Kindle Unlimited Per-page Rates for 2016

ku-per-page-2016

Kindle Unlimited rates (in dollars) for KENP pages read in 2016

WHAT DID KINDLE UNLIMITED PAY FOR PAGES READ IN 2016?

In 2016, Kindle Unlimited began by paying just over $0.004 per KENP page read, but finished strong, paying over $0.005 per KENP page read in the final months, showing a steady increase over the last four months.

Here is a breakdown by month, from January, 2016 thru November, 2016 (in dollars):

January 0.00411
February 0.00479
March 0.004779
April 0.004957
May 0.004686
June 0.004925
July 0.00481
August 0.004575
September 0.00497
October 0.00519
November 0.005375

The KDP Select Global Fund showed continued growth throughout the year (the following figures are in millions of dollars):

January 15
February 14
March 14.9
April 14.9
May 15.3
June 15.4
July 15.5
August 15.8
September 15.9
October 16.2
November 16.3

This means that Amazon is paying approximately $186,000,000 in royalties for Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) pages read in 2016, just for KDP Select books (the traditionally published books in Kindle Unlimited evidently receive a separate payout), and that’s on top of the royalties that they receive for sales.

Actually, Amazon paid even more money because on top of the $186,000,000 they also pay All-Star bonuses (when I inquired, KDP informed me that the All-Star bonuses are paid separate from the global fund).

Paying nearly $200 million in royalties for borrows (primarily) through Kindle Unlimited, this is a very significant share of the royalties paid for e-books.

The KDP Select Global Fund continues to rise (now over $16 million per month), and the per-page rate has also steadily risen the past four months. This data suggests that Kindle Unlimited is growing stronger. Of course, the number of e-books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited also continues to rise (across most categories) significantly.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • 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)

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Kindle Unlimited vs. the Naysayers #PoweredByIndie

Images from ShutterStock

Images from ShutterStock

KINDLE UNLIMITED: CURRENT STATUS

Back in January, Kindle Unlimited had taken a little dip (which happens every holiday season), and the naysayer propaganda was in full force.

It’s now October. For the year 2016, Kindle Unlimited has beaten the propaganda.

  • Paying $0.00497 per KENP page read for September, Kindle Unlimited has been amazingly stable since February.  That’s 8 months strong.
  • Presently at a relative high of nearly half a penny per Kindle page read, the payout hasn’t suffered the continual drop that had been predicted. There have been some pleasant jumps, and not just with the September payout.
  • Here’s another cool fact: There are now 1.4 million books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. There were 860,000 books enrolled in February, 2015.  That’s an increase of over half a million books in 1.5 years (a 60% increase). Remember all the stories about indie authors running for the hills? The data shows otherwise.
  • My favorite number is $15.9 million. That’s the KDP Select Global Fund for September, 2016, another of many record highs. Amazon continues to pay more and more money in Kindle Unlimited royalties. Amazon will pay close to $200,000,000 in royalties for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows for the year 2016 (that’s aside from the royalties for the sales of those books; we’re just talking borrows), and that’s in addition to what they pay for All-Star bonuses (that’s right, the All-Star bonus isn’t taken out of the Global Fund, it’s paid in addition to it; I asked KDP about this specific point).

$200 million in royalties for Kindle Unlimited pages read in one year: That’s a significant share of the e-book market, and a rather indie-friendly share, too.

The continued rise in the KDP Select Global Fund and a fairly stable payout of just under a half-penny per page (though it will probably take its usual dip in December and January, and then likely return next February) suggest that the Kindle Unlimited customer base continues to grow. A great sign.

With 1.4 million books to choose from, with nearly 50,000 added just in the last 30 days, there is also growing competition for this customer base. The way to deal with the increased competition is to keep writing, try to write better, and try to improve your marketing skills. Competition is a good sign. It helps to bring in more customers, and it shows that this market is worth competing for. Good writing and marketable ideas help to provide good long-term prospects.

Celebrate Great Indie Writing with the #PoweredByIndie Hashtag in October, 2016

You can find some great indie writing in Kindle Unlimited, for example.

