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.