Episode 72 – KU Numbers, Stigmas, and Contract Cop-outs

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Question of the Week: What were your July KU numbers? Are you happy with the results? Why or why not?

After Jim teased two new Author Marketing Club resources and Bryan offered a free consultation for new Best Page Forward subscribers, the triumphant team tackled the latest tips and news. The three tips included building a launch team, creating captivating Facebook cover images, and increasing your engagement on Google Plus. The top five newsworthy stories focused on the closure of PubSlush, John Scalzi’s diversification claims, St. Martin’s Press allegedly failing to live up to its contract, Liz C. Long’s frustration at the self-publishing stigma, and July’s Kindle Unlimited payout numbers. This week’s Question of the Week: “What were your July KU numbers? Are you happy with the results? Why or why not?”
What You’ll Learn: 
  • What’s coming up with Author Marketing Club
  • How to get a free consultation with Bryan for your description
  • What Lewis Howes is doing to catapult his launch
  • How to better use your Facebook page cover image
  • Why Google Plus may work better than Twitter
  • Some thoughts on why PubSlush closed its doors
  • How John Scalzi could’ve made more self-publishing
  • Why a 20-year trad pub author pulled his novel
  • What Jim and Bryan think you do instead of worrying about stigmas
  • How Joe Konrath and others fared with the new KU payout system
Question of the Week: What were your July KU numbers? Are you happy with the results? Why or why not?

get show updates

  • Liz Long

    Wow thanks so much for including me in your list! Really appreciate your sharing my article out!

    • Bryan

      You’re welcome! It’s a great piece!

    • Those who rejected you will be kicking themselves soon enough. Happens all the time. I wouldn’t let that get you down.

  • Chris Syme

    Just a thought on Google+ as long as you opened the door. If you haven’t figured it out yet, don’t bother. Google has sealed its death by dividing off the successful properties (Google Hangouts) and dropping the requirement to establish a Google Plus account as a prerequisite for Gmail. Might be a time waster at this point.

    • Bryan

      That is definitely Jim’s opinion. I’ve never really used it or given it much thought.

    • Eddie Jakes

      It’s sad because I actually like the Google+ platform. They just don’t take it seriously enough to make it desirable.

  • Bryan

    As promised, here are my tiny numbers. Like I said, I don’t have much in KDP Select:

    June Borrows: 13
    June Earnings from Borrows: $15.59

    Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read = 1,409
    Total Earnings: $7.98

    Since the only books I have in are pretty short, I probably will continue to see the numbers come in lower. This would potentially be a different story if I had the fiction in Select.

    • Hey, thanks for sharing your numbers. I have two questions:
      1. How ‘old’ are the books you have in KU? (ie: are they new releases, released years ago, etc.). I’m wondering if it’s harder for people to find older books in KU vs. newly released ones.
      2. Are you able to see a report of borrows/pages read every day on your KDP dashboard? Or do you have to wait until the 15th of every month to see this new, updated information?

      • Bryan

        Released in Kindle format last year. I sell a lot more paperbacks of these than digital.
        You can see the pages read on your dashboard, but they don’t come out with the payment numbers until the 15th of the following month.

  • Marie M.

    Just a thought on the Scalzi piece: One thing Tor does have is the ability to push paper copies of books. They have a lot of access to libraries, (Scalzi will be speaking tonight at the Seattle Central Library and signing books) and brick and mortar books stores. They bear the cost of printing and remainders as well which in the days before e publishing a vanity press run could financially destroy an author. Love the show by the way.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Marie! For sure, and I think the piece agrees with you. Bach just thinks that even without paperbacks involved at all, he’d still make more money self-publishing.

  • Jim mentioned that KU page reads are 58-cents per page. It’s actually approx. HALF a penny per page.

