Are you looking to publish your book or ebook on Amazon KDP? If yes, then you should check out Amazon’s KDP Select program. It lets you reach millions of readers, earn higher royalties, and unlock some special marketing tools with just a few clicks. So is it the right choice for you?
What is Amazon KDP Select?
To entice authors to enroll, Amazon KDP Select makes an ebook available in a subscription-based library system called Kindle Unlimited. Moreover, it unlocks various promotion features and the possibility of earning higher royalties.
In return, KDP Select requires exclusivity from authors, who are not allowed to sell any enrolled ebooks on any other marketplaces such as Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and even their own website. So, any ebook sold through the program must be solely sold through Amazon’s platform. This restriction does not affect print and audio versions of the book.
Each book is enrolled for a rolling period of 90 days. Authors can choose at any time to withdraw their book from the KDP Select program. The withdrawal will take place at the end of their current 90-day period.
The main marketing advantages of KDP Select are the book’s eligibility for the Free Days and Countdown Deals programs and its inclusion in Kindle Unlimited.
What is Amazon Kindle Unlimited (KU)?
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) has often been characterized as Netflix for books, and with good reason.
Readers who choose KU pay a flat fee per month and may download any book enrolled in the platform. Only ebooks that are part of the KDP Select program are available on KU. As an author, you can’t join the KDP Select program without enrolling in KU as well: your book will automatically be part of KU’s library of books.
Readers can download up to 20 KU ebooks at any given time on their devices. Once they finish a book, they may renew their selection or return it to download another one. Authors of popular literary genres such as romance, science fiction, and fantasy may benefit particularly much from their participation in the program.
Pros of Enrolling in KDP Select
Authors and writers are often perplexed as to whether they should enroll with KDP Select. Joining KDP Select means that for 90 days your ebook can only be sold through the Kindle store. In exchange, you get access to several appealing features designed to make the whole program worthwhile to you.
For example, enrolling your ebook in KDP Select automatically makes it available in the Kindle Unlimited library. This allows you to reach an additional audience with more than 3 million active subscribers besides ordinary Amazon visitors.
Page Read Royalty Model
Authors earn royalties through KDP Select based on a per-page-read system. For this purpose, Amazon is setting up a monthly KDP Select Global Fund powered by Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. For example, in August 2022, this fund reached $45.1 million.
Amazon breaks this collected amount down to a specific royalty rate for each book page read. This determined royalty rate ranges from $0.004 – $0.005. Royalty rates for the first 9 months of 2022 follows:
|Month||KENP Rate (US)|
Since authors are paid based on the number of book pages read, Amazon had to come up with a way to accurately measure this. At first, Amazon simply noted how far into a book a reader had gone. To stop potential cheaters who would send readers straight to a book’s last page, the company nowadays actively measures which pages readers have actually read.
Another problem is measuring the number of digital pages since readers can enlarge or shrink the fonts on their devices.
To solve such problems, Amazon developed the concept of Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP). KENP estimates the number of so-called normalized pages read—a number of pages that roughly corresponds to average settings.
Authors whose books are offered through KU are paid based on the KENP rate. When a reader reads a page of your book through KU, you get paid an average of $0.0045 per page. The more pages readers read, the more money you make. So, for 1,000 pages read, you get $4 to $5 in royalties.
The best way to determine your potential royalties is our free KENP Read Royalty Calculator. Since it keeps track of the current KENP rate, it will give you an accurate estimate.
Kindle Free Promotions
Giving your book away for free for a few days is a helpful way to grow your audience. When you sell your ebooks through Amazon, however, you can’t normally price them lower than $0.99.
Through KU, you can make your book available for free for up to 5 days per 90-day cycle. You can choose to have all 5 days consecutively or spread them throughout the 90 days that KDP Select runs.
This is particularly helpful if you have a series of books. Giving away the first book of the series for a few days introduces potential readers to your writing style, thus encouraging them to buy the next books from the series.
Kindle Countdown Deals
Through KDP Select, you can enroll your ebook into Kindle Countdown Deals. These deals last up to seven days. The principle of the Countdown Deal rests on the fear of missing out because of its ticking clock nature, which is a great way to encourage readers to get the deal or miss out.
Amazon promotes countdown deals in a special overview and displays the discount on the book’s page. The format is designed to highlight the discount: the regular price is struck out and the new price is displayed in red, along with the estimated savings as both a number and a percentage. You also get a notification that this is a Kindle Countdown Deal along with the remaining time.
