Saturday, July 4, 2015

Kindle Unlimited - A good thing for authors, or a not so good thing?

Recently, a fellow author who I spoke to hipped me to some new-school ways of publishing, while I shared my old-school ways. They took the time to break down their sources of revenue from their self-published titles, and I was amazed at what they told me. It turns out the 90% of what they make (and they say they make five figures per month) is revenue from their titles that are offered through Kindle Unlimited. "Wow." I said! I took note.

For readers, Kindle Unlimited is advertised as an ebook subscription-based service, costing them $9.99 per month. It allows them access to hundreds of thousands of Kindle ebooks and audiobooks, and the reader can keep up to 10 books at a time with no due date. If they want to add an 11th title, they must remove one of the 10 that they have.

From an author standpoint, I wondered just how beneficial this service really could be. And so, I enrolled some of my titles on the KDP Select program last month. Soon, I should have a fairly good idea as to whether or not this is the way to go. I'll find out in dollar amounts by mid-July, but I'll still need to track it for another month. I might renew KDP Select by the end of the three month period that is required, or I might not. Remains to be seen.

What really impacts authors as of July 1, 2015, is that Amazon has changed the way it pays authors for books in the KU and Kindle Lending program. It will pay author royalties based upon actual pages read, as opposed to paying an author each time a reader makes it through 10% of the book, as it was previously. Traditional books are paid royalties for each book sold, but KU now pays for number of pages read.

I received an email from Amazon on July 1st, that breaks down how a KDP author can check what is called a KENP or Kindle Edition Normalized Page count for each title, and in mid-July they will post the results of the fund for June, which is expected to be over $11M shared by all KU authors. They informed us that readers read nearly $1.9B KENPs in June. To me, this all sounds a little bit too measured and too iffy. I went to my KDP platform, and I can see my KENP average for each book, but how that translates into dollars and "sense" as to how much each author will receive (payout) based upon the fund, we shall see.

I have found that those authors who have been in the program either hate it or love it, but now with this new way of paying authors based upon normalized pages, I'm hoping it will lean towards the loving category.

The main thing is that I don't want readers worrying about how many pages they need to read so that we get paid. I like to keep things simple. I suppose that soon enough, I will find out if simple is the best word to describe this.

The other concern about KDP Select is that you have to sign over exclusive rights to Amazon, so your ebook cannot be sold anywhere else. I won't comment on that right now.

Ahh, the book biz!

If you've had any experience with KU, please share your thoughts. I will keep you updated on how things go on my end. Write on!!





Charles Gramlich said...

I had some of my self published items up on amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. I initially got some sales through places other than Amazon but none in the last few months so, just before they changed their policy, I moved all my self pubbed titles to Amazon and put them on KU. too early to see if it's made a difference for me yet.

Liane Spicer said...

I recently removed 18 titles (under different pen names) from KDP Select. I dislike the way Amazon keeps KDP authors guessing about all the ways in which they tweak the system. I played their exclusivity game for 3 years then I just got fed up. Kindle Unlimited started off okay then went dead for me. Now there's KENP. I think paying the author per page read is scandalous.

It's too soon to say whether putting the books into the other stores was a good move. I might decide to crawl back to Select and take whatever pittance Amazon throws my way. But right now I'm giving B&N, Kobo, iBooks etc a fighting chance.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Interesting post, Marissa. I haven't tried that as yet, but I'll learn from you experiences as you share it.

Linda Thorne said...

I have a debut novel coming out soon. I doubt this is something I'd want to try. At least not at first, but I sure like getting the information. Interesting post.