Kindle Unlimited Back Above Half a Penny Per Page

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED

I remember, many months ago, when the Kindle Unlimited per-page rate first dropped below half a penny per page. This was early after the switch to paying for pages read.

There were many prophecies that it would continue to plunge deeper and deeper and would soon be worthless.

Yet many months later, it has again exceeded half a penny per page (though barely). Not only that, the KENP read rate has held fairly steady for eight months.

All the while, the KDP Select Global Fund has climbed up to $16.2 million, though it had been several million lower when the transition to pages read was made.

Both are signs that Kindle Unlimited is thriving.

Update:  If you’re looking for the exact figure, it is $0.005189724 per KENP read.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Self-Publishing Education & Textbooks on Kindle via Amazon KDP

Pattern Puzzles

KINDLE FOR EDUCATION & TEXTBOOK AUTHORS

Amazon recently added a quote from me to their KDP website for Education & Textbooks. Check it out here:

https://kdp.amazon.com/edu

(Thank you, Amazon.)

I started out self-publishing print books with CreateSpace in 2008. Back then, Kindle wasn’t a very good fit for most textbooks.

Textbooks tend to have many pictures, equations, bullet points, and other kinds of rich formatting, which makes the transition from print to Kindle a challenge.

Amazon’s solution to this problem is the Kindle Textbook Creator.

The main benefit of the Kindle Textbook Creator is convenience. It’s actually PDF friendly, and preserves the layout of your print book.

It’s good for textbooks and other books with many images or rich formatting. (It’s not good for a novel.)

The trade-off for convenience is that since one printed page fits on the Kindle screen, and since many customers have a fairly small screen, the e-book is designed to work with pinch-and-zoom, and it won’t be available on all devices.

There are other factors to consider, too. For example, using the Kindle Textbook Creator allows you to embed audio or video, which is great for educational books (but these features will only be available to customers who read your book on a third-generation or newer Kindle Fire device).

I have a free article on using the Kindle Textbook Creator:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/how-to-use-amazons-new-kindle-textbook-creator-tutorial/

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Indie Author Earnings: Should You Be Worried?

Background image from ShutterStock.

Background image from ShutterStock.

INDIE AUTHOR EARNINGS (3rd Quarter, 2016)

The October, 2016 edition of the Author Earnings Report is out, and the surprising activity has sparked much speculation and debate.

Whereas the indie share of the e-book market has steadily climbed in the past, this last quarter of 2016 has shown a marked drop.

As a physicist, when I look at this data, what I see are several data points of continued growth, and a single point of decline. Thinking statistically, one data point isn’t significant.

These data points are a little different, though, when you consider that each “data point” consists of 3 months of data (it’s a quarterly report, roughly).

So the combined sales for three consecutive months show indie author earnings losing a significant share of the e-book market.

Three months is a long time in the e-book publishing industry.

And we’re heading into the big fourth quarter.

So if we could learn anything from the data, or if we could uncover a reason behind the drop, we might be able to use that information to make smarter publishing and marketing decisions this coming quarter.

Still, it’s a big IF, and the information begins with one data point. It’s not much to go on. But it’s the reason for ample speculation and debate on the topic.

ANY IDEAS?

If you simply read the comments on the Indie Author Report, or read any of the many articles that have been written on the topic, you’ll encounter possible explanations.

When I looked at the first graph of the Author Earnings Report, what instantly caught my eye was significant growth in the earnings of Amazon published e-books. Amazon actually has its own imprints (which are by invitation only, last time I checked). For indie authors, you can publish with Amazon if you land a deal with Kindle Scout.

The Indie Author Earnings Report actually discusses this very point. According to the report, KindleFirst had several bestsellers during the quarter, and there appears to be improvement among most of the Amazon published e-books (on average). (By Amazon published, I don’t mean KDP, I mean Amazon’s imprints, Kindle Scout, etc.)

Personally, I think it’s good for Amazon’s imprints to be doing well. I’ve read some of their e-books myself, and so I know that there are good books in there.

