How Amazon Prime is now taking book sales away from indie authors. Seriously.

I kbook iconnow we are not supposed to speak badly of those who help feed us, but I want to tell you about the newest ‘benefit’ for Amazon Prime members–all 54 million of them in the U.S. Now those members can read free books–any or all–from a Thousand Book reading list for Prime Members.

This is separate from Kindle Unlimited’s all-you-can-read program of books enrolled in KDP Select where authors are paid by the number of pages read.

These are a Thousand Books selected by Amazon for Prime members only.  A closer look at this list reveals that over 80%+ of the works of fiction are published by Amazon imprints, like Thomas and Mercer.  And most of them appear to be Book 1 of a trilogy.

Very clever marketing by Amazon.  You get Book 1 for free and buy the next two. Book promoters like Bookbub, Read Cheaply and Free Booksy have been facilitating this type of marketing for years.  But it is not so good for us indies and traditional or small publishers and those book promoters. Even Bookbub, which is arguably the most important of the discount/bargain book promoters, does not have a list of 54 million would-be book buyers.

There are also non-fiction offerings in the Thousand Books, including Lonely Planet guides to practically every country on the planet, plus a lot of books about crafts. So if you were thinking about leaving your day job to live off your earnings as a fiction writer, maybe you should wait a little bit and see how this all plays out.

As for me…I abandoned writing fiction some time ago and two of my non-fiction guides, on the right, continue to sell.  The ‘How Seniors Travel for Fun and Profit’ is, in fact, a best seller and has been for over six weeks now. But I think this turn of events will seriously impact the writing future of many indie authors.


Test your book cover? 3 ways to do it for cheap.

new vampire online cover

The winning cover for the nontraditional vampire tale, New Vampire Online . The other version had a bright red background.

I have previously written about my Facebook test of 2 covers for my ebook novel, New Vampire Online.   There was an enormous difference between the 2 covers I tested–500%!

And it turns out I’m not the only cover testing geek. A week or so ago, Bookbub, the largest bargain book distributor, published a post in their authors’ newsletter about testing book covers.  Their report includes Facebook, but also adds two other ways to test a book cover.  Rather than recapitulate what they wrote, here is a link to the Bookbub post.

A few months before I did the FB test I had changed both the title and cover on my first self-published novel, currently entitled ‘Playing for Julia’, without testing it.  Originally it was entitled ‘San Francisco Summer ’69’. It is a sexy novel set at the dawn of sexual revolution.

San Francisco summer 69 cover

This is the orginal title and cover of San Francisco Summer ’69. It’s now entitled ‘Playing for Julia’ and the cover is different, too.

Like a gazillion other authors I had looked at the sales figures for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and decided I could write one of those, too.  Then a few months later,  I looked at the covers for Bella Andre’s novels and decided to imitate that graphic style, too.  ( The moral to this tale: don’t be derivative!) I’m now thinking of testing the first cover and title to see what changes it might make to sales.

For whatever it is worth…to juice up sales I decided to put New Vampire in Town ( number 1 in the series) on sale for 99 cents for the month of March, 2015.

Oh, I have another blog that may interest you.  It’s L.A. City Pix–photos of people and places around Los Angeles.