Friday, July 3, 2015

The Big Scary Kindle Unlimited Change - Week One

It's probably not all that well-known outside writing circles, but Amazon recently changed the way it's going to pay authors for books enrolled in its Kindle Unlimited subscription service.  Instead of paying every author the same for their books - after 10% of said book is read - they're going to pay authors by the number of pages read.  Seems reasonable to me - if a little harder to work with in my spreadsheets.

So, if you 'borrow' Accidental Death (on sale today for non-KU people, btw), and you read the whole thing, I get page x-amount for each of the 520 pages Amazon has calculated my book to be.  If you only read halfway through, I still get paid for 260 pages.  Only read 10 pages?  I feel sick to my stomach that I wasted your time but get paid for those 10 pages.

I think this all came about because some people were getting their panties in a wad because the big book they wrote was getting the same amount of fundage as the measly novella someone else wrote.  :shrug:  Conversely, the novella writers are now getting the proverbial wedgie because they probably won't be making what they used to on the shorter books while the behemoth doorstops will be raking in the dough.  And the short story writers are probably having a cow write about now.

Don't even get me started about the people who are complaining about readers who don't finish their books, and how now they aren't going to get paid. :eyeroll:  If I write a book people don't want to finish reading, I failed somewhere.  That's on me.  It would make me really sad, but it won't break me.

For me, personally?  It's not a big deal. I write full-size books, and it seems like people are reading them all the way to the end.  Plus, the only book I have in the KU program right now is Accidental Death.  Besides, whatever the dollar amount, I figure KU sales are still sales.  Those are sales I might not have gotten otherwise.  Therefore, I'm happy with whatever monies float my way.  You don't see me kvetching about the 61 cents I get when one of my paperbacks sells through 'Expanded Distribution' at Createspace.  It sucks that it's so small, but hey, someone found my book, paid for it, and they're reading it.  YAY!  (Do I still want to kick some of those other distribution channels in the gnads for pilfering away my profits?  Well, kinda, but them's the breaks.  A sale is a sale, after all.)

A couple of the positives for me so far is that

1) The first day of this program - July 1st - I got to watch someone read my book is what I would guess is real time.  When I woke up, it showed someone had read 70 pages.  Mid-afternoon, it showed that certain someone had read as far as 252.  Early evening, they'd read to 483.  And I was all SQUEE!  I know it may not sound exciting, but it was for me.  Actually, it could have been more than one someone - several people all reading at the same time - but for me, it was one person and they were tearing through the book in one day.  (Which is kinda what my first reviewer said in her review.  And that makes me inordinately happy.) by the next morning, they'd read another 34 pages - which I assume is to THE END without reading the About the Author. Works for me.

2) My book, which my Word program shows as being like 282 pages and is 372 pages for the print copy, is weighing in at 520 pages for the purposes of getting paid by Amazon.  More pages = more money, so yay.

A negative aspect of this is that it kinda screws up my accounting in terms of books sold.  I dealt with it buy creating a simple formula - pages read divided by total pages - to give me an idea of 'whole book'.

Having said all that, though, I'm probably going to discontinue Accidental Death from the KU program in August.  My decision was made long before the news of this change.  I want to open the distribution up to a wider audience.  True, I haven't really seen much from my expanded channels of Dying Embers through Draft2Digital yet, but I think people still need time to find me at B&N and Apple and Kobo.  Additionally, I plan on launching Wish in One Hand across the board and see how that goes.  If sales are strong, I'll stay out of KU. On the other hand, if I think I'm losing KU readers that aren't being replaced by other readers, then I'll come back.  Simple as that.  The idea is to get as many people to buy and read my books as possible.

Still, if this change ends up really increasing my sales dollars, then I might just have to think about staying in the KU.  Time will tell.

Are you a Kindle Unlimited subscriber?  Do you subscribe to another service - like Scribd or Oyster?  How's that working out for you? If you're an author, what are your thoughts on the process?  (And no negative stuff or Amazon bashing, please.  No one needs that kind of negativity - especially not right before a holiday weekend.)


  1. Hey BE, early but heartfelt Happy 4th of July to you and all my fellow "posters" on your side of the pond.

    No I'm not a subscriber to KU or any other service. I'm happy to say I have a huge TBR pile of e & print books to plough through so KU is not really on my radar at the moment. Maybe when I get through this lot I might think about it. I'm on the last in my In Death series re-read and am ready to try something else, so I might pop over to Amazon and check out Book 2 in Silver's Moon series or try No. 1 in J B Lynn's hitwoman series. Still thinking and deciding.

