It’s not here yet … the next in a depressingly long line of winter storms. We’re expecting 4-7″ which is no biggee. What is a biggee is the freezing rain/ice storm that will top it off. It’s already a skating rink out there. This is not going to be fun.
But I digress… Back to the Reader Perspective of Kindle Unlimited.
Recap: joined for 3 reasons (curiosity, empty wallet syndrome, perspective), can’t seem to separate reader from author personas, under a lot of pressure to come up with cutesy-fartsy descriptive inserts.
Findings to date: affordable, pretty good library as numbers go but quality of offerings is weighted to the sucks lemons spectrum (except for mine, mine are good, really really good—do not start…), tracking them is problematic, and the discoverability myth is in the process of being debunked.
Okay, here we go…
I read a shortie, liked it, forgot about it. It passed the 10% test, author gets huge cash reward. Let’s call this AUTHOR 401K for the NEW DIGITAL AGE or Why You Still Need That Day Job.
Now, I’ve got two box sets for a total of 16 titles, most are novellas or shorts but some are the real deal. Still, there’s 16 of them, plus the 4 real books (>150 pages, estimated, and what’s that about anyway?) and those 4 series/season episodes.
Okay, let’s clear the deck and slam through those four series (on TV they call them pilots), then if I like them, I can line up the next batch. Of the four, two are meh (first-page-filter fails) but since I’ve already passed the 10% mark I might as well trudge through. One is I WON’T GET THOSE TWO HOURS BACK and the other was SOOPRISE SOOPRISE not too bad after all.
Note to self: rethink adjusting FILTER PARAMETERS.
Now I’m at a critical juncture: do I do a blanket return of all the titles I just read or do them one at a time, replacing episode 1 with 2 and so on and so forth? If you are like me (mind like a steel trap), doing a blanket return is water under the bridge, total blackout, WTF was I looking for… Translation: AUTHOR
DISCOVERABILITY STAYING POWER DEPENDS TOO MUCH ON FUNCTIONING READER GREY CELLS
If I’m an author, I’m afraid, very afraid.
I’m not as dumb as I look, so early on I figured out a workaround for my limited concentration skills and clicked on the title of interest to go to the Zon page and then clicked on the author’s name to bring up the Amazon Author Page and the handy carousel of available titles. I’m a woman on a mission. I can do this little thing!
I’m also clever as a box of rocks, so I decide to download all the available episodes for ONE series, not four eps for four different series, all in the interest of simplifying my life and binge reading like I binge watch DVDs of GoT or Downton Abbey. Problem sorted!
Except, um, wait a minute. Episode 2 isn’t in KU? And there’s no episode 3? Wait… what? I’m supposed to PAY for the next in line, and not just pay but PAY THROUGH THE NOSE for the dubious privilege of continuing? Call this: AUTHOR MARKETING SKILL FAIL
Here’s the thing: as a reader I want closure with all my heart, I need an ending, not a TO BE CONTINUED unless there’s really a continued immediately available so I can actually … you know … continue. If I don’t have that, I click back to my KU list, hit return and move on to greener pastures. Upgrade to AUTHOR MARKETING SKILL EPIC FAIL
In the event of none-of-the-above (I have eps 2+3+final loaded on my Kindle Fire), I happily read through, no matter how egregiously bad the prose gets or how sophomoric the dialog. I. Am. Invested. READER & THE ZON DISPENSING $1.38 A POP WITH BONHOMIE.
Now to the True Nature of This Rant…
If an author wants to improve his chance of snaring a dedicated fan base, running a series/season scam is not the way into this reader’s heart and loyalty. Either charge a uniform rate (99c tops) or put ALL the episodes into KU (better yet, just write a book, a real one), and make sure it’s a proper story with a beginning, middle and end. Also make sure the damn thing is edited within an inch of its life because I’m sick of paying for books with SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.
Oh but they’re FREE!!! you screech. No. They. Aren’t. $9.99 remember? I’m paying for sub-par work at either full-freight, at a discount, or tah-dah with my precious time.
Addendum: as for the full novels proudly awaiting my undivided? All four were romances, one by a bestselling author, all looked pretty promising, and I was ready to cleanse my palate with a story worthy of my time.
HANGS HEAD IN SHAME
A friend recommended, an email notice popped, a FB page announced… And I thought Oh I have to read that one right away! And look, it’s on KU. SHINY! CLICK. Crap, I can’t add until I return. Dammit. I just loaded up on that frigging series/season one. Now what?
Oh, I know! I’ll just boot this one and that one, and will I ever really get through those box sets? Nah. Click, click, click.
No 10%, no discoverability, no way to flag them and save to a wish list without jumping through more hoops. Yes, I considered notepad and pencil, but have you seen my house? (Don’t answer that.)
Authors: have you wondered why you aren’t getting the number of borrows you expected/hoped for when you joined KDP Select/KU? This might be one reason why. Granted, I’m an army of one and not exactly a representative sample, but this experience as a reader pointed out the following…
Extrapolating to the author perspective, otherwise known as conclusions:
1) KU as the portal to Discoverability: fail (not epic but definitely not the gimme we hoped for)
2) KU as platform for short fiction by people without a clue how to write short fiction: yea verily
3) KU as platform for some truly egregiously sloppy (unedited) prose: not as bad as Smashwords, but then, boy howdy, talk about lowering the bar.
4) KU as an economical way to consume vast quantities of digital content on a budget: yes and no, mileage varies (jury still out for me). For $9.99 all I need is 10 99c wonders to break even. 10 at $2.99 would be better, but at $2.99 an author needs his head examined because that’s a 71c loss in royalty for every borrow. What a deal… NOT.
5) KU offers an economical way to expand my horizons, to sample the best of all genres, to develop slavish loyalty to select authors so astute as to commit their work exclusively to a program so clearly not in their best interests that it boggles the mind: do I really need to answer that?
6) KU and other subscription services are single-handedly driving down sales and making readers even more ADD and fickle than they generally are: *nods* well-done you.
Comments invited: all perspectives welcome. Success stories: let’s hear them. Not-so-successful, ergo proving my point: scattering rose petals in your path.
Stay warm, my friends.