KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ
Amazon paid $0.00514 per KENP read in August, 2015.
Compare that to the $0.005779 pages read rate in July, 2015.
That’s a drop of 11%. If you had 10,000 pages read in July, would earned $57.79, but for the same 10,000 pages read in August, you only earned $51.40.
On the one hand, an 11% drop is significant, but on the other hand, unless you had a million pages read through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime, that 11% doesn’t amount to a whole lot.
And if you had a million pages read, you’re thriving in the program (compared to most authors).
But the concern really isn’t over one drop in the payout of 11%.
The concern extends beyond that. 11% is a pretty sizable change. It’s not a small fluctuation.
So one concern is stability.
If it drops 11% in August, another 11% in September, another 11% in October, and so on, that would really add up.
Since these are the early days of KENP, we don’t have much data to go on. We don’t yet have a pattern of KENP payouts established to lend us a feeling of stability.
What we really need is more data. But authors also want to make sound decisions now. And it will take a few months to get solid data.
I expected the pages read rate to drop toward $0.0050. What I didn’t expect is for it to jump straight there in one fell swoop.
And hence stability is in question.
But I think it’s premature to run for the hills.
One drop of 11% isn’t too much for me. Maybe stability will be there. I need a few months’ more data to assess this.
If it levels off around $0.0050, that will be what I had been expecting anyhow; it will just have gotten there faster than I was predicting.
If it drops even below $0.0050, the question will be how much below. What’s your magic number, where if it goes below that, you feel like KDP Select isn’t worth it? This magic number will be different for everyone, but it’s worth thinking about. We’re not near my magic number yet.
And what’s your backup plan for the worst-case scenario? It wouldn’t hurt to sketch out a backup plan and store it in a safe place. If you’re not below your magic number, I wouldn’t initiate the backup plan yet. But it’s smart to have a plan in mind, just in case.
I feel I’ve given too much attention to this lone 11% drop. Who knows what next month will bring? We don’t have enough data yet to see a pattern emerge.
But there are other positive indicators that may help offset that 11% drop. Let’s look at a few of these.
GLOBAL FUND STABILITY
The KDP Select Global Fund is suddenly more stable than ever.
It was approximately $11M for May, June, July, and now $11.8M in August.
It’s starting at $11M for September.
They used to commit a mere $3M to the pot, and then raise it to $8M or more.
Now they commit to $11M on a regular basis.
So while the pages read rate may have dropped 11%, the KDP Select Global Fund has been very stable, more stable than ever.
KINDLE UNLIMITED IS THRIVING
KDP Select authors are earning a combined $10M per month just from KENP read.
Amazon has paid out over $100M in royalties just for KDP Select borrows in 2015.
Approximately 2 billion pages of KDP Select books are read through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime per month.
That’s a huge readership. And it’s been a consistent readership (if anything, it appears to be growing).
And this readership supports indie books. Not every indie book, but the top KDP Select books are thriving in Kindle Unlimited.
Most of these readers are reluctant to buy books any other way.
AMAZON PAID MORE ROYALTIES OVERALL
Although the per-page rate dropped from $0.005779 to $0.00514, the KDP Select Global Fund rose from $11.5M to $11.8M.
Amazon paid $300,000 more in KDP Select royalties in August than they paid in July.
Overall, KDP Select authors earned more than ever.
So although they paid 11% less per page, there were more than enough additional pages read to compensate overall, enough such that Amazon actually paid more money in royalties overall.
Either there were (A) more Kindle Unlimited subscribers or (B) Kindle Unlimited customers are reading more than usual.
Either way, in general, KDP Select books benefited from this additional reading and the extra $300,000 paid in KDP Select royalties in August compared to July.
MORE BOOKS IN KINDLE UNLIMITED
Another sign that the program is thriving is that the number of books in Kindle Unlimited steadily rises.
Even through the new Kindle Unlimited 2.0.
Even through the 11% drop in the per-page rate.
The number of books in Kindle Unlimited keeps climbing.
It’s up to 1.1M presently. It was about 1M just a few months ago, but despite the new program and even the drop in the per-page rate in August, still 100,000 more books have added in the past few months than have dropped out.
127,000 books were added to Kindle Unlimited in the past 90 days. Whereas only about 27,000 have dropped out during this same time. For every book that has dropped out, 4 more were added in.
44,000 books were added just in the last 30 days. The number of books added to Kindle Unlimited each month keeps rising.
There is plenty of content for customers, and plenty of new content each month.
The top KDP Select books are thriving with millions of pages read per month, and the customers enjoying those top books want more top books to read. And those authors feel motivated to write more similar books. And other authors want to become KDP Select All-Stars, so they’re working to try to please Kindle Unlimited customers.
Many books benefited from the extra pages read and higher KDP Select Global Fund for August.
For many books, overall, this made August better than July, even though the per-page rate dropped.
