Author Topic: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors  (Read 2195 times)  

Offline Redgum

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Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
« on: April 02, 2019, 09:09:21 pm »
I've been watching the share of readers borrowing my books via the KU increase steadily to the point now where they are around 65% of sales with regular purchases at around 35% in the US and around 50/50 in the UK but I expect the UK market to follow the US one in time as usual and for the UK share of KU to increase.

If your novel is $2.99, you get 70% of that, which means around $2.09 but unless your novel is around 110,000 words long, you're going to get paid a lot less for KU borrows than a straight-forward purchase. In short, writers of standard 65000 - 85,000 novels will get $1.25 and $1.64 per novel from the KU program as opposed to the $2.09 regular sale. In other words, as KU grows, writers get paid less and less. I know two who have walked away from KU exclusivity for this reason and put books out to Kobo etc.

So I'd like to raise this issue - will Amazon ever increase the KENP pay at any point to pay writers more in line with regular sales prices, or will they force us to put up our sales price to make up the difference? Do you have experience of walking away from KU exclusivity? Do you think there's an argument to be made that we get more readers because of KU and this benefits us even though pay per book is less?

Many thanks!



« Last Edit: April 02, 2019, 09:17:08 pm by Redgum »

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    Offline vagabond.voyager

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #1 on: April 02, 2019, 09:18:51 pm »
    I've been watching the share of readers borrowing my books via the KU increase steadily to the point now where they are around 65% of sales with regular purchases at around 35% in the US and around 50/50 in the UK but I expect the UK market to follow the US one in time as usual and for the UK share of KU to increase.

    If your novel is $2.99, you get 70% of that, which means around $2.09 but unless your novel is around 110,000 words long, you're going to get paid a lot less for KU borrows than a straight-forward purchase. In short, writers of standard 65000 - 85,000 novels will get $1.25 and $1.64 per novel from the KU program as opposed to the $2.09 regular sale. In other words, as KU grows, writers get paid less and less. I know two who have walked away from KU exclusivity for this reason and put books out to Kobo etc.

    So I'd like to raise this issue - will Amazon ever increase the KENP pay at any point to pay writers more in line with regular sales prices, or will they force us to put up our sales price to make up the difference? Do you have experience of walking away from KU exclusivity? Do you think there's an argument to be made that we get more readers because of KU and this benefits us even though pay per book is less?

    Many thanks!




    Many people price their novels at much less than $2.99. Such people have a much better return using KU.

    Offline David VanDyke

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #2 on: April 03, 2019, 12:28:00 am »
    I think your math is off.

    I have a 75K book in KU that runs almost 500 KENPC, which means close to 2.50 for a read. At least $2. In other words, about the same money either way, if the book were priced 2.99.

    There's a constant interplay of prices and page read money. You have to decide for yourself based on your individual situation.

    No, I don't think Amazon has any incentive to raise KU payouts. KU is not there to make them money directly. It's there to keep people away from their competitors and keep them shopping at Amazon.

    As for "walking away from KU exclusivity," many of us, including me, did that a long time ago. I have more than half my books outside of KU. I don't want to be handcuffed to a capricious elephant that might sit on me any time.

    ***

    Modified after running some more exact numbers, as I was working from memory when I posted my post.

    I checked the exact stats for a couple of books:

    70,867 words-- KENPC 424
    65,588 words-- KENPC 379

    This puts the words/KENPC at around 170-ish; in other words, around 170 words is one page read.

    So, 75K would actually be something like 455 KENPC, but my belief that those numbers seem low still stands: 75K/455 KENPC would yield around $2.20-2.25 for a read.

    I don't do anything to inflate or trick the system. I use LiberWriter for my formatting and conversion, which yields a .mobi file which I upload. The numbers I quote include the front and back matter and teaser.
    « Last Edit: April 03, 2019, 11:22:58 am by David VanDyke »

    Offline Kathy Dee

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #3 on: April 03, 2019, 12:59:06 am »
    So I'd like to raise this issue - will Amazon ever increase the KENP pay at any point to pay writers more in line with regular sales prices, or will they force us to put up our sales price to make up the difference?