    As for KU itself, I’m still hesitant in taking part of it because of the exclusivity. I do wish there was more competition out there. Scribd came close but fell short. Not sure what Oyster is doing these days…

    • Bryan

      I’m sure that’s what he meant :). Oyster isn’t doing much for me personally, I know that…

  • For July, my title “Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story” which is a contemporary, fairytale retelling romance, had 13,160 pages read and 9 sales for an estimated $94.69. That’s opposed to June’s 19 borrows and 7 sales where I made $38.94 on this title. I’m already over 10K pages read at this point in the middle of August. Even though it looks like KU is working for me I’m still pulling out at the end of my 90 days because I don’t like the constant flux. I can’t foresee running a business without being able to accurately project my earnings from month to month. I’m going wide in September.

    • Bryan

      Very nice, Ines! Always good to see an uptick.

  • eleventh!

    • Bryan

      You did it!

  • Spider McGee


    “What were your July KU numbers?”


    “Are you happy with the results?”


    I couldn’t buy a Taco Bell combo with what I made in July, and that food is practically free.

    FROWNY FACE!!!! : – (


    I don’t want to sound bitter or cynical, but I don’t see why we don’t all just write porn. WHO’S WITH ME?!?

    • Bryan

      I think erotica writers would say that if you say stuff like “why don’t we all just write porn” won’t end up doing a good job ;).

      I want my Taco Bell!

    • Eddie Jakes

      Pen names friend… pad the wallet… lol

  • Select has been absolutely amazing for me, but I do agree it’s scary long-term. I just took the first book in my series out in order to go perma-free and feel out the other stores (there’s a whole strategy to what I’m doing with a lot of moving parts that I won’t go into here)… might be too early for me to have a true scope, but probably going to end up putting that book back into Select until I have more of a back catalog to where I can take a lot of books to other markets at the same time… Just to give perspective and participate, that book had 38,669 KEMP in July, and that was a slow KU month for that book.

    • Bryan

      Very nice, Zach. Good to hear the short term is going well :).

  • Thomas Diehl

    I won’t go back to check because my numbers won’t mean much. My only KU title was a Jurassic World tie-in, so I knew it would stop selling by mid-July. However, at €.053/page it’s just not feasible for me, writing non-fiction of about 60-70 pages.

    • Bryan

      I hear ya. Checking was kind of a pain anyway :).

  • Just got an email from PubSlush that they have been bought out and will remain open: “Pubslush is excited to announce that it has been acquired by Colborne Communications as of Monday, August 24, 2015. Pubslush will remain open and taking submissions for all book crowdfunding and pre-order campaigns.”

    • Bryan

      Very interesting! We’ll probably mention (but not cover it) on the show this coming week. Thanks!

  • I always take someone’s ‘success’ on social media with a grain of salt. Some people who claim success on twitter (for instance) really mean ‘I like twitter.’ They might have 200 followers who are loyal friends and great conversationalists and might even help get them reviews, etc., but to most people that’s not success on twitter.

    Success on G+ (to some) means they love to post there and don’t find it annoying. Or, they get what they need out of it, which to others won’t be enough.

    My books are down in the hundred thousands on amazon, so if I say I’ve had success on twitter, facebook, or G+, go ask someone else. 😉

    • Bryan

      Haha, thanks Roland. Agreed.

  • Connie B. Dowell

    I don’t have anything in KU at the moment but it’s good to see other folks’ numbers and get an idea of how the changes have affected them.

    I can’t say I am happy though with results on the one book I do have published and am trying to figure out what to do with it. Maybe KU would help as people who get KU would have no barrier to purchase at all… but I doubt it. It’s an oddball, no sales funnel (and I’m developing in a totally new direction), very different from the series I’m getting ready to launch, and selling things that are needs but not wants are tough. In fairness, I published knowing educational books wouldn’t make me rich… or even necessarily break even. But since I’ve got this asset out there, I hope to figure out a way to leverage it into some benefit, even though (I think wisely) I’ve decided this is not where my author business is going.

    • Bryan

      Yeah, it’s tough to know with one book. I sometimes feel like I don’t even know with five books out in a series!

  • Margarita Morris

    In June my novel Oranges for Christmas was borrowed 3 times from Amazon.com earning me $4.06. In July I got 228 Normalized pages read earning me a grand total of $1.32. It is no longer in KDP Select!

