Kindle Unlimited: July’s Changes, My Results

by Molly Greene

HideYou’d have to be hiding from the world not to have heard about the modifications Amazon made to payouts in their Kindle Unlimited program July 1. Speculation about how these changes would negatively affect authors started immediately after the announcement was made, and in some quarters, the outrage was clear.

Cooler heads soon prevailed, and industry icons like Hugh Howey, Orna Ross, and Porter Anderson stepped in with their more realistic, (right on!) and thoughtful assessments. And then there’s Joe Konrath, who says it like it is with a more in-your-face position, which I love.

Basically, I’m with them.

Although per Amazon, the changes were implemented to address the issue that the previous per-borrow payout unfairly rewarded shorter works, the articles noted above believe it was a positive move on Amazon’s part to also reward quality, and I agree.

After all, readers’ biggest complaint about self-published works is the sometimes-poor writing and editing, and this move by Amazon may just provide readers with a clear “no” vote to those authors whose work needs polishing.

If we’re in this for the writing and the long-term, we can use less-than-stellar KU results to improve our craft going forward, myself included. Of course, if you’re not in Amazon’s KDP Select program, you can blow all this off. No worries.

Why are my books in KDP Select?

I am not – in general – an advocate of exclusivity on any book sale platform, including Amazon. I placed all my fiction titles in KDP Select late last fall when I embarked on a heavy (meaning once per month) marketing-promo program and realized that being in Select made scheduling promos infinitely easier.

At this point in my career as an author, I’m after reviews and readers. A marketing plan that includes free promos, low ebook prices, and Kindle Unlimited (borrows) is one way – among several potential approaches – to accomplish that. I do not expect to remain in KDP Select forever … but we’ll see.

Comparison: KU results for July vs. May

It’s not been long enough to get a really good picture of what the new KU payouts will bring, and my July month-to-date results are skewed by the fact that I ran a free BookBub promotion July 3-7 (Note: 34077 free downloads) for Swindle Town, Book 5 in my Gen Delacourt Mystery Series. Promos of any kind will rev up sales and borrows, so keep that in mind.

Many blogs are quoting figures between .0057 and .006 per page for Amazon’s anticipated payout with the recent change, so, based on that, here are my numbers.

July 1 – 12 2015, total sales & pages read (borrows), all titles:
$796.29           381 sales x $2.09 [Amazon royalty, 70% of $2.99]
$809.86           134,977  KENP* x $0.006

*“Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read” per my Amazon dashboard

I’m very happy about these KU numbers – so far

Now let’s compare these figures to a similar sales period, the 12 days directly preceding, during, and after my May 17 – 21 BookBub promo (Note: 35835 free downloads) for A Thousand Tombs, Book 4 in my Gen Delacourt Mystery Series.

May 14 – 25, total sales & flat-fee borrows, all titles:
$731.50           350 sales x $2.09 [70% of $2.99]
$326.96           244 borrows x $1.34*

*I think that was KU’s per-book payout for that month!

Interesting: I sold more books early May, considering that I published a new title, Lock the Cellar Door, on June 1, which should (!) have increased my July figures, but it did not. However, my KU borrows have really shot up – IF I’m assessing this correctly. IF the per-page payout is as heresay says it will be.

IF, if, if. It’s all speculation so far.

Want to know the “Normalized Page Counts” for each of your books? Commenter “Shen” left the instructions below – here they are:
1) Go to your Amazon dashboard
2) Locate the book in question
3) Click on the “promotions/advertising” tab on the right
4) Scroll down to the box on the left titled “Earn royalties from the KDP Select Global Fund.”
5) The KENP is at the bottom of that box – example:
“Swindle Town” Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) v1.0: 437

And Amazon, if you’re listening, it would be a helpful tool for authors to know the actual number of borrows, as well as pages read. If I have 1,000 downloads and 1,000 pages read, it’ll be clear to me that KU borrowers are giving my books a “no” vote. Make sense?

Readers, what are your results to date? Are you happy to be in or out of Amazon’s KU program? Oh, and feel free to shoot down the process I used to arrive at these numbers – Leave a comment and share!

All original content by Molly Greene is copyright protected – did you enjoy the article? You can show your support by checking out Molly’s Amazon Author Page – and hey, buy a book while you’re there! Or, subscribe to this blog and you’ll never miss the weekly posts. Your email will NOT be sold, shared, abused, or rented – that’s a promise. If you’re not already, follow @mollygreene on Twitter. Mwah! Thank you so much.

, , , , , , , ,

33 Responses to Kindle Unlimited: July’s Changes, My Results

  1. M. L. Doyle July 13, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    I totally agree on the wish that Amazon would provide the number of borrows as well as the number of pages. Personally, I love knowing the KENP and for me, the per page pay out will be much better than the per book pay out.

    Congrats on the Book Bub success! I’m trying to save my pennies to do one of those soon …

    • Molly Greene July 13, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

      Thanks! And Amazon has responded to our requests in the past, so I wouldn’t be shocked if they got around to sharing the number of borrows, as well. Best of luck with BookBub!