Amazon seems to think long-term, and this why Amazon seems to place a premium on customer satisfaction. If Amazon published e-books take a larger share of the e-book market and if this improves overall customer satisfaction, then it would help Amazon maintain (perhaps even grow) its large customer base. Presently, Amazon published books are in limited supply, so you shouldn’t run for the hills worried that they will suddenly saturate and dominate the marketplace. Amazon published e-books have shown a more up-and-down behavior (compared to previous steady growth of the indie share) in the past, too, so we really need more data to see if this will simply drop back down or if it’s really a new trend.

Another thing I see is Kindle Unlimited. Over the past three months, Amazon paid out $45 million in royalties for pages read of KDP Select books. (That’s in addition to royalties for sales, it’s on top of whatever Amazon pays for Harry Potter and other traditionally published books in Select, and it’s in addition to the All-Star bonuses. The $45 million is for KDP Select books, which Harry Potter is not part of, and Amazon published books might also be separate from it, though this last point I’ve never inquired about or considered until recently.)

That $45 million (it was paid as $15 million per month) over the past quarter is significant, and it’s separate from royalties for sales. There are significant indie royalties in the KDP Select Global Fund.

And guess what: Amazon published e-books are part of Kindle Unlimited. So if Amazon published e-books start pulling in more customers, this is good for Kindle Unlimited (which has shown continued growth, with the Global Fund rising from $10 to $15 million per month over the past year or more, and with the payout holding fairly steady just under half a penny per page read).

BEST SELLERS

One thing to remember is that bestsellers hold a significant share of the marketplace. As bestselling e-books switch from indie to traditional to small publisher to Amazon imprints, each share of the e-book marketplace can show a big swing.

For the millions of e-books that aren’t bestsellers, or aren’t even close to being bestsellers (and I’m talking overall bestsellers, or major category bestsellers, not subcategories), what’s true of the e-book market on average is less likely to be directly related to your own sales.

Another thing I know from interacting with authors regularly over the years is that EVERY SINGLE MONTH there is a large group of indie authors loudly complaining about how sales or borrows have suddenly dropped off in dramatic fashion. No doubt you’ll hear the stories from such a group this month, too, only now it will be natural to try to tie it to the latest author earnings report.

If you happen to be seeing a drop this month, it could be completely unrelated to whatever else is going on in the e-book marketplace. It’s very common for sales to drop off after 30 days, after 90 days, or on one random month where the algorithm throws in one of its change-ups that suddenly affects your books.

The best thing is to keep writing, keep marketing, learn new ways to market, thing long-term, and try your best to stay positive and productive (which will be your advantage over anyone who doesn’t).

AMAZON IS ACTIVELY PROMOTING INDIES. YES, RIGHT NOW.

I can offer some proof of this point.

Visit www.amazon.com/poweredbyindie. This dedicated Amazon page (at least for October, 2016) says Powered By Indies at the top.

Amazon is sponsoring #PoweredByIndie and has invited indie authors to participate this October. (I received an email about this from Amazon, and if you subscribe to KDP announcements, you probably did, too.)

Over the past years, Amazon has regularly highlighted stories of successful indie authors.

It appears to me that Amazon wants many indie authors to succeed, and no doubt many indie books have benefited from Amazon’s internal marketing and Amazon’s algorithm. Amazon tweaks their internal marketing (like customers-also-bought lists) and their algorithm periodically (the latter is usually intended to improve customer satisfaction in various ways, and is sometimes responsive to attempts to manipulate the algorithm). Even if Kindle sales are down for indie authors overall this last quarter, I still see Amazon as being very indie-friendly (compared to the much of the publishing industry, Amazon is rolling out the red carpet to indies).

Again, this is just a single data point. I’ll wait for more data, and I’ll continue to focus on writing and marketing, which will serve me well regardless of the future of the e-book market.

Good luck!

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Kindle Unlimited vs. the Naysayers #PoweredByIndie

Images from ShutterStock

Images from ShutterStock

KINDLE UNLIMITED: CURRENT STATUS

Back in January, Kindle Unlimited had taken a little dip (which happens every holiday season), and the naysayer propaganda was in full force.

It’s now October. For the year 2016, Kindle Unlimited has beaten the propaganda.

