This is a guest blog post written by Blake O’Connor, author of award-winning novels including ‘Unspoken Bond’, a former top100 Amazon Kindle book. She’s writing today about the decline in Amazon’s KENP royalty.



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Pamela, thank you for inviting me to write a guest post for SkipJack’s blog. And a big congratulations on Heaven to Betsy winning the USA Best Book Awards in Cross Genre! You’re an inspiration to many people, me included! ~ Blake


 

You’re welcome, Blake. I’m a major dog-person, so you’re my kind of people.

Note to readers: I sell my e-books across all markets and am not enrolled in KDP Select, which is why I so value Blake’s information and opinion on the Kindle Unlimited KENP payment program. Some of our authors, including myself, have done KDP Select with our first books, and we are considering it for an upcoming multi-author boxed set. Please weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.  ~ Pamela


Have you ever done a Limbo dance where you wondered how low the bar could go before you fell down? I’m betting the powers-that-be at Amazon are wondering the same about how far the new KENP royalty rate can fall before authors opt out and sign up with competitors like Kobo and Barnes & Noble. But how low can the rate go before authors decide to stand up and protest, tossing away that low bar?

First, a little explanation. Amazon introduced KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) in July 2015 to replace the old royalty rate of “one size fits all” for Kindle Unlimited royalties for authors enrolled in KDP Select. Select royalty had fallen from at least $2.25 to $1.34 per book under the old method. Authors were grumbling and leaving the Select program because of the low royalty rate. Amazon had to do something so they came up with KENP, a pay for page system, which rewards engaging books.

This is how KENP works: Amazon assigns a page count to books enrolled in the Select program, originally offering $.0057 (about half a cent) per KENP page read by Kindle Unlimited customers. Using Unspoken Bond, a 68,500 word novel as an example, I originally received $1.83 (322 KENP pages x $.0057) per entire book read.

Unfortunately the royalty rate for KENP has steadily fallen from $.0057 to $.0047 which equals a drop of almost 20%. Unspoken Bond now receives $1.51, which is a loss of 32 cents. I’m feeling the pain here. Still, it’s better than the old $1.34 Select royalty rate.

As far as authors go, I’m a feisty Chihuahua who hopes to be a big dog someday, well maybe not a Great Dane, although a Labrador would be okay. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that because I write dog books. Okay, so what do the big dogs do? A lot of them publish exclusively with Amazon! So if they’re okay with it then what’s with all the grumbling about KENP?

To find the answer I browsed the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) community boards. Indie authors blame falling revenue on the Select program, and to rectify that the authors plan to diversity to Kobo, B&N, etc. I personally don’t think it will help. If the book doesn’t sell well on Amazon, it probably won’t sell well on other platforms probably because it’s not an engaging book. Since the authors are now getting paid for page instead of per download, their KENP revenue has obviously fallen. Those books are either (1) really short, thus less revenue, or (2) aren’t that engaging, thus less pages read equaling less revenue.

What about me? Your humble guest blogger. I have always published exclusively with Amazon, mainly because in the beginning I was too overwhelmed to try other platforms. As time went on, I was okay staying only with Amazon because they have the gorilla’s share of the eBook market – 74% according to Author Earnings. For the first six months of 2015, my revenue breakdown averaged 70/30 with 30% coming from Select royalty. Since the introduction of KENP in July 2015, my revenue breakdown has changed significantly to 54/46 with 46% coming from KENP.

Diversifying at this point in my publishing career would be a scary proposition because it is doubtful the other platforms could make up the 46% KENP accounts for in my total revenue, even if some of the Amazon KU/KOLL readers buy the books at full price. I’m still building a brand and readers, and Select helps with that.

Speculation on the web indicates the royalty rate for KENP could fall as low as $.0033 (a third of a cent) before authors start tapping out of the Select program. At that point I would only be making $1.06 per sale of Unspoken Bond as opposed to $2.09 on a straight sale outside of Kindle Unlimited at a $2.99 price. A dollar is a big difference, and I would probably jump ship at that point. Don’t get me wrong because I love Amazon, but it needs to be a mutually satisfying love affair.