    You know how it works, we get a share of the pot that turns out to be somewhere around $0.0048 per page read. As the number of authors increase, Amazon increases size of the pot to keep the payout around that figure. As long as the arrangement seems to (mostly) satisy the stakeholders (readers, authors and the Zon) it won't change.
    « Last Edit: April 03, 2019, 01:00:58 am by Kathy Dee »

    Offline Jack Krenneck

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #4 on: April 03, 2019, 01:31:15 am »
    We get more readers because of KU. Pay out per full read is lower than a sale for many people, but the number of full page reads compensates for that. More than compensates for that. 

    Offline GeneDoucette

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #5 on: April 03, 2019, 03:25:24 am »
    the sale price of the book isn't dependent on the page count, while the KU payout IS based on the page count. As long as this is true, they won't ever align in the way you're talking about.

    Offline RockWhitehouse

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #6 on: April 03, 2019, 07:28:10 am »
    I'm a newbie with just one book out there, so understand that my experience is limited. But for me, KU makes more money - by a lot - than ebook or paperback sales.

    My 119K-word SF novel is 603 KENP. But as a new author, I can't price the e-book at much more than $2.99. So, I'm actually getting more per-page in KU than if they had bought the e-book.

    And, all those KU readers are good candidates to shell out $3.99 (or whatever) for the next two in the series.

    At least, that's what I tell myself when the profit for the month is a pittance after I pay for the ads...

    -Rock

    Offline David VanDyke

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #7 on: April 03, 2019, 11:31:43 am »

    My 119K-word SF novel is 603 KENP. But as a new author, I can't price the e-book at much more than $2.99. So, I'm actually getting more per-page in KU than if they had bought the e-book.


    I bet you could raise to 3.99 with almost no change, and 25% more profit in retail. And, your book looks more attractive to a KU reader, because all things being equal, even KU readers instinctively value a higher-priced book more than a lower-priced book, because it feels like they are getting a better deal.

    It's like this: if you were given a choice of one of two cars to take, free of charge, equipped exactly the same (and assuming you had no info about brand, model year, etc.), and all you knew was one car cost $25K and one cost $50K--even though you knew they were equipped exactly the same, your tendency would be to choose the one priced higher, as it's human nature to believe something that costs more holds more value.

    Try 3.99 and give it a week, and see if you don't end up making more money than at 2.99.


    Offline RockWhitehouse

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #8 on: April 03, 2019, 12:41:14 pm »
    David -

    Thanks, I might try that for a couple of weeks and see what happens.

    Watching KU page reads can make you crazy, too. Yesterday: a pretty good day (for me) at 895 pages. Today: zippo, nada, goose egg.

    Weird.

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    Offline Redgum

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 02:45:43 pm »
    I think your math is off.

    I checked the exact stats for a couple of books:

    70,867 words-- KENPC 424
    65,588 words-- KENPC 379

    This puts the words/KENPC at around 170-ish; in other words, around 170 words is one page read.


    Hi David and many thanks to all who have responded. I was estimating my KENPC - where can I get the exact figures for those per novel? It's highly likely my numbers are out without more accurate data. Mine come out a lot lower than yours, but KENPC per word should be the same for all authors, right? Two authors with 75k novels must surely have the same KENPC?

    This thread has raised another interesting post - RockWhitehouse - and the issue of pricing. My novels are all $2.99 but this has been the way for many, many years. I'm seeing more and more authors going up to $3.99 to reflect general inflation and I'm wondering if anyone here has experience of moving up to that price point and how that impacted your sales.

     


    Offline Tilly

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #10 on: April 08, 2019, 04:26:57 pm »
    I was estimating my KENPC - where can I get the exact figures for those per novel? It's highly likely my numbers are out without more accurate data. Mine come out a lot lower than yours, but KENPC per word should be the same for all authors, right? Two authors with 75k novels must surely have the same KENPC?

    You can find the KENPC of your novel on your dashboard, under the Promote & Advertise tab.

