Why I Went All In With Kindle Unlimited

Update 21 Aug: We made $1.80 for July’s borrows. That’s awesome. It still has to settle down, but so far August’s numbers are looking even better in terms of borrows. There is currently some updating going on at Amazon’s end (they are re-adjusting for the 10% read threshold) but I haven’t lost many borrows yet. I’m super pleased with how KU is working out for me.

I’m not much of a risktaker. I once holidayed in Las Vegas for three days and only put ten dollars into the machines,  just so I could say I gambled in Vegas. I don’t buy lottery tickets and if you tell me your sure thing at the horse races I’ll nod politely and change the subject. Even my stockmarket buys require lots of research before I’ll hand over my money.

But when Kindle Unlimited was announced last month my heart began to beat a little faster. A way for people to read your books without risk, and for me to get paid for it. Oh boy, could this really help my floundering sales?

Up until now I have been a strong opponent of the Kindle Select program because of its exclusivity. While I could understand the benefits, none of those were enough to entice me away from sales on other platforms. I was doing well at Apple, less so at Barnes & Noble, and had just starting experimenting with titles at All Romance Ebooks.

But the Kindle Unlimited siren was calling to me, sweetly, softly, seductively.

I opened my spreadsheets and analysed my figures. How much was I really making on the other platforms? Would the rise in borrows offset any profits I lost? What would be the long-term impact? Would this impulsive decision be just too crazy to take, especially for risk-aversion me?

I could clearly see that I was making good money everywhere with my non-fiction, but my fiction was primarily Amazon only. So after discussing it with my husband, I pulled all my twenty-seven fiction titles from the other stores and enrolled them in Select. After all, if it didn’t pay off I could always re-publish after the 90 days was up.

Now, of those 27 fiction titles, four are novels, two are novellas, and the rest are short stories or short story collections. This is important to note, because many of the short stories are priced at 0.99 cents, meaning for a full sale I get $0.35′ish profit. What I get as a borrow with KU is still conjecture, but if it’s higher than my current royalty it’ll be a win. It was this reason I figured that even if it replaced sales entirely, it would be beneficial.

ku aug14 Why I Went All In With Kindle Unlimited
Sales about the same. Borrows significant, often surpassing sales.

Did I make the right decision?

It’s far, far to early to tell. We won’t know what KU pays for a borrow until the next few days. People have been speculating it could remain around $2, while others predict it could go as low as ten cents. We simply do not know. We also do not know what the borrows will be like after customers finish their free trials.

At this stage, even without knowing what the borrow rate is, I’m happy. The borrows have increased my rank and while sales haven’t changed, I’m hitting a few low sub-genre lists. I’m still not making great money yet, although it does look promising.

What about the exclusivity?

It’s true that I don’t like it. But this is a pay to play game, and if I wanted to be in Kindle Unlimited I had no other choice. Each author has different decisions to make and for me, I chose to jump in. Your experience will be different.

I’m holding my breath now waiting anxiously for the announcement to see what my return on investment will be. Will it be low, high, middle? I can’t say, although I’m cautiously optimisitic. Like most new programs that Amazon implements, it’s usually the early adopters that do best.

My only prediction is that we’ll be seeing quite a few news/blogs over the next few days with “I told you so’s” from both camps.

Won’t that be fun.

Tracey