death.  First accounts indicated the officer felt threatened because Mr. Scott tried to grab his taser, but an eyewitness took video of the event and he ultimately turned it over to the Scott family.  The shooting occurred on Saturday, April 4th and on Tuesday, April 7th - just three (3) days later, the officer was charged with murder.

However,  the Charleston area hasn't turned into Ferguson, Missouri.  Here, we've had no hordes of people using Mr. Scott's death as an excuse to steal iPads or televisions.  We've had no mobs taking to the streets to destroy the hard-earned property of business owners and pretending they are doing it as an act of "respect" to the late Mr. Scott.  Very likely, Mr. Scott's family and friends own businesses and have worked hard at various enterprises.  Surely, that was also the case in Ferguson, but it didn't stop the vandalism and violence there, which was largely committed by outside agitators. Why is South Carolina different?

It's different because we are not joiners and we are not followers. We don't join unions and we don't join gangs of thugs and we won't follow any outsiders who try to motivate such stupidity.  Mr. Scott's family is a sterling example of South Carolina at its finest.  They have been vigilant and forceful in insisting that the truth of their son's death be brought forward, and that the responsible officer be held to account. But they've only asked that the responsible party be brought to justice - they've not blamed the entire North Charleston police department for the criminal evil of one officer.  In fact, two police officers on motorcycles escorted the hearse carrying Mr. Scott's body at his funeral today.  The family has indicated that it wants Mr. Scott's death to demonstrate and motivate changes that need to be made in the power dynamics between officers and citizens. The Scott family has given strong and clear signals that they do not want, and would not appreciate, an invasion of outside agitators.

Should any agitators be flown or bussed into the lowcountry of South Carolina to try to instigate a campaign of violence, I expect they would encounter armed business owners and armed law enforcement officers who would travel to the area from all over our state.  That is as it should be, because the tragic death of Mr. Scott is a South Carolina matter, to be dealt with by South Carolineans in the just, peaceful and strong manner that my state generally employs. Local leaders would not tolerate outside agitation and our state's Governor, Nikki Haley, would lend the full support of her office to keep the Charleston area as a peaceful place where respectful tributes to Mr. Scott can occur.

There is a prayer vigil planned tonight April 11th, the day of Mr. Scott's funeral, by local United Methodist Churches.  It will be held at the sight of the shooting and those wishing to pay respect to the late Mr. Scott, to support his family, and to indicate their abhorrence for the act of this officer, will walk silently to one of the Methodist Churches.  Participants won't be given the opportunity to vandalize businesses or liberate electronic devices. They will be given the chance to pay their respect and to indicate, by their presence, their support of Mr. Scott and his family.

Respect and support are important parts of South Carolina life.  I'd wager that Mr. Scott's family hasn't had to cook a meal since his passing.  Their friends and family have been there, tending to providing food and gathering with the family to join them in remembering Mr. Scott and celebrating his life and his legacy.  They will be there in quiet ways as the days pass, and will join the family again, to support them when the Officer is brought before a South Carolina Court to face justice.

We're not joiners and we're not followers so you won't get us riled up and ready to go out and attack our community.  And if you try to bring in outsiders to incite such violence, we will stand in support of business owners and officers in resisting and in overcoming such efforts.  All of South Carolina mourns with the Scott family today.  Mr. Scott's death was a South Carolina tragedy but I am very, very proud that the late Mr. Scott's parents are dealing with it as South Carolineans, not joining and not following and not seeking joiners or followers.  I am not a member of his family and didn't have the privilege of knowing Mr. Scott, but I expect that his family would appreciate people remembering their son by giving a donation to his Church or the NAACP rather than by breaking into businesses and destroying their community.

Racism is evil, but so are violence and vandalism.  Ferguson's leaders may have felt that they had to tolerate a certain amount of violence in order to prevent more, but South Carolina is not Ferguson. We'll not join you and we'll not follow you - but if you are here to incite trouble, we'll be glad to show you the way out of our state.

Rest in peace, Mr. Scott.

I was in Kindle Unlimited (KU), for one stint - 90 days, the required term. I really enjoyed the program and the features.  More importantly, Amazon's customers enjoyed my participation -- my eBooks were downloaded a lot.  I left after that single stint for a variety of reasons, including the lack of a guaranteed payment (at least, a guaranteed minimum payment) scaled to the price of participating books. However, Amazon's demand for exclusivity was my most compelling reason for departing the program. It's the largest reason that most authors leave KU.

Amazon requires that in exchange for enrolling an eBook in Kindle Unlimited, that an author grant Amazon the exclusive right to sell that eBook.  That means that readers who use Nooks, iPads, or any other device, could not buy my books.  It meant that the price of participating in KU is telling a whole group of my readers that they are not important, that they don't matter.  I just couldn't do that after my sole stint in the program.  It hurt me to do that because ALL my readers matter.

