Every author knows that writing books is a great way to earn passive income. Whether you write nonfiction or romance novels, indie authors who want to get into self-publishing all face the same challenge. What challenge? Getting readers to buy your book. Kindle Unlimited can be an excellent way to get readers to take a chance on your book without making a commitment. Let’s explore the Kindle Unlimited rules for authors to see if this program might be right for you.
What is Kindle Unlimited?
Or, what is KDP? If you are new to the world of publishing, you might think that your only options are big publishing houses or expensive vanity publishers. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offers you another alternative. You can write the book, format it according to Kindle’s rules, and publish it in their online bookstore. When someone buys your book, Amazon prints it and ships it to them.
You can publish print books and ebooks using KDP. Kindle Unlimited is a program that runs inside KDP. Kindle Unlimited has been around since 2014 and was Amazon’s answer to competitors like Oyster and Scribd that offer unlimited books for a monthly subscription. It is similar to Netflix, only for books. With this program, you not only get income when someone purchases your book, but you also earn revenue when someone reads pages of your book.
Kindle Unlimited and You
As an author who wants to self-publish a book on Amazon, you can enroll your book in Kindle Unlimited for another way to earn income. You can either offer it for free in their lending library or through the KU monthly subscription service. When someone borrows the book, you can earn a little extra money when they read it, and if you have a large number of published books, the program can point readers to other work by you. Under this program, readers can borrow your book and not have to commit to buying it.
If you publish a book that is a hit with the reader, Amazon gives them your other titles. They might go look you up, and since they already know they like your work, might be willing to buy other titles. Readers can try you out to see if they like you, making them more confident in making a purchase later. Also, you are still earning a little bit even from them reading a few pages. Many authors see this program more as advertising than for its real earning potential, but that is there too if you can build a following.
How does it work?
From the reader’s side, they pay a monthly fee for Kindle Unlimited and have access to over 2 million titles. They can borrow up to ten titles at a time, just like going to the library and taking out ten books. When they read one or return it, they can borrow another one to fill the spot. This gives them a chance to see if they like an author without having to take the chance on spending money on a book that they do not like.
From the author’s side, things are different, and you have to know about the Kindle Unlimited rules for authors to decide if this program is right for you. To offer your books on KU, you will have to first join KDP Select. This program pays higher royalties when someone buys your books, but you cannot sell them on any other platform, including your own website for 90 days after you enroll your titles. Amazon has an algorithm to come up with a standard page count for your book. It is not the actual pages in the book, but it looks at things like word spacing to determine what it calls the Kindle Edition Normalized Page (KENP).
Amazon places all of the monthly revenue from the entire KU program into a big pot and pays authors monthly based on the number of pages people read. How much you are paid is determined by how many people read your book, which means that if your book is popular, you will make more than if your book is not attractive to readers. Some months you will get more and other months you will get less. Again, the advantage is that it is an excellent way to get people to read your book if you are a new author.
KDP v. KDP Select
The first decision you have to make is whether it is worth it for you to enroll in regular KDP or KDP Select. As mentioned previously, if you enroll your title in KDP Select, you must pull it off all of your other platforms and sell it nowhere else but Amazon for 90 days. Then, you can put it back up for sale on other platforms and your own website. If you choose this option, your title will be available on the KDP Lending Library and KDP Unlimited.
You can also run promotions, such as Kindle Countdown Deals, and you can offer your ebook free for five days every three months. If you decide to use Kindle Select, make sure to read it carefully, because it will automatically roll over for another 90 days if you do not opt-out. You will earn higher royalties in KDP Select, and a borrowed book counts toward your books purchased for your author rank. KDP Select also allows for international publication.
When answering the question, what is the difference between KDP and KDP Select, the main factor that affects most authors is that you will not be able to sell your book on other platforms. When it comes to answering the question “is KDP Select worth it?” it depends on how much you will lose from the other platforms. Fortunately, you can jump in and out of KDP Select, such as only doing it during the summer months or during the holidays.
The importance of an email list
Regardless of the option that you choose for selling your book on Amazon, you will still need to do your own marketing if you want to be successful. The importance of email marketing for your self-published book cannot be overemphasized. Just as with any other platform, your monthly revenues depend on how many eyeballs you get on the pages of your book. This means that the more you promote your books, whether on KDP or KDP Select and KU, the more you will make. This does not change, and email is still your best tool for keeping in touch with your audience.
Email allows you to keep in contact with your readers and potential readers. You can give them a glimpse of your personality and any projects that you are working on for the future. Touching base every now and then lets them know that you are out there and keeps you on their mind. Those on your email list took action and agreed to receive emails from you, which means that they are one part of your target audience that has the greatest potential for a sale.
Does it work?
We explained the pricing scheme and how Amazon calculates how much you will get each month based on the number of pages read, but how much does Amazon pay authors for Kindle Unlimited? The best information that could be found on how Amazon calculates KENP is that it depends on your font, spacing, line height, and other factors. KENP starts at Chapter 1 of your book and the first actual page of text.
They continue to update the algorithm, so the way they calculate KENP changes from time to time. In the most recent version, non-text pages, such as images and graphs, still counted as a page read. You are only able to earn 3,000 page reads per title per customer. If a person reads your book or pages in your book more than once, you earn credit for them up to the limit.
The KENP algorithm can also now detect non-linear reading. For instance, if your reader skips to a certain chapter, or rereads a chapter several times, you will get credit. This is something you do not get when someone buys your book. You do not get paid every time they read it, but with KU, you do.
The price per page read depends on how many monthly subscriptions Amazon receives in a month. The average ranges between around .004 to .0055 cents per KENP. This means that for 150 pages read, you will earn about 0.67 cents. This does not sound like a lot, but that is about one reader for a standard novel. If you do a good job of marketing and promoting your book, it can add up quickly.
Summing it Up
If you get 100,000 page views, you get $443.84, which is not a bad chunk of change for passive income. If you get 1,000,000 views, that is $4,438.36, which is not bad for a product that you wrote once and get paid for again and again. You also have to remember that you can still earn from book sales on top of that. We found this Kindle Unlimited royalty calculator that keeps the rates updated so that you can see how much the potential is for a book project that you have planned.
Now that you are familiar with the Kindle Unlimited rules for authors and how the program works, you can see that this can be a lucrative source of extra income from your book. You do not have to convince someone to buy your book to make money. This is the true definition of passive income. Now it is time for you to stop reading and start writing the next book that people cannot put down!