Author Topic: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?  (Read 4273 times)  

Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2019, 09:47:44 am »
Here's a simple comparison of the break even page counts for eBooks at different prices, assuming a KU payout of $.0044 per page and a full read. To break even with the sale price, the eBook page counts would have to be increasingly higher, for higher priced books.
My Bestselling, 18-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  5-volume Charity Styles Series, also bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, wherever books are sold. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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    Offline Luke Everhart

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #26 on: August 24, 2019, 10:16:44 am »
    The common denominator in making your money dreams writing seems to be talking to Wayne.  Wayne, can you tell me the same thing too? I'd like to earn 50,000 a month. Thank you!   :D

    😂 me too!
    Actually I read every post that Wayne (and Amanda Lee) make with padawan-at-a-jedi's-knee attention hoping I pick enough up info/wisdom and that something (talent, discipline) rubs off onto me somehow. (Sadly, some of the other Jedi masters have left the forum  :( though I'm now adding Dawn Lee McKenna to my list of Jedis.) I also listen/watch any interview with them (unfortunately I've only found 1 each so far but I heard Amanda Lee was going to be on Dawson's SPF soon🤞).
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    Offline D. A. J. F.

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #27 on: August 24, 2019, 11:09:02 am »
    Here's a simple comparison of the break even page counts for eBooks at different prices, assuming a KU payout of $.0044 per page and a full read. To break even with the sale price, the eBook page counts would have to be increasingly higher, for higher priced books.


    Wow.

    Offline Rosie Scott

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #28 on: August 24, 2019, 12:05:42 pm »
    It's great for series.

    This. My epic military fantasy series does great in KU. It has a good read through from Book 1 to Book 6 and is 4802 KENP overall. On a good month I make a bit more on the later books in KU than on a sale since the highest price is $6.99 for Book 6. I make a modest living off my royalties but that includes both sales and KU. KU usually accounts for 50-60% of my income.

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    Offline Crayola

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #29 on: August 24, 2019, 04:36:10 pm »
    yes

    Offline Amanda M. Lee

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    Offline AlecHutson

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #31 on: August 24, 2019, 08:42:02 pm »
    Here's a simple comparison of the break even page counts for eBooks at different prices, assuming a KU payout of $.0044 per page and a full read. To break even with the sale price, the eBook page counts would have to be increasingly higher, for higher priced books.


    Is the 'sale price' the best way to compare, though? We get 70% of that sale price, so I compare that to a full KU read. A sale of my epic fantasy at 4.99 results in me getting 3.50 (then minus delivery cost). A full read in KU (my book is 656 KENP) is 2.90 at .0044 / page. If I charged 3.99 I'd be making more from a KU read than a sale.

    Alec Hutson

    Offline Wayne Stinnett

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #32 on: August 25, 2019, 11:02:56 am »
    Is the 'sale price' the best way to compare, though? We get 70% of that sale price, so I compare that to a full KU read. A sale of my epic fantasy at 4.99 results in me getting 3.50 (then minus delivery cost). A full read in KU (my book is 656 KENP) is 2.90 at .0044 / page. If I charged 3.99 I'd be making more from a KU read than a sale.

    D'oh!
    You're absolutely right, Alec. I should have used the royalty rate instead of sales price. This one's closer, but since delivery costs vary, it's based on either a 35% royalty for a book priced $.99 or $1.99 and a 70% royalty for anything over that with zero deliver costs. Not perfect, but a good rule of thumb. Most of my books are priced at $6.99 and are less than half the length to break even, meaning for a full read, I earn less than half what I would for a sale.
    My Bestselling, 18-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  5-volume Charity Styles Series, also bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, wherever books are sold. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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    Offline Corvid

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #33 on: August 25, 2019, 11:55:19 am »
    D'oh!
    You're absolutely right, Alec. I should have used the royalty rate instead of sales price. This one's closer, but since delivery costs vary, it's based on either a 35% royalty for a book priced $.99 or $1.99 and a 70% royalty for anything over that with zero deliver costs. Not perfect, but a good rule of thumb. Most of my books are priced at $6.99 and are less than half the length to break even, meaning for a full read, I earn less than half what I would for a sale.