    • Bryan

      You tell ’em!

  • Jake Day Williams

    Jim and Bryan, I’m an assassin on G+. Check out my G+ page and scroll through my history. I get dozens of pluses and reshares on many of my posts. I break past a hundred pluses often. It’s an art form.

    Circle me while you’re at it and I’ll add you back. https://plus.google.com/+WildAcademy/posts

    • Jake Day Williams

      If you want an example of a fantasy author that slays G+ check out my friend and fellow hustler R.J. Blain’s profile here: https://plus.google.com/+RJBlain-Author/posts

      14,027 Follows and over 5 million views. Wew. Damn girl.

      • To what end? There’s nothing wrong with being awesome at G+ (or facebook, twitter, etc.) but if it doesn’t drive sales then it’s just something you do for fun or as a waste of time.

        • Jake Day Williams

          You’re right. The driving motivator is the dopamine rush when I see so many +1’s. I’m not kidding myself there. The time would be much better spent writing if maximizing revenue was my focus.

          • Bryan

            Yup. 🙂

  • Two pirate series:

    June Borrows: 6
    June Earnings from Borrows: $8.02

    Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read = 3906
    Total Earnings: $22.46

    Combine the two and it’s almost enough for the Ted Saves The World box set in paperback 🙂

    Overall, it appears to be positive, still a long way from where I’d like it to be… let’s see how it goes over the next couple of months

    • Bryan

      Haha, almost. You can buy the digital three times over though ;).

  • Nick Marsden

    Just wanted to mention (apart from the content of this episode), that The Sell More Books Show did not update in my podcast app (Casts on Windows Phone) for the first time since I started using it. Not sure if that is something you control. Other podcasts I listen to did update this week.

    • It updated on my app (not Casts), but I think apps like ours rely on rss feeds, which can be flaky. Each app handles errors, timeouts, and slow connections differently. Some try again and others error out and you have remember to go and manually grab it in the app.

    • Bryan

      Weird. Yeah, they take the RSS feed, so the problem is probably on Casts’ side. They’re singling us out as Mac fans! 😉

  • RachelMedhurst

    Here are my numbers:

    June Borrows: 76
    Earnings from Borrows: $100.93

    KENP reads: 9307
    Earnings: $53.98

    This is from a serial with six episodes so it just proves what we know. I’m pleased I only have six episodes and haven’t come to rely on my income. Still not sure what to do. I have another month until my term is up. Not sure if serials do any good on other platforms, anyone know?

    *Also I’m in the UK so it then gets converted to even lower rates.

    • If you take them out of Select, you could bundle them into one book, especially for the other platforms. I don’t think serials do very well on Amazon either, outside of Select. It might do better as a novel if it can be setup that way.

      • RachelMedhurst

        Thanks, Roland. It can’t really be set up as a novel, it is specifically written as a serial. I could do a boxset for all channels and take it out of KDP Select for a while to see what happens. Or keep the boxset in as each episode is 25k, so that would be a 125k book but I can’t see that would make a difference in KU pages read. Should be the same either way. Unless it makes the reader go straight onto the next episode without having to find it, borrow it etc.
        I’m working on a smaller spin off serial so I will have to have a think to see what the best thing to do is. I’m thinking I might plan several boxsets for my serial, the spin off serial and my main series for the xmas rush and do a promo on all of them for .99 over xmas. Will have a think! 🙂

  • We’re happy with hubby’s July KU numbers. Although sales were down a little ($240 in July down from $281 in June), earnings from borrows rose to $227 in July from $98 in June. The KENPC for Impossible Beyond This Point is 828 so it appears the new payment structure rewards authors with longer works.

    On the other hand, I have a budding series of how-to/crafting books (written under a pen name) that I purposely kept as concise as possible in anticipation of eventually combining and publishing them in print. With a KENPC of about 30 pages each, my minuscule July earnings provided the perfect motivation to get back on that track so I won’t be renewing any with KDP Select.