To KDP Select or Not to KDP Select

This post is targeted particularly at writers (and even more specifically indie writers). I’m about to get a little technical about things, which will probably be very boring if it does not apply to you… fair warning. ūüėČ

While working up Broken I came to a decision point: did I want to use Kindle Direct Publishing Select, or did I want to just do Kindle publishing + extended distribution on Smashwords? For those who are unfamiliar with the topic (and for those who are coming here specifically looking for a discussion on it), KDP Select is an optional agreement that an indie author can make with Amazon when they publish their ebook. Opting in to KDP Select gives Amazon 90 days of exclusivity on your ebook, meaning that you cannot e-publish your book on any other web-based outlets (Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Wattpad, personal blogs, etc.) during the KDP Select period. During this time you make a 70% royalty on all sales and your book must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 Рno more and no less (this obviously limits the utility of using Select with shorter works better suited for a $0.99 price range). Once the exclusivity period is over you can either continue with KDP Select (automatic enrollment is selected when you start unless you change it) or choose to go with regular old KDP, the latter of which would allow you to then publish on other outlets as you would normally. It should be noted that none of these agreements affect print books, so you can do KDP Select and publish a paperback copy on Createspace without problems.

Amazon’s exclusivity alone would be rather meaningless if it did not come with some advantages, of course. In exchange for not publishing your ebook in other places, Amazon allows you access to certain promotional tools. You can choose to either list your book as free for 5 days¬†(which¬†can be spread throughout your 30 day enrollment period) or use a relatively new feature called Kindle Countdown Deals. During a countdown deal, you set your book price lower than the usual list price (even as low as $0.99)¬†while retaining the 70% royalty rate for a period of 1 hour to 5 days. During the course of the countdown deal the price slowly goes up. Amazon has a special section where it advertises countdown deals, which gives your book more visibility – some authors have claimed increases of more than 900% in their sales from countdown deals alone without additional advertising, which is pretty hefty. As a caveat,¬†you can only use a countdown period once during your 90 days. In other words, even if you only do a 1-hour countdown, once you use it you cannot use another countdown until your next enrollment period (as opposed to the free days which you can break up and use over time). You also cannot use both free promotions and countdown deals in the same period – you must choose one or the other.

Free days by themselves garner quite a bit of attention. When I had¬†Tragedy in KDP Select I ran some free days, and each time I did I saw more than 100 downloads. Of course, the issue with this is that many readers¬†will just troll for free books to download which they may or may not ever read, and this doesn’t always generate fans. Even if it¬†does generate genuine readers, it doesn’t necessarily help your sales if you don’t have any other books out yet. I think that KDP Select probably helped¬†Tragedy early on, but honestly I feel that the best thing to do to increase¬†sales is to produce more work. This is of course based on what I’ve read from other authors more than anything – I’m still trying to get to where I have multiple novels, novellas, and short stories out there.

As you can see, KDP Select comes with some obvious pros and cons. The promotions can be useful to spring a relatively unknown book into the hands of readers, but you can only choose one kind of promotion to do per period. You cannot sell on other outlets, and you have to price your book at a minimum of $2.99, which may or may not be reasonable for your particular work.

In the case of¬†Broken I’ve been rather torn on the subject.¬†Broken is on the short end for a novella at 18,000 words (20k if you count the bonus material), so $2.99 is a bit of a stretch. However, I am very proud of this particular novella, and I don’t think that $2.99 is wholly unreasonable considering the quality and time spent, it just might be hard in a market where there are¬†so many free and $0.99 books. I’m also already on the other outlets with Tragedy and¬†Fathers and Sons, so it seems a little odd to have this one novella exclusive to Amazon.

In the end it’s only 90 days, though. If I go with a $2.99 pricepoint through KDP Select and it¬†doesn’t¬†work, and even if the promos do not help me whatsoever, I can open things up to other outlets and lower the price after one period. Some other authors have been successful with KDP Select novellas, as well, which has helped nudge me over the edge into trying it. It’s very hard to go with multiple distributors and then condense back to just Amazon, so this is a decision I will only be able to make once – I may as well give it a shot.

