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Self-Publishing: Kindle Select

As authors, we have a ton of options on how and where to distribute our self-published books. Each platform, like Amazon and Apple, has dozens of options that can send us into decision overload. Today, let's talk about Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select, which are two sides of the same deal.

Self-Publishing: Kindle Select

Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon service that offers readers access to millions of ebooks and hundreds of magazines for a monthly subscription. They can borrow and read an unlimited number of titles from the Kindle Unlimited catalog by paying for a monthly subscription.

Kindle Select is the author-side program that puts self-publishing authors book(s) into the pool of Kindle Unlimited's catalog. This brings about a complex questions for self-publishing authors, one's I'll dissect and weigh in on below.



THE PROS

Audience Size: Kindle Unlimited has 4+ million subscribers as of writing this post, which means your book has the potential to reach a vast audience of avid readers. These are some of the most avid readers on the planet because they read enough to make the $11.99 per month well worth it.

Earnings: Authors who enroll in Kindle Select earn royalties based on the number of book pages that subscribers read. At the moment, Kindle Select offers authors about $0.004 per page, which equates to $1.20 for the average novel length of 300 pages. This may seem small, but it can add up.

More Reviews: Unlimited readers are encouraged to leave reviews, giving us valuable feedback and boosting our book's visibility. More ratings and reviews equate to more buyer confidence for potential buyers and other Unlimited browsers.

No Barriers: For self-publishing authors, the big upside of Select is that potential readers have nothing to lose by selecting and trying our books. Even at $0.99, many avid readers will turn away from an unknown book written by an unknown author, so KU extends our readership beyond the coin we can earn through sales.

Effort: It takes no extra energy to enroll in KU. You sign up with a click of a check box while filling out the Kindle Direct Publishing forms.

Off & On: You can turn KU on and off whenever you want, so there’s little downside of giving it a whirl.

Note: It can take several days to turn or turn off Kindle Unlimited.



THE CONS

Exclusivity: By enrolling your masterpiece in Select, you agree to sell your ebook exclusively on Amazon while it's enrolled, not on the other major competitors like Apple Books or Barnes & Noble By signing up, about a third of all avid readers won’t ever see your literary artwork.

Earnings Per Page: The $0.004 per page is less than you’d earn from a regular sale, which means you might leave coins on the table for those who might otherwise buy your book. But remember, most of those Unlimited readers will only opt for books that are free when confronted by a newbie author with only a few or mixed reviews.


Hint: Don't judge whether you earn more or less money over at least a month. Otherwise you might get random results. For example, my March sales and KU readership was way down for no apparent reason.



MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

Here’s how the revenue from Select works for me. It's not that I seek riches, because the chances of becoming a wealthy author are slim. It's that I want to offset the cost of writing and publishing, which I consider to be a form of therapy for me.

So, how does Select work for me? Well, typically Select equals or surpasses my royalties from monthly sales, meaning I earn twice what I would otherwise. Because Amazon sells about 70% of all eBooks in English, my sales potential is:


0.70 X (0.70 - 0.35) = 0.35


If I opt out of Select so I can sell at Apple and B&N, I won’t double my revenue, but if I play my advertising right, I can possibly gain revenue from the 25% of the English-speaking sales on the major platforms. So, my sales potential is:


0.25 X (0.70 - 0) = 0.175


In this case, bigger is better. I earn 40% more by participating in Select than by distributing broadly.



SELLING MY SOUL

Amazon is like a giant demon with horns, a tail, and tentacles suctioning onto everything everywhere, taking over the world of commerce a thousand barcodes at a time. Promising exclusivity feels a bit like making a deal with the devil. It bugs me to contribute to Bezos's near monopoly, and therefore his control over us authors.

On the other hand, Amazon is where over 70% of readers choose to be, meaning we are doing our readers a service by making our books available to them at a lower cost in a win-win scenario.

Suggestion: Try to think about writing as being for you, revising a couple of times for you as well, then the rest, including all the edits and publishing as being for your readers.



SIMPLICITY

Kindle’s exclusivity requirement simplifies my life. I get more eyeballs on my words with a fraction of the effort. There’s no need to work with three or more platforms. I don’t have to work on Apple and B&N’s marketplaces. There is no need to monitor sales in multiple places or divide my advertising efforts, which are already complicated enough. I already spend more time with the non-writing aspects of self-publishing than I would like, so any amount of time saved means more time spent writing or sleeping.



EYEBALLS

Royalties aren't everything for me. As I mentioned, writing and publishing are hobbies/therapy for me. If I can impact more people with my works, the happier I am. Select gives me a sense of pride to know I did right by book lovers. It brings me joy when a reader goes out of their way to rate or review my book-babies.


Note: I would never suggest that you publish elsewhere while also opting into Select, but nobody would ever know for authors with few sales on those other platforms.



MONITOR PERFORMANCE

You can track your book's estimated royalties from pages read through the same dashboard you use for tracking normal sales. I have a weekly calendar event to remind me to check my sales and KENP (the estimate of your revenue from pages read by Unlimited subscribers. That way I can adjust my marketing/advertisements to improve my overall revenue.



VERDICT

Despite its drawbacks, Kindle Select can be a boon to self-publishing authors like me. It offers more than just revenue. It provides visibility, more reviews, and eyeballs, which are all good things in my opinion.


Suggestion: Make a list of pros and cons of your own to determine if Select is right for you.



GETTING STARTED

Fortunately, opting into Select is extremely easy. You can do it while first publishing your book or at any point later on. It's a 90-day commitment that you can automatically renew if you want. I automatically renew for all of my books so I don't have to think about it. One less plate to spin.


Here's How: Log into KDP. Click on the triple dots “...” next to the ebook you want to participate. Tap "KDP Select" from the dropdown menu. This will bring up a window where you can check a box to enroll and/or stop the automatic renewal.



FAQ

Q. Can I enroll multiple books in Kindle Select at the same time?

A. Yes, but each book must be enrolled individually.


Q. How often can I change the enrolled books in Kindle Select?

A. You can switch on or off enrolled books every 90 days when the enrollment period expires.


Q. Can I offer my enrolled book for free during the enrollment period?

A. Yes, you can. KDP has a program where you can run a Free Book Promotion for up to five days during each enrollment period.


Q. Do I still own the rights to my book if I enroll in Kindle Select?

A. Yes. If not, I wouldn’t have signed up.


Q. Can I enroll my time-traveling, shape-shifting, historical fiction, horror, and alien romance novel in Kindle Select for readers from another galaxy?

A. While your novel sounds out of this world, Kindle Select is currently limited to Earth's readers.


Q. How are royalties calculated for books in Kindle Select?

A. Authors earn royalties through Kindle based on the number of KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) read by subscribers.


Q. Can international readers access books in Kindle Select?

A. Yes, Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited is available to readers in some, but not all countries.


Q. If I enroll my book in Kindle Select, will Amazon send me a personal army of book-loving, cookie-baking robots to promote it?

A. While we all wish for an army of book-loving robots, Kindle Select offers more down-to-earth benefits.


Q. Can I publish a print version of my enrolled e-book while in Kindle Select?

A. Yes, you can publish a print version, but it must not be available digitally elsewhere during the enrollment period.


 

As always, I appreciate your support of self-publishing and indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.



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