Kindle Unlimited Back Above Half a Penny Per Page

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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

Kindle Unlimited vs. the Naysayers #PoweredByIndie

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

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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

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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

Kindle Unlimited KENP per Page Rate DROP January, 2016

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Background image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED KENP PAGES READ JANUARY, 2016

The KENP pages read rate has reached a record low, paying $0.00411 per page in the United States.

That’s a drop of 11% from the December payout. That’s a substantial change for just one month.

But it’s a drop of 29% from the first month of Kindle Unlimited v2 from July’s $0.0058 per page rate. That’s a much larger drop when put in the long-term perspective.

However, there was also a record high set in January, 2016, with the KDP Select Global Fund reaching $15 million.

That’s a rise of 11% over December’s Global Fund.

And it’s a rise of 30% compared to July. This means that Amazon is paying 30% more money in Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) royalties than when v2 started.

The KENP per-page rate has consistently dropped, while the KDP Select Global Fund has consistently risen, and by approximately the same percentages (one down, the other up).

Two are main effects going hand-in-hand:

  • More pages are being read through Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) every month. ← This is definitely a plus.
  • Amazon KDP is paying a little less for each page read every month. ← This is a minus.

NOT A BIG SURPRISE IN THE PER PAGE RATE

The numbers for January, 2016 actually make sense:

  • Amazon sold a record number of Kindle Fire devices on Black Friday.
  • Many customers took advantage of the free trial month.
  • Amazon included free Kindle Unlimited subscriptions during a few of their promotions.
  • Amazon discounted Kindle Unlimited subscriptions during some of their promotions.
  • Some promotions targeted Amazon Prime.

Therefore, we could have predicted:

  • an increase in the number of Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) subscribers
  • a large increase in the number of pages read
  • many more pages read where Amazon didn’t earn more money from the monthly subscription

Yes, FREE has benefits, but it also has a cost:

  • Those free trial months bring readers, but it costs Amazon money.
  • Those free subscriptions packaged with Kindles during rare promotions bring many more customers and pages read, but it costs Amazon a lot of money.
  • Those discounted subscriptions entice more subscribers, but cost Amazon a little money.

(Amazon ordinarily earns 30% or more on the sale of a KDP Select e-book. What percentage do they earn from borrows? We have no idea. It could be more than 30%. It could be less. Amazon could even take a loss with KDP Select, using it as a loss leader, expecting those regular Amazon customers to buy other products. We don’t know.)

The promotions worked: There were more subscribers and pages read. That’s why Amazon paid an extra $1.5 million compared to December.

But it’s probably not realistic to expect Amazon to absorb 100% of the cost. They passed some of that cost onto the authors, dropping the KENP per-page rate 11%.

Amazon has made Kindle Unlimited viable and substantial. Paying $15 million dollars in royalties each month, that’s a significant share of the e-book market.

And many of those Kindle Unlimited subscribers have taken a chance on indie e-books. This aspect is good for indies.

THE FUTURE OF KINDLE UNLIMITED

I doubt it’s a coincidence that KENPC v2.0 rolled out the month after the KENP per-page rate hit a record low.

Remember, KENPC v2.0 kicked in for February; it had no impact on January’s payout.

If you saw a significant decrease to your KENPC (but realize that actually increased for a few books), that drop on top of the 11% drop for January may seem scary.

Maybe the KENPC upgrade was put in place to help keep the KENP per-page rate from dropping further.

Maybe the per-page rate will actually go up somewhat for February. Probably, some of those free trial months won’t be renewed. The KENPC change may help a little.

Maybe, also, if Amazon is trying to help the per-page rate for the future, they are looking at ways that a few authors or publishers may have been trying to take advantage of the system. Maybe Amazon will help limit that: This could be part of the reason that the KENPC has changed. They might also change the way that KENP pages read are counted (to try to prevent anyone from gaming the system too much).

These are a lot of MAYBE’s. And even if it does rise in February, we will left to wonder if it will start dropping again after that. We are on a downward trend.

If the per-page rate drops too much, down to whatever your magic number is, the question you need to ask is whether you can do better outside of KDP Select than you can inside. It’s not an easy question to answer, and it varies from one author and even one book to the next. (Keep in mind that every borrow helps your sales rank, which is one thing you’ll lose if you switch to the other side.)