Authors usually start with a large discount on day one and slowly increase the price of the ebook. Depending on the price of your book, you can set up to five tiers of price increases. For example, if your ebook is normally $4.99, you could set the countdown deal to start at 99¢, and then have the price go up by $1 every day for four days, until it returns to full price. You can also choose to only have one price tier jump. Once the countdown deal has ended, the price returns to what it was before the countdown.
The only caveat to the free promotions and the countdown deals is that they can’t run in the same 90-day term. So you need to decide which advertising option best fits your marketing strategy.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing offers authors two different ebook royalty options for specific prices ranges:
|Royalty Option||Minimum List Price||Maximum List Price|
So if you set your ebook price between $2.99 – $9.99 it is possible to choose the 70% royalty rate. But this option is unavailable for Amazon marketplaces in Japan, India, Brazil, and Mexico. For these territories, the royalty rate remains at 35% regardless of the price selected.
However, if authors enroll an ebook in KDP Select, they can earn 70% royalties on all Amazon marketplaces. This will allow you to double your royalties in a few selected territories without much effort.
Best Sellers Rank Advantage
The Best Sellers Rank (BSR) measures how well your book is performing compared to the competition, in the same category. Your ebook starts ranking once it has sold at least one item. The higher a book’s BSR, the more prominent its placement when a reader is searching for a book in its category.
While Amazon doesn’t give books enrolled into KDP Select any BSR boost, it does make them available to KU. Free downloads, borrowed books, etc. have a positive impact on BSR just like sales. This makes it more likely that readers will discover the book, thus creating a virtuous circle.
KDP Select All-Stars Bonus
Amazon rewards the most successful KDP Select authors monthly with the KDP All-Star Bonus. In this program, the top 100 authors get a bonus payment of $1,000 to $25,000. On top of that, a special All-Stars badge will be added to their author profile.
KENP is part of the All-Stars Bonus program, so the more pages your readers read, the more you improve your ranking in the Kindle Store and the more likely it is for your book to reach the elusive All-Stars Bonus.
Cons of Enrolling in KDP Select
While KDP Select has many advantages, some authors find that it comes with a few drawbacks as well.
If you join the KDP Select program, you can’t sell your ebook on platforms such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Apple Books. Amazon is responsible for some 70% of book sales. Even so, the exclusivity clause can be stifling, especially if your books sell in countries where Amazon competitors are prominent.
Furthermore, you cannot offer your ebook on your own website or showcase more than 10% of the content as a preview. Exclusivity has a direct impact on your ebook’s distribution. Since you can’t distribute your book through other networks, you risk missing out on new platforms or different ways to make yourself known.
It could be, for example, that your work is especially appealing to Apple users, so you are very popular on Apple Books but not so much on Amazon. With KDP Select, you have no way of reaching those people. Since they won’t find your book, you’d be missing out on sales opportunities.
Yes, the market share of other sellers is small—but this also means that you can rise to the top of their charts with far fewer sales than you’d need on Amazon. For some authors, being a big fish in a small pond may make more sense than being a small fish in a huge one.
Fewer Marketing Options
Aside from Countdown Deals and Free Promotions, KDP Select doesn’t allow for many other marketing options.
If you are selling on your author website, you can create a reader magnet, have bundle deals, or custom discounts. So you can experiment and decide on the options that increase your income and provide you with better visibility.
A website also offers access to some great marketing data. You can see, for example, which ads brought in the most visitors and led to the most sales. KDP Select severely limits your choices in that department, as Amazon offers a very limited set of analytics.
Some bestseller lists only pick books that are widely available. For example, KDP Select precludes your book from making the New York Times or the USA Today Bestseller Lists, as they only consider books that are available on many platforms. Bookbub is also believed to turn down more readily books on KDP Select, making it much harder to be accepted for a Featured Deal.
Royalties May Vary
While having an extra source of income is always desirable, many authors may achieve better earnings with normal book sales than with KENP Reads.
The royalties Amazon pays vary slightly from month to month. The KENP algorithm determines how much you get paid as an author when a reader reads your book through Kindle Unlimited. The exact amount depends on the number of Kindle Unlimited subscribers and the size of the KDP Select Global Fund.
