Kindle Unlimited New Pages Read Policy: What Do You Think?

by Kristina Ludwig
Jul 7
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: July 7, 2015 at 11:41 am

As of July 1st, Amazon has rolled out a brand-new policy, which affects authors with books in the Kindle Unlimited borrowing program. Check out the details here. In a nutshell, authors will receive payment based on pages read instead of number of downloads. There’s even an algorithm called Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC), which Amazon employed to determine the page count of each book.

Will we have to write books this thick to reap the benefits of the new Kindle Unlimited policy? Only time will tell ;)

Will we have to write books this thick to reap the benefits of the new Kindle Unlimited policy? Only time will tell ;)

Admittedly, I didn’t realize the new policy at first; I’d somehow missed that particular email from Amazon. When I saw my borrowed units jump well into the thousands–just in the first week of July–I was ecstatic. The news of the change burst my bubble, but once I really thought about it, I had to admit that it’s totally fair. I have removed some of my books from KDP Select, and may yank out a few more depending on how my sales are impacted–and how high they are in other markets. As always, the process of choosing where and how to publish is one of trial and error, and always being adaptable.

Authors out there, what do you think of Amazon’s new policy? Has it impacted your decision to place your books in the Kindle Unlimited borrowing program? As always, I welcome your feedback and thoughts!

Woohoo! Thoughts About Amazon Pre-order for Indies

by Kristina Ludwig
Aug 19
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: August 19, 2014 at 11:06 am

Last week, Amazon nonchalantly revealed an amazing breakthrough for indie authors: Now, we can make our books available for pre-order! Here’s a blog post with some useful info about the change. I was psyched to hear about this, because in the past, pre-order status was reserved for authors with publishing companies behind them. Some indie authors also had the privilege, but I was never entirely sure how to go about setting up and/or applying to place my books on pre-order. It was all very enigmatic.

amazon_1

Now, there is no mystery–indie authors can set up their books for pre-order up to 90 days before the book’s release. This allows us to generate buzz and gives our books the opportunity to rank before they’re ever released, thus leading to increased discoverability and greater sales.

The process sounds fairly straightforward, and is outlined by Amazon on their Kindle Direct Publishing page. The biggest thing to remember is that the final version of the book or a draft manuscript (completed, but not copy-edited or proofread) must be finished by the time an author submits his/her book for pre-order. I’m sure that Amazon instituted this requirement to ensure that the books will actually be available on their promised dates.

I am planning to set up my next book in the Amish Couples series (tentatively titled Amish Bakery Challenge) for pre-order as soon as I have my cover and description completed, and I will be sure to pass on everything I learn! Uncovering the profitability of this new feature will be an ongoing experience, since indie authors don’t receive their royalties for final sales until the book is actually released and the pre-order customers have downloaded their copies–fair enough. However, the jump in rank will be apparent right away, and I can’t wait to see how it impacts my author discoverability and ranking.

Indies out there, what are your opinions on the new Amazon pre-order feature? Has anyone tried it yet, and if so, what results did you see? I would love to hear about your experiences!

The Benefits of Reading 30 Books a Month

by Kristina Ludwig
Aug 14
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: August 14, 2014 at 11:44 am

Ever since childhood, I was a serial reader–as soon as I finished a book, I’d immediately pick up another one. As a result, I never took a break between books. Sometimes, I would even read two at once. I was a great lover of fiction, but my parents had a rule in the summer that I had to read a non-fiction book for every fiction one. Luckily, I was a really fast reader, and could tear through the non-fiction quickly so I could move on to the “good stuff.” I would read first thing in the morning, sometimes during meals, and before bed to unwind. I also became a great multi-tasker, reading as I brushed my teeth, blow-dried my hair, or waited for a ride home from one of my numerous after-school activities.

