Fortsmouth Press

Publishing for the Web

Is Kindle Unlimited being ruined by scammers?

I recently read a post on an author’s website about how scammers are basically ruining Kindle Unlimited for everyone else. You can read the post for yourself here. It seems that a bunch of jerks are creating “books” that are under 10 pages in length. Not only that, but they are either copying other people’s short works or simply repackaging their own. End result? Multiple copies of the same short “book” taking up valuable virtual shelf space.

As I’m sure you’ve deduced by now, the point of those little short books is to capitalize on Kindle Unlimited’s payout once 10% is read. The problem with this is that it lowers the per book amount that everyone gets due to the scammers skewing the results.

What is really interesting about this development is that people are alerting Amazon to the dupe books and they aren’t doing squat about it. Hopefully that will change soon and Amazon will take some action against these scammers. Otherwise all the legit authors will have to look forward to lower and lower payouts from Kindle Unlimited. ¬†And that is assuming that readers who are paying for Kindle Unlimited do not get fed up with all those short crappy books cluttering up the virtual bookshelves.

So here’s hoping that something happens soon before that $1.81 or do drops even lower.

Will KDP Select Borrows Ever Hit $3?

For the 2012 holiday season, Amazon had announced a $700,000 bonus to the virtual pot for KDP Select program borrows. Many authors thought this was going to translate into a lot more money per borrow. I remember seeing people online talking about how they expect the payout to be around $5 per borrow.

Up until December, the highest payout I’d seen for the KDP Select program was $2.48 per borrow in April 2012. So, how much was the December 2012 payout? A measly $1.88 per borrow. Slap in the face, eh? Kind of makes you wonder if that payment will ever reach $3 per borrow, right?

It would be nice for authors if it did, and it would actually make KDP Select a worthwhile program for higher priced books, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Here’s a rundown of the past KDP Select payments per borrow by month:

  • December 2012: $1.88
  • November 2012: $1.90
  • October 2012: $2.36
  • September 2012: $2.29
  • August 2012: $2.12
  • July 2012: $2.04
  • June 2012: $2.05
  • May 2012: $2.26
  • April 2012: $2.48
  • March 2012: $2.18
  • February 2012: $2.01
  • January 2012: $1.60
  • December 2011: $1.70

It kind of makes you wonder if we’ve seen the highest payment with the April 2012 payout. And looking at these figures shows that only the authors with lower priced books actually benefit from the KDP Select program since the per-borrow payment is higher than the sales amount.

Is KDP Select Really Worth It For Kindle Self-Publishers?

If you are self-publishing your eBooks with Amazon’s KDP, then you already know that you get asked repeatedly if you want to put your books in the KDP Select program. Many people wonder if KDP Select is a good idea or a bad idea for self-publishers.

The KDP Select program has both advantages and disadvantages for writers publishing books for the Kindle.

KDP Select Pros and Cons

On the one hand, you potentially open up your book to people who may otherwise not have bought it since the KDP Select program allows Amazon Prime members to borrow KDP Select books. This is especially attractive for $0.99 books as the average payout for borrows is around $2.00 each borrow. On the other hand, you have to give Amazon exclusivity for the title, which means no selling on Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks or any other vendors. However, you do have the ability to make the book free for up to 5 days and potentially gain new readers for your audience. But, you are giving it away for free.

So, it the program worth it for authors self-publishing for Kindle?

It really depends. Some authors make a LOT of money selling books through Smashwords and other online retailers. However, being a part of the KDP Select program can help you build an audience. How? Usually when books go free (if they are properly promoted), they end up on the Amazon best sellers list. Sure, they are on the freebie best sellers list, but that still gets the books noticed. And once the free promotion is over, the books usually end up selling additional copies, which transfers the book to the paid best sellers list. The after-burn effect of this is usually more actual sales than the entire period before you went free and this wave continues (usually) for a while after the promotion has ended. For some authors, the best sellers list becomes a permanent home after this period.

The KDP Select program seems to work quite well for authors who have several books out and just put one of those books, the loss leader, in the program. When this happens, the free promo days usually result in the other books getting sales as well. This can be quite profitable for the author.

On the flip side, some authors choose to skip the KDP Select program and make their book permanently free by making it free on Smashwords. What happens is that after a couple of weeks, Amazon price matches the listed price on Smashwords. This is really only a solid plan if you have several other books to sell, especially if they are part of a series. The most successful author that I can think of who employs this method is fantasy author Lindsay Buroker. Her “The Emperor’s Edge” is free at Smashwords and price-matched at Amazon.

Conclusion: The decision on whether or not to join the KDP Select program is really a personal one for each author. Plenty of Kindle authors have written about their thoughts and experience with the program, so just do a search to get a few more viewpoints.