Face Book is a hotbed of information and opinion ops this fine morning (not fine for long, not with storms bearing down like a freight train).
One of the major kerfuffles has been over Amazon’s newest “initiative/adjustment” to how they compensate authors in the Kindle Unlimited subscription service.
Chuck Wendig had a good go at it today. The Passive Voice’s lawyer/blogger took a look at the payout structure, taking his cue from Hugh Howey (a known apologist for all things Zon).
Amazon’s own Help section that details the changes to the payout portion of the program is somewhat less than clear, employing what some folks term “mathemagics” and it leaves no stone unturned in the relentless quest for obfuscation.
We can argue and debate and gnash our collective dentures all we want, but there’s a personal side to these changes that one author, Samantha Holt, pinned… No, she nailed it.
Here, with Samantha’s approval, is the entire text of her letter to Amazon. Let’s make this GO VIRAL, folks.
I love you. I always have done. You provided me with a chance to have my dream career. You provide great customer service and an easy to use platform. But with the introduction of new rules around Kindle Unlimited, you are failing authors and readers alike. I believe you’re an innovative company. I think you want to break new ground and have done a great job of it. But now you are trampling on those who have made you a great deal of money.
I’ve made you a lot of money over my career. I’m not a huge name but I’ve done very well for myself and even better for you. I’ve rolled with the occasional punch you’ve thrown (your inability to remove troll reviewers and come up with a decent refund system that means immoral readers don’t steal from me with ridiculous ease) and I’ve learned to play your game. I was one satisfied customer and author.
Authors have often suffered. Pirated books and complaints of 0.99c is too much to pay (yes, seriously) are just some of the things we have to deal with. There are few other careers where you can spend years on something and then have complaints that a price higher than a cup of coffee is too much. But that’s not your fault, Amazon, and we take these things on the chin. At the end of the day, publishers and authors have been able to charge what they want for a book–what they believe it’s worth.
Until now. Now you want to pay those in Kindle Unlimited per page read. The figures you gave are incomprehensible to even the smartest of minds and totally unpredictable seeing as your ‘fund’ changes each month. So now if we put a book into this system, we take a gamble. For years worth of work, we might only earn pennies. Before, we generally had a very solid idea of how much a borrow could earn. How is it ok for an author to earn for only 3 pages read when you borrow a film at a flat rate? When you don’t pay per second listened to on a song?
You listened to, I suspect, a few big names who were terrified when Kindle Unlimited came in. They don’t like change and a lot of big names were extremely happy with their high earnings and didn’t want that to change. I didn’t want that to change either. I believe they worked hard to get there. But then so did all the mid-listers like myself. KU gave me the opportunity to reach new readers. With its help I reached spots I never thought I would reach and earned you a ton more money. Like thousands of others mid-listers, we adapted to your new borrowing scheme and together made it a success. Avid readers enjoyed the scheme and the ability to meet new authors, while those who weren’t interested simply continued as usual.
Now you are expecting us to roll with the punches again and tolerate this treatment. I’m a single mum and this is my sole wage. I know I’m not alone in this and I’m aware I’m lucky to be able to support my family with writing but believe me it is not without blood, sweat and tears from all of my family that I am able to do so. These changes are unpredictable enough for me to lose my trust in Amazon. I no longer believe they want the best for their authors or that they understand we are at the centre of their success.
So what happens next, Amazon? When authors pull out (yes, it’s happening already) of KU and readers can no longer find such a great variety? What happens when readers can no longer find novellas on KU because they won’t earn enough by borrows? Speak to my readers and you will find these claims that ‘everyone wants longer books are not true’. A ‘real book’ isn’t based on length, genre, price or anything like that. Readers want variety. What appeals to one, won’t appeal to others. My novellas, interestingly, always sell better, but am I going to be forced to take them away from people who have paid for a 6 month or year long subscription to KU? This, Amazon, is where you will be failing your customers.
I hope you will listen to this. I don’t want readers to stop using Amazon. I actually feel more failed by other platforms who have failed to make a usable, author and reader-friendly service and who don’t seem to have a full grasp of how to push forward. But, Amazon, for once, you are not pushing forward. This is a huge step backward. I have a vague hope you might pay attention to this smaller voice but perhaps not. I’ll still have your back but you won’t have my trust anymore.
Yours not-so-faithfully anymore,
Now it’s YOUR TURN.