Over the past few months, there has been lots of talk about Kindle Unlimited. For those of you who don’t know what KU (Kindle Unlimited) is, think of it as Netflix for books. For $9.95 a month, you can borrow as many books as you can read. As soon as you’re done with a book, you can return it and get another, keeping as many as ten titles at a time to read to your heart’s content.
There also seems to be a lot of misinformation out there on just how it works. Today, I’ll answer some of the main questions and concerns that I hear from readers regarding KU.
But first, let me talk about my own personal experience with Amazon and the other vendors. For more than three years my books were exclusive to Amazon and I was very content and happy with my success there. I had built a great reader base and was able to give up my day job within in a year of publishing my first book. That was until last summer when the bottom seemed to fall out. I didn’t realize it at the time that it was only a temporary set back. Instead, I gave in to a knee jerk reaction and began preparations to make my books available on other platforms. By January of this year, my books were also available at iBooks, B&N, and Kobo.
In all honesty, were it not for Amazon, I would not have been able to give up my day job a few years ago to become a full time author. None of the other vendors treated me with the same amount of respect and level of help that Amazon and it’s KDP people have.
After a seven-month long experiment, I’ve decided to go back to being exclusive to Amazon and making many of my books available through the Kindle Unlimited program. While I had a couple of relatively decent months at the other vendors, the results were erratic and unstable. There was nothing that I could count on and in the case of B&N no one to turn to to ask questions, get support, or strategize with. Simply put, there is no one at B&N to help the indie author. While it was much easier to find an actual human being to help you at iBooks and Kobo, the resulting sales were not anywhere near what I had hoped for. Many indie authors are quite successful on these platforms and to them, I tip my hat. But as in almost all things, results will vary from author to author, person to person. Why one things works for one author and not another, I simply do not know. I can only speak to my own personal experiences.
I know that I will reach more readers at Amazon than I have at the other platforms. That was true in the very beginning of my career and I believe it remains true today. Do I wish I had had the same level of success on the other platforms as I had at Amazon? Yes, yes I do. But I can’t simply keep my books on these other platforms and only gain a few readers a month. And what I want most is readers.
This wasn’t a decision lightly made. Do I worry about all my eggs being in one basket? Nope, not at all, because, as Hugh Howey says, “they’re my eggs.” I can always take my eggs and put them in other baskets. It’s my decision.
You can read more of Hugh Howey’s perspective on Kindle Unlimited here. I could not agree with him more.
My own personal results with the new KU 2.0 as we call it has been amazing! In July alone I had more than 800,000 pages read. By the 20th of this month I had surpassed even that number and if things continue on the current path we will hit the million pages read mark within the next 48 hours. That is a lot of new readers being introduced to my books and that makes me exceedingly happy.
I want my readers to have the best possible reading experience. I believe they get that with the Kindle. I have a Kindle and an iPad and personally, I find it much easier to find new authors and new books on my Kindle. And with B&N in its current state of not knowing where it is going with ebooks, not being able to service Nook readers, it just makes more sense to me to have a product I know will be around for a long time. Just my two cents.
Now I would like to address some of the common misconceptions about the Kindle Unlimited program.
- I’ve had readers express the concern that authors don’t get paid for the books they have in KU. That is false. We do get paid, just a little differently. How much we get paid depends entirely on the length of each book and how many pages are read.
- Readers tell me they won’t participate in KU because they want to own the books they read. I think we need to look at KU like we’d look at Netflix or your local library. With either of those places you can rent a movie or borrow a book. You don’t own the movie you rent or the book you borrow. For a nominal fee, you get access to thousands if not hundreds of thousands of books and movies. And if you stumble across something you just have to add to your personal library you can simply purchase a copy.
- I’ve also had readers tell me that none of the authors they like to read are in KU, so why bother? I look at KU this way: it’s a great way to discover authors you might never have known before. Because I’m an independently published author — meaning I don’t have a major publishing house behind me — you can’t find paperback copies of my books in regular book stores and those major retail online store fronts give more visibility to traditionally published books. Major book stores tend to look down their noses at the indie authors and it is a shame. There are a lot of really great indie authors and KU is just another way to be introduced to them.
- Some people think they’re only allowed ten books a month with Kindle Unlimited. Not true. You can have as many as ten titles at a time in your Kindle Unlimited library, but as soon as you’re done with a book, you simply return it and get another. You can read as many Kindle Unlimited books as you want. There is no monthly limit on books read.
Kindle Unlimited can be a great resource for those people who have ‘book budgets’, like I used to have when I got my first Kindle in 2010. Back then, I could read three or four books a week and that could get quite expensive. KU gives those readers the opportunity to read as many books as they wish without worrying about going over their budgets.
It’s also great for those readers who don’t have book budgets. Whether you’re on a book budget or not, KU offers all readers the chance to explore new authors, discover new fictional worlds without having to break the bank.
For those of you who do not have a Kindle, you can get the Kindle app for free on your smartphone or tablet. Moving forward, all of my books will be DRM free, allowing those readers the chance to read on whatever device they choose. You can learn more about the Kindle Unlimited program at Amazon.
I always try to keep the price of my books as low as possible because I do remember the days of book budgets and having to add two cans of water to a can of chicken soup to make it feed all three of my kids. Most of my books can be had for less than the price of a greeting card, cup of coffee, or pound of hamburger.
As always, I thank each and every one of you for your support and encouragement. I really do have the best readers anywhere.