New Opportunities with Kindle Unlimited?

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITIES

Now that Kindle Unlimited pays a royalty based on the number of pages read instead of the number of books borrowed and read to 10%:

  • Some KDP Select authors of longer books who see customers reading 100% of their books are jumping up and down with joy.
  • Some KDP Select authors of shorter books who are accustomed to seeing $1.35 per borrow are complaining of their frustrations.
  • (There are more than just two camps, of course.)

Complaining and feeling frustrated isn’t a strategy for publishing success. (Turning that frustration into motivation to unite others who feel the same toward positive action, that’s different.)

What seems disappointing and frustrating to some may serve as an opportunity for others.

Suppose that you had a series of 30-page stories, where the Kindle Edition Normalize Page Count (KENPC) is 50 pages. (This is just an example.)

In this case, based on the projected $0.0058 per page, these stories would earn 29 cents per borrow if read to 100%.

Naturally, you would look at the prospective 29-cent royalty for prospective borrows and complain that you were losing 80% of your royalties. But remember, that complaint isn’t a strategy toward publishing success.

(You wouldn’t? Really? You might be right. I’ve heard several authors step up and say something like, “I stand to lose 50% with the new Kindle Unlimited policy, but I agree that it’s more equitable.”

If you said something like that, stand up and take a bow. You’re my hero! You deserve a round of applause. Applaud, everyone. The world needs more positive attitudes in the face of adversity. And fewer people who want to take advantage of that positive outlook, or who want to try to change that positive outlook.)

I hear authors complaining—now think about this—of only seeing 1000, 5000, 10,000, or 20,000 pages read in their reports. Per day.

I really don’t mean this in a condescending way, like, “Oh, poor dears.” I just want to look at this same statement from two different perspectives.

On the one hand, an author might have 10,000 pages read per day, but the author is still earning 50 cents or less per book. This author is complaining because he or she is used to earning $1.35 per book, and 50 cents or less is a huge change, especially when 100+ customers are reading your books every day.

I agree, it’s a sudden change, it’s a big loss, you deserve to feel frustrated.

(Maybe one could have seen this coming. Maybe they shouldn’t have been making $1.35 for short works all along. Let’s not open that can of worms, too. It is what it is. You can’t change what it is or how it happened.)

But there is another perspective. Imagine that you (A) are just entering the publishing scene or (B) you have some publishing experience and have been thinking about writing shorter works.

  • You see people talking about 10,000 pages per day as if it were a bad thing.
  • You get out your calculator and realize that comes to $60 per day, or nearly $2000 per month. (Because when you’re wishful, you round up.)
  • You remember hearing that most authors never sell 100 books.
  • You start to think that 10,00 pages per day with 29-cent royalties per book don’t sound so bad.
  • You hear this author talk about leaving Kindle Unlimited.
  • You hear other authors in the same genre talk about leaving Kindle Unlimited.

So what do you do? You start to view this as an opportunity. $60 per day sounds pretty enticing to you.

(Note that I’m speaking of short books with text. Illustrated short books are a separate issue.)

The new Kindle Unlimited policy favors reader engagement. It doesn’t favor longer books.

It pays per page read.

Whether you write 200,000 pages in one book, 5 books, or 10 books, you’ve still written the same number of pages, and you still earn the same amount if customers read 100% of what you wrote.

What matters are:

  • Getting more customers to try your book. Some shorter books have an advantage here.
  • Getting more customers to read 100% of your book. Some shorter books have an advantage here, too.
  • Getting more customers to read your other books.

Authors who are used to getting $1.35 per borrow feel that the new Kindle Unlimited policy disfavors short books.

But if you’re thinking, “What should I write now?”  Well, Kindle Unlimited may actually favor shorter books in many genres by favoring reader engagement.

Basing what you should write solely on how Kindle Unlimited has changed my not be wise.

Kindle Unlimited may very well change again.

You should consider the whole market, and how it might change, when you come up with your writing and publishing strategy.

You should also consider such things as:

  • What genres are you familiar with?
  • What kind of writing are you a good fit for?
  • How long of a story can you tell well?

Writing short romance novels, erotica, etc. isn’t easy.

Just because you see a few authors leaving (or saying that they will, or might, leave), doesn’t mean it will be easy to jump over and fill those holes.

If they were getting 10,000 pages read per day and walk away from KDP Select, just because you jump in with similar works doesn’t mean you’ll get any pages read.

Publishing is a tough market to crack. First, you have to read and understand the genre and what the audience expects. You need to be able to tell the story well. You need to be able to tell a shorter story well if you’re aiming for shorter books, and that’s not easy.

You need to write several books to have a chance of breaking through, and there are no guarantees, even when you feel that you’ve done everything right.

And, as always, you need to market your books.

And you need to be passionate about what you’re writing.

It won’t be easy. It wasn’t easy for the authors who have been successful with those kinds of books. But they learned the genre, and others can, too.

While it won’t be easy, there is potential.

A lower royalty with the new Kindle Unlimited doesn’t mean that opting out of KDP Select is the best decision.

It’s easy to walk away out of anger or frustration, or to try to make a statement (more of a whisper if only a few walk away, but an exclamation mark if a huge percentage do—in most categories, I haven’t observed much movement).

But if your main goal is to earn the most royalties (or to reach the most readers), walking away isn’t necessarily the best choice.

You have to weigh the benefits of staying against the benefits of leaving.

Here are some of the benefits of remaining KDP Select:

  • Sales rank. Every Kindle Unlimited borrow helps sales rank. If you take away a large number of borrows, that will hurt your sales rank, which in turn may limit your exposure on Amazon.
  • Borrows. Even though the new Kindle Unlimited royalty may be less than authors of shorter books are used to, it’s still a royalty. You lose the borrows when you opt out of KDP Select.
  • Indie-friendly audience. Amazon is paying $11,000,000 per month presently (over $100 million per year) for Kindle Unlimited borrows. That’s a huge market, and it’s a fairly indie-friendly audience. Kindle Unlimited customers are unlikely to buy books outside of the program when they can borrow for free.
  • Countdown Deals (and freebies). Some authors don’t use these tools effectively. In that case, they don’t matter much. But for those who have used them effectively through external promotions, these are tools that you lose when you walk away.