    • Juanita Rice July 16, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

      So far I’m enjoying an increase in payment through KENP. Keeping my eye on it.

      • Molly Greene July 17, 2015 at 8:33 am #

        Thanks Juanita – we’ll see how it all pans out!

  2. Jennifer L. Jennings July 13, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    Thanks for your input, Molly.

    I also did a Bookbub free promo on June 30 for the first two books in my mystery series. (86,000) So, the same for me, my numbers are much higher than normal.

    Each of the 15 books in the series are novella length, approx. 150 to 175 pages each. Under the new KU, I think I’m probably making less per book than before, but now I can put my anthologies back in KU. In this sense, I think I will do better in the long run.

    So far this month, I have over a million page reads. That includes 15 books, 7 children’s books and a stand alone novel. I know the estimate is around .006, but I fear it won’t be that high. I’m calculating around .0045 just to be safe on the lower end.

    So with that estimate, I’ve already made $4500 just in borrows (pages read) which is the most I’ve ever done even in a month. But it will be interesting to see what happens on a non promo month.

    • Molly Greene July 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

      YIKES! Huge congratulations, Jennifer, and yes, I think it’ll be veeeeery interesting to see what the actual payout is and what happens overall going forward. That said, though, I wish I had your numbers. Someday!!

  3. Carol Stalnaker July 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    As a reader, primarily via Kindle, I have been a frequent reader of Kindle Unlimited books. I regularly have 10 KU books on my Kindle and since I retired last year I have been reading 30 – 40 books per month. Therefore, I have saved some money using KU. I purchase a large number of low cost Kindle books as well. I was disappointed when Amazon restricted authors from selling on other outlets since I lost some of my favorite authors on KU. I also have a number of free books on my IPAD via ITunes, Kobo and Nook. Thanks for continuing on KU since I enjoy your series very much and have a couple to read on my TBR list.

    • Molly Greene July 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      Hi Carol, thanks so much for your lovely comment and for weighing in. I agree that KU has been great for readers, and I think my increase in KU borrows is partly due to the increase in people who read over the summer – vacations, plane flights, and just plain bad TV. Huge congrats to you on your incredible, voracious appetite for books! Authors love readers like you.

  4. Connie Rossini July 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    I write nonfiction, and KU has never been great for me, but my numbers are way down this month as far as payout. I will be getting about half of what I was getting before–as predictions go–and that wasn’t much. I have stellar reviews, so I don’t think quality is the problem. I suspect a lot of busy SAHMs are downloading my books and then don’t have time to read as much as they had hoped. They might get past the 10% mark, but not much beyond. I’m staying in Select because so far Countdown Deals are working pretty well for me. I suspect that in a year or two some of my books will be more widely distributed.

    • Molly Greene July 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear that, Connie, but I agree that Amazon does make our promo lives easier in Select. SO many authors have left, though, and report good sales as a result of being on other platforms. Louisa Locke comes to mind – I think she opted out of Select last summer when KU first came on the scene – and she’s done quite well as a result. “Change is the only constant,” though, and I doubt this one is the last. Best to you in all you do, and thanks so much for taking the time to share!

    • Molly Greene July 13, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

      … and another thing, Connie: thank you so much for pointing out that it’s not always unpolished writing that keeps some readers from finishing a book!

  5. Joan Fisher Demshock July 14, 2015 at 12:09 am #

    Like Carol Stalnaker, I am retired and read 30-40 books per month. I always have my KU filed. Usually it is the first of a series, then when I return #1, I downoad #2. I binge read authors. Last 3 days, it was Carol Kilgore.
    I discovered Molly on BookBub, and binge read her Gen Delacourt, and she was kind enough to send me an advance copy of Lock The Cellar Door. It took many tries to get it on my tablet, of this technohoic reader, but Molly was very patient.

    • Molly Greene July 14, 2015 at 8:05 am #

      Hi Joan, so neat to see you here! Yes, I suspect a lot of KU subscribers do exactly as you do – use BookBub to scout for new readers, then go through all the titles of a likable new author. And as an author, I’ll speak for everyone in KU and say thank you so much – we’re so glad you’re out there reading and reviewing for us! You are indispensable.

  6. MM Jaye July 14, 2015 at 12:14 am #

    Thanks for sharing your views and numbers, Molly! I haven’t been promoting my one self-published book much as I’ve been revising it, but I did change my tweeting content the other day, and all of a sudden I get a 438 KENP hit! Next two days, nada. What does that mean? That maybe ten people read 43 pages on one day and stopped reading (all of them?) or that two people read the entire book in one day? I’ll go with the second option. 😉

    • Molly Greene July 14, 2015 at 8:02 am #

      …. I know and I need to get busy, and you know what I mean! Re: your 438-pages-read hit, I’m pretty flabbergasted at how quickly some readers tear through a book – two fabulous ladies have left comments here saying they devour 30-40 books a month. YIKES!!! So I go with your second option, too. P.S. So happy to hear that Greece has struck a deal to stay in the EU – hope it eases your concerns a bit. MWAH!

