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?
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;
- Setup of the eBooks metadata such as title, blurb, keywords & categories.
- The actual book content such as the cover and eBook file.
- 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.
How do I opt out of Kindle Unlimited?
Reverse the process that got you in; opt out of KDP Select.
- 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.
- Then select the option “KDP Select Info.”
- Opt yourself out of KDP Select.
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
Apart from my ebook showing $0 for Kindle unlimited, why is it still showing $0 to buy???
Is it because of the Kindle unlimited?
Yip, if your eBook shows $0 it is more than likely only free from subscribers to KU (Kindle Unlimited.)
I am into KDP Select program ….that’s ok but now Amazon showing my book free to buy for non-members too. it was of 2.99dollars for non-premium or outsiders but now all free. what can be the reason… m confused.
Not to worry, you are not going mad 🙂
Amazon opts all eBooks enrolled within KDP Select into the Kindle Unlimited program. This makes you eBook appear free however you as the author will still get paid. Instead of a complete sale you are now instead however reimbursed for the pages read. This video should help you = https://youtu.be/wck8VM78Nro
So, having Amazon Prime means nothing any more when it comes to obtaining or borrowing ebooks?
Hey Sharon, I had a quick Google and found that Amazon Prime actually does have benefits for readers! Something called “Prime Reading”. Have a read here = https://www.amazon.com/primeinsider/what-is-prime-reading
I have published my book via Ingram Spark who also prints my book. I opted for them because the print quality for illustrations was better than Amazon’s. They then distribute via Amazon as well as other channels. Having recently seen a steady decrease in the price of my paperback and ebook, I now notice they have reduced the price of my ebook to £0.00 with credits (assume through Kindle Unlimited).
Since I didn’t load the book onto Amazon’s site via a KDP account as it is published by Ingram Sparks, how can I get out of Kindle unlimited programme?
Previously I used a third party to self-publish my book too so am not au fait with what to do!
Hi Katherine, thanks for the question! I honestly have no idea if Ingram may be opting you into KDP Select as part of their distribution options. Perhaps it might be worth a query to the Ingram team to see if that is perhaps the default setting that can be changed?
my Ebook is getting given away for free and on my dashboard, it shows only free units ordered(E-book) will I be paid for that?
Hey Karim, if your eBook is being downloaded free from Amazon – this could be because of the KDP Free promo feature, where you allow free downloads for up to 5 days. For free download your will not earn any royalties. Does this help you?
Thank you for this valuable information!
Glad it helped you 🥳
Hi Dave, I am also a new author who still need lamplights like you to walk in the right path. But, before I dwell much into things, I would like to ask if you guys do editing for manuscripts, and if yes, kindly outline the steps for me.
We do! Pop an email from our website and let’s help you get those words edited!
Thank you so much – very helpful. I really learnt a lot.
I am so glad it helped you Jeannie 🙂
How and when do you get paid? Do you have to request payment or is the automatic every month?
Hey Barry, Amazon normally pays authors 30-60 days after the month in which the sale happened. Just remember, you would need a bank account linked to Amazon for the EFT payment to be made. Otherwise Amazon will try and post you a royalty check – once you have earned $100 or more. Hope that help you.