KINDLE UNLIMITED 2.0 MATH
I will address a variety of Kindle Unlimited math in this article:
- Just how does $0.0058 per page compare with the old system?
- Interpreting the value of pages read.
- How to figure out what your royalty is from your KENPC.
- Understanding the KENP read in your reports.
- Projecting what you will earn in July.
- How to make a spreadsheet to do the math for your KDP Select books.
If you haven’t read Hugh Howey’s take on the new Kindle Unlimited policy, you should. The analysis is amazing, includes several excellent points that I haven’t read elsewhere, and even has proactive suggestions for illustrated children’s authors. Hugh Howey’s article (featuring math by author Susan Kaye Quinn), makes similar comparisons between the new and old Kindle Unlimited royalties and interpretation of the value of the projected $0.0058 per page.
KINDLE UNLIMITED 2.0 VERSUS 1.0
KDP Select authors were earning a flat rate of approximately $1.35 per borrow read to 10% under the original Kindle Unlimited.
The new Kindle Unlimited pays a royalty per page read. Based on Amazon’s announcement that the KDP Select Global Fund will be $11M in July and August, along with Amazon’s release that 1.9B pages were read in June, this projects to a royalty of $0.0058 KENP read (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read).
That’s slightly less than 0.6 cents per page. The actual payout may be somewhat different. There is no guarantee that 1.9B pages will be read in July, and sometimes Amazon adds to the KDP Select Global Fund. (I wouldn’t count on the latter. Amazon usually starts the KDP Select Global Fund at $3M, and recently has added $7M or so to bring it to $10M or higher. They’re just skipping that initial $3M now, so $11M doesn’t seem as likely to change. But it could change.)
Here are some examples to help illustrate this change in policy. The examples naively assume $0.0058 per page. Pages are KENP (i.e. normalized pages, not actual pages). It also assumes that the customer reads 100% of the book (which, for some books, will not be the case on average).
- 50 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = 29 cents. 79% loss.
- 100 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = 58 cents. 57% loss.
- 150 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = 87 cents. 36% loss.
- 200 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = $1.16. 14% loss.
- 250 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = $1.45. 7% gain.
- 300 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = $1.74. 29% gain.
- 350 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = $2.03. 50% gain.
- 400 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = $2.32. 72% gain.
- 450 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = $2.61. 93% gain.
- 500 pages. Old royalty = $1.35. New royalty = $2.90. 115% gain.
Note that this is only for Kindle Unlimited borrows. This has absolutely nothing to do with sales.
These are not actual pages, print pages, nor estimated pages from the product page. These are from the KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count), which you find by clicking on the Promoe and Advertise button from your KDP Bookshelf.
The KENPC is nearly double the print page count for many books. It often works out to around 200 words per page. So a typical 200-page novel may have a 300 to 400 page KENPC.
So when you look at the chart and see that you have to write approximately 250 pages to break even, that’s not a normal 250-page book. It might be a typical 150-page print book, where the KENPC turns out to be 250 pages.
150 page print novel, that’s kind of on the short side among novels. Browse your local bookstore and see how many novels have 200 to 800 pages. (I’m not saying there is anything wrong with 150 pages or less. I’m just saying, it’s not like you have to write an epic to reach the break-even point.)
Here’s another way to look at this comparison:
- Old system. 50-pages, 250 pages, and 500 pages all received the same $1.35 royalty.
- New system. 50-pages = 29 cents, 250 pages = $1.45, and 500 pages = $2.90.
Really, it’s just redistributing the $11M payout.
Longer books aren’t necessarily favored. Shorter books may get read more, shorter books may get read to 100% more.
Reader engagement is favored, not book length.
Look at it another way. If you write 4 books of 50 pages each, while your friend writes 1 book of 200 pages, when a customer reads 100% of the pages you each wrote, you both earn the same royalty. Your friend didn’t earn more money by putting all of the pages in a single book. (You might actually earn more money by getting more people to try your shorter books and getting more people to finish them.)
LESS THAN A PENNY PER PAGE. TOTAL RIP-OFF, RIGHT?
Really? Let’s compare.
Suppose you traditionally publish a book and earn a 10% royalty (it might be a little less). You write a 300-page novel. The book retails for $14.99. Your royalty works out to $1.49. You just earned $0.0050 per page.
Now traditionally published books come in different page lengths and different list prices, yet it’s not uncommon for the royalty to work out to less than a penny per page.