  • Paying $0.00497 per KENP page read for September, Kindle Unlimited has been amazingly stable since February.  That’s 8 months strong.
  • Presently at a relative high of nearly half a penny per Kindle page read, the payout hasn’t suffered the continual drop that had been predicted. There have been some pleasant jumps, and not just with the September payout.
  • Here’s another cool fact: There are now 1.4 million books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. There were 860,000 books enrolled in February, 2015.  That’s an increase of over half a million books in 1.5 years (a 60% increase). Remember all the stories about indie authors running for the hills? The data shows otherwise.
  • My favorite number is $15.9 million. That’s the KDP Select Global Fund for September, 2016, another of many record highs. Amazon continues to pay more and more money in Kindle Unlimited royalties. Amazon will pay close to $200,000,000 in royalties for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows for the year 2016 (that’s aside from the royalties for the sales of those books; we’re just talking borrows), and that’s in addition to what they pay for All-Star bonuses (that’s right, the All-Star bonus isn’t taken out of the Global Fund, it’s paid in addition to it; I asked KDP about this specific point).

$200 million in royalties for Kindle Unlimited pages read in one year: That’s a significant share of the e-book market, and a rather indie-friendly share, too.

The continued rise in the KDP Select Global Fund and a fairly stable payout of just under a half-penny per page (though it will probably take its usual dip in December and January, and then likely return next February) suggest that the Kindle Unlimited customer base continues to grow. A great sign.

With 1.4 million books to choose from, with nearly 50,000 added just in the last 30 days, there is also growing competition for this customer base. The way to deal with the increased competition is to keep writing, try to write better, and try to improve your marketing skills. Competition is a good sign. It helps to bring in more customers, and it shows that this market is worth competing for. Good writing and marketable ideas help to provide good long-term prospects.

Celebrate Great Indie Writing with the #PoweredByIndie Hashtag in October, 2016

You can find some great indie writing in Kindle Unlimited, for example.

Many of those 1.4 million books were self-published. There are 100,000 or so traditionally published books in the mix, too; it’s not exclusive to self-publishing. But indie authors have really helped to make Kindle Unlimited strong enough to attract and grow a significant customer base.

Kindle Unlimited, in a strong way, really is #PoweredByIndie. But we must also give credit to Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Amazon’s imprints, and other great titles, too, to help attract customers. It’s great writing that attracts customers, regardless of how it is published.

Strive for great writing and good things are bound to happen.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Celebrate Great Indie Writing #PoweredByIndie

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CELEBRATE GREAT INDIE BOOKS

Indie authors often support one another.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a giant company with huge marketing power took a month to highlight many wonderful indie authors?

We all know that Amazon gave indie authors a chance when they opened the self-publishing door. And Amazon occasionally highlights indie author success stories.

But now Amazon is actually celebrating great indie books for the month of October.

Check out Amazon’s Powered By Indie page:

  • Visit www.amazon.com/poweredbyindie.
  • Note the image text: Celebrating great writing.
  • There are 4905 Kindle e-books listed, including 154 new releases (and 5 coming soon).
  • Only about 1/3 are in Kindle Unlimited.

YOU, too, can celebrate great indie writing:

  • Use the #PoweredByIndie hashtag when you post related tweets (select stories will be shared).
  • This is a great time to post a list of indie books that you’ve enjoyed.
  • Or post what you love about being an indie author.
  • Share Amazon’s Powered By Indie webpage with other authors (and readers).
  • Read, read, read.🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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What Does Your AUTHOR PICTURE Say about You?

author-picture

IS YOUR AUTHOR PHOTO SENDING THE RIGHT MESSAGE?

This is the question that authors should be asking when trying to find or create a good author picture.

Your author pic can:

  • help to reinforce the message that your product page conveys
  • help to lend credibility at the time of purchase
  • help with author branding

DOES YOUR AUTHOR PICTURE REALLY MATTER?

The picture shown next to the author’s biography is worth some thought, time, and effort. I’m not saying that customers are out to scrutinize the author page. But when customers do encounter the author photo, it can play a valuable role:

  • When I’m looking at a product page and I feel undecided, while I’m thinking it over, I continue browsing the product page. As I scroll down, I naturally see the author’s photo. Sometimes, I see the photo, and it sends a great visual message (see below for examples). But sometimes a golden opportunity is lost. When a customer is on the fence about buying your book, you want to send the right message to the customer.
  • When I want to find more books by the author, I find the author page. In addition to finding a list of other books, I see the author picture. This visual message comes at another pivotal moment, where I’m thinking about buying more books from the author.
  • I often find the author’s photo when I reach the end of a book. This is yet another occasion where I may be thinking about finding more of the author’s books.
  • And for all you authors who have blogs and social media, I see your author pictures several times every day. A good author picture is a valuable part of your branding process.

