I am wondering if you are going to continue to allow Kindle Unlimited readers to enjoy your Innkeeper series. If not, will the books be in the libraries? I’m shamelessly addicted to your books, and when we actually had a bookstore, I swore I’d never own a Kindle, but small town Zanesville, Ohio has zero bookstores within 50 miles, and I started using Amazon, got hooked on my Kindle, started reading everything Kindle Unlimited offered,
and since I read a book a day, on average, I just plain can’t buy everything I want to read.
The problem with KU availability is two fold.
First, KU books must be exclusive to Amazon. If the book is in KU program, it can’t be sold by any other retailer including the author. Amazon does account for the majority of readers, but there are people who read on other platforms such as Apple Books, BN, and Google. By entering KU, we would have to ignore all of those readers.
Second, KU isn’t as profitable for us. Over half of KU customers have never purchased a book from Amazon. KU attracts people with a limited income, students, retirees, people who are experiencing a financial crunch, bargain hunters, etc. The entire point of the platform is that it’s cheap.
Kindle Unlimited pays the authors between $.004 and $.005 per page. The common wisdom says that Amazon considers an average page to be 187 words. So, some quick math:
ONE FELL SWEEP is about 90,000 words / 187 = 481 pages x $.004 = $1.9 x .85 (agency’s cut) = $1.61. This is assuming the reader would read the entire book. A lot of times they may not read it right away, they might abandon it halfway through, or have to set it aside for some other reason.
ONE FELL SWEEP is priced at $4.99 x.70 x.85 = $2.96 take home pay.
Financially KU makes sense for people with high output, for example romance authors who can do at least 6 releases a year. If you write, let’s say, a regency romance, starting with one duke and then writing sequels about all his brothers and friends, and you do it fast enough, it’s a fair bet readers will follow, since the books are pretty much free. It’s a winning formula.
That’s also why you will see KU develop sharp trends quickly. Let’s say someone writes romance with mermaids and it reaches #1. Everyone copies the idea, because if you are a KU customer and you liked the original, you might try a similar book. It’s free. You lose nothing. Even if you abandon it, the author gets paid a little bit. Suddenly everything is mermaid romance.
You can see a wide variety of paranormal series on KU, for example, and most of them sound kind of the same, the latest trend being reverse harem, which they borrowed from manga.
I’ve spoken to a couple of KU authors before, and while this may not be true for everyone, for most people speed is a priority. A year ago one woman told me that if she didn’t write a book a month, she wouldn’t be able to pay her bills.
I can’t do that. I can’t write that fast. I can’t work for six to eight months on a book, sink money into editing, cover, audio, etc, and then get paid less than $2.00 per sale and a lot of times significantly less. For us, KU amounts to a loss, and because most KU customers don’t buy books at all, it’s not even good promotion. Why advertise to people who won’t buy the product?
I am sure right now someone is typing a comment letting me know that they are a KU user and they do buy books. Remember, we are discussing statistics.
In conclusion, we already provide the first draft of Innkeeper Chronicles free to you. If we then put it into KU permanently, we would end the series, because we wouldn’t make enough money to continue. But Innkeeper Chronicles are readily available to libraries, in ebook form, in dead tree form, and, as mentioned above, they are given away free in the beginning. If you want access, it’s there. It may not be as convenient as clicking KU borrow link, but that’s the best we can do. 🙂