I haven't been shy about voicing the fact that - when it comes to self-publishing - I'm not a fan of exclusivity. I think that, in order to reach the largest audience possible, authors generally need to publish on as many platforms as they can. Thus, I detest the fact that Amazon requires authors to unpublish their work from all other venues (at least the ebook versions) in order to participate in certain programs, like Kindle Unlimited (KU). I think it's a completely unnecessary requirement.
For the uninitiated, KU is Amazon's subscription service for books. For $9.99 per month, readers can enjoy access to millions of titles. For authors, having your books in KU means they can't be available for sale, in ebook form, anywhere else. (At least this is the case for most authors; apparently, a select few - top sellers, to be precise - are exempt from this exclusivity mandate.)
During the first iteration of KU, authors were paid whenever their books were borrowed and at least 10% of the book was read. I believe the monthly payout generally fluctuated between about $1.30 - $1.50 per book. Moreover, you got the same amount per borrow, regardless of whether your title was a 10-page erotic romance or a 600-page fantasy epic. Finally, titles in KU are given credit (in terms of ranking) for borrows. As a result, titles outside of KU have greater difficulty achieving rank in the Kindle store.
The latest version of KU (affectionately referred to here as KU 2.0) went into effect in July 2015 and is a bit fairer in my opinion, as authors are now paid by pages read. By way of example, if a KU subscriber reads the aforementioned 600-page fantasy title in its entirety, that author will make a lot more than the writer whose 10-page erotic romance was also read. That to me is a more equitable system.
Against my better judgment, I went ahead and went all in with Kindle Unlimited around the end of July, putting my scifi and fantasy novels into the program. I had various reasons for doing so (despite my dislike of exclusivity), but one of them was the simple fact that it's become incredibly difficult - at least for me - to maintain the level of visibility that I'd like for my work outside KU. Amazon's algorithms just aren't having it. (And, frankly speaking, I'm sure that surprises no one.) However, what I did find surprising were the results.
I spent about 5 days in KU 2.0 at the end of July. During that time, I amassed almost 138,000 page reads. It certainly sounds like a lot, but what does that amount to in cold, hard cash? According to Amazon, July page reads are worth $.005779 per page. So, for those 5 days in July, I earned about $797.00. Not bad - especially when you consider that was just from KU; it doesn't take any sales into account.
Over my first 10 days in the program, page reads totaled approximately 292,000. At the July payout rate, this would amount to earnings of roughly $1,687.00. Again, this is pretty decent scratch.
All things considered, KU 2.0 definitely shows promise - although the exclusivity requirement is still galling. However, if you can swallow that without choking, there is some definite upside to being in the program. Personally, I can't say that I'm in it for the long haul at this point, but I can certainly stick it out for a trial run.