There are also benefits of leaving KDP Select:

  • New markets. You can potentially reach customers at Nook, Kobo, and other e-book retailers. These are not necessarily easy markets to crack, and they may not be as indie-friendly.
  • Less competition. At other e-book retailers, there is less competition, since 1,000,000 e-books are exclusive to Kindle. However, through a potentially lower Amazon sales rank as a result of giving up exclusivity, you might have to exchange lower visibility on the #1 e-book retailer to gain visibility elsewhere.
  • Wider exposure. You spread your brand wider by selling at multiple platforms.

Which set of benefits outweighs the other? That’s a tough question, and it varies from one book to another.

The problem with testing it out is that your Amazon sales rank is apt to slide considerably while you’re testing the waters elsewhere.

Another factor is marketing. Do you have ideas or strategies for marketing at other e-book retailers?

It’s not bad for everyone!

On average, about half the books will earn more money for borrows through Kindle Unlimited.

Shorter books will earn lower per-book royalties.

However, many shorter books have an edge when it comes to reader engagement.

Many authors are benefiting from the new Kindle Unlimited policy.

It is the way it is. How do you make the most of it?

Whether you have a short book or long book…

Whether you are experienced, starting out, or switching genres…

Regardless of your genre or category…

You should be asking how to make the most of it, how to find a proactive solution, how to find a strategy for success.

That’s the way forward.

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 Math with KENPC

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

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.

EXAMPLE:

  • 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.)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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. 🙂

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.

Comments

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What I Love about the New Kindle Unlimited Policy

Background image from ShutterStock.

Background image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ

I’m not saying that the new Kindle Unlimited policy is perfect.

I realize that it works better for some books than for others.

And it doesn’t seem to particularly favor my books.

But overall, there is much that I like about the new Kindle Unlimited policy.

I think it’s a nice improvement, a good step in the right direction.

NEW KINDLE UNLIMITED POLICY

In case you don’t already know, Kindle Unlimited now pays authors royalties for borrows based on the number of pages read.

  • Click the advertise and promote button on your bookshelf to discover your Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC). That’s the official number of pages of your book, which is likely quite different than what you see on your product page.
  • You now see KENP read on your reports, which is the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read. It no longer shows the number of borrows, but instead shows the total number of pages read.
  • Amazon announced that 1.9B KENP were read in June, 2015. If the same number of KENP are read in July, 2015, with the announced $11M Global Select Fund for July, this would mean that authors would receive $0.0058 for each KENP read.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE NEW KINDLE UNLIMITED TERMS

There are several things that I like about the new Kindle Unlimited policy:

  • The reports give me some information about my customers’ reading habits. Last night, it appears that a customer read one of my science books from cover to cover. That’s pretty cool. I had a book that was started, but the page count is sitting there: It makes me wonder why. It’s more information about our customers than we’ve had before.
  • Although the new payout isn’t perfect, and seems to disfavor a few types of books like illustrated children’s books (perhaps), overall I feel that the new payout is fairer than it was before. There are exceptions, of course, but overall, it seems fair that the more words you type that actually get read, the more you should earn for your effort. Maybe not perfect, but I feel that it’s fairer than it was.
  • The new payout seems more sustainable for Amazon. That’s important, because if it wasn’t sustainable, in the long run the program wouldn’t have been good for readers or for authors. In the original program, a customer could easily read dozens of very short books per month, in which case Amazon was paying out $30, $40, even $50+ in royalties for a single customer that paid a mere $9.99 subscription fee. Now Amazon is taking the $11M payout and dividing by the number of pages read, so customers can read to their heart’s content without Amazon losing money as a result.
  • It doesn’t seem nearly as easy for authors to game the new system. Padding the book seems flat-out stupid: If the content isn’t engaging, extra pages will hurt, not help. Changing the font size has no impact. Breaking up paragraphs and other formatting nonsense that’s more likely to frustrate customers won’t get more pages read. Throwing in pictures where they don’t fit will frustrate customers. The new system rewards books that engages customers, not those that frustrate them. Building a robot to tap 1000’s of pages per day is likely to trigger the monitoring system.
  • I don’t hear authors complaining loudly and frequently about scamphlets. It was never good marketing for Amazon, or for any of the authors who publish Kindle e-books, to advertise about poor quality books. The new system won’t reward such nonsense (I’m not talking about engaging stories or useful nonfiction content that happens to be very short, I’m talking about shorts designed to game the system), and so it won’t encourage more of it.
  • The new policy doesn’t favor longer books, it favors engaging reads of any length. If you want to write 90,000 words, whether you write one 90,000-word book, three 30,000-word books, or nine 10,000-word books, if a customer reads all of it, you earn the same royalty for the same number of words written. But you should choose the option that’s most likely to get your pages read. Engaging reads, whether short or long, are favored in the new program. (If you compare short works in the new program to the old program, that’s different. But that’s a sunk cost. The old program is out the door.)
  • We finally earn money when customers read less than 10% of a book. Now if a customer tries your book out and decides it isn’t for them, you at least get paid something.
  • No customer should be worried about reading too much and abusing the system. As a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, I was reluctant to let my daughter read 3-4 children’s stories too many times during the month, thinking how much that would cost Amazon. Now, I have no reservations about using Kindle Unlimited to our heart’s content.
  • The new terms reward successful books (depending on how you would like to define success, of course). From the sense that successful books result in more pages read, that aspect is rewarded. Imagine very short books that were being opened thousands of times, but almost no customer was reading more than 20% of the story (and being very short, that might just have been a page or two). Was that a success or a failure? Now they will still get paid, but based on the pages read. If those authors can find ways to get their customers to read 100% of their stories, they will make more money from the improved success.
  • The new model seems to fit better for what is essentially an e-library. One goal of a library is for people to read the books. The books that get read more provide a good service to the library, and the new system rewards that. (Of course, any real library has valuable books that don’t get read much, but show their value in other ways. As I said, the system isn’t perfect, but I feel that it’s better than it was.)
  • Authors who wish to utilize KDP Select should be focused on how to write engaging content. That’s a great incentive, isn’t it? More engaging content will surely attract more customers, making Kindle Unlimited better than ever. (Again, while I can think of a few exceptions, overall, this seems like an improvement.)

BUT IT’S NOT ALL GRAVY

Obviously, the change to Kindle Unlimited won’t be good for all books.

