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 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.

A Christian couple with good motives and the best intentions in the world wrote an app to "clean" dirty words in ebooks by replacing them with "clean" alternatives.  They named it "Clean Reader" and they made it available for free for iOS and Android devices.  They created a book catalog for the device from work supplied by @Inktera and Smashwords.  It sounds like a feel-good kind of story, right?  Wrong. The clean device did a dirty deed - it rewrote authors' words without obtaining permission from the authors.

The app had three settings that downloaders could select from to decide how "clean" they wanted their books.  Depending on the setting,the app picked out words and changed them.  The "Daily Mail" article by Jenny Stanton  gives an example of how this process worked with passages from some well known books:

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

Before: ‘I don’t want to f*** you at all. My heart’s as cold as cold potatoes just now.’

After: ‘I don’t want to [freak] you at all. My heart’s as cold as cold potatoes just now.’

Before: ‘It was not woman’s fault, nor even love’s fault, nor the fault of sex.’

After: ‘It was not woman’s fault, nor even love’s fault, nor the fault of [love].’

Before: ‘She threaded two pink campions in the bush of red-gold hair above his penis.

’After: ‘She threaded two pink campions in the bush of red-gold hair above his [groin].’

The first problem with the app is that it changed the words of authors without their permission. That is always, always, always wrong. The second problem is more basic - who decides what is clean and what is dirty and who picks what words get substituted for the dirty ones?  It's like walking into a neighbor's house - you might walk in and think "This place is filthy. Jane is a lazy bitch."  I might walk into the same house and think, "I wonder how Jane keeps this place so clean and still keeps her daily word count so high." Dirt is in the eye of the beholder.

A reader is always free to skip a passage he or she finds offensive or to imagine a different word in the place of one that bothers her. It might be that the reader is mortally offended by any reference to sex or the human body.  It might be that the reader was once hit by a black car and can't bear to read about black cars.  Perhaps the reader was bitten by a dog and prefers the pets in her stories to be cats.  We are all the product of our own experience.  Mr. Duck is a computer programmer, so he'd be one of the people making those decisions about which words to replace.  Mr. Duck has a wicked sense of humor, a sharp intellect and is married to an insane duck lady. His choices for those words would likely NOT be the ones made by the great bulk of humanity.  Lord knows, my choices would likely not be made by even the smallest sliver of humanity.  The choice of what to read and what to replace and what to skip - those are decisions by the reader who always has the option to close a book he finds offensive.

Authors outraged by Clean Reader's mutilation of their work took to blogs and Twitter,  and created such a backlash that their book suppliers pulled out and "Clean Reader" folded.   The couple claims they intend to rework the app and will release it again.  I hope they don't because no matter what they do, the couple can not create an app to replace each individual reader's sensibilities.  Books are as individual as art.  A painting or statue that could make me marvel for hours might make you sniff and move along in an instant.  But we both have the right to look at the same painting and stare or sniff.

I suspect that devoted readers would never download an app designed to keep them from reading a book the way it was written. People who love words will be just as upset as authors at the notion that some programmer's judgment should ever be allowed to re-write a book.  "Clean Reader" is a digital bonfire and it is every bit as dangerous as the vigilantes who remove physical books from a library's shelves and feed them to the flames.

If programs like this one are allowed to exist,  museums must change their rules, and allow offended patrons to bring in spray paint and chisels.  So the world would lose a few Titian's, Cezanne's and Ruben's and Michelangelo's David might lose something even more personal - but the offended would be appeased.  That's what matters, right?  Of course not.

Yet, that is exactly what programs/apps like "Clean Reader" are - they're chisels and spray paint inside your phone, iPad or digital device.  They've done their work before your eyes arrive and have removed any risk that you might be moved by a love story with a sex scene or that curse words in the right place might make you share a character's anger.  What hands do you trust to hold the paint and chisels?

Buy or don't buy.  Read or skip. But never put the spray paint and chisels into the hands of someone who hasn't lived your life or walked in your shoes.

