KDP Select Vs Kindle Unlimited: Everything You Need To Know

Posted on Jun 6, 2024

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Written by Sarah Rexford

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If you are writing a book for the first time, you’ll want to understand the differences between KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited.

In short: KDP Select, or Kindle Direct Publishing, is a part of Amazon Author Central and targets writers. Kindle Unlimited (KU) targets readers by offering limitless eBooks. While readers can only have ten eBooks on their device at a time, they can always return a book in exchange for a new one.

Both KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited fall under Amazon Author Central. This is Amazon’s publishing hub, responsible for publishing roughly 1,000 new titles each year.

Understanding the different nuances of KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited will set you up for success as you pursue your author journey!

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KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited: what’s covered

What is KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited?

The difference between KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited boils down to each one’s target audience. KDP Select is Amazon’s eBook publishing platform for writers while Kindle Unlimited is a unique membership that gives readers access to over four million titles.

So, if you previously found yourself wondering, Is KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited the same, you now know that the answer is a resounding no. 

If you’re looking into self-publishing on Amazon, take notes on the different factors of KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited. There are pros and cons of KDP Select as well as Kindle Unlimited. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

KDP Select: what you should know

KDP Select emerges as a top choice among the various publishers for new authors. While you must allow Amazon exclusive access to your book (including giving up your ability to give your book away for free), there are a plethora of positive reasons you may choose to join.  

Does it cost money to self publish on KDP Select?

If you are interested in how to publish a book for free, KDP Select is your answer. When you use KDP, you can publish eBooks, paperback books, and hardcover books, all for free. Even if you previously published your book, as long as you maintain the rights, you can republish with KDP.

How much does KDP Select pay?

The first reason you may want to publish with KDP Select is because they provide a few specific royalty options: 70% or 35%. Additionally, they offer up to 60% on print books. 

These high royalty rates are a tremendous selling point, particularly due to the fact that your royalties will come exclusively through Amazon.

Remember, KDP states that, “The only circumstance in which your book cannot be sold on other platforms is if you enroll your eBook in KDP Select, which makes it exclusive to Amazon.”

However, KDP Select may be an option worth considering if you want to keep your rights but are willing to keep your book on Amazon, exclusively. 

When you KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited vs traditional publishing, you’ll quickly see that self-publishing typically provides much higher royalty rates.

Now, a brief note on KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited’s pay scale before diving deeper into KDP Select…

Do authors get money from Kindle Unlimited?

Yes, authors get paid when readers choose their book as one of their ten select titles! However, authors are paid per page, and this only applies to the first time a reader reads the book. 

For example, if a reader chooses your title one month, then reads it again the following month, you are paid for the first month’s read, not the second. With this in mind, is Kindle Unlimited worth it for authors? If you want to publish books and are willing to put in the work, you’ll likely bring in many page reads.

In fact, our authors love KDP Select and often hit bestselling status on Amazon. Read this in-depth guide on how to upload your book to Amazon KDP to see how some of our over 7,000 authors use this platform. 

Is KDP Select better?

Whether KDP is right for you depends on your specific publishing goals, but it offers many positive factors. 

Kdp Select Offers - Bullet Point Graphic

For example, KDP Select offers: 

  • Up to 70% royalties 
  • A 72-hour publication turnaround time 
  • Print-on-demand for paperback and hardcover formats  
  • The ability to publish in over 10 countries and in over 45 languages

Hal Elrod, one of the most successful self-published authors of all time, said this about his experience with KDP Select: “I’ve sold over 2 million copies of my book, The Miracle Morning, since publishing with KDP in 2012. It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, as it has enabled me to impact millions of lives while providing financial security for my family.”

(For more on his publishing process, check out this interview he did with CEO and Founder of SelfPublishing.com, Chandler Bolt.)

Additionally, no matter where you live, you can join KDP. Upon enrollment in KDP Select, your book “is automatically included in Kindle Unlimited (KU). Your Kindle eBook will also be eligible for Free Book Promotions and Kindle Countdown Deals (KCD).”

Kindle Unlimited: how it works for authors 

Kindle Unlimited targets readers but greatly benefits authors as well. As you saw with their payment for page reads, if you have a growing audience, you can make a good deal of passive income through Kindle Unlimited.

Authors love making a living publishing, but what are the practicalities you should know before joining Kindle Unlimited? Below are four answers to frequently asked questions. 

How do authors benefit from Kindle Unlimited?

Authors gain access to the millions of readers who take part in Kindle Unlimited when they choose to share their book with KU. With so many readers on KU, joining as an author widens the pool of your potential readership. With readers able to select up to ten titles per month, these readers are likely to recommend their chosen selection to fellow readers. 

