A little while ago Amazon did something dreadful. They started a program called ‘Kindle Unlimited’.
It’s not a bad deal for readers – at least not at the moment, because for $9.99 a month (£7.99 in the UK) they can read any of the 700,000 books available in Kindle Select. Plus there are free audiobooks to listen to, and about 500 public domain books available. No more to pay in that month. If you are a prolific or even a little better than average reader (4 books a month), that could save you money. There is one downside – books downloaded through Kindle Unlimited will be deleted if you cease to be a member.
For authors, Kindle Unlimited has it’s good and bad points.
- The author gets paid if 10% of a book is read. For a standard 80,000 word novel that’s about 32 pages
- For each book where 10% is read you get a share of the fund allotted. The last time I checked that was $1.40 but it varies.
- Your book has to be in ‘Kindle Select’ which seems to be higher ranked than those books not in ‘Select’
- If you sell your book for $2.99 and it’s an average 80,000 word book You’ll get that $1.40 instead of your normal $2.01 royalty. Of course it’s always possible that this would be an extra sale but in practice many people have seen a reduction in their royalties.
- If you write longer books at a higher price they will still pay $1.40 and you won’t get paid on download.
- An average reader, reading 30 minutes per day at 200 words per minute will take 1.33 days of reading before you get a payment.
- Some books will be downloaded but not read for months – if at all. In that time you earn nothing. If they stop subscribing to Kindle Unlimited – you won’t get a payment for that book.
- If you decide you don’t want your book in Kindle Unlimited you must leave ‘Kindle Select.’ You will still continue to earn Kindle Unlimited payments for books already downloaded though.
- Kindle Unlimited is only really attractive to prolific readers -According to some sources that’s 3% of the population.
- E-books produced by the conventional print publishers won’t be available. Just those exclusive to Kindle Select. If you want the latest Dan Brown novel – you’ll still have to buy it separately.
The upshot of this is Amazon Select and Kindle Unlimited are terrible programs for authors. You’ll earn far less in royalties. But there is a way for an author to make money from Kindle Unlimited!
- Write lots of very short books 2,000 -10,000 word stories and put them in Kindle Select.
- If you sell your book for $0.99 you will get $1.40 for each Kindle Unlimited download and 10% read rather than $0.35 from a ‘normal’ sale. See here for the details of royalties paid.
- If you sell a 12 page book for $0.99 you get that $1.40 if they read the first page!
- Promote them as being free on Kindle Unlimited.
- Since these ‘books’ are in Kindle Select you can make them free for up to five days each 90 day period. Offer a two day promotion and up to three one day promotions in the following months to keep sales rank high. I currently have three short stories available and make them free in turn, one Sunday a month.
You don’t need to spend a great deal of time on these short stories but you will need a good cover and enticing description. Use a pen name if you wish not to be associated with these shorts.
Sit back and ‘rake in the money’ secure in the knowledge that readers and Amazon will eventually realise that Select/Kindle Unlimited now only offers short stories and ditch the Kindle Select/Unlimited program.
Well I’m trying it but have yet to see any results.
Have you taken out a Kindle Unlimited subscription? So far I’ve come across only one person who has.
Want to try my short stories?
The first is free on the 1st Sunday of each month – http://smarturl.it/iwadasn
The second is free on 2nd Sunday of each month – http://smarturl.it/iwadasn2
The third is free on 3rd Sunday of each month – http://smarturl.it/iwadasn3
As of 1st July 2015 Amazon will be changing the rules so that authors of longer works will be paid at a higher rate. In their example quoted in their email today (15th June 2015) they state:
As with our current approach, we’ll continue to offer a global fund for each month. Under this new model, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read rather than their share of total qualified borrows. Here are a few examples illustrating how the fund will be paid out. For simplicity, assume the fund is $10M and that 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:
• The author of a 100 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
• The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
• The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed 100 times but only read half way through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
We will similarly change the way we pay KDP Select All-Star bonuses which will be awarded to authors and titles based on total KU and KOLL pages read.
This effectively rolls back the clock to before KU and it will no longer pay to write very short stories for KU. Full details at https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A156OS90J7RDN
Well that’s effectively killing the goose which laid the golden egg so that just leaves KU as a very bad idea.