book promotion, book reviews

Ten Thousand Page-Reads. (Or K.U. For Dummies)

The title of is this post is possibly enigmatic to most, but to anyone who has a book or books signed up on Kindle Unlimited, the reference is clear.

What’s a page-read? What’s Kindle Unlimited?

Okay. For those who don’t know already: when you publish an eBook on Amazon, you have the option of signing it up with Kindle Unlimited. That means Kindle Unlimited subscribers—for a ten dollar monthly fee—can download and read your book for free, (as well as all the other eBooks signed up with Kindle Unlimited) and you, the author, receive a payment for each page read.

Yes, they can keep track. No, you probably don’t want to think too hard about that.

How much per page? Amazon sets a new rate every month, but then it also adds a certain amount from the Kindle Direct Publishing Select Global Fund (which—if I understand it correctly— is based on the total number of pages read of all KU books by all KU subscribers.) Bottom line? It varies slightly from month to month, but as a ballpark figure, I assume about 45% of a penny per page. And, KU is actually fairly generous in the way it counts page reads. My book Spark runs 345 pages in paperback. KU counts it as 408 pages. (For the record, a complete read of Spark on KU earns me about $1.80. Selling the ebook earns me about $2 in royalties.)

One important rule: if your ebook is signed up for Kindle Unlimited, it must be exclusive to Amazon. You cannot sell it on Kobo or Barnes and Noble or Smashwords or anywhere else. For many authors, this is a deal breaker. It’s also the reason why most actual publishers do not use it. They don’t want to cut off any potential sales avenues.

In practice, KU is made for independent publishers. And while exclusivity may be distasteful for some authors, most ebooks sold in the global marketplace are sold through Amazon. (I heard 70% somewhere, but don’t ask me to back that up.) Personally, I didn’t find it a difficult decision. I am happy to have my independent titles on KU.

Being signed up with KU also allows you to run promotions, including making the book free for up to five days out of every ninety. If you promote your giveaway, you can end up with thousands of downloads. Both times I’ve given Spark away, I’ve topped 3,000 downloads. This may not seem like anything to crow about, (and I’ll address that question further on). But let me just focus first on the immediate results of that kind of giveaway. Both times, it has resulted in a small sales spike after the giveaway. (Very small in real numbers. The first time I think I sold 12 copies, the second time only eight. But compared to my normal sales, which can include months of goose eggs, it’s a spike.)

In addition, giveaways get me page-reads on KU. Faced with a temporarily free ebook, some subscribers choose to download it through KU rather than downloading it for free. It makes no difference to them, I suppose. It’s free either way. But it makes a big difference for the author. During the month following my last giveaway, I topped 10,000 page-reads. This is roughly equivalent to 25 people reading my book all the way through. It also means I made about $45 in royalties.

Now just for a bracing dose of reality, I know most of the 3000 people who download my book onto their Kindle or their cell phone are NOT going to read it. A lot of those folks have hundreds of free books stored up on their devices, and they keep adding new ones, which probably only serves to bump the older books lower on the priority list (newer books are shinier books). The only reads that we can be sure of are the ones that come through KU and the ones that leave a review, or at least a rating, on Amazon or Goodreads.

My giveaways have generated a few reviews on Amazon and some ratings on Goodreads, but very few. Reviews are rare enough anyway, but I think they are even rarer for readers who download the books for free. I had a review of Flight of the Wren after my last giveaway of that book—a terrific review—that actually said:

“This is a great book! Usually I don’t write reviews for the free/cheap books I get from the various email groups because they are not usually worth reviewing.”

It’s just human nature, I guess. We tend to value things in direct relation to the price we pay for them, and we sometimes assume that free stuff is free because nobody would pay for it. So the whole giveaway thing is not an unqualified positive. Sure, I would prefer it if people were buying the books and lavishing me with reviews, but that ain’t happening. At least this way, there are people reading the books. Some of those people are going to like them and will maybe read the next one.

Some of them might even pay real money for the privilege. Crazy, I know, but it could happen.


18 thoughts on “Ten Thousand Page-Reads. (Or K.U. For Dummies)

    • atthysgage says:

      It’s not without controversy. I’ve heard writers complain that KU basically ruined their income potential, but I don’t really see it. It might be an issue if you’re selling a lot of books, particularly short books, like selling your novel in 80-page installments. I can see how KU would cut into your revenue in that kind of situation, but for most of us, it’s just another potential source of readers. And ten thousand page reads in a month is no big whoop. I’m sure there are people who get ten or twenty times that many on a regular basis. Of course, they probably have ten or twenty books for sale.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. mimispeike says:

    Atthys: would this be a useful strategy: Put my novella on KU, maybe interest people enough to buy the full Book One?