Fast-forward to today, when I do pretty much the same thing. Now, however, being a book junkie is much easier because of awesome technological advances like Kindles and Audible Books. People often ask me how many books I read per week or per month, and I sometimes have difficulty finding an answer. Countless? I don’t even post every book I’ve read on Goodreads, although I probably should, to keep track of them all.

There are so many benefits to filling your brain with books!

There are so many benefits to filling your brain with books!

Last night, Antonio and I were discussing how many books I devour voraciously per month, and we boiled it down to about 30. This includes the books I agree to review for other authors, some of which are short self-help books (about 30-50 pages on Kindle), as well as Audible books and other eBooks that I read for pleasure. I love the library, but find myself reading eBooks most of the time because they’re inexpensive and super-convenient to download. Plus, I adore Kindle Unlimited and am always at my 10-book limit, since I like to think ahead. :)

There are so many benefits to reading 30 books per month, and here are just a few:

  • Continual learning - I’m over my aversion to non-fiction, and have started reading “factual” books in subjects that interest me, such as psychology and real estate investment. Once we graduate from college, it’s easy to let learning take the backseat to, well, life. The danger is that your mind will stagnate. Avid readers don’t have that problem, since they embrace the beauty of learning every day from books. Audible is my medium of choice for non-fiction, and I frequently listen to motivational books, like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Guy Kawasaki, while working out at the gym.
  • Market research -  As a writer, I often read books in genres that I’m writing. Evaluating best sellers in the market allows us as writers to gauge where we fit into that niche. For example, when I decided to write my Amish series, I perused several Amish fiction eBooks. Right now, I’m writing an Amish teen novella and a contemporary teen novel about fame simultaneously, and I’ve been reading several YA books with themes of celebrities and overnight fame. Some of my favorites have been “Girl With Guitar” by Casey Quinn, “Relatively Famous” by Jessica Park, “The Accidental Movie Star” by Emily Evans, and “The Rock Star’s Daughter” by Caitlin Duffy.
  • Efficient use of time - Reading is the ideal way to kill a few minutes while you’re waiting in line or riding the train, and the fact that we can read on our mobile devices makes it so convenient! Audible books are great during a drive, or while running on the treadmill. And the best thing about reading while you wait is that the time passes so quickly and enjoyably, and your brain has grown in the process! It’s tempting to use all your “waiting time” for social media, but I always schedule some reading into the equation.
  • It’s entertaining - Reading is an awesome form of entertainment, and it’s more mentally engaging than watching TV or a movie. Antonio and I have a self-enforced 1-hour of TV per day rule, and sometimes we don’t even watch that much. Replacing some TV time with reading makes for a more active mind!
  • It expands your horizons - I love to travel, but on a day-to-day basis, reading is the next best thing. It’s incredible to immerse yourself in new worlds and become acquainted with interesting characters. And if you’re looking to learn something new, there are thousands of non-fiction books on any subject under the sun. Back to the subject of books and travel, I often enjoy reading books that take place in the region I’m traveling to, usually when I’m on the plane. For example, when I went to London, I read a book set there. Try it next time you’re going on vacation–you’ll be even more pumped when you reach your destination!

Avid readers out there, what would you say are the greatest benefits of reading? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Kindle Unlimited and Indie Authors: A Mixed Bag

by Kristina Ludwig
Jul 18
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: July 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Earlier this week, Amazon leaked its intentions to start a new program called Kindle Unlimited, which they touted as a kind of Netflix for eBooks. Today, the program has launched. In case you don’t know all the details, the program is available for $9.99 per month to U.S. customers only, and over 600,000 eBooks and 2,000 audiobooks are available to subscribers. The cheap price, combined with the 30-day free trial, makes it a no-brainer for voracious readers. In fact, I just signed up today!

Kindle Unlimited: good or bad? I think that, like most things in life, it's probably a mixture of both.

Kindle Unlimited: good or bad? I think that, like most things in life, it’s probably a mixture of both.

