Should You Use Amazon KDP Select or Distribute Your Book Wide?

ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
  • What is KDP Select?
  • Is KDP Select worth it?
  • What are the pros & cons?
  • How does KDP Select work?
  • Strategies and considerations
What is KDP Select and Is KDP Select worth it

Should You Use Amazon KDP Select or Distribute Your Book Wide?

What is KDP Select?

KDP Select is a free and optional program available to authors and publishers using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to publish their Kindle eBook. It is available on a book-by-book basis and it does not apply to print books. Kindle eBooks enrolled in KDP Select for the mandatory 90-day term must be exclusive to the Amazon Kindle store and cannot be sold in any other store, nor can they be sold on an author’s website, or given away free by the author.

Is KDP Select worth it?

Our research and experience indicate that books and authors with one or more of these 3 characteristics should consider enrolling their book in KDP Select (again, KDP Select is for individual books—an author does not have to enroll all their Kindle eBooks).

  1. Books by authors who do not have a large and/or broad existing readership.
  2. Books by new authors, or authors who publish infrequently.
  3. Books classified as genre or popular fiction (crime, fantasy, mystery, romance, science fiction, thriller, western, inspirational, historical fiction and horror).

Keep in mind that the exclusivity requirement is 90-days. You can unenroll and sell your eBook in any other store, including your website after this period.

What are the KDP Select pros and cons?

The bottom line is whether the features of KDP Select outweigh the potential for sales in other stores. Amazon is by far the largest eBook retailer in the United States so consider who your book appeals to along with these pros and cons.

Pros—why enroll your eBook in KDP Select

  1. Most importantly, your eBook is part of Kindle Unlimited (KU), Amazon’s all-you-can-read subscription program (like Netflix, but for books). These are voracious readers, primarily female, who pay a $9.99/month to borrow and read as many books as they like. This is valuable exposure for books that might not be otherwise read since there is no cost or risk to KU subscribers to try new books.
  2. Your eBook is also part of Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL). Kindle and Fire device owners can borrow one eBook for free per month. Payment to the author is handled the same way as it is for Kindle Unlimited.
  3. As the author, you receive payment for each page someone reads (for details, see KDP Select Global Fund below under Resources).
  4. You can choose one of two marketing benefits during each 90-day period.
    1. Free Book Promotions: Discount your book to free for 5 1-day periods. These can be consecutive or scheduled for individual days.
    1. Kindle Countdown Deals. A single, limited time discount promotion lasting between one hour and 7 days.
  5. Your enrolled eBook will be eligible for the 70% royalty when sold to customers in Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.
Ebooks enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (KU)-subscribers borrow and read all they want for $9.99month

Cons—the downsides of enrolling your eBook in KDP Select

  1. The income from readers borrowing your book may not exceed the income from sales on Amazon.
  2. Your income from Amazon may not exceed the income from sales in other stores because your book must be exclusive to Amazon’s Kindle store during the 90-day period.

How does KDP Select work?

You can signup for KDP Select at any time. The 90-day clock begins when you signup, or your book becomes available for sale in the Kindle store (if, for example, you enrolled your book during the pre-order period).

There are 2 ways to enroll:

  1. Enroll when you add your book to the Kindle store.
  2. Find your book in your account and hover your mouse over the 3 dots to the right of the “actions” button (see below). A menu will pop-up with various options; select Enroll in KDP Select or Promote and Advertise. If enrolled, the options are KDP Select Info and Promote and Advertise.
How does KDP Select work

Strategies and further considerations

KDP Select is a marketing tool and potentially a source of revenue. Many books can make as much or more money for an author by being borrowed by readers rather than purchased.

If you are still deciding, it pays to be aware of a few other points. These are in no specific order:

  1. You may have readers that prefer other stores, or you might want to sell your eBook directly from your website—at least for a period of time. (Especially true during the initial launch of your book.) Go ahead, do this and then join KDP Select. No one will be left out and you won’t run afoul of Amazon’s rules for exclusivity.
  2. If you price your book at 99 cents and it’s a long book, you may make more money from a borrow than from a sale if people read the whole book.
  3. If you have a series of books, treat your first book as a marketing tool and sell it everywhere. Most eBook readers have an Amazon account even if they buy eBooks from Apple or B&N.
  4. Removing an eBook from other online stores can take longer than you expect. This can take days or weeks so plan ahead. It can be time consuming to switch back and forth.
  5. KDP Select is pre-configured to auto-renew. Uncheck the renewal box if you are planning to cancel and “go wide” but keep in mind that there are rules requiring enrollment if you plan to use the free marketing programs near the end of your 90-day term.
  6. More readers means more opportunities to get Amazon customer reviews for your book.