Suppose you self-publish with KDP, but opt out of KDP Select. You write a 450-page novel (maybe it’s really 300 pages in print, but the KENPC is 450 pages—though you don’t know it because you didn’t enroll in KDP Select). You set your list price at $2.99. Your royalty for sales $2.09. Nobody borrows your book. You’re earning $0.0046 per page for sales.
You can earn more per page for sales. Write a shorter book or set a higher list price. But $2.99 is a very common list price. 99 cents is even more common, and then for your 450-page book you’d be earning $0.00076 per page. KDP Select is paying you nearly 8x more per page in that case.
The average reader reads about 200 words per minute, which is about the same as 1 normalized page (KENPC). So Amazon is paying you about $0.0058 for each minute of entertainment that your provide to readers, or 35 cents per hour. (Don’t freak out. They’re not paying you 35 cents per hour of work, much less than minimum wage. They are paying you 35 cents per hour that one customer spends reading your book.)
You don’t plan to have just one customer borrow your book, right? If 100 different customers spend 1 hour per day reading your book, on average, you earn about $35 per day, or $1000 per month.
I rent blockbuster movies for about $1. The movies often last 2 hours. I pay about 50 cents per hour of entertainment. Amazon is paying you 35 cents per hour of entertainment for books read through Kindle Unlimited. Even if your book isn’t a blockbuster.
That’s an important point. People don’t have to read to seek entertainment:
- You can watch television for free. (Well, maybe somebody paid a cable or satellite bill.)
- You can stream many movies for free as part of a subscription.
- You can rent movies for about a dollar.
- You can spend the day texting on your cell phone for free.
- You can interact on Facebook for hours of free entertainment.
- You can play games on your cell phone with free apps.
- You can play video games at home and trade them in for new ones later.
Books are competing against all those other forms of entertainment, many of which are free or very low cost.
Does somebody have to pay you money to write one page? How much do you have to earn per page to be happy?
Look at my blog. I’ve published 746 posts on self-publishing on my blog. Most of my posts have 1000 to 5000 words. That’s 4 to 20 pages KENPC. Even more, since images count, too.
I earn ZERO for all that writing. I write because I love writing, and enjoy sharing knowledge.
But if you want to pay me 2 cents for my thoughts, feel free to borrow one of my books through Kindle Unlimited and read 3 pages. 🙂
WHAT IS YOUR NEW KINDLE UNLIMITED ROYALTY?
First, visit your KDP Bookshelf and click the Promote and Advertise button. This page will show you what your KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) is.
The KENPC is often greater than the print page count or estimated page count shown on the product page (unless you have a fixed format book).
Multiply the KENPC by $0.0058. This projects what you are likely to earn if a customer reads 100% of your book through Kindle Unlimited. It could be less, it could be more, but this is a handy reference.
EXAMPLE: If your KENPC is 300 pages, this comes out to 300 x $.0058 = $1.74. ♦
Of course, reader engagement is a huge factor. That $1.74 assumes customers will read 100% of the book, which may be far from the case for many books.
Next, visit your Sales Dashboard in your KDP Reports. Calculate the average KENP read per day. Add up the pages read per day and divide by the number of days. Now multiply this by 31 for the 31 days of July. Multiply this by $0.0058. This projects what you will earn for July based on the pages read so far.
- 50 pages read on July 1
- 350 pages read on July 2
- 750 pages read on July 3
- 550 pages read on July 4
50 + 350 + 750 + 550 = 1700 pages read.
1700 divided by 4 days = 425 pages read per day on average.
425 x 31 days = 13,175 pages read in July. (Based on the fluctuation in this example, this could be way off. Only 4 days into July is very early to make projections.)
13,175 x $0.0058 = $76 monthly royalties for July borrows. ♦
Note that this projection is very crude. You may be seeing a lot of fluctuation in the early days of this program, and your numbers may grow on average as more people borrow your books and finally get around to reading them. The later we get through July, the better this will work.
Obviously, nothing will work as well as waiting until August 15, when we learn what the actual payout is.
Now visit your Month-to-Date Unit Sales report. Click the link near the top of the page to view June’s numbers (this link will be there for June until August, 2015).
Multiply the number of borrows in June by $1.35 to approximate what you earned in June. (Once July 15 comes, you can use the actual amount.)
Multiply the number of borrows in June by your KENPC royalty (which we calculated earlier) to project how much you would have made in June under the new terms.
EXAMPLE: Your book had 30 borrows in June. The KENPC royalty is $1.74.
Your estimated monthly royalty is 30 x $1.35 = $40.5 based on the old terms.