    Please forgive the stupidity of this question, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and I'm still trying to decipher what this little table means...

    Is this table explaining that in order for your book, which is garnering page reads in KU, to earn the same as it would from a sale that said book should be such-and-such length based on whatever price you've set for said book?

    In other words, in order for me to do better than "break even" on KU page reads vs. outright sales, I'd be encouraged to price my 600 page book at $2.99 (since the break even point according to that table is a book of at least 523 pages)?

    And likewise, does this mean I'd be encouraged to price my 700+ page book at 3.99 (or perhaps 2.99), and my 900 page book at $4.99 (or lower, if I felt like it), in order to be beyond the "break even" point in terms of KU page reads when compared to sales as displayed by that table?

    Am I reading this correctly, or am I waaayyy off in left field here?

    The business side of things has never been my strong suit, and I'd like to improve my understanding, so I appreciate your help in deciphering this.


    Offline Wayne Stinnett

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #34 on: August 26, 2019, 07:04:05 am »
    Sort of, Matt. There really isn't a "break even" since we're basically talking about two separate audiences. Readers who don't subscribe to Kindle Unlimited can't borrow books, and those who do subscribe will rarely buy books. So pricing a book low to try to attract KU borrowers to purchase instead of borrow just won't work.

    That table is just sort of a guideline should anyone want to have break even income. My sales to borrows ratio is at least 1:2 and it's gone higher every year.
    My Bestselling, 18-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  5-volume Charity Styles Series, also bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, wherever books are sold. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
    Wayne Stinnett | Website | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Talk Write Podcast | Ship's Store

    Offline D. A. J. F.

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #35 on: August 26, 2019, 10:24:03 am »
    Sort of, Matt. There really isn't a "break even" since we're basically talking about two separate audiences. Readers who don't subscribe to Kindle Unlimited can't borrow books, and those who do subscribe will rarely buy books. So pricing a book low to try to attract KU borrowers to purchase instead of borrow just won't work.

    That table is just sort of a guideline should anyone want to have break even income. My sales to borrows ratio is at least 1:2 and it's gone higher every year.

    Nice to know.

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #36 on: August 26, 2019, 11:12:49 am »
    Sort of, Matt. There really isn't a "break even" since we're basically talking about two separate audiences. Readers who don't subscribe to Kindle Unlimited can't borrow books, and those who do subscribe will rarely buy books. So pricing a book low to try to attract KU borrowers to purchase instead of borrow just won't work.

    That table is just sort of a guideline should anyone want to have break even income. My sales to borrows ratio is at least 1:2 and it's gone higher every year.

    Thank you, Wayne, for answering. It sounds as though it wouldn't be necessary then for me to price a 300-page novel at a price lower than 2.99. As in, I wouldn't necessarily be leaving a lot of potential profit on the table or lowering my return on investment were I to price my 300-page book at 3.99 or 4.99. Likely just the opposite. Of course, that would depend on the quality of the book/story to warrant charging that higher amount.

    I suppose to most much of the above likely sounds self-evident - i.e. a slightly higher sale price probably means greater return on investment, but again, I find understanding the business end of self-publishing to be a challenge.


    Offline Wayne Stinnett

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #37 on: August 26, 2019, 11:25:16 am »
    Thank you, Wayne, for answering. It sounds as though it wouldn't be necessary then for me to price a 300-page novel at a price lower than 2.99. As in, I wouldn't necessarily be leaving a lot of potential profit on the table or lowering my return on investment were I to price my 300-page book at 3.99 or 4.99. Likely just the opposite. Of course, that would depend on the quality of the book/story to warrant charging that higher amount.

    I suppose to most much of the above likely sounds self-evident - i.e. a slightly higher sale price probably means greater return on investment, but again, I find understanding the business end of self-publishing to be a challenge.