It truly seems that Amazon has a monopoly on eBooks. Here’s an interesting blog post with more facts about Kindle Unlimited, as well as reflections on the monopoly.

But what does this mean for authors, especially indies? Any books enrolled in KDP Select are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. I checked my book listings for confirmation, and found that this had indeed gone into effect this morning. However, authors are not forced into Kindle Unlimited; we have the option of contacting Amazon to remove our book(s) from the listings. Many books from large, traditional publishers are not available on the service, so any authors who decide to yank their books out of the program would be in good company.

Naturally, one wonders how this will affect authors’ royalties and payments. Amazon does a decent job of answering the question, stating that, “Once a customer reads more than 10% of your book, or a Kindle Owners’ Lending Library customer downloads your book, you’ll receive a share of the KDP Select Global Fund.” This, of course, raises the question of exactly how much of this fluctuating global fund we’ll actually be paid, and I suppose that remains to be seen. Here’s an awesome blog post that describes the global fund, and even includes some mathematical calculations.

I am excited to experience Amazon’s new experiment firsthand, and am curious whether Amazon’s algorithm will recommend Kindle Unlimited books more often than others. Although author payment is still a weird, gray area, the increased exposure could be an amazing benefit of the service. I’m also wondering how the availability of the service will affect eBooks’ success in the KDP Select free days. Free days have been invaluable for my books, increasing my readership and driving up sales of my paid books, and I’m hoping that they will still remain lucrative.

Readers and indie authors, what do you think about Kindle Unlimited? I’d love to hear your opinions!

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Kindle Countdown Deals Count!

by Kristina Ludwig
Jun 26
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: June 26, 2014 at 9:00 am

Last week, I ran a 48-hour Kindle Countdown Deal on my Amish Hearts Box Set: Books 1-4. This is the complete collection of all my Amish Hearts novellas, and is normally priced at $3.79. It’s always been one of my slow sellers, hovering around a rank of 100,000 on Amazon; I’ve theorized that it’s probably because the $3.79 price point is a little odd, and might seem expensive to some. However, this box set offers a cheaper price per novella than buying the books separately at 99 cents apiece or purchasing the infinitely more popular Amish Hearts Box Set: Books 1-3 for $2.99 and picking up Book 4 separately. Weird, huh? But let’s save the topic of buyer psychology for a later blog post. ;)

Kindle Countdown Deals are a relatively new addition to the KDP Select family of promotions. With Kindle Countdown Deals, authors can offer their books at a temporary discount. Because the books are cheaper and are listed on the website http://www.amazon.com/kindlecountdowndeals, they become more discoverable. Another benefit of Kindle Countdown Deals is that they allow authors to retain their usual royalty even if the price of the book is below $2.99 (the minimum price for a 70% royalty) during the promotion.

Kindle Countdown Deals sound great in theory, but even so, they’re kind of like the awkward adolescent cousin of KDP Select Free Days. They’re younger and newer, and no one seems to understand them very well yet. Before I set up my Kindle Countdown Deal, I combed other blogs to research the best ways to promote it, and I found very little–quite the contrast to the wealth of blogs about KDP Select Free Days, as well as the scores of websites and Facebook pages dedicated to advertising temporary or perma-free eBooks.

So, I devised my own promotion plan, and it worked well. I didn’t experience the runaway success of my first KDP Select Free Day promotion, but the box set did peak in the high 20,000s on Amazon–and that’s definitely a step up from 100,000. The report from Amazon showed that during the promotion, my royalty per hour on the box set rose by 240%, while my revenue per hour was hiked up by 257% since the previous week. In addition, sales on the books in my Amish Hearts spinoff series, Amish in College, rose during the promotion.