We haven’t reached my magic number yet. But I wouldn’t mind if we didn’t dip below $0.004…

Sure, I’d love it if Amazon would pay more per page. But Amazon didn’t ask for my opinion. They offered me a choice: Enroll in KDP Select, or opt out. I enrolled, and I still prefer this option for my books.

But I’m also glad that Amazon promoted Kindle Unlimited, offers free monthly trials, and promoted subscriptions and Kindle devices this holiday season.

If Amazon had given me a choice—do none of those things and leave the per-page rate at $0.0046 per page, or do all of those things and drop the per-page rate 11%—I would have happily accepted the 11% drop. Not everyone will feel that way. But I do.

On the other hand, it started at $0.0058 back in July, and now it’s 29% less, down to $0.0041. I sure would like to see it stop going down…

It will be interested to see how it pays in February and beyond.

KENP PAGES READ BY COUNTRY

Here are the pages read payouts for a handful of countries:

  • United States: $0.00411 per page (US dollars). That’s a drop of 11% from December’s payment of $0.00461.
  • United Kingdom: £0.00262 per page (British pounds). That’s also a drop of 14% from December’s £0.00306.
  • Canada: $0.00476 per page (Canadian dollars).
  • Spain: €0.00408 per page (Euro).
  • India: ₹0.1008 per page (Indian rupees). That’s nearly identical to December.

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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If your KENPC dropped with v2.0, what should you do?

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Background image from ShutterStock.

RECENT CHANGES TO KENPC

(Please also take the survey at the bottom of this post, regarding how your KENPC has changed. You can view the results after you take the survey.)

As of February 1, 2016, Amazon changed the way that they calculate KENPC for pages read for KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.

To check your KENPC v2.0, go to your KDP Bookshelf and click the Promote & Advertise button.

According to Amazon, on average the change is within ± 5%, but some books are outside of 5% (I’ve heard a couple upwards of 30%).

Many authors are reporting the changes in their KENPC on Kindle Boards, the KDP community forum, and all over the internet.

I have several books, and most of mine are virtually unchanged.

But while I’ve heard from others whose KENPC remained the same, only a few authors are reporting an increase, while several authors are reporting a drop of 5% or more (like 10% to 15%) or occasionally much more (like 20% to 30%).

Perhaps authors who see a large drop are more likely to show up to a community forum and provide feedback, or are more likely to blog about it.

It’s a general rule that people are more likely to take time to express a complaint than to take time to offer praise.

If we believe Amazon’s report that on average the change to KENPC is less than ±5%, then a drop of 10% or less shouldn’t happen to the majority of books.

If your KENPC remained the same, if anything it seems like KENPC v2.0 should help you out a little.

If your KENPC increased, you should jump for joy.

But…

IF YOUR KENPC DROPPED, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

You should look for a proactive solution to your situation. I will offer a couple of suggestions.

If complaining relieves a little stress, well I suppose there is a little good in that. But just complaining, that’s probably not going to solve your problem. (Discussing the problem with others and thinking about the issue critically, however, might lead to a helpful solution.)

If your KENPC v2.0 is exactly 1 page, but used to be multiple digits, it may be a mistake. At least two authors have reported that their novels’ KENPC were reduced to 1 page. That’s most likely just a glitch in the system. If that happened to you, contact KDP support and cross your fingers. (This is a good reason to check your KENPC. Make sure it didn’t happen to you.)

First, you should project what impact this change might make on your royalties.

  • Find the percentage change: (new KENPC – old KENPC) divided by (old KENPC) times 100%. Example: (380–400)÷400×100%=–5%. (The minus sign means it dropped. If your KENPC increased, then your percentage will be +, in which case you should be happy.)
  • How many pages were read in December for that book?
  • Multiply the percentage change by the number of pages read by that book in December and divide by 100%. Formula: (% change) × (# pages read) ÷ 100%. Example: –5%×8,000÷100%=–400.
  • Multiply by $0.0046 (based on the recent per-page rate in the US). Example: –400×$0.0046=–$1.84.

How significant is this number to you? (Suggestion: Compare it to your overall royalties.)

