As a self-publishing author, you’re met with several decisions to make, with everything from a publishing platform to distribution and marketing. Often you have to weigh the pros and cons since what works for another author may not be suitable for you.
A perfect example of that is KDP Select, an Amazon platform and Kindle book program that lets you reach more readers. The program is free to use for any authors or publishers who want to enroll their Kindle books. What’s the catch, you may wonder? Well, the restriction is that you can only sell your eBook exclusively on Amazon for 90 days.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of what KDP Select is so you can determine whether it’s the right choice for you.
This KDP Select guide covers:
- What is KDP Select?
- The pros of KDP Select
- The drawbacks of KDP Select
- How much you can expect to make with KDP Select
- Some final notes
What is KDP Select?
Before jumping into the details, let’s cover the basics; What is KDP Select, exactly? We’ll also cover the differences between KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and KDP Select.
KDP Select is a free program, open to all authors willing to give Amazon exclusive rights to their book for 90 days. By enrolling in the program, you get access to promotional tools and the opportunity to earn higher royalties.
After the 90 days, authors can choose to leave the program or auto-renew for the same amount of time. Keep in mind that while digital copies must be sold exclusively on Amazon, print copies can still be sold elsewhere. You can also distribute a 10% sample of the book outside of Amazon.
The pros of KDP Select
Without a doubt, you have a lot to gain from enrolling in KDP Select. The number one advantage is that your eBook automatically becomes available to Kindle Unlimited users, where a baffling 100 million users have the option of borrowing your book.
Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon service where users sign up for a monthly subscription and access an unlimited number of eBooks from the KU library. Essentially, it’s the eBook equivalent of Amazon’s Prime Video platform. Being available there immediately expands your reach, putting your book in front of many potential readers each month.
Plus, if your eBook generates more traction through KU, its chances of ranking higher on Amazon increases. KU gives customers the possibility to test-read books before purchasing. They also send out emails with book recommendations based on reading history, making it very easy for their readers to find new books. All in all, this makes it a top-rated platform, and it’s hard for books to rank well on Amazon without being listed on KU.
Besides Kindle Unlimited, which is the main benefit, there are some other incentives for enrolling in KDP Select.
- Kindle Countdown Deal. This means that for one week every 90 days, you have the option of discounting your book on a ‘countdown deal’ to attract more readers. Even if this pushes your eBook price below $2.99, you can still keep earning a 70% royalty. Typically, you would only get a 35% royalty if your book drops below that price.
- Free Book Promotion. You can offer your book to readers for free for up to five days in every 90-day period. (Note that this can’t be done in the same 90 days as a Kindle Countdown Deal). Both these deals will boost your book’s visibility and draw more readers.
What are the disadvantages of KDP Select?
There are some negatives with using KDP Select, the obvious one being that you have to sign exclusively with Amazon. That means that you can’t sell your eBook anywhere else, not even on your author website. It’s a big commitment and should really be taken into consideration. One of the main reasons that authors decide to go wide is so they can distribute and sell their eBook to as many e-retailers and library distributors as possible.
While Amazon is prevalent in the US and UK, there are other regions you may want to target. In some countries, Amazon isn’t as dominant. For example, Apple Books make up around 30% of the sales in Australia. And in Canada, Kobo controls over 25% of the eBook market. So you could be missing out on a lot of potential readers by not going wide.
Widening your reach across multiple platforms and marketing channels can mean laying the groundwork for long-term success. On the contrary, limiting yourself to Amazon may be a good short-term investment but not necessarily the best for long-term prospects. Since Amazon uses algorithms, your book’s ranking can change quickly.
Non-Amazon stores rely more on human curation, meaning it can take more time to reach the spotlight. But once you get to that position, you’re more likely to keep it.
Note that if you have an existing reader base, they may not own a Kindle or use Amazon platforms which means they won’t get access to your latest offering. Also, some ‘best seller’ lists require your eBook to be available on at least one more platform other than Amazon. So your choice depends on where your readers are and how important it is for you to be established outside of Amazon.
How much does KDP Select pay?
So if you do decide to go with KDP Select, what are the monetary benefits? With Kindle Unlimited Royalties, you make money on a per-page basis. That means the more pages of your book are read each month, the more money you can make. To make sure this is fair across the board, the page count is based on your word count rather than only looking at the total pages.
Amazon uses something called the KENPC system (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) to work this out. For example, a 50,000 word book will typically be calculated to around 250 pages. You’ll receive a per-page royalty for up to 3,000 pages per title, per reader. That is to say, each time a user reads your book, a maximum of 3,000 pages will be counted.
At the end of each month, a KDP Select Global Fund is announced. This fund determines how much each title on KU has earned. In January 2019 the fund was $24.7 billion. The exact per-page amount you’ll receive depends on the earnings for that specific month and the number of books enrolled.
Generally, you can expect to earn around $0.004 to $0.005 per page (40 to 50 cents per 100 pages read). Whether that’s from a hundred people reading one page or one person reading a hundred pages is irrelevant.
You can also earn increased royalties in a few select countries, such as Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico. In these countries, you can earn 70% on sales through KU where you’d otherwise only earn 35%.
Is KDP Select a good idea?
As you can see, there are a few cons to using KDP Select even though it certainly comes with enticing perks. Here are a few reminders and pointers to keep in mind before you decide.
- Even though you're limited to selling your eBook only through Amazon, no other format is restricted. That means you’re still welcome to sell it in audiobook, paperback, or hardback wherever you like.
- For promotional purposes, you are allowed to offer up to 10% of your eBook as a digital sample or send reviewers a copy.
- You’re only signing for a 90-day period. If you find that it’s working well, you can sign for another 90 days. But if not, there are no obligations to keep going.
- To avoid frustration and confusion for your readers, it’s best to settle on a platform as quickly as possible. If you come and go from KDP Select, this means your eBook will only be available to readers on other platforms intermittently. This can cause problems and lead to less sales for you.
- If you’re only planning to sell on Amazon anyway, KDP Select is a great option with many benefits. If not, consider your options carefully. Look at bestsellers in your genre. If they’re prevalent on Kindle Unlimited then that’s where you’ll want to publish your eBook. Otherwise, you might find KDP Select to be limiting.
We hope this post has been helpful in guiding you through the pros and cons of KDP Select, and that you feel more confident in making the right decision for you.