As promised back in July, I’m revisiting the topic of the ongoing developments in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program, or KU2 as some people are calling it. Now that the actual first per-page rates have been revealed (this came out on Aug. 15th) everyone knows exactly how much royalties they’ve earned in July. The numbers led to some giddy delight from some authors and despair from others writers. More on that in just a bit.
For those of you not up to speed on the KU2 program and how these changes impacted what authors are paid might want to start reading here. This will give you some background information.
First recapping some of the developments we saw crop up during the last month and a half since the program launched.
Page count changes:
The first thing everyone noticed was the recalculation of the official Amazon page count, what is called the KENPC. Amazon made their intentions clear up front, they wanted to create a page count baseline and convert all eligible e-books into their new page configuration. However, they didn’t disclose how they planned to recalculate, leaving many confused and worried. In the end many books experience huge page count bumps using the new formula. I don’t think anyone is upset about the page count changes and it’s possible the KENPC formatting is leveling the paying field, removing extra white space and overly large fonts or margins just as Amazon intended. However, I think most authors would still like to know how the KENPC is created so they will have a better idea of what their book number is before publishing.
System bugs and new information:
It was a new program, no one expected it to run perfectly and it didn’t. But the one major glitch only dropped everyone’s data for about two days. In addition some authors have also reported something called phantom borrows. Otherwise things ran fairly smoothly.
* Please Note: I am still looking for some official data on Phantom borrows. If anyone has an Amazon link to an explanation, please share in the comments area.*
Whereas many authors knew how closely Amazon monitors each user’s preferences, most readers didn’t think about it. Now everyone knows Amazon has the ability to count and keep track of every single page a person reads in their e-reader. To some readers the Big Brother tactics are too invasive. Savvy Kindle users have learned how to turn off their updates, effectively blocking Amazon from collecting real-time data from their devices. Of course the next time the user connects; Amazon will play catch-up and download their full history anyway. Users choosing to limit Amazon’s 24/7 access to their data stream, means some KU authors have seen some wild fluctuations in their data. It’s rather a minor inconvenience, the pages will get credited eventually.
The July rate released:
Hopefully people paid close attention to my predictions on the page rate back in June. I knew it was a mathematical improbability that Amazon would pay a penny a page. It just wasn’t realistic. However, at least for the first month the rate exceeded my expectations. The August rate was about .005789 per page read. If KU payout history repeats itself in KU2, this will be the highest rate authors will ever receive. Meaning writers should expect a dip in the rate come September. Response to the rates seems mixed. Some high-ranking authors with large fan bases are thrilled with their numbers, calling KU2 a huge success. Other authors are disappointed and looking to pull some or all their titles as soon as they can.
Places KU2 need improvements:
One of the big complaints I’ve been seeing is in the reporting. Authors want to know how many books were borrowed and not just how many total pages of each book were read. Currently 15 books borrowed and each read half way through looks the same as 7 of the same book borrowed and read cover to cover. Revamping the reporting would make it possible for writers to understand their reader demographics better. They might even be able to use that information to write more successful books.
The current hope is KU2 help drive up the highest quality indie books, while also diving out the lowest quality. Will it work, who knows. I think it’s still too early to say, there just isn’t enough information at this point.
I’m interested in hearing about other author’s experiences. How did you all fair in the latest reports?
12 thoughts on “Kindle Unlimited Update”
It was exciting to see the page reads graph go up and down. I tried not to worry about what that meant in terms of money, but I did calculate it and not too shabby. KU2 isn’t being ground breaking for me, but I also only got into KU1 at the end. I do hope Amazon adds borrows back, that would help authors figure out if a book is stalling with readers or not, and I think could help improve books because the author could decide to pull the book and reedit.
Watching the page counts spike is fun. I did that for a few days too. : ) As I recall, you have only the one novella in the KU2 program. I think it your case the program could act more as a marketing tool, hopefully helping readers discover your other titles. However, I’m glad to hear your royalties were good last month. Yes, loan information would be boon to everyone! Hopefully, Amazon will make that change and soon!