Many of those 1.4 million books were self-published. There are 100,000 or so traditionally published books in the mix, too; it’s not exclusive to self-publishing. But indie authors have really helped to make Kindle Unlimited strong enough to attract and grow a significant customer base.

Kindle Unlimited, in a strong way, really is #PoweredByIndie. But we must also give credit to Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Amazon’s imprints, and other great titles, too, to help attract customers. It’s great writing that attracts customers, regardless of how it is published.

Strive for great writing and good things are bound to happen.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • 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)

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What Did Kindle Unlimited Pay per Page in August, 2016?

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Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED PER PAGE-RATE FOR AUGUST, 2016

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate dropped slightly, down to $0.004575 per KENP page read for August, 2016 (compared to $0.00481 for July).

There have been small fluctuations, both up and down, for the past several months.

It has held fairly steady for 2016 (while up considerably from $0.04 in January).

The KDP Select Global Fund was $15.8M for August, 2016, slightly higher than each of the past few months.

Write happy, be happy. :-)

Chris McMullen

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read, May, 2016

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

PAGES READ FOR MAY, 2016

For May, 2016, Kindle Unlimited pages read paid $0.004686 per page, which is down 5% from April’s rate of $0.00495663.

Since the per-page rate was up nearly 5% in April compared to March, it’s basically just come back to where it had been.

However, it’s still considerably up compared to January’s rate of $0.00411.

Kindle Unlimited continues to thrive, as the KDP Select Global Fund has risen to $15.3M for May, 2016 (compared to $14.9M for April).

(Sorry I haven’t been active lately with my blog. I’m caught up in more projects than normal. But I’ll continue to update Kindle Unlimited payments. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I will get back to blogging more regularly.)

Write happy, be happy. :-)

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • 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)

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Kindle Unlimited KENP Read up 17%!

Kindle Unlimited up 17 percent

IMPROVEMENT IN KENP READ RATE

Here is some good news for KDP Select authors and for Kindle Unlimited subscribers (indirectly, since this good news for authors benefits the readers, too).

The KENP pages read rate rose up to $0.00479 per page in February, 2016 up from $0.00411 per page in January, 2016.

It’s not because there were 2 more days in January. (Being leap year, there were 29 days this February.) The ratio 29/31 would only account for less than half the difference.

We had two reasons to expect the KENP per-page rate to increase:

  • KENPC v2.0 began February 1, 2016, with a perceived decrease on average. A small reduction to the total number of KENP pages available to be read would result in a corresponding increase in the per-page rate.
  • January, 2016 appeared to reflect holiday traffic. It’s typical for some of that holiday traffic to taper somewhat. The per-page rate dipped a bit in the holidays with a high volume of pages read, and the per-page rate rose back up following the holidays.

Regardless of the reason, and regardless of how long this lasts, a 17% boost to the KENP per-page rate for Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) borrows is nice to see.

The KDP Select Global Fund dropped 6.7%, down to $14M in February, 2016 from $15M in January, 2016. This is probably due to a decrease in the overall volume of Kindle Unlimited pages read following the holiday season.

In other countries:

  • United Kingdom: £0.00305 per page (British pounds). Up 16% from December’s £0.00262.
  • France: €0.00474 per page (Euro).
  • Spain: €0.00474 per page (Euro).
  • Canada: $0.00499 per page (Canadian dollars).
  • India: ₹0.104 per page (Indian rupees).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • 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)

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Ideas for Children’s Books in Kindle Unlimited

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Image from ShutterStock.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS IN KINDLE UNLIMITED

Now that Kindle Unlimited is paying KDP Select books based on the number of Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) read, children’s books—especially illustrated kids’ books—appear to be among those most affected.

Illustrated children’s authors with books enrolled in KDP Select basically have three options:

  • Opt your illustrated children’s books out of KDP Select. (Uncheck the automatic renewal box. Wait until the 90-day period has expired. Now you can publish elsewhere. But beware that not all other e-book platforms are equally picture-friendly. You might want to do some research and formatting before you decide to make the switch.)
  • Leave your books enrolled in KDP Select, and either complain about the change or feel frustrated without complaining—or try your best to ignore it—or hope that your book will be engaging enough to help get more pages read. (You probably don’t want to complain publicly in such a way that it may hurt your brand among your potential audience. Sending a polite suggestion to Amazon KDP or organizing a petition are private ways to express your opinion and try to instigate a little change.)
  • Leave your books enrolled in KDP Select, and find ways to make the most of the new program.

