The New KDP Select System – Numbers, Performance, and Thoughts: Day 2

Today signifies the second day of KDP Select's new system. We have a shiny new interface, and I totally love it. Let me show it to you.

KDP Select Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 12.28.26 PM

I normally cut out the browser crap, but hey. You now know I am on a mac, I keep google+ and Facebook open, and that I have very writer-oriented doc. Okay, anyway, back to business. I did close my email tabs because I like my privacy. Sorry!

Day 1 of the new KDP Select system saw me miss 2,000 pages read on the opening salvo by a very small margin. (I think it was something like 24 pages.) Anyway, for the sake of simplicity, I am going to say I had 2,000 pages read. Today, at the time of this posting, 500 pages were read of my titles. (It works out where combined, I'm at 2,450 for both days combined so far.)

Before I dig into the numbers, I want to address a few things.

Short Story Authors

One of the complaints I've been hearing is that the new ruling will really cut the earnings of short story authors.

Yes, short story authors will no longer get $1.60 (approximately) or someone reading 1-10 pages of their stories. (In the old system, KDP Select would pay out $1.60 (approx) for 10% of a story read.)

However, if short story authors are continuously producing content that readers are consuming, they shouldn't see pay decreases. Why?

The system is rigged to pay $1.00 for every (approximately) 175 pages read. If readers are reading, writers are getting paid.

Most authors I know charge approximately $2.99 for a novel–that could be up to 600 pages of delicious book.

In the current system, an author will receive $2.88 for a 500 page novel. Amazon charges 70% royalties.

In short, if you're writing stories readers like, you're making more money than a standard $2.99 royalty.

Good authors are being rewarded in this system.

Look, I empathize with short story authors to a certain degree. You had it really nice. However, if you're telling good stories, you still have it really nice. Your work is still paying off.

The only difference is… readers are directly telling you how good of an author you are. Focus on telling stories readers love and you'll be okay. Really!

Yes, the onus is on you to tell better stories, but it's on everybody. If you have 500 pages of short stories and your readers love them and read them, you're getting paid the same amount as the author who decided to write a single novel of that length.

Everyone benefits equally.

Novel Authors…

You spent months if not years writing your book. Yes, I know how much work it is to produce a book. I live it!

You don't deserve any higher payment than the short story authors. You deserve the exact same as them. You're both working the same amount.

You just choose to work in a different way than them, and that's fine.

You just worry about telling stories your readers love, and you'll be okay too. (And you get paid better in this model.)

Seriously, we can all get along.

Gaming the System

One legitimate concern is how people will try to game the system. How will people change their writing habits? The current theory is that people will start writing page turners to encourage readership.

Here's the problem with that.

Not all readers want page turners, man. Not all readers want erotic romance. Not all readers want clean fantasy and science fiction. Not all readers want chick lit. Not all readers want fast-paced YA.

Readers want different things. If you try to game the system writing page turners, you'll lose the readers who want that stoic, thought-provoking literature piece. Gaming the system might be possible, but readers like what readers like.

Don't insult them. Find your audience by writing good books and making efforts to get your books in front of them.

We all struggle, except for those who got really lucky. I haven't. I struggle.

The Numbers

Before I begin the number crunching, here's the important information:

 As measured using KENPC, during the month of June, KU and KOLL customers read nearly 1.9 billion Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENPs) of KDP Select books.

– From Amazon Newsletter Regarding KDP Select Titles

In mid-July, we will post results for the fund in June, expected to be at least $11M, making June the largest monthly payout so far. As previously announced, the KDP Select fund for July and August will also be at least $11M.

– Also from Amazon Newsletter Regarding KDP Select Titles

I'm using June's numbers (1.9 billion pages, 11 million pot) to demonstrate this in action.

1,900,000,000 Pages Read 11,000,000 Dollar Pot $0.0058 Per Page

To get this figure, simply divide 11 million by 1.9 billion. This is $0.0058.

Since I have no shame, here are the exact numbers for my KDP Select pages read, current as of 12:30 pm EST on July 2, 2015.

Blood Diamond 598 $0.0058 $3.46
Inquisitor 1,143 $0.0058 $6.62
Winter Wolf 712 $0.0058 $4.12
Totals 2,453 $0.0058 $14.20

Things of importance: I do not know how many pages Amazon believes my books are. This is a private number. It doesn't match what Amazon's estimated page count (print) on the books are. How do I know this?

Blood Diamond is substantially longer than Winter Wolf, but Winter Wolf has a higher page count on Amazon's pages. The pages are standardized in their system, so… it's anyone's guess on what it is. I estimate my novels range between 400-600 pages, but that's just a guess. I have no proof.

For sake of simplicity, I'm going to assign Inquisitor a page count of 425, Winter Wolf 450, and Blood Diamond 500. This is approximately the difference in pages considering their word counts. (It's not exact. It's just a ballpark figure. Roll with it, roll with it!)

Using some fancy math (Pages per book multiplied by payout per page) I came up with the following figures. This is done making the following assumptions:

I am assuming the reader paid for the book as they would a regular sale. I took the payout for the book (as calculated above) and gave it a 70% royalty figure, as titles over $2.99 would have in the KDP Select program.

Title Royalty Sales Price
Blood Diamond $2.89 $3.76
Inquisitor $2.46 $3.20
Winter Wolf $2.61 $3.39

In short, making the assumption that a 150,000 word novel equates 500 pages, Amazon is paying out $2.89 for the entire book. If I were being paid a 70% royalty rate, the book would have been on sale on Amazon for $3.76. This is a curiosity number; in short, because I can't prove how many pages Amazon believes my title is, I can't confirm it. That said, this is a really fair figure.

In the old system, if I was receiving $1.60 for the 500 page book, I was in good shape.

Now, here's the deal. Before, I was only getting paid if someone read 40-60 pages of the book. I calculate, factoring people who are slow readers (nothing wrong with that!! nothing wrong with that!!) and those who just didn't like the book, I'll be making approximately 3x the amount I was in the old system.

Assuming I consistently get 2,000 pages a day in reads (probably not happening…) my KDP Select royalties from this program would be ~$358.

To give you an idea of the significance of the change, in May, (a new release month…) I made $382, all sales included.

If that were to pan out, I would be crying. Literally. Crying all of the happy tears of joy.

Writing in the exclusive system, I feel, has taken a turn for the better–a turn that means authors have to concentrate on writing good content instead of as much content as possible.

What do these numbers mean in the long run? I have no idea.

If this proves close to reality, which I won't know until August 15, I will be a very, very happy author. It'll change how money is distributed, but royalties for long novels will be fair. Royalties for short stories will be fair.

It's fair.

Thank you, Amazon.

Now all you need to do is set a permanent value per page and unlock the pot. Then you'd guarantee authors get fair compensation. But, I understand the business side and why you control the pot. I don't necessarily like that the pot has a lid, but… if numbers continue to be fair, I can live with that.

New Data

Thanks to Lorraine for tipping me off where to find the KENPC (Kindle standardized page counts) so I could put together what my royalties would be if a reader makes it through my books. It is located under Bookshelf. Click “Promote and Advertise” and scroll to the Benefits of KDP Select section.

This is what it looks like:

Earn royalties from the KDP Select Global Fund

Earn your share of the KDP Select Global Fund when customers read your books from Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. You’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it. To determine a book’s page count in a way that works across genres and devices, we’ve developed the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) v1.0. Learn more

Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) v1.0: 608
Title KENPC Pay per Page Total Royalty
Blood Diamond 826 $0.0058 $4.79
Inquisitor 608 $0.0058 $3.53
Winter Wolf 711 $0.0058 $4.12

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