Kindle countdown deal image

So, here’s how I ran my Kindle Countdown Deal. As always, it’s a learning curve, and I’ll keep you posted as I become more successful and better acquainted with these beasts. :)

  1. I listed my book on select websites. Many websites that list “deals” (as opposed to freebies) charge for their services, but I didn’t want to use those. Instead, I promoted on a handful of websites that listed Kindle Countdown Deals for free. Some examples are eReader Utopia, Kindle Books & Tips, and  Goodreads groups like the UK Amazon Kindle Forum. I let the sites know about the deal 4 days before it started, since many websites need a little time to compile their list of featured books.
  2. I promoted the book to Facebook groups. On the first day of the Kindle Countdown Deal, I posted links to the book on several Facebook groups geared toward Kindle deals and author promotion. Here are a few that I used: Indie Author Book Promotion, Authors and Book Lovers Discussion Group, Kindle Freebies, New Authors, and other eBook Info, Book Promotion, Online Book Publicity Group, Books, Books, and More Books, There’s an eBook in the Room, and Books Gone Viral.
  3. I spread the word on social media. On the day the promotion began, I posted links to the book on my own Facebook author page, Google+, and Twitter. I also continued to post tweets throughout the promotion.
  4. I blogged about it. On the day the promotion started, I wrote a blog post about it. Blogging about your promotions is essential because it increases your searchability–it’s just one more place that your promotion can be found on the internet. Also, it allows you to reach an audience that already finds your work useful, and gives you fun new material for your blog!
  5. I sent out a newsletter. On the day the promotion began, I sent out my kristinaludwig.com newsletter. I was due to send one out anyway, and realized that this would be the perfect day for it. I kept my email conversational and non-spammy, and discussed other content that readers might find useful, such as my latest BPL episode on YouTube and the next book I’d be offering for free on Kindle. Then, after the free info, I pitched the Kindle Countdown Deal.

Other authors out there, have you tried Kindle Countdown Deals for your books? If so, did you find them useful, and what promotion techniques did you use? I’d love to hear your experiences!

They’re Here: A Kindle Countdown Deal and a Brand-New Box Set!

by Kristina Ludwig
Jun 19
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: June 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I’m excited to announce that I will be running a Kindle Countdown Deal on my Amish Hearts Box Set: Books 1-4. The deal will run from today until Saturday June 21st at 9 AM PST. Download the entire collection of 4 best selling YA Amish Romance novellas for only $1.99–that’s nearly 50% off the regular price! So, if you’re a fan of Amish fiction, YA romance, or you’re just looking for a fresh new genre to read, be sure to check out the box set while prices are low. And writers, if you’re wondering how effective Kindle Countdown Deals are and how to stage a successful one, we’ll find out together–I’ll post next week about my experiences with the promotion, and steps I took to get the word out about my Kindle Countdown Deal.

In other news, I’ve just released a new box set, the Amish in College Box Set: Books 1-3. In this dramatic series, Rebekah and friends face the challenges of growing up, and must answer difficult questions of faith, love, and career. I think you’ll love having Rebekah’s Book, Hannah’s Book, and Samuel’s Book all in one place–and you’ll be ready for Book 4, Amish Baker: Mercy’s Book, coming soon to Kindle! Check out the cover of the box set, designed by Antonio Challita. What do you think?

Amish in College Box Set 1-3 Cover

 

Finally, this Friday and Saturday, June 20th and 21st, my first-ever teen short story, A First Time for Everything, will be free! If you’re looking for a fun and quick beach read, this is it. Until next time, happy reading and/or writing. I’ll talk to you next week!

Valentine’s Day Books: Not Just for Kids

by Kristina Ludwig
Feb 14
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: February 14, 2014 at 9:47 am

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! V-day has always been one of my fave holidays. When I was little, I loved the heart-shaped cookies with shiny icing, conversation hearts, and valentine cards from my family and friends…and the beautiful cameo chocolate my dad brought home for me every year. As a teen, I adored the color scheme and overall sparkly, girly theme of the holiday, the surprise “love” notes and flowers from not-so-secret admirers, and, of course, the candy. V-day during my school years was always associated with a sugar high. And now, of course, V-day is the most special of holidays for my husband Antonio and me. What’s better than a celebration of love, after all?

