Participating in the Kindle Select Program

I’ve enjoyed participating in the Kindle Select Program. This is a fairly controversial topic for many authors, so I thought I’d discuss my experience with it.

I enrolled my first book, YA dystopian novel The Threat Below, in this program. It’s been a learning experience.

A little bit of background first – what is Kindle Select? There’s a program called Kindle Unlimited, which is a bit like Netflix for books. A member will pay a monthly fee, and then be able to read any book that’s in the Kindle Unlimited library. When an author participates in the program, like I do, they get paid based on the actual number of pages in their books that are read by members.

First off, the downside. If you’re a part of the Kindle Select Program, there are a number of restrictions that, frankly, suck. One, you can’t list your digital book anywhere else. Not Barnes and Noble, not Smashwords, not even your own website. Nowhere. It’s available on Amazon and no where else. I’m not a fan of that exclusivity.

Add to that the fact that you aren’t allowed to make your book free for more than 5 days in every 90 day period. Since it’s a pretty common strategy to make your books free to build up a readership base, this feels constricting.

Both of these are non-starters for many people, and truthfully, once my initial 90 day period is up, I may opt out too.

However, at the same time, let’s talk some positives.

First of all, for a data nerd, it’s fun to know how many pages that you wrote are literally being read per day. It’s one thing to know people have downloaded your book, but do they just download and stash and never read it? With Kindle Select, I know that an average of 2,000 pages are being read every day. Since I write to be read, this is a gratifying piece of information. People are interacting with my stories.

Now, there are some limitations to that information. I don’t know if those 2000 pages represent 2000 readers who read 1 page and threw it across the room in disgust or 4 people who finished the book in a day. (I do know it’s not just one person who read it four times, because the pages only count once per reader. So someone re-reading my book doesn’t count.) Since I know Amazon has that information, I do wonder why they won’t share it.

But overall, it’s exciting to see so many of the pages I’ve fussed over being read. And that’s why, for now, it’s worth it.

Finally, people might be wondering whether 2000 pages a day is equally much money. It changes every month based on the number of subscribers and the number of pages read in total in the program, but I get paid roughly 6/10ths of a penny for every page read. Or, if you’d like to see in that currency form, $0.006 per page. While 2,000 seems like a large number, when multiplied by such a small amount it only comes out to $12/day. Around $360 a month. That’s not nothing, but it’s also not going to pay the rent, unless I live in a utility closet in Arkansas or something.

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