How Does Kindle Unlimited Work For Authors?

How Authors  Make Maximum Use of Kindle?

Kindle Direct Publishing(KDP) is the book publishing platform of Amazon that has over 80% market share, which is why most self publishing authors opt for KDP. The tools and features available on KDP make publishing and promoting your books a flexible and easy task.

KDP has got a range of features, so in this article we are going to focus on Kindle Unlimited. If you do not fully understand KDP, then you should read the previous article that covers KDP and the self publishing process.

What is Kindle Unlimited?

As an author, you have two options when you publish your book on Amazon. You can opt to enroll in the Kindle Select program or opt out of it and go for wide publishing. Wide publishing simply means that your book will be listed on Amazon and you will retain the rights to list the book anywhere else. Wide publishing is ideal for authors who want to make their books available in countries where Amazon is not present. Wide publishing also allows authors to build a wider audience by utilizing platforms that are competing with Amazon.

If you decide to enroll in Kindle Select, you will lose the rights to list your book anywhere else. Your book will now be exclusively listed on Kindle. Authors go for this option because Amazon has over 80% of the market share and if you have no particular need to cater for the audience that is in countries where Amazon does not operate, then you are better off with Kindle Select.

Kindle Select opens up the opportunity to avail multiple promotional programs offered by Amazon such as

  • Kindle Unlimited
  • Kindle Countdown deals
  • Kindle Free Promotions

This means that Kindle Unlimited is a feature of Kindle Select. Let us look at Kinde Unlimited firstly from the perspective of the reader and then the author.

Kindle Unlimited for the Readers.

Kindle Unlimited is a service for the readers with a monthly fee of $9.99. By subscribing to Kindle Unlimited, readers can borrow up to 10 books for an indefinite period, as long as the authors have included those books in Kindle Select.

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Kindle Unlimited for the Authors

Once you have decided to include your book in the Kindle Select program, your book will automatically become available to Amazon users who have subscribed to Kindle Unlimited.

Royalty through the Kindle Unlimited program is calculated on the basis of the number of pages read by a subscriber from the book for the first time. Amazon explains that a subscriber can read the book as many times as they want but the number of pages read in the first attempt, will be the basis for the calculation of royalty through Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon has a special fund called KDP Select Global Fund. The share of this fund is allocated to countries where Amazon is operational based on the exchange rate, customer preference and subscription pricing in the country.

Amazon then calculates the total number of pages read for the books listed under the Kindle Direct program and then the size of the fund, the total number of pages read for each book and the pages of the book for a particular author are used to calculate the royalty.

All of this may sound extremely confusing, so let us take a look at an example to see how Amazon calculates the royalty for Kindle Unlimited.

Let us assume that the KDP Global Fund has $10 million for this month. A total of 100 million pages have been read by subscribers for books listed under Kindle Direct. Now Steve Merchant is an author who has self published his ebook through KDP and enrolled his book under Kindle Direct as well. His ebook has 100 pages and Kindle Unlimited subscribers borrowed and read it completely 100 times.

Now let’s see. His book has 100 pages and the book was read completely 100 times. This means that 10,000 pages were read.

From this point it is easy to calculate the royalty applicable. Simply multiply $10 million by 10,000 and divide it by 100 million pages. The answer is $1000. Steve Merchant will get $1000 as royalty under the Kindle Unlimited Program.

Now if his book had 200 pages and it was borrowed and read completely 100 times. It would mean that a total of 20,000 pages were read and based on this scenario his royalty would be $2000.

On the other hand if his book had 200 pages but the book was only read halfway. Then the total pages read would be equal to 10,000 and so his royalty in this case would be $1000.

Amazon has a time lag when it comes to the payments. For instance if Steve Merchants book was read 100 times completely in January, then he would receive the royalty of January by the end of March.

All Star Bonus

Amazon has got another incentive for best selling authors. If your book becomes one of the most read books, then KDP will reward you with an All Stars Bonus.

The screenshot shown above shows how the bonus amount varies with the ranking of the book. Basically if your book hits the top 100 most read book category, then you become eligible for the all star bonus. This is a nice way of KDP to reward authors.

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While KDP is a perfect way for authors to self publish their work and set up passive income streams, there are a few factors that need to be remembered.

The Kindle Select subscription is only for 90 days, after which it auto renews unless the author decides to cancel it. Most authors make a point to communicate to their readers to buy the book before their Kindle Select subscription ends, this has been seen as a common way to increase book sales towards the end of the membership period.

Secondly, Amazon has quite strict policies about the content that is published. For instance, there have been attempts by some publishers to stuff their books with extra content. So an author may publish one book but inside it, they may add the content of 2 more books, in an attempt to increase their pages and make the readers read 3 books in the price of one. With the aim of getting higher royalty. Amazon has banned many authors for trying to find loopholes in the system in this manner.

Similarly, once the book is enlisted with Kindle Select, you cannot offer the book in any manner to the readers, be it through mail or your site. If you try to do so, Amazon can track you and ban you.

So the bottom line is that KDP can be a great way to set up income streams for yourself if you are a self published author. You can benefit from the Kindle Unlimited and other promotional offers to sell your book. In the end, it is the content of your book that matters. If the content is good, then you will get readers who will be willing to buy your book.

Main Image Source: Pixabay

Also See: Can You Make Money From Self Publishing?

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