Kindle Unlimited 2.0—Should you stay or should you go?

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.


Now that Amazon pays KDP Select authors for pages read through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime—instead of the number of borrows read to 10%—some authors are wondering:

  • Should I keep my books enrolled in KDP Select?
  • Should I opt out of KDP Select and publish elsewhere?
  • Should I unpublish at Kobo, Nook, etc. and opt into KDP Select?

There are many things to factor into this decision.

Let’s start with the math.


The Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) is your book’s official number of pages as far as royalties for pages read through KU and KOLL borrows is concerned.

  • Your KENPC isn’t the same as what you see listed on your book’s product page, and may be significantly different.
  • Visit your Bookshelf and click the Advertise and Promote button to find out what the KENPC is for your book.

Amazon has set the KDP Select Global Fund at $11M for both July and August. Amazon also announced that 1.9B pages were read in June, 2015.

This leads to a projected royalty of $0.0058 per page read.

Multiply your book’s KENPC by $0.0058 to figure out what royalty you would earn if 100% of your book is read.

233 pages is the magic number for KENPC. If your KENPC is higher than 233 pages, your projected royalty for a book read to 100% is more than $1.35; if your KENPC is lower than 233 pages, your projected royalty for a book read to 100% is less than $1.35.

(Where did this $1.35 come from? That’s what KDP Select authors were paid for May, 2015.)

There are a couple of obvious complications:

  • We don’t know if 1.9B pages will be read in July. Therefore, the estimate of $0.0058 could be significantly off.
  • You don’t know how many of your customers read 100% of your book. If many customers don’t finish your book, your projected earnings for July are much less.

What may be more relevant is to compare your royalty for sales to your potential royalty for borrows.

  • Visit your KDP bookshelf. Click on your book. Visit page 2 of the publishing process. Check your royalty for sales in the US (and/or the UK if most of your borrows come from there).
  • Compare your royalty for sales to your projected royalty for borrows (multiply your KENPC by $0.0058).

How do these compare?

  • If your projected royalty for borrows exceeds your royalty for sales, leaving KDP Select doesn’t make much sense unless you normally don’t get many borrows compared to sales.
  • If your projected royalty is in the same ballpark as your royalty for sales, that really doesn’t change much unless you get few borrows compared to sales (or if many customers don’t read 100% of your book).
  • If your projected royalty is much less than your royalty for sales, you need a huge amount of borrows to compensate for sales that you might earn outside of Kindle.


  • List price = 99 cents, KENPC = 50 pages. Projected royalty = 50 x $0.0058 = $0.29. Royalty for sales = $0.34. Borrows pay nearly the same as sales. I’d be inclined to keep the book in KDP Select, unless it doesn’t get borrowed much.
  • List price = $2.99, KENPC = 40 pages. Projected royalty = 40 x $0.0058 = $0.23. Royalty for sales = $2.09 (could be much less if there is a significant delivery fee). Borrows pay much less than sales. I’d be inclined to opt out of KDP Select and publish elsewhere, unless the book gets borrowed frequently but rarely sells. Or if some qualitative factor makes up for the financial differential (see below).
  • List price = $2.99, KENPC = 200 pages. Projected royalty = 200 x $0.0058 = $1.16. Royalty for sales = $2.09. First, $1.16 isn’t too different than what borrows used to earn. If the book gets borrowed about as much (or more) as it sells, the sales rank boost may make it worthwhile to stay in KDP Select.
  • List price = $3.99, KENPC = 500 pages. Projected royalty = 500 x $0.0058 = $2.90. Royalty for sales = $2.79. That’s a no-brainer. You stay in KDP Select unless (A) you hardly get any borrows compared to sales or (B) most of your customers stop reading partway through (and it will take a couple of months to really know if that’s the case—don’t expect short-term results in your report to paint the complete picture).

But there is more to this decision than just math.


Every borrow through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime helps your book’s Amazon sales rank.

That’s one of the benefits of being in KDP Select. It helps with visibility.

