Posts Tagged ‘Kindle Unlimited’

Amazon recently invited us to write about our lives as independent, or indie, authors. To be fair, they extended the invitation to all indie authors whose work is self-published via KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing, and via CreateSpace, Amazon’s print publishing arm. However, vain as we are, we prefer to consider it an exclusive invitation.

Like most indie authors, we need little excuse to talk about our work, or ourselves for that matter, so here goes.

We are Lance and James Morcan, a New Zealand father-and-son writing team. Lance resides in New Zealand while James is based in Sydney, Australia. Together, we’ve co-authored and self-published more than 20 novels and non-fiction books – all under the banner of our publishing company Sterling Gate Books and all exclusive to Amazon.

 

Lance Morcan    James Morcan     

Lance and James…the Morcan writing team.

 

We are also screenwriters and have put several adaptations of our novels into development as feature films with our production company Morcan Motion Pictures. These include our international thrillers Silent Fear and The Ninth Orphan, and our historical adventures Fiji, White Spirit and Into the Americas.

Our other novels comprise The Orphan Factory, The Orphan Uprising and World Odyssey. Screenplay adaptations of these are also planned.

Our journeys as indie authors began over a decade ago when we co-wrote our first novels, The Ninth Orphan and Fiji. After receiving countless rejections from London and New York publishers, we decided to put our destiny into our own hands and form our own publishing company. That was in 2011, and it was a smart move. We recommend this course of action to all authors who may be struggling to get noticed.

We spent months researching the best online publishing platform for our work. After considering all the options, we arrived at the resounding conclusion there was, and is, only one platform worth considering – and that’s Amazon.

Why? Well, check out Amazon’s global market share for starters. Its book marketing platform is unrivaled. They’ve cornered the self-publishing market.

Not convinced? Compare Amazon and its DIY print business CreateSpace with other major players such as Lulu, Smashwords, AuthorHouse and Blurb. There’s no comparison.

And then there’s Amazon’s KDP Select (KDPS), which, in a nutshell, requires exclusivity of authors for their eBooks. We opted to commit to KDPS. It’s a decision we’ve never regretted.

The global reach, higher royalties, Kindle Countdown Deals, free promotions and commissions for book borrows (through Kindle Unlimited) were what most attracted us. However, the full benefits of enrolling with KDPS are too many to list here. If you’re interested, Google “benefits of KDP Select” and scan some of the 1,000 plus entries.

Our first experience with a Kindle book set the pattern for us. Following a seven-day freebie, or free promotion, our thriller The Ninth Orphan achieved the #1 ranking, albeit briefly, in the Spy genre on Amazon.com and Amazon UK during the period December 2011 to January 2012. Not bad for first-time, unknown authors from Down Under!

 

The Ninth Orphan (The Orphan Trilogy Book 1) 

A former #1 bestseller.

 

Writing and brainstorming ideas some 1300 miles apart, separated as we are by the Tasman Sea, aka the Ditch, does present its problems even in this modern era. Unreliable Skype connections, mislaid emails and occasionally faulty WattsApp telephone conferences aside, we get by.

And then there’s the inevitable creative differences. These are accentuated no doubt by the father-son relationship and by the generation gap. However, we view these differences as strengths rather than weaknesses. We are our own toughest critics; we keep each other honest as writers, which helps maintain high standards, and we collectively understand what readers from our respective generations are looking for. That’s the theory anyway. It seems to work!

It seems to work for other father-son writing teams, too. Just last month, bestselling author Stephen King and son Owen King released Sleeping Beauties in what’s described as a “spectacular father/son collaboration.” This supernatural thriller, incidentally, is selling as a Kindle ebook, hardcover and paperback on, you guessed it, Amazon.

                                                                                           

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Another father-son collaboration.

 

Our non-fiction books include The Orphan Conspiracies, which highlights and expands on the 29 conspiracy theories covered in our international thriller series The Orphan Trilogy.

Perhaps our most controversial book is also our latest non-fiction book, Debunking Holocaust Denial Theories: Two Non-Jews Affirm the Historicity of the Nazi Genocide. It’s controversial because it has attracted the ire of Holocaust deniers and so-called revisionists, and has even prompted the publication of books whose sole aim is to denigrate our book.

