Contributing Writers Beware!!!


If you deal exclusively with Amazon as I have done up until now, you will be all too aware that since they introduced Kindle Unlimited and the subscription service, that royalties previously earned from the sale of books enrolled in Kindle Select began to dramatically reduce. Now thanks to the addition, on July 1st, of the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read System within KU, the value of royalties paid by Amazon has got to the point where it’s now reduced to nothing more than chump change.

To give you an example, one of my titles The Seventh Age, which initially was a best seller back in 2012, (slightly over 250,000 copies) shows that so far a mere 588 pages have been read since the 1st. That is equal to approximately four actual copies of the eBook, give or take a few pages. Sounds good right? Wrong!

All the page read system has generated so far in royalties for the above book is a paltry US$2.10 before tax. I ask you, is that any way to treat hard working writers? I think not!!! Let’s face it, receiving 0.0357142857 per page read is a gross insult, not to mention the fact that for this system to work, it requires that readers be spied on? I wonder how would you react if you knew that yourr Kindle is being monitored? Plus how would you feel if you knew that the eBook you paid for, doesn’t actually belong to you? Does Amazon care about any of this? Of course not. The only thing they’re interested in is how much profit they can make from each eBook. If anyone thinks this new payment system is fair, they’re kidding themselves.

“But surely this is a case of greedy writers receiving another royalty payment for a book already bought,” I hear you cry. No, It replaces conventional royalties. They don’t appear as normal sales on KDP. It’sΒ  part and parcel of the subscription service. You know the one – all you can read for X dollars per month. Amazon have dropped royalty payments for any book within Select and KU altogether, in favour of the new ‘pay per page read’ system, thereby consigning traditional royalty payments to the garbage bin.

If it’s allowed to continue, the only ones who will benefit from this ludicrous situation apart from Amazon itself, are the handful of contributing Indie authors to Amazon whose books sell in the millions. For the vast majority, (myself included) we all lose out big time if we continue to enroll a book in Kindle Select. Think about it!

Normally a copy of the particular book in question will cost the reader US$2.99, which creates a 70% royalty payment before tax, whether in or out of Kindle Select. So to continue receiving the same amount, I have been forced to remove all of my titles from Kindle Select, simply because there is no other way to remove a title from the KU element hidden within it with its dreaded pay by page read system. Which means that I won’t receive any royalty payments from normal sales for at least another 90 days. That’s when the current Kindle Select period covering my books ends.

Yes sales of all my books will undoubtedly slow. But at least I’ll be back to collecting standard royalties from each sale, no matter how few or far between. Putting up with Amazon’s exclusivity clause is one thing. But this time they have really shown how little they care about their contributing Indie writers. The fact is that to Amazon, we’re nothing more than cash cows to be ruthlessly exploited!

Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view, so far Amazon has only applied their latest way to reduce the amount of money paid out in royalties to eBooks. But give them time. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they’re trying to find a method of reducing royalties paid for paperbacks published via KDP. Unlike your Kindle reader or app, they can’t monitor how many pages are being read in a physical book.

While our readers won’t necessarily give a damn so long as they get to read our books, as the authors of those books, we must. Surely the time has come for all of us to consider changing publishers if we wish to continue in the world of words! Easier said than done. For my part, I’m fortunate that I don’t depend on royalties to pay the bills. Many do…


Now, take the time to read what Mark Coker from Smashwords and my fellow Indie, Derek Haines, has to say on the subject of this underhand move by Amazon to make more money at the expense of its contributing Indie writers. Don’t forget to read the numerous comments while your at it.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Mark finds that he gets more and more disgruntled authors knocking on his door in the immediate future when they see how little they are being paid by Amazon.

19 thoughts on “Contributing Writers Beware!!!

  1. Thanks for this informative article Jack. I will be removing those of my titles enrolled in KDP Select but will not, for the time being at least be abandoning Amazon all together. If someone purchases a book they buy the whole product (although I dislike thinking of literature in that manner). One doesn’t purchase a new variety of biscuit, only eat half of the tin and then expect the producer of the biscuit to only be paid for those biscuits one has consumed so why should books be treated any differently?


  2. Amazon’s Select self published authors have always been used as the guinea pigs for anything Amazon want to try. So this is only a new episode in a long list. The only positive I can see, is that I may stop offering free ebooks for promotion, and hope to pick up at least a little on page reads. But I’m not hopeful. The other point to make is that while $11m for one month may sound like a big pot, if you do a simple calculation based on, let’s say 100,000 authors, that’s only a return of $110. Not a lot to feed the family on!

    On the other hand, Smashwords have recently run into trouble with their supply of ebooks to Scibd, another ebook subscription service, who have withdrawn almost all Smashwords romance titles, as they were being downloaded at a rate that has created a huge loss for Scribd.

    It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, offering a buffet of all you can eat for ebook readers is not going to work. In music, yes perhaps, as a song is consumed in 3 minutes. But an ebook?

    Judging from my early data, for the last few months I had a lot KU downloads every single day, but this months so far, I can only see two ebooks read, but have no data for how many ebooks have been actually downloaded and remain unread. It tells me that under an all you can eat subscription service, readers get greedy and download far more than they can read. And this is exactly why Amazon have changed their model.

    No matter the formula however, authors are alway at the bottom of the food chain.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have books on Smashwords as well as Amazon and never had any difficult with their formatting process. (You take twelve months to write a novel, spending an extra half hour formatting it for Smashwords is not really a big deal.)

    I don’t have books in Kindle Unlimited, just the regular 30% royalty bit. I was saying over twelve months ago that Amazon is not the friend of the author, but all I ever heard was ‘yes they are, they opened the door that mainstream publishing was keeping closed.’ Well, maybe authors might start waking up to the fact that Amazon is a corporation and is a friend to no one. Some authors should grow up and stop treating Amazon like the tooth fairy; it’s a rapacious business, not a benevolent charity!

    Liked by 1 person

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