What it really does is redistribute the $11M payout based on pages read instead of the number of borrows.

About half the books, on average, should do better (at least a little, if not a lot), and about half the books, on average, should do worse to some degree.

Overall, it seems fairer, and there are several qualities which I like, but it’s not perfect. It may be a good step in the right direction.

There are a few kinds of books that are losing out.

You can’t feel much pity about the short works which were intentionally designed to abuse the system.

But the well-thought out short stories, illustrated children’s books, graphic novels, and informative reference works likely to be read only in part, well, these may be a few examples of books that are disfavored by the new system, but which provide good value to Kindle Unlimited.

Engaging short reads, while they will likely earn much less than before, should make up for that somewhat by getting read to 100% more often.

Illustrated children’s books suffer from the KENPC, which counts fixed layout books literally, whereas reflowable books tend to have more pages than their print counterparts. Even worse, some children’s layouts show as two-pages per screen, which cuts the page count in half.

It’s an important issue for children’s authors and for parents who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited (since if the books pull out of Select, it may make the subscription less appealing).

It’s also a difficult issue to address. Some children’s books have much more involved, time-consuming illustrations, while others have pictures that were made with much less effort or time (sometimes, it’s also because the artist can produce high quality in less time, but other times it’s the nature of images that made the work easier). Some children’s authors also invest heavily in professional illustrators.

I don’t know what the solution is, if there is a good one. Maybe Amazon will address it in some way.

But if you’re wondering whether or not there is a mass exodus of certain kinds of books from Kindle Unlimited, I’ve been tracking the numbers and don’t see any significant movement yet.

No need to panic yet.

Amazon is surely monitoring the numbers, too, and is in a position to act if at some point there is any cause for concern. Based on the enrollment numbers, there isn’t cause to worry at this stage.

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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Are Authors Leaving Kindle Unlimited? (Actual Data)

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED ENROLLMENT NUMBERS

With the July 1, 2015 changes to Kindle Unlimited comes much anxiety among KDP Select authors.

But before you press your PANIC button, maybe you should consider this novel idea: Check the numbers.

That’s exactly what I did, and you can, too:

  • Visit Amazon’s homepage.
  • Hover your mouse over Shop by Department, then hover over Books, and select Kindle Books.
  • See the number listed with the Kindle Unlimited filter.
  • Click the Kindle Unlimited filter. Now check the numbers in the categories.
  • Copy/paste the numbers of interest into Microsoft Word, for example.

I did that on July 1, and I’ve done that periodically for several months so that I can compare the numbers.

There is a lot of talk about authors possibly leaving Kindle Unlimited, but you don’t have to guess. The data is in plain sight.

ARE AUTHORS LEAVING KINDLE UNLIMITED?

There were about a million books in Kindle Unlimited heading into July, and there are approximately 1,015,000 today (July 3). Of course, this figure is constantly changing.

It’s gone down by about 4,000 (out of over 1,000,000) since July 1. That’s 0.4%. A few authors are taking advantage of the early opt-out opportunity, but 0.4% doesn’t constitute a mass exodus.

In comparison, over 40,000 books were added to Kindle Unlimited in the past 30 days, and the overall number of 1,000,000 is way up from 600,000 when Kindle Unlimited made its debut one year ago. Throughout the program, KDP Select books have had a 95% (or greater) renewal rate, and overall number of participating books has steadily grown every month.

If indeed authors are pulling their books from KDP Select, which books do you think are leaving?

Are children’s books leaving Kindle Unlimited?

There are 104,441 children’s books in the program as of July 3.

There were 104,374 children’s books in the program on July 1.

Wait a minute! This number has actually increased.

Although some illustrated children’s authors have complained about the recent changes to Kindle Unlimited, books don’t seem to be dropping from the children’s category.

Are short reads leaving Kindle Unlimited?

There are 354,000 books in the program with 100 pages or less.

There were 302,000 in mid-February and 314,000 in mid-March. It has steadily increased.

4% of Kindle Unlimited books had 11 pages or less in February and March, and that’s still true in July.

Are self-help books leaving Kindle Unlimited?

There were exactly 38,276 self-help books on July 1, and this number is exactly the same on July 3.

Are romance books leaving Kindle Unlimited?

This number has dropped slightly from 89,179 to 88,314. (It’s probably changed since I last looked, too.)

That’s 865 books out of 89,000 (about 1%). There are still plenty of romance books in the program, of all lengths and subgenres.

Over 6,000 new romance books have been added to Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days.

However, Scribd recently announced cuts to romance and erotica titles. Maybe some of those books looking for a new home will try Kindle Unlimited.

Looking at all of the genres, I see no significant changes between July 1 and July 3.

Will that change? Maybe. But we won’t have to guess. Anyone can visit Amazon and check the numbers.

KINDLE UNLIMITED ANXIETY

With the Kindle Unlimited policy change comes concern:

  • What if a huge number of books pull out of KDP Select?
  • What if a huge number of books pull out of the children’s, erotica, or other categories?
  • What if subscribers cancel their Kindle Unlimited subscriptions because they can’t find the books they want?

These are valid concerns. But it hasn’t happened yet.

You should keep an eye on the numbers. Then you won’t have to guess or worry. You’ll know.

If any of those things happen, you can be aware of it, plan for it, react to it.

So far, they haven’t happened, so you don’t need to pull the plug prematurely on your own books.

What if the number of books in Kindle Unlimited stays roughly the same? What if the number of subscribers remains roughly the same?

What if you earn more money with the policy change than you had been?

You should plan for these cases, too.

You’d hate to pull out, then find out later that books very much like yours are thriving with the change.

Keep in mind that there are about 100,000 traditionally published books in Kindle Unlimited, including Amazon’s own imprints. These books attract readers, and since they don’t adhere to the terms of KDP Select, they will likely stay in the program.

SHOULD YOU PULL YOUR BOOKS OUT OF KINDLE UNLIMITED?

Every book is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

First, you shouldn’t compare what you make with the new terms to the $1.35 per borrow read to 10% that you had been earning previously. That’s in the past.

The wise thing is to look at what you’re making with the new Kindle Unlimited policy, and compare that with how much you might be losing due to exclusivity.

Short books may actually do quite well in the new program.

The new terms appear to reward reader engagement.