For those who choose option three, I have a few ideas that may help. Maybe my suggestions will inspire yet another idea of your own.

HOW TO GET MORE USE OUT OF YOUR PICTURES

This is something I saw in some books before Kindle Unlimited changed, but the idea has even greater value now.

A couple of Kindle Unlimited books that I borrowed for my daughter found a creative way to get more mileage out of the pictures.

It has marketing potential, and also helps with the new KENP read policy.

The idea is simple: Show how the pictures were made.

It’s easy to do: When you create your images—or when your illustrator makes your images—take pictures of those images to show the stages in which they are made.

Here’s what you do with them: Add them to the end of your book, showing one step at a time how to draw the pictures. You can add a little text, too, describing the process.

It’s a win-win-win situation:

  • Kids to get read a book and learn how to draw pictures.
  • Parents get added value in that their kids practice reading and learn drawing skills.
  • Authors benefit by adding several extra pages to their Kindle e-books.

It’s not just stuffing pages at the end of the book. These pages offer valuable content—showing how to draw pictures—which potentially adds to reader engagement.

More pages read means a greater royalty earned through Kindle Unlimited.

HOW TO ADD ENGAGING CONTENT TO YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOK

Here is another way to add engaging content to your children’s book.

How do parents know if their children paid attention or understood the story?

A few multiple choice questions following each story could help parents assess reading comprehension. They can check their answers if you use a footnote or endnote for the answer key.

You can also add a vocabulary key after the story to review important terms, or test if kids can figure out the meaning from the context.

There are all kinds of ways that you can add questions or exercises to add educational value to your entertaining stories. This might help differentiate your KDP self-published book from similar traditionally published books that only have stories.

BUNDLING CHILDREN’S BOOKS TOGETHER

Bundling doesn’t help by simply adding pages. Those extra pages are more work, and only pay if the pages are read.

Furthermore, whether you write one 200-page book or eight 25-page books, either way you write 200 pages—and if a customer reads all 200 pages, you get paid the same whether they are bundled or not.

But where bundling can help is with (A) convenience and (B) perceived value.

It’s more convenient to read another story when it’s already in the same book. It’s inconvenient to have to return to the Kindle Store to buy the author’s next book.

If your stories are engaging, you’re more likely to get your next story read if the customer doesn’t have to find your other book.

Kindle Unlimited customers also see more value in downloading a collection than borrowing one short story.

The bundle may even help with sales, if there is a discount compared to buying the individual titles.

I would sell both the individual titles and the bundle. It gives you more exposure. The individual titles are more likely to be discovered in searches on Amazon, as you can customize 2 categories and 7 keywords for each individual title. Once they click on your author name, customers can then discover your bundle.

You can also mention your bundle after the story in your individual books. If they liked the story, maybe they will try your bundle.

But note this:

  • If your bundle is in KDP Select, your individual titles must be exclusive to Amazon.
  • If your individual titles are in KDP Select, the bundle must also be exclusive to Amazon.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

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)

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How many books were borrowed through Kindle Unlimited?

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Image from Shutterstock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED BORROWS

Amazon KDP now shows the number of pages read (KENP read, or Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read).

The KDP reports no longer show the number of books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

Although it’s nice to see the number of pages read, this data would be more meaningful if we knew how many books were borrowed.

That way, if you saw 200 KENP read in your report, you would know if 1 person read 200 pages or if 4 people each read 50 pages.

There is a way to get more information, though not quite as much as you might like:

  • Visit your Sales Dashboard at KDP by clicking Reports.
  • (Note the blue circle with the question mark at the top right. It doesn’t work presently, but it may be a sign of more information to come.)
  • Scroll down to the very bottom and click the Generate Report button.
  • Open the spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (for example).
  • Scroll down to the very bottom of the spreadsheet.
  • Note that there are three tabs: (1) Royalty Report (2) Orders Report (3) KU-KOLL Unit Report.
  • Click on the middle tab, Orders Report.
  • This shows the breakdown of KENP read per book per country per day. (It also breaks down your sales.)

