When Amazon changed the rules of the game with only a 24 hour notice (no, really?!) to the per pages read payment model, I—and everyone else—cried foul, but I had already committed 8 titles to the program as an experiment.
I like tinkering, and truthfully I can afford to. In the bestseller drama category, the best I can say is…
…I don’t have a horse in that race.
Nothing ventured… Okay, okay, I’ll stop now.
What encouraged me to do this was having my only YA title, Dragon Academy, in the program, a story that seems to appeal to Middle Grade on up to adults. It’s been garnering a steady read rate and the occasional sale and a few surprisingly nice reviews from younger readers.
With that incentive, and the fact that Scribd’s pogrom of romance novels had sliced my catalog from 28 to 2 offerings, it seemed reasonable to see if Dragon Academy’s modest success could be replicated. For the test, I added a Holiday-themed romance, two of my transgressive literary erotic gay fictions, a crime/suspense, and a ChickLit.
I already had, in addition to the MG/YA, a collection of essays/poetry/short stories, another ChickLit, and a sports romance MF novella in the KU Program. That’s a fairly broad range of genres which, I hoped, would offer insights into which genres would be winners, which losers.
To my everlasting surprise, it was the two transgressive novels that took off first, followed by the crime novel, with the Holiday shorts a distant third. In the transgressive blurbs, I included a strongly worded warning that these were adult themes, employing adult situations and language, and that in the case of Good Boy Bad, it’s spec fiction using a non-standard narrative style… in other words, it’s experimental.
Over on Goodreads, the reviewers wigged out over GBB, using less than polite invective and even gifting me with the incomparable GIFs from a Swiss reviewer for whom English is not the native tongue.
But on KU, because the titles were “nominally free” (they aren’t, you pay an access fee of $9.99/month), I think readers were willing to give the spec fic a try. But even better… they actually read the two books all the way through! You can track pages read per title on a daily basis, so it wasn’t at all difficult to assess progress.
And… I think (don’t know for a fact but it looked promising) those readers not only weren’t *offended* but they might have been intrigued enough to see what else I have on offer. So far, this would seem like a good reason to stay the course in KU, despite the royalties being pitiful. I was at the point where ROI could be measured by a balance of royalties earned on KU titles and royalties generated by readers exploring titles not in KU.
Except… Amazon just announced that the Mathemagics compensation per page has dropped to $0.0048 from ~0.0055, not a huge amount, but the warning bells activated and that equation of Pittance earned in KU/70% royalties not in KU suddenly went in a very negative direction.
I did not go into KU with loss leader in mind. Rather, I was hoping that readers would think of a book as “free”, read it, like it, maybe look for something else… all while earning a wee amount for the effort. When that was a nice, resounding YES! KU was worth it.
Now it is not. And there you are, at the mercy of the whims of a corporation that cares not a whit about content providers, whose changes of policy occur at the speed of light, with no options available to opt out of a system holding you to a 90 day contract that can be viewed as solitary confinement with meals, bathroom facilities and a phone call optional. <whew, bully pulpit moment!>
Yeah, yeah… their sandbox, their rules. I’d mention that back in the day corporations weren’t necessarily motivated by greed and absolute self-interest, but you’ve heard that before, I’m sure.
One other little factoid: the Zon changed the compensation rate for India and other countries to reflect the fact those aren’t big markets, they keep the monthly access fee low because… disposable income.
So, as Tevya said, “Why should I suffer?”
Let the content provider pick up the slack and smile as the compensation rate falls.
There was an extended period when it was impossible to uncheck the auto-renew box, leaving me with three titles renewing when my intent was to opt out. I complained, of course. I’m still waiting for a reply, but that box has recently returned so I’m officially out of KU for the bulk of my titles.
I’ll bite the bullet and wait until the Help Desk wakes up or I just let the damn term run out for the ones affected.
On a side note: I’m also a KU reader. I use it as a screening tool and a place holder because I don’t always have time to shift through the Look Inside feature. So, if the title is on KU, I just click on that and then read at my leisure. If it’s not up to snuff, it goes back. I’ve saved myself a lot of time and money doing that.
But, I have 500+ titles on my Kindles, most of which are unread (not free! just unread). That seems motivation enough to leave KU for the near term and play catch-up.
As always, if you use Kindle Unlimited, you may have great success or it might be a total failure. For me it was “not too bad” so long as I had some ROI to show for it. Now I don’t, so hasta la vista, KU-Zon baby!
Caveats, mileage, variances, blah-ti-blah.
One final note…
If you do read… please consider leaving a review. Authors depend on reviews to navigate the poorly charted Amazon waters. Besides, it’s just really nice to hear a kind word now and then.