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January is the best month to enroll in Amazon KDP


Look closely at the chart above:

Every year you will see a jump in January. January 2015, January 2016, and January 2017.

And it keeps seeing that jump every year.

eg. The KDP Select Global Fund for January 2019 is $24.7 million.

I don't know what it was in January 2018 (I deleted that old email), but you can guess it followed the same pattern.

Note - If you don't know what I am talking about, let me explain. Amazon Kindle offers a service called Kindle Unlimited, which allows users to pay $9.99 per month and they can read as many ebooks as they want (mostly from indie authors and small press publishers). Most of that money then goes into the KDP Fund which then pays authors based upon the number of pages people read. Usually people get paid about 0.5 cents per page. So if 5 people read your 400 page book, so 2000 pages total, in one month, you get paid an extra $10 for that month. It might not sound like much, but it is also useful to the authors so they can boost their popularity, get more reviews, promote their work via word-of-mouth, etc.

Now there are a number of reasons why the KDP Fund is constantly fluctuating.

  1. More people keep joining Kindle Unlimited every year.
  2. The influx of new readers every year means that in order to maintain that 0.5 cents per page payment system, they need to increase the fund.
  3. Reading ebooks is mostly a thing for young people. But as each year passes by reading ebooks on your phone / tablet is becoming more acceptable.
  4. Smartphones / tablets are also increasing in popularity overseas. KDP Select is a global fund, for all languages. So as more people join internationally, the more Amazon needs to raise the fund total.
For indie fantasy writers like myself (see my Amazon Author page for Charles Moffat) being in the KDP Select program is an opportunity to get my books seen by more people. Currently I have 10+ books on Amazon Kindle and I am studying the best ways to market them.

Marketing my books, sadly, is an annoyance to me.

I would love to be able to just have my books available to people, word-of-mouth spawns sales, and I don't have to do any marketing... or marketing research... and so forth.

I would much rather spend my time writing fantasy books or reading fantasy books.

But that isn't the way the system works. You either market your work, or you don't get sales.

So the biggest benefit of KDP Select is that it does a bunch of the marketing for me, as people reading your book on Kindle Unlimited counts as sales, even if they did not pay for the book.

Which means more time for me to focus on my writing.

But one question remains.

Should I be allowing my books to be in the KDP Select program constantly? Or just a few months per year? And if so, which months?

Since being in the program is a minimum of 90 days (and renews every 90 days unless you remember to turn off auto renewal), one could in theory only join for January/February/March. That in theory would be the best 3 months of the year to join.

Or... you could leave the books on there constantly.

Or if you have 10 or more books like I do, you could rotate how often your books are on there, and which books are being rotated on there.

So for myself, I am going to try experimenting with different options and strategies and see what works. Whatever does end up working for me however might not work for everyone however. Different authors might have very different target audiences.

And now back to writing fantasy... instead of writing about marketing fantasy.

What is Epic Fantasy? Two Competing Definitions

Pick one...



Okay...

So here is the thing, both of these definitions cannot be correct. One of them has to be the correct definition.

Also 300,000 words isn't really that "epic" of a wordcount in my opinion. The first "Game of Thrones" book by George R. R. Martin is almost that long and various other books in the series are 400,000 words or more. So a single book that is only 300,000 words isn't really that impressive.

3,000,000 words is definitely epic however. eg. The Wheel of Time series of books has a wordcount of over 4 million words.

However there is a flaw here.

The 2nd definition states that it is "any fantasy novel". Literally any. It could be a comedy, a rom-com fantasy, or even a musical... It doesn't provide any definition with respect to plot or subgenre.

The 1st definition however goes in the opposite direction. It is specifically talking about subgenre with respect to plot, setting, themes, etc.

But there is a distinction in the 1st definition. There is no wordcount requirement.

It could be an epic fantasy short story. 1,500 - 7,500 words.

Or an epic fantasy novelette. 7,500 - 17,500 words.

Or an epic fantasy novella. 17,500 - 40,000 words.

Note - See my previous post about short story, novelette and novella wordcounts.

Basically the point is that epic fantasy is a subgenre based on the story's themes, plot, etc. The total wordcount doesn't really matter.

This idea that epic fantasy has to be really long appears to be the result of the confusion. People are confusing the subgenre with the wordcount, as if wordcount actually matters to tell a good story.

Thus for me, the first definition is the correct one.

However, what is sad is when writers write a book and then call it "epic fantasy" without actually understanding the themes found in the subgenre.

Epic Fantasy often involves:

  • A great battle or battles between good and evil.
  • A long epic quest, like trying to destroy a powerful artifact in a volcano that is thousands of miles away.
  • Heroes that are often destined for great things.
  • Usually has a villain who is the main big bad. eg. Sauron, Voldemort, Darth Vader.
Thus if a story depicts an epic journey and battle, with a hero that is destined to defeat "the Dark Lord" or some similar villain, and manages to keep the story under 7,500 words... then it is epic fantasy.

