Updating eBooks

This is a behind-the-scenes post, since things have been pretty quiet on this blog lately. It’s busy in my office!

As you know, I write contemporary romances and paranormal romances as Deborah Cooke, and historical romances as Claire Delacroix. This year, I amalgamated my PNR websites into this one, leaving me with two websites instead of four, which means the urls for all the book landing pages changed. I also moved my three English newsletters to a new service, which meant the sign-up links changed. Both of these changes meant updating my ebook interiors with the new links.

My historical romances have been in KDP Select since last fall, so I did the updates only at Amazon. My PNR went into KDP Select in the spring, so again, I did the updates only at Amazon. Now (haha) the books are coming out of KU and going into wide distribution again, which means updating the ebook files at the other portals. I load directly to Apple, KOBO, GooglePlay, Nook, Draft2Digital, Smashwords and PublishDrive. I also sell some books directly with delivery via BookFunnel. That’s 7 or 8 uploads per title. Some portals process uploads quickly. Some take forever to chew through each one.

In August, 22 of my medieval romances came out of KDP Select and were republished wide. There’s a blog post about that on the Delacroix site, right here.

In September, 22 more of my Delacroix romances (medievals, time travels and boxed sets) come out of KDP Select to be republished wide. The one hold-out will be The Beauty Bride, which leaves KDP Select in October. (It was enrolled later.) I’ve already updated the files at most portals and just need to republish them when the time comes—with the exception of the time travels, which will get new covers first.

In October, 45 of my paranormal romances and boxed sets come out of KDP Select and will be republished wide.

Also in October, the Spanish editions of 15 contemporary romances come out of KDP Select and will be republished wide. These are delivered to the non-Amazon portals from an aggregator, Draft2Digital, so that will save me some uploading time.

The Countess, book #4 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

Taking the books wide again also means setting first-in-series free and booking promotions for it. The Countess is free this month, and by November, The Beauty Bride will be a free series starter for my historical romances again. Also by November, Kiss of Fire will be a free series starter for my PNR. Of course, Just One Fake Date remains a free series starter for my contemporary romances. I’ll probably book a sale on the two bundles of series starters, First Knights and Dragons First, as well. As I write this, I realize that Claire didn’t have a new trope boxed set this year. Oops. I’ll add that to my To Do list.

But by November (when I stop to catch my breath!) over 100 of my backlist books will have beautifully updated interiors at all of the portals and some will even have new covers. At the end of the year, I’ll be able to unpublish the two paranormal romance websites, and discontinue my former newsletter service. It’s been a big transition and is a job I’ll be glad to see done.

Next year, I’ll be able to focus on writing, which is the most exciting part of all!

Dragons & Angels Heading to Kindle Unlimited

The Dragonfire Novels, a dragon shifter romance series by Deborah Cooke

I’m going to be moving the Dragonfire Novels and the Prometheus Project into KDP Select, which means you’ll be able to read them free in Kindle Unlimited.

The Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah Cooke

I’m also moving the Dragons of Incendium into KU.


The Dragons of Incendium series of science fiction romances featuring dragon shifter princesses from space by Deborah Cooke. Now free to read in Kindle Unlimited

DragonFate will remain in wide distribution, available at all portals. An Elegy for Melusine and Coven of Mercy will also remain available at all portals, since they’re linked to DragonFate.

The backlist books should be enrolled in early May. (It takes a few weeks for the ebooks to be taken down from all the portals.) I’ll let you know when they’re in!

KDP Select and Dragons

I’ve enrolled several of my paranormal romance series into KDP Select this week, which means you can read them free in Kindle Unlimited.

The Dragonfire series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke in print editions

First up, The Dragonfire Novels. This series is complete and features dragon shifter heroes on a quest to save the earth from evil Slayers – but destined love keeps complicating their mission.

Start the series with Kiss of Fire.

Visit the Dragonfire Novels series page at Amazon.com

The Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal and science fiction romances by Deborah Cooke enrolled in Kindle Unlimited

The Dragons of Incendium series featured dragon shifter princesses from space and the men bold enough to love them.

