How to Opt Out of KDP Select in Light of New Payout Rules

Kindle Unlimited discontentThe indie author world was aflutter with talk June 15 when Amazon announced it was changing the way it paid authors who joined the Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program. The changes (which involve compensating authors based on the number of pages a reader completes) left some saying they wanted out of the program.

Amazon, having anticipated this, announced that authors who were unhappy could exit the KDP Select program early, if they wanted. Under the program, authors agree to sell their eBooks exclusively at Amazon.com for a 90-day period. Generally, if you violate the 90-day exclusivity, all sorts of woe awaits you (I give the exact details further down in this post).

Given that Amazon is saying it’s okay to jump ship early without any woe, I was curious how it worked. I emailed Amazon using the Contact Us button on KDP (you must be logged into your KDP account to do this). I asked what exactly authors need to do to use this early exit option. Here is their response.

Is there a deadline for opting out? Probably not (I know, not an awesome start). The email I received said, “As of now, there is no deadline.” However, the Amazon rep did note that changes could be made in the future, so authors should check for any updates at this Amazon Help Page. I must admit the idea of no deadline initially struck me as odd. After giving it a moment more of thought, however, I realized that having no particular deadline may not be as odd as it seems. First off, the new program starts July 1. If an author wanted to try the program for July, they wouldn’t even find out the per-page payment rate until Aug. 15 (if the program works the same way it did previously, revealing the payment rate on the 15th of the following month). So forcing an earlier deadline might make people choose to opt out, rather than give it a try. Also, KDP Select terms are only 90 days, so anyone who signed up as of June 15 (the day the announcement was made) would be finished with their term by September 15. The early termination option would likely only affect people through that date. Once that date came and went, people wouldn’t need to leave early. They simply would not renew their Select enrollment. So “no deadline” really seems more like Amazon saying, if you’re enrolled in the program now, you can hang around and see what this new program looks like. Do remember, this may not be the last word on the deadline. Check back on that help page in case Amazon changes its mind.

exit signHow do you Opt Out? Amazon answered this on its Help Page (the link referenced above): just email them the ASIN of the book you want to take out of the program. I would suggest writing a simple statement. “Per the June 15th announcement (paste the Help Page link from above), I would like to unenroll this book (Title, ASIN) from the KDP Select program. Please send me a confirmation when the unenrollment is complete. Thank you.”

How long will it take? The rep said, “Unenrollment is immediate as soon as we fulfill your request.” Okay, let’s not quibble with the logical holes in that statement; I think it was just awkwardly worded. It sounds like he’s saying, once you ask them to unenroll a book, they start the process immediately. I had been concerned they might simply record all the ASINs that wanted out and do a mass drop on June 30. That is not the case. Once you ask for out, they start shoving you toward the door. Unfortunately, the rep failed to answer my question about how long it would take. Hopefully, unenrolling doesn’t take any longer than the publishing process (which seems to vary from as little as 6 hours, to as many as 72 hours).

When can you publish your unenrolled book elsewhere? Well, the rep said, “As soon as you are unenrolled and we send you the confirmation, you are free to publish those books on other platforms.” So, do wait for that confirmation before hitting publish on any other sites. You’re certainly welcome to upload the files to the other sites so they’re ready to go, but don’t jump the gun. You don’t want that unpleasant letter from Amazon saying you’ve violated the terms of your KDP Select agreement. FYI, the KDP agreement says: “If you don’t comply with these KDP Select terms and conditions, we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book for the Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Programs, and we may offset any of those Royalties that were previously paid against future Royalties, or require you to remit them to us. We may also withhold your Royalty payments on all your Digital Books for a period of up to 90 days while we investigate. This doesn’t limit other remedies we have, such as prohibiting your future participation in KDP Select or KDP generally.”

The boilerplate is probably for the worst of the worst, but it’s not something you want to run afoul of, if you enjoy selling on Amazon.

And that is all I know about opting out. If you have more questions, I don’t have answers. Contacting Amazon’s KDP program directly would be your best bet for getting specific, accurate answers.

Author: RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist turned novelist. By day, she writes thrillers with a touch of romance. By night, she practices the art of ninja mom. To learn more about her or her books, visit her website or her Author Central page.

