Both of my novels are currently enrolled in Kindle Select. Skylights‘ term will run out at the
end of June, and The Sanctum of the Sphere will leave the program at the end of July. I will not be renewing the program for either book. Now, one thing: Skylights has unquestionably sold better on Select than it did without it. There’s no doubt of that. Sanctum has never not been on Select so I have no data to compare yet. That said, I’ve gotten a lot better at marketing this year (and having a third book hasn’t hurt) and I can’t prove that being on Select has actually been the determining factor for the sales increase.
I can say with certainty that being on Select does one thing for you: your book’s ranking will react faster to sales if you’re on Select than it will otherwise. (This “updated every hour” thing is nonsense, and always has been.) But none of my books are selling well enough that that is likely to matter all that much, and frankly that’s not likely to be changing soon. I would rather be in a place where I can say my books are “available everywhere” right now than be exclusive to Amazon.
Plus, Kindle Unlimited. They’ve futzed with Kindle Unlimited again, and I really don’t like the way they’ve changed their terms this time. Not that I was happy with it before, mind you. Previously, a borrower had to read 10% of your book before the author saw any money for the borrow. Because authors are reasonably clever people, this led to a rebirth of the novella– short works, written specifically for Kindle Unlimited, where that 10% marker got hit quickly. A prolific author can churn out a novella a month, and the market got saturated quickly.
Now? They’re paying by the page. So if you borrow my book and you only read a page, I’ll probably get about a penny. If you read ten percent of my 300-page book, I’ll probably see about thirty cents. Amazon’s emails on the subject to their authors have implied a $10 page rate, which is utterly insane. (CORRECTION: I should have looked closer at the math. That’s $10 per page written. The actual rate Amazon suggests you might get per page read is a dime. The rest of this remains true.) Much like the author of the article I just linked to, I’d be stunned if it was more than a penny a page, and it’ll likely be a fraction of that. Plus, Amazon gets to determine what a “page” is, and it won’t be equivalent to a swipe on a Kindle screen, since users can set the size of their text.
So, here’s what this means, right? You borrow my book from Amazon. Amazon gets your $9.99 for that month no matter what. They always get your money. As far as I’m concerned, once you’ve determined that you should have a thing I made, right then is when I should get paid for that thing, and not when you use it. This model exists for no other consumer good that I can think of. If I buy a couch, and I never sit on it, I still gotta pay for the couch. Hell, even with the rental model, I still gotta pay to rent the car even if I never drive it. Would I prefer that people read my books? Of course I would! But I’m an avid reader and it can take months for me to get to a book even after purchasing a physical copy. At least previously the 10% rule wasn’t terribly onerous and then you got paid for the entire royalty. This model feels like Amazon thinks they deserve to get paid for my books more than I do.
No thank you.
My work will continue to be available at Amazon, mind you– but no longer as part of Kindle Unlimited, once I’m able to pull them from the program. I’m not cutting my own throat here, and while there are benefits to making my books available at Barnes and Noble and Kobo and Smashwords and everywhere else, they won’t be making me much money even by my current not terribly high standards. But I’m not doing Kindle Unlimited anymore. This royalty structure’s unacceptable and if this is how they’re treating their authors the program should wither on the vine and die.
(Coming soon: that post on OpenBooks I’ve been promising for a while.)