Resources

KDP Select Global Fund author payments. Each month Amazon sets aside millions of dollars to be paid to authors whose books are read by members of Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library. Click here to learn how royalties are calculated and reported.

These readers are eligible to borrow and read your books for free:

KDP Select marketing programs:

Carefully study program rules before planning how to use these.

Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions

Click here to read the KDP terms and conditions. See the last section titled: Terms and Conditions for KDP Select Program.

16 thoughts on “Should You Use Amazon KDP Select or Distribute Your Book Wide?”

  1. Excellent run down, David! I like being KDP Select exclusive for the reasons you state. For me (in U.S. with majority of sales in Amzn U.S. store), around 40% of my royalty revenue is KU/KOLL. I doubt I’d be making that up “outside.” And it’s now mostly ebooks; PBKs are only 6%. And my book sales are up overall. Maybe COVID-related. Or maybe Amazon pushing them as my latest is in the Top 100 in several subcats. Whatever the reason, I see no reason to abandon KDP Select. BTW: my genres are: Historical Fiction + Historical Fantasy + Time Travel Fiction.

  2. Thanks, Harald. I know other readers of this article will appreciate your detailed feedback. Btw, the numbers for my books (nonfiction) mirror yours and they have for some time (pre-COVID).

  3. Is KDP select good for Self-Help Genre? Like I’m a new author, though I have some following of Instagram and YouTube; still I’m unable to decide what to do?

    It’ll be a big help if someone can give a clarity about this!

    Thanks!

  4. Vishal, the best way to answer this is to look at your book’s category on Amazon. If you see top sellers in KDP Select then it maybe a good fit. It’s only 90 days and you do get marketing benefits so you can always opt out.

  5. I am trying to decide on kindle select, I don’t want to break any rules here. I am a little confused as to can I run ads about the book on other platforms redirecting them to kindle store. such as podcast ads. or any social media.

  6. Sharp article, David, thank you. It’s not clear to me what happens at the end of Amazon’s 90 day exclusive period. For example, can I end the exclusivity, take my book wide, and still remain in KDP with continued access to KU/KOLL readers? Or does ending exclusivity also end my eBook’s KU/KOLL availability?

  7. Michael, at the end you opt out and go wide. Because the book is no longer exclusive, your book is removed from KU/KOLL availability. Note that renewing KDP Select is automatic. You need to pro actively opt out.

  8. Thanks a lot for this valuable information.I want both printed and Ebook for my book.How to do it in amazon.Any better option other than Amazon for printed books

  9. Hi David,
    Thanks for this useful article.
    Can you please clarify one section?

    “You can always list your book in other stores, including your website, and then enroll in KDP Select. You may have readers that prefer other stores, or you might want to sell your eBook directly from your website. Go ahead, do this and then join KDP Select. No one will be left out and you won’t run afoul of Amazon’s rules for exclusivity.”

    I assume you mean list book in other stores for a period, THEN withdraw them from all the other stores in order to go KDP Select? You can’t leave them up on the other stores in any form, correct??

    Best,
    Richard Lyntton

  10. Hi David, this was very insightful! Like the other readers, I still have questions. I am writing a self-help journal for teens therefore e-books will not be a viable option. Is KDP still worth it if I am only making hard copies available to readers? Also, if I chose to opt in after I have published through 3rd party and marketing on my own via my website what ramifications am I faced with if I choose KDP route afterwards? Do I stop selling from my website for 90-days?

  11. Richard, many thanks for pointing out the clumsy language. You are correct and I’ve clarified that this is done for a period of time—typically for the book launch—*then* one joins KDP Select. Before joining KDP Select, the eBook must be delisted from all other stores including the author’s website (or any other website for that matter).

  12. I’m considering publishing my book via KDP and possibly using KDP Select. My main question about KDPS is about listing the book in my online store. If I only list it on, but require people to go to Amazon to purchase it, will that be a violation? Think of it like an affiliate product in WooCommerce.

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