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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A super quick question here. From time to time I see Kindle writers publishing how many copies they have sold - "100,000" etc. My question is to anyone who has done this - are these including Kindle Unlimited borrows?

I ask because a borrow is technically a sale because the reader paid to read your novel, but sometimes I see writers saying instead - "50,000 sold & 25,000 Kindle Unlimited Borrows"

I'm thinking a lot of writers are throwing their KU borrows into the their "sales" figures - am I right or wrong? Is this dishonest or not?

Thanks R
 

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I don't think it's dishonest. It's up to each author how to tabulate their sales. Personally I have 3 totals. Sales. KU reads and the two combined. I divide my pages read by the KENPC to approximate a sales number. In reality, that's a conservative number of "sales" since it presupposes a full read before its counted, when most people probably don't read all the way through. If I added sales + borrows (assuming Amazon ever told us that figure) then my total sales would probably be a lot higher.
 
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Redgum said:
A super quick question here. From time to time I see Kindle writers publishing how many copies they have sold - "100,000" etc. My question is to anyone who has done this - are these including Kindle Unlimited borrows?

I ask because a borrow is technically a sale because the reader paid to read your novel, but sometimes I see writers saying instead - "50,000 sold & 25,000 Kindle Unlimited Borrows"

I'm thinking a lot of writers are throwing their KU borrows into the their "sales" figures - am I right or wrong? Is this dishonest or not?

Thanks R
Are you getting paid for those 'borrows'? Are you getting paid for those 'page reads'?
 

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I do not include borrows in my sales figures, but I don't use sales figures as a marketing tool either. I don't for one second think that all my borrows would be sales even though I know that borrows cannibalize sales. I'm not sure bragging that "more than 1.5 million books sold this year" propels readers as much as insight into the character and story does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Amanda M. Lee said:
I do not include borrows in my sales figures, but I don't use sales figures as a marketing tool either. I don't for one second think that all my borrows would be sales even though I know that borrows cannibalize sales. I'm not sure bragging that "more than 1.5 million books sold this year" propels readers as much as insight into the character and story does.
Thanks everyone for your views and experience. In reply let me say that I haven't used KU yet at all, and the reason I'm asking is that I know it can "cannibalize" sales, so I was wondering how many writers would include it in their overall sales figures to make up for that. FWIW I don't think it's dishonest at all, so long as you are being paid for the borrows.

Because I don't use KU I don't know exactly how it works - I presume an author knows how many people borrow the books, and how many get paid for? I say this because I saw a writer the other day declare she had sold 100,000 copies and also 75,000 KU borrows, so the figures must be available, right? Another writer simply proclaims 500,000 "sales" but is on KU so I presume this author is either not bothering to tell people of the hundreds of thousands of borrows (which I think unlikely) or is incorporating those borrows into the 500k "sales".
 

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Redgum said:
Because I don't use KU I don't know exactly how it works - I presume an author knows how many people borrow the books, and how many get paid for?
No. Amazon won't release number of borrows, they keep that data to themselves. Authors only see number of pages read for each title. I keep track of total pages read, and approximate that as a number of sales. Or perhaps the author you saw was dividing pages read by KENPC and calling that "borrows"? Which would be a conservative number, since not every borrow will result in a full read through.

Personally I don't use sales/pages read/borrows as marketing copy. I track those numbers purely for myself and so I can make business decisions about Select vs wide.
 

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How do you "know" that KU cannibalizes sales? I'm not being argumentative... I'm genuinely interested in any info along these lines. My albeit very modest sales have declined and I cling to my trickle of page reads. The idea that leaving KU might bring my sales back up at all is intriguing, but at the same time why would anyone subscribed to KU buy any books? Aren't KU readers and non-KU readers two different targets altogether?

Cheers!
 

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I don't give numbers of books sold, I give income earned for this exact reason. To me, number of books sold by itself is a completely useless metric. Still, other people's numbers aren't anybody's business, so... I don't think it's right to critique anyone that voluntarily gives their numbers.
 
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Redgum said:
FWIW I don't think it's dishonest at all, so long as you are being paid for the borrows.
Authors are not paid for borrows. Authors in Select get a rank boost from borrows, with 1 borrow being equivalent to 1 sale as far as the book's sales rank goes. Authors are only paid based on number of pages read** of those borrowed books. So if someone borrows but never reads it, you get a momentarily sales blip but no payment.