In the past, I have experimented with my author photo, and found that it could make a very significant impact on sales. One time I put up a picture that cut the daily sales on most of my books way down (while for two books that were related to the picture, sales went up). When I put the original picture back up, sales immediately returned to normal. A few weeks later, I found what I believed was a better picture, and sales improved significantly.

But there have been a couple of times where a new picture scarcely made a difference. It depends on the pictures. Sometimes two different pictures make roughly the same impact on the customer.

The right picture can help to send the right message, and if everything else on your product page is favorable, it can make a difference. On the other hand, the wrong picture can deter sales.

SAMPLE MESSAGES

Here are some messages that an author picture can convey visually to customers:

  • This author looks knowledgeable. This is a great message for nonfiction authors.
  • This author looks businesslike.
  • This author appears family oriented. This can make a difference if your target audience includes parents (that’s the case with children‘s authors).
  • This author seems funny. Important for authors of humorous books.
  • This author has personality. This depends strongly on your audience. With most nonfiction, for example, you want to convey professionalism and be taken seriously: You don’t want too much personality to take away from that. But with some fiction genres and a few nonfiction subjects, some degree of personality can add the right touch. This is the kind of thing I would experiment with to try to get it right.
  • This author has experience. This is often important with both fiction and nonfiction (and the younger the author’s appearance, the harder this is to convey).

There are many other kinds of messages that an author picture can send. The first question to ask is, what message do you want your author picture to send. Then you want to work to create an author picture that sends the desired message. Finally, you need to get feedback from your target audience to find out if your author picture accomplishes the task.

FEEDBACK

You need to ask fans, prospective readers, followers, etc. the following question:

“What’s the first word that comes to your mind when you see my author picture?”

Don’t make it multiple choice. Don’t plant the word you have in their head. If most of your audience immediately says (with a positive reaction) the word you have in mind, you nailed it.

MORE TIPS

  • Change up your author picture when sales are slow. Don’t mess with your Author Central page when things are going well.
  • When you create your author picture, you need to consider such things as lighting, shadows, resolution, aspect ratio, red-eye, bags under your eyes, five o’clock shadow (not necessarily bad), your hair, camera angle, how close to the camera to stand, how much to zoom in or out, what the background looks like and how it works with you and your clothing, etc. Use a search engine to learn more about the art of creating an author photo.
  • Take several pictures and carefully sort through them. Don’t be afraid to start over.
  • You don’t necessarily need a photo or a picture of yourself. I’ve seen many alternatives (some good, some not so much). You might find a picture of an item related to the kinds of books that you write. You might use a variation of your cover or logo. If you absolutely don’t want to show your own face (or if you use a pen name and want to remain anonymous), there are options out there.
  • Spend some time browsing Author Central photos of other authors. You will see a variety of ideas, and you may learn from a few mistakes, too. Something you see might give you inspiration for your own picture.

AUTHOR CENTRAL

At Amazon’s Author Central (available in the US, UK, and a few other countries, but not all of them—and you must visit each separately), you can do more than just add a photo. A complete Author Central page can be impressive:

  • author picture
  • author biography
  • author video (you can’t show book trailers on the product page, but you can have a trailer on your author page)
  • from the author (several possibilities and ways to utilize this space)
  • pictures of your author books at the top (in addition to the vertical list; this is automatic)
  • additional author pictures and recent blog feeds under the top row of covers

EXAMPLE AUTHOR PAGES

Following are a few examples of author pages. Note how mine ends with just my name and not all the funny numbers that show up by default: You can do this from the Author Page tab (look for Author Page URL). This is great for business cards or other places where customers can’t click on a link, but must manually type it in later.

There are many other authors whom I know who have great author pages. Let me apologize to all of you whose name isn’t on my list.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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What Did Kindle Unlimited Pay per Page in August, 2016?