The long-term average is a rate of $0.0045 per page read. The exact number varies depending on the number of authors on KU, the readers’ home country, exchange rates, and even reading habits.
KENP royalties can be an additional source of income, even though for most authors, the income from book sales is greater. There are many reasons for this. For example, some people might not read the book all the way through. Even when they do, a typical 300-page-long novel may generate $1.35 in KENP royalties. This is much less than the royalty the author would receive from a book sale if the book sells for $2.99.
Once a month of KU enrollment has finished, you get paid the payouts for KENP read.
The KDP Select program gets renewed automatically. If you only want to enroll your ebook for 90 days, you must make sure you unclick the auto-select button. Otherwise, your book will be automatically enrolled for another period in the program.
How to Enroll in KDP Select?
You don’t need to do anything to enroll in KDP Select when you first publish your book, as this happens automatically.
1. Open your KDP Bookshelf
If you wish to enroll an existing title, this is as easy as ticking a box. You start by opening your KDP Bookshelf on a browser. You will find all your published books there.
2. Click Promote and Advertise
Choose the book you wish to enroll in KDP Select and click on “Promote and Advertise.” This will take you to an overview of various marketing options for your book. At the top, your KDP Select details are mentioned, including your current status and the term end date.
3. Manage your KDP Select Enrollment
At the page’s very center lies a “Manage KDP Select Enrollment” button.
Once you press it, a popup window will appear with the current term dates and a tickbox that lets you choose between automatically renewing the book’s enrollment or canceling it.
Is KDP Select Worth It?
KDP Select opens up various unique marketing opportunities and offers extra income in the form of KENP royalties. So it’s worth it, right?
Well, not necessarily. No two authors are the same, so you need to examine various aspects of your publishing, writing, and marketing processes before you can decide if KDP Select is right for you.
Exclusive vs. Going Wide
The first and probably most crucial question to ask yourself is how you envision selling your ebooks. This is related to a deeper one: what is your primary driver for writing books?
Some authors wish to build a writing career, whereby they make a sustainable income out of their writing. Others view writing mostly as a hobby—not a primary source of income. These two are not exclusive. For example, someone may have a day job but wish to build an author brand because they are looking to change careers in the future.
In addition, some may be avid marketers while others may be marketing-shy. Which one are you? Such questions will determine how you wish to position yourself as an author and how you want to sell your books. KDP Select is a great way to acquire readers. You are looking into an immense pool of readers who are all flocking to KU.
On the other hand, some authors may be accomplished marketers or celebrities with an established audience. They may prefer to forego KDP Select for marketing freedom and more personalized choices when it comes to how they promote and sell their books.
Fiction vs. Nonfiction Genre
Typically, most of the successful Kindle Unlimited titles are within the fiction genre. Especially the categories fantasy, romance, mystery, and thriller dominate the best-seller rankings. You can take a look at Amazon’s Best Seller lists to see how often you can find your genre here. So if your book belongs to a popular category, you can probably benefit from KDP Select.
Non-fiction books have a more restricted audience, so non-fiction authors must reach out to their niche readers, sometimes away from KDP Select, and in a more personalized way. Limiting yourself to KDP Select could mean losing out on other sale sources.
Series vs. Standalone Book
Once a reader is hooked on your story, there’s a good chance they’ll want to read more and also borrow your other titles. If you offer an existing book series, you can increase your per-page reading royalties significantly. In addition, you can attract new readers to your entire book series by offering the first title for free promotion or a countdown deal.
You may also enroll only one book in your series into KDP Select and keep the others widely available through KDP and other book-selling platforms.
Another way to benefit from a series is to offer it as a bundle. A standalone title that consists of all of the books in a series is often thousands of gapes long. An author could thus benefit particularly much from enrolling it in KDP Select. If the story is compelling, they could earn more through KU than by selling their book for $2.99 or $3.99.
If you have a standalone novel, none of these marketing opportunities are available to you. Limiting your book to KDP Select could thus restrict your choices to market and sell your book through other channels.
Established vs. Newcomer Author
Established authors have already built a loyal audience. They have managed to create readers who wait for their next book, so they don’t need to make themselves known—they just need to announce and promote their new book. Since their readers are waiting for it, they will buy it from any platform that suits them best. For established authors, therefore, KDP Select may not be something that interests them.