Unfortunately, the third tab (KU-KOLL Unit Report) stops after June 30. It sounds like what you want, but it’s not for July.

The middle tab (Orders Report) provides a helpful breakdown. But it’s inconvenient to get there, and it still doesn’t show you quite what you want.

Maybe this will improve. I’ve heard from hundreds of authors who would like to see the number of borrows in the reports.

But it doesn’t help to tell me. Visit Amazon KDP and click on the Contact Us button in the corner. It took a long time and a large number of requests, but reporting has changed in the past and we have pre-orders—authors have requested these features for years and they finally came. If you want something, ask for it. Otherwise, how will they know what you want?

Why doesn’t the report show the number of borrows?

There are a few theories for why the reports don’t show the number of Kindle Unlimited (or Amazon Prime) borrows.

Perhaps they just forgot or didn’t realize its importance. That seems doubtful. But perhaps.

Maybe most customers don’t start reading the book after they download it, and Amazon doesn’t want authors to freak out when they see several borrows, but zero pages read.

But that has an easy fix: Don’t show all borrows; just show borrows where the book has actually been opened.

However, what if many customers only read a few pages and discard the book. It could happen, since there really is no incentive for Kindle Unlimited customers to check out the Look Inside. Since they can read for free, they might just download it and skip the middle man.

It might not be a sign that the book is bad. It might just be a matter of taste. Oh, I didn’t realize this was a mystery. Oops! A mere 3 pages read.

Knowledge is power, though. If we see that most customers are only getting partway through our books, wouldn’t we feel inclined to try to make our books more engaging?

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

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)

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New Kindle Unlimited Survey for Authors (Got a Minute?)

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Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED 2.0: BETTER OR WORSE?

Here a few quick questions about the new Kindle Unlimited policy.

If you’re an author, please complete this brief survey. You can view the results after you vote.

(If you’re not an author, you can still view the results without voting. Just click where it says, “View results.”)

Kindle Unlimited now pays royalties to KDP Select books based on pages read (KENP read) instead of a flat rate per borrow.

Do you like the new Kindle Unlimited policy or the old policy better?

Which of the following options best describes your reaction to the new Kindle Unlimited pages read policy?

The best way to track whether or not the total number of KDP Select books is increasing or decreasing is to periodically check the enrollment numbers at Amazon. (This way you can also check on specific categories.)

This survey will remain available. Feel free to return and check the results after more authors have taken it.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

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)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Kindle Unlimited 2.0—Should you stay or should you go?

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Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED POLICY CHANGES

Now that Amazon pays KDP Select authors for pages read through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime—instead of the number of borrows read to 10%—some authors are wondering:

  • Should I keep my books enrolled in KDP Select?
  • Should I opt out of KDP Select and publish elsewhere?
  • Should I unpublish at Kobo, Nook, etc. and opt into KDP Select?

There are many things to factor into this decision.

Let’s start with the math.

KENPC MATH

The Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) is your book’s official number of pages as far as royalties for pages read through KU and KOLL borrows is concerned.

  • Your KENPC isn’t the same as what you see listed on your book’s product page, and may be significantly different.
  • Visit your Bookshelf and click the Advertise and Promote button to find out what the KENPC is for your book.

Amazon has set the KDP Select Global Fund at $11M for both July and August. Amazon also announced that 1.9B pages were read in June, 2015.

This leads to a projected royalty of $0.0058 per page read.

Multiply your book’s KENPC by $0.0058 to figure out what royalty you would earn if 100% of your book is read.

233 pages is the magic number for KENPC. If your KENPC is higher than 233 pages, your projected royalty for a book read to 100% is more than $1.35; if your KENPC is lower than 233 pages, your projected royalty for a book read to 100% is less than $1.35.

(Where did this $1.35 come from? That’s what KDP Select authors were paid for May, 2015.)

