Yes, I am on Kindle Unlimited. Yes, I think it’s a good deal for authors.

Amazon has just launched a new program that they call Kindle Unlimited.

The short form is that subscribers pay $9.99 a month and are able to borrow any of the books (e-book and audiobook) that are in the Kindle Unlimited library.

Because the program involves readers getting books for a subscription price rather than full price, and because it is a program from Amazon, there is the predictable outcry from indie authors that this is it, Amazon is going to eat us all and spit out our bones.  People out there will be reading our books for free!  The sky is falling!

I disagree.

Now, as it happens, my books are on KDP, which means that they are automatically included in the Kindle Unlimited library.  (I just checked, and yes, the little KU icon is next to the book description on both Catskinner’s Book and Cannibal Hearts.)

If they weren’t automatically included, I would opt into the program.  Heck, I would pay them to be included.

Why?  Because people who will pay $9.99 a month for a book subscription service are people who read a lot.  People who read a lot tend to be people who talk about books a lot–in person and on-line.

Word of mouth advertising is what sells indie books.  Amazon has just launched a program designed specifically to make checking out unknown authors less risky for the kind of people most likely to spread the word about a new writer.

Will big name authors also be included in the program?  Sure, they have to have some guaranteed draws to make the program work.  But those guys don’t need the readers.  I do.

Will I make money when my books get borrowed through the KU program?  Some, I’m not sure of the details.  It won’t be as much as a full sale, I’m sure.

That’s okay.  Because it’s like getting a free pass to send a copy of my book to a million book bloggers and reviewers, and Amazon is doing the legwork for me.


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Yes, I am on Kindle Unlimited. Yes, I think it’s a good deal for authors.

  1. I’m there too. I just want someone to use it on one of my stories so I can see how it works.

  2. paws4puzzles says:

    Reblogged this on Paws4Thought and commented:
    All of Rocking Horse’s titles including P.A.W.S. are part of the new Kindle Unlimited program. I (like Misha) believe that is a good thing.

  3. Green Embers says:

    Yup, good way to look at it.

  4. Seems to be increasing the number of borrows. Whether or not it turns out to be more overall royalties, I’ll happily take the increased number of readers; better long-term potential.

    Part of Amazon’s marketing strategy here is improved customer engagement. Get them into the habit of using Amazon & Kindle. An added benefit for Amazon authors, imho.

  5. kingmidget says:

    A few months ago I started wondering when something like this would show up. I think it’s a great deal for both readers and authors. Personally, I think that this will be as big in book publishing as similar streaming services are in music. The big question, however, is where the compensation to authors will level off. I don’t anticipate Amazon being able to maintain compensation at the level it is at now if this gets bigger.

  6. tannerakane says:

    I refuse to join for two reasons. I don’t find articles which state how authors get paid. Second, with the hundreds of thousands of books in the program, chances are an author’s book won’t be found without intense marketing. Third, I predict traditional publishers will dump their crap into the pot. Hundreds of thousand more books and few independent authors are read. Good luck with the program. Let us kow if you uncover information.

    • Dr. Mauser says:

      Being in KDP Select requires that the book a) be an eBook and b) be EXCLUSIVE to Amazon. I can guarantee you that this excludes 99.9% of the output of Traditional Publishers.

      In other words, it’s going to be almost all Indies.

      Second, you’re not looking in the right place. Amazon creates a general fund (Apparently based on membership in Prime or Kindle Unlimited) and splits it up among the authors on the basis of the number of books borrowed. This month, $2 Million is up for grabs. For some authors with popular but low-priced books, they can actually make More through KDP Select/KU than by direct sales. Others, perhaps not. And it doesn’t rule out direct sales anyway.

      • Dave Higgins says:

        Trad publishers apparently get a different access set from author-publishers; so, if the big five come to an agreement on agency pricing, it is alleged they won’t need to be exclusive to get KU.

        Not being a major publisher myself, I cannot comment on what exact terms are being offered.

      • tannerakane says:

        Thank you for the clarification. I pulled novels from KDP Select months ago. Too many authors in the program dilutes the earning pool and decreases the amount of reads. Too many selections mean potential readers get tired from searching for a novel they like.

      • Dr. Mauser says:

        I only recently put my one Novelette on KDP Select. It hasn’t been borrowed yet, but I have sold three more. I’m hearing theories that KU will be really good for short stories and getting them to voracious readers who might not want to spend a buck on a short, but who would read a lot of them for the flat fee.

      • tannerakane says:

        I left one short story in KDP Select. No royalties received in seven months due to the sharp increase of writers entering multiple works in the program.

      • Dr. Mauser says:

        Could be the sharp increase in writers entering KDP period. I had a pretty discouraging dry spell recently.

  7. The payment model for self-published authors seems very dubious. I hope you see the success with it that you hope for.

  8. From the KDP Newsletter: “When your title is read past 10%–about the length of reading the free sample available in Kindle books–you will earn a share of the KDP Select monthly global fund. For July we’ve added $800,000 to the fund, bringing the July fund amount to $2 million.” In other words, it works just like a “borrow,” except 10% must be read, which they say is about the size of the sample provided on the site.

    • From what I’ve read, they are not explicit as to what the share is or how consistent the pool will be. True, from what you’ve seen?

      • MishaBurnett says:

        As I said above, I don’t consider books which are borrowed to be a revenue stream, I consider them to be a promotional expense. So if I get any royalties at all from borrowed books I’ll call it a bonus.

  9. It’s refreshing to see this kind of viewpoint when it comes to KU. People keep worrying if they’re getting screwed out of some kind of income, but the simple fact is that the vast majority of indie writers have full time jobs to sustain themselves (and I should know, being one of them). Of course, I want my books to make money just like everyone else does, but more than anything, I just want my books to be read. And being part of KDP Select and KU increases the chances that my books will be read.

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