SFFMP 109: Paperbacks, Bookbub PPC Ads, and Is Kindle Unlimited Bad for Authors?

We had a few technical issues on the show tonight and ended up recording it in three Zoom sessions rather than in Google Hangouts, but hopefully things will get spliced together, and you won’t notice too many hiccups. Jo, Lindsay, and Jeff chatted about their experiences with being wide (in all the stores) versus having some series in Amazon KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited. They also answered some listener questions and covered everything from using Bookbub PPC ads to how long series should be to how they price their books.

Here are a few more of the specifics they went over:

  • If Kindle Unlimited is bad for authors and whether we should be objecting to being exclusive with Amazon on principle.
  • Whether you should hold off on releasing your first book until your second book is ready to go.
  • How the business and taxes side of things works for self-publishers in the U.S.
  • Using Books2Read universal links to tidy up your newsletters and make it so you only need to share around one link.
  • Jo’s results and sales percentages after being wide for many years.
  • How permafree has ceased to get as many downloads and be as effective for Jo in the last two years.
  • When it’s worth it to release paperbacks (and some of the benefits to having them done).
  • When it’s worth doing audiobooks: see Lindsay’s blog post on Audiobook Options for Indie Authors.
  • How long it took the guys to turn a profit with self-publishing.
  • How long should a series be before things begin to taper down and successive books aren’t as profitable?
  • What’s the best time of year to launch a new book or series?
  • How do you determine the best price for a novel or novella?
  • How long should you put a book on pre-order for?
  • When in a book’s life does it make sense to rebrand and do a new cover, blurb, title, etc.?
  • Thoughts on Vellum for ebook formatting.

If you’re stopping by before December 15th, 2016, you can grab books by both Jo and Lindsay in the Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle at StoryBundle.

Also check out Lindsay’s short story, “Remnants” in the You Are Here anthology.

If you haven’t tried Jeff’s mysteries yet, the first one is available in Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Or you can grab his first Tales of Lentari book for free.


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  • I always do paperback & hardback alone with the ebook.

    I do a lot of shows and sell a lot of physical books.

  • Was this what you were looking for for sales tracking? http://www.storyboxsoftware.com/tdownload.htm It’s Windows only, so I can’t use it on my Ubuntu machine. I don’t know of anything equivalent for Mac.

    I would also love to see/hear Lois McMaster Bujold on the show. I’ve noticed that she answers questions on Goodreads pretty regularly, so you might be able to find her there without dealing with the whole con scene (I went to a con this year and it was fun but kind of expensive).

    • SFFpodcast

      That might be the one I was thinking of, Amelia. And if it’s still Windows-only, then phhht. I did find this one too (I believe I’ve heard of several authors using it, though it may be Amazon only): https://www.getbookreport.com/

      • Augusta Blythe

        Bah! I came to the comments hoping someone would have a good suggestion. I have a Mac and already use Book Report for Amazon, but I’d like a program that tracked sales on all platforms since my books are mostly wide. C’mon software developers!

  • Fantastic Q&A on this week’s show! I always love the Q&A episodes, but this one exceeded my expectations. I didn’t have the opportunity to pester, er, ask Lindsay via Twitter a question this week, but others asked all the questions I would have, so a double win 🙂

    Also appreciated Joe sharing his sales experience over his indie author career.

    Thanks, as always, Lindsay, Joe, and Jeff, for an extremely informative show!

  • Hi Lindsey, I think https://book-tracker.com/ is the software you are looking for. It will download your financials from all the distributors automatically for you. I also think it might be available both on Mac and PC. A friend of mine uses it and she loves it because it does all the work for you. Downside is you have to turn over all your access codes to the company, but I’m definitely considering using it for the ease of having it all done for me!

  • Enjoyed the cast as I try to get back in the mindset. I really did do everything wrong when I moved to fiction. First book in my series (wasn’t a series yet) I published as permafree right off to see if people were interested, but didn’t create a mailing list until two years and seven books later:-) Used public domain NASA photo for the cover art for the first year, and have gone through five or six cover design changes with an artist in the two years since.. Finally put book one in KU at 99 cents few months ago, but somehow I feel afraid to raise the price of book two to $2.99.

    I look forward to hearing how Prime Reading works for you (Lindsay) and how you got selected. I swear that my sales took a dive the day that Prime Reading was announced (October 6th) and are just recently recovering (seasonal) though my Author Rank is still down, thanks to no new releases and a number of popular anthologies in SciFi with two dozen authors. And it seems to me that my KU reads in the US began eroding (proportional to sales) a week or so after Prime Reading launched, which is logical if some KU subscribers who were also Prime Members (and I suspect most are) said, “Hey, I should be able to find enough to read for a few months out of a thousand bestselling type books” and dropped their subscriptions.

    Amazon giveth and taketh away.

    E. M.

    • SFFpodcast

      They might hit you up for Prime Reading eventually, E.M.! I wasn’t in the first round of people, but I think they are trying to rotate new books in every few months. If you’re in KDP Select and sell well, you’ve got a shot!

    • SFFpodcast

      It would be interesting to see how many KU subscribers are also Prime people. I would actually suspect that’s a different demographic. The KU people I know tend to be pretty price conscious, whereas with Prime, you’re willing to toss out $100 at once for that free 2-day shipping. (That’s the only reason I’m in, lol.)

  • This was a good and informative podcast. I’ve written 2 books in my spiritual fantasy series and have gone wide. I appreciated the back and forth about the differences of putting books into KU vs Wide. I’ve learned some good info on that.

  • Another great episode. Lots of good info. Thanks!

    Eric M Hill