26 thoughts on “How to Opt Out of KDP Select in Light of New Payout Rules”

    1. Yes, the per page read, rather than written, system is going in a direction that many people don’t like. We don’t pay the restaurant based on how much food we eat, as opposed to how much we’re served.

      Certainly, the opt out is good for those who decided to give it a try recently, only to have the rules change.

      1. The biggest difference is that I don’t pay the same amount for a burger from McDonald’s as I do for filet mignon.

        Amazon has been tracking information like this for some time, now they’re just being more open about it.

        1. Diana, it’s true that Amazon has been tracking this data for awhile. But, your analogy is a bit off. The purchase price of a filet mignon is higher than the price of a McDonald’s burger, and the purchaser can decide if the filet mignon is worth the price differential. Right now, generally, shorts have lesser purchase prices, and if not, the consumer can decide if they want to pay the higher price.

          The new model is more analogous to you going into a high end restaurant, eating a bite of the filet mignon, and saying you’re going to pay the same price you’d pay for a cheap hamburger, because that’s how much worth of the filet mignon you ate. Or even going into a fast food restaurant, and paying for the amount of burger you ate (whether that be half or one bite or what have you). The new Amazon system, in fact values every page at the same amount, whether it’s filet mignon or hamburger. It matters solely how much of it you eat (i.e. how many pages read).

          Maybe that’s the way things are going, and maybe it will work out fine. But we can’t pretend it’s not a shift in mindset. Maybe people will generally always consume more of the filet mignon than they do of the burger, and stuff will shake out fine for the author. Still, it’s different from before, and unlike any other business model I know. However, I’ve not studied world business models, and I’m not going to condemn the system without seeing how it works. I’m willing to wait and see. But I think it’s fair to say this is a very different model.

          1. As the system stands right now, my analogy is correct. You have to remember Amazon isn’t talking about purchase price or royalties paid on purchases. They’re changing the way royalties are paid for borrows–which currently pays the same for a burger or a high end steak. Right now if you consume 10% of your meal (book) the cook (author) {I love analogies BTW} gets 100% of payment. This is great for authors who write short serial novels priced at $1.99 or less. They actually make more money per borrow than they would from a sale. However, for authors who write full-length novels and price them at $2.99 or above, this model pays out less. Twenty page books are paying out exactly the same as two hundred page books.

            Personally, I wasn’t thrilled with the way things were run for this program both with the payout and the exclusivity clause. Many, many authors suffered a major sales loss and were forced into the program only to be paid less for their work.

            In addition, Amazon claims to have created a formula to make sure that all pages are counted equally. That font size, margins, etc. will not be a determining factor toward payout.

            I agree that it’s a wait and see game. Amazon has never been forthcoming with information, and the only true way of knowing will be to watch our earnings reports.

  1. I went through and unchecked the automatic renewal. Once I get notified by Amazon (or see myself they are no longer in KDP Select) I will submit my works elsewhere.

    1. Just to be clear for those who took a quick glance at your comment, unchecking the box doesn’t get anyone out of Select early. Unchecking the box simply doesn’t re-enroll a person.

      If someone wants to leave Select early, they need to follow the steps in the article.

      Now, if your Select term ends in early July, it may not be worth opting out early because the current Select payment policy remains in effect until the end of June. If you want to stay until the end of June for those royalties, and you don’t plan to opt out until July 1, and your term ends early July, it’s probably just as easy to uncheck the box than to spend the effort opting out.

  2. Thank you for this, although I’m wondering who’d really need it. KDP Select is only 90 days, after all. But I have seen some authors who are very angry about the changes, so I guess they might well appreciate this guide. Maybe some authors notice a huge differences between being in and out, but for me it’s small potatoes (though I do take inordinate pleasure in things like the four books I sold in Australia through Kobo this month — I guess novelty gives things extra value). I’m completely out of Select as of earlier this week anyway. Then again, if you want to give a book a good launch, I think KDP Select is still the best tool most of us have available, at least until we have built our own passionate following.

    1. I think some people know they have shorts that won’t do well in the new system, so they plan to opt out. There are others who simply don’t wish to be the guinea pigs, so they’d prefer to watch from the sidelines until they see how the new system works.

  3. And I’ve never been notified by KDP that I am no longer in Select. You’ll know because on the Dashboard it will say “Enroll in KDP Select” instead of something else.

    1. I think they will only notify you that you’re out if you request to opt out before your 90 days is up. I’ve never gotten a notice from them either.

