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Konrath Kindle Unlimited Numbers

16 August 2015

From Joe Konrath:

I might be pretty good barometer for this experiment, because I have a large backlist, I haven’t released anything new in over a year, and I didn’t do any BookBubs or other promo in June or July (May was the last one I did.)

So the only real difference between my numbers in June and my numbers in July is the new KU 2.0 payout system. I’d already shared some thoughts about it last month.

Let’s take a look how I did.

I have 28 novel-length works in KDP, all over 60k words. I have 17 shorter works, ranging from 8k-50k. Genres include mystery, thriller, horror, humor, erotica, and sci-fi.

In June, I made $9300 in KDP sales.

In July I made $10,550 in KDP sales.

In June, I made $5700 in KU/KOLL borrows.

In July, I made $11,600 in KENP reads.

So my KU income doubled under the new payment system. I have no idea what to attribute the extra twelve hundred in sales to, but it’s pretty clear that KU 2.0 benefits me.

Under the old system, I earned as much for With A Twist, which is 23 pages, as I did for The List, which is 310 pages.

. . . .

Under the new system, estimating $.005779 per page read, a full read of With A Twist earned me $0.16, and a full read of The List earned me $1.79.

. . . .

First, I wonder why I didn’t pay more attention to KU 1.0 while it was in full effect, because I should have written a ton of short stories. The short story market prior to Kindle was dismal. Getting into a top market was very hard. There was a lot of competition. Most markets paid $0.05 a word, so With A Twist was worth about $300, and I was lucky EQMM paid more. But the fact that I was making $60 a month on a short story is insane. Never before, in the history of publishing, have short stories been worth so much. I was fortunate enough to get that story into one of the top paying markets in the world, and I made $450. Under KU 1.0 I was on track to make $720 a year on that same story, just in borrows.

Second, even though short stories were finally lucrative, thanks to Amazon, my readers still seem to prefer longer work. With a Twist is a Jack Daniels short. Cherry Bomb, my weakest selling JD novel, had 313 borrows in June, and 179 sales. This is true for all of my shorts and novels; the novels had more sales and more borrows. Anyone who needs more proof of this, look at the thousands of reviews I’ve had for novels. whereas my shorts are lucky to garner a few dozen.

Third, readers really seem to like KU. I was getting more borrows than sales.

Fourth, even though readers did more borrowing than buying, I was earning almost twice as much via sales than borrows.

Maybe this is why I didn’t pay a lot of attention. I saw the numbers, saw that sales were still financially superior to borrows, and decided not to worry about borrows.

Now, there’s no doubt KU was cannibalizing sales, but I wasn’t complaining. I was in KDP Select, but it wasn’t my only source of income. So I didn’t worry about it, nor did I take advantage of it. It was what it was.

. . . .

Under KU 1.0, Amazon was rewarding writers for enrolling in KDP Select. Amazon wanted as many titles as possible, to build their Kindle Unlimited catalog. Shorts are easier and faster to write than novels, so Amazon rewarded short stories by paying authors much higher for shorter works, way out of proportion with novels and with the paper short story market, in order to get more titles into KU so it appealed to more subscribers.

Under KU 2.0, Amazon is rewarding writers for being good writers. Amazon wants writers to hook readers for longer than 10% of the ebook. Amazon wants good, meaty novels, which my numbers point to readers liking more than shorts.

. . . .

Under KU 2.0, I’m continuing to do what all professional fiction writers have done throughout history; write novels. It’s what readers want. With the rare exceptions of a few authors, no one made a living selling shorts. There was a brief moment, during KU 1.0, where shorts were valuable. Their market value has now dropped. Novels are going to earn writers more money. But they have to be good novels.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath and thanks to Stephen for the tip.

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Amazon, Ebook Borrowing/Lending, Joe Konrath, Self-Publishing

12 Comments to “Konrath Kindle Unlimited Numbers”

  1. There was a brief moment, during KU 1.0, where shorts were valuable.

    Yeah, because it’s not like any erotica writers were making a living from $2.99 shorts before KU came along.

    • I’m still making big bank with 10k-20k word shorts, not in KU.

      Shorts are still by far more profitable (per word) than novels, I don’t think it’s even close for me.

  2. Not my experience. A) My books are very different from Konrath’s, and B) they cost more. However, KU is useful for finding new readers.

  3. KU is not a bad deal, although I’m glad Amazon pays per page read rather than barrows. As far as what is better short or long, I tend to subscribe to shorter works. I think it is a number’s game. It would take me a year to write a 120k word book, but less than a year to write three 40k, or four 30k word books. In first case I have one book, in the other I have 3 or 4, which would be in my favor.

  4. I just want to take a moment to appreciate what a great guy Konrath is and what a positive influence he’s been on the entire indy scene. I’m not sure he’s the first guy who was so honest about sharing this kind of information, and smartly analyzing it, but he’s clearly had a big impact over the years on the indy information sharing culture.

    There’s an alternative reality where the butterfly of Joe didn’t exist and one of the first big successes with self-publishing spend all his time advising writers not to share information and to keep everything private, all the while lying about his performance so others wouldn’t inclined to follow in his footsteps. In that alternative reality, other writers would take the lesson that sharing information was for losers and also keep quiet about important details and facts needed to succeed. This has happened in other freelance industries where keeping information secret was the entire name of the game and anyone who divulged too much was ostracized or kept out of the inner circles. Obviously, it’s harder to do that in an internet world but it still happens.

    Joe’s leadership in the early days of self-publishing put the indy scene on a very different path early on. And his continuing leadership points to a great future.

    • Reading Joe’s blog over the years you can watch him change his opinion in light of new and interesting information.

      That’s one of his strongest facets.


  5. Am I the only one who thought he made more than that? Dude. I make more than that. And I’m not in KU. (Won’t ever be, either.)

    I have a lot fewer books too.

    • If I’m recalling correctly—and I may not be—he has often made more than that in the past. I suspect at least part of the reason his sales are where they are is that, as he said, he hasn’t released anything new in over a year.

      • Those are also e-book only figures, and while I’m sure that’s the majority of his sales, I’ll bet the paperbacks net him a not inconsequential additional income.

    • He’s done other, more comprehensive reports.
      Here’s one from 2012:


      In another he reported $100K in three weeks solely off Indie ebooks.

      His general position is that growing the ebook market is good for everybody willing to take the plunge.

  6. Like many Indie authors, I owe a debt to Joe Konrath, who I found four years ago. I always read his blog and trust him to tell the truth. Thanks for reminding me to thank him here.

    • Yup! Big thanks to Joe K.!

      Changed my life, made my life basically. If he didn’t share back then, I don’t have a career. Don’t write full-time.

      Don’t have retirement savings.

      Love Joe, even when we sometimes disagree about Amazon.

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