Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It for Authors?

More and more people are choosing to self-publish their work. And for good reason: with the advent of services like Kindle Unlimited, it’s easier than ever to get your work in front of a large audience. But is Kindle Unlimited worth it for authors? Let’s take a look...

Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It For Authors?

What is Amazon Kindle Unlimited?

There are so many ways to consume books nowadays. This is especially true if you prefer the ebook kind. You can go to any app store, and you’d be overwhelmed by the choices for apps that let you borrow and read ebooks. However, one of the top choices for such services has always been Kindle Unlimited. 

This Amazon service may be viewed as an online library for digital books. It also carries audiobooks, comic books, and magazines. It is considered a one-stop show where readers can borrow the latest titles or read a back issue of a magazine. 

The top-selling point of Kindle Unlimited is that the subscriber can download an unlimited number of books. For the price of the subscription fee, the reader can download as many as ten books at a time. You don’t have to buy the titles one by one. The other side of this service’s counterpart for authors is known as the KDP Select.

How Much Is the Subscription Fee for Kindle Unlimited?

The cost of joining Kindle Unlimited is $9.99 a month. This is billed every end of the month. Considering the amount of content that you can stream once you are a member, you can view this a very reasonable rate. Plus, there is a 30-day option where you can try the service for free. 

Some people mistakenly believe that Amazon Prime Members automatically get subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. This is an entirely separate service. Amazon Prime offers Prime Reading. This is very similar to Kindle Unlimited but the selection offered is smaller. 

The price is relevant to you as an author because the number of people signed up for Kindle Unlimited can affect the number of times your books can get read. In short, the bigger the membership pool, the higher the chances of you getting streamed. And the more people reading your work, the higher your royalties become.

Should Authors Get Kindle Unlimited?

It is important to remember that Kindle Unlimited is the service for book subscriptions. If you are an author, you can choose to get this for research for your next writing project. The new books in the library would provide you with ideas on what genre is trending. It may even give you your next plot.

However, if you are looking for tools to help you in publishing your finished projects, then it is a better idea to look into KDP Select. This is the program that offers access to publishing and promotional tools. Plus, your book will be made available to millions of Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

What is KDP Select?

According to the Kindle Direct Publishing website, if you enroll in KDP Select, you can get your written work (books, comics, etc.) automatically included in the collection housed by Kindle Unlimited. Meaning, your books become available for anyone to buy and borrow in the Kindle Store. It has proven to be a boon to self-publishers.

Self-publishing was once a dirty word in the writing industry. Authors who self-publish are viewed as individuals who could not impress any publishing house. But now, it has slowly become the norm. And thanks to Kindle Direct Publishing, any writer can easily upload their work and make them available for public consumption.

For authors who are still on the fence about self-publishing, it is important to mention that sales of traditionally published ebooks are declining year by year, while the number for the sale of self-published works has increased significantly. And a huge player in those increasing numbers is Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select. 

Can You Earn as An Author Through KDP Select?

KDP Select was launched in 2014 as a response to companies trying to create a service where readers can borrow ebooks instead of buying them at full price. Authors can take part in KDP Select. Amazon sets aside a certain amount (KDP Select Global Fund) from the fees it receives from subscribers.

It then divides this money among participating authors that get their works read or bought through any of Amazon’s ebook programs. The amount an author receives is based on how many pages of their work have been read by the subscribers that month. 

While the amount may seem insignificant (half a penny for every page read), it can easily pile up. Some authors earned enough to quit their day jobs and focus solely on their writing. Plus, top authors per month also receive bonuses. Even if authors don’t participate in KDP Select, they will still receive royalties from Amazon.

How Does It Work?

The KDP Select program is available to all authors who are willing to give Amazon the right to exclusively sell their work through Kindle. This means that the writer will not sell the book file via other retailers. While this may seem restrictive, it is not such a bad limitation since Amazon is still the leading retailer of books. 

Plus,  This is not as strict as it may sound. While Amazon retains the full right to sell one’s work, the author is still free to post a sample (up to 10% of the material) of his book outside of the Kindle Store. Plus, print and audio versions of it can also be sold and distributed elsewhere. 

Enrolling in the program is absolutely free, so it is not such a huge risk. This is a pro since most budding self-publishers do not have the money to invest in getting their books out there. It presents an earning opportunity with almost zero expenditure.

Additionally, the KDP Select enrollment only lasts for 90 days. The authors are not tied down to one retailer for too long and can quickly opt-out if they find a better opportunity elsewhere. However, if they choose to continue the commitment, there is an auto-renew feature.

