Kindle Royalty Payment Changes Roundup

Amazon has recently announced a major overhaul of how it will calculate royalties to be paid on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select Lending Library borrows.

Since most authors seem perplexed at how the new system works, and will affect them, here’s a roundup of reactions from people who’ve done some analysis.

Over on the Melville House blog, the outlook on these changes is gloomy:

When Kindle Unlimited was first formed, it offered royalties to authors as long as book borrowers read 10% of the text. Now authors are likely to make less money each time the book’s borrowed, unless his or her readers complete a considerable chunk of the text (or even–gasp–read the whole thing).

Trent Evans isn’t so sure, and he lays out a very detailed and intricate financial analysis to back up his theory that the changes could be a good thing for authors, since they will very likely force authors to stop slicing and dicing their books into much shorter novellas in order to get more borrows:

The more I think about this, the more I suspect this change is almost wholly focused on combating the rampant gaming of KU that’s been going on. The absurd ease with which KU (in its current form) can be ruthlessly gamed is one of the many reasons why I stayed far away (after my initial experiment with it).


C.E. Kilgore is in agreement with Evans on the “gaming” aspect, but her overall opinion of the changes is still negative and she calls Amazon’s sample payout scenarios into question:

Now, being paid per page means that the 25 page novellas filling the pool are going to be earning significantly less than their 250 page swimming-buddies. But, exactly how significantly less isn’t being honestly represented.

In [Amazon’s] redonk [payout calculation] example, they are giving each page a $10 worth. Excuse me for a moment while I LOL at that. Authors, please – stop right there and don’t even get any ideas about that actually happening. No way is Amazon EVER going to pay out anything close to $10 per page.

A more reasonably achievable figure is 1 penny per page (but I believe it will end up being something more like 0.006 cents – 0.008 cents per page ‘ i.e. not even a penny per page) payouts.


Read the different perspectives and analyses before making up your mind about the likely impact on your own Kindle books.


Episodic Fiction is Finding a New Home on Kindle Unlimited

This post by Michael Kozlowski originally appeared on GoodEReader on 3/11/15.

Indie authors are disrupting e-book publishing by writing episodic fiction. They are primarily distributing the titles through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle lending library. This is providing a financial boon to authors who write 60 page novels in a serialized manner. This method of writing is quickly becoming more profitable than simply writing a single feature length novel.

Serialized fiction first gained prominence in Victorian England and it first appeared in newspapers. It was practiced by such literary giants as Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy and Joseph Conrad. It fell out of favor in the last fifty years, but is now making a rebound, thanks to Amazon.

Things have been fairly static in self-publishing and traditional publishing for decades. An author writes a book and has it distributed through specific sales channels. They promote a single title and get paid when readers purchase it. Now we have Amazon picking up the tab when a book is read and the reader pays virtually nothing.

The Kindle Lending Library was first established in 2011 and allows members who opt into Amazon Prime to read one free book a month. This has proven to be a lucrative method for indie authors to garner sales. Kindle Unlimited is a similar program, but instead of a Prime membership, users pay around $10.00 a month and read as many e-books they want.


Read the full post on GoodEReader.


‘Who Decided Our Worth?’ Do Free Books Give Away Authors’ Value?

This post by Porter Anderson originally appeared on Thought Catalog on 1/28/15.

‘There’s Something Badly Wrong’

For those following the industry! the industry! in its digital melodrama, tossing books to the crowd free is not new.

But the question of whether today’s plethora of free offers may devalue books and/or authors in readers’ minds is not going away as easily as some folks wish it would.

The London-based author Roz Morris (both traditionally and self- published) became concerned enough about the issue this week to write Free book giveaways – when do they work? When don’t they? In it, she writes:

I’ll admit that I worry we give away our work too easily. If we create a culture where a book costs less than a sheet of gift-wrap and a greetings card, there’s something badly wrong. An ebook may not have material form, but it does give you more time and experience than something you glance at and throw away. And tellingly, the people who get cross with me for speaking out are the ones who say they refuse to spend more than a couple of dollars on a book, or berate me for not putting my books into Kindle Unlimited.

Indeed, the question of her headline — when do free books work? — is not the interesting part.


Read the full post on Thought Catalog.


Increasing the “Look Inside” Preview on Amazon

This post by Melinda Clayton originally appeared on Indies Unlimited on 1/12/14.

One of the best marketing tools self-published authors have is the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon. If things go well, your title, cover, and book description will catch the attention of a reader who eagerly clicks “Look Inside” to read a sample of your writing, and they see…

…nothing more than your copyright page and table of contents? Well, that’s not very helpful, is it? I’ve honestly never known anyone to buy a book based on the “Look Inside” preview of a copyright page. This is especially problematic if you’re hoping to send your book out for reviews or list it on a site that vets books for quality (ahem…IU, anyone?). From formatting to tone, to grammar usage and typos, the first pages of your story show it all. But what if they aren’t displayed?

Kindle Direct Publishing sets the “Look Inside” feature at 10 percent. For a novella, short story, or children’s book, that typically isn’t enough to see much, if any, of the actual story.


Read the full post, which includes a detailed how-to with screenshots, on Indies Unlimited.


Amazon Offers All-You-Can-Eat Books. Authors Turn Up Noses.

This article by David Streitfeld originally appeared on The New York Times on 12/27/14.

Authors are upset with Amazon. Again.

For much of the last year, mainstream novelists were furious that Amazon was discouraging the sale of some titles in its confrontation with the publisher Hachette over e-books.

Now self-published writers, who owe much of their audience to the retailer’s publishing platform, are unhappy.

One problem is too much competition. But a new complaint is about Kindle Unlimited, a new Amazon subscription service that offers access to 700,000 books — both self-published and traditionally published — for $9.99 a month.

It may bring in readers, but the writers say they earn less. And in interviews and online forums, they have voiced their complaints.

“Six months ago people were quitting their day job, convinced they could make a career out of writing,” said Bob Mayer, an e-book consultant and publisher who has written 50 books. “Now people are having to go back to that job or are scraping to get by. That’s how quickly things have changed.”


Read the full article on The New York Times.