Kindle Unlimited: we only get paid if you read the entire book?

"Gibraltar International Literary Festival 2013 (24)" by InfoGibraltar - Flickr: FESTIVAL LITERARIO GIBRALTAR25. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Gibraltar International Literary Festival 2013 (24)” by InfoGibraltarFlickr: FESTIVAL LITERARIO GIBRALTAR25. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Everyone’s been talking about the new Kindle Unlimited rules for authors and I’m still waiting to be notified by Amazon. Anyway, I wanted to share with you how authors are going to earn money from July 1st with these new rules, because most readers don’t have a clue on how this works.

There are two ways of making money on Amazon with books: by selling them or through Kindle Unlimited (KU) borrows.

When you sell a book, you earn a royalty that can be 35% or 70% of the book’s price depending on the country it was sold or its price. With Kindle Unlimited, and up until now, you earn a fee as compensation for a person downloading and reading your book. This fee varies every month, as Amazon has a fixed pool of money that is divided by all the books borrowed under KU — it ends up being something around 1.33 dollars every time someone downloads a book. As soon as people read 10% of a book, Amazon pays its author the fee.

The rules will change come July 1st. Now, authors will get paid by the page. Yes, that’s right. By the page. And although nobody knows exactly how much we will get paid, it’ll probably be less than a penny per page or around 0.007 cents.

But let’s assume, for clarity sake, that Amazon pays 1 cent per page read. If I write a short story with 25 pages, I earn 25 cents; a novella with around 120 pages, gives me 1.2 dollars; and so on. But remember: this is only if people actually finish the book. A big chunk of readers never actually get to finish them.

Amazon says they’ve heard from us, authors, and the new rules reflect that. Now, I don’t recall saying that I would like to be paid by the page. I completely agree that it’s not fair for a 25 page short story to earn the same as a full blown 500 page novel, but I don’t think it’s fair either to earn less that a penny by page read — especially because Amazon still collects its customers a full 10 bucks a month for the privilege of using KU. It would be fairer to earn a percentage of the book’s price.

Where does this leave us, authors? I have no idea. KU is great for someone like me that is just starting. People can borrow one of my books  and decide if they like my writing or not, without buying it. However, I don’t know if I’m going to earn any money on KU from July 1st.

There you have it. I just wanted to write about this so you, the reader, know a bit more of how your indie authors are paid when they sell their books through Amazon.

If you use Kindle Unlimited, please consider finishing your books if you really like your authors. We won’t get paid otherwise.


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