In turn, you, the author, receive free word-of-mouth marketing. Joining KU can grow your readership and result in higher page reads from new readers. 

How much do authors get paid per page on Kindle Unlimited?

The current KDP per page payout is $0.00425. The page read price may look small, but with a strong readership, you’ll rack up your royalties. KU uses Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (also known as KENPC) to track the number of pages readers read. 

This formula considers key aspects when determining page-read numbers:

  • Font size
  • Line height
  • Spacing of lines
  • Images 
  • Graphs

If you include images on the page, these images (or even graphs) still count toward page reads. This is great news for writers who leverage graphs and images to communicate their message.

Visual learns greatly benefit from images, and when you join KU, so will you!

How does self-publishing on Kindle Unlimited work?

When you publish your book on KU you do so at no charge, but you will not receive a percentage for every book “bought.” KU users, their readers, pay a standard monthly fee that applies to all books. Because of this, authors are not paid royalties.

Initially, this may feel frustrating. However, consider KU as a type of online library. Readers don’t purchase the books, but authors do get paid every time a new reader reads their title. On Kindle Unlimited, authors earn income by page reads, mentioned above. 

Find The Best Publishing Path For Your Needs!  Take This 2-Minute Assessment To Learn Which Of Our Publishing Paths Will Be  The Best For You And Your Unique Needs As An Aspiring Author. Answers Delivered  Immediately!  Take The Assessment!

KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited: your first-time author process

If you feel like you just got hit by a firehose, we’re about to bring everything together. Now that you know some of the differences in KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited, what would it look like to actually publish your book? 

While you may still want to take some time to decide which publishing route to take, below is a short, step-by-step process to help you know where to begin. This brief overview can show you what your publishing process could look like

1. Enroll your unpublished book

Whether your book is a draft or published, you can enroll today. If you have not already, create your KDP Bookshelf here. Once you create your bookshelf, choose the Kindle eBook you want to enroll in KDP Select. Click the ellipsis and in the menu, choose Enroll. You did it!

2. Enroll your published book

If you already have a published eBook, your steps will be just a bit shorter. Rather than create a bookshelf, access the marketing page. Click Enroll an eBook, choose the book you want to enroll, then simply click Continue and Enroll. You’re done!

3. Make updates 

Worried that you enrolled too quickly and perhaps missed a valuable step? You can make adjustments to both your royalties and book description without sacrificing your enrollment. 

If you decide you want to choose a different royalties option or simply update a phrase in your book description (or the whole thing!) you can do so at your convenience. Neither of these changes will impact your enrollment status.

Take your next step today

Selfpublishing.com Has Over 7,000 Authors Published And More Success Stories Than Are Possible To Share. Many Of Our Authors Choose Kdp Select As The Platform To Share Their Story With The World.

If you dream of publishing your book but you’re nervous about doing so alone, consider teaming up with us here at SelfPublishing.com. We use our school to guide writers through the entire process to authorship. 

In fact, SelfPublishing.com has over 7,000 authors published and more success stories than are possible to share. Many of our authors choose KDP Select as the platform to share their story with the world.

If you’re unsure about KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited and how it applies to your specific situation, take our free Publishing Path Assessment. This will help you gauge the best next step for you and your publishing journey!

Find The Best Publishing Path For Your Needs!  Take This 2-Minute Assessment To Learn Which Of Our Publishing Paths Will Be  The Best For You And Your Unique Needs As An Aspiring Author. Answers Delivered  Immediately!  Take The Assessment!

KDP Select vs Kindle Unlimited FAQ

What is the difference between KDP and KDP Select?

KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is Amazon’s platform for authors to publish eBooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers for free. KDP Select is an optional program within KDP that gives Amazon exclusive rights to your eBook in exchange for higher royalties and access to promotional tools.

Do you make money on KDP Select?

Yes, authors enrolled in KDP Select can earn up to 70% royalties on eBooks sold on Amazon. Additionally, they earn money from the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library based on the number of pages read by subscribers.

Do authors get paid from Kindle Unlimited?

Yes, authors receive payment for pages read by Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The payout rate is determined by the KDP Select Global Fund, which is divided among authors based on their total page reads.

How much does Kindle Unlimited cost?

Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month. This subscription gives readers access to over four million titles, with the ability to keep up to ten books at a time on their device.

Is KDP Select just for eBooks?

Yes, KDP Select applies exclusively to eBooks. Authors who enroll their eBooks in KDP Select must agree to give Amazon exclusive digital distribution rights for a 90-day period, during which they cannot distribute the eBook through other channels.

How long does KDP Select last?

KDP Select enrollment lasts for 90 days and automatically renews unless you opt out. During this period, your eBook must be exclusive to Amazon, but you can make changes to your enrollment status at the end of each term.

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.
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