Here’s a link to Wyvern’s Mate at Amazon.com.

And here’s a link to the series page at Amazon.com.

Rebel, #3 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah CookeI’ve also enrolled the Prometheus Project urban fantasy romance series, although there’s a bit of an issue with Fallen that Amazon is straightening out.

My Claire Delacroix time travel romances are currently enrolled in KDP Select.

You can read Coven of Mercy and An Elegy for Melusine free in KU right now.

And finally, my Secret Heart Ink series is also enrolled in KDP Select, although it’s just a teensy tiny heart tattoo that might have magical powers in that contemporary romance series.

Happy reading!

FALLEN and KDP Select

Fallen, an urban fantasy romance by Claire DelacroixAs most of you know, I recently republished FALLEN, the first book in my urban fantasy romance trilogy, The Prometheus Project. I decided to enroll the book in Amazon’s KDP Select promotion.This program requires that the book in question be available exclusively at Amazon for 90 days. It also allows the author/publisher to make the book free for five days – you can schedule those days in advance, and this is the only way for author/publishers to ensure that a book is free on Amazon. (Amazon may choose to match a free price offered at another portal, but that is at their discretion and timing.)

I chose KDP Select for FALLEN because the Prometheus Project is different from most of my Claire Delacroix titles. It’s an urban fantasy and romantic suspense series set in a dystopian future world – as opposed to a medieval romance. Last year, I had a similar situation with the Coxwell Series. These contemporary romances are different from the bulk of my Deborah Cooke titles, which are all Dragonfire (paranormal romance and paranormal YA). Last summer, I put Double Trouble in KDP Select, then made it free when all four books were available. That kickstarted sales for the entire series at Amazon. Of course, the drawback is that this program only works at Amazon. After Double Trouble came out of KDP Select, I published it at other portals and made it free there. Amazon did match the free price for a while, and overall the strategy worked very well in establishing sales for the series.

My plan was to use the same strategy again, esp given the similarities in the two situations.

One difference this year is that author/publishers now have the ability to create pre-orders. A pre-order means that the book is displayed to customers on the portal in question, but that it is not actually available to be purchased and downloaded. The customer orders the book, and the sale is fulfilled on the on-sale date. On that date, the customer’s credit card is charged and the book is delivered. The idea with pre-orders (which are standard practice for big publishers) is that sales can accumulate over a longer period of time and all be counted on the same day. Ideally, this creates a spike in sales on that on-sale date, and drives the book onto bestseller lists. At least, it’s easier than trying to get every potential customer to remember to buy the book on the same date. Of course, not every title is driven on to the bestseller lists with this strategy, but it’s still a handy tool.

I decided to use the pre-order option for FALLEN. My thinking was that I could upload the book while all the metadata was fresh in my mind, pre-set everything, and let computers do what they do best. The book might gather some advance sales. It might not. The point was that I wouldn’t be scurrying around in January, trying to remember the keywords and locate the copy for this title. The book would complete its term in KDP Select on January 12. The pre-orders were set to be fulfilled on January 15. I loaded it all up and moved on to the edits for Guardian.

Last week, I received a message from Amazon that I was in violation of the terms and conditions for KDP Select. We went ’round and ’round, but the upshot of it is that they interpret “not for sale at any other portal” to mean “not distributed to any other portal.” Pre-orders, in their view, are a violation of the terms of agreement. I argued my side, but it was clear that my perspective would not prevail. As a result, FALLEN is no longer in the KDP Select program.

And the upshot of that is that FALLEN will be available at other portals tomorrow, November 1, instead of on January 15. If you pre-ordered a copy elsewhere, your order will be fulfilled tomorrow.

The End of Free?

We’ve talked about authors making books free in past posts here on Wild West Thursday, and about the way that free can give visibility to an author. (Here’s one of my earliest posts about free, and some reflections on implications, then a more recent one about free’s effectiveness.) The benefit of free is particularly seen in linked titles — for example, when Double Trouble was free, sales of One More Time, All or Nothing and Third Time Lucky increased dramatically. In a nutshell, making Double Trouble free gave the Coxwell series the visibility it needed to populate the algorithm at the various online portals and to find readership.

