Salamander, you spurred me to do some more Googling, and I'll stipulate to KU downloads lifting sales ranking. But it's still a phantom increase for authors, since no actual sales royalties accrue to us. Moreover, I've found that my payments for pages read, even when that number is in five figures are so minuscule as to be nearly meaningless. For me, the satisfaction comes from knowing that strangers are reading my book. Since Friday, for example, KU/KOLL downloaders have read more than 700 pages of my novel. That could account for a single reader (the ebook is over 900 KENP in length) or multiple readers; I of course have no clue.
Steve Shender wrote:
Joseph, when was the last time you participated in Kindle Select? I published for the first time on Amazon (or anywhere) and signed up for Kindle Select in Dec. 2016. There was a time when Amazon paid authors for KU downloads and KOLL borrows, but they changed their system sometime before I published. When I started, they were paying for pages read by KU/KOLL members/borrowers. So it no longer matters how many times an ebook is downloaded with KU or KOLL, the downloads don't count as sales, and the pages read don't figure in sales rankings. Amazon has set up something called a "Global Fund." They report monthly on how many millions of dollars are in this fund. I surmise that the money represents a portion their monthly Kindle Unlimited revenues. Essentially this is a pot of money that is divided among all participating authors. Since the size of the kitty is finite, KU/KOLL earnings are a zero-sum proposition. If my book garners more pages read than yours, or vice-versa, one of us gets less money. In contrast, with payment by the download, you wouldn't have been competing with other authors for a portion of a fixed pot of cash. Which arrangement was operative when you participated in Kindle Unlimited?
Your question was about ranking, not payment mechanism. As I understand things today, a KU borrow will bump your rank but pay you nothing. Once pages-read are actually reported back to Amazon (if they are), then you are paid per page read, but these reads do not affect ranking.
I understand. But I cannot find anything on Amazon indicating that sales rank includes anything other than actual sales. This is what they say about how they calculate it: "When we calculate Best Sellers Rank, we consider the entire sales history of a book." Nowhere do they say that KU/KOLL downloads count toward "sales history." When you run a free promotion for an otherwise pay-to-download Kindle book, per Amazon: "if you enroll in KDP Select, your book will have a ranking in the Free list during its free promotional period. Once the free promotion is over, your book's previous Paid rank will influence its new rank when it enters the Paid categories again." Amazon distinguishes between free books and paid books downloaded in the Kindle store and distinguishes free-book rankings from paid-book rankings. When you check on your sales under "Reports," you can select to see paid books ordered, or free books ordered, or both. You will not find anything that tells you how many times your ebook has been downloaded by KU subscribers or KOLL members. Moreover, KDP reports have separate tabs for ebook royalties and KENP read, suggesting that Amazon distinguishes between them (also, between free-book promotions in the Kindle Store and pages read by KU/KOLL readers). Based on this, and barring any word to the contrary from Amazon, I will stick with my contention that Amazon sales rankings are reflective of sales that yield royalties and that KU/KOLL downloads do not impact sales rankings one way or the other, except to the extent that they may cannibalize actual sales. In other words, I prefer to follow the money.
Randy, if your book sold just 1 copy you can contact us with screenshots and we can do prorated refund in store credit
Here is rank tracking for your book: http://trackmyrank.com/B075JTHK28/
Promotion was 16th to 20th with sales on 16th to 21st
It was promoted in Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo and sales from all stores are counted
92% of $0.99 book promotion hit the target or exceed it. Only 8% miss. Children's books are quite erratic and they miss more often than 8%
My response: During this time, I can account for all but one of the sales. These are from friends, family, and my critique group. As I previously said, only one sale during this time cannot be attributed to my direct efforts to market the book. I'm not interested in a store credit so I can run another ineffective campaign. I am merely reporting my personal experience with this marketing option. I advise against it. The promotion did not just miss the target -- it failed to achieve any reasonable success at all.
