I haven’t had one of my books in Amazon’s KDP Select program for two and a half years. Then, it was WHERE SHE BELONGS, the same book I enrolled in Select near the beginning of July to experiment with changes to the Kindle Unlimited program. The book comes out of the program in early October.
For anyone who’s not familiar with KDP Select, the “Select” program gives Amazon the exclusive right to sell books enrolled in the program for a three-month term. Readers can buy the book outright (if you like to re-read ebooks or collect them, this is the best option) or readers enrolled in Kindle Unlimited for their country can “borrow” the right to read how many books they want for a set price per month. But you can’t keep the books on your ereader for re-reading.
Last time I was in Select, authors were paid per “borrow” of an entire book for the Kindle Lending Library or authors were paid a royalty if readers purchased the book outright. Enrolling in Select can really help an author’s visibility, because Amazon algorithms might favor books enrolled. But it’s not just enough to be enrolled in Select. You need the right advertising when you’re running a promotion to really get Amazon’s algorithms to work for you as an author. Otherwise, Select might do nothing for you and might actually hurt you, because you’re losing out on buyers looking for your book on Kobo, iBooks, NOOK, etc., and not finding it.
Kindle Unlimited came into being last summer, and I and a whole lot of other authors saw a huge drop in Amazon royalties as readers were being tempted into the subscription model. I also write under a pen name, and sales for that pen name with an established e-press literally plummeted after Kindle Unlimited came into play. Back then, authors were still paid per “borrow” if enrolled in Kindle Select, which meant that short stories earned an author the same royalty as a borrowed 400-page novel. So KU became flooded with short pieces, evidently. And the changes to the program this July were a result of that. Now, authors are paid per page read, so if a reader downloads a book through Kindle Unlimited and quits reading it halfway through, the author only gets paid for the pages actually read.
I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of the system, I just wanted to explain it to potential readers. I believe the best course of action is to place one’s books on as many e-platforms as one can, and that is how I’ve operated since I began independently publishing. But I am a slow writer, and this summer I decided, what the heck, I’ll experiment with the new Kindle Unlimited program. I have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised, because as of a day or two ago, over 100,000 pages of WHERE SHE BELONGS have been read in August, which, for ME (not necessarily for any other author) is a huge success, but not a success I could have achieved had my book not been accepted by places like BookBub and EReader News Today for advertising.
The KENPs–Kindle Edition Normalized Page count–for WHERE SHE BELONGS is 384 pages, which means 260 copies of my novel have been read through the borrowing program so far in August (nothing to an NYC bestseller, but a ton for an author who hasn’t had a new book out in a…long time). The book also reached over 100,000 pages read for July, which I was thrilled with, because the borrows didn’t come into play for me in any real fashion until the four free days and following up with a price point of $0.99 (for purchased copies), so beginning around July 23rd.
It’s a very busy summer around here–I have a son getting married soon–so I have decided to leave the price of the book at $0.99 for the rest of the summer, into the first week of September. At that point, the book will return to its regular price of $3.99, and I do intend to take the book out of Kindle Select in early October and return it to wide distribution (iBooks, Kobo, NOOK, and I’ve gotta get on Google Play one of these days). I can tell that my page reads (and also sales) are going down as time passes since the advertising that sent my book on the upswing. If not for the advertising, my book would not have had anywhere near as successful a summer. I need to become much more prolific to really make a foray into indie publishing.
But I am counting my Summer of Kindle Unlimited as a rousing success.