Episode 16 – The Kindle Unlimited Show

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This episode was jam-packed with news, including the biggest story of the week: Amazon’s release of the Kindle Unlimited service. The latest Author Earnings report, Steve Scott’s massive second quarter, Facebook’s new “Buy It Now” button and Apple’s conditional $450 million settlement also made the news. Jim and Bryan chatted about sharable content, 15-minute marketing techniques and using Amazon’s customer forums to host Q&As. We also unveiled our new voicemail feature allowing listeners to call into the show. You can leave a voice message at 206-338-0092 and we might play your message on the show.

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What You’ll Learn: 

  • What our listeners thought about last week’s book awards question
  • How to create sharable social media content
  • Multiple ways to market your books in 15 minutes or less
  • How to use Amazon’s sales page forums for Q&As
  • Why Apple might not pay a cent in price-fixing settlement
  • How Facebook may revolutionize its platform for indies
  • Steve Scott’s tips for earnings 100k in a quarter
  • How much of the pie indie authors are earnings
  • Why DRM may not be the best idea for your books
  • The many different viewpoints on Kindle Unlimited


Question of the Week: Will you put your books on Kindle Unlimited? Why or why not?

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  • I read that much, but I read from so many sources that i’m not sure, as a reader, I’m all that interested in KU. I’ve *almost* bought a Scribed account a dozen times but I always back out.

    Still, from an author’s standpoint, I think there will be enough people signed up that you simply have to give it a shot, right.

    • Bryan

      Haha, it’s good to know you’re supporting all the platforms. I’m a big audiobook guy myself, so I’m considering it as a reader/listener (it’s cheaper than an Audible membership).

      Everything is worth a shot. I think unless you’re pulling a significant amount from the other platforms, it should be under consideration.

      Thanks for listening, Dane!

  • I won’t be using KU, partly because a while back I set up a “buy the paperback, get the ebook free” program which relies on me having the ebooks available via my website. Readers then get the freebie by using a discount code at my website.

    I guess I could try KU if I delayed paperback release, but while I have paperbacks, I’ve effectively prevented myself from signing my ebooks up to anything that requires exclusivity. C’est la via.

    • Bryan

      Something I’ve been hearing is folks releasing a novella or short story that’s just meant as a permafree entry point from KU. Maybe that would be a possibility for you?

      Sounds like a great thing you’ve got going on with your “paperback/ebook” system. I bet your fans love it!

      • An email just went out from Amazon which some people are calling a move that might be the end of permafree.

      • The paperback/ebook thing only started in March, so things could change, but so far, only 5% of the people that bought the paperback have claimed their free ebook.

        I write non-fiction, but it might be worth putting a short piece together for KU. My main priority is to get my current project done, so that’ll give me a chance to see if Jim’s comment about the end of permafree is right.

        • Bryan

          5% is not half-bad. I wish I had the email address for 5% of my readers :).

  • TheCreativePenn

    Hi guys – I totally disagree with Jim (for a change!) on readers devouring this many books. As a reader who reads 2-5 books a week and spends a LOT of money purchasing books for my Kindle, I am very keen on Kindle Unlimited as a reader. I’m one of those heavy readers – I don’t have a TV either, so reading is my thing. If it becomes available in the UK, I will join 🙂 Most books I don’t re-read so it’s just the library model – and I will continue to buy books I want to keep.
    As an author, I don’t like exclusivity – so I won’t be in it, but would consider writing a novella specifically for the platform.

    • TheCreativePenn

      I also think the idea is ALL about readers – readers like me who want this type of service. I don’t think this is any kind of play around indies. It’s for customers – and we know that Amazon does everything to please customers first. My author head is over-ruled by my reader’s head in this matter 🙂

      • Bryan

        Jim is just too darn cynical. I agree that Amazon is usually looking out for readers :).

        • I was being cynical. I’m normally upbeat and positive! I shall lash myself 20 times tonight in penance.

    • Bryan

      This show needs more disagreement, way to be, Joanna :).

      KU definitely targets the voracious reader like yourself. This is one of my favorite posts on the different types of readers (which Randall refers to as Voracious, Social and Casual):

      I can’t wait to hear how folks do with a month or two with some KU-only novella entry points!

