Kindle Unlimited. Those two words have been causing quite a ruckus among the indie authors for the last several months. In case you aren't aware, this summer the mighty publisher, Amazon, started a book subscription service called Kindle Unlimited. For a low monthly fee, you can read as many books as your little heart desires. For readers, this is an amazing opportunity. For writers, it was and still is unknown territory and, frankly, quite frightening. We've been watching in fear as musicians gave away their songs on Spotify for as little as one cent per listen. We worried we were next. Had our demise arrived with a swoop and a smile?
Many authors have tried Kindle Unlimited. Many still disagree on the benefits/disadvantages of joining KU. Today I will offer up my experience. This is a snapshot in time, not a giant, research-based study. Still, I think my experience might help those of you who are still wondering.
To begin, I have always been an Amazon girl. I've tried Apple and Kobo and B&N. My books never took off those sites. So, I've never had qualms with running my books exclusively on that platform. Their exclusivity policy is a witch with a capital B, but I am willing to make the sacrifice because Amazon makes me money. Decent money. Not job quitting money, but part-time job money. Exclusivity was a price I was willing to pay.
What I did not like about KU was I heard authors would be getting less per borrow than on Kindle Prime Lending. Lending paid me a little over 2 dollars per book. If you have a 2.99 book, that means you aren't really losing money. At a 3.99 price point, you lost a little, but it felt okay. However, with Kindle Unlimited, Amazon was paying out $1.33 per borrow in October. If people are choosing KU over buying your book, you can see how incomes can take a nose dive. This is scary, life-changing stuff for some authors. It was scary to me. But, I've always been a try-it-and-see kind of gal. (Much to my father's chagrin) So, I signed up.
There wasn't a drastic change in sales once joining KU. I was in a sales slump anyway. I hadn't published a book in almost a year and my sales were sluggish. But, then I published The Benders, Breeders Book 3. I also ran a free BookBub promo for The Breeders Book 1. That's when things started to take off. My KU borrows soared. And they seem to be soaring ever since. This month, January, I have had 1105 KU borrows. That's nuts! On The Breeders, my most popular title, I've had over 400 borrows. That is three times the number of books purchased. Wowzers.
Now, am I losing money because those borrows could be sales and sales make me more money per book? Sure, I'm betting some of those people would have bought my book if it weren't free on KU. But I'm betting half to two thirds of those borrows would not have purchased a self published title by an unknown author for 2.99.
The other cool thing is I released a short story and it's getting KU borrows as well. From everything I've been able to read, my short story makes the same money per borrow as a full length book. So, I plan on releasing more shorts this way. It's low investment, both in regard to time and money, and I can capitalize on KU borrows.
Overall, I'm happy with KU. Right now, things are going well. Will they always go well? Maybe, but probably not. Dystopian will fall out of fashion or Amazon will change some algorithm. That's the great thing about being indie. I can change and grow as the business does.
What about you? I'd love to hear about your experience with Kindle Unlimited. Sound off in the comments below.