    Perception is often reality in book buying. If the author/publisher thinks a book is only worth $.99 or $1.99, the reader might be less likely to buy it. I've had my first book priced at $.99 for months and at $2.99 for years. The royalty at $.99 is only $.35, and at $2.99 it's $2.04. So, the $.99 book would have to sell nearly six copies to equal one sale at $2.99. I've rarely had double without a promotion of some kind.

    I always recommend a stair-step pricing, where each book in a short series (2-4 books) is $1 more. In longer series, go with every other book up $1. My longer series is 15 volumes and the prices range from $2.99 for the first few to $6.99 for the most recent few.

    All indie writers face the same problem. Creative people aren't often interested in numbers and vice versa. So, you either roll up your sleeves and learn, or you hire someone. To be successful, the indie author has to market their work. There are a lot of really good books that can help you learn.
    My Bestselling, 18-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  5-volume Charity Styles Series, also bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, wherever books are sold. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
    Wayne Stinnett | Website | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Talk Write Podcast | Ship's Store

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #38 on: August 26, 2019, 11:40:55 am »
    Perception is often reality in book buying. If the author/publisher thinks a book is only worth $.99 or $1.99, the reader might be less likely to buy it. I've had my first book priced at $.99 for months and at $2.99 for years. The royalty at $.99 is only $.35, and at $2.99 it's $2.04. So, the $.99 book would have to sell nearly six copies to equal one sale at $2.99. I've rarely had double without a promotion of some kind.

    I always recommend a stair-step pricing, where each book in a short series (2-4 books) is $1 more. In longer series, go with every other book up $1. My longer series is 15 volumes and the prices range from $2.99 for the first few to $6.99 for the most recent few.

    All indie writers face the same problem. Creative people aren't often interested in numbers and vice versa. So, you either roll up your sleeves and learn, or you hire someone. To be successful, the indie author has to market their work. There are a lot of really good books that can help you learn.

    This puts it in terms even I can understand. Thanks for that, Wayne.  ;D

    The stair-stepping approach makes a lot of sense. I can see how that would be effective. I've never written anything in series longer than two books, so I have my work cut out for me to try that pricing strategy. I'm currently working on a trilogy (hopefully it'll be a trilogy), and I have book 3 for another series planned, so we'll see.

    Given the above, I'll have to wait before diving into ads, but the marketing aspect is something I'll have to get a handle on at some point, no two ways about it.

    I'll admit I've been putting off researching the proper ways to do it (advertising/marketing) until I actually have a series or at least a trilogy out there, as I doubt it'd be worth my time/money investing in ads when I don't have a proper series of books available. I recognize backlist is important, and a backlist in one series especially. I'd imagine in order to make the endeavor of investing in advertising worth it, one would need enough books in one series to have that sell-through from Book One and onward - I'm assuming sell-through, and having a lot available to sell-through is key.

    Right now I have a lot of Book Ones, and one Book Two. Lol  ;D I don't imagine it'd make sense to spend on ads and marketing unless I had - at minimum - a trilogy out there. Ideally, you'd probably want a series of five books or longer to really make the time/money investment worthwhile.


    Offline Wayne Stinnett

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #39 on: August 26, 2019, 11:55:03 am »
    The 15 books in my longer series are priced at $2.99 for the first one, $3.99 for the next five, $4.99 for the next two, then $5.99 for two, and $6.99 for the last five.

    The real advantage to advertising a long series is that you can spend a lot more on book one than you could on book one of a trilogy and still be profitable. If my cost of sale for an ad is 300%, that's fine. For every three dollars spent on book one, I'll earn only one dollar back. But if the reader buys the next one, I'll earn another two. Even with low sell through, you can see how a high CoS can still be effective. Generally though, I keep ad cost close to 100%, so any sell through at all is profitable.
    My Bestselling, 18-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  5-volume Charity Styles Series, also bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, wherever books are sold. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
    Wayne Stinnett | Website | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Talk Write Podcast | Ship's Store

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #40 on: August 26, 2019, 12:40:54 pm »
    The 15 books in my longer series are priced at $2.99 for the first one, $3.99 for the next five, $4.99 for the next two, then $5.99 for two, and $6.99 for the last five.