Another thing that helps with visibility: All those borrows help you land on customers-also-bought lists and other Amazon marketing.

You not only lose the royalty from borrows, you also lose these sales rank and exposure benefits, if you opt out of KDP Select (and access to Kindle Countdown Deals and AMS advertisements).

Look at the full picture and weigh that against the benefits of selling on Nook, Kobo, etc. when deciding whether or not to enroll in KDP Select.


If you can wait until August 15, you will have access to real data:

  • Your prior months’ report will show exactly how much you earned for July via KDP Select borrows.
  • You will know how much Amazon paid for KENP read (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read) in July, 2015.
  • You will know how many KENP read you had on average in July, 2015.
  • You will have 15 days of data for KENP read in August, 2015.
  • You will know if Amazon added anything to the $11M payout for July (seems doubtful, but who knows?).
  • You can browse Amazon and see how many books there are in your subcategory (which will only make sense if you go there right now and see what the current number is). You don’t have to guess whether books are dropping out of your subcategory: You just have to look and see. (If some do drop out, maybe that helps you gain exposure. Exactly how you should interpret any change isn’t quite so obvious.)
  • It’s possible that between now and then Amazon will make an important announcement (perhaps even tweaking the program for future months). You never know.

Before then, you really don’t know how accurate the projected $0.0058 will be.


Amazon is paying $11M in combined royalties to KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime in July and August.

They will pay out over $100M for 2015 via KDP Select royalties for borrows.

What does this mean? It’s a huge share of the e-book market.

Kindle Unlimited subscribers are unlikely to buy books that aren’t enrolled in KDP Select when they can read their choice of a million books for free.

You’re probably going to lose access to this subscriber base if you opt out of KDP Select.

And it’s a relatively indie-friendly audience.


Since KDP Select only entails a 90-day commitment, some authors enroll in KDP Select initially to take advantage of the benefits for 90 days or to test it out, intending to opt out when the enrollment period ends and publish elsewhere in addition to KDP.

If so, be sure to uncheck the automatic renewal box (and double-check this shortly before renewal) to successfully opt out. (You must also wait for the renewal date to pass before publishing your e-book edition anywhere other than Kindle.)

This strategy gives you the best of both worlds (though not simultaneously), and lets you test out KDP Select before deciding whether or not to publish elsewhere too.

You could even advertise to your audience that your book will only be in Kindle Unlimited for 90 days and after that subscribers will lose their chance to get your book for free.

Look at your numbers for the first 90 days. You might see reasons to stay in KDP Select or to opt out. The data may aid you in your decision.


The main reason to opt out of KDP Select is to get out of the exclusivity clause—to publish your e-book on Nook, Kobo, etc.

Many authors find that they don’t sell many e-books outside of Kindle. A few authors sell well outside of Kindle.

Note that iPad customers, for example, can read your Kindle e-book through Kindle apps, and anyone with a tablet, laptop, or PC can read your Kindle e-book with a Kindle app. That is, you don’t have to own a Kindle device to read Kindle e-books.

The real question is this: Does your unique book have potential to sell via other e-book retailers, like Nook and Kobo? Do you have specific marketing plans that may help improve your prospects of selling e-books outside of Kindle?

If you intend to opt out of KDP Select, you want answers to these questions. Visit these retailers, see what kind of e-books are selling in your genre or category. See how indie e-books are doing there. Find out how those indie authors are marketing their e-books.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


Click here to jump to the comments section.

Your WordPress Stats Are Booming: 1000 Views per Day

Blog Stats


WordPress has some great messages. They are very encouraging.

My favorite is:

Your stats are booming! chrismcmullen is getting lots of traffic.

Your blog, chrismcmullen, appears to be getting more traffic than usual! 103 hourly views – 29 hourly views on average.

A spike in your stats.

It would be cool if Amazon KDP did that for self-published authors. Just imagine logging into KDP and seeing one of these messages:

  • Congratulations! You just sold your 100th book.
  • Way to go! You just received your 10th customer review.
  • That’s a new record. 1000 pages read today.

