An Author In KU – Choosing to Stay in Kindle Unlimited


As many of you may have heard, Amazon recently threw a wrench into the collective works of many independent authors currently publishing in Kindle ebook format.

Right around a year ago, Amazon introduced a service called Kindle Unlimited. If you are unfamiliar with this service, it basically allows customers to subscribe to the Kindle Unlimited program for a small monthly fee. Then the customer is given full access to the Amazon Kindle Unlimited library, and like a kid in a candy store, that lucky bastard can run willy nilly through the aisles, reading any damn book they please for no extra cost. The only catch is – the book they want to read has to be IN the Kindle Unlimited library.



Enter the author, and in many cases, the Indie author. When Kindle Unlimited was first introduced, many were up in arms, crying foul – “This will be the end of independent publishing!”

Then the borrow rate came in and many writers discovered that having their titles in the Kindle Unlimited library actually helped get them in front of more readers, and by proxy helped their income, rather than hurt it. Indie Authors were paid upwards of nearly three dollars per borrow in the early days, though more recently, the borrow rate dropped as low as $1.33 per borrow. Nonetheless, many were still making a spectacular income.

The new KU was introduced and all unholy Sam Hell broke loose. Authors began running from KU, crying foul, cursing Bezo’s name. Those writers who prefer to write short fiction or novellas were looking at a massive cut in their royalties, and though some authors rejoiced in the idea that the short fiction writers would be paid less than the longer fiction writers, what many failed to see was the somewhat shady approach Amazon took to impose the new rules:

  1. They told their writers two weeks before the massive change was going to take place.
  2. They changed the payment scheme from ‘per borrow’ to ‘per page read.’ This might sound like a great plan to longer writers, but even if it did get a round of joyous twerking from novel writers, there’s still –
  3. Amazon didn’t give the writers a ‘per page’ rate to base their future endeavors on.

Some have estimated a pay out of half a cent per page (an amount that would nearly shatter the income base of many independent writers), while others have tried to remain optimistic, hoping that Amazon will do right by their authors, as it is the authors who are making Kindle Unlimited a financial success.

133-lil-jonWe won’t know until August 15th. Just seven short days away and many writers will finally know their ‘pay rate.’ It can be a hellish month when you no longer have a transparent and decided upon pay rate for your work. As a result, some writers, many of them my peers, fled KU like a thief in the night.

I, on the otherhand, did not.

I haven’t the slightest clue if I will be having a spectacular month or if I’ll barely be able to pay for groceries. It is entirely up in the air to me. Still, despite the notion of having to start from near scratch again if the rate isn’t friendly, I have decided to remain in KU. Why, you ask? Well, let me just tell you!

There are two types of readers, I believe. There are those who take a weekly (or daily) drive to their local book store and then lovingly meander and peruse the shelves for hours, carting a pile eight books deep to the cashier and blowing their entire paycheck.

I love those people.

Then there are the people who sit down at their computer, go onto their library website, and order every single book they could ever possibly want to read from the library, and wait patiently to hear that it’s their turn.

I love those people, too.

I realized that my goal in the act of writing is not to ‘make a buck’ or ‘pay my mortgage,’ it’s to find readers. I want to write stories that take people away, make them feel something, forget the time for a while. I want to write so that I can be one of the books in that eight deep pile, or that book that has a 26 person deep waiting list at the library. If a million people read a story I wrote and I don’t get paid a cent, will I feel I wrote that story for nothing.

Not at all.

Library people are my people. I am one of you. Just as I am a Barnes and Noble dweller. I salute you both, and I want my stories to be available to all different kinds of readers.

So I’m staying in. Here’s hoping I can still buy groceries after the fact. 😉