I know I have a lot of interactive readers but I didn’t expect my little blog post about KU to be met with such a (positive) response! So here’s what I feel was missing from the previous post:
Thank you all so much! I can’t tell you how blessed I feel for having all of you as my readers! (and I’m saying that as a person who’s not very religious). I know that part of my success is due to Kindle Unlimited, but it took your response to hammer down just how important it is. Please let me explain.
As an Indie writer in particular, it’s so easy to get lost in the numbers. This is my job. I don’t have any other source of income. I need to consider this as a business. Until, say, 2009, anything on writing you would find was craft related. Don’t get me wrong, craft and talent are important–when you write the book. But my work isn’t done there: I need to publish it, market it, and make damn sure that my bottom line is a solid one. Most information I research about Indie publishing is on the business side because that’s where solid information is available, compiled by other Indies who’ve done the work, crunched the numbers, and are happy to share.
But what is way more important than sales, borrows, conversion rate, expenses, and business strategies are you: the readers.
Of course, this is not an entirely altruistic endeavor–you know I make money from KU the same as from sales. But if there is a way how I can help readers, even if it might come at a possible disadvantage for myself, I will always go for that, and KU seems to be a Godsend for so many of you. Trust me, I know how it is when you have to decide between bare necessities (like food and clothes) and luxury goods (like books). I’ve been there, and in many ways, you were my salvation, because you grabbed my books and devoured them, loved them, left reviews and recommended them to your friends and random strangers on the internet–and thus not just made my career as a writer take off, but turned it into a valid job. Without you, I’d be nothing! Or at least not a successful full-time writer.
I read a lot myself–not as much as I used to, but still enough to leave a dent in my budget. My reading habits over the last decade have changed a lot; I barely buy paperbacks anymore, mostly for non-fiction. I’ve always loved to read series, and now most of what is published, particularly by Indies, are series. Yay! Who doesn’t love to know there are five more books when you’ve practically inhaled the first? And the idea that I can read as many books of that series as I want for just ten bucks a month in KU is amazing! Knowing that the writer makes a pretty penny from that as well, even better!! But my point is, where I am in life, I could afford to buy all the books I want to read. I might hesitate on some, though–and if they are in KU, I won’t, because I don’t stand to lose anything if I borrow that book and find out 20% in that I don’t like it. But many readers don’t have the option of deciding whether they want to buy a book, because buying is just not an option for them.
That’s where KU comes in. For voracious readers with (limited) budgets it’s a much-needed respite. Sure, there are libraries, but libraries need to pay for books as well, and, let’s face it, why would they take a chance on a random Indie? If you have KU, you can bypass any middlemen and get your favorite escape from reality almost straight from the author, no limits, little restrictions. It might just be the only way for the reader to get that book.
I think that because of so many reasons, like all that business talk, so many authors lose sight of this. Not because they are greedy or cold-hearted, but because nobody told them. Maybe I’m in a special position. From what I see all over author groups on the internet, most writers don’t have so many readers taking advantage of KU. Maybe if I made less than 40% of my income from KU, I’d decide to drop out as well and try my luck elsewhere, but I feel like this would be a tremendous disservice to you all. 60-80% of my income is from KU; that means, 6 to 8 out of 10 readers read in KU. I don’t want to piss off 6 to 8 out of 10 of my readers, and even less, let them down and disappoint them.
Of course, this is still my business and I need to protect my income, but, come on: even if the KU payout fluctuates with every month, KU borrows usually do a lot for sale ranks and discoverability beyond being a separate stream of income. I get options like offering my books for free to boost sales on the others in the series, or discount them but retain a higher royalty rate. Amazon is one of the leading businesses that crunch data and develop business strategies based on machine learning. If they think KU works this way–and the last iteration changed almost nothing, making it seem like a balanced, working system now–with all the data they collect from every single reader and author, I’d say, let’s trust them to keep making money! After all, of every book I sell, they get 30%, and seeing as the KU payout matches my sale royalties, that must be working for them as well. It also works for millions of readers, so… win / win, right?
Long story short: thank you all so much!! Also, for giving me this insight, so that when next someone tells me I’m short-sighted and don’t have a business strategy, I can tell them, on the contrary: I like to put my readers first and give them the opportunity to read my books that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. It may not work like this for everyone, but it works for you, my readers, and I’m eternally grateful for that. You rock!