Short, engaging books may be more likely to get read to 100%.

Just because a book is short doesn’t mean you should pull it from KDP Select.

Here are some things you should consider to help with your decision:

Kindle Unlimited helps sales rank

Every borrow helps your sales rank (whether or not it’s read to 10%).

If you leave KDP Select, you lose this sales rank benefit.

Some authors who leave Kindle Unlimited see their sales rank slip and blame Amazon for favoring KDP Select books.

But Amazon doesn’t need to do anything special to favor KDP Select books.

Since every Kindle Unlimited borrow helps sales rank, the benefit is built-in.

How much money will you earn with the new Kindle Unlimited policy?

According to Amazon, 1.9 billion pages were read through Kindle Unlimited in June, 2015.

Amazon is paying $11 million for Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) borrows in July and August, 2015.

If the number of pages read remains relatively constant…

…the new program will pay approximately $0.0058 per page.

Visit your KDP Bookshelf. Click the Advertise & Promote button. Check what your KENPC is. That tells you how many pages your book is (it’s not the same as what’s listed on your product page, and may be somewhat larger).

Multiply your page count by $0.0058. That’s how much you will earn if a customer reads 100% of your book.

Multiply this by the number of times your book was borrowed in June. That’s how much you will earn if (A) customers read 100% of your book, (B) you have as many borrows in July as you did in June, and (C) the actual payout turns out to be $0.0058.

Since these are three big unknowns, this is just an estimate.

The only way to know for sure is to wait until August 15.

But keep in mind that many books won’t be read to 100%. If you have engaging content, this gives you an edge and you may make more than this simple projection gives. (Every book that averages much less than 100% read helps you.)

Another way to estimate this is to look at the average number of pages read per day on your Sales Dashboard (add up the numbers for each day and divide by the number of days), then multiply by 31 (for 31 days in July), and then multiply by $0.0058. However, your numbers are likely to grow for the first several days, in which case the first few days may under-project. If so, it’s better to wait until your numbers stabilize and only use those numbers to project.

How engaging is your content?

More engaging content is more likely to thrive in the new program.

Are customers very likely to read 100% of your book? Maybe it’s a captivating read, or maybe it’s short enough not to demand too long of an attention span.

Nonfiction content where customers are more likely to read just a chapter or two will have much lower percentages read.

High content engagement may help to offset a shorter page count.

A longer page count doesn’t help at all if the readers aren’t finishing the book.

What if other authors in your subgenre pull their books out of Kindle Unlimited?

Then their readers will be looking for other books to read.

Maybe yours.

If a small percentage pull out of your subgenre, this may help more than it hurts.

If there is a mass exodus, well, that might cause readers to look elsewhere.

So keep an eye on the number of Kindle Unlimited books enrolled in your subgenre.

Then you won’t have to guess whether or not there is a mass exodus. You’ll know.

Will your book sell elsewhere?

Now this is a tough question, but it’s very important.

If you pull out of KDP Select, you’re going to lose the income from Kindle Unlimited borrows.

And you’re going to lose the favorable effect that those borrows have on your Amazon sales rank.

So you need to sell enough books at other retailers to make up the difference.

There is no guarantee that you’ll sell enough books elsewhere to compensate.

You might do a little research, visiting Nook, Kobo, Apple, etc. Check out your subcategory there. Especially, how are indie authors faring there? Not all sites are as indie-friendly as Amazon (well, Smashwords may be one exception).

Marketing your book at other venues is a different art. Before you embark on this, you want to have a solid marketing plan in place.

How much trouble will it be to publish elsewhere?

It’s generally not too much trouble if you publish with an aggregator like Smashwords or Draft 2 Digital.

Do you have an image-heavy book, such as an illustrated children’s book? If so, you might find that most other sites don’t have such generous limits as KDP has on maximum file size, and formatting may be a little different. If you have a Mac, formatting a picture book for Apple is one option.

At least look into the formatting before you make the plunge.

What if it doesn’t work out elsewhere?

It happens. A few authors leave KDP Select and sell well elsewhere, but many find that their books don’t sell much elsewhere.

You might make less elsewhere than you would have earned from pages read.

And your Amazon sales rank might slide because you’re not getting those borrows.

If you get back into KDP Select a few months later, in the meantime, your sales rank may have slid considerably.

I don’t know if it will happen to your book. But it is something you should consider before you make your decision.

HOW LONG A BOOK SHOULD YOU WRITE?

If you’re going to sit down right now and write 120,000 pages, it doesn’t really matter whether you write 3 short books of 40,000 pages each or 1 long book of 120,000 pages. In the end, if a customer reads 100% of what you write, you earn the same amount of money.

It also doesn’t make sense to pad or reformat your book. That nonsense is likely to cause readers to stop reading your book, in which case fewer pages will be read.

Here’s what does make sense:

  • Write a book that’s more likely to get borrowed.
  • Write a book that’s more likely to get finished.
  • Write a book that’s more likely to compel the reader to read your other books, too.

Whatever length of book does those three things best, that’s the length that will be most profitable.

Whether that length is 10,000 words, 40,000 words, or 100,000 words, it’s not the length that counts, but those three points above.

You should also consider such things as:

  • What length story can you tell well?
  • What kind of story are you interested in telling?

Just because a particular length turns out to be most profitable in general doesn’t mean that every author will succeed at writing a story of that length. Some lengths are quite challenging to pull off.

WILL KINDLE UNLIMITED ENROLLMENT NUMBERS GO DOWN?

Historically, KDP Select has had a 95% or greater renewal rate every month.

Over the past year, many authors have complained about scamphlets receiving the same royalty for a borrow as full-length novels.

Despite all those loud complaints about shorter books in Kindle Unlimited receiving the same pay, 95% of authors were content enough with those terms to leave their books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

With the new Kindle Unlimited policy, different authors are complaining loudly. The only difference really is who’s complaining. The complaints have always been there.

So it would surprise me if there were a mass exodus now, since there wasn’t one before. Rather, over the past year, the number of Kindle Unlimited books grew from 600,000 to 1,000,000.

I expect it to keep growing. But I’ll keep an eye on the number, just in case I’m wrong.

Of course, Amazon is watching the enrollment numbers carefully.

So if a cause for concern does develop, Amazon will be in a position to act on it and try to keep the program successful.