    And no, the KENPC of two novels of the same word count are NOT the same. When I had books in KU, I often saw authors with shorter books and longer KENPCs. It depends on writing style and of course there are all sorts of formatting hacks to inflate KENPC.

    Offline Flying Pizza Pie

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #11 on: April 08, 2019, 05:55:22 pm »
    You can find the KENPC of your novel on your dashboard, under the Promote & Advertise tab.

    And no, the KENPC of two novels of the same word count are NOT the same. When I had books in KU, I often saw authors with shorter books and longer KENPCs. It depends on writing style and of course, there are all sorts of formatting hacks to inflate KENPC.

    Thanks for the info. I've never looked at my KENPC and was surprised to see it's about 310 ($1.49) for my non-fiction books and 540 ($2.59) for my novels. Now I'm thinking I should write more novels.


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    Offline Anna Rose

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #12 on: April 08, 2019, 07:37:48 pm »
    I like the idea of KU, but I decided to take all my books out and go 'wide' instead.  Not enough KU reads to offset the short book samples I could post on my website and exclusivity of being in the program.

    I'm really liking wide! I have all my books with D2D and Google as well as Amazon.  I do have my paperbacks and audiobooks with Amazon and it seems to work for me.

    This is what I'm trying.  Everyone should do what works best for them.

    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #13 on: April 09, 2019, 09:59:49 am »
    I think that your sample size is way too small to draw any conclusions from.


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    Offline David VanDyke

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #14 on: April 09, 2019, 03:36:15 pm »
    My novels are all $2.99 but this has been the way for many, many years. I'm seeing more and more authors going up to $3.99 to reflect general inflation and I'm wondering if anyone here has experience of moving up to that price point and how that impacted your sales.

    Overall, across all books, my sales went UP at 3.99. It''s been the established sweet spot for years, with lots of statistical evidence to back it up. Recently, 4.99 has been not far behind in earnings, so my pricing later in the series is usually 4.99, especially when the books are longer.

    Offline anotherpage

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #15 on: April 09, 2019, 03:51:32 pm »
    I think your math is off.

    I have a 75K book in KU that runs almost 500 KENPC, which means close to 2.50 for a read. At least $2. In other words, about the same money either way, if the book were priced 2.99.

    There's a constant interplay of prices and page read money. You have to decide for yourself based on your individual situation.

    No, I don't think Amazon has any incentive to raise KU payouts. KU is not there to make them money directly. It's there to keep people away from their competitors and keep them shopping at Amazon.

    As for "walking away from KU exclusivity," many of us, including me, did that a long time ago. I have more than half my books outside of KU. I don't want to be handcuffed to a capricious elephant that might sit on me any time.

    ***

    Modified after running some more exact numbers, as I was working from memory when I posted my post.

    I checked the exact stats for a couple of books:

    70,867 words-- KENPC 424
    65,588 words-- KENPC 379

    This puts the words/KENPC at around 170-ish; in other words, around 170 words is one page read.

    So, 75K would actually be something like 455 KENPC, but my belief that those numbers seem low still stands: 75K/455 KENPC would yield around $2.20-2.25 for a read.

    I don't do anything to inflate or trick the system. I use LiberWriter for my formatting and conversion, which yields a .mobi file which I upload. The numbers I quote include the front and back matter and teaser.


    Question for you. What determine the KENPC amount per book? I have a book that is 70,000 and its around 350 KENPC. So is it based on print page length?

    Offline anotherpage

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #16 on: April 09, 2019, 03:54:00 pm »
    Overall, across all books, my sales went UP at 3.99. It''s been the established sweet spot for years, with lots of statistical evidence to back it up. Recently, 4.99 has been not far behind in earnings, so my pricing later in the series is usually 4.99, especially when the books are longer.

    Not sure i totally agree with that. The price is based on GENRE.

    Some genres the sweet spot is 0.99

    In another its 2.99

    I've seen people try 3.99 in mine and tank but 2.99 does well.

    Then in another like science fiction ( spacey stuff ) 3.99 seems like the sweet spot and they can get away with 4.99 at times

    Offline David VanDyke

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #17 on: April 09, 2019, 07:06:47 pm »
    Yes that's true.

