Episode 97 – Also-Boughts, Business Plans, and Kindle Unlimited 2.0

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Question of the Week: Did your page numbers go down on Kindle Unlimited? If so, how far did they drop and how does that make you feel?

Stellar and bittersweet news alike greeted Jim and Bryan this week as they tackled the latest and greatest in the self-publishing world. First, Bryan announced free mailing list training on Thursday at Noon EST with Nick Stephenson (sign up here http://bit.ly/nickbryweb ). After thanking their latest patron M.A. Robbins (and the book The Tilt http://bit.ly/thetilt ), your illustrious hosts discussed tips on also-boughts, social media overwhelm, and audiobooks. News stories included what it means to be a self-publishing success, BookBub’s 98 book marketing ideas, Amazon Books’ call for curators, business plans for authors, Kindle Unlimited’s KENPC 2.0, and Author Earnings’ two-year report. This week’s Question of the Week: Did your page numbers go down on Kindle Unlimited? If so, how far did they drop and how does that make you feel?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How to be a part of free training with Bryan and Nick Stephenson
  • How to get your book into the also-boughts section
  • Why you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin on social media
  • How to choose your audiobook narrator
  • Why much more than 40 authors are self-publishing success stories
  • How to read epic posts that contain over 90 marketing ideas
  • What Amazon’s job posting for “curators” means for its book stores
  • The pros and cons to creating a business plan
  • How the community is reacting to Kindle Unlimited 2.0
  • The findings of Author Earnings’ two-year report
Question of the Week: Did your page numbers go down on Kindle Unlimited? If so, how far did they drop and how does that make you feel?

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  • Susan Illene

    One thing to keep in mind about KENPC is those who lost pages are going to be a lot more vocal about it (not that you could blame them because it does suck for them). For authors who stayed the same or even gained, they’re less likely to comment publicly. That makes it appear most authors lost a ton of pages when really we can’t be sure of that without everyone reporting who it affected them.

    I only have one novel in KU. Under the old version, the KENPC was 502. Back when I compared it to others last year, I found it was usually lower than other authors ebooks of similar length (101,000 words). When Amazon made changes to KENPC, my book went up by one page to 503. There has been some talk that Amazon was trying to make the page count more consistent with book length. From the various numbers posted on kboards (with the occasional discrepancy), it does appear that could have been their intention.

    Of course, it could also be that Amazon really was trying to cut costs (considering they did set the new 3000 KENPC cap). It’s hard to say for sure yet, but I think we can’t make any definitive statements on their intent until we see the KU payout announced in mid-March. If the amount per page goes down, then they’re definitely trying to cut costs and pay authors less.

    • Bryan

      That’s a great point, Susan. Thanks for sharing.

  • So, this probably isn’t the right place to share this, but, as it was at least in part inspired by Jim’s rants about needing an alternative to Amazon, I thought I’d throw it up and see what everyone thought of the idea.

    Indies can, and many do, sell their books off their own sites. Many also mention books or authors that they like to read. Why not formalise this? Set up a network where an author lists their own books and the information is stored on their own server, but they also put in a list of the authors or books they like to read. There are buy buttons on each book. With the side loading capabilities of Bookfunnel, and the shopping cart of something like Gumroad, Indies could create their own, self-hosted mega-bookstore without the multi-million dollar start up costs.

    Crowdsourced Bookstore.

    Anyone who links to anyone else is in the network, but reciprocity only happens if the other authors like your books, so it’s also a curated list – peer curation.

    If enough Indies got on board, it would at least provide an alternative to the current model of on-line retailers. People can search Google for their favourite author, or click through an ebook to the author’s website and automatically be in the Network.

    • Bryan

      As long as someone could organize the whole thing. I call “not it.” 🙂

      • I think that’s the point, you wouldn’t actually need anyone to organise it. It would grow organically just from authors putting links to other authors on their own sites.

    • I’ve found that a reciprocity business model doesn’t work usually, if ever really. I love this idea, but I think it would be much harder to get off the ground than it seems.

  • A D Davies

    When KU 2.0 first came out, people were trying to work out their KENP count and how to increase it. I don’t have anything in KU now, but at the time, I boosted the page count simply by converting my .docx to .mobi before uploading, using Caliber (free download for PC & Mac). I don’t know if it will still work, but I increased my KENPC by a further 20% by adding a 0.2 line space between paragraphs, which sounds a but scammy, but had the effect of laying out the reading format in a genuinely much more pleasing way.

