Is Kindle Unlimited Right for You?
Kindle Unlimited debuted in 2014, and represents an effort by Amazon to develop a subscription-based service along the lines of Netflix or Spotify. For about ten dollars a month, subscribers can access over a million books, including magazines and audiobooks. Services like these have boomed in popularity in recent years. Netflix boasts 125 million subscribers, and the value of its shares has doubled in 2018. Spotify has 71 million premium subscribers.
As CNBC’s Jim Cramer says, “like it or not, the subscription economy is the future and the companies that understand that are making a fortune.”
As with many of the 21st century’s most important book trends, Amazon’s subscription service offers new ways for self-publishers to gain a foothold in the once-entrenched publishing world. Amazon authors can, for no charge, enroll in Kindle Direct Publishing “Select,” which automatically offers the book to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Authors are then paid per page read, in a formula which often works out to less than half a penny per page, according to The Atlantic. However, authors that attract a substantial readership can end up earning as much as $25,000 a month from Kindle Unlimited alone, according to the same report.
Most importantly, by paying a flat monthly fee, readers could be more open to taking a chance on a new author whose name they have never heard. It’s just a matter of getting their attention and providing a book worth reading.
Should I use Kindle Unlimited?
What’s the catch, you might ask? And is this the right strategy for your work in particular?
For one thing, books with more pages will earn more money, so long as they can keep readers interested enough to finish the book. Also, keep in mind that enrolling in KDP Select will require giving Amazon exclusive access to your book, which means it will be sold on the Kindle Store and nowhere else online. And as with any self-publishing venture, marketing your book to stand out in an increasingly crowded market is vital.
The big decision self-publishers will need to make has to do with whether to invest their efforts fully in Amazon, with KDP Select, Kindle Unlimited, and the exclusivity it requires, or whether to aim for broader online distribution. Some authors have found that novel series, published regularly, are well suited to Amazon’s KDP package. With regular publishing of new ebooks, including shorter stories or novels, a sales boost from Amazon’s “new” listings can provide a valuable boost to the author’s entire catalog, at regular intervals. For this reason, one author suggests enrolling in KDP select for three months, before “going wide” on other distribution platforms.
How to use, and succeed with, Kindle Unlimited
Your book will be automatically offered in the Kindle Unlimited library when you sign up for KDP Select. You’ll commit to 90 days of exclusivity with Amazon, and in turn, your book will be available for 90 days on Kindle Unlimited, as well as the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library which allows Amazon Prime members to borrow one book each month. This will auto-renew unless you say otherwise. The first time each individual user reads your book, you’ll receive a share of the KDP Select Global Fund, based on the number of pages read.
Marketing strategies for overall book sales will boost Kindle Unlimited readership. This can include social media campaigns, advertising, and even working with a PR expert. The more activity your book receives, the more Amazon’s algorithm will recommend your book to new readers. This basically means once you can get your readership off the ground, it will take on something of a life of its own. As discussed earlier, regular publishing seems to be particularly effective in boosting Kindle Unlimited readership. This can mean supplementing your books with shorter publications from time to time. Once one book leads readers to look you up as an author, it becomes much easier to draw readers to your other work as well. Optimizing your Amazon Author Central page is key to getting the most out of this.
Kindle Unlimited Readers
Getting your book on Kindle Unlimited provides access a huge base of readers. While the company has not released data on the number of subscriers, Written Word Media estimates that over twelve million average length novels are read each month via Kindle Unlimited subscriptions.
They also found that Kindle Unlimited readers are more likely to review a book than the average reader, although these reviews will unfortunately not show up as “verified,” as with readers who have actually purchased your book through Amazon.
The same analysis found that Kindle Unlimited readers opt for Romance novels at an even higher rate than other readers, as well as mysteries. This genre may be particularly well-suited to the Kindle Unlimited access model.
On top of the size of the Kindle Unlimited reader base, it also will give you access to some of the most active and dedicated Amazon readers. This can be especially important to getting reviews and gaining a following in the online and word-of-mouth communities that have proven so important to the success of self-publishing authors.