There are a couple of obvious complications:

  • We don’t know if 1.9B pages will be read in July. Therefore, the estimate of $0.0058 could be significantly off.
  • You don’t know how many of your customers read 100% of your book. If many customers don’t finish your book, your projected earnings for July are much less.

What may be more relevant is to compare your royalty for sales to your potential royalty for borrows.

  • Visit your KDP bookshelf. Click on your book. Visit page 2 of the publishing process. Check your royalty for sales in the US (and/or the UK if most of your borrows come from there).
  • Compare your royalty for sales to your projected royalty for borrows (multiply your KENPC by $0.0058).

How do these compare?

  • If your projected royalty for borrows exceeds your royalty for sales, leaving KDP Select doesn’t make much sense unless you normally don’t get many borrows compared to sales.
  • If your projected royalty is in the same ballpark as your royalty for sales, that really doesn’t change much unless you get few borrows compared to sales (or if many customers don’t read 100% of your book).
  • If your projected royalty is much less than your royalty for sales, you need a huge amount of borrows to compensate for sales that you might earn outside of Kindle.

Examples:

  • List price = 99 cents, KENPC = 50 pages. Projected royalty = 50 x $0.0058 = $0.29. Royalty for sales = $0.34. Borrows pay nearly the same as sales. I’d be inclined to keep the book in KDP Select, unless it doesn’t get borrowed much.
  • List price = $2.99, KENPC = 40 pages. Projected royalty = 40 x $0.0058 = $0.23. Royalty for sales = $2.09 (could be much less if there is a significant delivery fee). Borrows pay much less than sales. I’d be inclined to opt out of KDP Select and publish elsewhere, unless the book gets borrowed frequently but rarely sells. Or if some qualitative factor makes up for the financial differential (see below).
  • List price = $2.99, KENPC = 200 pages. Projected royalty = 200 x $0.0058 = $1.16. Royalty for sales = $2.09. First, $1.16 isn’t too different than what borrows used to earn. If the book gets borrowed about as much (or more) as it sells, the sales rank boost may make it worthwhile to stay in KDP Select.
  • List price = $3.99, KENPC = 500 pages. Projected royalty = 500 x $0.0058 = $2.90. Royalty for sales = $2.79. That’s a no-brainer. You stay in KDP Select unless (A) you hardly get any borrows compared to sales or (B) most of your customers stop reading partway through (and it will take a couple of months to really know if that’s the case—don’t expect short-term results in your report to paint the complete picture).

But there is more to this decision than just math.

SALES RANK BOOST

Every borrow through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime helps your book’s Amazon sales rank.

That’s one of the benefits of being in KDP Select. It helps with visibility.

Another thing that helps with visibility: All those borrows help you land on customers-also-bought lists and other Amazon marketing.

You not only lose the royalty from borrows, you also lose these sales rank and exposure benefits, if you opt out of KDP Select (and access to Kindle Countdown Deals and AMS advertisements).

Look at the full picture and weigh that against the benefits of selling on Nook, Kobo, etc. when deciding whether or not to enroll in KDP Select.

REAL DATA

If you can wait until August 15, you will have access to real data:

  • Your prior months’ report will show exactly how much you earned for July via KDP Select borrows.
  • You will know how much Amazon paid for KENP read (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read) in July, 2015.
  • You will know how many KENP read you had on average in July, 2015.
  • You will have 15 days of data for KENP read in August, 2015.
  • You will know if Amazon added anything to the $11M payout for July (seems doubtful, but who knows?).
  • You can browse Amazon and see how many books there are in your subcategory (which will only make sense if you go there right now and see what the current number is). You don’t have to guess whether books are dropping out of your subcategory: You just have to look and see. (If some do drop out, maybe that helps you gain exposure. Exactly how you should interpret any change isn’t quite so obvious.)
  • It’s possible that between now and then Amazon will make an important announcement (perhaps even tweaking the program for future months). You never know.

Before then, you really don’t know how accurate the projected $0.0058 will be.

INDIE-FRIENDLY AUDIENCE

Amazon is paying $11M in combined royalties to KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime in July and August.

