Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic
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I'm going to be writing and updating this post throughout the week-end.
*Sunday morning update at the end.
In a way, I'm writing this for myself, in an effort to understand exactly what happened, when, and how. Maybe no one else will care, but I do, for very selfish reasons. I want to be able to write and publish what I write and make enough money from it to continue.
This issue is pretty complex, and I know I've written about it before but I don't have links handy to all my posts and comments. (Will add links to my previous posts when I have time to find them.) Apparently, however, Amazon is finally trying to do something about it. This seems like a good time, therefore, to examine the whole situation. Maybe nothing can actually be done, maybe the scams will just continue, but at least we'll know what's going on.
My prior posts, related as well as sort-of related, added as I locate them:
Here's a link to David Gaughran's blog that has some of the other background information, too, on both the trademark issues going around Romancelandia and the Kindle stuffing.
If you are on Twitter, you should be able to find this thread, which gives a lot of information and has some links also. I followed Tymber and am now getting more information from others. There is also a lot of information being compiled under #GETLOUD.
Here are the stats on this book:
This is a screenshot of the "Look Inside" Table of Contents.
The TOC occupies several pages of the Look Inside preview, ending with this:
What this apparently means is that "Elizabeth" is the first "story" in this collection. The 15,000 word title story, "Sold," doesn't show up until the third or so page of the TOC, depending on your screen magnification. Yes, it's linked on the first page of the TOC, but that means the link takes you further into the book, which equates to more pages "read" for the Kindle Unlimited author.
So let's go to the background information, some of which I've shared before.
Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon subscription program. You pay a set fee each month and are allowed to read as many KU titles as you like. When you stop paying the subscription fee, you lose any/all KU titles. I think there's a limit to how many you can have out at a time, so when you've read one, you return it and can check out another, just like at the library.
KU books are enrolled by the authors/publishers. One requirement is that they be exclusive to Amazon, so you won't find many traditionally published ebooks on KU. Mostly it's author-published material, like my novels. As I've explained before, I never sold enough on the other platforms to bother with them; I'm happy to be just on Amazon.
When a KU book is downloaded to the subscriber's device, it shows up on the author's data as 1 page read. As the reader progresses through the book, the pages mount up. The author can keep track of her KU "sales" in almost real time. As far as I know -- and according to the screenshot further down -- the author is only paid for the first KU read by that account; you can't have Aunt Sophie read it over and over and keep getting paid, any more than you can get paid for re-reads of other books, either physical or digital.
Amazon determined that the fair way to pay authors for KU reads was to calculate a standard "page" -- called the KENPC, or Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count. They are currently on Version 3.0. This is important.
My most recently published novel, The Looking-Glass Portrait, was listed on Amazon in July 2016. It went directly to Kindle Unlimited and has never been listed anywhere else. Other than fixing a handful of typos -- think we found five altogether -- LGP has not been edited or revised in any way since July 2016.
The data hasn't changed either.
It's listed at 366 print pages; the actual trade-size print-on-demand paperback edition is 364 pages. But the critical number is the KENPC pages, which according to the publication data provided to me as the author is 637.
Previously, whether under KENP v. 2.0 or before, it was 827.
To be perfectly honest with you, there's probably a notification in one of the Kindle Direct Publishing newsletters I've received over the past year that explains this, but I haven't read them. At any rate, the current payment schedule is about $0.005 -- half a cent -- per KENPC actually read by the Kindle device. The reader herself may be just flipping pages or even using a link to get to the end of the book, but it's all about what the device records and sends back to Amazon as the furthest page read. That's how the author gets paid.
Again, to be honest with you, I earn about $2.00 for every Kindle edition of LGP sold. I earn about $3.00 for every KU edition read. As I posted on Twitter a couple of days ago, I keep the Kindle price low for those who aren't KU subscribers; I have no control over the KU price or payment. (Anything below $2.99 only earns a 35% royalty; at $2.99 I earn 70%, minus a small fee based on file size.) These numbers are set by Amazon, so they're the same for all self-publishing Kindle authors and Kindle Unlimited enrollees.
Please note the comparison:
LGP with a file size of 1985kb generates 366 print pages. Davinski's Sold is shown as 1850kb, but 1947 pages. What I don't know, obviously, is the KENPC on Davinski's book. As far as I know, that information is only available to the author/publisher. Here's the information on LGP, which shows that the KU rate is paid "the first time" the subscriber reads it.
Recently -- though I don't know exactly how recently -- Amazon decided to try to put a stop to this book "stuffing," which is the bundling together of various texts into a huge file, selling it at a low price but offering it on KU to get the payment for page reads. (Screen shot doesn't capture it all, so I'm doing just a text cut and paste.)
Bonus ContentIf you choose to include bonus content (e.g., other stories, or previews of other books that are not part of your book’s title), it should be relevant to the customer and should not disrupt the reading experience. To meet these guidelines, we require placing additional content at the end of the book, and listing the bonus content in your book's table of contents.
To provide an optimal customer experience, bonus content should make up no more than around 10% of your book. If you would like to include multiple stories within your book, consider creating a collection of works. When selecting your book’s title, always make sure to follow the Metadata Guidelines.
Primary and bonus content must meet all program guidelines (e.g., bonus content in KDP Select titles must be exclusive). Translated content must be high quality and not machine generated. Disruptive links and promises of gifts or rewards are never allowed.