Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Kindle Select & Kindle Unlimited

There seems to be some confusion over the terms. They are not interchangeable but are related.

Kindle Select is the program for authors. You upload your ebook to the KDP platform and enroll it in the Kindle Select program exclusively for a period of 90 days, which is renewable. Your ebook cannot be available on any other publishing platform during that time period. It does not impact your paperback version.

Readers subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, download your ebook, and read it. They have seven days to return it. If a reader has a high rate of returns, they will be monitored, perhaps blocked from returning. However, seven days is plenty of time to read a book before returning it. Returns are deducted from your pages read and royalty amount. Readers currently pay $9.99 for a 30-day trial membership or $60.00 for a 90-day membership. KDP boasts over 150 million subscribers.

Only a portion of the amount paid by KU subscribers is deposited into the KDP Select Global Fund. Each month, that fund is divided by the total number of  “pages” as calculated by the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) for your book, up to a total of 3,000 pages per customer per title. They estimate they have 1 million titles available. On average, a book page earns 0.004% of the fund. The number of pages of your print book and the list price of your books are not considered in the equation. Let’s say you have a 400 page book and it has been read 100 times that month. That gives you roughly 40,000 pages at 0.004 per page which equals $160.00. It may be more than your regular ebook royalties as long as it is found in the crowded virtual shelf.

If you look at your KDP bookshelf, under each title enrolled in KDP select you can see the number of KENPC pages under the Promote and Advertise option.

You are not allowed to “stuff” your ebook with nonessential filler, bonus materials, etc.  You may offer a chapter of the next book in the series or a list of other books at the end. Back matter cannot exceed 10% of your ebook total. You will get banned if you break this rule. You can sell  grouped books or a multiple book series but that must be clearly mentioned in the description.

Authors get paid based on pages read for the first time. You don’t get paid if they reread your book, which can stay on their Kindle for months. Readers are only supposed to have ten books “checked out” at a time. Theoretically, even if you remove your book from the promotion, you still get paid when they read the book. Royalties are paid 60 days out. What you earn in January will be deposited in March minus returns. You can run a report from your KDP dashboard at any time. It will list KENP pages read.

Some genres sell better than others. Romance is a perennial favorite along with Mystery. Science Fiction and Fantasy have a following. Historical is making a comeback.

There are additional marketing opportunities with Kindle Select. For one week during your 90-day enrollment, you can discount your book with their countdown deal. You earn the same royalties as if it were full price. There are stipulations you can read about here: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201293780

There is also an option for a “free” promotion you can run for one to five days during your 90-day enrollment. You will not get paid for free promotional reads. You can read more about the requirements here: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201298240

You may earn higher royalties in foreign markets such as Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India through KDP select. You can read more about payments here: 


If your ebook isn’t selling well, KDP Select may be worth trying. You can opt out if it doesn’t work. Also keep in mind that while enrolled in KDP Select, people can still buy your ebook and paperback the same as always. Not everyone is enrolled in Unlimited and many prefer to own the book. They may purchase the book after reading it or purchase other books in the series after reading the first book.  

There are other publishing platforms for books and they are compared based on cost, payment, rights, distribution, services, etc. in a series of blog posts listed below. One thing to keep in mind is that third party distributors that upload to Amazon and Barnes and Noble get a piece of your royalties that you would retain if you uploaded your files yourself. Some platforms have greater reach in other countries and on other devices. Though anyone with a phone, laptop, or tablet can upload the Kindle App. They don’t need to own the Kindle ereader itself. Using multiple platforms is called "going wide." And there are pros and cons.

The good news is you have plenty of options to play with. You can experiment until you figure out what works for you.





Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. What a helpful post, Diana. It is so beneficial for writers and readers to help them understand the somewhat complicated business of KDP and KU. I do think KU is more straightforward for the reader. But everything about Amazon publishing is complicated and more beneficial to Amazon than to the author.

  2. Wow! This is even more complicated than I thought, and, as Maryann noted, Amazon looks out for number 1. On the other hand, the scope of its distribution would be all but impossible for most readers.

  3. I use Kindle Select most of the time. As far as Kindle Unlimited goes, I get enough free books as it is and can't keep up with reading them all!


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