The New Amazon Author Program and What it Doesn’t Mean

It’s madness! Amazon made a major (not really) change to their set up in how they pay every single author (wrong) and everyone is up in arms (yeah, this part is true).

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Here it is in the simplest form of what is really happening:

Amazon has a Kindle lending program. Amazon customers who own a Kindle device (not the Kindle app) and are a member of Prime ($99 a year) can borrow from a library of about 800,000 books of which authors have enrolled their books.

This is direct from the Amazon site

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Ok – so before I tackle the misconceptions I want to share a bit of history.

In a nutshell, authors who enrolled their books into the lending program where Prime members could borrow their book for free were in a pool with other authors where they shared a percentage of the profits made from Prime members. This was already in place. Authors who opted to enroll in this program were not getting paid on these books like they traditionally get paid on any book.

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Important, read this ~> Here’s what happened. A large group of people figured out a way to make the most of this program and started creating these ‘books’ that weren’t really worth their weight in water and created a marketing campaign around it. It went something like this. “Sign up for my newsletter and get my weight loss e-book for free!” Not only were they creating a hefty size mailing list of people but they were getting an EQUAL percentage of these sales from authors who were genuinely putting books up to be read.

These people who received these books for free would most likely never read even the first page and if they did, realized it wasn’t worth anything and just left it at that. It didn’t cost anything to them so they didn’t create a fuss about it.

Unfortunately, I know some of these people and they thought it was the greatest sales promo. (I disagree, but that’s another topic) There were other types of ‘books’ going up taking advantage in similar ways and thus taking away from the profits of legitimate authors.

Anyway… Here are the changes.

Now, instead of paying all these authors equally a percentage of the sales like they have been they made some changes. These changes will most likely get rid of these sales scams and scam authors but it will improve the overall quality of the books that are going up into the program because you get paid based on pages read.

Is it a perfect program? No. But it’s important to remember that it’s 100% volunteered. There’s 800,000 books in the program which means that a small percentage of books are enrolled. If someone on Amazon (or even someone with a Kindle) purchases your book, you get paid like you always have. 

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This is only for borrowed books!

I repeat

This… is only… for borrowed… books!

Ok, so stop freaking out everyone.

Yes, there are drawbacks to it. Maybe someone borrowed your book from the program and had good intentions of reading it but never does. Do you get paid? No. But, as authors, we want people reading our books. This is really how we will get more sales. Because people who read books tell others about said books.

If you’re enrolled in this program and you see your sales drop, then it’s good to note that your book is intriguing enough to be picked up – but something happens that people don’t read it. This is an important thing for us authors to know. Use it as a marketing tool to better understand how to improve yourself and in the end, if you’re still not happy – drop out of the program. It’s really that simple.

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As for those saying, how does it help author with sales? It doesn’t. Amazon is a consumer site and their priority is their customer, not us. We need to stop expecting so much from places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble because they sell books to the readers. It’s our job to find out how to increase readership, not theirs.

So here’s a brief recap for those of you who like to pick and choose what you want to read out of an article or blog post: 

1. If someone purchases your book on Amazon, you get paid like you always have. Nothing has changed in the purchasing of books.

2. Amazon is not keeping money. At least no more than they have before. In fact, with the release of the program, they added approximately $11 million more to the pool.

3. Authors are not forced into this. This is 100% volunteered.

4. It’s not a perfect program – nothing is.

5. This will only affect those who borrow books through their Prime membership for their Kindle device.

Happy reading!

2 thoughts on “The New Amazon Author Program and What it Doesn’t Mean

  1. Thanks Tina for posting the first level-headed, intelligent, rational and TRUE commentary on the subject. I will be sharing this with everyone who is freaking out!

  2. Bex, thanks for this article. I am a self published author (mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, and children’s books) and I must be the only KDP author who doesn’t care about this recent change by Amazon. I even wrote a blog post myself about this. All of my other author friends are freaking out about this and I am always telling them to stop worrying. Of course, I only have a few books in the KDP select program. Most of my work is not part of that program because I don’t like the idea of being exclusive to Amazon.

    Anyway, thank you so much for this post and for voicing what I have been telling other authors. STOP FREAKING OUT!

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