I’ve been following your blog for a few months. Your writing tips have been useful and your posts on the industry have been great for keeping a pulse. I launched a Kindle Scout campaign for my latest book (https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1PMYID5KFXEY5). It’s a little terrifying, but I’ll let you know how it goes!
I remember you mentioned your plans to launch a Scout campaign a few weeks back. I wish you all the best. And I will be sure to stop by and show your page some attention. : ) My initial impressions of the program are mixed. I’m one of those people who loved the old Breakout Novel Contest and I was sorry to see it replaced by Scout. Plus I’ve read both pro and con reactions to it from other writers. I’ll be eager to hear your impressions, so please stay in touch. Good Luck!
Thanks, Robin! Yes, I have heard mixed reviews on Kindle Scout as well. I’ll let you know in 30 days how I feel! Thanks for the book love! 🙂
I’m one of the writers that definitely benefited. I have 4 novels of 62,000-71,000 words each and a boxed set of the 4 out. Three of the books are priced at $2.99 so I get about $2.05 for a sale. For me, Amazon paying by the page instead of a flat rate if a reader read 10% of the book has been very lucrative. Even if the payment per page drops, I’m still making the same or more (and sometimes far more) on full length novels per borrow over what I make on a sale. Color me happy with KU2.
I see a future where we see less published drivel and more works of quality in the KU program. Sure, there will always be shorter works, especially in non-fiction, that won’t get a good payout per borrow but, if they’re high quality and desirable titles, they’ll get plenty of borrows to make up the difference. Both Hugh Howey and Joe Konrath, two of the biggest names in indie publishing have weighed in on KU2 and on how they’ve done with their shorter works and they both declare it a resounding success.
I agree that we as authors need to have some idea of the total number of borrows. The way it is right now, you have to go into the marketing portion of your dashboard just to see what your KNEPC is for each title and then you can only get a rough idea of total borrows by dividing that number into the pages read. It’s by no means accurate.
I think your experience is pretty normal from an established author with a number of longer books. Since the sweet spot for indies is under $3.00 it often works out better with the KU rate over the sale rate. Granted this all depends on that full read, which brings us back to the quality issue. Indies that want to do well under KU2 will need to step up their game. : ) We can only hope Amazon hears our cry and changes the reporting. Authors can’t fix problems they don’t know exist! Giving the total number of borrows would benefit everyone in the program.
We did pretty well, all things considered. A bit better than in June and we published two new mysteries so that helped as well. Needless to say, as our shorter works are coming out of KU, they’re going wide. The mysteries run from 30K to 60K so they’re the money makers right now. It’s actually kind of fun to see how many pages are read in a day. We have one or two books where someone read 1 page and that was it. Really? One page? LOL! Anway, my only realy complaint about KU is the same that is has been all along. Tell me how much I’m going to make and get on with it. Don’t make me guess from month to month. Ya’ll have a good week.
Hi Willow, My early prediction was that mysteries would do well in KU2, and from the authors I’m seen weighing it so far it’s proved a standout winner. I’m glad to hear you are doing well with most of your books. I know a few people with both long and short titles, and the stats on the short titles seem pretty mixed. I hope you figure out a plan that work well for you.
Your one page results might be someone who shut off their data collection. Hopefully you will see that page number pop up once they sync their Kindle. : )
Very informative. Thank you
Are you considering placing your book in the program? Please keep me posted if you do. I’m very interested in collecting data from authors with non-fiction titles. So far I’ve only talked to one KU author in that category.
Hi, I just stumbled onto your site, doing a search for tips on plotting out cozy mysteries. I currently have two cookbooks, and am getting ready to release a third cookbook next month. But… I’ve also been writing a mystery book for a couple of years, and am in the final stages of writing it, but am also starting to write a cozy mystery series as well. I use KU for not only allowing but actually encouraging people to ‘borrow and read’ the cookbooks, but I also offer the books as ebooks and in paperback. I’ve had some modest success but am ready to sell lots more, when I can. I’ve got this site bookmarked and will come back and read in between writing bouts. I’,m also trying to learn how to make a friendlier website for the my authorship as it were. I’ve had a food blog for several years and think I’ve somewhat mastered that. Thanks.