Kindle Unlimited Paid Authors $0.0058 Per Page Read in July
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.
And I’m not the only one to say so; Hugh Howey wrote earlier today that he was thrilled by last month’s results. (Edited to add: Joe Konrath has also shared his results; he is pleased.)
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
Mackay Bell August 15, 2015 um 6:45 pm
Thanks for putting all these numbers together. So at over 10 million a month, we’re talking about over 100 million a year in the pool. That’s some real money to compete for.
Mark Williams August 16, 2015 um 4:06 am
The big question of course is how long this will last. The original KU payout started off at a respectable level, but that didn’t last very long.
Nate Hoffelder August 16, 2015 um 7:48 am
Actually, it did last for a long while.
The pay-per-loan setup launched in late 2011 with the Kindle owner’s Lending Library. the royalty frequently stayed above $2, and it only really dropped once KU launched in July 2014.
fjtorres August 16, 2015 um 11:15 am
…with the drop most likely due to the 30-day trial grazers.
Claude August 16, 2015 um 11:54 am
Being paid per page read is such a f… scam for authors.
The problem is that they wrote all the pages, not only the one a reader is willing top read for multiple reasons.
It’s like going in a restaurant and the chef is being paid by the amount of food you eat. Those customers better be hungry. So ridiculous.
We’re not talking art at all, here…
fjtorres August 16, 2015 um 4:27 pm
You do realize those aren’t sales, right?
The money that comes in is for the right to read, not own.
So why should anybody get paid for anything else?
As Konrath pointed out: Amazon is rewarding authors who produce readable material. Not critically acclaimed. Not repackaged dreck. Just readable material, short or long. It’s all about the reader and their money. If it’s not readable or it bores the consumer, they take their money someplace else. To someone else.
It is one thing to complain about the per pages payout, which may or not be low, but the pages read metric is pretty much on the money.
Don’t like it? Take the book someplace else.
Greg Strandberg August 16, 2015 um 12:02 pm
Well, if you want to hear from some of us down in the dumps authors, we’re still struggling, counting pennies, and applying for welfare. No one borrows our books, and hardly ever buys them! Don’t worry, we’re in the majority.
Andrew August 17, 2015 um 7:59 am
Joe, have you written any mysteries I can buy on amazon? Preferably non-fantasty ones?
Pedro August 16, 2015 um 1:34 pm
I am really disappointed with KU pay per page as a shot story eBook publisher with over 500 books on the past few years! I can say that my payment the month of July was reduced by 17 times! That is not a joke. I am stopping publishing any new books and the reason is KU killed my good sales been at a price of 2.99 each eBook but i got payment from KU (Previusly borrow) so all worked. Now my eBooks does not sales because of KU and my KU sales dropped 17 times meaning no income! I really believe that the amount of people that benefit from this are the minority! Us the majority now are in big problems!
And Kate only duplicated (Compare to my decrease of 17 times it is a joke) her sales by KU as for 795 reader previous month she will have got a bit over 1000 so in the end amazon only benefit from this!
Greg Strandberg August 16, 2015 um 6:44 pm
I’m sure your terrible grammar accounts for some of that loss.
JC August 16, 2015 um 8:16 pm
Holy Bad Grammar, Batman. If the stories you publish have the same quality as your comment, I wouldn’t buy or rent them either.
Bilingualism Is Great August 17, 2015 um 1:27 pm
Greg, JC, did you ever consider that Pedro might be publishing books in a language that isn’t English, and that his comment here is in his second (or third, or fourth, etc) language? Amazon does exist in other languages, and so does KU.
JC August 18, 2015 um 12:32 am
That’s not an excuse. English isn’t my forst language either. I’m multi-lingual, but that’s neither here nor there.
TheSFReader August 17, 2015 um 8:33 am
Greg and JC, do you really think authors should be hold to the same standard for blog comments as for blog posts, as for first drafts, as for sold books ?
Granted, if the books are published unedited, no wonder the number of pages read would be dismal… But nothing from Pedro’s comment suggests that (nor that they ARE correctly edited either).
JC August 18, 2015 um 12:39 am
Then don’t post comments on blog posts. There’s a reason drafts aren’t made available to the public (unless a publisher wants to cash in on it a la Go Set a Watchman). This kind of drop indicates that his earnings during KU 1.0 were mainly due to people getting past page 2 – 3 (depending on how long his short stories are). But since he didn’t provide examples of his books, we have nothing to go on except his comment on one blog post.
