Recently, Amazon made some significant updates to its Kindle Direct Publishing program — royalties based on page views not downloads and blocking some book reviews.
The company has its reasons, but self-published writers have to wonder whether the changes will hamper their careers; if you can call self publishing a career. The average self-published book sells less than 250 copies, according to Forbes, although I’ve seen stats that have stated less than 100 copies. Plus, many self-published books sell for as little as 99 cents.
Effective July 1, self-published books enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library have a new royalty structure. The library lends books to those who are willing to pay a fee or are Amazon Prime subscribers. A pool of money is set aside monthly and divided among authors at the end of each month.
Previously, royalties were determined based on the number of downloads. Now, it will be based on the number of pages viewed.
In June, there were 1.9 billion page views, Amazon says, and for July it has set aside $11 million to pay authors.
“We’re making this switch in response to the great feedback we received from authors,” Amazon said on its self-publishing portal.
The website will use a system called Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count to determine views so that eBooks with small font sizes or illustrations are fairly measured.
Some authors agree with Amazon, saying the new system supports quality over quantity.
Authors will be paid, on average, $0.006 per page view, based on Amazon’s monthly pool and page-view figures.
Most Kindle authors will lose half of their monthly income.
In addition, the new system favors those who write longer books and punishes smaller books, children’s books and cookbooks for example.
Blogger Imy Santiago claims Amazon has begun to block the friends and families of authors from posting reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Santiago received a comment that read: “We cannot post your Customer Review for (book title deleted) by (author name deleted) to the Amazon website because your account activity indicates that you know the author. Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers.”
Santiago had never met the author whose book she was trying to review.
The company is trying to protect its customer rating system and eliminate false reviews.
Readers and authors who associated on social media but have no real world relationship are unfairly targeted.
Many people are also worried about the type of information Amazon has stored about them and that the company may be making behavioral assumptions.
So what do you think? Are self-published writers being punished?