Today, more writers than ever are writing and publishing books. They have questions about their Kindle income. The most popular questions are about short stories — how do you make money writing them?
In Kindle Income: Make Money Writing Short Stories, we looked at three ways in which you can make money writing short stories.
In that article, I suggested:
Write short stories of 5K words or more, and publish them, enrolling them in KDP Select when you do, so that they appear for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Amazon changed Kindle Unlimited with version 2, so that now you get paid for pages read, rather than when someone reads 10% of your ebook. A couple of writers contacted me to say that a writer told them that you couldn’t make money with Kindle Unlimited 2.
I can’t comment on others’ experiences, but I can comment on my own, and my students’ experiences with KU2. I’m definitely making much more income with KU2 — my income for pages read is phenomenal. It’s much better than under KU1. It outstrips my sales. So, in short, if readers like your stories, you will make money with KU2.
Tip: everyone’s experience is different. You need to experiment, to see what works for you.
The Kindle Unlimited challenge: beware of sales’ cannibalization
It’s ten months since I published a version of this article, so let me tell you about a little disaster I had — it may help you. I decided to go “all in” with most of my Amazon fiction catalogue, under a specific pen name. Within a few months, my sales had dropped, and I wasn’t seeing any benefit in my “pages read” stats.
I concluded (as other authors had done) that my Kindle Unlimited free reads were cannibalizing sales. So I yanked most of my books out of Select. I published the books to other retailers. All-in to Select wasn’t working for me.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Ebook sales are volatile. Stuff works, until it doesn’t.” quote=”Ebook sales are volatile. Stuff works, until it doesn’t.” theme=”style1″]
I’m not suggesting that it won’t work for you. Your mileage will vary. However, do keep an eye on your stats, and if you have a limited catalogue, be wary of going all-in. Ebook sales are volatile. Stuff works, until it doesn’t. That’s the challenge of self-publishing, there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution to anything.
FWIW, my sales on the other retailers have since matched my sales on Amazon, so I was leaving money on the table.
Now let’s look at some useful tips for writing and selling Kindle short stories.
1. WRITE! Choose genres which sell
You can’t get paid for what you don’t write. As I mentioned above, experiment. No one knows what will work for you, and the stories you want to write. You’ll only find out when you publish.
Short stories sell brilliantly in romance, as well as in the mystery genre. Write stories of around 10,000 words each, so that you make money with KU2.
2. Gear up for Christmas: consider YA short stories
I’ve suggested to a couple of my students that the Young Adult genre is hot, and that they might try writing some stories for the holiday season. So I pass that tip along to you, too.
Christmas and holiday-themed stories are always popular. A friend is writing a collection of kids’ stories, based on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. She has no idea whether they’ll sell or not. She’s using her own children to test the stories. It’s a fun idea.
I’m completely unfamiliar with children’s fiction, but if you’re familiar, you know what’s selling in that market — so write some stories.
3. Publish individual short stories: use your “free” days for promotion
Now let’s talk about publishing your short stories — I recommend that you enroll your shorts in KDP Select. When you do this, your stories are always free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. You can also promote your stories to Amazon’s buyers who aren’t Kindle Unlimited subscribers on your “free” days.
- Publish your themed stories individually. Aim to write between 5K and 10K words.
- Ensure that your ebook covers make it obvious that you’re writing a series.
- Don’t spend too much money on covers. Keep your ebook covers for stories SIMPLE. Use Canva or similar to create free covers.
- In KDP Select, you get 5 days in every three month period when your can make your ebook free, for promotion. Don’t use all your free days at once. Spread them out, and promote an ebook when it’s free.
4. Bundle your stories when sales slow
Six months after you’ve written a series of short stories, your sales will slow. Bundle up five or so stories, and sell them as a collection.
Have fun. 🙂
When you write in series, you're giving yourself more chances to sell with every novel you write.More info →
Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that's excellent… Here's why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction.More info →
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Article update: March 9, 2019