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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How Much Will Amazon Pay for Kindle Pages Read?

Background image from ShutterStock.

Background image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ

How much will KDP Select authors earn for KU/KOLL pages read?

According to Amazon, nearly 1.9 billion (1,900,000,000) Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) were read during June, 2015 through Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited.

If the same number of pages are read during July, KDP Select authors will earn 0.58 cents per Kindle Edition Normalized Page (KENP) read.

Update: Amazon paid $0.005779 per KENP page read for July, 2015, almost identical to the forecast.

A little more than half a penny per page.

Or $1.00 for every 173 pages read.

How does Amazon calculate pages read?

Amazon keeps track of how many pages the customer has viewed.

So if the customer simply jumps to the last page of the book, that only counts as one page. They have to open every page for all of them to count.

Amazon starts counting from the start reading location.

Each KDP Select book has a KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count), which may be different from the actual page count of the print edition and may also be different from the estimated page count.

It can be much different.

How do you find out what your KENPC is?

  • Visit your KDP Bookshelf.
  • Click the Promote and Advertise button.

How do I know how many people borrowed my book?

You don’t. You only know how many pages have been read.

If you have multiple books, click on the Month-to-Date Units Report to see a breakdown by book.

It would be helpful to know how many people borrowed our books. That way, we can figure out how many pages are read on average. This could be valuable data. Perhaps if KDP receives enough requests for it, they will supply this data…

DON’T PANIC!

Everybody’s pages read should be low on the first day.

Why? Because it takes time to read the books.

You know how many people usually borrow your book in one day.

You can’t expect everyone to read your entire book on the first day that they buy it.

So it’s silly to add up the pages read for day one, compare it with the number of borrows you normally get, and decide whether to opt out of the program.

Here’s my advice:

  • See if the number of pages read increases tomorrow, the day after that, and so on.
  • If the pages read per day (you’ll have to keep track—see the example below) is improving, this is a good sign.
  • Eventually, the number of pages read per day should stabilize. It might happen in a week, a few weeks, or months.
  • When the pages read per day stabilizes, compare that to how it was in the past. Use 0.58 cents per page to figure out what you’re making per day now, and compare that to the average number of borrows times $1.35 from previous months.

Don’t forget to check your KENPC. Your book might have more pages than you realize. I have books where the KENPC is 2-3 times the actual print page count. Things might be better than you realize.

EXAMPLE

  • July 1, 200 pages read.
  • July 2, 600 pages read. That’s 400 pages read on the 2nd.
  • July 3, 1200 pages read. That’s 600 pages read on the 3rd.
  • July 4, 2000 pages read. That’s 800 pages read on the 4th.
  • July 5, 3000 pages read. That’s 1000 pages read on the 5th.
  • July 6, 4000 pages read. That’s 1000 pages read on the 6th.
  • July 7, 5000 pages read. That’s 1000 pages read on the 7th. It has stabilized. This book is getting 1000 pages read per day now.

1000 pages per day yields an estimated $5.80 per day (multiply 1000 pages read by 0.58).

If this book averaged 4 borrows per day in the past, it was making about $5.40 in previous months. We want to compare the new estimated $5.80 per day to the old estimated $5.40 per day, but don’t do this until your number of pages read per day stabilizes, or you’ll be disappointed.

If you had based this off the 200 pages read on the first day in my example, it would have looked like this book was losing money in the new system, but that’s not how it looked after it stabilized.

On average, about half of the books will see improvement to some degree, while about half of the books will see a loss to some degree. It will be good for some, bad for some.

But you have to wait until your data stabilizes before you can tell how it’s working out for you. Good luck.

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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Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC): The new KDP Select & Kindle Unlimited

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Images from ShutterStock.

KINDLE EDITION NORMALIZED PAGE COUNT

As of July 1, KDP Select books will be paid for the number of pages read—rather than by the borrow—for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows.

Authors can now visit KDP to learn what the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) is for each of their KDP Select books.

  • Visit your KDP Bookshelf.
  • Click the Promote and Advertise button.
  • There you will find the KENPC for your book.

The KENPC tells you how much you will earn if a customer reads 100% of your book.

My ‘Detailed Guide’ self-publishing books weigh in at over 600 pages each with KENPC, which is quite amazing considering they have a little over 200 pages in print at 8″ x 10″.

My 4-book self-publishing boxed set has 2039 pages according to KENPC, while it has 628 printed 8.5″ x 11″ pages.

Fixed layout books, such as those made with the Kindle Textbook Creator or Kindle Kids’ Book Creator, have exactly the same KENPC as the actual page account (after accounting for the start reading location).

As the page counts seem fairly generous across the board with conventional Kindle e-books, it seems that fixed layout books may be somewhat disadvantaged by the KENPC.

Note that it’s called KENPC v 1.0. That version 1.0 suggests an intent to improve it with more versions over time.

Maybe one of the changes will help put illustrated children’s books on a more equal footing. At least, that’s one issue several children’s authors have raised regarding the change in Kindle Unlimited policy.

The sales reports will soon show how many pages have been read through Kindle Unlimited (rather than how many borrows have been read to 10%; that 10% mark no longer matters with the new Kindle Unlimited policy changes effective July 1, 2015).

This will be a cool new stat: the number of pages read. (But it would be meaningful if the reports also showed how many books were borrowed. Feel free to suggest that to Amazon.)

What is your KENPC?

NEW KDP REPORTING

The KDP Sales Dashboard now shows two separate charts: one shows sales and freebies, like before, while a new chart shows the KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) Read.

The Month-to-Date Unit Sales report shows the KENP Read per book.

This will make the stats more engaging. If you used to only see a couple of borrows per day, now you will see pages read changing throughout the day. The trick is to not fall into the trap of checking your reports more frequently.

Unfortunately, the reports no longer show how many books are borrowed, only how many pages are read. (If you would like this feature that could make your pages read stat more meaningful, send in a request to KDP. Visit KDP and look for the Contact Us button in the corner.)

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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15 Questions & Answers about the new Kindle Unlimited policy effective July 1

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Images from ShutterStock.

CHANGES TO KINDLE UNLIMITED POLICY

Kindle Unlimited is changing its policy effective July 1, 2015.

Books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited will now be paid by the number of pages read.

Following are 15 questions and answers about this policy change with Kindle Unlimited.