Steve Shender wrote:
Salamander, you spurred me to do some more Googling, and I'll stipulate to KU downloads lifting sales ranking. But it's still a phantom increase for authors, since no actual sales royalties accrue to us. Moreover, I've found that my payments for pages read, even when that number is in five figures are so minuscule as to be nearly meaningless. For me, the satisfaction comes from knowing that strangers are reading my book. Since Friday, for example, KU/KOLL downloaders have read more than 700 pages of my novel. That could account for a single reader (the ebook is over 900 KENP in length) or multiple readers; I of course have no clue.If
Most rankings are illusory as well as "phantom," whether up or down, and they're ephemeral because they change every hour. Sales and borrows can push your book higher in the rankings, but so the lack of sales/ borrows of others. Books in genre rankings can be affected by other writers publishing or unpublishing. Timing is also a factor. Rankings can't really be tied to a specific number of books sold or borrowed, despite the claims of those with a vested interest in various software applications.If
As to page reads, you have a good-sized book for the program, but you'll never know how many people have borrowed or how many are reading, nor is it important. If knowing how many people have your book, then you might consider opting out of Select and just selling. Of course, the advantage of Select is that you know that people definitely are reading, something you can never know with sales -- most readers have far more books in their libraries than they've actually read.
You never ever contacted us to say there was only 1 sale from us, and that rest were accounted for by your friends and family and critique group
You never contacted us to say the promotion missed, or how many sales there were
You never emailed us saying - by my calculations only 1 sale was from you, and rest were friends and family and critique group, and instead of store credit I want prorated refund in cash
There is absolutely no way we could know this - that all sales except for 1 came from your family and friends and your critique group
that you want cash refund as you think store credit would not work/might not work
You never contacted us and never discussed it with us, so we never had a chance to solve the issue. If you were to read our Refund Policy page we do prorated refund in cash in exceptional circumstances
Your case where all sales other than 1 sales happened to your friends and family and critique group would perhaps fall under that. However, you never contacted us
92% of books promoted at $0.99 hit the target
For the 8% that miss most don't miss by much and authors are happy to use store credit and run again and get the remaining sales
1% to 2% of books miss by a lot, and unfortunately your book fell into that category. For most of those cases a different book from the author does fine. Rest we do prorated refund in cash as we have no interest in taking money from an author if results are missing. The whole point of the prorated refund in store credit is that it keeps us focused on getting good results for authors
Regardless of what marketing channel you look at, there will always be a few books that don't click with that marketing channel
Children's Books is not a big genre for us and books sometimes miss. It's unfortunate your book got only 1 sale - We cannot resolve the issue if you don't contact us
We would understand everything you are writing if you had contacted us and we'd refused the store credit or something of that nature. As you never contacted us we don't know what to think
Dispute rate is less than 0.5%. So it's not as if many books miss
92% of books hit the target. For the 8% that miss, vast majority of those authors are fine with store credit. Yes, if you fall into the category of 1% or 2% of authors whose books miss by a lot, then sometimes something drastic like cash refund or trying a completely different book is required. We can only help you if you let us know there is an issue
I stay with Kindle Select because I want as many people to read and enjoy my novel as I can attract. It would be nice to make money, of course, but realistically that may never happen no matter how good my book is or how well it received by readers and critics. And it is very satisfying to see that Kindle Unlimited subscribers and KOLL borrowers are reading my book.
Perhaps you don't understand how a forum like this works. People post their experience with whatever is being discussed and readers can then compare all of the posts in order to help them make a decision about the topic. I'm not here to argue with you. I have posted my experience with your service. But I will give you a bit of advice: this sort of dogged pursuit against anyone who didn't have a positive experience with your company demonstrates poor social etiquette. If I had observed this thread and your behavior before I made my decision, I would not have used your service.
Books Butterfly did not work for me. Since then, they have dogged me for posting my experience. At this point, I plan to warn anyone I can to stay away from this company and seek help elsewhere in promoting books. I had planned on passing this experience off as an indication that it was just a matter of middle grade books doing poorly with this kind of marketing and leaving it at that, but the exchanges on this forum have convinced me that the Books Butterfly brand of customer service makes it a company to be avoided.
Just so everyone is clear on the situation, the Terms of Service for my promotion clearly indicate, among other things, that:
All sales and borrows during the promotion are considered to be the result of the promotion. Books Butterfly specifically states that they don't guarantee what you think your friends and family bought. They only guarantee the total. Considering that fact, there doesn't seem to be any reason to contact the company with these details since they clearly intend to discount the author's efforts to market during the time period of the contract.
All refunds are in store credit. Only store credit. Again, why approach a company with a request when they have clearly stated they will not do it?
I'm not expecting a refund or campaigning to get one. I'm definitely not interested in another promotion that will not work for me. I am just reporting my experience.
With all due respect, we are trying to work with you to make things right. That's all we were asking - let us make things right.
We are not arguing with you at all. We are on the same page as you. You're saying - I only got 1 sale.