 

DEBUNKING HOLOCAUST DENIAL THEORIES: Two Non-Jews Affirm the Historicity of the Nazi Genocide                                                                      Book ridicules the deniers.

 

With a foreword by Holocaust survivor Hetty E. Verolme (author of The Children’s House of Belsen), Debunking Holocaust Denial Theories was written in close consultation with Holocaust survivors and World War Two historians. Its message, we believe, is important because the spectre of anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head again.

We have published seven books so far in our Underground Knowledge Series – the most popular being Genius Intelligence, Underground Bases and The Catcher in the Rye Enigma.

The above-mentioned series gave rise to the Underground Knowledge discussion group on Goodreads.com. Designed to encourage debates about important and underreported issues of our era, it’s one of the fastest-growing groups on that Amazon-owned site. The group’s link is https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/142309-underground-knowledge—a-discussion-group  

In addition, we have secured 24 foreign rights agreements for the translation of our books into Arabic, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Afrikaans, Norwegian and Dutch with more contracts pending. These are available across a wide number of retailers internationally, including Amazon.

Our current focus is on our new release crime-thriller Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes), which was launched as a paperback on Amazon just a week ago. The Kindle eBook version is available via Amazon Pre-orders and will be auto-delivered to buyers’ Kindles on October 31st.

 

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes)

In Silent Fear, Scotland Yard detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the deaf in London, England. The murder investigation coincides with a deadly flu virus outbreak, resulting in the university being quarantined from the outside world. When more deaf students are murdered, it becomes clear there is a serial killer operating within the sealed-off university. A chilling cat-and-mouse game evolves as the unknown killer targets Valerie and the virus claims more lives. 

The Amazon link for Silent Fear is: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/   

 

Dedicated to the many millions of deaf people around the world, Silent Fear was inspired by the murders of several deaf students at Gallaudet University, one of the world’s most prestigious learning institutions for the deaf, in Washington, D.C.

A decade in the making, it was written under the guidance of leading deaf filmmaker Brent Macpherson whose commentary on the unique aspects of deaf culture the story covers appears at the end of the book. Together, the Morcans and Macpherson are developing a feature film adaptation of Silent Fear.

A film trailer promoting the book and planned film can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8bv1vbQxYo

We have also set up Silent World, a new Goodreads discussion group, to promote the book at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/237556-silent-world-a-discussion-group

A final word for any new or would-be authors out there who may feel daunted at the prospect of having to find a home for their book after having shed blood, sweat and tears, over months or possibly years, and who are wondering what the hell to do next. Do your due diligence, of course, and don’t take our word for it, but we recommend the following course of action based on our personal experience.

Take control of your destiny and self-publish. If literary agents and publishing company editors don’t recognise your literary gem or masterpiece, that doesn’t automatically mean readers won’t resonate with it. However, readers won’t be able to respond or resonate if your manuscript remains hidden.

Consider Amazon as your first choice publishing platform, take the bull by the horns and become a KDP Select author. It worked for us!

Lance & James Morcan

 

Author profiles for Lance and James: https://www.amazon.com/Lance-Morcan/e/B005ET3ZUO/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_2https://www.amazon.com/James-Morcan/e/B005EPOU48/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

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Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) team announced this week they continue to see strong response from customers to the Kindle Unlimited (KU) book borrows scheme and are adding a bonus of $4.25 million to the previously announced base fund amount of $3 million. This brings the total fund to $7.25 million for the month of December.

KDP released the following report “to share some initial results from the first few months of Kindle Unlimited” with its stable of participating authors and independent publishers:

• Renewal Rates – Authors have chosen to renew their titles in KDP Select at rates in excess of 95% in each month of 2014.
• A La Carte Sales Growth – During the 5 full months since KU launch (August to December 2014), royalties to KDPS authors from a la carte sales have grown faster than a la carte sales on KDP overall or Kindle overall.
• Adding in the payments for KOLL and KU over that time, total royalties to KDPS authors more than doubled when compared to the same period in 2013.
• Total earnings on titles priced $2.99 or greater are growing faster than the overall average. The same is true for titles 150+ pages in length.