Free, however, doesn’t directly make money for the online bookseller. It creates expense but not revenue. It requires capacity in the network and storage space on the servers. There are many authors who don’t use free strategically to drive sales of other titles. Before Christmas, the rumor was that there were over 2 million titles that were free on Amazon, and that 3000 – 4000 titles went free every single day on that site through KDP Select. With that kind of volume of titles available free, it’s fair to say that a culture is being established that ALL books should be free—or at least that an ever-growing number of readers are coming to believe that they need never again pay for a book.

It stands to reason that online booksellers would want free to go away. The question is how will they do it — and the problem is that it works so very well to promote linked titles. (I talked about this a bit in January.)

Amazon is one portal on which authors can’t set a free price. Every book must have a minimum price of 99 cents. (B&N is another portal that doesn’t allow authors to make a book free.) Amazon chooses to match a free price elsewhere, or not, at their own discretion. What authors often do is make a title free at Apple, KOBO, and/or Smashwords (which feeds content to both of those portals as well as B&N and others.) Amazon then may choose to match the price. The other option is to register a title in KDP Select, which allows the author to pre-select 5 free days in a 90 day period, but also requires exclusivity of that title for those 90 days.

In my experience, going free everywhere has been much more effective. It has helped to build my sales on every portal by populating their respective algorithms, which diversifies my income source. It also doesn’t require exclusivity, which is something resented by readers who shop at portals other than Amazon. You can probably guess that having done this has weakened my own relationship with Amazon: in December 2012, probably 95% of my online indie sales were made at Amazon. In December 2013, that would have been closer to 60%. My sales at KOBO and Apple exploded in the last half of 2012, and B&N grew significantly, as well. That’s a big change and if my experience is mirrored across the entire publishing platform, that’s an issue from Amazon. (Last week, I saw an industry report that Amazon’s market share had dropped from 90% to 60%, which indicates that my results are typical.)

In December, I had several books free on all portals, which were driving sales of linked titles very nicely. I was all ready for the Christmas gifts of e-readers and finding new audience with those free titles. To my surprise, Amazon unmatched free on my books just before Christmas, returning them to their regular prices. My marketing plan, at least on that portal, was completely trashed. I think they must have had some pushback from customers, though, because they were matching free again before New Year’s. The momentum had been lost for my titles, though, so I returned them to regular prices elsewhere, too, and changed strategies.

By mid-January, though, free was back in place at Amazon, much as it had been a month before. It appears that the first attempt to get rid of free – by teaching new Kindle users that content must be bought – was unsuccessful.

Tomorrow, the next stage in the plan goes into effect: Amazon has changed the rules for Amazon Associates accounts. These are sites that drive traffic to Amazon with buy links and receive a percentage of all purchases made by those customers who follow their link. Although the amount of money per unit sale is small, sites that drive high volumes of traffic—like many of the services that advertise free books to readers—do well enough to pay their expenses. As of March 1, however, Amazon has changed the terms of payment. If most of the downloads/sales driven by an associate’s links are for free books or if downloads of free books exceed a specified number of units, that associate will forfeit payment from Amazon for that month.

This is an interesting strategy and it remains to be seen whether it changes the game or not. Either way, get ready for more discounted books and fewer free ones. Will Amazon continue to encourage authors to sign up for KDP Select? I suspect they will, and as getting rid of the free price-match may be a means to compel authors to use KDP Select to get books free on Amazon. We’ll see.

But the funny thing is I had booked a sale for March well in advance of this announcement. I feel psychic!

Jewels of Kinfailie Boxed Set by Claire Delacroix

March 4 – 31, the Jewels of Kinfairlie Boxed Set will be discounted from $9.99 to $2.99. That’s three  full length medieval romances and a linked short story for less than $3. It’ll be on sale at Amazon, KOBO, B&N and Apple.

Check back on Monday for one-click buy links.