Posted on 11/22/2014 at 12:00 AM by Jeffrey Bruner

Kindle Unlimited remains a work-in-progress, but it's already clear that it's changing the "tail" of book promotions.

That's because a reader can add a KU title to their Kindle or iPad, but not necessarily read it for a few days or a few weeks. And the author won't even know (or get payment credit) until the person has read at least 10 percent of the book. And they can read it even after you've pulled the title from Kindle Direct Publishing Select and published it at Nook and iBooks.

If this sounds confusing, let me use this example: "War and Peace" is promoted on Nov. 1. A Kindle Unlimited member adds the book on Nov. 1 but doesn't start reading it until Christmas. It's at that point the author gets a credit from KU and another three months before Amazon actually sends payment. 

So for many readers, the KU program lets them create a To Be Read pile right there on their Kindle or tablet.

KU has made what statistics I get from Amazon fairly worthless. They were already artificially low because the rules regarding free books. (I stopped using affiliate IDs on free books in order to not go over Amazon limits and lose my commission payments. That meant anyone who bought a book after downloading a free novel -- that sale is not reflected in my stats.) Kindle Unlimited readers aren't reflected either, so I may be seeing only half to two-thirds of your Kindle sales in the reports. 

What's the bottom line here? Don't draw conclusions on your promotions on the first, second or even third day. The KU tail is a long one.

More on KU
Kindle Unlimited is growing in popularity but has also pushed down average payments to authors. Chris McMullen has done an excellent job showing the trends on his blog.

The payment pool has gone from $2.8 million in July to $5.5 million in October, but look at average KU payments:

  • July: $1.81
  • August: $1.54
  • September: $1.52
  • October: $1.33

That's not an encouraging trend, especially considering that the old Kindle "lending library" program for Amazon Prime members paid more than $2 for several years.

Whether you should be part of KU depends on two big factors -- your pricing and whether you sell your ebooks at non-Amazon retailers. So experiment, experiment, experiment and see what works for you.

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