We're saying - Oh, that's unfortunate. Now let us fix it by running some other book or doing a prorated cash refund
1) On the forum you've told us you had just 1 sale. We're trying to make things right by either running some other book for you (to get you the remaining sales) or we can do prorated refund in cash (which we offer in exceptional circumstances)
2) We sent you terms of service before the promotion, to avoid this exact situation - of you inviting your friends and family to buy books while our promotion of your book was going on
3) We are not 'dogging you for posting your experience'. We are very glad you shared your experience so other children's books authors are well aware that it is not a big genre for us
Please read our posts again. We are in violent agreement with you that if promotion did not go well, there should be some solution. We're offering a solution
Just to be clear: We have not contacted author or 'dogged' author in any way. We have only responded to the author's posts on the forum. The author has 3 posts and we've responded to each of them. The intent is to make things right. Nothing else. We do not see any 'arguing' and we don't see 'us dogging the author'. If anyone has a recommendation for how we could have offered the author a solution more elegantly, we'll be happy to learn
There is no argument here. We're in total agreement. Your promotion did not do well. We're just responding so that we can fix things and make things right
A) If you had contacted us saying the promotion did not go well, we would have either run another book of your choice (to get the remaining 19 sales) or we would have done prorated refund in cash
B) As you chose instead to communicate on this forum, we responded with the intention of making things right. First, we offered you store credit. When you refused that, we offered that you contact us and we do cash refund. It's not clear to us with your last response whether you are accepting the offer of a prorated refund in cash or not. We will do a cash refund tomorrow and hopefully that makes things right
C) We only responded to your 3 posts and we are only trying to make things right. We are in no way against what you said. It helps us out a lot as it clears things up for other authors with Children's Books - it's not a big genre for us
Randy, we wish you the very best with your books
We will do refund tomorrow and it'll reach your account within 1 to 10 business days
For authors in general,
It's a self reporting system (where authors report sales) and we have to have some terms to avoid ambiguity. We email the terms beforehand so authors are well aware of them. Terms and Refund Policy are also listed on our website at www.booksbutterfly.com
We have to have terms. We have had authors who want to count - only the first 2 hours after promotion starts, count only Day 3 of a 4 day promotion, count only Day 1 of a 7 Day promotion, etc
We send you the terms beforehand so we can be on the same page and avoid all this confusion
The intent of terms is not - we want to take credit for your friends and family's sales. Not at all
It's the exact opposite - please do not invite your friends and family to buy during the promotion, so that there is no confusion
We only wish good things for authors. We help 300 authors every day reach 5 million+ readers
We're just trying to make things right with this author and perhaps we could have communicated this more elegantly. It seems clear that best path is we do a prorated refund for author and mark it down as a lesson learnt
I've had varying results with this service based on the book but when comparing it to other marketing providers the returns tend to be within the expected range. Very few providers (on their own) result in a positive ROI however when used together the added exposure often leads to indirect sales growth. I ran an ad in early September across a number of platforms (about 12) including this one which usually garner about a 50% return for me however by stacking the ads to boost maximum exposure I saw an ROI of just over 420%. I can't say how much of that was specific to Books Butterfly but in the end that doesn't matter as it is the compilation of all exposure that really did the trick.
The book I ran recently was the first in a series of Erotic Mysteries (full length novels), main Amazon categories are Crime Fiction - Mystery and Police Procedural. The title is a bit of a genre split as it is primarily a murder mystery but deal with erotic content and does have some graphic sexual content. This was a KDP Select Countdown at 0.99 (regular price 4.99) so I still received 70%. I ran ads across 2 days via the following sites:
Kindle Nation Daily
Ereader News Today
The Kindle Book Review
BKnights (off fiverr)
I also had additional pay per click/impressions ads running for 5 days through AMS and BookBub Ads
It was not a cheap campaign (total cost was 845 USD) but paid off in the end. I timed it just after the release of a new book to the series so I also capitalized on a number of crossover sales.
Sorry for my delay in responding. I have two books that I've been in the middle of publishing and that took my highest priority.
I am willing to accept your offer to work with me and see how that works out. I have a book coming out in April that might be more appropriate for this sort of marketing effort. I will contact your company to work out the details and we will see what happens.
I read through your post again and noticed that you mentioned a refund on the following day, which would clear in 1-10 business days. I haven't seen any evidence of that happening. But that is probably a topic better discussed through e-mails.