  4. Out of curiosity, for people who are getting out of KDP Select – is it to make a stand/express your disagreement with their policy change, or is it because you fear people won’t be reading enough pages of your book to earn the royalty payment, thus not making the program profitable to you? I only ask this because I’m wondering how I should respond and want to get opinions. Thanks! 🙂

    1. I think it varies from person to person. I know someone who has a very short short in the program and even if readers read every page, it seems at that length, it won’t be worth enough to stay in the program. But, I think every person is different. Amazon shares very little information, so it’s unlikely we’ll find out from them if there are a large number of people leaving, or if most people are staying. I think they like to keep that information close to them. But, whether people stay or go, I imagine we’ll get our first inkling of whether this new program meets author expectations after the first couple of months, when authors see the number of pages readers are reading and the per-page payout rate.

      Change often sounds scary, and sometimes it even is, but we won’t know how this works (on a practical level) until we see it in action.

      1. Oh, I assumed it would be a percentage thing – as in, if readers get less than 10% into your book, it doesn’t count as a sale. If they only get 1/2 way through, it earns you 1/2 a royalty payment, etc. I assumed it was to encourage quality in the KU program, a criticism many people had. So you’re saying longer books will be paid more than shorter books – which I would assume would be to try to solve the problem of so many authors breaking their books up into “bite-sized” segments in a ply to get more royalties. Huh…interesting…

  5. Well, I am staying in. I already have over 1300 borrows this month for my novels, with 200+ pp each. If all you guys opt out of KU, that will leave more money on the table for me from July forwards. I am in KU less for the money than for the added visibility, mind.

    For writers of longer books, especially series, this change should be advantageous. I suspect that a lot of writers with full-length works will opt in from September, so the summer (vacation) months may prove especially profitable for those of us already in.

    1. Sounds like a plan, May. I don’t know whether the trend will be for authors to opt out or opt in. But, I think Amazon did the right thing by giving authors the ability to opt out because the rules have changed.

      Certainly, I don’t think Amazon is trying to push authors out, so much as give people who say, “this is not what I signed up for” a chance to leave. That’s fair. I’m sure a good number of people will stay. While there was a lot of hue and outcry, there was equal amount of enthusiasm for the new payment plan.

  6. Yeah, May, I think I’m with you. My book is just shy of 300 pages and KU has been real good for me so far. I think I’ll wait and watch for awhile before I make any changes. 🙂

  7. Amazon says there were 1.9 billion page reads in June. That means instead of $.10 per page as they suggested, it will be roughly $.005 per page. If they read every page of your 200 page novel, you only get $1.00.

    This is like having an all-you-can-eat buffet and rewarding Quaker Oats heavily for the volume of oatmeal they provide, then paying virtually nothing to the producer of a candy bar because it’s a small-volume food. Remove all the yummy stuff from your buffet (erotica, children’s books, etc) and people will stop coming.

  8. $1.00 for 200 pages? That actually bodes pretty well for my 300 page book. It sells for $2.99, and I think my royalties for a regular Kindle sale is roughly a buck. I’ll be making the same amount or maybe even a few cents more!

  9. Hello All:
    As usual, another informative post by R.J. – thanks for sharing!! (smile)

    I read the advice to contact Amazon’s Help Page; however, my situation isn’t addressed on that page. So I’m wondering if anyone on this forum has experienced my situation. If so, please share your solution, experience, etc.
     My eBook (Write Like A Pro-2) is only 65 pages
     It’s distributed through Draft2Digital (thanks to RJ’s recommendation-among others)
     I wasn’t aware of Amazon’s exclusivity clause until AFTER I’d posted my eBook on other sites
     I’ve sent several emails to insidethebook-submission@amazon.com – but no response from them
     The first edition was published by Bookboon/London, which I’m no longer affiliated. However, I self-published the second edition and don’t have an ASIN

    Although referred to as “small potatoes,” I would like to have the second edition on Amazon; but not interested in their exclusivity arrangement. Plus my eBook is less than 100 pages. Any information shared will be appreciated. Thanks!!

    Connected by the written word,
    Marcía/USA-Atlanta, GA

    1. Have you confirmed that it is on Amazon? And you don’t have to be exclusive unless you sign up for KDP Select. Simply publishing on Amazon is not enough to make you have to be exclusive.

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