** The number of pages read is based off a number called Kindle Estimated Number of Pages (KENP) that Amazon calculates for every book in KDP Select. It is not the same as the number of pages displayed on the books info page and while a few various attempts at calculating it have been made, there is no precise or proven one that works on figuring out what it is based on. The closest ones seem to be looking primarily at number of characters, with something factored in for the underlying code.

Redgum said:
Because I don't use KU I don't know exactly how it works - I presume an author knows how many people borrow the books, and how many get paid for? I say this because I saw a writer the other day declare she had sold 100,000 copies and also 75,000 KU borrows, so the figures must be available, right? Another writer simply proclaims 500,000 "sales" but is on KU so I presume this author is either not bothering to tell people of the hundreds of thousands of borrows (which I think unlikely) or is incorporating those borrows into the 500k "sales".
No, Amazon does not tell authors how many borrows they have had or if they have even had borrows. The author you indicated may have made an estimate based on number of pages read/KENP for each book, or by using day-to-day calculators that estimate borrows based on rank movement, i.e. if you had a rank jump of X, which will generally take Y sales, you can guestimate number of borrows by subtracting your actual number of sales from Y.

For example, I don't sell much, so if my book's rank jumps up to the 100k range on any given day but I had no sales, I know I had a borrow.
 

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All my sales (and borrows) numbers are estimates. I stopped tracking around 300,000. At that time 95% were sales as it was pre-KU. I write very long so can earn as much on a borrow as a sale at $4.99, and many sales are traditionally published books or audiobooks or books on sale, on which the royalties are very low. Audio, for example--my royalty on a unit can literally be 30 cents in some cases. Also, Amazon Publishing pays the same royalty whether it's a sale or a borrow, so there's no point breaking it out. I've found the only number that really counts is income. I divide that number by an average to come up with an approximate number of books/audiobooks sold or borrowed. Same difference as far as I'm concerned. And KDP puts the units sold and pages read in the same column, which makes it virtually impossible for me to count them up anyway. So I just look at the bottom line.

Yes, borrows cannibalize sales, at least they do for me. I was out of KU for about 6 or 7 months last year, then put my books back in, so I can state that with some precision as I could see the before/after numbers. Unless it's a new release, about 60-75% of my units moved come from borrows. An average book for me is about 500 KENPC, which gives me about $2.50.

People do it differently. I don't see why you wouldn't count borrow-equivalents. The money spends the same, and people are reading the books and you're being paid for it. But for my own purposes, I only really track dollars. Any "sales/borrows" figures I give are approximations, because I can't see any way those numbers matter.
 

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Cannibalize - to me it means that if the reader can read in abundance for only ten bucks a month, they won't spend money on books that are not in KU. Why would they?  A lot of us old timers are losing big bucks because of KU and it makes it harder for the new authors too.

The thing is, how many books I sell doesn't mean a thing unless it simply lets other authors know it is possible. Too many variables otherwise.
 

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All my sales are sales because I'm wide. However, I don't use it as a marketing thing. It's purely to judge year on year improvement. For marketing I might say "200 Amazon 5 star reviews" but never "book X sold over 100k"

EDIT: so I can't spell. Sue me.
 

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I have to agree with PhoenixS on the inflated numbers promotion sites quote. I have long suspected they count email signups that include authors that have to open an account even if they only want to buy a promotion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Martitalbott said:
I have to agree with PhoenixS on the inflated numbers promotion sites quote. I have long suspected they count email signups that include authors that have to open an account even if they only want to buy a promotion.
My thanks to everyone who has replied here with your experience and knowledge. I have not personally used sales numbers for marketing but I was just curious what the general feeling was about KU borrows being counted as sales etc. Very interesting stuff here about only receiving page reads info as well. I'm actually going to have a go with KU later this year because I think the proof of this pudding really is in the eating.

Thanks all , R :)
 

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Rosalind J said:
All my sales (and borrows) numbers are estimates. I stopped tracking around 300,000.
Seeing as I'm just about to start this whole process, I'm curious as to why one would stop tracking. If Amazon send out payments every month, surely they send a report of how many sales each book has had?
 

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RightHoJeeves said:
Seeing as I'm just about to start this whole process, I'm curious as to why one would stop tracking. If Amazon send out payments every month, surely they send a report of how many sales each book has had?
Because half the time, we're selling at .99 with a promo just to maintain visibility, and that only makes us .32 - .64 per sale, minus the cost of the promotion. The other half of the time, we're selling at 2.99 - 7.99. All sales are not created equal.

Net profits are a far better indication of return on investment, and also of the profitability of your writing venture as a whole.
 

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