Kindle Unlimited Pages Read: How It Affects Authors

Kindle formatting - basics of HTML and CSS for Kindle ebook formattingAs of July 1st, authors who enroll their books in KDP Select are being paid differently for borrows. The payment for borrows is now calculated based on how many pages of the book have been read, rather than the number of borrows that reached a certain percentage. This means that a longer book read cover-to-cover will now earn more money than a shorter book also read cover-to-cover. It also means that longer books that do not keep the audience’s attention will not earn as much money, because the author will only get paid for the pages that were actually read. In theory, this service should benefit time and effort, for longer books which are well-written are the ones which serve to make the most money. However, there are different sides to this.

WHY THE CHANGE?

Gaming the System

Part of the reason for this change was because of some authors gaming the system. Authors would publish extremely short books so that they could get to the magical percent easier. With the new system, they will now only be paid per page, so if the shorter books have less potential for gain. However, writing short books is not a completely bad strategy under the new KU Pages Read system. The two biggest benefits to writing the shorter books are: it’s easier to keep the reader’s attention, and it’s possible to get books out at a faster pace.

If, for example, you primarily write reference books, it might be beneficial to you to write many single-subject books. If the reader who borrows your book is interested in that subject, then they are more likely to read the entire thing.

It is also important to note that six (6) fifty-page books have the potential to make the same amount of money as one 300-page book. Therefore, authors of short books are not necessarily out of luck with Pages Read, although they may not make quite as much money as they did under the old system.


Authors were gaming the system by publishing shorter books in order to easily obtain that magical payment percent.


Sectional Reading

The other group of concerned authors under this new system includes writers who publish books of which only certain sections are read often, such as cook books or different types of non-fiction books. Authors of these types of books are aware that very few readers are going to go through every page of their book, so they may be worried about earning less money than they did before.

However, this is not necessarily the case. Under the old Kindle Unlimited system, a certain percentage had to be reached in order for the author to get paid for that borrow. This means that if a reader only looked at one recipe in the book, the author may not get paid anything at all. Under the new system, the author is guaranteed to get paid something for every borrower who reads part of their book, and that can add up.

Quality versus Padding

As for professional novelists, the best policy is to continue putting out quality books. Trying to pad your books will not help you earn more money; front and back material aren’t included in the page count, and adding unnecessary filler to the body of your book will probably make readers abandon it altogether.

Engagement

If you notice that quite a few readers seem to not be finishing your novels, here are some tips to keep them engaged:

  1. make the reader curious about what’s going to happen next,
  2. keep chapters short,
  3. and make your language concise so as to get to the action as fast as possible.

If you had no trouble getting readers to the magic percentage point before the change, then sit back and enjoy the spoils.

***

Most authors will probably find that they like the new system for borrows on Kindle better than the old one. It’s a far fairer system to the quality authors, as reader engagement throughout the entire book is now being rewarded. And with the new system, (self) publishers will also find it harder to cheat the system.

As a reader of Kindle books, I am supportive of the change. The new system will encourage writers to strive to improve their skills. Serious authors, who have talent, have put in a lot of hard work, and sought professional editing are going to have the most success with Kindle Unlimited Pages Read, which is how it should be.

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