Amazon: The Elephant in the Room

Elephant or Amazon?

Elephant or Amazon?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to advise young or beginning writers of any age. Knowing how we did it when I began isn’t necessarily the way to go today. A few months ago I was still advising self-published authors and experienced authors with a backlist that they owned the copyright on to publish to Kindle, perhaps even go the route of KDP Select. In essence that meant that they could not publish the book anywhere else, but they received several perks.

A lot of us jumped in early and earned some good money. What will happen with the changes Amazon is adapting is anyone’s guess. But I can’t say I didn’t expect it. For the past year I’ve taught workshops on how to format and upload to Kindle, but always warning everyone that Amazon remains the elephant in the room. Hovering there, so huge that anything it decides to do will be done.

After reading the Kindle release explaining Kindle Unlimited, well I’ll admit it sounds good on the surface. Here’s the simple explanation taken from that newsletter:

“Now, when you enroll your title in KDP Select, your title will be included in Kindle Unlimited–a new subscription service for readers in the U.S. and a new revenue opportunity for authors enrolled in KDP Select. Customers are able to read as many books as they want from a library of over 600,000 titles while subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. When your title is read past 10%–about the length of reading the free sample available in Kindle books–you will earn a share of the KDP Select monthly global fund. For July we’ve added $800,000 to the fund, bringing the July fund amount to $2 million.”

Here’s what Publisher’s Lunch had to say about it:

“With KU, Amazon has gone from giving exclusive self-published authors their best deal (70 percent of sales) to giving them their worst deal (an unspecified monthly share of a pool). They unilaterally changed the game, and the extent to which they make it up to those authors by increasing the monthly pool of pro-rated cash that pays for KU and Kindle Owner’s Lending Library reads is at Amazon’s sole discretion. You can be sure that if a regular publisher did such a thing, there would be howling across the internet. (Don’t get too satisfied, publishers; this is why authors and agents already hate unbounded high-discount clauses, and why they objected to agency unilaterally changing their new release royalties.”

Of course both go on to explain in detail, in a most confusing language, what this will do to and for authors enrolled in Kindle Select.

I’ve joined the ranks of many other authors and will take a wait and see attitude. If, as Amazon says, our sales royalties will increase, then fine; but others are warning that will not be the case. So if they tank, I’ll reconsider my other options. Sales online usually drop a bit in the summer, so it will take a few months to get a feel for this new program. At any rate, it’s not so much how many books we sell as how much we are going to make in royalties under the program.

If you would like to read the entire explanation from Amazon and/or Publishers Lunch, let me know and I’ll email them to you. There are other opinions out there, so check the forums at Kindle to see what others are saying about this.

If you are a member of Kindle Select, you will see your prices on Amazon set at 0.00 for Prime Kindle Unlimited. But does that mean you get no royalties? According to Amazon it does not. Every time your book is read for at least 10%, which is usually the chapter published with your book, you as the author will receive a percentage of the “pot.”

Published authors with a backlist are treated the same as self-published authors on Kindle. Only time will tell if this program will be better or worse, who it will hurt and who it will help. But if I were you and enrolled there, I would begin to look at other options. Just in case. There are some small publishers that would republish your book if they like it, even though it’s been on Kindle. But here’s where the cream comes to the top. Those publishers will be picky, their editors tough to get past. So if you have self-published your book(s), please make sure they shine before you submit them elsewhere. Kindle don’t care if the writing is terrible, publishers do. That misuse of the verb was deliberate, ‘cause I’m a fan of the Honey Badger. Honey Badger don’t care either. Check it out


About veldabrotherton

For thirty years I've been a writer. Publication of my work began in 1994 . I'm pleased to have recently settled with Oghma Creative Media as my publisher. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. I recently signed a contract to write westerns again, and what fun it's been working on the first one. If I weren't writing my life wouldn't be so exciting.
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2 Responses to Amazon: The Elephant in the Room

  1. Staci Troilo says:

    I’ve been following this story since the announcement came out. I was wondering how authors enrolled in the program felt about it (I’m not in the program). I’d love to hear your thoughts four or six months from now, when summer is over and the program is in full-swing.

    And for the record, my kids love Honey Badger, too.

  2. Staci, I’m curious what my thought will be four to six months from now too. I only have one book in Kindle not enrolled in Select, and that’s the Montana series set. The individual books are in it. No telling what we’ll be doing a bit later. Thanks for the comment.

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