What? Why?

Your newly-published eBook appears on the shelves of Amazon but seems to be given away freely…this can’t be right. Or can it?

Author’s publishing eBooks via Amazon’s KDP platform are often irked when they see the $0 price tag attached to their new read. Looking a tad closer at the price, a curious author will spot something about a “Kindle Unlimited” program being to blame. So, what is this Kindle Unlimited program and why would it be giving your eBook away for free?

Zero Price search results


What is the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program?

Amazon tries it best to explain the KU program on this page here. In short, think of Kindle Unlimited as a Netflix for eBooks. A monthly subscription of $9.99 or equivalent will earn you unlimited reading of certain eBooks that have been opted into the KU program.

How does an author get opted into the Kindle Unlimited program?

During your eBook setup on Amazon an author progresses through 3 steps;

  1. Setup of the eBooks metadata such as title, blurb, keywords & categories.
  2. The actual book content such as the cover and eBook file.
  3. This is where the author decides on the pricing, territories to distribute and whether or not they would like to opt their eBook into the KDP Select program.

Opting your eBook into the KDP Select program will automatically enrol your eBook into the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program.

eBook Publishing Process KDP


How do I opt out of Kindle Unlimited?

Reverse the process that got you in; opt out of KDP Select.

  1. Once you are logged into your KDP Dashboard, and are on the bookshelf view, hover over the 3 dots “…” appearing on the far right of your eBook listing.
  2. Then select the option “KDP Select Info.”
  3. Opt yourself out of KDP Select.


How an author can opt out of Kindle Unlimited


Do I still get paid if my eBook is opted into Kindle Unlimited?

This is naturally the main concern of any author that notices their book is being given away freely. The good news is that you still get paid. Differently.

A standard eBook sale on Amazon will net an author 35% or 70% of the eBook list price depending on the royalty-rate that the author selected during the setup process. An eBook opted into KU will earn an author royalties per pages read. That is right, if the reader only reads a single page then you will only ever earn an income on that single page.

For an explanation on how they work out your eBook page count & the calculation of the monthly KDP Select Global Fund read this page from Amazon.

On your Amazon KDP sales reports, you will notice that there is now a section of the dashboard displaying the “Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read from KU and KOLL”. This is where your pages read will be displayed, as and when the reader progresses through your eBook. Amazon then pays you based on the per page value multiplied by the total amount of pages.



Is Kindle Unlimited worthwhile for authors?

In short, yes. Being part of the KU program means that you would be exposed to readers who might never have purchased your eBook before. Once an author’s fears of the zero-payment have been put to rest, almost all are in agreement that additional exposure of your eBook to members of the KU program is of value. The real benefit in this process is not necessarily KU in isolation but being opted into the KDP Select program which comes its own benefits to your eBook’s exposure.

Here is what Amazon says about the KDP Select Program.


Let me know if you enjoyed this article? 😊


Here are a few of the articles used in my researching of this post.

Kindle Unlimited for Authors

Kindle Unlimited for readers