There you have a basic rundown of KDP regular vs. KDP Select, and my reasons for going Select with Broken in particular. I hope it was helpful!

In other news, I would like to congratulate¬†Chris B., Julia W., and CJ R. for winning the¬†Broken giveaway! For those who entered and did not win, please do check out the novella which releases on 6/26. Since I have decided on KDP Select there¬†will be some deals ahead, and you will be the first to know. ūüôā

Peace and long life.

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Official Novel Release Statement – Forsaken Lands, Book 1: Tragedy now on Kindle

Tragedy CoverForsaken Lands, Book 1: Tragedy Available on Amazon

You heard that right, my friends. The day has come – the book is released. Well, technically it was released on 10/8, but I wanted to get it up, put it out there on Facebook, and have something fancy to offer newcomers to the blog (namely a free promotion day). So far the reception has been positive. Synopsis as follows:

Teveres and Aiasjia could not be more dissimilar. Raised in poverty at the merciless hand of her mother, Aia is a powerful healer disgraced by her profession and outcast from her home city of Nivenea. Teveres is the privileged son of Ilvan‚Äôs High Priest whose startling ability to kill with only his mind leads to the brutal murder of his entire family. Though they do not know it, Aia and Teveres are linked by their strange abilities ‚Äď they represent a once-revered minority of the population known as the Deldri, individuals gifted by the gods with extraordinary power. It was thought that the Deldri lived on only in legend‚Ķ until now.

When the leaders of Elseth’s Lands disappear and Aia and Teveres are captured by the warring Kaldari people, they are thrust into a whirlwind of politics, religion and subterfuge which has been quietly destroying their homeland since before they were born. Together with a peculiar young baron and a renegade Kaldari mercenary, they must grow beyond their weaknesses to discover their roles in the fate of nations.

Review requests are out and the print edition is in process. It’s kind of awesome. No, really awesome. I don’t expect to make big bucks, of course, but just having it out there feels fantastic. I can’t wait to start really getting to work on Book 2, and I’m planning on a few interesting extras to be released on the blog in the coming weeks.

Excited? I know I am. If you’re moved to do it, please review it (hell, that even rhymes!).

Self-Promotion: The Hardest Part

Before I get into my ‘click here, check this out’ portion of the post, I would like to give you a token of my appreciation. Several of you have been liking these blog posts and following along – it’s not much, but it’s a start, and I appreciate each one of you. For those who are interested I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Elden, one of the lesser but still very important characters from Tragedy. Enjoy the sneak peak!

    Elden leaned his weight against the newly-stained wooden banister, looking out over the bar scene below. He swirled the tincture of fire in his glass as he watched from his perch. The establishment, while not necessarily new, was well-kept and recently repainted. Smoke and soft chatter wafted up to his quiet indoor balcony, keeping him company like an old friend. A young woman played a pleasant song her violin against the far wall, just beyond his view. Two bartenders worked in tandem behind the L-shaped bar, a handful of young people gathered around ordering drinks and talking. The tall bar tables were abandoned at the periphery Рeveryone wanted to be close to everyone else, except him. Solitude suited him.

¬†¬† ¬† Taking a drag from the minty Covash smoke between his lips, he smiled to himself. While most of the dozen-or-so people in the room were having a good time, there was discord off to the corner of that bar between the slender, fair-haired Willow and her painfully thin summer-colored boyfriend, Douglass. Willow was on the offense again, her tree twig finger pointed squarely at Douglass’s chest while Douglass hand his hands open, his whole body curved away from her. Elden could read the cluelessness plain on Douglass’s face.

¬†¬†¬† It would have been easier to feel bad for the sap if he wasn’t the thousandth man in Vail to get tangled up with Willow. Elden made it with her for a solid week before Willow’s malicious nature drove him away. It was all well enough – the sex was good, and he only expected to get a night or two out of it at the maximum. He considered the experience overall as a win.

    Douglass, on the other hand, was never the brightest kid in Vail. He had an undying belief in one day finding a woman and having a family, even as he destroyed his body with covash and lylic. He was the last of the romantics.