A KDP spokesperson says, “To further highlight the KDP Select books that are most popular with customers, we will again award “KDP Select All-Stars” for December to the most-read authors and titles in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. We’ll spotlight each All-Star author and title on applicable detail pages.

“These awards will come with financial bonuses and recipients will be contacted in the next few days. For more information on All-Stars, visit https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2X66QXB12WV2. Anyone with a title in KDP Select—even a debut author with a single title—can qualify if their work becomes a customer favorite. We will also pay a separate bonus for Kindle Owners’ Lending Library loans in Japan.”

The spokesperson says, “We’ve gotten lots of great feedback in the past weeks and months, including a bunch of ideas on how to further improve the structure of the program and make it work better for authors and readers alike. Like everything we do, we’re looking hard at all your feedback and we expect to keep tweaking and improving the program in the future.”

 

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Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing team has advised authors participating in its new Kindle Unlimited (KU) ebook borrowing initiative it is adding a bonus of US$2.7 million in August – and that’s on top of the regular base fund amount of US$2 million. Apparently the bonus has been prompted by a “significant early trial response from customers” to KU.

The top 10 most-read KDP Select authors will each receive US$25,000.

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Healthy bonus in store for Kindle Unlimited authors.

Here’s the balance of KDP’s announcement (unabridged):

To further highlight the KDP Select (KDPS) books and authors that are most popular with customers, we are introducing a new element to the program: “KDP Select All-Stars”. Based on what KDPS titles are being read the most during the month, we will identify each All-Star author and title on each applicable KDPS title’s detail page. In addition, KDP Select All-Stars will earn financial bonuses paid separately from the $2.7M bonus. Anyone with titles in KDPS — even a debut author with a single title — can qualify if their work becomes a customer favorite.

For August, we will pay out All-Star bonuses to the top 100 most-read authors and, separately, the top 100 most-read titles. We will calculate ‘most-read’ by combining books sold plus qualified borrows from KU and the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) during the month. Calculations only include sales and qualified borrows for titles enrolled in KDPS. Recipients will be contacted in the next few days.

The top 100 most-read KDPS authors will each be awarded the following amounts:
• Authors 1 through 10 will receive $25,000
• Authors 11 through 20 will receive $10,000
• Authors 21 through 30 will receive $5,000
• Authors 31 through 50 will receive $2,500
• Authors 51 through 100 will receive $1,000

Authors of the top 100 KDPS titles will each earn the following amounts:
• Titles 1 through 10 will receive $2,500
• Titles 11 through 50 will receive $1,000
• Titles 51 through 100 will receive $500

Denoting All-Stars on detail pages is a new element of KDP Select and we expect our approach to this will evolve over time. We hope it adds a little fun and adventure to the program!

Finally, many authors outside the US derive most of their qualified borrows from KOLL and have not been able to benefit from the growth of KU. This has meaningfully altered their ability to compete within the wider pool of KDPS loans. To adjust for this, we are adding an additional bonus of $80,000 to be paid out on all KOLL loans outside of the US.

★★★★★ INVITATION: We’d love to hear from our followers, fellow authors, publishers/indie publishers and readers what you think about Kindle Unlimited. Let us know if you feel as positive about Amazon’s latest initiative as we do…and if not why not. Thanks!

Lance & James

 

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There’s a rumor that Amazon will soon be launching its controversial Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription reading service internationally.

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 Kindle Unlimited subscribers can download as many ebooks as they like.

The-digital-reader.com (quoting BuchReport.de as its source) reports that that Amazon will launch Kindle Unlimited at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

The writer admits he/she doesn’t know who BuchReport’s source is, but says, “I tend to believe this rumor.”

If true, the expansion of Kindle Unlimited has major ramifications for readers, authors and publishers worldwide. As we reported in our blog of August 10, “Almost overnight, Kindle Unlimited is changing the entire environment of not only the way people read, but also the way the world’s major publishers continue to sell books – or try to.”

Here’s an excerpt from the-digital-reader.com article:

As I reported when Kindle Unlimited launched in July, there was a report coming from a French publisher via the French media blog Actualitte that Kindle Unlimited would launch in France in September or October.

