Amazon has released its monthly author report on Kindle Unlimited today. The retailer has boosted the funding pool for July 2015 to a record high of $11.5 million dollars.
The funding pool is used to pay authors and publishers who had submitted their books to KDP Select and agreed to give Amazon a digital exclusive. The pool is divvied up via an opaque calculation where each publisher and author gets a share for each page read from one of their books.
The share varies from one month to the next. In June, when Amazon was still paying each time an ebook was loaned, the share was worth about $1.34.
The payout for July is based on Amazon’s standard page says, and according to one author I spoke to the payout was $0.0057791577669113 per page read. (SelfPublisherBibel.de is reporting a slightly different figure, $0.00576 per page read.)
That is just over half a cent per page, which works out to serious money for prolific authors or novelists whose books are read cover to cover.
Take Kate Wrath, for example. One of her books, E, earned her $2,132.07 in Kindle Unlimited in July. Subscribers read a total of 368,924 pages (by Amazon’s measure), or the equivalent of 795 people each reading the book cover to cover.
If we divide the earnings by the number of reads, we get $2.68 for each time the book was read cover to cover. In comparison, Wrath has this book priced at $2.99 in the Kindle Store, netting her just under $2 per copy sold.
The $11.5 million paid out for July is over four times as much as the $2.5 million Amazon paid out last July, and it brings the total paid to authors and publishers over the past 12 months (August 2014 to July 2015) to $98.15 million.
The previous monthly pools were worth:
- May 2014: $1.2 million
- June 2014: $1.2 million
- July: $2.5 million (Kindle Unlimited launches)
- August: $4.7 million
- September: $5 million
- October: $5.5 million
- November 2014: $6.5 million
- December 2014: $7.25 million
- January 2015 – $8.5 million
- February 2015: $8 million
- March 2015: $9.3 million
- April 2015: $9.8 million
- May 2015: $10.8 million
- June 2015: $11.3 million
- July 2015: $11.5 million
Amazon changed the way it paid authors a month and a half ago in order to better reward authors for putting their longer works in Kindle Unlimited, but the new setup has proven equally beneficial for authors of shorter works.
Some authors have objected to the change from the old system to the new, but as you can see from the above math it is possible for authors to earn serious money.
Howey only added his books to KU after the new system took effect:
Even though the new KU seemed to reward novels over short stories, I immediately began publishing shorter works and making them available in KU. I wanted to see if short fiction — an area I’m fond of and have made a career exploring — was still viable in KU. After joining the program, I released several titles in the 7,000 – 12,000 word range. KU is no longer as generous when it comes to short fiction, but the pay-per-page estimates seemed fair to me. I went all-in with my backlist novels, and I published my new short stories.
I knew within a week that I’d made the right decision to join KU. My KU ebooks saw an immediate boost in ranking. Not only were the page-reads mounting, but the sales of those ebooks were also on the rise! This was like advertising that I got paid for, and advertising that led to more paid sales. The only cost was exclusivity.
Based on the past month, Howey has reached a conclusion contrary to the one recently espoused by John Scalzi. Howey thinks that limiting the distribution of an ebook can have a positive benefit by concentrating sales in a handful of channels, thus boosting sales rank and leading to more sales.
Kindle Unlimited has reached a million titles and continues to grow, so I would bet that Howey is not the only author to figure that out.
image by Bill Selak