¬†¬†¬† In the year since he arrived in Vail Elden had made many acquaintances, but no real friends. To even think that he might someday find a person to settle down with was preposterous. He had yet to meet a man or woman who could accept the fluid nature of his existence. Six years ago at the age of 16 he left his home in the border town of Chall to travel the world. In that time he had lived in at least a dozen different places. Each time he found a place to stay, something seemed to happen. He would save someone falling off a roof, or he would shatter the entire bar’s stock of glassware, and suddenly wherever he was living lost its hospitable charm. Surviving an entire year in Vail without incident was nothing short of miraculous.

    Elden glanced about his dark little corner, a six-foot-long space with two broken down tables and sets of chairs. Only card-players ever came up to the balcony, and even then only on third nights. No one ever bothered him when he took over the space. He tossed back the rest of his drink, distantly missing the way it used to burn his throat. Too many years of drinking the swill numbed him to the sensation. Even the energizing buzz from the tincture’s herbs barely touched him anymore; they only served to keep him sane.

¬†¬†¬† Night air blew through as the front door opened below him. At the base of the staircase to his dark, abandoned balcony was the doorway to the outside, and in the doorway stood an intriguing young woman. Her auburn hair was spun back in a bun to reveal wide cheekbones. Underneath her cloak she was dressed in the work clothes of a healer, or perhaps an engineer – he could never tell the two apart. He could visualize her curves, the kind he hadn’t ever seen on one of the local girls. She had to be either a traveler or new to the town.

    He almost yelped when she looked up at him like she could hear him thinking. Her eyes were striking Рthe color of new spring lilacs, with a sheen of intelligence. She screwed up her lips to one side of her face thoughtfully. As quickly as she commanded his attention she suddenly broke from it, approaching the bar to place her order.

    She maintained a forcefield-like barrier between herself and the others around her. No one came close or spoke to her. She watched them, just as he watched them. She sat there a few minutes examining the others around her before her drink arrived and she turned her attention back on him.

¬†¬†¬† His curiosity sufficiently piqued, Elden took one last puff from his light before he gripped the edge of the banister and hopped over it to the stairs below. He was not a large man, standing 5’11” with the physique of someone who clearly spent more coin on tincture than bread. His boots landed softly on the wood, calling for glances from only a handful of patrons who quickly shrugged it off. They expected such things of him anymore. Vail was getting too comfortable with his presence.

¬†¬†¬† The girl kept sidelong eyes on him, a mug of ale in her hand. Her intensity was almost a deterrent, the way she analyzed him without a word. He put on his best lazy, alluring half-grin, to make it look like he didn’t notice. Men and women instinctively moved away when he walked up beside her. It was for best, for certain; if they didn’t move, he would have had to push them. No one enjoyed that.

    Domini, the large, black-haired bartender at that side of the bar gave Elden a casual wave.

¬†¬†¬† “Need anything E?” Domini’s booming voice asked.

¬†¬†¬† Elden shook his head, strands of slightly-too-long golden brown hair brushing over his eyes. “Good here Dom.”

¬†¬†¬† The girl was amused even by his brief exchange with the bartender. She raised one eyebrow, sipping her ale delicately like she might sip tea. “Can I help you with something, then?” she asked. In her voice he could hear the hint of an accent, one he’d heard from people raised outside the cities. A country girl.

¬†¬†¬† “Might be,” said Elden. He offered a hand to her, which she shook with a light touch, her pale skin contrasting against his olive-tan hands. “You must not be from here.”

¬†¬†¬† “I’m from Alta,” she said smoothly, withdrawing the hand. With her accent it was unlikely she was from Alta, a sizable city on the Kaldari border, but it was no matter. “Came here for work.”

¬†¬†¬† “Oh yeah? What sorta work?”

¬†¬†¬† “Not the kind you’re looking for,” she said with a laugh.

¬†¬†¬† Feigning insult, Elden guffawed. “Have I said something unwelcome? I don’t think so.”

¬†¬†¬† “No, you haven’t said anything of that sort.”