Publishing exclusively with Amazon through their Select program has its advantages and disadvantages, a topic that could be covered in depth later. According to Author Earnings, the decision to use Select is  complicated one, and there is little consensus among Indie authors as to which strategy works the best.

The bottom line is if you are enrolled in Select, keep your eye on that bar, and if you find yourself about to fall down in the sand, stand up and try something different!

Blake

Blake O’Connor is an award-winning and Amazon top 100 author, combining romance with storiesDeane_author_photo about dogs. She’s won multiple awards in the Houston Writers Guild and the Houston Writers House novel contests.

Blake never met a dog or read a romance novel she didn’t like and that’s why she writes about both. She’s married and is the mother of two grown daughters. She’s also been a cheese cutter at Hickory Farms, sold wigs at Dillards department store, been a checker at a grocery store, a tour guide at the Texas state capitol, an election inspector, and had some other jobs before settling down.

Blake graduated from the University of Texas, majored in marketing and ended up working in the oil patch. By day she’s a database manager, by night an Indie author. She lives with her husband in one of the Houston burbs, sharing her household with a tiny Chiweenie and two large cats. An animal lover all her life, Blake is passionate about all of nature’s animals and the great outdoors – both major themes in her novels: Lost PinesMiracle on Wolf Hollow Lane, and Unspoken Bond.

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7 Responses to Kindle Unlimited and KENP: Worth the Cost?

  1. Hi Blake, I’m a new SkipJack author, debuting my literary suspense, Pennies from Burger Heaven, in January 2016. You did a great job of explaining the two programs. There are just no easy answers here. If I was publishing by myself, I’d probably just do KDP Select because it’s all SO overwhelming. One more time, it makes me grateful to have Pamela and the rest of the SJP crew to guide me.

  2. Blake O'Connor says:

    Hi Marcy, It is a confusing publishing world out there and I made some mistakes in the beginning! Congrats on your upcoming new book and the best of luck!

    • Thanks, Blake. You know, I thought of this after I left my comment, but even as overwhelming as all these choices can be – we are so LUCKY to be in this position today. Ten years ago, writers didn’t have all these options. I’d rather have too many choices than not enough. Thanks again for your post.

    • Eric says:

      Thank you for the guest post, Blake. This is good information, and important to all authors and publishers to understand.

  3. Eric says:

    Update for December from Blake: Yesterday I checked my spreadsheet on Amazon regarding November revenue, especially KENP. Fortunately, it has not fallen any further, actually increased a smidgen to .0049 per page.

    Amazon has changed the number of KENP pages for Unspoken Bond. It now has 390 KENP pages as opposed to 322. On the community board I saw other authors complaining about the disparity between their books, wondering why if their books had similar word counts why one was significantly higher or lower than the other. Amazon has corrected that.

    Also, and this is interesting too, my revenue breakdown for November was 52/48, with 48% from KENP. The first half of December is running 50/50 between real sales and KENP sales. I’m not sure what’s happening. Perhaps more people are signing up for KOLL and KU. Regardless, I’m would only be losing 18 cents per real sale (the same for both of my books), which isn’t an earthshattering amount.

  4. […] Unless you’re living under a rock, you are, as an author, familiar with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. It’s a monthly subscription service of ebooks. The arrotontent of KU is comprised of the books for which an author opts in and gives Kindle/Amazon exclusive rights to sales of that ebook. Subscribers can choose to read as many of the books within KU as they want. This appeals to volume readers. Think of it as a Netflix-of-ebooks. Authors are paid by Kindle Edition Normalized Page reads, as a percentage of overall KENP across all titles in KU in any given month, applied to a designated author payment fund for that month. You can read more about KU on an earlier SkipJack post, HERE. […]