They will pay out over $100M for 2015 via KDP Select royalties for borrows.

What does this mean? It’s a huge share of the e-book market.

Kindle Unlimited subscribers are unlikely to buy books that aren’t enrolled in KDP Select when they can read their choice of a million books for free.

You’re probably going to lose access to this subscriber base if you opt out of KDP Select.

And it’s a relatively indie-friendly audience.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Since KDP Select only entails a 90-day commitment, some authors enroll in KDP Select initially to take advantage of the benefits for 90 days or to test it out, intending to opt out when the enrollment period ends and publish elsewhere in addition to KDP.

If so, be sure to uncheck the automatic renewal box (and double-check this shortly before renewal) to successfully opt out. (You must also wait for the renewal date to pass before publishing your e-book edition anywhere other than Kindle.)

This strategy gives you the best of both worlds (though not simultaneously), and lets you test out KDP Select before deciding whether or not to publish elsewhere too.

You could even advertise to your audience that your book will only be in Kindle Unlimited for 90 days and after that subscribers will lose their chance to get your book for free.

Look at your numbers for the first 90 days. You might see reasons to stay in KDP Select or to opt out. The data may aid you in your decision.

POTENTIAL OUTSIDE OF KINDLE

The main reason to opt out of KDP Select is to get out of the exclusivity clause—to publish your e-book on Nook, Kobo, etc.

Many authors find that they don’t sell many e-books outside of Kindle. A few authors sell well outside of Kindle.

Note that iPad customers, for example, can read your Kindle e-book through Kindle apps, and anyone with a tablet, laptop, or PC can read your Kindle e-book with a Kindle app. That is, you don’t have to own a Kindle device to read Kindle e-books.

The real question is this: Does your unique book have potential to sell via other e-book retailers, like Nook and Kobo? Do you have specific marketing plans that may help improve your prospects of selling e-books outside of Kindle?

If you intend to opt out of KDP Select, you want answers to these questions. Visit these retailers, see what kind of e-books are selling in your genre or category. See how indie e-books are doing there. Find out how those indie authors are marketing their e-books.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

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)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Myths about the new Kindle Unlimited Pages Read Policy

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Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED MYTHS

First we had the Information Age. It was quickly followed by the Misinformation Age.

Here are some common myths about the change in Kindle Unlimited policy regarding pages read.

Authors of Kindle books now earn royalties based on the number of pages read.

Read that carefully. Can you spot the mistake? There is indeed a mistake. An important one.

Yet, much of the media has made this same mistake.

What’s wrong? An important clarification.

  • Royalties for sales are completely unaffected. Authors earn their usual royalties for sales, which does not depend on how much of the book is read.
  • Only royalties for borrows through Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) are affected by the change. Therefore, this only affects authors who enroll their books in KDP Select. Only 1 million of over 3 million Kindle books are affected by this change in policy (and even then, the sales of those books are not affected at all, only borrows are).

The new Kindle Unlimited pages read model favors long books.

No it doesn’t. It favors reader engagement, regardless of how long the book is.

The new Kindle Unlimited policy doesn’t pay based on the length of the book, but on how many of the pages are actually read. Hence, it favors reader engagement.

It’s simple math. Ralph writes one 200-page book. Susan writes four 50-page books.

  • When a customer reads 100% of Ralph’s book, Ralph will earn about $1.16.
  • When a customer reads 100% of Susan’s 4 books, Susan will earn about $1.16 combined.
  • Ralph and Susan wrote the same number of pages.
  • Either way, the customer read 200 pages.

In many genres, with the new policy, Susan may actually earn more money than Ralph, not the other way around.

Why? Because customers in many genres may be more likely to:

  • take a chance on a shorter book
  • read a shorter book
  • read 100% of a shorter book
  • read the next book after reading a shorter book

But there are certainly genres and audiences who favor longer books,  so it depends.

The new Kindle Unlimited pages read policy encourages authors to pad their books.

Like what? Adding filler? Adding back matter? Adding unnecessary images? Breaking paragraphs? Using a larger font? Adding space between paragraphs? Adding more page breaks? How about putting every word on its own line?