(Of course, this change only affects borrows through Kindle Unlimited. Ordinary sales are unaffected.)

1 How will this change affect Kindle Unlimited readers?

The change doesn’t directly impact readers, but there may be indirect effects.

  • Customers shouldn’t feel guilty about borrowing too many books. Especially, if you read short books or children’s books, it’s easy to feel guilty about reading one or more books a day. This is no longer an issue. Read as many books as you want. Amazon isn’t losing money if you read 30+ books a month on your $9.99 subscription, and all the authors will get paid based on how many pages you read.
  • The other possible impact depends on which books, if any, enter or exit the Kindle Unlimited library. Some authors of shorter books may pull their books out. Some authors of longer books may put theirs back in. There probably won’t be too much change in the first few months. Historically, books in KDP Select have had a 95% renewal rate, so if much more than 5% of the books drop out, that would be a big surprise. What’s more likely is that authors will wait a few months to see how the new program goes.

2 How will Amazon determine how many pages are read?

Amazon will use a KENPC (Kindle edition normalized page count), which will probably differ from the page count listed on the product page.

You won’t know what your book’s KENPC is until July 1. Then you can find it on the Promote and Advertise page from your Bookshelf.

Amazon will count pages read from your book’s start reading location. (Pages that are reread will only count the first time they are read.)

3 Will longer books have an advantage?

Longer books have more pages, so if a customer reads the whole book, it will pay a higher royalty than a short book.

However, it doesn’t really matter whether you write ten 50-page books or one 500-page book. Once a customer reads all of it, you get paid for the same 500 pages.

What Amazon has really done is remove the advantage that some short books used to have.

If authors of short books compare their new royalties to their old royalties, they are likely to see a significant drop.

However, that’s in the past. The current program treats both short and long books on a more equal footing, rather than giving short books a significant advantage.

4 Will illustrated children’s books and photography books have a disadvantage?

Images will count toward a book’s KENPC, so this should help books that have illustrations, photographs, and charts.

How many words one image will be worth is unknown at this point.

5 Which books will do best in the new Kindle Unlimited program?

What really matters most is content engagement.

That is, does the writing compel most readers to continue reading to the end, and then to want to read more of your books after that?

It doesn’t matter how long the book is. Whether you write four 50-page books or one 200-page book, you get paid the same so long as readers read all of the pages.

Rewarding content engagement is a good thing, surely.

6 How will Kindle Unlimited borrows be reported?

You’ll be able to see the number of pages read in your report.

That’s cool. That’s helpful data that we’ve never had before. Knowing how many pages your customers are reading can help you assess how engaging your content is.

A few authors who are on the fence about this policy change are staying in it initially just for this new data.

Will you be able to see both the number of books borrowed and the number of pages read? I hope so, but this is unknown at this point. (Feel free to place a request with KDP.)

7 What if the customer doesn’t finish your book in one month?

Evidently, you’ll get paid for the pages read each month (even if the customer temporarily stops reading your book and begins reading another, finishing your book later).

There is a neat effect here. Suppose you have a 300-page book. Starting in July, every month 100 customers begin reading your book, but read at a rate of 50 pages per month.

You’ll get paid for 5000 pages read in July, 10,000 pages read in August, 15,000 pages read in September, 20,000 pages read in October, 25,000 pages read in November, 30,000 pages read in December, and 30,000 pages read every month after that.

(Obviously, it’s not realistic that the same number of customers will borrow your book each month and all read at the same rate. It also assumes that every customer will read your complete book.)

But this shows the potential for growth that longer books have.

8 Is Amazon’s example of how the royalties will work realistic?

You can find the example here.

In the example, Amazon assumes a $10,000,000 payout and 100,000,000 pages read.

The payout may be closer to $11,000,000. That part seems reasonable, but was reduced to $10,000,000 to get round numbers.

The 100,000,000 pages read is probably not realistic. With that figure, Amazon would pay about 10 cents per page read.

Amazon probably chose these numbers so they could use nice round numbers in the example, not because it was realistic.

When KDP Select was first announced back in December, 2011, Amazon used a $5 royalty in their example, but in the first month KOLL paid less than $2. So it’s not uncommon for Amazon to overestimate in their example. (It probably has good marketing value for them, too.)

9 How will KDP Select All-Star bonuses be paid beginning July 1, 2015?

The top books and top authors will be awarded based on the total number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited, based on the KENPC (see Question 2).

10 Does the 10% mark matter any more?

Nope.

11 What about an omnibus or boxed set?

It used to make sense to not include the boxed set in KDP Select because you make more money when customers borrow them individually. (The boxed set must still be exclusive to Amazon if any of the individual volumes are in Select.)

Now it virtually doesn’t matter. If customers read the whole story, you get paid the same whether they borrow the boxed set or the individual volumes.

12 Will authors start padding their stories to make them longer?

Not if they’re smart!

Will people read pages just because they’re there? (And even if they do, will they want to read your next book?)

Pages are more likely to be read if they’re engaging.

If you can add engaging content, well, that’s not quite padding, is it?

13 Should you write short books or long books?

You should write (A) what’s most likely to sell, (B) what’s most likely to get read, and (C) what you’re a good fit to write.

If you write shorter books, you get paid less per book than if you write longer books, but through Kindle Unlimited, either way, it’s how many pages get read that really matters.

If you write a long book, but little of it gets read, those extra pages don’t help.

If you write a short book that gets fully read quite often, the pages will add up.

What length is more likely to sell and then more likely to engage the customer varies widely depending on the genre, category, and specific target audience.

There is no single size that optimizes success across the board. (Some lengths are also much harder to write well than others.)

14 How much will books make in Kindle Unlimited?

That’s the ten million dollar question! Nobody knows.

Amazon paid $10,800,000 in May, 2015, which led to a KOLL payment of $1.35 per book.

When a Kindle Unlimited customer borrows a book, how many pages does that customer read on average?

That’s the real question. If most of your Kindle Unlimited customers read more pages than that, you’ll probably see an improved per-book royalty. If most of your Kindle Unlimited customers read fewer pages than that, you’ll probably see a diminished per-book royalty.

And if your book is 5 pages long, you’re probably not going to be a happy camper no matter what.

15 Should you drop out of KDP Select?

Amazon will pay out more than $100 million dollars in royalties for KDP Select borrows (both Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited combined) in 2015.

