Five Facts About Kindle Unlimited and How to Make This Program Work for You

by | Nov 20, 2014 | Book Marketing Basics

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We’ve heard a lot about Amazon’s big new subscription service, which is, essentially, a way to read books (limited to ones enrolled in this program) for one monthly fee. You’re limited to ten books at a time, so if you want more you’ll have to return a book or two and then the system will continue to let you add to your library.

POSTED 5 KU Facts - blog_post 11172014 People have asked me about results in this program and so far I have to say that when it comes to non-fiction, I’m not terribly impressed. At least my non-fiction books aren’t doing great. That, however, makes a lot of sense. Why? Because Kindle Unlimited (being a subscription service) speaks much more to the fiction reader, in particular the genre fiction reader, than it does to anyone else. Now this doesn’t mean that your book won’t do well there if you’ve written non-fiction, but the program really bodes well for the fiction crowd.

With that in mind. I started to do some experimenting with the system and here is what I found.

Fact #1: Kindle Unlimited (KU) really appeals to the avid reader. This means that if your book is genre fiction, you’ll do really well here. I’ve found that the hyper-fast readers often fall into this category and can really save money with this subscription service. Consequently, some of the highest sales are coming from these readers.

Fact #2: In order to be a part of the Kindle Unlimited community, you have to have your book enrolled in the KDP select program. That said, I wouldn’t recommend having all of your books in there all at once. In fact, I recommend rotating them in and out of KPD select. If you have a series, this becomes even more crucial because with KU, if all of your books in that particular series are in the Select program, they will all be migrated to the subscription shelves. Granted, this can work in your favor, but I would suggest keeping just the first in the series in KDP Select with a link, letter or some blurb in the back of the book that will take readers to the next book in the series, and then the next, and so on. Depending on how many books you have in a series, you could conceivably rotate two or three in and out of the program. You’ll want to experiment with this because not all genres (even in genre fiction) respond the same.

Fact #3: Shorter books rock. I’ve said before that short is the new long, but that applies even more with your avid reader group. They love the quick read, they read a lot, and shorter book-length books tend to do much better on Kindle Unlimited. Also, one of the terms of KU is that you don’t get paid until the reader reads 10% of your book. For this reason alone it makes a ton of sense to do shorter fiction books. Keep in mind that there are people out there trying to trick the system by stuffing books with needless content. Amazon is onto this and their systems measure actual content, not dozens of pages just stuffed in there to fill the book and get to the 10% mark. Content triggers in the Amazon system will queue up your file to start the count at chapter one. Also, these kinds of tactics can get your book(s) yanked from the Amazon system. POSTED 5 KU Facts - blog_pin 11172014

Fact #4: This was a bit of a surprise to me, but when I tested this across a few titles, I found this to be absolutely true: Themes matter. What are themes? Well they are the new keywords Amazon uses to define and categorize your book. I did a video on this here you can see: I found that though some people are using these, not everyone is, and this surprises me. I know it’s hard to give up one or two of the keywords that you upload to the Amazon system, but trust me, it matters. In a test we did recently, I removed all of the theme keywords from the back of a fiction book. The book plummeted down the KU list, going from 84 sales a week to 1. When I added back the theme words into the keyword area, the book bounced back up again and has returned to its almost normal status.  I don’t know why themes matter more for the KU books, but I’m going to continue to look into this and will update this post as soon as I find more answers.

Fact #5: Additional content: We have an author who just finished her book and the editor pulled several sections from the book (as editors often do). I’ve encouraged her to create a “Director’s Cut” of the book with the additional pieces either in a separate edition, or as separate books on Amazon. Having this additional content to drive a reader’s interest to your book can be really helpful. Not just for the KU program, but across the board. If a reader likes your writing, they will likely read everything you’ve written. Bonus content, Director’s cut content, or whatever you want to call it can really help to pull in new readers.

So that’s what I’ve discovered about the Kindle Unlimited program thus far, I’ll keep updating this post or putting up more information as I find out new stuff. We’re always testing and looking for reader input so feel free to share your ideas and findings!

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  1. Jane Ann McLachlan

    An interesting article, especially the point about themes. I’ll have to look into that. Thanks. I find it very difficult to write shorter book, much as I’d like to, though.

    • Penny

      You’re right, it’s very hard. What I find helpful is a good editor. Send them your longer book have have them suggest where to cut it. It seriously helps having an impartial set of eyes on it!

  2. Mili

    Thank you for this post. 🙂 As far as keeping your book short, I have decided to publish mine as a series in episode format. Each part will be about 50 pages or so. The initial cost is low per “episode”, and the readers do not have to wait for me to finish the whole book, but can consume it one part at a time. Time will tell if this approach will work. 🙂

    • Penny

      Love it, such a great idea!

  3. Hazel Longuet

    Great article Penny – thank you. I was wondering about the impact of Kindle Unlimited and now I know.

    The themes information was new to me so really useful and I love the idea of the Directors cut. I’ve forward article to all my writing buddies – great stuff.

    • Penny

      Thank you so much, I’m so glad you liked it! I so appreciate the share!

  4. ouizee

    Ok I know I’m being thick headed but it says kindle unlimited but you can’t download but ten books. I take it it’s ten books, period, unless you return some. So how do they manage to claim it as being unlimited? Or is it ten books a day, week, month or year

    • Penny Sansevieri

      It’s a 10 book limit at any given time, so once you return some, you can download more. I’m not sure why Amazon doesn’t expand on this, but if you’ve got some suggestions as to how to make the program more accessible, I definitely encourage you to reach out to them!


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