Big changes on Kindle Unlimited royalties


Amazon has announced big changes to how it will pay royalties for books enrolled in its Kindle Unlimited program.

In the past, just 10% of a book had to be read to trigger a royalty payment. That led to an increase in serialized books, where the first in the series might contain two chapters and the series might have eight to 10 parts.

Payments in KU started out at about $2.20 each when the program started but have declined over time to $1.40 despite Amazon increasing the overall royalty pool each month.

The change will shift payment so it is now based on the number of pages read.

If 100 million pages are read overall and your books amount to 10,000 pages, you'll receive .0001 of the $10 million pool that month — $1,000. (The pool number is inflated, yes, but I need easy, round numbers because I'm a liberal arts major.)

This should have the effect of increasing per-book payments for full-length fiction while reducing payments for writers of short fictions, serializations, and children's books.

The change is fair with the exception of children's authors — their work is often illustrated and you can't assess value just on the number of pages.

My advice? (Not that you asked for it.) I'd leave your books in Kindle Unlimited for July so you can see exactly how the change affects you. Then, if you find that it's hurting your bottom line, consider:

The other big change is you'll know many pages are being read. It's not clear if Amazon will still show downloads, which would let you calculate pages read per book.

But even using past month download numbers, you'll be able to get an idea whether readers are bailing early on your books or finishing them.

That's going to be a rude awakening for some authors, but view it as tough love.

You want to know if readers aren't finishing your books, right? At least that's a sign that there's an issue you need to address.