Why I love Kindle Unlimited (As a Reader AND as an Author!)

Joining Kindle Unlimited is the best life-hack a reader could ever want. Yes, I genuinely love this program. While I think as authors, we all have gripes about the exclusive-to-Kindle requirement to keep our books in KU, the positives outweigh the negatives.

Since I know a lot of readers are on the fence about Kindle Unlimited, I thought I’d lay out my favorite things about it in one post.

Note: This post contains affiliate links for Kindle Unlimited, but it is not sponsored content. I just genuinely like KU, and not everyone’s library supports digital reading, which makes this a cost-effective alternative.

Positive 1: Kindle Unlimited makes reading more affordable for more people.

Books are expensive, and for voracious readers that can gobble up one, two, or even five+ books per week, there’s almost no way to keep up! Libraries help sate my constant need for new reads, but even my tech-forward library can’t keep up with new books in every genre I’m looking for. I couldn’t possibly afford my reading habit without my library and Kindle Unlimited working in tandem.

Positive 2: Kindle Unlimited helps me deal with my short smartphone attention spans.

Weirdly, it even helps me cut down on the time I spend scrolling social media. If I always have a book ready on my Kindle app, I can usually catch myself when I’m just “scrolling to feel something” and click out of Twitter or Facebook and onto a book instead! What if I can’t focus on a thick contemporary fiction novel and need something lighter? No problem, I can quickly download a rom-com or a marketing manual to get my brain ticking properly again.

Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Unsplash

Positive 3: Kindle Unlimited works for my writing style.

Yep, as an author, Kindle Unlimited works for me. Does keeping my books in Kindle Unlimited affect the way I write? Yes, but probably only in ways that readers appreciate. Two things that work great for Kindle Unlimited page reads: long series, and books that are at least 85,000 words. That’s about 350 pages, in paperback terminology.

So if you like a nice, thick book with lots of substance, and if you like long sagas with plenty of updates on the characters you love, KU’s pages-read royalty program actually encourages authors to work in those formats.

Fortunately for me, that’s how I’ve always written. Not that I haven’t considered writing shorter books to get them done more quickly! But when I did the math, continuing to write long, detail-packed novels is a better business proposition for Kindle Unlimited books. Going short to save time doesn’t make sense. And frankly, I’m relieved, because I didn’t want to try brevity for the first time in my life!

Positive (for me): Ebook prices are going up.

Have you noticed the trend in ebook pricing? Authors are starting to ask for what they deserve for all of that hard work. Not too many years ago, the top-priced self-pub ebooks were going for $2.99. Now, many authors with big backlists are hitting $5.99 or more, and they’re still seeing great sales numbers.

This is important because we share our royalties with the ebook store, and we also bear significant marketing costs to get our books in front of readers. Not to mention that most books take between two months and a year to complete, and have behind-the-scenes costs like cover design, editing, formatting, and large bags of fun-sized candy bars for when the words just aren’t coming.

Rising cover prices are a positive for me when someone buys my books, but they’re a negative for me when I want one of those higher-priced books! In fact, the rise of the $5.99 ebook is why I joined Kindle Unlimited. Buying two books would cover my monthly cost and then some. Easy decision.

Negative: Kindle Unlimited ebooks are exclusive to Amazon.

Obviously this is a negative, because I’d like my ebooks to be available on every platform. But I have hope that ebook subscriptions will open up in the future. After all, music and podcast subscriptions don’t have this exclusivity issue. And while no one wants to give Amazon too much credit these days, I have been self-publishing for ten years, and Amazon is the platform which gave me that ability. They still have the most accessible ebook store that works for both readers and authors. I have to give them credit for that. Would I have my career if Amazon hadn’t normalized self-publishing? Doubtful.

So, anyway! Kindle Unlimited is running some great promos for both new and continuing subscribers right now! You can get two months free if you’re just signing up, or you can extend your membership by six, twelve, or twenty-four months and save as much as 40%.

It’s too good a promotion to miss, and since 95% of my books are available on Kindle Unlimited, it’s the perfect way to read everything by Natalie Keller Reinert… and a load of other equestrian authors!