That’s a huge share of the 2015 e-book market. If you walk out of KDP Select, your book is missing out on this market.

But if you stay in KDP Select, your book is missing out on the Nook, Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, etc. market.

Which market is better for your book? Good question! It varies from one book to another.

Some authors try out KDP Select for 90 days. If unhappy, they opt out. Occasionally that pays off; sometimes it ends up being worse; sometimes it doesn’t make much difference.

The only way to know is to try.

But if you opt out of KDP Select, your sales rank at Amazon may slide (as some authors have experienced) because those KDP Select borrows will no longer help. (Presently, you have more help than you realize, since you get a bump in rank when customers borrow your book but don’t reach the 10% mark.)

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.

What Did Kindle Unlimited Pay for April, 2015?

KU Trends 3

KINDLE UNLIMITED FOR APRIL, 2015

In April, 2015, Kindle Unlimited paid $1.36 per Kindle Unlimited borrow read to 10% (and all Amazon Prime borrows). Looking at the graph above, Kindle Unlimited appears to have leveled off at about $1.40. (But there is a more fascinating number, which I’ll throw out in a few paragraphs.)

$1.40 doesn’t look like much compared to $2 in the days of Amazon Prime only (i.e. no Kindle Unlimited), and if you have a book priced $2.99 or higher, $1.40 is small compared to your royalty for purchases (in most cases).

That’s not the way I look at it. I was getting few borrows when it was Amazon Prime only, and my borrows have shot way up with Kindle Unlimited (without a corresponding sacrifice in sales). I’m earning much more with $1.40 per Kindle Unlimited borrow than I was when I was receiving $2 per Prime borrow.

But the more interesting number, in my opinion, is $9,800,000.

Amazon added a whopping $6,800,000 to their initial commitment of $3,000,000, bringing the KDP Select Global Fund up to nearly $10 million for April, 2015.

KU Trends 3b

The graph above is a good sign for Kindle Unlimited readers and KDP Select authors, in my opinion.

It means that the audience for Kindle Unlimited books has grown substantially and continues to grow.

The KDP Select Global Fund is increasing significantly because there are more Kindle Unlimited subscribers and more books being borrowed and read to 10% through the program.

Amazon paid $9,800,000 in KOLL royalty shares for April, 2015. That money goes to authors who had books enrolled in KDP Select.

Many KDP Select books are benefiting from this increasing payout. Obviously, not all books are, but many are. The potential is there, and many authors are benefiting from it.

The cost is exclusivity. But here’s the question: With the KDP Select Global Fund steadily rising from $2,000,000 to $9,800,000 over the past 9 months, would your book earn more money from Kindle Unlimited than it would from other retailers. It’s always been a tough question that can vary from book to book and author to author (and can only be truly known by trying it both ways), but it seems that the pool for KDP Select books is growing (it’s increased fivefold in 9 months).

Another interesting trend involves the number of books in Kindle Unlimited (about 100,000 of those are from small traditional publishers and are not part of KDP Select):

  • There are 963,814 books in Kindle Unlimited as of May 15, 2015.
  • There were 864,164 books in Kindle Unlimited as of February 17, 2015. This number has risen 12% in 3 months.
  • 43,407 new Kindle Unlimited books have been published in the last 30 days. (That’s about the same figure from February 17.)
  • 87,910 new Kindle e-books have been published in the last 30 days. Nearly 50% are enrolling in KDP Select.
  • There are about 3,000,000 Kindle e-books in all. About one-third are in Kindle Unlimited (whereas about one-half of new releases are opting in).
  • 334,615 of the Kindle Unlimited books are considered short reads (which, by the way, go up to 100 pages). That’s 35%.
  • 13,458 of the books published in Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days are short reads. That’s 31%. The ratio of short works entering into Kindle Unlimited is actually decreasing, since 31% is less than 35% (contrary to popular myth—we now have proof that it’s not being flooded with short books, but that the percentage of short books in Kindle Unlimited is going down).

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

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

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Is Kindle Unlimited Being Flooded with Short Books? (Actual Data from Amazon)

Image from Shutterstock

Image from Shutterstock

KINDLE UNLIMITED QUESTIONS ANSWERED

I researched the answers to two common questions about Kindle Unlimited. I obtained my data directly from Amazon.com, as I will show.

  1. Is Kindle Unlimited being flooded with short books?
  2. Are KDP Select authors dropping out now that the KOLL payment had dropped to about $1.40?

I hear a lot of speculation about these two points. Most of the answers are based on guesswork and emotions such as fear.

So I decided to find out for myself. I didn’t know the answer for sure. I researched the data and let the numbers speak for themselves.

DATA STRAIGHT FROM AMAZON

I gathered my data directly from Amazon. No, I didn’t ask them for it. I didn’t need to; you don’t either.

Rather, I simply browsed the Amazon.com website as follows:

  • I visited Amazon.com. I browsed the Kindle Store. The left-hand column tallies numbers of books in various categories.
  • On February 17, 2015 I did my first search. I recorded data for books in Kindle Unlimited, new releases, new releases in Kindle Unlimited, Kindle short reads, Kindle short reads in Kindle Unlimited, Kindle short read new releases in Kindle Unlimited, and many other numbers.
  • I repeated my search on March 17, 2015, one month later.
  • I compared the numbers. For specifics, see below.

(1) Are Short Books Flooding Kindle Unlimited?

In the Kindle store at Amazon.com, the left-hand column actually displays the number of books in Kindle short reads. If you click on the Kindle short reads link, it further breaks these down by page count. Kindle short reads have 1 to 100 pages.

Here is what I found:

  • On February 17, there were 301,747 Kindle short reads in Kindle Unlimited out of 864,164 Kindle Unlimited books. That’s 34.9%.
  • On March 17, there were 314,020 Kindle short reads in Kindle Unlimited out of 894,423 Kindle Unlimited books. That’s 35.1%.

This percentage is up slightly: 0.2%. But don’t panic yet.

Let’s look at another pair of numbers:

  • There were 42,638 books added to Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days.
  • There were 12,273 more Kindle Unlimited books in Kindle short reads on March 17 than on February 17.

