Publishing is like walking through a minefield. Some of the mines hurt. Some of them are more like a jack-in-the-box. Others actually hand out rewards in a non-explosive way.
But which of those categories does Kindle Unlimited fall into?
For those who don’t know, Kindle Unlimited is something you can only enroll your ebook in (through Kindle Select) if you publish through KDP and only KDP. Paperback and hardback can be published through other publishers, but the ebook has to be specifically through KDP and enrolled in Kindle Select.
Now, that does eliminate some potential sales and readers on Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play Books, etc. But 72% of people reading ebooks do so on a Kindle or Kindle app.
Putting your book in Kindle Unlimited does alienate 28% of ebook readers, but it also opens up a whole new market for you.
You see, if someone subscribes to Kindle Unlimited, they can read as many books from the program as they want. They pay the monthly subscription fee, but nothing else.
So, programs like this are where you tend to get your reading “whales,” the truly big fish, the people reading so much that not having a monthly subscription just doesn’t make sense financially. And voracious readers are what writers want to find.
Now, how do you get paid if your book is in Kindle Unlimited?
KDP pays you per page read (they call it KENP). So, if a person reads your entire book, you get paid for all those pages. If they read fifteen pages and never come back to it, you still get paid for those fifteen pages instead of forfeiting the royalty if they had returned a regular ebook or just read the sample and never bought the book.
So, there are some positives there.
The amount you get per page read varies from month to month. KDP does some calculations, figuring up what the total income of the Kindle Unlimited subscriptions were worldwide and breaking it down across the total number of pages read. And they give bonuses to the people who whose books were read the most.
What does that mean for you?
Typically, the amount paid per page is pretty low. I’m talking fractions of pennies per page. But it adds up over the course of a book or two or a full blown series or your entire backlist.
Kindle Unlimited is really good for people with a lot of books out or with a big series and good readthrough rates. Because then, when a reader finds one of your books and loves it, they can immediately read through all of them. No further purchases on their end, but more royalties for you.
Enrolling in Kindle Select also means that you can run price promotions on KDP, lowering your price without sacrificing your royalty percentage or even making it free for a certain number of days per quarter.
And since Amazon now owns Goodreads (yep, they sure do), you can still run a Goodreads giveaway while enrolled in Kindle Select. I emailed them to make sure.
But you can’t sell it anywhere else.
No Nook ebooks. No Kobo. No iBooks.
Not even on your own website.
As long as it’s enrolled, your ebook can only be available for Kindles.
So, though there are a lot of pros to enrolling in Kindle Select to get your book into Kindle Unlimited, there is a very real drawback. You just have to decide whether you want your ebooks wide or strictly through KDP.
But rest easy. If you decide you don’t want to be in Kindle Select, you can unenroll and go wide. Or you can release your ebook with wide distribution through another self-publisher and later on, unpublish it with the other publisher to enroll it in Kindle Select.
If that’s your plan, I recommend that you publish the ebook through KDP and the other publisher simultaneously, that way the Amazon listing is unaffected when you unpublish with the other publisher. That way, you don’t lose your reviews.
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