    I also publish PI mysteries and have found the sweet spot to be the same.

    But of course, that could be a coincidence and it could well be different in other genres.

    Offline Loosecannon

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #18 on: April 12, 2019, 10:28:43 am »
    David & Others:

    Yes, KENP does vary considerably even with books of the same page count, as Amazon uses their own 'secret sauce' algorithim to create this measurement. They are now on v3.0 of this algorithm per their documentation. They use a variety of techniques to standardize the measurement when different line spacing and font sizes are used, so it is not a simple word-count of X = a KENPC of Y. I just checked one of my books that is 70,167 words (Time new roman, 12 pt, single spaced) and its KENPC = 320.

    Poking around the KDP Help site I found the below info on an FAQ..
    "How does KDP measure the number of pages read for books enrolled in KDP Select and how does this affect royalties?
    We calculate Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) based on standard settings like font and line spacing to identify pages read in a way that works across genres, formats, and devices. KENPC starts with the Start Reading Location and goes to the end of your book."

    The key takeaway here is the starting position of your book is where their measurement begins. So that tends to make it clear that all front matter up to a point is discarded for the KENPC measurement in order to equalize the measurement and make sure its is mostly just taking into account the main body of the title.

    So, how is the starting position determined? If you are submitting a mobi or EPUB file to KDP it can be baked in by placing it within the Guide section of the Content.opf file. Sigil has a feature to do this by setting sematics tag on a particular sub-file in the ebook, KDP recongnizes the one called "Text" as the start, so you would place that on your Preface, Introduction or Chapter One file within the ebook. Below is an example showing the "Text" start marker pointing to the xhtml file "Nate5_0006.xhtml"
    Code: [Select]
    <guide>
        <reference type="cover" title="Cover" href="Text/Nate5.xhtml"/>
        <reference type="title-page" title="Title Page" href="Text/Nate5_0001.xhtml"/>
        <reference type="copyright-page" title="Copyright Page" href="Text/Nate5_0002.xhtml"/>
        <reference type="dedication" title="Dedication" href="Text/Nate5_0004.xhtml"/>
        <reference type="toc" title="Table Of Contents" href="Text/Nate5_0005.xhtml"/>
       -->   <reference type="text" title="Text" href="Text/Nate5_0006.xhtml"/>
      </guide>

    Re-checking the 70k example I mentioned above, measuring the word count only from the starting position to the end changed the total word count to 69,852 (i.e. after removing the title page, copyright page dedication, titles list page, and table of contents, but not the back matter ad pages.). This is approx 218.28 words per page of the actual KENPC of 320.

    If you are uploading a Word file to KDP the setting of the start point of your ebook is murkier and auto-determined when the book is processed by their KindleGen program that converts it to the final version of the various Kindle formats sent to users. In theory you can download their final file and use a tool to open that up for analysis..I think there used to be one available from someone at the MobileForums called KindleUnpack  see: https://www.mobileread.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=168 )  I recall that some previous tests showed that they often picked the first sub-file after the Table of contents as your starting point for KENPC. (This is also depandent on the KindleGen processor identifying your Table of Contents, if it does exist in your file) Opening your ebook the first time on a Kindle will show you where that start point is too. In reality, it may not be where you want it to be.

    Offline Secret Pen Pal

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #19 on: April 12, 2019, 08:11:04 pm »
    I often see an increase in sales when I raise a price, but sometimes sales will flatline or plummet. It's easiest to recover momentum on newer books.

    Offline David VanDyke

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    Re: Increasing KU share of sales and what it means for authors
    « Reply #20 on: April 13, 2019, 05:40:09 pm »
    Loosecannon--that's interesting. It may be part of the shady operators' tool kit to maximize KENPC by mucking about with the start location, along with anything else that gets more "content" in there, like the extra lines discussed elsewhere. I think there used to be ways to inflate KENPC by large amounts--100%+--but now my educated guess is all these techniques "only" give them an extra 10-20% or so. Still, if they're clearing $10K a month, that's a free extra $1000 just with formatting tricks.

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