Only 29% of the books added to Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days are short reads. 71% of books published and added to Kindle Unlimited in the past month have 101 pages or more. That’s definitely not flooding the market with short reads. (In fact, this 71% exceeds the 65% of books in Kindle Unlimited presently that are full-length books. Imagine that!)

However, 12,379 books were removed from Kindle Unlimited. If you account for this, there were 30,259 more books in Kindle Unlimited on March 17 compared to February 17.

Of those, 30,259 books, 40.6% were Kindle short reads.

(Furthermore, 23% of the books in Kindle short reads are 65-100 pages in length. Many of the short reads books aren’t all that short.)

What does this mean?

If 40% of the books added to Kindle Unlimited each month are short reads (100 pages or less), then the ratio of short reads to full-length Kindle e-books will approach 40%.

That means at least 60% of the books in Kindle Unlimited will be full-length books in the future, based on the current rate. That’s a majority that are full-length.

That’s certainly not flooding the market with short reads. There are currently 35% of Kindle Unlimited books classified as short reads, and this is approaching 40%.

Based on the current rate of growth (0.2% per month), that’s not too different from how things were back in July before Kindle Unlimited was introduced. It was nearly 35% then, too. If Kindle Unlimited changes the ratio of short books to full-length books from 35% to 40%, that’s not significant in the grand scheme of things.

You don’t have to worry about it exceeding 40% until the ratio of books added to Kindle Unlimited per month begins to exceed this. That’s not happening now. I’ll keep an eye on this number, but I’m not worried about it at this point; it hasn’t changed much in the past six months.

On the related question, “Are full-length books dropping out of KDP Select?” let’s look at the next question. It turns out that very few books are dropping out.

How about those really short books?

Only 4% of the books in Kindle Unlimited have 11 pages or less (and this number isn’t going anywhere either). Of these, many are short stories (and not “scamphlets”).

If you hear all the rumors about people trying to game the system with very short books in Kindle Unlimited, or the stories of websites encouraging people to do this, just discard it unless and until this percentage starts to climb. It’s just 4% and Kindle Unlimited was introduced way back in July; it hasn’t changed noticeably in all that time. We’ll keep an eye on it, but there is presently no reason to worry about it.

(2) How many books are dropping out of KDP Select?

There appears to be a 98.6% renewal rate in KDP Select, as I’ll demonstrate below.

  • There were 864,164 books in Kindle Unlimited on February 17, 2015.
  • There were 894,423 books in Kindle Unlimited on March 17, 2015.
  • 42,638 books were added to Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days.

I subtract 42,638 books from 894,423 to get 851,785. That removes the new releases since February 17. (Actually, this number should be somewhat higher than 851,785 if you adjust for the fact that February only has 28 days. It will just make the renewal rate even higher.)

Comparing 851,785 to 864,164, there is a 98.6% renewal rate for KDP Select books staying in KDP Select. (The percentage is higher if you adjust for February’s short calendar.)

Only 1.4% are opting out, and more new books were added than opted out, which means the overall number of Kindle Unlimited books is climbing. (42,638 new books were added, compared to 12,379 that opted out.)

Amazon KDP has publicly advertised a KDP Select renewal rate in excess of 95% since July, 2014, and my data easily backs this up. Very few books are dropping out.

Note that some of the books that have dropped out are Kindle short reads! It’s not just the full-length books that are dropping out. 15,539 books were added to Kindle Unlimited short reads in the last 30 days, yet there are only 12,273 more books in Kindle Unlimited short reads compared to one month ago. The difference opted out of Kindle Unlimited. (So if you wish to claim that only full-length books are opting out of Select, it won’t be true.)

CONCLUSIONS

Two myths frequently rumored are absolutely BUSTED:

  • Myth 1: Soon, there won’t be any good books left in Kindle Unlimited. With 98.6% of Kindle Unlimited books renewing their enrollment, and with many more books being added each month than are dropping out, this is an unfounded concern.
  • Myth 2: Soon, the vast majority of Kindle Unlimited books will be short reads. Actually, 65% of the books in Kindle Unlimited have 101 or more pages, and 60% of those added in the last 30 days have 101 or more pages. More authors are adding full-length books to Kindle Unlimited than are adding short reads, so this concern is also unfounded.

READING SURVEY

If you haven’t already done so, please participate in a survey on how people read books. The more participation we get, the more meaningful the results will be.

Here is one question, for your convenience. (If you’ve already answered this before, please don’t answer it a second time.)

You can find more questions here:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/surveys

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

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

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Kindle Unlimited KOLL for February, 2015

Images from ShutterStock

Images from ShutterStock

KINDLE UNLIMITED: FEBRUARY, 2015

Kindle Unlimited paid $1.41 per download read to 10% (or Amazon Prime borrow) in February, 2015.

This KOLL payment is up slightly from $1.38 in January, 2015.

The KDP Select fund was $8,000,000 for February, compared to $8,500,000 in January.

There are 3 fewer days in February than in January, which helps compensate for the difference.

The numbers held surprisingly steady. January can be a better month for Kindle sales and borrows compared to February, since many people receive new Kindles and other electronic devices that support Kindle as holiday gifts. Yet the Kindle Unlimited numbers didn’t change much from January to February.

Let’s go back to the days when it was just Amazon Prime, i.e. before Kindle Unlimited. February, 2012 paid $2.01 compared to $1.60 in January, 2012. That had been a 25% increase. In 2014, it went up from $1.93 in January to $2.24 in February, a 16% increase. It was 4% in 2013. In 2015, with Kindle Unlimited, KOLL is up a mere 2% in comparison.

Kindle Unlimited seems to be holding steadier beyond the holidays, which can be a nice compensation if sales decline after the holidays. It seems logical. If you have Kindle Unlimited, there is nothing to discourage you from reading in February, but if you’re paying for books individually, well, those holiday bills make you think about buying one more book. Those bills seem to have a smaller impact on $9.99/mo. subscriptions than on sales.

Of course, individual books and authors will see a variety of results. I’m looking at the stats for the program as a whole. Overall, Kindle Unlimited books seem to be holding fairly steady at a time when one might predict more of a drop.

READING SURVEY

If you haven’t already done so, please participate in a survey on how people read books. The more participation we get, the more meaningful the results will be.

Here is one question, for your convenience. (If you’ve already answered this before, please don’t answer it a second time.)

You can find more questions here:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/surveys

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

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

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