Dear readers and authors everywhere - Shall we break out the champagne? The royals have thrown open the castle gates to admit within the sacred walls the indie authors who dared to take their work directly to the people. Post Indie Revolution the eyes of at least some of the royals are opening to realize that in depriving writers of a chance, the gatekeepers also deprived the royals of a choice. It's a new day, and in the dawn of the light of freedom and possibility, the crown lies where it has always belonged -- upon the head of the reader whose finger hovers over the buy button.

Yes, publishers are blinking and as their eyes adjust to the blinding light of the new dawn, they are seizing some of the control they formerly ceded to literary agents.  Check this out:

Publishers are playing literary agents at their own game, seeking out new talent for themselves and cutting out the industry’s powerful middlemen.

Executives within HarperCollins, Jonathan Cape, Little, Brown, and Tinder Press are inviting “un-agented submissions”, marking a dramatic cultural shift for an industry having to readjust to developments such as self-publishing, as well as the often huge advances demanded by agents for coveted titles.

"Publishers Bypass Literary Agents To Discover New Talent", The Guardian, Dalya Alberge.

I'm not a'tall surprised to find that one of the leaders of the new movement in publishing shares the name of a certain duck lady.  Mary Anne Harrington of Tinder Press, Headline publishing's literary imprint noted that in relying upon gatekeeping literary agents, perhaps publishers have been "drowning out other, fresher voices."   You think?  It figures that one of the first publishers to get a clue would be blessed with a duckly moniker.  Quack back at'cha Mary Anne Harrington.

Another 'got a clue' lady has a different name - but hey, we can't ALL be named Mary Anne, can we?  Katie Espiner, a publisher at HarperCollins imprint, Borough Press, awoke in the bright sunlight to an epiphany - she was allowing other people to make her decisions. She promptly held an open submission that discovered a promising new author because:  she wouldn't allow other people to make her choices for her in any other area of her life.

The gate-opening trend among publishers has prompted some literary agencies to cast a wider net - but at least one is doing it with a Jekyll and Hyde mentality.  Agency Curtis Brown is holding a writing course that has discovered 15 debut novelists over the last 2.5 years.  Yet the chairman of that very same agency, Jonathan Lloyd, retains enough of the royal mentality he acquired working at HarperCollins during the Castle era to remain skeptical of publishers actually making their own choices.  Lloyd said, publishers “don’t have the resources, time and energy to deal with the flood of manuscripts that they’re going to get. And they won’t be filtered.”

I'm happy that publishers are finally descending from their ivory towers to seize their companies' destinies in their own hands. And I'm delighted that literary agencies are awakening to discover that they have to get out and find the talent because writers no longer crawl to their doors in such great numbers.  But I'm still one of those writers who left the beggars' line at the dawn of the indie revolution.  I don't even own a hat and groveling on bended knees gives me leg cramps.

If a literary agent, publisher or big shot movie producer is insane enough to take a flier on romance or erotic romance by a crazy duck lady who publishes as Mary Anne Graham and Olivia Outlaw -- I'm easy enough to contact. This blog has a "contact me" link in the upper right corner and I bet Amazon or D2D would be glad to steer any legitimate inquiries my way. Otherwise, I'll continue to write my stories where lovers get the happy ending that reality too often denies.

Y'all keep reading and I'll keep writing.

For the last 3 months or so, my books have been enrolled in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, and have only been available on Amazon. That changes this week, starting tomorrow. My books will "roll out" of KU this month, and by the end of January all of my books will be available on other forums again, this time through Draft2Digital.

I get the concept of Kindle Unlimited. I get the benefits for readers and the benefits for the forum offering the subscription. Under the model, readers can budget X dollars per month, read all they want, and never risk going over budget. Having the readers subscribe keeps them on Amazon, which benefits to some degree from the subscription, but benefits to a larger degree on Kindle Fire purchases and on everything else readers buy from the Zon, which wants to be everyone's one-stop shop. But none of the services can survive unless the benefits flow to the author and that is the fatal flaw with the program.

KU requires that authors offer their books exclusively on Amazon. There is a large "pool" of money from the subscription fees, and authors earn a borrow/sale each time a reader. Amazon pays each author the same percentage of that money, regardless of the sales price of their book. In exchange for participation, authors also receive a bump in ranking because borrows are rated as sales, and the right to run a limited number of promos every 90 days per book by either discounting the price for a few days (a countdown deal) or by giving the book away for a few days.

