Some preliminary thoughts on the new KU rules
We are now approximately half a month into the new KU/KOLL payout program and I thought I would spend some time this morning going through my numbers so far this month and compare them with last month’s borrows. So, before we go any further, please quit laughing. I know anything to do with math is far from my strong suit. Besides, I haven’t had nearly enough coffee to tell me not to do something like this so early in the morning. But, after reading yet another article about a group of authors whining because the new program will put them out of business — and without them waiting around to see how the program pays out at the end of the month — I decided to see if the preliminary figures support my initial thoughts on the program.
I’ll admit, when I started hearing about the change to the rules for how much an author would be paid for every borrow under the KU/KOLL programs, my reaction was mixed. I loved the fact that no longer would every borrow be paid a flat fee. I never understood the reasoning behind paying someone who puts out a five page short story the same thing a 500 page fantasy novel received. On the other hand, I wondered how in the world they were going to pay out per page. The answer to that is to pay out per “normalized” page. The reasoning behind this, according to Amazon, is to prevent authors from using very large fonts or only putting a few words per page.
Still, the cries of “foul” continued, including this latest one. I get that folks are worried about how much they might make under the new program. However, instead of instantly jumping ship, perhaps they ought to wait to see what happens this month. Or, if they don’t want to do that, suggest an alternative to Amazon — with some facts and figures projected from their past earnings and those of other authors. As for me, well, I look at the KU/KOLL earnings as the icing on the cake. No other store, that I’m aware of, allows authors to take part in similar programs. Considering that I make much more out of the KU/KOLL program than I did when I was in those other stores, I’m willing to cut Amazon a little slack as it tweaks the program so it works best for the authors, the readers and Amazon itself. After all, it is important tat we remember that Amazon is in the business of making profits. If it doesn’t, it goes away and so does our major retail outlet.
Anyway, as I said, I thought I would look at my titles and where my KU/KOLL numbers stack up compared to this time last month. So bear with me as I try to do the math, such as it is. I’m not going to take all of my titles, only the last three books I’ve published. Also, I am only using the U. S. Amazon numbers and not any of the other stores taking part in the KU/KOLL programs because, well, more math. Finally, the numbers for last month are not the final numbers, only those for the first 14 days of the month. Fortunately for my bank account, they took an upswing toward the end of the month.;-)
Normalized page count
|Downloads last month||Pages read this month|
|Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2)||232||524||20||4946|
|Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1)||299||505||20||5266|
|Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1)||289||671||106||
The first issue I see as I look at these numbers is that I know how many normalized pages have been read but not how many times a book has been downloaded. So I don’t know if everyone is reading the book or if they are stopping part way through. It would help if Amazon let us know the number of downloads as well as number of normalized pages read. So, for the purposes of this experiment, let’s assume that books are being read through.
That means Duty from Ashes has been downloaded and read through 9.4 times. That doesn’t look real good compared to the 20 downloads from last month. However, a download was counted once 10% of the book was read. So, this is a non-goer in my math-challenged mind. It is the same issue with Vengeance from Ashes. But what about Sword of Arelion? It looks a little better compared to the first half of last month, approximately 77 downloads (assuming every download is read all the way through this month) compare to 106 for last month. But, again, not knowing how normalized pages read compares to the number of downloads makes this an interesting mental exercise but really doesn’t answer the question of how many of the borrows are actually being read all the way through.
So let’s look at things a bit differently. Taking an average payout of $1.40 per title “read” last month, I would have made $28 for Duty from Ashes, and the same for Vengeance from Ashes. For Sword of Arelion, I would have made $148.40. Taking the normalized page counts and the $0.006/page a number of sites are quoting as what Amazon will be paying, I get the following potential payouts for this month: $29.68 for Duty from Ashes, $31.60 for Vengeance from Ashes, and $310.79 for Sword of Arelion.
I don’t know about you, but as someone who writes novels and not short fiction, I like what the preliminary numbers are showing. Of course, there is a lot of guesswork involved in this because we don’t know for sure what the per page payouts will be this month. But I am willing to give it a try and wait to see what happens over the next couple of months. After all, I remember the twists and turns that happened when Amazon first introduced the KOLL. You would have thought they were determined to kill off the indie market to have heard some of the naysayers. It is going to be interesting to see what happens when we can compare income from the KU/KOLL program for the last few months against the first few months under the new rules.
For now, all I wish is that we had a bit more information from Amazon, specifically how many times a title is downloaded. It would also be nice if Amazon gave us an indication of where in a book someone stopped reading. But, to be honest, I’m not sure my ego could take that. (VBG) Anyway, don’t know if this helps anyone but it helped me put it all into context, at least with regard to my own work and determining if I am going to stay in the program for the near future or not.