Back in October 2021 when The Buddha’s Bone was released, I had not included it in Kindle Unlimited as I had ‘gone wide’ with the eBook, publishing on Kobo, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, etc. It was easy to track sales of all three editions: eBook, Paperback and Hardcover versions as the sales showed on my dashboard as 1 sale per 1 customer.
When The Blue Man was released, I decided to include it in Kindle Unlimited to reach more readers who, like myself, have a subscription. If you’re unfamiliar with KU, it feels like an online library service: you can download up to nine books at a time which the author gets paid for according to the number of page reads. As a reader I always feel good knowing that I’m trying new authors that I wouldn’t know about otherwise, and the writers are still getting paid for their work. Win-win.
As an author, the service is also great: I’ve had enough page reads for The Blue Man to convince me to include other books from my back catalogue in Kindle Unlimited and reach new readers for those too. I’ve also listed my latest book, The Fairy Lights in KU too. However, tracking the number of customers has been harder.
How so? For a start, page reads do not equate simply to customers. For example, the eBook of The Blue Man is 286 pages. In three months, I’ve had around 9000 or so page reads. If we break that down by simple division, that would work out at 31 readers, supposing all 31 finished it in its entirety. The reality is much more muddled: some readers may have tried it, decided it wasn’t for them, and returned it. Such is the beauty of KU, but it makes for a tracking condundrum for writers. Just how do we equate page reads to customers?
I admit, I’ve been guessing on this one. To make life easier for myself when guesstimating customer numbers, I’ve simply been adding page reads up each day and starting a new customer tally each time 286 pages is reached. Pretty simplistic, I know, but otherwise it’s too complicated to work out.
All in all, KU is a great service for both authors and readers, and whether customers are fully or partially reading a writer’s work, it’s helping to connect readers with new authors, so you can’t go wrong with that. Of course, there’s also one final thing: it’s a lovely moment when you see someone binge-reading your book in pretty much real time. When the page-reads counter on your dashboard updates on the refresh and you can see the page count jump in real time, it’s really a great feeling.