Making my books exclusive to Amazon would also mean that all my eggs are in the Zon's basket.  It means that at the roulette wheel of life, I've bet all my hopes and dreams on the Zon's number.  I didn't spread them out among several numbers to give myself a cushion; I bet them all on a single number.  That's as poor a strategy in life as it is at the casino.  Yes, it will pay more if that single number hits, but it will cost me everything if any other number hits. The Zon's basket is large and from the outside looking in, it appears sturdy and stable, but I have no inside info.  Amazon could fold tomorrow - or it could cancel its KU program tomorrow.  That would leave me trying to convince readers that I tossed aside like yesterday's leftovers that they are still the main course.  My readers would never buy that - they're an eclectic, imaginative, smart bunch.  They're a tolerant group, but they won't tolerate disloyalty.

Although a few, select "big time" indie writers were offered participation in the program without exclusivity,  some of those have now left the fold, despite still offering their books elsewhere.  They felt that KU was cannibalizing sales on Amazon, prompting potential buyers to "borrow" instead. And borrows are not paid as sales, they are paid much less - an unknown rate set monthly by Amazon lately averaging $1.38 to $1.40 as compared to $2.05 for a sale on a $2.99 eBook.  The "big time" indies lost too much money.  The money and the lack of guaranteed pay out rates also explains traditional publishers staying away from the program.  Amazon surely doesn't require exclusivity from them but the trads had enough business savvy to know that borrows would reduce sales. So, there are issues other than exclusivity, but for the average indie author, exclusivity ranks at the top.

Not only does making something exclusive to one store hurt the author, it also hurts the customers. The market not only functions best when it's competitive,  it also grows more when it's competitive and innovation flourishes as competition does.  Exclusivity is a big scary concept to indie authors.  It makes us slaves on the Amazon plantation, totally dependent on "Master" Amazon. Given a choice between keeping our freedom and signing on for Amazon servitude, many of us are too damned independent, too damned AMERICAN to take whatever Amazon doles out. Perhaps Amazon should take a closer look at what's happened to America in the era of Big Government and reconsider.  Amazon should remove the exclusivity requirement from KU and it should adopt a guaranteed minimum pay scale based on factors including the price of the work, the length of the work, and the sales price for similar books.  All those factors are required because too many game the system - it's a lesson they've learned in the Big Government era.

If Amazon would make both changes, then KU customers would have a much, much - (Did I say much?) - larger and ever-growing variety of books to borrow.  The two policies hurt customers most of all because their selection is limited, severely, by the pay-scale-to-authors and exclusivity issues. If Amazon removed both issues, and made the recommended changes, publishers would likely enroll some items like backlist books, especially of mid-list authors, occasionally high ranking first-in-a-series books of top authors (at least for a limited period) when the top authors had new series books coming out. If Amazon removed only the exclusivity requirement, even keeping the present uncertain and unfair pay scale in place, many indie authors, myself included, would enroll at least some books -- and that would be enough to provide a sizable increase in books available to customers for borrow.

In the long run, Mr. Bezos' refusal to make the necessary changes to fix the KU program will have the opposite effect from the one intended -- it will not only drive away KU customers, it will anger them and make them less likely to buy anything from Amazon.  While Amazon doesn't worry so much about how exclusivity negatively impacts authors, it does, should, and must worry about how it negatively impacts consumers.  Those promised "all you want to read" value by KU who have to hit the buy button to get the books they actually want will, more and more, feel they're spending money for nothing.

Right now KU is like one of those bargain shops.  A customer walks in to buy a nice black dress.  She sees one for $9.99. But wait - there, just beside it, is a bin full of huge sealed bags.  There's a sign over it that says - "Buy a whole bag of dresses for $9.99." The value scale seems obvious.  Why spend $9.99 for one dress when you could get 10 or 15 for the same price?  But when the customer buys the bag, gets home and opens it, she finds that none of the dresses is black or they're all the wrong style. How will the customer feel about that store now?  She'll feel like the KU subscriber promised all the books she wants to read for $9.99 a month who discovers that none of the books she wants to read are in the program.  That customer will feel angry, misled, cheated and lied to - and that will be her feeling every time she sees that store's sign, so she'll go to another one.  How easy is it is, after all, to go elsewhere in the virtual world.

Sometimes Karma works. The Karma of Amazon turning a crop of indie authors into indentured servants will filter down to the customers.  More and more authors will flee the exclusivity noose because writers are, by nature, the most free-spirited and independent people on the planet. That means that Amazon won't be able to deliver on its promise to customers, because that promise depends on motivating writers to continually put more work into the program. Amazon's failure to deliver on its content promise will then begin to drive customers away from Amazon entirely.

Karma's a bitch and that's why Mr. Bezos should change KU.