How Does an Author Get Paid in KDP Select?

At the end of a month, the KDP Global Fund is announced. Amazon computes how this fund is split among the various publishers and authors that took part in the service. The rate can vary depending on your location and the length of your book. 

To give you an idea, the author payout to writers from the US ranges from $0.004 to $0.005 for every page of their books read. So, on average, an author can earn about $0.45 per one hundred page read.

Besides this earning opportunity, an author can also take advantage of the Kindle Countdown Deals. EVery 90 days, the author gets the ability to put their works on a countdown deal. This means they still earn 70% royalty on their discounted work. This deal is a great opportunity to get your new book discovered.

Of course, there are certain requirements to make your work eligible for this deal. One of them is that the original price of your work must be between $2.00 and $24.99. The title should also be enrolled in the program for at least 30 days. And you cannot take part if your enrollment in the program is lapsing within 14 days.

What Are the Benefits Authors Experience in Enrolling in Kdp Select?

KDP Select makes it so easy for self-publishers to upload, post, and modify their work on the platform before actually publishing it. Once you are done writing and formatting the manuscript and cover, all you need to do is enter your book details and upload your work. The entire process can take a few hours to a couple of days.

Besides the general ease of publishing, this program also provides authors with hundreds of new leads. While Amazon doesn’t share the emails of people who are reading your book, you can offer a giveaway inside your work and ask for the readers to sign up for your mailing list. 

KDP Authors cannot offer their books for free. The lowest price that they can offer their work is $0.99. But every 90 days, for five days, an author can offer his books for free download through the Kindle Free Promotions feature. This is a great opportunity for book lovers to find and read your books. 

What Are the Cons of Enrolling in Kdp Select?

With all the benefits, it would sound insane why all the authors in the world do not enroll their works in KDP Select. Well, it is because there are some cons to it too. And some authors feel like the cons outweigh the benefits they can get from the service.

Exclusivity can prevent you from getting recognized outside the US

One of the main reasons why some authors choose not to be part of KDP Select is that they cannot post their works on other platforms like Nook, iBooks, or Kobo. Some authors choose to go wide and list their works on every possible digital retailer to be able to cater to as many readers as possible. These writers recognize that Amazon is not the only store there is. 

Amazon is not as dominant in other countries as it is in the United States. If another retailer can offer a better opportunity in another country, then authors will lose out if they choose KU. One example is in Canada where Kobo controls more than 25% of the market when it comes to selling ebooks. Apple books, on the other hand, is the preferred retailer of Australians, controlling 30% of the market.  

Competition within Amazon is challenging

Another con of enrolling in KDP Select is the fierce competition among authors there. Selecting a less popular retailer may not expose you to as many readers, but you may have better chances of being discovered. Plus, you will not be subjected to the ever-changing automated algorithm used by Amazon to rank titles. Other retailers opt to use human curation when it comes to selecting books for their top lists. 

You won’t be able to enter many Bestseller Lists

Finally, not enrolling your work in KDP Select will give you a better chance of entering non-Amazon Bestseller lists. These lists are amazing publicity for veteran and budding authors. Topping, or merely being included, in one of the more popular lists can mean thousands of downloads. 

Many of such lists require that authors sell their books on more than one retailer. This means if you want a chance at being part of the USA Today or The New York Times’ Bestseller Lists, then you can’t be a part of KDP Select.

Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It for Authors?

As a reader, a Kindle Unlimited subscription may be the best idea yet. The fee is low, while the titles available are seemingly endless. You can take advantage of the numerous promotions to read all the books that you can get your hands on. 

Plus, you get to read the works of authors that you may not have the chance of encountering outside the platform. These writers may only exist within the confines of the Kindle Unlimited realm so finding their works randomly at a bookstore is impossible. 

As a self-publisher or an author, Kindle Unlimited is a great place to start in planning your next work. You can check out what genres are currently popular among your chosen demographic. You can fill in niches that are currently untapped. You can also get ideas on how other authors handled similar plotlines. 

However, if you want your work to be listed in Kindle Unlimited, you need KDP Select. Enrolling your books in this free service offers numerous benefits from making it easier to enter and upload your work, to having access to promotional tools to get your book in the hands of a large audience.

Of course, there are downsides to entering into an exclusive agreement with Amazon. Luckily, the terms of enrollment only last ninety days. You can opt to list your works in other digital retailers if you discover that KDP Select is not for you. You really have nothing to lose by giving the service a try.