Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Experience With KU

It's been almost two years since my last post on this blog, but I figure now is as good a time as any to get back to it!

I know I'm pretty late to the game when it comes to this, but KU seems like the perfect subject to restart the blog to. KDP's Kindle Unlimited changes have caused a crazy amount of stir in the indie community for the last few months, and for good reason. With payments as low as .006 cents per page paid by Amazon to the author of a KU book, writers have reason to be upset.

Going off of the .006 cent idea, how much can one expect to get paid for...

A 100 page novella? .006 * 100 = 60 cents

A 250 page novel? .006 * 250 = $1.50

A 300 page novel? .006 * 300 = $1.80

You get the idea. If we compare this to the average indie take from a book, $2.99 or above, from Amazon, we can see just how clear the gap is. With Amazon's 70% royalty rate, any book listed for $2.99 will give the author around $2.06, regardless of length (although I'd be happier getting 300 pages for 3 dollars than I would 100 pages). So, to the indie writers who love sending 400-500 page epics out into the world, KU might not me much, it might actually be positive to them. To the writers of short stories, novellas, and shorter novels, however, there is a different story unfolding.

I'm not the kind of writer that blasts out a couple of dictionary-length novels a year, most of my work lands in the 200-250 page range, with a few novellas and short stories being far less than 100 pages. That's why I got out while I still could. Before KU was even in place, I was a user of the permafree feature to Amazon's site. Permafree allows me to put some of my books, usually first books in a series, up for free forever on Amazon, but I also have to be opted out of KDP Select. A good 1/4 of my books at the time were out of KDP Select for either Permafree sale or because I wanted them available to Nook and Smashwords readers. When KU finally came about with the by-page payment method, I decided to let KDP Select and KU go for good.

The process is long, but it's rather easy. I only have a select few books left in KDP Select as of right now, and throughout all this time I haven't had a single KU purchase or download...up until this last week. Finally, at long last, the blue KU line on Amazon's sales graph moved from the middle. Someone read 15 pages from one of the last KU books I've got. To me, those fifteen pages means a whopping .09 cents. Meanwhile, people who focus on short stories of around that length can ask .99 cents or more across multiple sales channels and get, at the very least, 33 cents back for every sale.

So where am I now? I'd love to tell you that I became an unstoppable bestseller simply by opting out of KU and KDP Select and taking part of my business to B&N and Smashwords, but that would be so far from the truth. In reality, my additional downloads from B&N and Smashwords are mainly free ebooks, but I've gotten thousands of those downloads, and those sometimes translate into purchases of the other books in the series' or of stand-alone books. While I'm not a runaway bestseller (yet) without KU in my life, I can say I'm making more off of my books than I would with it, and I love having my work available to Nook readers and to all the .pdf and .epub readers on Smashwords, and they like it too. The days of having my inbox crowded with readers asking why more of my books aren't available on their Nook are over, and so far no one has emailed me as to why my work isn't in KU anymore.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah. KU sucks for mid-listers. Have you tried They will distribute your books across platforms (Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, B&N, Apple, etc.) If you don't have a Mac (the only way to upload into the Apple platform) D2D will get you on there.