Naturally, being such a V-day enthusiast, I searched Amazon for books related to the holiday, and most of the ones I found with direct Valentine’s Day themes were for children. However, in my opinion, Valentine’s Day books are not just for kids!

I have written about Valentine’s Day in two of my eight YA eBooks, which are read by teens and adults alike. My first-ever eBook, Unlucky 13, takes place over the course of a year in the life of thirteen year-old Jordyn, and has an entire chapter devoted to her Valentine’s Day hijinks. And as I wrote my Amish Hearts books, each of which are set in a different season, I decided that the best way to wrap up the series would be with a book taking place around Valentine’s Day.

First, I had to do some research about the Amish and Valentine’s Day. I wondered if, being relatively non-demonstrative people, they would celebrate a holiday of hugs and kisses. Luckily, there are a wealth of Amish blogs out there, and I found that Amish do celebrate the holiday, although differently than us Englischers. Here’s an interesting article about an ex-Amish woman’s recollections of V-day.

My research confirmed my first instincts about the Amish and V-day; they don’t go out for fancy dinners and movies, but they do have special Valentine’s Day treats (i.e. cookies, cakes), and their children exchange valentines and sweets in school. They also have many winter community activities, such as ice-skating and sled-riding parties, many of which are geared to teens on Rumspringa.

There, I had the foundation for Book 4 of Amish Hearts, Amish Valentine. It’s free today, 2/14/14! In it, sixteen year-old Mercy, an almost pathologically flirty Amish girl, decides she’s finally ready to settle down…with Samuel, the sweet, smart Amish boy she’s fallen in love with. The only problem: Samuel hasn’t forgiven her since he saw her kissing the English boy last fall, and he’s even starting to court another girl! With the help of her twin sister Rebekah, Mercy concocts a perfect plan  to get Samuel back in time for the Valentine’s Day sled riding party. But will her plan work? Will Mercy have the Amish Valentine of her dreams? If you love V-day as much as I do, be sure to check it out!

 

Amish Valentine is free Valentine's Day 2/14/14!

Amish Valentine is free Valentine’s Day 2/14/14!

The Beauty of Box Sets: 5 Reasons to Combine Your Series into a Box Set

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 30
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 30, 2014 at 9:54 am

Yesterday, I released my first-ever box set on Amazon! It contains the first three novellas of the Amish Hearts series: Rumspringa Break, Amish Summer, and Mercy’s Fall.

Here's the book cover of the new Amish Hearts boxed set!

Here’s the book cover of the new Amish Hearts boxed set!

Naturally, before I released my box set, I did some market research–and couldn’t believe how many box sets are out there in the Amish fiction genre alone! Box sets might contain anywhere from three to 45 stories (in the case of the prolific Becca Fisher). Some are priced near $10.00, while others are only 99 cents.

In such a diverse market, it’s often difficult to decide how to price, design, and promote a box set, and I’m learning more about those things every day. I decided to price my box set at $2.99–low enough to be appealing but high enough to reap the rewards of the 70% royalty, and I’m using word-of-mouth (and social media) promotion during the launching period, much as I did for my other eBooks.

Why do authors like box sets so much? And why do readers love them? If you’re writing a series, should you jump on the bandwagon? Here are 5 reasons to combine your series into a box set.