The Frankfurt Book Fair runs from 8 to 12 October this year, so it fits with the time frame, and since it is a major international book fair this would be an ideal time and place for Amazon to launch Kindle Unlimited. We still don’t know for sure whether Amazon will launch in select countries or every where at once, but I would bet on a global launch.

Launched in the US just over a month ago, Kindle Unlimited enables Amazon customers to download and read up to ten ebooks at a time. It costs $8.99, and offers access to a catalog of over 600,000 titles.

Amazon hasn’t revealed yet how many subscribers have signed up, but there are signs that KU is already having an effect on the Kindle Store best seller list.

Unlike Amazon’s competitor’s Scribd and Oyster, the Kindle Unlimited catalog draws almost entirely upon indie titles distributed via the KDP Select program with only a smattering of traditionally published books mixed in. Amazon has signed HMH, Scholastic, Wiliey, and a few other major publishers, but they do not yet have a deal with any of the Big 5 US trade publishers.

There’s also no information on major publishers in other countries and who they might have signed a deal with, but I would expect that information to be revealed when Kindle Unlimited launches internationally.

To read the full report go to: http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/08/25/kindle-unlimited-launch-internationally-frankfurt-book-fair/

German speakers can access the original BuchReport here: http://www.buchreport.de/nachrichten/verlage/verlage_nachricht/datum/2014/08/22/kindle-limited.htm

 

★★★★★ INVITATION: We’d love to hear from our followers, fellow authors, publishers/indie publishers and readers what you think about Kindle Unlimited. Let us know if you feel as positive about Amazon’s latest initiative as we do…and if not why not. Thanks!

 

Lance & James

 

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Amazon’s controversial Kindle Unlimited subscription reading service was released late last month and despite all the naysayers and doomsdayers we believe the early signs indicate it’ll be a win-win for readers and authors alike.

For those who don’t yet know, paying the $9.99 per month Kindle Unlimited fee allows readers to download as many ebooks as they like – hence the word “unlimited”. It has been dubbed by the many journalists as The Netflix of reading.

Almost overnight, Kindle Unlimited is changing the entire environment of not only the way people read, but also the way the world’s major publishers continue to sell books – or try to. Perhaps justifiably, the big publishers are scared and fear they are losing control of the way they have monopolized book distribution for eons. As more and more book stores go under, the competition to dominate the ebook market is reaching fever pitch.

But as published authors, and also keen readers, we have little sympathy for the big 5 publishers. If Kindle Unlimited does prove to be a better deal for authors, and readers can read as many books as they like, then who cares what the likes of Random House or Harper Collins think? At the end of the day it’s a free market and whoever presents the best deal (in this case Amazon) for readers and writers should triumph in the end.

What follows are some excerpts (that we tend to agree with) from a recent letter Amazon sent to authors around the world regarding a heated legal dispute they are engaged in with leading publishing house Hachette. Many of these comments strongly relate to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited scheme which is predicted to lower the prices of ebooks over time and lead to unprecedented book sales for authors…

 

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

 

A comprehensive list of books that can be read for free by Kindle Unlimited subscribers can be found here on the book reading social media site Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/kindle-unlimited

Popular Kindle Unlimited Books

The Ninth Orphan (The Orphan Trilogy, #1)

Hudson (Fixed, #4)

Fiji: A Novel (The World Duology, #2)

Rhett (Rhett, #1)

Sweet Addiction (Sweet Addiction, #1)

The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy

Beautifully Forgotten (Beautifully Damaged, #2)
With This Heart
Breathe with Me (With Me in Seattle, #7)
World Odyssey (The World Duology, #1)
The Orphan Trilogy (The Ninth Orphan / The Orphan Factory / The Orphan Uprising)
The Orphan Factory (The Orphan Trilogy, #2)
Tied with Me (With Me in Seattle, #6)
Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love, #1)
The Orphan Uprising (The Orphan Trilogy, #3)

Since Amazon rolled out its Kindle Unlimited initiative, enabling subscribers to borrow as many ebooks as they desire for just $9.99 a month, debate has intensified over whether the scheme is good or bad for participating authors.

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As participating authors – all our eight book titles are registered in the scheme – we have followed the debate with interest. And we know we are not alone: social media is full of author speculation on the merits or otherwise of Kindle Unlimited.