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Kate Wrath November 21, 2015 um 1:13 pm
Hey everyone. Just barely saw this article as I tracked back to it from my site…. Just weighing in to say that the change was definitely good for me. I do feel bad for those authors who have been making big bucks on loads of short books. Obviously it’s hard to adapt when the rug is pulled out from under you. But the game has been weighted in their favor for a long time. What Amazon has done is simply leveling the playing field. Quality books are going to get more pages read, whether they are short or long. So the authors who are getting paid more are those whose work is readable, enjoyable, and readily available. And let’s be honest– there are a ton of authors out there who have basically been scamming the system by putting out loads of incredibly short books (we’re talking ten pages in some cases). Does it make any sense that they should get paid as much for ten pages as some of us do for 300? Not really. The new system is simply fairer.
But aside from all that (because of course you will have a different opinion if you were previously making more money than you are now), there are many important questions revolving around the changes. Like… how long until Amazon begins majorly decreasing the payout? If they gain a big edge over their competitors, kill some of them off, etc, why would they need to keep putting as much money into the Global Fund? They’ll have us over a barrel. I suppose my point is that it won’t last. Every time we think we know the game, the rules change. The only way to keep alive as an author is to be adaptable, think on your feet, take risks, try new things, and just keep going despite whatever they throw at you. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it sucks. You never know which side you’re going to land on.
vimal February 5, 2016 um 1:25 pm
William Stephen Taylor February 9, 2016 um 6:26 am
It is time for change on Amazon.
While searching for something worthwhile to read on amazon (not an easy task and very time-demanding) it has come to my notice that books with the ‘Kindle Unlimited’ logo are the ones with minimum or no sales at all; and most of these books have no comments or just the one.
Can it be that most amazon readers are now turning to Kindle Unlimited books as a way of finding good reading material (and I use that term loosely with regards to amazon e-books) The con is the ‘Free books with Kindle Unlimited. But the dummies falling for this only do so after paying $9.99 a MONTH.
How many books would you get for that amount @ $0.99 – $1.99 – $2.99 – $3-99 – $4.99 and so on – 2, 3, 4 or 5.
How many books can a person read in one month. I don’t mean skip-read – – skipping pages full of clutter, useless info, back-story crap. I mean well-written books from authors of note that are too numerous to mention or their genres, book lengths – short stories and anthologies.
KINDLE UNLIMITED IS KILLING READERSHIP VALUES. No longer do readers search for something worthwhile (such as your book that you slaved over). NO!, They now take a dozen or so books a day and skip through them, dropping the crap ones and reading what interests them AFTER PAYING AMAZON AND NOT YOU.
My husband’s sales dropped 70% as this scam started. He is now either giving them away on other sites such as Wattpad, or selling them on Lulu and Smashwords. He keeps the price for single books below the cost of a cup of coffee, some even at $0.99. He writes mostly short stories and bad-mouths amazon kindle as often as possible with e-mails. He has removed all his 70+ books from kindle telling amazon that he wants readers to pay him for his books and not amazon.
Another thing; you don’t really believe that crap about 11 – 12 million dollars for ‘pages read’. The figure is actually in the 50-60 billion – every year and how long has Kindle been running …. And they are still shelling out peanuts. When I posted the news that my husband removed all his book, one comment was – “More money for us”. Yes, well, that’s what dreams are made of, be an author and get rich. So, tell me, how many of you have recently bought a yacht, a villa in the South of France and how many of you are earning millions… AND- how many of you are not.
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KU Lover June 5, 2016 um 10:48 am
It is almost a year later, how do you still feel about KU? I think many people are missing the point here. I read KU books when I pay the fee. I also buy books that I would like to keep. Personally, I loathe the idea of buying an ebook at full price simply because it is still just 1s and 0s. Once it is gone, it’s gone. If I really like a KU book then I will buy it in paperback or hardcover.
Perhaps I should just go back to the library where I pay nothing at all? Times are changing in every market due to the digital era. You’re just going to have to get used to it.
Also, I used to work with authors. They are so unbearably snobby and relentlessly obnoxious. Their egos are as big as their fantasy of their work not stinking. Most of the authors I worked with sucked to no end and refused to work with editors. They drove me out of the market because they were so horribly arrogant.
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