To KENP or not to make any moolah?

A good friend read my latest book using his Kindle Unlimited account (five star review btw – thanks Dave). As we chatted, something occurred to him and his voice took on a guilty edge.

“You do get paid for Kindle Unlimited reads right?”

Kindle Unlimited is an additional subscription service that provides Amazon users access to over 1,000,000 titles published as ebooks at no additional fee after the subscription fee is paid. In the USA the monthly charge is $9.99 a month and in the UK £7.99 a month.

The short answer to Dave’s question is that yes, I do get paid on KU reads.

The longer answer is – nowhere near as much as I would like.

An author gets paid from the KENP global fund allocation. KENP stands for Kindle Edition Normalized Pages, so I am guessing the name was made up by some old bearded guy in IT rather than some seventeen year-old whizz kid in the marketing department.

Essentially, it equates to the royalty an author receives for each single page read. The current global fund for August 2022 is $45.1 million. I know, I wet my pants a little when I first saw that number. But of course that pot is shared between all page reads in all territories.

What it works out to is a payout of $0.004263264 per page read. Jinkies! So I need to have somebody read 3 pages to get a single cent in revenue.

I decided at the beginning of the year to focus not on unit sales, although please believe me, ebook, paperback and hardback sales will always remain the bee’s knees, the mutt’s nuts if you will. Instead, my focus for this year is on growing my Kindle Unlimited readership. All three of my published books are currently available on KU.

Amazon are also smart (I know you already know that), they only pay once per any individuals read of a page. If the reader love your book so much they read it again and again, tough luck, no additional payment, which is also true of a physical book of course.

The bigger issue for a writer is that KU members tend to download books for later reading, so it becomes tremendously difficult to fathom how your book is doing. It might take months (years?) for a KU member to get around to reading your wonderful little book.

Reporting is also skewed, at least in my experience, by markets and time zones. I tend to see a large jump in KENP reads overnight, which I assume is due to the AWS servers consolidating data in Seattle, and another smaller bump around midday in the UK, the only two markets my books really sell in. I also don’t see page reads if a reader goes offline for a while, so sometimes I will go a day or two with almost nothing in my sales dashboard, and then all of a sudden a page read spiking in the thousands.

Being a dumb optimist I always get over excited when I see a jump in sales, and assume it is the start of an upward trend that will make me fantastically successful and immediately start the search for ocean going yachts, only to see my sales drop all the way back down again the next day. It would be less sad if I didn’t let this pattern surprise me over and over again.

Of course being part of Kindle Unlimited has plus points. One huge advantage to being part of KU is access to those precious members. If I run a free price promotion on one book, Amazon will market my book for me for free, That puts my book in front of tens of thousands of users on their Amazon product pages, Sure I might give a few hundred copies away, but I also get free advertising to all of those wonderful KU members. It’s almost a win/win. If I am lucky I get some reviews from the freebie hungry crowd, but I also get paid on the page reads from the Kindle Unlimited glitterati.

I have also got better at back matter in all of my books. I used to think that back matter was that thick greasy hair you see on fat blokes lying face down on the beach in Benidorm and the Florida Red Neck Riviera, but it turns out to be a way to instruct and cajole a reader who hopefully enjoyed book one to immediately find and download book two, and three, and four.

All my books now have back matter formatted and structured in the same way. It is comprised of a sincere thank you for the current read, a suggestion (begging letter really) to leave an honest review and step by step instructions on how to find my other works.

If you have downloaded or bought a book, I thank you. Do please leave a review if you can spare the time. Follow, me, follow the blog, follow your dreams, follow the yellow brick road, just don’t follow clowns holding balloons. Or any clowns now I really come to think about it.

Thanks for reading….