  1. There’s more likelihood fans will read all the books in order - Many times, fans will read the eBooks of a series in no particular order, especially when they’re discovering a new author. But let’s face it: it’s always a better experience to read the books of a series in order, and box sets ensure that will happen.
  2. It’s one more product for your list of books - The best way for authors to build more fans is by putting out new material; your discoverability as an author will increase with each new book released.
  3. You can release a new revenue-generating book without actually writing new material - You’ve already done the hard stuff: written the books, had them edited, commissioned the covers. Creating a box set is quick, easy, and profitable. It’s really the only time an indie author can be lazy. :) That’s why everything from books to music to movies is available in box sets.
  4. It gets fans pumped for the next book of the series - If your fans read and liked the first books of your series in the box set, they’ll be hanging–and eagerly awaiting the next one. Or, if you’ve included your entire series as a box set, make sure to attach an excerpt from one of your other new books at the end. Reading is addictive, and you should always give your readers their fix.
  5. Fans see bundles as cost-effective - Fans like box sets for the same reason shoppers like BOGO deals or buying in bulk at Costco: they see them as economical!

So there you have it…5 reasons to combine your books into a box set. Authors out there, have you ever released a box set? How were the sales of your box set compared to the stand-alone books? Can you think of any other reasons to love box sets? As always, I welcome your feedback!

99 Cents Is the New $2.99: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of eBook Pricing

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 27
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 27, 2014 at 10:22 am

eBooks have increased in popularity by leaps and bounds over the last few years. In fact, sales are up 4,456% since 2008! And why not? They’re accessible, they’re delivered instantly, there’s a wide variety to choose from…and they’re cheap.

KDP Select free days and Kindle Countdown Deals are the current trends on Amazon. Kindle Countdown Deals allow authors to discount their eBooks priced at $2.99 or higher for up to 7 days per 90 day KDP Select period. The book must be discounted by at least $1.00, and the minimum price with discount is $0.99. Authors like Kindle Countdown Deals because they continue to receive a 70% royalty on the books sold during this period — even if the books are priced lower than $2.99, the usual 70% royalty cutoff. And, of course, readers like Kindle Countdown Deals because they can get deep discounts on their favorite books.

cheap ebook

There’s a definite discount vibe that has pervaded the eBook industry in the past few years. When I published my first eBook in December 2011, most eBooks were priced at $2.99. However, in subsequent years, the hot price point has decreased to $0.99. Today, many full-length novels only cost $0.99 — in essence, 99 cents is the new $2.99. And with the advent of KDP Select free days, free eBooks have become so common that free is like the new 99 cents.

Free and cheap eBooks are awesome for readers. Low pricing allows them to take a chance on new authors or genres, and with the KDP Select free days, savvy consumers can download eBooks without ever paying a penny.

Many authors appreciate the concept of 99 cent and free eBooks as well. For new authors, low pricing is the perfect way to get their names out there and deliver their work into the hands of readers. When I first began publishing eBooks, I saw the 99 cent price point as my gateway; sell tons of cheap eBooks, and readers would be more likely to buy my later books priced at $2.99 or higher. But while it’s been relatively easy for my 99 cent books to rank in the top 10,000s on most days, I’m still working on cracking the $2.99 code.

Some authors, however, detest the cheapening of eBooks. Sometimes, I find myself falling into that camp. After all, writers are artists, crafting pictures with words. We spend weeks or months on our manuscripts, capturing the images and stories in our minds that just have to be told. We spend even more time honing those manuscripts, submitting them to editors, making changes, and doing the finishing touches. We hire cover designers, because people really do judge a book by its cover. We do keyword and SEO research to find the most discoverable category for our books. And then we promote the heck out of those books. I’ve said it before, and I’ll reiterate it here: indie authors aren’t just artists, they’re small business entrepreneurs. And the Walmart-esque standard of “everyday low prices” on our eBooks sometimes drives me crazy. No artist wants to feel like his or her art is cheapened.

What do you think about the trends in eBook pricing: good, bad, or ugly? I’d love to hear your opinions!

 

 

Winner of the Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway Announced!

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 7
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 7, 2014 at 10:16 am

Today, I’m excited to announce the lucky winner of my first-ever reader giveaway, the “Buy Winner & Win” Contest!

But I don’t want to ruin the surprise here. Tune in to my YouTube channel for a short video where I randomly select and announce the winner of the brand-new Kindle Paperwhite!

Kristina Ludwig Contest