First of all, some of these things won’t have any impact on the KENPC, the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count. Amazon puts every book in a standard font size with standard linespacing to figure the KENPC, so writing with a larger font or adding space is foolish.

Second of all, the new program only pays for pages read. Adding pages that aren’t likely to get read is a waste of time.

Third of all, customers aren’t going to put up with nonsense. Pad your book in a way that customers don’t like and they will stop reading your book, which gives you fewer pages read, and they will post bad reviews, which gets fewer books read.

The original Kindle Unlimited policy was an invitation to abuse, hence the origin of the term ‘scamphlet.’ (I’m not referring to a quality short story as a ‘scamphlet.’ By scamphlet, I mean a short work intentionally designed to abuse the original policy.)

The new Kindle Unlimited policy is sustainable because it’s harder to abuse. And while it’s possible to think of a few ways to try to abuse the system, these would be easy to catch, and Amazon has publicly announced that a monitoring system is in place to catch potential abuse.

Paying $0.0059 per page is highway robbery.

Suppose you self-publish a 400-page novel and price it at $2.99. Your royalty will be $2.09 (maybe less because of delivery charges).

You would earn $0.0052 per page for sales. You would actually earn more per page for borrows, if the $0.0059 figure turns out to apply.

Suppose you traditionally publish a 400-page novel and the publisher prices it at $14.99. You earn a 10% royalty (or maybe it’s 8%).

You would earn $0.0037 per page for sales. The projection of $0.0059 per page for Kindle Unlimited borrows looks good in comparison.

Actually, when people project $0.0059 per page, it’s based on the KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count). Authors are paid based on KENP Read (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read).

The KENPC provides a generous page count. Many books are nearly twice as long according to the KENPC as they are in print. For example, a 200-page printed novel may have a KENPC of 350 to 400 pages.

So when you factor in the KENPC and the fact that Kindle Unlimited royalties are now paid based on KENP Read, the figure of $0.0059 for KENP Read may actually translate to more than a penny per real page. It’s better than it seems.

Amazon is paying per page so that they can pay out less money.

That is patently not true right now.

The KDP Select Global Fund is set at $11M for both July and August, 2015.

That’s a record high. Amazon is paying more than ever for the first two months of the program.

Now maybe the payout will reduce in the future. Sure, that’s possible. But you can’t accuse Amazon of reducing the payout unless and until they actually do so. It hasn’t happened yet.

If you want to say that Amazon changed the program so that they can pay less, don’t make your argument while Amazon is paying more.

At least wait for it to happen first.

To be fair, all authors enrolled in KDP Select or considering signing up should be prepared for the possibility of a lower payout in the future. Preparation is wise.

The pages read model is bad for all authors.

How so?

Amazon is paying $11M for Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) borrows in July and August.

That’s the same as for June, slightly more than May, and significantly more than previous months.

What the change in policy does is redistribute the way that $11M is allocated to authors.

It isn’t changing the total payout. (At least not at this time. If it reduces in the future, then at that point in time you might have a case. But it hasn’t happened yet. Again, prepare for the possibility, but don’t make accusations until you have data to support them.)

About 50% of the books enrolled in KDP Select will benefit from the change in policy (some slightly, some substantially), while about 50% will earn lower royalties than before.

It’s certainly not bad for all authors.

Amazon is only committing $3 million to the KDP Select Global Fund.

Amazon committed $11M to the KDP Select Global Fund for July and August.

If you want to make this statement, make it about the old program, or make a prediction that it will happen again in the future, but don’t make it about the current program when the current data says otherwise.

The pages read model may be more sustainable as there is an upper limit to how many pages customers can read, whereas there was significant risk with the original program of customers blitzing through dozens of short books.

Therefore, it’s conceivable that the initial monthly commitment will go way up from the $3M of the past.

Sure, it could drop back down to $3M. But again, why not wait until it actually happens (if it does) before claiming that’s the way it is? Or at least phrase it as a prediction rather than a statement.

Books are dropping out of KDP Select like flies.

This hasn’t happened yet.