  7. Darlene aka mousey books July 14, 2015 at 5:01 am #

    This is my thoughts on Amazon KU as a blogger I has subscribed to it for over a year. I thought it was a good deal – that way I could get authors books that were on ku read/review and post on my blog. However- I paid my June fee of 9.99 and what to my dismay but I woke on one July morning and I was no longer subscribed to KU and I had lost all of my books that I had in my library. I even had recently ordered and downloaded one just the day before.
    Now – I am not happy about this. They want to subscribe again What would you do?? Amazon takes and takes. I support all my authors- but in this I feel I will wait until I have the money in my pocket to order their delicious books. Instead of taking another chance of being ripped off by Amazon. I am even unsure if I want to give out a gift card from as gift for winning one of my games. They have me this upset . But then again , a gift card assures money in the pocket to a reader for a book of a author of their choice.
    So in short NO I don’t I think KU is good thing for authors it can be a rip off for you.Oh yea it allows the reader to post a review at 6% of the book read. Hmmm who reads only 6% of a book ?? I know the mouse sure doesn’t

    • Molly Greene July 14, 2015 at 7:59 am #

      Darlene, I’m so sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience with Amazon and the KU program, and I can understand why you’d be unhappy.

  8. Barry Knister July 14, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    Have I told you lately how much I appreciate the valuable content your site invariably offers its readers? I don’t think I have, so: thank you! Since the great majority of indie writers depend on Amazon, it’s especially important to be able to keep track of what the 800-pound gorilla is up to. You help us do that!

    • Molly Greene July 14, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

      My pleasure, Barry, thank YOU so much for your lovely comment.

  9. Shen July 14, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

    It’s great to see people are benefiting from this change, I hope it encourages higher quality works.

    You can find your KENP by going to your dashboard, then clicking on promotions/advertising on the book in question. Scroll down a little and it’s there on the left. 🙂

    • Molly Greene July 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

      Shen, you are SO SMART! I never would have found it there – adding this info to the post now, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to share – now we know!!

      • Shen July 14, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

        I don’t know why on Earth they buried it there, but I’m happy to help. 🙂

        • Molly Greene July 14, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

          You’re a gem. I am grateful. Best to you in all you do!

  10. Kimberly Wenzler July 15, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Hi Molly,

    As always, thank you for a thorough (and slightly overwhelming) update on the latest Amazon KU trends! I did pull out of KU. I was selling on other sites and the sales on KU weren’t really worth giving them up.

    I’m not sure what is best for me. The options are confusing. My second book is coming out this summer, so perhaps I’ll try it again.

    I learn so much from your posts and I greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into helping other authors.

    • Molly Greene July 15, 2015 at 10:49 am #

      Hi Kim, and thanks! I think if you’re selling on other sites, it’s best to stay. That’s just my opinion. When I put my titles into KDP Select they were NOT selling anywhere but Amazon so I had nothing to lose, and since I was cycling through all my titles for promos, it meant hassling to get Amazon to price match each one, then go back to the original price, then move on to the next price match, etc. Your call, but something else to consider.

  11. Joe July 17, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    Molly – SO interested in these blogs. I’m debating whether to go with KDP Select for the reasons you state, and seeing some of your results is food for thought.

    • Molly Greene July 18, 2015 at 8:47 am #

      My pleasure Joe, and best of luck to you!

  12. Kathy Perow July 20, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    Question from a reader: I’m an avid KU subscriber who discovered your books thru BookBub, another favorite service. I read on my Kindle, Samsung tablet and Nook, those last with the Kindle app. Do you get paid properly when I read about a third on each device? I’m mid-way through Lock the Cellar Door now, and would hate to think you’re not getting the credit!

    • Molly Greene July 20, 2015 at 10:46 am #

      Hi Kathy! I’d like to say how thrilled I am that you took the time to comment, and I’m so happy you found me – and other authors, I’m sure – through BookBub. The answer to your question is yes. With Amazon’s latest changes, authors get paid for every page read the first time a borrower reads the book, no matter how long it takes to read it. On behalf of every author in the KU program, I want to tell you how much we appreciate the fact that you care!

  13. Toby Neal July 27, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    Super helpful info, Molly, I had no idea how to tell how much I was earning. I think this will be beneficial for me too.

    • Molly Greene July 28, 2015 at 7:40 am #

      Thanks Toby! I’m betting your super-dedicated fans read all your books, all the way through 🙂

  14. Maureen Grenier August 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    Hi Molly: Here I am reading your blog and all the comments a month late, and I’m so happy I did. Thanks for all the useful info from you and also from your readers. I always seem to be floundering around wondering how to do things—I couldn’t survive without the help of other writers!

    • Molly Greene August 16, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

      Hi, Maureen! I’m thrilled if anything I share helps, and … KU payouts are in for July, just under .006 per page, so I’m very happy with the results.