WHAT IF YOUR BOOK DIDN’T BENEFIT?
If your book didn’t benefit from the extra pages read and the higher KDP Select Global Fund, there are a number of possible reasons:
- There are many complicating factors involved in a book’s sales. Most books go through sales slumps at some time all on their own. If your book’s sales slumped in August, it’s quite possible that it had nothing to do with Kindle Unlimited. In fact, more pages were read through Kindle Unlimited than ever, and the payout was $300,000 more than in July.
- August is typically a slow season for very many books. If your book’s sales slumped in August, it may just be a seasonal effect. The interesting thing is that more pages were read in Kindle Unlimited in August, even though sales often slump in August. Overall, this seasonal effect didn’t impact KDP Select borrows (although it surely did for some KDP Select books, overall there were more pages read in August than July).
- Many authors changed their publishing and marketing strategies when Kindle Unlimited 2.0 rolled out. Many authors believed that Kindle Unlimited 1.0 favored short books, and now many authors believe that Kindle Unlimited 2.0 favors long books. What Kindle Unlimited 2.0 favors is reader engagement. As many other authors adjust their marketing strategies, that impacts other books.
Here are a few proactive ideas:
- Marketing, of course. For a book that has appealing content, the trick is to get more customers to learn about your book. Learn free and low-cost marketing strategies, and try them out.
- Marketability is another factor. Are you writing the kinds of books that appeal to Kindle Unlimited customers? Are the cover, blurb, and Look Inside helping to close sales? If so, your book is more likely to benefit from KDP Select borrows in addition to sales, and those borrows can help your sales rank.
- Are you making the most of Kindle Countdown Deals? Just scheduling the promotion isn’t apt to be as effective as searching out websites that can help you promote the Countdown Deal.
- Are you using AMS wisely? Most authors tend to overbid. The safer route is to bid very low, wait a few days, raise your bid only slightly if necessary, wait a few more days, and use patience and frivolity to your advantage. It may take a month or more to generate significant activity, but it’s less risky that way. Also, once you have several similar books out, with good marketability, that improves your prospects for advertising success.
- Personal interactions can go a long way. When you interact with your target audience, a personal interaction is more likely to inspire a sale during a slow period, and it’s also more likely to lead to a review. Get a few sales in a slow period and it can help you rebound.
- Write more books. And do some research to see what kinds of books are selling. Which are a good fit for you to write. For which customers are likely to support indie books.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE
Is the grass greener in KDP Select or outside of it?
That’s a good question, and it may depend in part on the particular book, as well as the marketing capabilities of the author.
If you can build a strong following all on your own, you stand better prospects of growing a readership outside of KDP Select. But it’s not easy to do.
Another big factor is sales momentum.
If you start in KDP Select, once you get initial borrows and sales, you have sales momentum. Each Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime borrow helps your sales rank.
If you now opt out of KDP Select, you lose that benefit on sales rank. You lose your momentum.
Sales momentum is really tough to build. Once you have it, you don’t want to lose it. But you lose part of it when you switch to the other side.
Similarly, if you have sales momentum on several sites and join KDP Select, you lose it on those other sites.
Kindle Unlimited has a huge readership (2 billion pages read per month of KDP Select), which supports very many indie books (through KDP Select).
This audience can potentially benefit new authors. (But it takes a marketable book and marketing to improve your chances.)
Hence, it’s appealing to start out in KDP Select.
You can opt out after 90 days (but you must uncheck the auto-renewal box to do this successfully). But you risk losing that sales momentum.
Unless, of course, you hardly have any sales to speak of. But Kindle is the main market. If you hardly have any sales to speak of, the sales aren’t likely to be found elsewhere. But it can happen, and you might feel like there is nothing to lose in trying. (The real problem may be with the marketability of the book, or with marketing.)
One intriguing idea floating around is to write multiple series (or similar books) under multiple pen names, and rotate one (or more) of these series in and out of KDP Select. One idea behind this is diversification, and to try to reach customers on the other side of the fence.
But the risk in this strategy is that rotating a title in or out of KDP Select will hurt sales momentum.
It is wise to have a backup plan in place. But I wouldn’t do anything to risk hurting sales momentum unless and until the per-page rate goes below your magic number.
I’M STILL IN
KDP Select has been good to me.
I have pages read, but where I’ve seen the largest increases are (A) Kindle sales and (B) paperback sales.
I have no doubt that this is largely due to KDP Select.
First, all those KDP Select borrows improve my sales ranks.
Secondly, I’ve learned how to make effective use of AMS. It took a couple of months of overbidding to develop my low-bid strategy, and to refine my targeting, and it’s begun to pay dividends.
Not every one of my books has benefited (nor are they all in ‘my’ name), but overall my Kindle sales and paperback sales have improved.
Not all authors are thriving in KDP Select. But many are, and the potential is there.
Write happy, be happy. 🙂
Copyright © 2015
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- 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)