While the promo opportunities and the rankings boost are of some benefit, borrows tend to "eat" sales, so even those benefits are blades on a double-edged sword. Plus, there appears to be reader backlash, meaning that readers feel that if they have to pay for a book and others are getting it "free", that is unfair or they feel that the book must not be worth their money if it is enrolled in KU. It doesn't matter how high a book is rated if real sales dollars are not flowing into the author's pocket.

The largest problems with KU are the exclusivity requirement and the payment structure. Without exclusivity, many authors might enroll series leaders in the program, use the promo opportunity, and gain sales at full value for the rest of the books in each series. With exclusivity, authors will not even do that, because it means that the series leaders couldn't be sold on other forums, and if a whole series isn't available, readers will often buy none of it. The payment structure means that authors who should earn $2.05 on a $2.99 book are making as little as $1.33 - and lack a guarantee of making even that. It also means that authors with a .99 cent book are making way more in KU than they make in sales. The unfairness of that structure has led to a bunch of scammers who post very short pamphlets on KU - some of them are only 10 pages in length. That means that if a reader opens the pamphlet, the author earns a sale because the reader has read a tenth of the book. And that author makes as much as a real, hardworking writer who has his or her work enrolled in the program.

I don't see how Kindle Unlimited can continue to exist under the current arrangements. If Amazon wants the program to survive, it will need to make some real changes. Particularly, it must do away with the exclusivity requirement but it must also pay out in percentages, based on a book's standard royalty rate. For example, Amazon might pay 80% of a standard royalty rate to books enrolled in the program. That would guarantee an author of a $2.99 book a royalty of 80% of $2.05 ($1.64) and an author of a .99 cent book with a royalty of .35 cents would make 80% of that (.28 cents).

Additionally, rolling out of the program makes my books available to all readers again, and that is a good thing. Authors far and wide are leaving KU, including many who are much less insane than a crazy duck lady - writers like HM Ward and JA Konrath.

So, starting tomorrow, my books will begin appearing on other venues via Draft2Digital's distribution service. I'm choosing to experiment with D2D because there are less technical challenges in uploading books, so they get out faster, the service shows near real-time sales numbers, and it pays out monthly. Smashwords still has challenges in some of those areas. Additionally, D2D offers some nifty features I'll be able to take full advantage of when all my books are out of the program - like an "Also by" page and a "teaser" for a different book of my choosing.

Kindle Unlimited and other subscription programs can not exist without content - a lot of books, offering a wide and growing variety in every genre. Without content, the service isn't worth the subscription fee. Through the current structure of the program, Amazon is guilty of some of the same sins as were traditional publishers before the indie revolution. And traditional publishers nearly went under because of their unfair treatment of authors - those who survived learned the virtue of flexibility and made significant changes. Now, if Amazon wants Kindle Unlimited to survive, it must do the same.

I'm looking forward to welcoming a legion of new readers who enjoy highly sensual novels which will have a happy ending. The third part of my "Devil" series written as Olivia Outlaw - "Devil's Delight" - is already available through D2D because I didn't enroll it in KU and you can pick it up today at many of your favorite retailers. By tomorrow, my "Dangerous Relations" series will be available everywhere - By this Friday, 1/9/15, my "Sultan's Toy" and "Carnal Collateral" series and boxed sets or bundles will be out and about as will Part 1 of my Devil's series "Devil's Deal"- By this Saturday, 1/10/15, my "Mary Anne Graham" books will be out and about - the "Forever" series, "Romancing the Rose," "The Duke of Eden," and "Brotherly Love" will be available, and on January 25th, the middle book in the Devil series, "Devi's Demand" rolls out, meaning the whole Devil's series will be available.

So, by the end of January, the entirety of my insanely romantic and delightfully sensual books written as Mary Anne Graham and as Olivia Outlaw will be available for your reading pleasure at retailers all over the web. Do the crazy duck lady a favor and pick up one or two and find out why love is better over the top!!

Sales at other sites were dismal, so decided to try Kindle Unlimited aka KOLL for the required 90 days to see how it would go. Payouts had been at $1.53 per book. Amazon dropped it to $1.33 for the month just reported - October. The result? I unchecked my auto renew boxes but I'm in until early January. Most other indie authors are doing the same and some have books due for renewal in the next few weeks.