Realize that this projection is based on previous per-page rates. If the KENPC has dropped for most books, on average (that’s a big IF), it’s possible that the per-page rate will go up a bit. But it’s probably not realistic to expect the per-page rate for February to go up by more than 5% (unless other factors contribute to the change), since on average the KENPC hasn’t changed by more than 5%. But you can’t bank on the per-page to increase. It might not.

The main thing you can control is whether or not to uncheck the auto-renewal box for KDP Select (and then you must still wait for the enrollment period to end before you publish your e-book elsewhere). If you’re losing money because either (A) your KENPC has dropped significantly or (B) the per-page rates have dropped significantly (but remember, we don’t “know” what the per-page rates might look like following this change), then the big question to ask is…

Could you make more money by publishing with Nook, Kobo, Smashwords (or Draft2Digital), Apple, etc. than you are bringing from borrows through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime?

That’s a tough question to answer, and varies from book to book. I know authors who have opted out and quickly returned, but I also know a few authors who found success outside of KDP Select. It helps if you have a marketing plan to reach customers who read books on Nook, Kobo, etc. (but it’s not easy to do).

A few other things to consider:

  • Every borrow through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime helps your sales rank.
  • Most Kindle Unlimited customers probably won’t find and buy your book if it’s not in Kindle Unlimited.
  • The KDP Select Global Fund is currently $12M for February, and the pot has steadily increased every month. Kindle Unlimited does have a large reader base.
  • Kindle Unlimited customers are, in general, supportive to indie authors.
  • But there are also now 1.2M books in Kindle Unlimited, with nearly 50,000 added in the last month. It’s also getting more competitive. But there were also 96,000 books added to the Kindle Store last month, so sales are even more competitive.
  • About half the books added to the Kindle Store are exclusive to Amazon, so there may be reduced competition at Nook, Kobo, etc. (It may also be harder to break into some markets at those venues.)
  • Each audience is different. What you really want to know is whether you can successfully reach your audience beyond just Kindle.

I’m afraid the only surefire way to “know” how your book would do outside of Kindle is to try it out. It might work out, it might not.

But there probably is a magic number, where if your royalties for borrows drops too much, you’ll be willing to try it out.

If you had an extreme drop in KENPC, like 20% or more, and you really want out of KDP Select, you might consider contacting KDP support. Amazon usually provides an opt-out clause when there are significant changes to the terms. While most books are seeing smaller changes, if you experienced a steep change, you might be able to persuade support that you weren’t prepared for such a drastic change, and ask if you could please opt out immediately. Well, it can’t hurt to ask, if that’s what you want.

One other thing you might do is see if you can learn why your KENPC dropped. It may not be easy. You’ll need data from other authors. Besides just comparing KENPC’s, you’ll need to find out about the nature of the book. For example, are there many quotations or short paragraphs in books that saw a significant drop in KENPC (I’m not suggesting this is the case; I’m saying you would need to think of possible explanations and test them out; this is just one you would want to test). One trick is you also want data from authors’ whose KENPC increased, to see if the same theory will explain all of the data.

But even if you succeed in learning why the KENPC changed the way it did, it may not be possible to use this knowledge to increase your KENPC. There probably isn’t a simple solution, if KENPC v2.0 successfully prevents people from gaming the system. But if there happened to be some factor that penalizes books for some particular feature and you happened to learn what that was, well you could benefit from that.

Many books tend to see a drop in both sales and borrows once they reach a certain age on the market, and the solution is usually to keep writing and publishing, and learn effective marketing strategies. Whether or not you remain in KDP Select, writing and publishing more books as well as marketing are the keys to long-term success.

(My KENPC’s are almost identical to what they had been, so I feel fortunate. As I said, not everyone’s KENPC has dropped, and I’ve even heard of a few increases.)

DID AMAZON INCREASE ITS PROFITS BY REDUCING THE KENPC?

The KDP Select Global Fund for February is $12M.

No matter how Amazon calculates KENPC, determines KENP pages read, or how much Amazon pays per page in February, Amazon is still paying out at least $12M in royalties for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.

So this does not appear to impact profits for February.

The KDP Select Global Fund has steadily increased from $11.5M to $13.5M from July thru December of 2015.

The KDP Select Global Fund has committed $12M for February, which makes sense, as December and January are likely to benefit more from holiday Kindle sales.