    I watched the Book Launch webinar today that Kris posted the link for. Waste of time. Maybe he gets some folks to spend eight-hundred dollars for his package of videos, guides, personal conferences over the phone if you get the super-duper package, but most of us can’t afford that.

    He probably knows what he’s talking about. Hugh Howey was one of his clients. I got a free spreadsheet premium for watching the show, haven’t looked at it yet.

    The guy says he’s charged thirty-thousand dollars to some for an all-the-bells-and-whistles step-by-step personally supervised campaign. Surreal, eh?

    Liked by 3 people

    • atthysgage says:

      Offering a freebie is a well-established manner of enticement, though I can’t speak directly to how well it works. Giveaways have probably resulted in sales of other books, but only very rarely, and of course I have no way of knowing why the sale occurred. But lots of people offer a free book (or a novella or a chapter) as a way of inviting readers, hoping they will become paying readers of the rest of a series. Never having written a series, it hasn’t made much sense for me. Ultimately, you still have to get readers to notice you, which is always a challenge.

      As far as the book launch webinar, I have seen many such presentations, and have never been convinced that they have anything substantial to offer, certainly not to the tune of $800, even if I could afford it.

      Thirty-thousand dollars? Wow. I can’t even conceive of what would make that worthwhile. Maybe if a passionate agent was willing to drive all over the country, hawking your book at every bookshop and library and county fair and fruit stand… But there’s every chance you still wouldn’t realize $30,000 in royalties. Hugh Howey can afford to pay for a personal agent. I doubt that the personal agent made Hugh Howey the success that he is.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mimispeike says:

        Ten minutes in I said uh-oh. He went on and on about what his ‘package’ included. He said, how much would you think this worth? How much would you be willing to pay? I thought, $99? Then he said, the price is $999, but today only to you attendees, $799. (For the low-tier package.)

        Well, I hung on, there was to be a free download for those who stuck with him.

        My take-away. This is a battle with many fronts. Engage on all of them, sooner or later. Plan your assault according to your preparedness and your budget.

        There was a question period. I asked if he had counseled Howey before or after his (somewhat miraculous, there must be many authors of equal calibre still undiscovered) success. Did he take a moderate success and explode it exponentially? What is his claim to fame, regarding Howey?

        He didn’t answer my question. He answered the ones that suited his agenda. Reminds me of the Make Your Fortune in Real Estate infomercials of a few years back. Not a good look.

        Kris! What did you get out of it?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    The guy is on the ball in one respect. I have searched on Google for warnings about him. The first ten pages of search results are full of his own promotions for his various activities, and also touts by people who have taken his courses.

    Ten pages of nothing but good, but for one notice that some group he’s associated with hasn’t paid its rent, and another vague negative – I couldn’t understand what on earth they were saying.

    Any bad, he’s driven it so far underground it can’t be found. Where’s Writer Beware on him? Jane Friedman has something positive on him. Maybe he’s legit, just very pricey.

    How many pages do I have to dig through to find something other than how great he is? I typed: Writer Beware Tim Grahl, all I got was: Let the writer beware: You might find yourself binge-listening for hours.

    He may be on the level, but (I say) he has a very unfortunate style of presentation, reminiscent of the Wait! There’s more! late-night infomercials.

    If he did major good for Hugh Howey, why can’t he get a plug there? That would impress me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • atthysgage says:

      I’m impressed that you dug so deep into it. It’s entirely possible that he delivers on his promises and is an effective marketer. But it’s too much money to take a gamble on, especially when you’re trying to sell a book that nets you two dollars royalty per sale. I like the old model, where an agent gets 10% or even 20% of your actual sales. But you’d have to prove your marketability, I’d imagine, before a marketer would take you on on that basis, much like trying to get a literary agent to represent you, which we all know is damned difficult.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. mimispeike says:

    Because I am registered with him, I get (10? Don’t know) free mini lessons via email. I have five so far. I will read them and decide if, ever I think I can afford it, I might sign up for the pay-package.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘Lots of people offer a free book (or a novella or a chapter) as a way of inviting readers, hoping they will become paying readers of the rest of a series.’ That’s my current way of thinking, so KU wouldn’t work for a permafree book (if I manage to get Amazon to list it as free, which itself isn’t that easy). More on all that hopefully in a few months.
    As for Grahl, I didn’t actually listen to the spiel, having come across a review of his book: ‘Circular and self-referential, Tim’s whole program (this book and his 30 day email campaign) is geared toward enrolling you in his ($1200) secret stash of winning strategies.’ There were plenty of positive reviews, but for some reason this one made the most impression…


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