Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Kindle Unlimited is Why I Signed a Trad Deal

I’ve had a few questions regarding why I signed with a traditional publisher a couple of months ago.  The biggest was why not stay indie? Believe me, I had a lot of folks telling me not to sign this deal, most of them professional writers for more years than I’ve been alive, all of whom had lousy experiences on the midlist.  But (a) my self-published work hasn’t set the world on fire (though it did get me the deal) and (b) Kindle Unlimited is proving to be more of a nemesis than friend.

I get a lot of KU reads with my new Stiletto series. Thousands of pages a month. It’s doing great, and that’s cool. I don’t mind. It’s neat to see almost real-time page-read data. But we’re only getting, what, half-a-cent per page read?  Sometimes less?  If subscription ebook services are the future, and the payouts less than what Dashiell Hammett made per word back in the Depression, how are we supposed to make a decent living?

It seems to me that Amazon is making the return on the indie writer’s investment less and less over time.  I can’t be the only one who has noticed a lot of top-selling indies are now struggling with rankings falling into the dungeon, with authors privately saying they’re really having a hard time.  It’s too many to be isolated.  There’s talk of Amazon tweaking the algorithms to focus on trad and their own imprints, and that makes sense--more money there for them, perhaps.  All I know is that it’s tough to make a living as an indie right now, or to get a reasonable return on our investment of time and effort (assuming, of course, we have written something worth reading, and not simply contributed to the tsunami of crap).

If this is the way it’s going to be, one must look for other options.  Unless I’m totally wrong, and please jump in if you think otherwise, half-a-cent per page read sucks.  You have to write a lot of pages to get anything out of that machine.  Compared to that, the trad deal I signed, while far from the “Amazon 70%”, is a great deal, and a far better option.  You can talk about 70% all you want, but who else is getting that besides the top 1% of indies?

I suppose I could go wide, but something is better than nothing, and half-a-center per page is better than no sales at all, but Amazon is ripping me off. So I found a different option.  Self-publishing is great.  I’m certainly not going to stop making use of the resources available.  The reason I’ve gone “hybrid” is because I want a chance to make as much from my writing as possible.  That isn’t an easy task when Amazon keeps changing the seating chart.


  1. I think I'm in agreement with you - sales of my Granny Smith books have fallen but it's being borrowed left right and centre

  2. At least somebody is reading them, right?

    I've come to the conclusion that if I want to make KU work best for me, I need to write longer books and do box-sets. If it's going to be this way, we might as well take advantage of it however we can.