¬†¬†¬† The way she responded was curious, like someone who was lying by omission. If he were looking for something serious, he would have walked away immediately. He could see that she was trouble on legs. It didn’t stop him with Willow, either.

¬†¬†¬† “You’re not in here looking to make friends, are you?” he challenged her.

¬†¬†¬† “Neither are you,” she used a grating matter-of-fact tone, “I’m an alchemist, since you really want to know.”

¬†¬†¬† “So you’re here to fix the town.”

¬†¬†¬† “Town would have to want fixing.” She look him up and down critically. “So would you.”

¬†¬†¬† “Nothing broken here, hon.” He gestured with flourish, “I’m the most put-together guy you’ll find in Vail, that’s a fact.”

¬†¬†¬† “Oh, no doubt,” She laughed at a private joke. “Where are you from?”

¬†¬†¬† “Nivenea,” he lied.

¬†¬†¬† “I spent a while there,” she said. “Nice place. Why’d you leave?”

¬†¬†¬† “That many gifted people in one place makes me nervous.” Half-truth, this time. He was gifted himself, but not in any way that people respected. His parents were gifted, too, but like most of the divinely gifted, they had a narrow definition for who did and did not fit in their world view. Elden was never able to meet that standard.

¬†¬†¬† “So what do you do here?”

¬†¬†¬† Grow covash and piss on the law. “Handy man. I do whatever people need.”

    A subtly as he could manage, he used his mind’s eye to travel the outline of her body. He pulled her towards him only by a half centimeter, gently. It was something he had done a hundred times before on other potential partners; usually the slight decrease in distance between them encouraged discussion.

¬†¬†¬† She was the first person to ever react to it directly. She jerked, pushing further away from him. His mind’s feather-touch disintegrated against any amount of her strength. The sizzle of anger was in her eyes when she looked at him.

¬†¬†¬† She couldn’t know it was him, could she? No one else ever had. Coincidence, maybe. Either way, his interest evaporated. He was hunting for deer; she was a panther.

¬†¬†¬† “Well, it’s been lovely, but I have places to be,” he winked, “Handy work and all that.”

¬†¬†¬† Before he could turn away she grabbed his wrist, her fingers locked tightly against his skin. She narrowed her eyes. “What’s your name?”

¬†¬†¬† “Elden,” he blurted unintentionally, and regretted it. Something told him that he didn’t want her to know his real name. “What’s yours?”

¬†¬†¬† “Delia.” She abruptly let go.

¬†¬†¬† An awkward pause grew between them. He didn’t know what to do with his hands or his face. After several long seconds he finally withdrew from her. He saluted Dom casually on his way to the door, walking slowly even while he wanted to bolt.

¬†¬†¬† I know what you are, an unwelcome voice intruded on his thoughts. It sounded like Delia’s voice, but she had not spoken. He physically shook himself all over to clear his brain, bewildered. He’d had hallucinations before, but rarely were they so clear.

¬†¬† Maybe he needed to slow it down after all. Folks said that years of tincture could cause strange reactions in people, and he was coming up on 4 years of a bad habit. He banged the bar door open, letting the icy air filled his lungs. He didn’t look back.

Now to the shameless plug part of this post. ūüėČ I don’t like always doing straight-up promotion posts (and I hope that I haven’t been boring you with too many of those), but I feel like it’s worth noting that my short story Fathers and Sons has been re-uploaded with a chapter from Forsaken Lands attached to the end. If you haven’t already picked it up, it’s only $0.99 on Amazon. If you like it, please review!

On the novel front,¬†I’ve been making some headway on¬†Forsaken Lands 2 as well as doing more cleanup editing on¬†Tragedy with the help of my husband. I will be uploading it to Amazon as soon as the cleanup and the cover are finished. Although I will be out of town on a job next month, I will continue my work on the editing and try to get in a blog post or two. It is my sincere hope that I can get the novel out by the end of September (if not earlier).

To those following and liking this blog, I thank you for listening. Please chime in if you want to hear more or less of what I’ve been talking about. The feminism post was pretty popular, so I might do another post like that in the near future.

Peace and long life, friends.