Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

How’s that Kindle Unlimited workin’ out for ya?



When Kindle Unlimited was announced (which, like the now-defunct Oyster Books, lets readers download an unlimited number of books [kind of] for one monthly subscription fee), I was skeptical. To compensate an author, Amazon tabulates the number of pages of her book read by subscribers then pays out a wee fraction of a dollar for each one (lately in the neighborhood of $0.0057). Her book would have to be in the Kindle Select program to qualify, which, of course, means that she couldn’t have it distributed anywhere but Amazon.

I doubted that writers could make much money with these tiny payouts, but then again I hadn’t seen any activity on my thin blue line since the platform began in July 2014. Occasional Soulmates apparently didn’t attract any attention there.

But look at the graph above! That’s all Town Father, and the spike in activity coincides with my recent 99 cent sale, beginning February 12.  All those peaks total up to 4778 pages, for Trumpssake, and that’s equivalent to sixteen copies of the book. Now that’s not very many in the great scheme of things, but it’s thirty-two more eyeballs taking in my work (unless a couple of Cyclopses are in the mix), and that’s a good thing.

Dividing my pages by the minuscule payout amount, I’ve just earned $27.23. Had I sold sixteen copies at 99 cents each, I’d have earned about $11. More than twice the take with KU!

I’m not sure how to focus marketing efforts on the Kindle Unlimited crowd, but it does look like there’s some potential there. Any ideas?

Seems to me that a certain number of KU readers troll the 99 cent lists or subscribe to EReader News Today and other lists of that ilk, but rather than buying the book they download it for free. Since not every book is available on KU, this must simplify their searches for eligible books. I’m guessing.

Anybody out there a Kindle Unlimited subscriber? If so, let us know in the comments how it’s working for you and how you locate the books you download or borrow.

By the way, here’s a good look at the ins and outs of KU and how it can be used efficiently by readers.


15 comments on “How’s that Kindle Unlimited workin’ out for ya?

  1. kingmidget
    February 26, 2016

    I’ve seen very little KU activity on my books, but then I haven’t released anything new in some time. The thing I find fascinating is that people won’t even pay .99 for a book, instead choosing to download it for free through KU. Just kind of amazing to me.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 26, 2016

      It does boggle the mind, doesn’t it? I guess the psychology of subscribing to KU, though, is to get your money’s worth, so people probably try to maximize their downloads.

      • kingmidget
        February 26, 2016

        I wonder how many people have downloaded my book for free where it sits with dozens of other books they’ll never read. I don’t know… Seems to me that if they get to keep it on their bookshelf, even an electronic bookshelf, they should have to pay something for that.

      • Kevin Brennan
        February 26, 2016

        All I know is that more than 3000 people downloaded Occasional Soulmates for free last year, and I got maybe two reviews out of it. One of them was so ridiculous it was funny. So, I’m not sold on the value of freebies, unless you have a series going and the freebie hooks potential readers.

        On the other hand, we might have to face the truth sooner than later …

  2. Dylan Hearn
    February 26, 2016

    Each time I’ve run a promotion, I tend to make my money back through sales and profits through KU. The best thing about KU is that if a reader likes your book, it’s so easy to click on any others you’ve written. I was as sceptical as you initially, and I don’t like how the prize pool is totally controlled by Amazon, but I’ve been won over by my results.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 26, 2016

      I haven’t seen any carryover to my other books yet, but this is definitely a clue that I might have to do more promotions. They seem to unclog the pipeline!

      • Dylan Hearn
        February 26, 2016

        They do, and with KU payments free promotions suddenly become a much more attractive option because they give your book much greater visibility and a tail of payments through page reads.

  3. The Opening Sentence
    February 26, 2016

    I’ve grown to like the horizontal blue line in my sales stats. It gives me a sense of calm and serenity. In April the 90 day KU thing is up, so I can drop the price to permafree and hope to draw people into the series that way. Either that or publish a two page pamphlet and stick that in KU.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 26, 2016

      Yeah, I’d become kind of hypnotized by that line over the months, but these spikes kind of startled me. Sort of like an EKG. I’m aliiiiiiive!

  4. John W. Howell
    February 26, 2016

    Nice chart. Like you said it shows you are alive.

  5. francisguenette
    February 26, 2016

    I recently pulled all my books back to Kindle Select and have seen a few spikes on the thin blue line. I was so shocked by that movement that I decided to try out Kindle Unlimited myself. Not exactly unlimited but I’m getting my money’s worth because I read fast. I’ve managed to snag a BookBub promotion for next month and I’m told having books in Kindle Unlimited is a must for when the sale comes off. We’ll see. Now and then when I tweet, I mention that my book will be free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. I’m not sure how else an individual can tote this option to readers. Hey – maybe I’ll blog about it 🙂

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 27, 2016

      I think you’re right — Twitter & other social media is probably the only way to reach readers, unless there’s a KU forum or something that I don’t know about.

      Hey, congrats on the BookBub promo! I hope you blog about it when it’s over, because I’m thinking of applying myself, hoping it’s worth the extra $$$!

  6. C.M. Blackwood
    February 29, 2016

    Great post! I personally have a love/hate relationship with KU. Depends on what day of the week it is. 🙂

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 29, 2016

      It does add a wrinkle to marketing strategy, if we could just figure out a way to exploit it. Then again, this is the first time I’ve seen any activity there at all, so I’m just happy with the extra readers!

      Thanks for commenting & following!

      • C.M. Blackwood
        February 29, 2016

        You’re quite welcome! I look forward to reading your posts.

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This entry was posted on February 26, 2016 by in Publishing and tagged , , , , , , , .
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