Newcomers need visibility and a chance for readers to experience their writing. KDP Select exposes them to millions of readers. Through KU, the program offers readers suggestions based on their past reading history. This presents a huge opportunity for newcomer authors to build an audience for their books.
Primary Target Audience
Amazon is a particularly popular e-book marketplace in certain countries. If your target audience primarily consists of readers in the US or UK, KDP Select could be the right choice for you.
So you should also examine your primary target audience. Where are your readers and what is the best way to reach them?
For example, if your target audience likes to attend book presentations and book fairs, they would be hard to reach through KDP Select. Likewise, if your audience consists mainly of your social media followers and blog visitors, you may make the majority of your sales through your blog.
In such cases, enrolling in KDP Select may hinder your marketing efforts rather than aid them.
KDP Select is not for everyone. There are certain exemptions, including authors whose primary target audience is not on Amazon and authors with a widely established readership.
For anyone else, though, KDP Select’s pros typically outweigh its cons. When the largest bookstore in the world offers you additional marketing opportunities, it is something well worth considering.
In addition, the extra income from KENP can add up to significant amounts, with many authors discovering that KENP income equals or even surpasses that generated by sales. This alone is reason enough for authors to seriously consider KDP Select for their books.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is KDP Select free?
Yes, KDP Select is free. Authors who have already published their ebooks to Amazon can choose to enroll any of their titles into KDP Select at any time.
What's the difference between KDP and KDP Select?
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is Amazon’s self-publishing platform that helps authors sell their ebooks. Authors using it may use Amazon as well as sell their books through other marketplaces such as Apple Books. Authors enrolled in KDP may also sell ebooks for other devices such as Kobo, Nook, etc.
On the other hand, KDP Select is a program with additional marketing options. In exchange, it requires exclusivity from authors. So you can’t sell your books through any other marketplace for the 90 days that the program runs. KDP Select can be renewed or canceled every 90 days.
What's the difference between Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading?
Amazon Prime members enjoy the benefits of Prime Reading, a program that lets readers borrow books from the Prime Reading catalog. This is a rotating catalog with 1,000+ of the most popular Kindle titles. Prime readers may download up to 10 books onto their devices.
Kindle Unlimited, on the other hand, offers millions of books. Only one of these is available to Amazon Prime members per month. Readers may download up to 20 titles onto their devices rather than 10.
The average payout for authors on KDP Select selling their books through KU is $0.0045 per page read. The payout is not always the same but hasn’t fluctuated much between 2020 and 2022 either. A typical 300-page-long novel that sells for $2.99 may generate $2 in profit or $1.35 in KENP royalties when a reader reads it to the end.
Is KDP Select the same as Kindle Unlimited?
You can think of KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited as two sides of the same coin: the former is the authors’ side and the latter the readers’. Specifically:
- KDP Select asks authors to sell their ebooks exclusively through Amazon and in return provides enhanced marketing options.
- Kindle Unlimited (KU) is a subscription program whereby readers pay a monthly fee, currently $9.99, to download any book they want. The author gets paid according to the number of pages read.
For your book to be eligible for KU you must first enroll it in KDP Select. By doing so, you have two sources of income from your book. You can sell it for a specific price, e.g. $2.99, or earn extra royalties because your book is automatically available through KU and you get paid for the pages readers read. For example, a reader reading a typical 300-page-long novel may generate $1.35 in KENP royalties. This may be in addition to the $2 royalty generated by a regular book sale.
How long is the enrollment period for KDP Select?
The enrollment period for KDP Select is 90 days. You may choose to automatically renew it or cancel it at the end of the running term by clicking a simple tickbox when you enroll with KDP Select.
How to cancel KDP Select
Canceling KDP Select is as easy as clicking a tickbox. To find it, open your KDP Bookshelf on a browser and choose the book you wish to cancel.
When you click on “Promote and Advertise,” you will see at the page’s very center a “Manage KDP Select Enrollment” button. Once you press it, a popup window will appear with the current term dates and a tickbox that lets you choose between automatically renewing the book’s enrollment or canceling it.
While the box is ticked, KDP Select will automatically renew for 90 days. As soon as an author unticks the box, all they need to do is wait for the current 90-day period to end.
What is the KDP Select Global Fund?
The KDP Select Global Fund is the revenue that Amazon collects from KU subscribers and redistributes to authors enrolled through KDP Select. Each author gets a portion of this fund every month, depending on how many pages readers read from their books.