Your estimated monthly royalty is 30 x $1.74 = $52.2 based on the new terms, with the wild assumptions that every customer will read 100% of your book, the payout will be $0.0058 per page, and customers who read less than 10% of your book are insignificant. ♦
HOW TO MAKE A SPREADSHEET
Let me thank Carol Ervin for providing this suggestion.
Her husband created a spreadsheet for her, and she offered this as a suggestion for a future post on my blog.
I will provide step-by-step instructions for producing a simple Excel sheet for your KDP Select books. (There is more than one way to do it. Here is one way.)
- If you only have a few books, type the word Title in cell A1, and type the title of each book (or a shortened version of it) in the cells below A1. Type the word Borrows in cell B1. View your Month-to-Date Unit Sales report. Click the link to view your June sales and borrows. Enter the number of copies borrowed in June in column B, next to the corresponding book from column A. Skip step 2. Go onto step 3.
- If you have so many books that you don’t want to do step 1 by hand, view your Month-to-Date Unit Sales report. Click the link to view your June sales and borrows. Highlight everything from the 1 on the top left to the 0 (or whatever number is there) on the bottom right. Right-click and click Copy. In a blank sheet in Excel, go to Paste Special (click the arrow at the bottom of the Paste button on the Home ribbon) and choose Unicode Text. Delete columns H, I, D, E, F, C, and A. Click the top of a column to select it, then press the top half of the Delete button on the Home ribbon (not on your keyboard). After deleting unwanted columns, you should only have data in columns A and B. Column A will have your titles, column B will have the number of borrows. View your Month-to-Date report and make sure that column B has your borrows and not something else. Click the 1 on the left (of the spreadsheet in order to highlight the first row) and click the top half of the Insert button on the Home ribbon to add a blank row at the top. Type the word Title in cell A1 and the word Borrows in cell B1. (You can keep some of those other columns if you want, but realize that the cell names in the following steps may be different if you do so.)
- Type the words June Royalties in cell C1. Place your cursor in cell C2. Type =B2*1.35. (That’s an equal sign B2 asterisk 1.35.) Make sure you have the equal sign. Press Enter or click the green checkmark. Select cell C1 again. This will place a black rectangle around cell C1. Look closely and you will see a tiny black rectangle in the bottom right corner of the large black rectangle. Place your cursor over that tiny black rectangle in the cell’s bottom right corner. The shape of your cursor will change from a thick white + to a narrow black + if you do this correctly. When your cursor is correctly positioned, left-click and drag the formula down to the bottom of the column (as far as you need to go based on the number of books you have in column A). For example, if column A ends in cell A8, drag the formula down to cell C8. This column shows your estimated June royalty for borrows.
- Type the word KENPC in cell D1. Enter the KENPC for each book in column D. (Unfortunately, it looks like you have to do this manually, unless you can find a page on your KDP Bookshelf that lists all of your KENPC’s together.) Click the Promote & Advertise button from your Bookshelf to find your KENPC.
- Type the words New Royalty in cell E1. Place your cursor in cell E2. Type =D2*0.0058 (don’t forget the equal sign). Drag this formula down as instructed in step 3. This shows your projected royalty if a customer reads 100% of your book.
- Type the words July 100% in cell F1. Place your cursor in cell F2. Type =B2*E2 (remember the = sign). Drag this formula down. This projects your July royalties with the wild assumptions that every customer will read 100% of your book, that the payout will be $0.0058, and that books not read to 10% are insignificant.
- Place your cursor in the first blank cell in column C (just below the list of June royalties for borrows). Click AutoSum on the Home ribbon and press Enter. This projects your total June royalties.
- Place your cursor in the first blank cell in column F (just below the list of projected July royalties for borrows). Click AutoSum and press Enter. This projects your total July royalties with the wild assumptions that every customer will read 100% of your book, that the payout will be $0.0058, and that books not read to 10% are insignificant. This may not be very reliable, but some info may be better than no info. You will have some basis for comparison later.
- If you want to go on, you can calculate the average number of pages read per day (shown how in the previous section) and enter this in column G (put the title of Ave Pages Read in G1). Now go to cell H2 and type =G2*31*0.0058 (put the title of July Royalties in H1). This projects your July earnings based on average KENP read so far and the estimated $0.0058 per page payout. Again, this is not perfect, and early in July you’re likely to see much fluctuation; the payout may also be different from the estimated value of $0.0058 per page. AutoSum column H to estimate your July royalties based on the pages read so far and a $0.0058 per page payout.
Write happy, be happy. 🙂
Copyright © 2015
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
- Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
- 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
- Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)