by Molly Greene
You’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!
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