Look, you don’t have to guess about it. Just visit Amazon and check the enrollment numbers yourself and track them over time.

I’ve tracked this data, and I’ve seen very little movement overall.

The children’s category actually increased by 700 books since July 1, which surprised me. (Though a few of the subcategories have dropped a little, while others have increased. Still, I don’t see anything major yet.)

Romance dropped a little, one category in particular, but a little drop in any category isn’t a call for alarm. Authors like to write romance and the number will likely grow again once things settle down.

Maybe more books will drop out once authors have more data. It’s possible.

But there is no sign of a mas exodus from Kindle Unlimited at this point. The numbers are fairly stable.

At least wait for the data to support a significant dropout rate before claiming that there is one.

Enrolling in KDP Select ties you to one company.

It’s just a 90-day period. You’re not stuck with it forever. You aren’t marrying Amazon. (If only. Amazon, I do, I do, I do. Why won’t you propose?)

If something comes up and you want out, at worst you have to wait 90 days to get out. (Probably less unless you have really bad luck.)

And two times, Amazon has offered authors the chance to opt out without waiting. When Amazon has introduced major changes to KDP Select, Amazon has provided authors the chance to opt out immediately by email.

What if the worst happens and Amazon goes under? Well then that agreement will be meaningless and you can instantly publish elsewhere. You won’t be losing anything because you had a 90-day contract with Amazon.

It’s not like when you traditionally publish. Then, depending on the terms, you might be tied to one company for years, and might find it difficult to get the rights reverted to you later, and might find it difficult to retrieve the actual published files.

Amazon makes opting out easy. 90 days is nothing compared to what opting out usually entails in the publishing industry.

The Amazon apocalypse has finally come.

Okay, maybe this myth is true.

Run for the hills, everybody!

Maybe Jeff Bezos has made a billion clones of himself and they all turned into zombies.

The zombies are trained to only eat the flesh of people who aren’t enrolled in Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

At least, write a book about this. You might become a bestselling author…

(Though you might want to seek the advice of an attorney before you publish a book about Jeff Bezos or Amazon.)

Look, the bottom line is that the new Kindle Unlimited policy encourages authors to write engaging books and rewards reader engagement. Gosh, that’s such a bad thing, isn’t it?

Some truth about Kindle Unlimited.

I’m not saying that the new Kindle Unlimited policy is the best thing since the invention of the wheel.

What I am saying is that a lot of information out there just isn’t true.

To help present a fairer picture, here are some things that aren’t myths:

  • Authors of shorter books stand to earn much less for Kindle Unlimited borrows than what they have earned in the past. The cutoff is about 230 pages of KENPC. (But that’s only when you compare the past to the present. When you forget the past, the present doesn’t favor longer books. It favors reader engagement.)
  • You must agree to make the e-book edition exclusive to Amazon if you enroll in KDP Select. You must weigh the possible benefits of enrolling in KDP Select against the possible benefits of publishing with Nook, Kobo, etc. Authors can’t have it both ways (at least not at the same time: you can enjoy the benefits of Select for 90 days, opt out after 90 days, and then publish elsewhere).
  • Illustrated children’s books, photography books, and other picture-heavy books are impacted by the change. The images do count toward the page count, but the KENPC isn’t as generous with fixed layout books. For an author who invested heavily (time or money) on illustrations and can sell a short picture book for $2.99 or higher, earning around 20 to 40 cents for a borrow doesn’t make much sense compared to earning $2 or more for a sale. Perhaps Amazon will find a way to address this in the future, but illustrated authors are concerned about the change.
  • Some nonfiction books may be impacted by the change. Customers sometimes read just one or two chapters of a nonfiction book. I’m not saying Amazon has to address this. (I’m a nonfiction author, and I’m content.) But it’s something for nonfiction authors to consider.
  • Amazon sales rank favors books in Kindle Unlimited. It doesn’t necessarily give KDP Select books a direct boost, but every Kindle Unlimited borrow helps sales rank, so books not enrolled in KDP Select miss out on this potential sales rank boost, which also helps provide exposure on Amazon (for example, those borrows can help get onto customers-also-bought lists).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

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)

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