And if you’re having trouble finding authors who write about equine themes, take a look at some of my favorite Amazon bestseller lists. The category titles can be a little deceptive because there is no General Fiction: Equestrian category, but we do our best to group our books together!

Once you start digging around in these lists, bingo–you’ll find tons of equestrian fiction, and most of these authors list on Kindle Unlimited, too.

And of course you can read my latest novel, Runaway Alex, on Kindle Unlimited! So don’t forget to sign up while the promos are good, and then read, read, read!

The Return of Coffee

Well, I never really stopped drinking coffee.

But for the longest time, I wasn’t making it.

I love cold brew. When I lived in Brooklyn, I became an ardent supporter of “iced coffee season.” Basically, on the first warmish day in April, you order an iced coffee, and then that’s it: it’s iced coffee season, even if the next two weeks are cold enough that a warm coffee would feel good on your hands. Iced coffee season is an absolute once you’ve made your commitment.

(I have a theory about coffee and New York City, by the way, which is that the city’s tumult and close quarters are simply easier to take with something in your hands to occupy you. I think having a cup of coffee in your hands is similar to having a cigarette: it’s something to fiddle with, something to do that isn’t meeting people’s eyes or accepting that you are a tiny ant in a vast swarm, something to stop you from having a constant series of existential crises.)

Anyway, it’s hard to imagine a season in Florida which isn’t iced coffee season; plus cold brew is easier on your insides (did you know that? it’s less acidic) and I have always had a tendency towards ulcers and nervous tum. The downside is that it is generally higher in caffeine. I have to drink less of it, or my hands shake. A few years ago I started buying Chameleon Cold Brew’s concentrate and having one every day, usually in the afternoon to keep the after-lunch snoozes away. When I started working late nights at Disney Springs, I’d have a cold brew around five or six PM to keep me going until two AM.

Now I’m home all day, working on my computer, and one day I remembered a pleasure from my old days before I took up iced coffee: the all-day pot of coffee. Back when I had the farm, was writing Retired Racehorse Blog every day, working on The Head and Not The Heart, raising a toddler, and also working at Disney a couple nights per week, I worked my way through a pot of coffee from morning until late. I decided a constant cup of coffee at hand was exactly what my lockdown days needed!

black coffee with dog in background

I like my coffee black.

Of course, in those days I was happy with whatever the seasonal roast from Starbucks was. Now I decided it would be fun to get more adventurous. I wanted to try small roasters. It would be great to support small businesses during this economic downturn, for one thing, and for another when it comes to hot coffee I have developed a much more demanding and pretentious palate. (My husband and I used to go around Brooklyn tasting small-batch roasts like other people taste wines. I’m not ashamed.)

I did a lot of research and ended up with a coffee subscription from Trade. There are a lot of coffee subscriptions; Trade was the one that worked out for me. They pull from small roasters all around the country, they match up your flavor profiles and tell you ahead of time what’s coming, and they give you the option to change it out ahead of time if you’re particularly into a certain roast of coffee. Also they don’t charge for shipping. And I have to tell you, when you’re ordering two bags a month, shipping can add up.

The first bag that came was the fabulously named “Darkness” from Gimme Coffee, based in Ithaca, NY. I know there are a couple of Gimme Coffee cafes in NYC but I’ve never been to them, so this was a totally new blend for me. Trade sent me an email when it was roasting and then a few days later my coffee arrived. I ground up some beans and HELLO! Absolutely fantastic. Dark chocolate with a little cherry to finish. Marry me, Darkness.

gimme coffee

Darkness by Gimme Coffee. Yum, y’all.

I have something new coming next week, but I know that Darkness will feature in my coffeemaker again really soon. Another reason to like Trade: some subscriptions are always surprises or curator’s choice, but they let you sub in whatever you want.

Having an all-day pot of coffee has been great and I’m so happy to have gone back to it. I don’t tend to finish it in an afternoon, but that just means there’s some cold coffee leftover for the morning! Since I’m a born napper, it’s helping me work through the whole day so that I can actually fall asleep before midnight and get up early enough to go run… basically, rewiring my night owl rhythm to fit in with Florida weather and the realities of lockdown sidewalk traffic.

Well, this was supposed to be a microblog but it’s a solid 800 words. I guess that’s what happens when I write about coffee!