KDP select is a program where authors can earn money through Kindle Unlimited and
the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. How this works, is your eBook is listed for free exclusively for Kindle readers for 90 days, and after the 90 days you have the option to re-enroll or end it. I know you're wondering how us authors benefit from giving away our books for free. The benefit is that we earn royalties for KENP reads. (pages read once) Based on what I have seen, it seems the idea behind this is attracting more readers with a free product, which may lead to more Amazon reviews (We all know how important those are!), which if positive, may lead more sales later, or even more downloads if you decided to stay enrolled. Authors have different goals, so depending on what your goals are, this may or may not seem like a good strategy for you.
Now going into this, I did my research and saw that a lot of self-published authors were raving about it with great reviews. So I decided to try it.
Now, I have to be honest, I wasn't too fond of the idea of my book being free for 3 months. Also, during this time, you are under a contract with Amazon, and not allowed to publish your title anywhere else. I only publish with Amazon, but I know others tend to publish with Kobo, Smashwords, etc... So be warned.
Just because your book is downloaded, does not mean it will be read. Like most things, people will take advantage of free stuff just because, but may not ever use them. Even if people read your book, they may not open it any time soon, or only read a little at a time. So the royalties you earn may not come immediately.
Offering a book for free, may attract people outside of your demographic who wouldn't normally show interest in your book if it weren't free. This may lead to negative reviews from people who didn't like it.
Exposure! Now I understand that money is important for a lot of authors out there, but for those of you like myself, who think connecting with your fans/readers is more important than sales, It's a great way to get your work out there.
They offer 5 free days of promo a month, which can get you anywhere from 50 to 100+ downloads a day. Most sites make you pay for promos, so free is always good.
Since you earn royalties from pages read, you have the possibility of making more money with KDP select than without it. My book is listed for 2.99, with a 70% royalty. During the month I signed up for KDP select, my sales were pretty stagnant, only selling 2 copies and making $4.18. I enrolled my book in KDP select, and got 176 downloads in 3 days, and 140 page reads. Based on my understanding from various online sources, the royalty rate changes every month, but usually ends up being about half a cent per page, so I earned about 70 cents. Doing a comparison, my book is about 133 pages, so, if 2 people read my book fully, that's about $1.22. So around 80 cents less than what I earn selling 1 eBook at my list price. Now that may seem bad, but if people are downloading your book by the hundreds per day, which often happens especially during promo days, your chances of getting reads are high, so its still possible to profit from reads vs. sales.
I still can't say if it's right for everyone. I've met plenty of writers who all seem to have different goals whether it be profits, exposure, or just enjoying the joy of writing. If profits aren't your #1 goal, (and as an author I feel like it shouldn't be, but I'm not here to preach. lol) then KDP select may be good for you. If you value your profit numbers, then maybe you can skip it. I'm currently still enrolled, not sure if I'll continue after the 3 months is up, but we'll see! I don't hate it, but right now I can't say if it's something I would do permanently.