Saturday, 17 January 2015

My Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited

In early 2014, our sales skyrocketed. We were hitting highs I'd never seen before, and we all hoped that would last. However, publishing, as many of you know, is a lot like the stock market. Just as stocks rise and fall, so do book sales. After the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, our sales started to dip, as many other authors report. As of December 2014, they hit a slump we hadn't seen in over a year.

That being said, I don't hate Kindle Unlimited, although I realize some author are vehemently opposed to it, and I can understand their reasons. Many authors have seen sales nosedive since the introduction of KU, while other authors have found KU helped their sales. Your mileage may vary.

Here are my thoughts and our experience with Amazon's new ebook subscription service.

As of August, as sales continued to slow, I started enrolling some of our books in KU. At first, I didn't see a huge profit from it, but it definitely helped keep profits up through the slump--along with our fabulous street team who've been helping spread the word. I love my Lawless Rebels! You all rock!

As sales continued to remain slow--particularly low in December and January--Kindle Unlimited has paid off. In December, when sales were lower than November, we actually made a bigger profit thanks to KU. For example, one boxed set I currently have on sale for 99 cents took in over 300 downloads, netting us a profit of just under $500.00. At 99 cents with the same amount of sales, the same boxed set would have only netted us just over $100.00. Needless to say, we were pleasantly surprised by this result.

You can see how KU definitely has its advantages.

Now I'm not here to sing the praises of KU, so please put your bricks and tomatoes down. However, authors experiences with it are different across the board, and I do think if your sales are slumping, or you're a newer author looking to bump up your sales, it doesn't hurt to enroll some titles in KU and see how it pays off for you. Or it might not. But you never know until you try.

Ultimately, yes, I wish Amazon had never introduced KU. It has had a negative impact on sales, and it's a bit like playing the roulette wheel--you never know what the payout will be until you get your sales report for the month in question. It's  a gamble, but then the publishing industry is a gamble, period.

But KU is here to stay, and it never hurts to use a tool to your advantage, particularly if you're an author, or publisher, who has experienced a slump in sales. So here's my advice as far as KU goes. Again, your mileage may vary.

Experiment with it, but DON'T put all your eggs in one basket. Add some titles to KU and see how your downloads and sales go. A bump in downloads can really offset a slump in sales, in my experience. That being said, this offset really depends on your prices. For instance, if most of your ebooks are priced at $3.99 or higher, KU won't pay off for you. In fact, it'll rob you of profits. However, if you have  a lot of titles on sale for 99 cents, you make a considerable amount more off downloads than you would off of sales. ($1.33 per download as opposed to 0.35 cents per sale. But then the KU fund payouts vary, so you can't bank on $1.33 per download every month.)

December's KU fund is at $7.25 million, so that could result in a tidy profit for authors and publishers with books enrolled in KU. However the KU fund has slipped in previous months, which leaves some authors wondering just how low it will go, and will Amazon use this to get around giving authors their 70% payouts on $2.99 + titles?

But if you find yourself with slumping sales, I would definitely try enrolling some titles in KU and see how it works out for you. That being said, be sure to diversify! Like the stock market, you don't want to put all your eggs into one basket. Use many publishing platforms, such as Smashwords, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble's Nook Press. I'd also encourage independent authors and small publishers to apply for an account with All Romance and Siren BookStrand. Plus Selena Kitt has a new publishing platform, which is particularly advantageous for erotica authors who write extreme taboo or dark erotica, called Excitica. (There are others, too, but I admit I'm writing this post at 2 am my time, so I won't list them all. However I'll try and do a follow up post with a more extensive list.)

What's the point of my ramble? I'm not entirely against KU, and so far I've seen some positive results with it through our sales slump. That being said, would many of us authors and publishers have experienced this sales slump without the introduction of KU? Slumps in sales in publishing come and go, so, yes, we probably would've seen slower growth, but maybe not to the extent we did with KU's introduction. However, Mark Coker predicts 2015 will be a slow growth year, so maybe this was inevitable with or without KU.

What are your thoughts on KU, fellow authors and publishers? Do you love it, hate it, or are you somewhere in between? I welcome your comments. Just keep it respectful.

And with that, I'll end this post with a shameless self promo plug. Speaking of KU, my Taboo Love collection is FREE anytime through KU, and it's free for all Amazon customers for the next five days! Click the book cover or links below to grab your copy.

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