One of the best summaries of the new initiative (in our opinion) is offered by American author and publishing veteran Michael J. Sullivan in a recent contribution to DigitalBookworld.com’s excellent site. In an article headed “Kindle Unlimited’s Two-Tier System Makes Some Authors Second-Class Citizens”, Sullivan summarizes the scheme and then perceptively dissects it.

Author Michael J. Sullivan…critical of Kindle Unlimited.

Excerpts from Sullivan’s article follow:

… Historically, Amazon has been good about treating self-published authors and traditionally published authors equally. There are some exceptions…but for the most part both self- and traditionally published authors have enjoyed equal treatment. They share similar exposure on best-seller lists and top-rated lists, and Amazon’s “cut” from sales have been the same for both groups (30% under the agency model). In fact, when the agency model went into affect, Amazon raised self-publisher’s royalty from 35% to 70% to match what traditional publishers were getting. But now with the roll-out of Kindle Unlimited, we see two very different treatments:

Self-published authors MUST be exclusive to Amazon (except for a handful of best-selling authors) and can’t sell their books on other sites. Traditionally published books have no such exclusivity requirement and can be sold wherever the publisher wishes.

Self-published authors are paid from a pool set by Amazon each month. They have no idea how much they will be paid per book. Traditionally published books get paid exactly as they would if a sale were made. They know exactly what the unit price will be for each book and are not relying on the Amazon’s whim as far as what their unit price will be.

Why the difference?

Whenever I speak about a situation where an entity (retailers or publishers) treat authors poorly the answer is always the same: “because they can.” The publishers would never agree to the terms the self-published authors are getting. What Amazon is offering traditional publishers (full wholesale price without exclusivity) is a pretty good deal…

…They are giving publishers such a fair deal because there is no way the publishers would agree otherwise. Even with such attractive terms, I suspect the big-five won’t opt in their titles. But the self-published authors can be had for much less. They have been conditioned through several years of Select and those in Select are more than willing to give up other venues for higher visibility on Amazon…

…To add insult to injury, the current payout system has self-published authors subsidizing the payments of the traditionally published titles, much the way best-selling titles subsidize books that aren’t commercial successes. By this I mean that one party is getting less to offset the costs of someone else’s works.

I’m disappointed with Amazon for not offering the same terms to both self- and traditionally-published authors. Authors have grown accustomed to poor treatment from Publisher’s, and because of the way Kindle Unlimited has been rolled out, they can add Amazon as just one more multi-billion-dollar company taking advantage of them.

To read the article in full go to: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/kindle-unlimiteds-two-tier-system-makes-some-authors-second-class-citizens/

 

Happy reading! –Lance & James

 

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Amazon’s announcement that customers who subscribe to its new Kindle Unlimited initiative can borrow as many ebooks as they want to from a library of over 600,000 titles is exciting readers and authors alike.

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While not quite a revolutionary idea – previously subscribers enrolled in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) could borrow one ebook per month – the new system means there’s no limit to the number of ebooks subscribers can borrow – provided they pay the $10 monthly fee.

For those avid bookworms who regularly read one book, or more, per week, Kindle Unlimited represents excellent value. It also means they can ‘try out’ books by new or unknown authors by borrowing the books in stead of having to shell out valuable dollars and hope they (the books) justify their investment.

For authors, like us, who still receive a payment – albeit a reduced payment – from Amazon for every book borrowed, the scheme provides additional access to readers who may not readily buy our books; it’s also likely to create excellent word-of-mouth, leading to more sales.

It’s a win-win for readers and authors.

All books currently enrolled in KDP Select with U.S. rights will be automatically included in Kindle Unlimited. KDP Select books will also continue to be enrolled in (KOLL) available to Amazon Prime customers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Japan where authors will continue to earn a share of the KDP Select global fund when their book is borrowed.

For those Amazon customers enrolled with Kindle Unlimited, you may come across our books available in the unlimited downloads scheme…

 

The above books can be found on our Amazon author pages at:

http://www.amazon.com/Lance-Morcan/e/B005ET3ZUO/

http://www.amazon.com/James-Morcan/e/B005EPOU48/

 

Happy reading! –Lance & James

 

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