    Have a good holiday weekend.

  2. I actually have a huge problem with KU, especially this new policy. I buy books, not always to read them, but to support friends. I want them to get my support, but if I never read the book, how am I supporting them? They know I don't like their genres, but I buy their books to help them out.

    And I've never been one to rant and rave about my privacy rights, but this is infringing, IMO. Why does Amazon have the right to see how much I've read and decide how much to pay the author from there? If I buy a book at B&N, I don't get daily phone calls asking what page I'm on now--simply so they know how much to pay the authors. I think it's ridiculous.

    I do think authors have the right to be upset by this. Yes, it's our job to make people want to read to the end of our books, but that's not always going to happen. You can't please everyone. But if you're only paid by those who are pleased (and have therefore read the entire book), a lot of people would be screwed. You don't go to a movie and decide afterwards that you only enjoyed 56 minutes of the 120 minute movie, so therefore the actors/producers etc... are only paid ____ amount. That would be stupid and ridiculous. Same thing with a painting. "Well, I like these segments here, but not that one there, so the artist is only going to get money for the parts I like, since I would have stopped looking." Same applies here, IMO. Authors should be paid for the whole work--not partial amounts. I also know a huge number of people who don't read the entire book, even if they enjoy them. And how do they deal with people who read part of the book, stop, and then come back months later? It's just too shady, IMO.

    1. Which is why it's entirely optional to put your book in KU. Amazon isn't screwing anyone. I expect subscribers to the KU program are there so they can borrow as many books as they like and read only what blows their skirt up - indiscriminately. People who opt not to be in the subscription program are pickier about what they slap their money down for, I think. I know I am. No one forces readers to be in the program. No one forces writers to be in the program. Hell, no one forces writers to publish with Amazon at all for that matter. They're just the best at what they do - and from my standpoint, it's easy to see why.

      And please, Nat, don't buy my books if you aren't going to read them. I love you like the little sister I never had, but I don't want that kind of support. If it's not your thing, tell someone else about it that you think might enjoy it. But I don't need or want the $2 bad enough to take it out of your pocket. I'm not sure any of your friends would either. Support writers some other way. Keep the money and buy your little joy something to make her break out that awesome smile.

    2. You are right, of course. KU is completely optional for authors (and readers). I just think it benefits the readers more often, but it does depend completely on the author.

      lol I wasn't talking about your books. And regardless of if you do ever end up publishing something that I don't like to read (dystopian or sci-fi or something else), I will still buy it. I appreciate that I could spent the 2 dollars on something for my wee lass, but it's my decision on how I want to support you. If it helps your sales rankings, I'm gonna do it, so you shush woman lol. I do try and get family and friends to buy my friends books too, but I'm sad to say that most of them don't like to read much (or don't have time). So I fear I can't support many friends that way, and I try not to promote too much on Facebook and Twitter (although I still do from time to time lol). I just like buying my friends books and seeing them there on my Kindle, or on my bookshelf. It makes me feel very happy to have them there, even though I didn't write them myself. You know? It's like, "Look at what they accomplished!" That's all I meant ;)

  3. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new KU program works out for me. Probably not much change, since more people buy my books than borrow them. I can hope, though. :-)

    btw, all of your cicadas are at my house. The trees sound like a high-pitched chainsaw is buzzing away up there.

  4. Ah the wailing and gnashing of teeth of this change. First, it only affects books "borrowed" through the paid subscription program Kindle Unlimited. Yes, I have a "membership." I use it for books I don't want to buy, can't get in the library, but I'm curious about. If I "borrow" two or three books a month, it pays for itself and my Kindle cloud isn't choked. Sometimes, I'll borrow the first book in a series, decide I really like it and then will buy the series.

    People were gaming the previous system. They were writing ten-page "books". Read one page, and they got paid the full royalty, which was the same as novellas (apprx. 25K) or full novels (50K+). Heck, there were people "publishing" freaking LISTS of author's books--not the author themself, but some random person.

    As my self-pub books are all enrolled in KU, I'm on the fence at the moment and keeping my options open. So far, it looks like I may break even or even make a little more (based on previous borrows/payment), depending on the per-page payout. So many people are playing chicken little about this. Wait and see. Things will shake out in the wash.