    • Ha, love it! My point was, that I probably didn’t get across… was that I didn’t think there were “that many” people who would want it. I compared it to Netflix, where, and this is an official scientific term, a “crap ton” of people who want to pay for movies. I don’t think that exists for KU, but I could be wrong! 🙂

  • One of my books was enrolled in KU before I even knew it existed. I had library borrows on it when I put it back on KDP Select to partiicipate in CJ Lyons Free Digital Book Day—it wasn’t selling on other platforme anyway and was doing great on Amazon. So I was surprised to see this other thing on my dashboard and see more borrows than before. I suppose I can be a beta tester here and lte you know how it turnes out at the end of new Select period.
    It seems to me it just replaces the library borrows and KU is much cheaper for readers than Prime.

    • Bryan

      Yes, please be our beta tester!

      Here’s the thing. It appears to be cheaper, but technically Prime is cheaper ($99 vs. $119.88). It’s that whole monthly vs. yearly thing that gets folks.

      The real trick will be seeing what that first month per borrow number will be. Can’t wait to hear more!

      • Did I misread? I thought it was $9.99 per month. Netflix must have invaded my brain. lol!

  • Perry Constantine

    Two of my books are currently enrolled in Select. I was planning to experiment with promotions and see how they worked with the Countdown deal, but now once my promotion is done, I think I will definitely be removing my stuff from Select. I agree with Jim that this feels more like a move to squash the competition. I’m also not very comfortable with the idea that I’m forced to be Amazon exclusive for a fraction of the KOLL fund while traditionally-published authors and a few select successful indies get to waive the exclusivity requirement and also earn 60% of the list price of their books.

    My sales may not be as strong on other channels as they are on Amazon, but I’m just not comfortable giving them more power.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the comment, Perry. We still have yet to see what that royalty per book will be during the first month of KU. Borrows also count on sales rank, so there might be a benefit there as well. Keep us in the loop about how everything goes!

  • roytheartist

    I am a ‘newbie’ author making how to paint type art books for color kindle devices and tablets. I am using select for the 70% royalty. My first book was selling 8 – 10 copies a day at $2.99. On the day of the KU Launch the ‘borrows’ jumped significantly going from 1 every couple of days to 5 – 6 a day. So if $2.00 per ‘borrow’ that will double my revenue (possibly) The sales have stayed more or less the same.
    ***Edit*** forgot to say – love the show! am catching up with past episodes, thanks for doing this it really helps focus the marketing mindset!

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the numbers, Roy! I’m sure they’ll help some listeners to decide if KU is right for them.

  • I do have one book currently enrolled in KDP Select, which I think was a mistake but I wanted to test the waters, so I’ll be in Kindle Unlimited until my contract expires. I suspect KDP hasn’t been working quite well for me because I only have the one novel out right now. While I have been able to give it away to thousands on my 2 free days (so far) I only saw a marginal bump in sales the next day, and then it returned to status quo. My hunch is that this is much more effective when you have multiple books out, which I’m working on. I’m really not that disappointed though because a) my book is in thousands of more hands than it would be otherwise, and b) amazon was easily 98% of book sales before I went exclusive, so I’m not missing out on much.

    Short answer, yes, because contract.

    • Bryan

      Yes, I think having multiple books out is what tends to really push those free days. We spoke a few weeks ago about some authors doing rotating Kindle Countdown Deals with multiple books. That seems to have a major impact for some authors as well.

      • Yeah, that sounds like the strategy I’m planning on using once my series is released. I’m releasing the first episode within the month. They’re short (30,000 words), with their own arc, but they build on each other. Crossing my fingers that this will be my winning strategy. 😛

  • I certainly don’t think that you need to read 10+ books a month for KU to be economical. A lot of ebooks fall into the 2.99-5.99 range, so that you only need to read 2-3 per month to make it worthwhile, and any more is simply gravy. I generally listen to around 10 hours per week of audiobooks (which is about 1 audiobook a week), and there are very few audiobooks that are under 10.00. I usually get them through Overdrive, but if I had a KU account, I’d have access to additional titles.

    When KU was announced, it was mentioned by a few of my Facebook friends (not authors). They were not aware of Scribd and Oyster, but they heard the Kindle Unlimited announcement and were interested in checking it out.

    As far as whether to put my books on KU or not… I put my books on KDP for the first 90 days and don’t renew. After 90 days, they go to Smashwords for distribution to all of the other channels. If I am releasing books at least quarterly (and I am), then I always have at least one book on KU. A new reader can read one of my books, and if they want more, buy them on Kindle, or at one of the other venues. Or request it at their library if they want to read more for free.

    Because Smashwords distributes to Scribd and Oyster, if a reader is subscribed to one of those services, they can read all of my books except for those new releases on KDP/KU for free. So depending on where you subscribe, you can read either all of my over-90 day old stuff, or all of my under-90 day old stuff. Or you could subscribe for both…