Today’s Tip: Understand How Kindle Unlimited Affects Authors
By: Linda Fulkerson
When Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited, many authors, including myself, wondered, “How will Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Affect Authors?”
Before we get into Kindle Unlimited from an author’s standpoint, I want to share with you what it is, in case you haven’t heard about it yet.
How does Kindle Unlimited Work?
Basically, Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that allows readers to download eBooks – similar to the Netflix movie-lending model. It’s not exactly unlimited, as you can only keep up to 10 KU books at a time in your account. If you reach your limit and want to read a different book, it’s easy to return one and download another.
The fee is $9.99/month and there’s a free 30-day trial. This is a great deal for book addicts and those who do book reviews or use a lot of books for research. If you’re a casual reader, it might not be your best option. You can learn here – About Kindle Unlimited
What books are available in Kindle Unlimited?
There are literally tens of thousands of books in this program. If you’re in your Amazon.com account or using the Amazon.com app on your smart phone, you’ll see a link that says, “Read for Free,” if the book is in the KU program.
How does Kindle Unlimited Affect Authors?
The program is new, so the jury is still out on some aspects, but reports are showing that some books that may not have otherwise been bought are being downloaded in the KU program. This should help new or relatively unknown authors get the word out about their writing.
As an example, if someone is browsing books about a specific topic, perhaps about a travel destination, and they find a book they want to download, budget constraints may cause them to hesitate before buying any related books that are listed (readers who purchased this book also bought . . .). However, with the Kindle Unlimited, that same reader may choose multiple books about the topic without worrying about taking a risk on an author they haven’t heard of before. This can boost your sales and grow your readership.
Books in the KDP (Kindled Direct Publishing) Select program are automatically included in Kindle Unlimited. The Select program requires an exclusivity agreement with Amazon.com, and their bots patrol the web, looking for noncompliance. Giving Amazon exclusive rights to sell your book is the downside, but the upside is, Amazon is the most popular book seller and the KDP Select program allows you to offer periodic giveaways of your book to generate awareness about it.
Some traditional publishers, especially the larger ones, have made specialized agreements with Amazon.com concerning author royalties and other options.
For the regular Indie author/publisher, though, royalties are paid from a pool of funds. The typical payout at this time is about $2 per “read” download. (Amazon considers a book “read” if at least 10 percent of the book has been gone through.) This $2 is about the same as a $2.99 Kindle book sold under the 70% royalty rate. (Check the KDP terms for criteria required to get the 70% royalty rate.) Because the payout rate is re-set every month and it’s hard to predict how many readers will reach the 10 percent threshold, it will be impossible to predict royalties with this program.
The problem some authors are complaining about is that in order for a 100-page book to be considered read, the reader only needs to read 10 pages, however, if you’ve written a 500-page book, then 50 pages must be read in order to be counted toward your royalty payment.
So, like anything, Kindle Unlimited has its good and bad points. You’ll likely find articles online that are bashing the program and other articles praising it.
My Verdict on the Kindle Unlimited Program from an Author’s Standpoint:
In my opinion, the KU model will best benefit Indie authors who write shorter, how-to style eBooks for readers who are conducting topical research about how to perform a specific task or who are seeking solutions to a specific issue (how to get college scholarships, restore old furniture, prepare gluten-free meals, etc.). Researching readers tend to buy more than one book about the topic they want to learn about.
As far as longer books, especially fiction, I’ll have to wait and see what the numbers say before making a judgment on how beneficial this will be for that group of authors.