Is it easier to depict the "epicness" of the journey and battle if you have more words? Yes, probably would be easier if you could write something longer. Writing an epic short story could be quite a challenge.

So if you are looking for a writing challenge and you enjoy epic fantasies, perhaps this is a writing challenge worth doing?

Why not write an epic fantasy short story and then leave a comment below with a link to it?

Myself, I am thinking of doing it, but making it a fable about a legendary warrior. After all, there is no rule saying a fable cannot be 7,500 words.

Some of my current fables are already quite long, with fables inside of fables.

Fantasy Writing Fodder: Conspiracy Theories

By Charles Moffat, Fantasy Writer - March 2019.

So I come up with new ideas for fantasy novels and short stories daily. It is one of the reasons why I write down my ideas in a journal or memo pad on my phone. I get so many ideas that I don't know what to do with them all.

Some of them are ideas for movies that will never be made.

Some of them are ideas for short stories I will never write, often because they are outside of the genre that I usually write it.

So for example I recently started a dark fantasy/mystery novella, which I had originally hoped to co-write with someone else, but now I will either never finish it or I will have to finish it solo. Just one of many ideas waiting to be made into something finished.

One of my sources of writing inspiration is, oddly enough, conspiracy theories. I find they make for great fodder for writing fantasy, science fiction, mysteries and all sorts of topics.

Now you don't have to believe in the conspiracy theory to make use of it in a fictional story. Believing in it is not a necessity. Making use of it and researching the theory, even if you know it to be false, that is where the fun part comes in. Especially if you combine multiple theories for the heck of it.

Lets use some examples:

  • The moon landing was faked.
  • JFK was assassinated by aliens.
  • The earth is really flat, but the aliens don't want us to know that.

So yes, that is three separate conspiracy theories, but together you can now have fun with it. You can say JFK was assassinate by aliens because he wanted to reveal that the earth was really flat. The moon landing was faked by the government, because they knew of the existence of aliens (and that the earth is secretly flat).

There you go, three conspiracy theories smacked together to form one central theme of the book. It doesn't matter that is complete nonsense, you could sell this book at flat earth conventions and people there would gobble it up because it feeds into their belief structure.

Lets do another example, but this time lets up the weirdness:

  • 9/11 was faked by the Bush Administration as an excuse to invade countries for their oil.
  • The leaders of various religions knows aliens/demons are real, thanks to ancient texts.
  • Tin foil hats really do prevent aliens from reading your thoughts.

Okay, so that was fun. But what happens when we combine all 3 conspiracy theories?

Well, that means various governments and religions knows about the existence of aliens/demons. 9/11 was faked to get oil, but it is ultimately because the USA needs the oil to fight the aliens/demons. Every American president has surgery to add tinfoil around their skull to prevent the aliens from reading their minds, but with Donald Trump they botched the job, making his hair look funny and he suffered brain damage (because brain damage would explain everything Trump does). Also military submarines, airplanes, aircraft carriers, and even the helmets of combat troops all contain a layer of tin foil to prevent the aliens from reading the minds of the military.

Also if you combine this book 1 from further above, you now have a sequel.

Lets kick it up a notch for book 3.

  • Every American president during the past 70 years has been a descendant of King Charlemagne, and every monarch / president globally is also a descendant of Charlemagne.
  • The Queen of England is a descendant of Muhammad.
  • All of the monarchs in Europe are secretly descendants of Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Charlemagne all knew about the existence of aliens/demons.

There you go. Book 3, ready to ship to millions of flat earthers who will believe this nonsense.

You can even push the idea that actually all the leaders are descendant from Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Charlemagne. That they all belong to a secret order of people who know about the existence of aliens/demons, that the earth is flat, etc. This forms the basis of the deep dive into the history of this fictional flat earth.

Now just because you have the basics, doesn't mean you have a plot. Twenty different writers using this would have completely different plots, different characters, different villains, etc. Everything would be different, despite the core principles of the fictional world being the same.

What we just did was effectively an exercise in World Building, but also a narrative exercise with respect to drip feeding the plot to the readers. To keep it interesting, you don't give them all that information in the first book. No, have to give it to them slowly over a period of 3 books.

Think of the John Carter of Mars series (Edgar Rice Burroughs). ERB drip feeds parts of the planet one section at a time, revealing only part of it to the readers in each book (and sadly repeating the old save-the-princess plot in every book). ERB would have love playing Super Mario Bros.


But as I already pointed out, I already have other projects I am working on. And too many ideas for books. I have seven novels I am already currently working on. I don't need more.

Also, writing a series of aliens/flat earther books just isn't my thing, even if I did come up with the idea. So feel free to take this idea and run with it.

Or find a different conspiracy theory and then run with it. No shortage of them out there.

Or send me an email or tweet, and I will give you 3 story ideas fresh off the press.

I never get writers block. My only problem is lack of time to write everything.

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