We are often asked how an author can increase their page reads, and there is plenty of (unscrupulous) advice out there about how to artificially inflate your numbers.
Don’t do that.
You’ll anger your readers, trash your reputation, and end up kicked off the platform.
There’s a right way (and a very wrong way) to increase your page reads. We’ve been publishing our own books with Kindle Unlimited for close to 5 years — while there isn’t a magic formula, with a little effort and these tips you can see your page reads soar.
The Basics… How Do Page Reads Work?
When you enroll your book in KDP Select, you are making your book available to read to millions of subscribers of Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited subscribers pay a flat fee per month (or purchase a 1 or 2 year plan) and can read as many books as they like for no additional cost. As a self published author, whenever your book is read by a subscriber, you are paid for each page that is read — currently that payment is equal to around 0.45 (ish) cents.
What does that mean for you? Well, if you have a 500 page book and a Kindle Unlimited subscriber reads the whole book, you’ll be paid around $2.25. These reads can add up quickly to provide you with a substantial income. Authors with page reads in the millions per month are fairly common, and many authors report earning more for page reads than they do for books sold.
So how do you get those millions of page reads? Let’s first take a look at what NOT to do.
The Wrong Way to Get Page Reads
Do not try to cheat the system!
I have seen authors trying to force the size of their fonts so that their books flow over more pages. While this sounds like it would ‘work’, it is hugely frowned upon by Amazon, and understandably so. Attempting to force a font of a text that is uploaded to KDP leads to a poor reader experience — one of the worst sins that an author can commit. Amazon can (and has) close an account if they find you’ve been doing this!
Do not ‘stuff’ your book!
You may think that padding your book with a bunch of acknowledgements, dedications, epigraphs and introductions would cause your readers to have to flip through more pages, adding to your income, right?
For a number of reasons.
When your book is uploaded to Amazon, they will set the ‘starting point’ of your book. This will often be at the start of Chapter One, so any pages that are added before this will not be counted in the overall page read count. Also, you should consider your reader. A subscriber to Kindle Unlimited picked this book up for free — they didn’t invest anything into the book yet. Having to scroll through a number of pages until they get to the meat of the book is likely to turn a substantial number of them off before they have even begun to give you any page reads! By all means, add a dedication and introduction, but do it for your own benefit — not as a means to get more page reads.
Do not try to force your reader to go directly to the end of the book!
Under no circumstances should you attempt to ‘trick’ your reader into turning to the end of the book! Any link at the beginning that flips them straight to the end, or any incentive that is a clear attempt to add to your page reads (for example, promising a free book if the reader goes straight to the end of the book) is strictly against Amazon’s terms and conditions and will see your account closed and any accrued earnings confiscated.
So what should you do?
The Right Way to Increase Page Reads
Edit! And then edit some more!
Remember, that a reader who has picked up your book through the Kindle Unlimited program hasn’t invested anything in your book. Any typos or grammatical errors — especially at the beginning, are more likely to turn them off and cause them to put the book down. Editing your book is critical! If you don’t have the money set aside to hire an editor, you can do it yourself — carefully!
Even better than doing it yourself is convincing a friend with an eagle eye into helping you out. We’re much more likely to miss errors in our own writing. If you’re doing this, make doubly sure that the beginning of your book is squeaky clean!
Ideally your whole book is error-free, but even the best editors miss things from time to time. But excessive errors in the beginning of a book are likely to turn someone off right away. A reader who is enjoying your book is more likely to forgive you for an error or two than a reader who is on the first page.
If you have more than one book in the same genre (or if you’ve written a series), consider bundling them together and offering them as a collection. This doesn’t mean just randomly stuff a bunch of books together! A bundle should provide added value to your reader and give them something they actually want. Above all, respect the person who is taking the time to read your book.
That said, if you’ve already written these books, and you feel like bundling some together would give your reader something they’d enjoy — you may as well capitalize on your hard work! Offering a collection of your work is a great way to increase sales (and, of course, your page reads). Think about how streaming video services work — you watch an episode and as soon as you’re done the next episode starts playing. It makes it easy for us to binge watch an entire season. If someone is enjoying your book, make it easy for them to “binge watch” your next book. Many authors (myself included) make the bulk of their page reads from collections. As a bonus, if you price them right, you’ll pick up more sales as well.
If you do have more than one book, don’t keep it a secret — advertise yourself! Include links at the end of your book to other works; if your reader enjoyed the book that they picked up then they are much more likely to read others that you’ve written. Make it easy for them and show them exactly where to get it. Include a sample chapter of that book to get them hooked and the page reads (and sales) will follow!
As always, we at Beehive Book Design are on hand to help you with any questions that you have about Kindle Unlimited, KDP, and any area of self-publishing that you’re having difficulties with. We’re authors too!