It would make self-publishing even more engaging. It would help motivate you to keep up the good work.

In an industry where negativity is difficult to avoid, it would help authors remain a little more positive.

Amazon has an opportunity here, if only they would learn from WordPress’s fine example.

I love blogging. I enjoy the positive messages that I receive from WordPress.


Those booming stats—100 views per hour (temporarily)—helped me reach a new milestone.

Today, for the first time, I had over 1000 views in a single day.

I’ve been averaging around 500 views per day recently. It has steadily grown and continues to steadily grow.

Blog Stats 2

My previous best had been a little under 900, and that was when I had the amazing good fortune for Amazon KDP to link to one of my posts on Twitter and Facebook. That was over 6 months ago. It’s taken half a year to equal that feat on my own.

I had been averaging around 300 views per day back then, so 900 was nearly triple the norm.

For several months prior to that, my best had been 432. Those 432 views came when WordPress selected my poem of clichés, Once Upon a Time, to be Freshly Pressed.

The great thing about my new best, exceeding 1000 views, is that this time hundreds of views didn’t come from a single source.

This marks my 7th consecutive day of at least 700 views, so it comes with some consistency, rather than one oddball day. The last two days were both very close to 900.


Another great thing about WordPress is that you can see where your views are coming from.

Blog Stats 3

Knowledge is power, right? WordPress gives us a lot of that knowledge. I use that data to help blog more effectively.

Again, Amazon could learn something from WordPress. If Amazon KDP gave us more data regarding book traffic, conversion rates, etc. (obviously, without giving so much as to sacrifice customer privacy), we could use that information to sell more books. (I betcha Amazon would like for us to all sell more books. Whatcha think?)

The number I see here is this: 594 views came from search engines. In a typical day, 400 people discover my blog through search engines who previously didn’t know anything about me (or my books). My blog started out very slow, just like everyone else. My blog is still young, too. I meet many other WordPress bloggers whose stats are far more impressive than mine are. (And they are such good sports that they will congratulate me in the comments section when they themselves are averaging hundreds more views per day than I am. It’s an amazing community.)

Another thing I notice is that 164 views originated from Facebook, but only 1 came from Twitter. (What do all those retweets tell you?)

The person who linked to my blog from Kindle Boards: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. (While only 5 visited my blog from that link today, there were many more than that from Kindle Boards yesterday.)

Just imagine if Amazon told you that 150 of your views came from Facebook, 50 came from Twitter, and 600 came from BookBub (while you had 200 sales). We could learn so much if we didn’t sell in ignorance…

Don’t get me wrong. Amazon is amazing. I love Amazon. (Seriously, I wrote a love letter to Amazon and published it on my blog.)

Amazon has done many amazing things for authors, including indie authors.

So why not ask for a few more favors? Seems like a win-win situation…

Several views also came from my WordPress followers. Somehow I have over 6000 amazing followers.

Many of my daily views come from one very generous and courteous follower, Chris the Story Reading Ape. The Story Reading Ape is an incredible supporter of readers and authors alike. I very often get the second most referrals directly from the Story Reading Ape’s blog. Thank you very much, Chris the Story Reading Ape. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has viewed my blog, and a double thank you to those who have ever liked, reblogged, retweeted, or otherwise shared any of my posts. I greatly appreciate it.

At WordPress, you can even see literally where you blog traffic comes from:

Blog Stats 4


If I can do it, so can you.

See this post for 21 blogging tips.


As you may know (if you follow my blog, how can you not know it?), Amazon KDP recently changed its policy to pay KDP Select authors for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows based on the number of pages read.

This is the reason that I just had 1044 views of my blog.

The change in Kindle Unlimited policy is a new and hot topic.

I’ve been blogging about it since the change was announced.

I’ve also blogged about Kindle Unlimited and related topics several times in the past, so I already had search engine traffic under similar tags and categories.

But ultimately, content is king. Write quality content that your target audience will enjoy (and which you will enjoy writing about).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


Click here to jump to the comments section.