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The bad with the good: Kindle Unlimited’s new algorithm

**I want to preface this whole thing by saying that I do think the new algorithm is a lot more self-published author friendly and a great way for more authors to get more out of their published works.**

People have the notion that self-publishing is easy. You just write whatever you want, scarcely edit, and throw it up on Amazon for the world to buy and love. That idea has driven people to use self-publishing as a get rich quick scheme. Haphazard covers and poor story lines have overrun an already saturated market. It makes it hard for those stories that have true merit to gain any forward momentum.

With Kindle Unlimited being less than a year old, it has already established itself among the truly subscription based systems that people are really into now days. Commonly referred to as “Netflix for books” Kindle Unlimited allows readers to pay a measly $9.99 a month and they have access to every registered book in the KU catalog. This saves readers (especially those that can’t go 5 minutes without a book) hundreds of dollars. Originally, authors that had books enrolled in the KU program got their royalty payment if the reader got through 10% of the book. Not bad, I mean, a person doesn’t even have to finish your book for you to get something.

The new algorithm was easily and well explained by Susan Wylie Wilson:

 This is the math: They are counting the total number of pages read. So if your book is 146 pages, and they read only 145 pages, you get paid for that 145 pages. They will add up all the pages read total by all the readers who read your work. So if 200 people download and READ your 146 page book all the way through, they will do the math. That would be 29,000 pages read. Then they would take that number and multiply it by the total fund for the month, in their scenario that’s $10 million, which is 290 billion. Then they divide that by the total number of pages read that month by all of their readers, in this scenario that is 100 million pages. Which gives you a profit of $2,900. In that same vein, lets say that your book is 146 pages long, and 150 people read it all the way through, 40 people read to page 144, and 10 people read only to page 20, then you would have 27,860 pages read, then in that same scenario, you would make a profit of $2, 786

Author added Just saw this for clarification: “A little clarification: A 100-page book will only pay 10x as much as a 10-page book assuming both are read completely through to the end. Page counts also are determined based on where “Chapter 1″ starts, so front matter isn’t counted. A 100-page book read to page 10 will garner the same royalty as a 10-page book read to completion.”

So how can someone look at these amazing new figures with any kind of hesitation? The author looking to get rich quick could throw together a few short, poorly constructed pieces, make them KU exclusive, and wait. If a book is part of KU, the reader isn’t paying anything for books so they are more likely to download anything and everything. Now I am not certain if there are limitations to the number of pages that must be read (which there must be) but someone can crank out a 10 page novella, and with a little puppetry work, they can be making a decent amount of money. It’s frustrating to see.

All in all, I hope this doesn’t discourage short story authors from continuing to make their works KU exclusive if they so choose, but I do hope that this weeds out the schemers. This is a step forward for self-publishing authors and allows them to get the funding they deserve. This may also help further reduce piracy because people won’t have to wait for a book torrent to be available for them to get it for free. I don’t mean to poo poo on the KU service because this truly is a great thing. I just hope those deserving of success see it.

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