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED PER PAGE-RATE FOR AUGUST, 2016

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate dropped slightly, down to $0.004575 per KENP page read for August, 2016 (compared to $0.00481 for July).

There have been small fluctuations, both up and down, for the past several months.

It has held fairly steady for 2016 (while up considerably from $0.04 in January).

The KDP Select Global Fund was $15.8M for August, 2016, slightly higher than each of the past few months.

Write happy, be happy. :-)

Chris McMullen

Kindle Unlimited Per-Page Rate for July, 2016

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

WHAT DID KINDLE UNLIMITED PAY PER PAGE IN JULY, 2016?

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate held steady at $0.00481 per KENP page read for July, 2016.

For the past 4 months, the per-page rate hasn’t drifted below $0.004686 (May) or above $0.00495663 (April).

This stability is nice. (It’s also a lot higher than January’s rate of $0.00411.)

The KDP Select Global Fund was $15.5M for July, 2016, slightly higher than each of the past two months.

Even the Global Fund is showing stability.

Write happy, be happy. :-)

Chris McMullen

Per-Page Rate Back Up for June, 2016 (Kindle Unlimited)

KINDLE UNLIMITED PER-PAGE RATE FOR JUNE, 2016

Kindle Unlimited paid $0.004925 per page read, which is up 5% from May’s rate of $0.004686, almost back to April’s rate of $0.00495663.

The per-page rate has flip-flopped up and down 5% every month since March, but every month has been considerably higher than January’s rate of $0.00411.

The KDP Select Global Fund for June was $15.4M for June, 2016, slightly higher than May’s $15.3M.

To see the payout in other countries, see here:

http://the-digital-reader.com/2016/07/17/kindle-unlimited-payout-funding-jumps-in-june-2016/

What does all this mean?

  • The per-page rate has held fairly stable for half a year, between $0.0045 and $0.0050 per page.
  • The per-page rate has risen as high as 5% on multiple occasions. So while it occasionally dips as much as 5%, it rises almost as often.
  • There was a tendency for the per-page rate to dip initially, which also happened when Prime borrows were first introduced, and also happened when Kindle Unlimited was first introduced, but both of those programs stabilized after the first handful of months. It appears that Kindle Unlimited v2.0 has finally reached a point of stability.
  • Kindle Unlimited is thriving. Amazon is paying $15M per month in royalties just for pages read (and that’s on top of All-Star bonuses). The KDP Select Global Fund is still on the rise.
  • Since the Global Fund continues to rise, whereas the per-page rate appears to have stabilized, it looks like the Kindle Unlimited program continues to grow.

Write happy, be happy. :-)

Chris McMullen

Amazon Prime Day, July 12, 2016

AMAZON PRIME DAY

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 is a special sale for Amazon Prime members. It’s Amazon Prime Day.

Last year, when Amazon Prime Day made its debut, Amazon’s sales exceeded their previous Black Friday record.

It is a huge day for Amazon. It’s a huge sale for Amazon Prime members.

And many customers will be signing up for Amazon Prime memberships or trials to take advantage.

I remember waking up early in the morning last year to discover that the items I most wanted had already sold out. The most popular Kindle devices sell out fast. But there were deals going on throughout the day. When a great deal starts, you need to act fast. You can sign up for notifications, which may help.

Prime Day isn’t just about books. In fact, if you browse the offers, you’ll see all sorts of sales in other departments, and books don’t jump out at you.

However, most customers think of books when they think of Amazon. So what’s apt to happen when millions of people buy other products at Amazon is that they’ll shop for books, too, even if books didn’t bring them there in the first place.

Department stores made Black Friday famous. Amazon has done the same thing, but even better.

Whereas thousands of stores compete for Black Friday traffic, Amazon created a special day in the middle of July, when sales aren’t normally so hot, and Amazon did this in such a way that no other stores are competing for Amazon’s traffic. It’s ingenious.

On top of that, Amazon is using the day to sell all kinds of products. So this is a big boost to Amazon’s usual business, and gets some customers in the habit of thinking of Amazon when they’re shopping for other things besides media products.

For authors, hopefully this boost in sales will trickle down to books, if not on Prime Day itself, hopefully sometime after. As more customers get into the habit of shopping with Amazon Prime, that will hopefully lead to more books being read.

Write happy, be happy. :-)

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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