This is going to be a very LitRPG focused debate, though if you write in progression fantasy or just have a genre that is particularly heavy in KU; this might be helpful.

There’s an on-going debate whether you should stick to KU or go wide. Now, here’s some facts, especially in LitRPG and prog fantasy.

  • 90% of the market is on Amazon.
  • 2/3 of your sales (perhaps more for some authors, up to 80% of revenue I’ve heard) come from Kindle Unlimited.  That’s roughly 3/4 to 4/5 of your UNIT sales being in KU.
  • Previous experiments and talking to other readers indicate that only a 1/3 of your KU readers will buy your books if you take them out KU.

So, keeping that in mind, here’s some other things to add complexity to your equation:

For Kindle Unlimited

  • We’re in a recession and a period of significant inflation. KU is a fixed cost entry for reading as many books as they want, which grows even more attractive during a period like this.
  • again, 90% of the market is on Amazon. Anything you can do to convert more readers (and KU readers are very much KU / Amazon locked readers from what I’ve seen) can be a big boost
  • obviously, the increase in rank from KU readers is very significant on release. If you’re marginally able to get a bestseller list, a KU boost can and will be massive.
  • Free / Promo sales days are very easy to set-up and can drive significant revenue onwards in a series.
  • KU is heavily marketed, and new countries can and will be opened regularly.
  • with all the returns going on for ebooks, a KU page read is a page read. You get paid no matter what.
  • Amazon Marketing Systems (AMS) advertising is much easier to track (and thus, hit +ve ROI) when you are in KU.
  • lastly, don’t forget that even partial reads get you paid. Whereas someone buying a book, reading a little and returning it (or looking at that 10% sample if they don’t have KU) is worth $0 to you if you do not have KU.

For Wide

  • ranks in categories beyond the first bestseller yellow tag (or new release yellow tag) is unlikely to provide significant additional sales
  • revenue for shorter works can be significantly higher for a sale (dependent upon pricing!)
  • if your market / writing is better received in other countries, KENP payouts are significantly lower in many countries compared to the US. 
  • the 10% market of LitRPG / Prog Fantasy in outside retailers is currently not very competitive. As such, wide sales are often more stable and frequent. For smaller authors, this could mean a significantly higher % of income comparatively. 
  • access to lucrative library sales (including additional income from Public Lending Rights and other programs) and other retailers in other countries not available via KU.
  • KU readers are able to access (and purchase) Whyspersync books at the Whyspersync discount. As such, you lose out on the ‘purchase’ price of the book, which reduces income easily by $2-3 per book. 
  • wide sales work much better for shorter works (<70k words), compared to the need for long works to make the most of KU. Readers are more used to this.
  • lastly, in many other markets; prices can be higher as non-Amazon readers are more used to higher pricing.
  • less concern about rank (as you aren’t likely to hit high ranks without KU). As such, other methods of maximising revenue become more important like pre-orders (which depress launch rank in Amazon). 
  • by being wide, significant problems in Amazon infrastructure (like, for example rank’s and reviews not updating as per this (6/29) current week is less of an issue. 

As usual, authors have to make up their own mind. Just some thoughts.

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