But there are some things that we don’t know:

  • We don’t know what the KDP Select Global Fund will do starting in March. It’s possible that the KDP Select Global Fund will start diminishing. But then again, that’s always been possible.
  • We don’t know how many customers subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. If Amazon is selling more subscriptions at a faster rate than the KDP Select Global Fund is increasing, then Amazon is increasing its profits. But they could have been doing that all along. How are we to know?
  • It’s possible that the KENPC has dropped a few % overall so that Amazon could prevent the per-page rate from dropping further (or maybe even increase it a little). But the number that affects Amazon’s profits is the KDP Select Global Fund. Whether they increase or decrease the KENPC, they are still paying $12M overall in February. Changing the KENPC just affects the per-page rate and how the $12M is distributed; it doesn’t impact Amazon’s share at all.

Here’s my own personal opinion: KENPC v2.0 was introduced to help prevent authors from gaming the system, and it unfortunately affects everyone’s books in different ways.

(It’s also possible that Amazon is losing money on Kindle Unlimited, at least directly. This program might be a loss leader. Once customers get in the habit of coming Amazon, they start buying other products at Amazon, too.

That’s an important consideration. The main thing Amazon probably wants to do with Kindle Unlimited is keep both readers and authors engaged. Amazon may make much more profits by getting both readers and authors in the habit of visiting Amazon regularly than it could make by adjusting KENPC or per-page rates.)

PLEASE TAKE THIS QUICK KENPC SURVEY

Have multiple books? You can take the survey once for each book.

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)

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KENPC v2.0 Amazon KDP Changes Normalized Page Counts (February 1, 2016)

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Images from ShutterStock.

KENPC v2.0 February 1, 2016

Amazon KDP changed how it determines the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC).

This affects Kindle e-books enrolled in KDP Select, which can be borrowed via Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.

KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime pay by the page read, where a Kindle Edition Normalized Page (KENP) is determined based on the book’s KENPC.

(This has no impact on royalties earned through sales, just borrows.)

On February 1, 2016, the method that Amazon uses to compute the KENPC changed.

The new value of KENPC is called KENPC v2.0.

Visit your KDP Bookshelf and click the Promote and Advertise button next to a title to see what its new KENPC is.

According to Amazon, on average the KENPC has changed by 5% or less.

I checked several of my books, which had KENPC’s ranging from 170 to 2039, and the KENPC v2.0 was nearly identical to the original KENPC.

So my books were virtually unaffected by this. I’m curious about your experience with the KENPC change. Is it significant?

One notable change reported by Amazon is that books with a KENPC exceeding 3000 will now be capped at 3000. (When a customer reads 100% of those extremely long books, the author actually earns more from a single book read than the monthly subscription cost.) This only affects a few books, like encyclopedias (which could be broken down into smaller pieces…).

If you want to read the KDP help page describing KENPC v2.0, you can find it here:

https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AI3QMVN4FMTXJ

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)

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Kindle Unlimited KENP Read for September, 2015

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Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ FOR SEPTEMBER, 2015

Good news, I think:

Kindle Unlimited paid $0.00507 per KENP read for September, 2015.

That’s just over half a penny per page.

Why is this good news?

Because in August, 2015, Kindle Unlimited paid $0.00514 per normalized page read.

We now have two consecutive months with only a very slight change in the Amazon payment for pages read.

Recall that the payment for July was somewhat higher: $0.00580.

When July’s $0.00580 dropped to August’s $0.00514, I was concerned with this 11% drop.

I was worried about stability.

But with September’s $0.00507 roughly matching August’s $0.00514, I see prospects for stability.

It’s still early. We only have three months of data for the new Kindle Unlimited payout.

But we do have a year of data for the previous Kindle Unlimited payout, along with a few years of payouts for Amazon Prime borrows.

And that data shows that the payout tends to approach a fairly stable number (until significant changes to the program were introduced).

So there is reason to expect the payment to stabilize. Will it stabilize at or near half a penny per normalized page? Good question, but for two months in a row, that’s about what it is.

There is a little more good news, too:

The KDP Select Global Fund has risen to $12M for September, 2015.

This figure has steadily grown, and has been fairly stable.

The KDP Select Global Fund for August was $11.8M, and it was approximately $11M in May, June, and July.

This represents a very large, indie-friendly customer base. Amazon is paying over $100M per year just for KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.

