If you self-publish, or even if you don't, you've probably heard the moaning and wailing that Amazon's subscription service Kindle Unlimited is killing book sales. Readers pay $9.99 a month and can "borrow" up to 10 books at a time. Books are only eligible for KU if they are Amazon-exclusive through the KDP program--indie published or through one of Amazon's own imprints. At the moment, that constitutes around one million titles.
Obviously, this program is directed at regular readers. It wouldn't make much sense to pay the fee unless you read at least two books every month. The more you read, the better the deal. And you have to be prepared for the fact that none of the traditionally published bestsellers will be available.
I have one book in the program, my romantic suspense Unwritten Rules. Because this book has been out for two years, it would be unfair--and undoubtedly inaccurate--to attribute slow sales to the introduction of Kindle Unlimited. The program has, however, injected a new element of fun into the experience of being an indie author. I can now connect with my readers in a direct, real-time way.
I've never been much of a techie, but with Kindle Unlimited I've gleefully surrendered to the seduction of real-time data. In July, Amazon started calculating KU borrows in a different way. They assign a number of pages to each book based on adjusted length--the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages. Unwritten Rules has 501 KENP. The sales dashboard shows the number of KENP read each day, so I can see if someone is actually reading my book, right then and there, and it adjusts periodically during the day. I feel like I'm reading along with them!
For example, today, someone(s) has read 145 pages. That may change by tonight. Yesterday, the total was 351 pages. I can see when a reader begins the book, when they really get caught up in the story or have more time to read, and when they finish. If I had bigger numbers, this wouldn't be possible, but for now, it's a lot of fun. Last month, I had a 448-page day, then a couple of quiet days, then a 498-page day. This likely represented two readers who finished the book around the same time. I checked my book page on Amazon a couple of days later and found a new five star review. Now that's instant feedback!
For Labor Day weekend and in honor of Unwritten Rules' second book birthday, I'm running my first sale. The book will be priced at $.99 from now through Monday night. If you haven't read it, here's your chance to pick it up at a bargain price! And I'd be thrilled if you'd help me spread the word. I don't expect this sale to have any effect on my KU numbers, but I'm looking forward to watching them on Small Town Christmas Tales when it releases October first.