As I’m pretty sure everyone reading this knows, Faolan’s Pen Publishing Inc. started as me self-publishing, and our catalog is fully enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.
There has been a growing amount of media coverage lately of the current issues with scammy books moving into Kindle Unlimited. (Sample article at The Observer).
There are two components to this mess that haven’t really made it into the general kerfuffle:
1) The situation has dramatically improved from the perspective of the authors drawing from the pot and degraded from the perspective of the reader. Why? Prior to February, there was a) no cap on pages and b) no enforcement of the rules against linking to the back of the book. So what we had was 20,000 to 50,000 or even more page books with a link at the front. Luring even a few readers into this made a lot of money.
With the 3,000 page cap and Amazon now using an algorithm to pick up the links to the back, the impact on the pot has been visibly reduced. (The payment per page read in January was .41 cents. In February and March it was .48 cents)
The cost has been that the scammers have moved on to putting out dozens of 3,000 page books where before they’d do one utterly immense one. This has overwhelmed the new release lists in several genres.
Amazon appears to be moving on these, but with their usual ‘clumsy giant with a flamethrower’ grace.
2) These scammers don’t need to snare legitimate readers anymore. As David Gaughran and Phoenix Sullivan cover in their excellent summary of the issue here the hardcore scammers have moved on to utilizing clickfarms and co-operatives and have effectively created a closed ecosystem.
That doesn’t mean the books don’t show up in searches and genre lists – they are burying legitimate books in multiple genres – but that they don’t NEED to fool legitimate readers anymore.
I find the fixed pot payment scheme problematic from my side, but I can see how it controls risks for Amazon and seems to be one of the few ways to run a subscription service without going bankrupt.
All of that said… FPPI’s catalog will remain enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. We ARE seeing improvement, and even at the worst in January we were still doing better in Kindle Unlimited than we ever did outside of Amazon.
My biggest concern here is this: with these issues, Kindle Unlimited remains one of the best options for an independent author or micro-press out there (and I love it as a reader). If we’d managed to keep the scammers out of the pool, think how much better it could have been!