Episode 180 – Kobo Audiobooks, AMS Advice, and Scammer Crackdowns

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Question of the Week: How much would your earnings have to drop to consider going wide instead of in KU? Also, would you consider leaving if Amazon’s actions against the scammers aren’t effective? Why or why not?

What’s your KU pain point? Jim and Bryan ask the big questions this week on Episode 180. After thanking their patrons Guardian of the Brail, Achieve Anything in Just One Year, and How to Drive Your Next Car Deal, the Towers of Publishing Power discussed tips on paperback preorders, rookie publishing mistakes, and a new email swap service. News stories included teaching self-publishing to high schoolers, David Gaughran’s wish list for Amazon Ads, Rip Van Winkle syndrome for midlisters, tips for Amazon Ads, Kobo’s new audiobook platform, and Amazon’s lawsuits to stop scammers. This week’s Question of the Week: How much would your earnings have to drop to consider going wide instead of in KU? Also, would you consider leaving if Amazon’s actions against the scammers aren’t effective? Why or why not?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How authors can synchronize their launch dates across online retailers
  • What are the most common rookie mistakes and how to avoid them
  • How authors can boost their readership with a free email swap service
  • How one teacher inspired a new generation of self-published authors
  • What changes Amazon Marketing Services should make to improve its platform
  • Why the indie community needs to prepare for a new wave of writers
  • How to make sure your Amazon Ads are performing their best
  • What audiobook enthusiasts can expect from Kobo’s subscription service
  • How Amazon plans to crack down on Kindle Direct Publishing scammers

get show updates

  • I’ve already gone wide with all my books, so no longer in KU. I have too many readers wanting to purchase my books on Kobo, iBooks and other channels.

    • Bryan

      Listening to your readers. Probably a good thing to do :).

  • Crissy Moss

    For me it’s less about the scammers and more about the fact that my page reads on KU have just dropped to zero over the last couple of months. So I’m going wide with some of my books, setting a few of the short stories up as perma free, and seeing what that does for me. It’s all about trying new strategies. But mainly, I’m focusing on finishing the next series.

    • Bryan

      Trying new strategies with what you’ve got and finishing the new books is a good plan :).

  • Good first steps by Amazon, but it seems there are two types of scammers at work (at a minimum). There are the people who put up bogus or shoddy books and then use their click farms to get page reads, then there are legit authors who pay ‘marketing companies’ to get them ranks and reads.

    The first is hard to sue, like Jim says. With the second you can at least go after the author, assuming they know what they’re getting into. I’m just not sure how much damage is being done by the second compared to the first. Maybe David Gaughran has an idea how they rank against each other on the scam scale.

    Amazon clearly doesn’t care all that much about these click farms or they’d hire a couple of interns to keep an eye out on the numbers and squash them as soon as they pop up. I doubt it’s hard.

    • Bryan

      But how could they spare any interns when they’re putting up signs at Whole Foods?!

  • Laura Martone

    Although I’m heartened by the fact that Amazon is FINALLY trying to track down and punish scammers, I share Jim’s pragmatism (pessimism?) that it’s impossible for even the Mighty Zon to find and stop them all, especially if they don’t live in America. Yes, I despise scammers – and resent the money they siphon away from hard-working, rule-abiding authors – but that said, as a newbie author (with only two co-written novels on Amazon), I worry less about making money from KU and rely on it more for discoverability. While I can’t speak for Dan – my other half – I suspect he’d agree with me… that, until we have a complete series or at least a larger backlist, Amazon exclusivity is the way to go for us, particularly as we grow our audience.

    • Bryan

      I think a lot of people are in the same boat, Laura. Thanks for the comment :).

  • I’m already 100% wide. So… I mean, you realistically can’t think that Amazon will continue to pay better than everyone else. As soon as they’ve beaten competition down to almost nothing they’ll “own” the indie market and can set the pricing. They’ll pay us whatever they want, because where else will you go? Unless we make an effort to go wide and put as much content out as many places as possible as we can. As long as we’re supplying the content, we can set the tone.

    • Bryan

      We need that competition, like Jim always says!

  • Exclusivity with Amazon isn’t just about KU earnings. It’s also about access to Kindle Countdown Deals and their free promotion options. Those are incredible tools for building up a readership; using them strategically has done a lot for my author brand. Yes, a good chunk of my income is from KU sales, which sweetens my love of being exclusive, but having those numbers go down wouldn’t a motivation for me to jump ship.

    As for the scammers issue, there is no solution to it. Period. Con artists and scammers have been around forever and will continue to be around. Whenever you fix a loophole or eliminate one scam, they just find another. I’m glad that Amazon is trying to protect against the scammers, but I also don’t think that scammers are so prevalent that they’re basically crashing the system and making it unprofitable for honest writers. No, the sky isn’t falling. Not today.

    • Bryan

      That’s a good point, M.A., there are definitely some perks in addition to pages read.

      The sky definitely isn’t falling!

  • TheCreativePenn

    An important correction on the audiobook story – you can create your audiobook on ACX as NON-EXCLUSIVE, then you can publish audio elsewhere. As I do for several of my audiobooks – and The Successful Author Mindset is now on Kobo audio as well as Audible etc.
    So the key is to go NON-EXCLUSIVE with ACX – yes, lower royalties on Audible, but wider distribution. The file type is exactly the same – mp3.
    Thanks guys!

    • Bryan

      That’s what my understanding was. Non-exclusive is how I plan to go with the ones I have coming out. Jo, have you gotten any books up through Kobo or Findaway Voices yet?

      • TheCreativePenn

        You can’t do the Kobo direct thing easily yet – apparently it’s coming. I used Authors Republic for my non-exclusive so far. I haven’t used Findaway.

        • Bryan

          Got it. Thanks! 🙂

  • I’m wondering if Jim’s reference to someone making 50k a month is the wrong one. A writer who’s monthly has gone from 5k to 4k and further drops endanger the mortgage payment may have a very different perspective on this question.

  • NA Dixon

    I have not published yet, but considering all the comments here I am definitely going to go wide. I’d rather give value to more readers and make less money. Shame that scammers think otherwise but there’s always going to be people like that everywhere.

    • The KU scammers will scam whether you’re in KU or not.

      I think that’s a natural feeling to want to go wide after hearing these stories, but unfortunately it doesn’t work the way many people think it does. If you make less money then it means you’ve given value to fewer readers. You get paid about the same for a KU read as you do for a purchase, so if you make less money by going wide, then it means fewer readers have read your book.

      It’s confusing because a lot of people assume that when readers don’t find it in KU they will just purchase it, but that seems to be rarely true unless you have a popular book that people are actively searching for. Even then, popular books that go wide might see a bump in Amazon sales, but it doesn’t seem to come close to an amount that would replace KU borrows, so fewer readers on Amazon alone.

      KU is almost a standalone, separate marketplace that just happens to be ON Amazon. People go into it and look for books, just like they do on Apple, Kobo, or Nook. Many authors find that they ‘sell’ more books and make more money in KU than they do in all the other stores combined.

  • Jason Riou

    Aha! This is why Amazon sent me an email. Amazon doesn’t want me to jump ship for Kobo.

    I can now run my Audible account through Amazon.ca (Canada) for the same price as Amazon.com. It costs me $1.20 for each American dollar, so this is a decent savings for Canadians. Especially consuming 4 or 5 Audioboooks a month.

    Thanks for the news on this. I’ll no longer be buying credits beyond my subscription, I’ll just subscribe to Kobo audio as well.

    • Bryan

      Nice! Hooray for Canadian savings!!