A Weird Time to Unlimit your Kindling

During June I published The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, first in the new series Fiction Science. Like I said in that post, I specifically chose to test the waters of the Kindle Unlimited program with this one. As luck would have it, Amazon happened to make some changes to Kindle Unlimited just as I was testing it.
I will discuss both my results and the effects of the changes below.

Results June 2015

In short, the book did great, both on Kindle Unlimited and in regular purchases. Not only did it help push June to include 53% of my current 2015 sales total, June also encompasses 75% of 2015 total ebook revenue so far thanks to this book. Sales and KU burrows were about the same. This surprised me, I thought KU would be a bigger contribution with only a few sales. As it turns out, I underestimated the price people were willing to pay when putting Fiction Science 1 at a price I honestly considered too much for a book this short.
Authors only get 70% for books between $2.99 and 9.99, incidentally making this the starting point at which authors get more than $ 1.00 per book. June 2015 was the first time I managed to make more than a dollar per book on average since 2011 (when I only had one book out, priced 3.99).
An especially weird surprise to me was that the book did best in the UK, despite being written in US English and published a day after the movie started in europe. Huh, weird.

So what I took away here is this:

  • Don’t be afraid of the 2.99–9.99 price tier. When it pays of, it really pays of. Also, more people are willing to pay that amount even for short non-fiction books than I thought, given the book is relevant or timely. This is the most important thing I take out of this: 2.99 is not as expensive to costumers as I tend to think with ebooks
  • At 2.99, Kindle Unlimited is perfect. It does pay a little less than a sale, but helps with exposure, thus driving sales. Well, at least it was perfect.
  • Media tie-ins work

And then, Kindle Unlimited Changed

No doubt all Amazon authors already heard of the recent change in Kindle Unlimited payments starting July 1st. In short, books lent via Kindle Unlimited will from now on be paid by pages read. It is not that clear how much money we’ll get, although I’ve seen estimates range from $ .005 to .006 per page.
This means The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World would make about 25 Cents per burrow. I’ll assume that burrows lower the number of sales, but I’ll also assume this is counteracted by better exposure and reaching readers unwilling to buy. Not having any real math to back this up, I’m nevertheless prepared to take the risk of being wrong as long as I’m only loosing a few cents at worst.
With a 2.99 book of 45 pages, I loose about a dollar per burrow when compared to a sale. Exposure conversion and costumer potential expansion are not going to cover a gap this large.

Luckily, I did not expect this book to do well beyond June. I knew its sales were going to be tied to the release of Jurassic World and indeed they spiked suddenly, stayed up until Sunday to slowly sink after the opening weekend. This book was not going to make me any money later on and I knew that.
Still, theere were conclusions to be drawnd for future projects, thus:


It’s strange to witness first hand how quick a business model can die. Even stranger to see how it can die from no ill intent, because I do consider the new model an improvement even if my own non-fiction suffers for it. In my case, I was preparing to publish erotica under a secret pseudonym.
The market for short erotica was dominated by using Kindle Unlimited to get money for burrowing very short steamy stories. Unlimited was its perfect environment, it managed to thrive there and really, why not?
I don’t know if that idea is dead now, but it certainly is not going to get me rich(-ish) any time soon. Basically, any business model using the high payout of Kindle Unlimited to its advantage is dead now. Just like that.
Which brings me to my most important conclusion: If you have an idea, be quick. You never know when it’ll stop working.