Tuesday, June 16, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon Day 2 -- Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, and Royalties

So, Amazon surprised me this morning with the announcement that they were changing the royalty structure for Kindle Unlimited. I know there are a lot of sour pusses out there, but as for me, I couldn't be happier.

What's it all about?

Amazon is changing the royalty structure so that when people borrow books in Kindle Unlimited, they will get paid by the number of pages read. Under the former structure, authors got paid a flat fee if the reader read more than 10% of the book.

The 10% structure significantly favored authors who wrote shorter works of fiction--novellas and short stories--which are flooding Amazon these days. Many people are writing serial short stories, and novellas like crazy. The shorter works allow them to produce a greater number of products and making a killing off the old system. Meanwhile, authors like me, who can only publish up to two books a year because of book length produce larger works in a smaller time frame and really missed out on the chances to earn in this evolving ebook market.

For example, let's say the royalty on Kindle Unlimited was set at $1.50 per borrow. If an author published a 50 page story, they got paid after the reader read 5 pages. I would only get paid if they read 30 pages. And we'd both earn the same $1.50.

I was really getting killed with my SpyCatcher Trilogy. Readers can borrow the first three books of my entire series in ONE volume--a 900+ page book. And many people have read and finished all three books, but I got paid only $1.40--$1.50 per loan. The same amount as someone borrowing a 50-page novella. Patently unfair.

So authors of these short novels and serial stories were making a killing. Meanwhile, authors like me who still write full-length 300+ page novels were getting the short end of the stick.

Way short.

July 1, 2015 is a new day.

Here's the way they broke it out in the announcement.

Assume the fund is $10M and that 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month: 

The author of a 100 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would
earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by
100,000,000 total pages).   

The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed 100 times but only read half way
through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for
this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

We will similarly change the way we pay KDP Select All-Star bonuses which will be awarded to authors and titles based on total KU and KOLL pages read.  

Awesometastic if I do say so myself. Of course, I don't think the numbers will break out this high in reality but we shall see. 

How nice it is for Amazon to even up the score...FINALLY. I think this is a move in the right direction and may encourage more authors with longer works to take advantage of the program.

What does this mean for readers? Well, it will probably mean that there will be a wider variety of books available in the Kindle Unlimited. I would be surprised if the structure didn't encourage more small presses and perhaps even the Big 5 to start listing books there (unlikely, but you never know) if it works out to be profitable.

We'll see how it goes.

You will hear bellyaching but it won't be from those of us writing longer, full-length works, that's for sure.

 

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