I may try D2D in January. Smashwords has never gotten its act together with payments and D2D pays monthly. People already complained that KU lacked books and it's about to lack a lot more books - - likely, reducing available reads to the point that the program can't survive.

The solution? Amazon needs to stop the "contest" where they pay millions to a few authors as a reward for the best sales & put all $$ in the KU payout pot. It needs to guarantee authors between $1.50 and $1.80 per book - OR pay a monthly per book fee ($25 or so per month). If Amazon wants to keep KU going and GROW it, then it should do both - at least for some books. The bottom line is that there is no "one size fits all" solution. Amazon needs to set criteria - if your book is a 99 cent title then your max borrow rate is 75 cents. If your book is fewer than 50 pages, then you will get 99 cents per month and if you "stuff" a book with material that is not real, genuine, writing in order to meet the page requirement, then you are banned from Amazon. If your book is a $2.99 title or more with over 50 pages of original, author-generated writing, then you get the higher payout and/or monthly bonus.

If Amazon wants to grow Kindle Unlimited, then it needs to give authors incentives to put their books in. If Amazon wants Kindle Unlimited to survive, then it at least needs to be fair with authors - below the $1.50 mark is a virtual no-writer's land.

Readers - if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited- you should email or call Amazon and find out why Amazon is not putting the money into the program to give you a reading experience that earns your $9.99 per month. Authors, please let me know your thoughts about the future of Kindle Unlimited and whether you'll keep your books in the program after this month's $1.33 payout.

And Amazon - I'd love you to comment on this post and to explain why you're not being fair to your authors which would in turn provide Amazon KU subscribers with the most reading choices possible. Right now, it looks like Amazon is pushing a dwindling supply of "all you can read" books on unsuspecting customers with one hand, and working covertly to kill Kindle Unlimited with the other.

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Hey babies, it's the Angry Old Fat Man again, touching base with all of Mary Anne's/Olivia Outlaw's readers.

always_angry

News item #1: Olivia Outlaw has completed Book Two of the Carnal Collateral series: Devil's Demand. It's currently out on the Amazon Kindle. Which leads me to...

News item #2: The buttons that allow you to buy Mary Anne's/Olivia's books from other vendors besides Amazon may be dead for awhile. You see, Amazon has some new ways of distributing e-books, especially if you're a voracious reader (like many of you aficionados of romance novels), and we are now participating in these new methods of distribution.

One is called Kindle Unlimited, and it's a lot like Netflix for e-books, except better. You pay a monthly fee to enjoy access to over half-a-million titles on your Kindle or any other device that can use the Kindle store.

The other one is only for Kindle owners with Amazon Prime, and it's called Kindle Owner's Lending Library. You can "borrow" books FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST other than your Amazon Prime account, and that's in addition to all of the other benefits you get from that service.

There's only one bit of bad news. For authors to participate in these Amazon programs, they must publish exclusively via Amazon for at least a few months. No Barnes and Noble, no Smashwords, no other vendors for those months - just Amazon.

News item #3: I fixed the links to Olivia's book covers that were not correct. They look OK now, but if you find one that isn't, please contact me or Mary Anne and I'll get it working right.

Thanks, sweeties, and remember, don't get angry. THAT'S MY JOB!

A fun new MTV article talks about Fifty Shades of Grey fans who want to pay PERMANENT homage to the books.  Yes,  there are people who have various Fifty-related images and sayings tattooed on their persons -- in various and sundry locations.

Don't get me wrong, I like "Laters, Baby" as much as the next Christian Grey fan, but I don't want it emblazoned on my chest, neck, fingers or toes. And I really don't want Christian's tie tattooed on my ankle.  (Why would you have a tie tattooed on your ankle?)

IMHO, the most devoted of the tattooed fans in the MTV piece is the one with quotes from the book inked on her body.  Yes, that's right.  Check it out for yourself.  By all the ducks in the pond, I don't even want quotes from my books tattooed on my skin.

Someday these ladies are going to have children and they will have to explain that key to the "red room of pain tattoo" not to mention all the sex toys.  Good luck with that.....