    The real advantage to advertising a long series is that you can spend a lot more on book one than you could on book one of a trilogy and still be profitable. If my cost of sale for an ad is 300%, that's fine. For every three dollars spent on book one, I'll earn only one dollar back. But if the reader buys the next one, I'll earn another two. Even with low sell through, you can see how a high CoS can still be effective. Generally though, I keep ad cost close to 100%, so any sell through at all is profitable.

    Wise words. I'll do well to heed this when the time comes (if it comes). Thanks, Wayne.


    Offline W.L. Wright

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #41 on: August 26, 2019, 12:59:17 pm »
    Whenever I see an an indie author with a big success story it happened over time and never in a minute. A year is the shortest timeline I have ever read about and that was one person's story and there are millions of us. Most big success stories are well over a year. I am at the  beginning of indie, I launched late January of this year. I look at the upward progress of my novels as the positive I need to keep at it. I have also learned that the more books that you write the better, so the more you write the better, period.

    Writing my life away one day at a time...
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    Offline Crayola

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #42 on: August 27, 2019, 08:21:33 am »
    Shhhhhhh!

    :)

    I mean, no. No money.  It's grueling soulless work that you'll hardly ever be compensated for!

    Offline Wayne Stinnett

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #43 on: August 27, 2019, 02:50:52 pm »
    Whenever I see an an indie author with a big success story it happened over time and never in a minute. A year is the shortest timeline I have ever read about and that was one person's story and there are millions of us. Most big success stories are well over a year. I am at the  beginning of indie, I launched late January of this year. I look at the upward progress of my novels as the positive I need to keep at it. I have also learned that the more books that you write the better, so the more you write the better, period.

    That was my plan, too. Write, release, repeat, ad nauseum.

    June, 2013: Started writing my first novel.
    October, 2013: Published my first novel.
    December, 2013: Published my second novel.
    April, 2014: Published my third novel.
    May, 2014: Published my fourth novel and quit truck driving, seven months after publishing the first book.
    August, 2014: Earned over $20K in one month.
    ...
    January, 2018: Published my 19th book, earned $70K in a single month, and crossed the $1M mark in total earnings.
    July, 2019: Published my 21st book. That's six years after starting the first, averaging a release every 3.5 months.
    January, 2019: Expected to pass $2M in total income.
    2021: Planning to earn $1M in one year.
    2023: Retire and go sailing aboard Write of Passage.


    And I'm a midlister. It happens more than you know.   ;)
    My Bestselling, 18-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  5-volume Charity Styles Series, also bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, wherever books are sold. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
    Wayne Stinnett | Website | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Talk Write Podcast | Ship's Store

    Offline D. A. J. F.

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    Re: Do authors make a living and/or earn a lot from Kindle Unlimited?
    « Reply #44 on: August 27, 2019, 08:43:54 pm »
    That was my plan, too. Write, release, repeat, ad nauseum.

    June, 2013: Started writing my first novel.
    October, 2013: Published my first novel.
    December, 2013: Published my second novel.
    April, 2014: Published my third novel.
    May, 2014: Published my fourth novel and quit truck driving, seven months after publishing the first book.
    August, 2014: Earned over $20K in one month.
    ...
    January, 2018: Published my 19th book, earned $70K in a single month, and crossed the $1M mark in total earnings.
    July, 2019: Published my 21st book. That's six years after starting the first, averaging a release every 3.5 months.
    January, 2019: Expected to pass $2M in total income.
    2021: Planning to earn $1M in one year.
    2023: Retire and go sailing aboard Write of Passage.


    And I'm a midlister. It happens more than you know.   ;)

    Wow.

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