    I don’t know if this will work with the new code, but I suspect part of Amazon’s reasoning for altering things is to do away with tricks like this.

  • Crissy Moss

    I honestly don’t know if my page counts changed after the update. I haven’t paid any attention to how many pages my books had except when it came to print books, and how many pages had been read via the KDP toolbar.

    I think you’re right about the money though, in part. I also think it’s yet another way Amazon is trying to keep people from gaming the system. There have been several articles (and I think you did a tip on here once) about your print pages linking to your ebook page counts. That left an opportunity for people to add plank pages, up the font size drastically, or add page spanning pictures to increase their page count. Then you have the opposite side where people have to make their font smaller in order to fit into Createspace’s limited page count. If this isn’t why they are doing it then why did some people have their page counts go up?

    By setting a standard font size and style, and a basic word count per page, they are making it fair to everyone. Isn’t that why they went from borrows to page reads in the first place?

    But yes, it also has something to do with money, though if they have a set pool of money they give to KU authors doesn’t that just means the money available goes to the right person? Something to think about.

  • Perry Constantine

    On my books, the KENPC is pretty much the same. But for my serial episodes, the KENPC actually jumped. Before they used to be around 80 pages, now they’re showing as 100. I have no idea how that happened because the way I format my serials in Scrivener is identical to the way I format all my other books. But I’m not complaining, either.

    Even if my KENPC did drop, I’d stay in Kindle Unlimited. Even if I only get one page read a month, that’s still more than I made on all the other platforms.

  • C.Steven Manley

    I haven’t noticed any real difference in my KENPC numbers, but I don’t get that many borrows so it’s a little hard to track.
    Little off topic: I agreed with what Jim said about spending a bunch of time on a detailed business plan, but I wonder what you guys think the bare minimum kind of plan a fiction writer should have if they have NO experience running a business?

  • Dave Core

    I only recently put a book in KU for the first time since they began the pages read payout system. So I don’t have numbers as to how this change affects my bottom line. However, I would note that from Amazon’s POV there may be a valid reason for the implementation of this page-count system other than minimizing payout. For one thing, they are putting X dollars into a payout kitty, so there’s really no benefit to them to care how much which author gets. However there is a reason for them to be concerned about authors gaming the system. Remember, they changed from percentage of overall book read to simple pages read to stymie pamphlet producers. I imagine they saw a problem on the other end in pages read from authors who were forcing page ends and large print where it didn’t belong to maximize their pages read as well when they changed to pages read.

    • Bryan

      Good points, Dave. Thanks for commenting!

  • A lot of people have misunderstood what’s going on with the KENP changes.

    The most critical thing to realize is that a reduction in KENP does NOT necessarily mean a reduction in payout.

    For example: If Amazon had 300,000,000 KENP in the month, and put $15 million into the fund, then the payout would be five cents per KENP. Now, if Amazon makes changes which globally reduce the KENP by, say, 20% – then the gross KENP read the following month would be about 240,000,000, and if Amazon still put in $15 million for the fund, then the payout would increase by the same 20% that the total KENP decreased by – and go up to 6.25 cents per KENP.

    The only way a global KENP reduction would ever hurt writers is if Amazon ALSO reduced the size of the fund. Which they have not.

    They could drop the KENP to one KENP per 10k words, and most books would be unaffected in terms of how much the book made per read. The number of KENP doesn’t matter. What matters is the percent of TOTAL KENP read in a month your KENP equals – and the size of the payout pie.

    That said, what happened with this change was NOT global. Some authors saw big decreases in KENP count, others saw none or very little. Some authors saw increases.

    What changed? Amazon stopped counting a lot of special formatting toward KENP. Under KENP1, things like formatting the line height in the file adjusted KENP, giving an artificial boost to books which used certain conversion tools. Certain conversion tools were resulting in higher KENP results for the same book. There’s also some suspicion (have not seen confirmation yet) that some of the changes might have had to do with adjustments for dialogue.

    Bottom line is two important take-aways. The new version is probably a much better actual comparison of the size/length of the actual manuscripts. And the loss of KENP doesn’t matter much if most books went down, because so long as Amazon continues using this “fund” system, they completely control the payout per KENP every month anyway. What they choose to set the fund at determines the payout per read. The KENP is irrelevant.

    • Bryan

      Really good point, Kevin. If the funding amount stays the same, but the pages read drops, people will just get a higher payout and it’ll all even out.

      Of course, since some authors experienced no decrease, while others did, it may not COMPLETELY even out, but it won’t be a drop in revenue on par with the drop in page count.