This customer base is not just very large, its stable; if anything, it appears to be growing a little.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

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)

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Kindle Unlimited Pages Read Rate for August, 2015

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Image from ShutterStock.

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.

POSITIVE INDICATORS

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. 🙂

Chris McMullen

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)

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Ideas for Children’s Books in Kindle Unlimited

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS IN KINDLE UNLIMITED

Now that Kindle Unlimited is paying KDP Select books based on the number of Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) read, children’s books—especially illustrated kids’ books—appear to be among those most affected.

Illustrated children’s authors with books enrolled in KDP Select basically have three options:

  • Opt your illustrated children’s books out of KDP Select. (Uncheck the automatic renewal box. Wait until the 90-day period has expired. Now you can publish elsewhere. But beware that not all other e-book platforms are equally picture-friendly. You might want to do some research and formatting before you decide to make the switch.)
  • Leave your books enrolled in KDP Select, and either complain about the change or feel frustrated without complaining—or try your best to ignore it—or hope that your book will be engaging enough to help get more pages read. (You probably don’t want to complain publicly in such a way that it may hurt your brand among your potential audience. Sending a polite suggestion to Amazon KDP or organizing a petition are private ways to express your opinion and try to instigate a little change.)
  • Leave your books enrolled in KDP Select, and find ways to make the most of the new program.

For those who choose option three, I have a few ideas that may help. Maybe my suggestions will inspire yet another idea of your own.

HOW TO GET MORE USE OUT OF YOUR PICTURES

This is something I saw in some books before Kindle Unlimited changed, but the idea has even greater value now.

A couple of Kindle Unlimited books that I borrowed for my daughter found a creative way to get more mileage out of the pictures.

It has marketing potential, and also helps with the new KENP read policy.

The idea is simple: Show how the pictures were made.

It’s easy to do: When you create your images—or when your illustrator makes your images—take pictures of those images to show the stages in which they are made.

Here’s what you do with them: Add them to the end of your book, showing one step at a time how to draw the pictures. You can add a little text, too, describing the process.

It’s a win-win-win situation:

  • Kids to get read a book and learn how to draw pictures.
  • Parents get added value in that their kids practice reading and learn drawing skills.
  • Authors benefit by adding several extra pages to their Kindle e-books.

It’s not just stuffing pages at the end of the book. These pages offer valuable content—showing how to draw pictures—which potentially adds to reader engagement.

More pages read means a greater royalty earned through Kindle Unlimited.

HOW TO ADD ENGAGING CONTENT TO YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOK

Here is another way to add engaging content to your children’s book.

How do parents know if their children paid attention or understood the story?

A few multiple choice questions following each story could help parents assess reading comprehension. They can check their answers if you use a footnote or endnote for the answer key.

You can also add a vocabulary key after the story to review important terms, or test if kids can figure out the meaning from the context.

There are all kinds of ways that you can add questions or exercises to add educational value to your entertaining stories. This might help differentiate your KDP self-published book from similar traditionally published books that only have stories.

BUNDLING CHILDREN’S BOOKS TOGETHER

Bundling doesn’t help by simply adding pages. Those extra pages are more work, and only pay if the pages are read.

Furthermore, whether you write one 200-page book or eight 25-page books, either way you write 200 pages—and if a customer reads all 200 pages, you get paid the same whether they are bundled or not.

But where bundling can help is with (A) convenience and (B) perceived value.

It’s more convenient to read another story when it’s already in the same book. It’s inconvenient to have to return to the Kindle Store to buy the author’s next book.

If your stories are engaging, you’re more likely to get your next story read if the customer doesn’t have to find your other book.

Kindle Unlimited customers also see more value in downloading a collection than borrowing one short story.

The bundle may even help with sales, if there is a discount compared to buying the individual titles.

I would sell both the individual titles and the bundle. It gives you more exposure. The individual titles are more likely to be discovered in searches on Amazon, as you can customize 2 categories and 7 keywords for each individual title. Once they click on your author name, customers can then discover your bundle.

You can also mention your bundle after the story in your individual books. If they liked the story, maybe they will try your bundle.

But note this:

  • If your bundle is in KDP Select, your individual titles must be exclusive to Amazon.
  • If your individual titles are in KDP Select, the bundle must also be exclusive to Amazon.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

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)

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

Comments

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