There has been a lot of hoo-hah on websites, forums and in the media over the last couple of days with regards to the announcement by Amazon about how they are introducing a pay per page read royalty scheme.
Unfortunately, a lot of what has been reported is mis-informed at best and malicious at worst.
Authors, like myself, who publish their works through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, have the opportunity to make their works available to the world, given to them by Amazon unlike the traditional publishing houses who accept a tiny percentage of author submissions.
We publish our work, set our own price and depending on how much we charge, we gain either 35% or 70% royalty. Compare this to the normal 5 - 10% that a traditionally published author will garner.
Amazon also give us the tools to make our ebooks available in paperback through a sister company called Createspace. This company charges no upfront cost to the author. I upload my book, it works out the minimum cost of making a paperback based on my book and again, I set the price and gain a royalty from it, normally in the 50% mark.
One further option that Amazon offer, which is completely at the author's own choosing to opt in, is their reader subscription service. For a flat monthly fee of $10, or £8, a customer can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, a service which allows the reader to download upto ten books at a time, and read as many books during the month as they want. That sounds brilliant for readers doesn't it. After all, for just $10, you can read as many books as you can. Most novels these days are prices in the $2.99 or $3.99 bracket so it doesn't take many books read to get your money's worth.
However, the only books that you can borrow through this scheme are the ones which authors place in it. At last count, I believe there are over 700,000 titles available. Now how does Amazon pay the author a royalty for this? After all, the reader isn't actually buying the book, just borrowing.
So Amazon came up with a scheme that paid an author a royalty if their borrowed book was read beyond 10%. What figure did they come up with? Well, that was all dependent on how many subscribers paid in, how many books were borrowed and read past 10% and how many of MY books were borrowed and read past 10%. Generally it has averaged out at around the $1.35 mark per book.
Now, that isn't a bad deal really... is it? Of course, my book selling at $3.99 would make me $2.80 but would the person borrowing my book have actually bought it, when there are so many other books that they could borrow instead?
So, many authors decided to take borrows as a bonus as, after all, it puts our work in front of a larger audience and, in terms of sales ranking, a borrow counts as a sale. This is vitally important. After all, if you do a search on, say vampire books, how many of you will scroll past the first 1000 to find a book? Very few. How many actually go past the first 100? So it is worth taking a hit on the royalty for a borrow to get yourself up the charts for those customers who buy.
Now... this is where the problems started. You see, the royalty for a borrow is a flat amount. It doesn't matter if your book is 400 pages long, or 200 pages, or 20 pages. And yes, there are short stories out there which are 20 pages long.
Remember what I said about when the royalty kicked in? 10% read. So the 400 page book has to be read past page 40 to garner the royalty. The 20 page short story has to get to page... 2!! And for this, the author receives the same $1.35 as the other.
I have written some short stories, most of which are in the 50 page bracket, and they sell at 99c. For a sale, I get 35c. For a borrow, I get $1.35. Woo hoo, get me on that gravy train!
Unfortunately this is what a lot of opportunists have done and in the last six to twelve months, we have seen an influx of poorly written, 10-20 page stories flooding Amazon. As long as they have a decent cover and an interesting blurb, somebody who isn't really paying for the book as they have paid their monthly fee, will borrow it, open it, read the first couple of pages before deleting it. However, by that point, the 10% mark has been hit and the author gets his $1.35.
Authors who are part of the Kindle Unlimited service have long complained about the unfairness of the system, but at the time, it was the best that Amazon could come up with.
But was it fair? Paying two authors the same in royalty for a reader to read 2 pages and delete onebook, as opposed to a reader who gets hooked into a story and reads all 400 pages of another?
This is where the new system come into play.
Amazon have done away with the 10% rule. From now, authors get a royalty from the very first page read on a borrow. That's fair after all. From there, each page that is read gets another share of the royalty pot. And so on and so on.
Who benefits? Obviously the author who writes a well crafted story that engages the reader right up to the final page, rather than an author who bores the reader to the point where they cannot read on.
Now... certain sections of the media will have you believe that Amazon is doing this to pay less in royalties. Nothing could be further from the truth. A recent communication to all authors who publish through Amazon has guaranteed that July and August's royalty pot for borrows will be at a record level. That doesn't sound like they are paying us less?
What they are doing is ensuring that the split of royalties for borrows is better spread to the authors who engage with readers and keep them coming back for more. After all, Amazon is in it to make money so they want readers signing up to the subscription service and to keep renewing.
I, for one, am fully behind this sensible decision by Amazon as it should make reading more enjoyable for you, the readers. After all, this will make us authors write better stories, to keep you interested in our work and to use the age old phrase associated with books... to make our books 'page turners'.
Please, please do not be drawn in to the mis-information that this is about purchased books. The current payment system for that has not been altered in any way. Amazon are paying far more than any traditional publisher.
All of my books are available to buy, or to borrow, so please, if you want to, check out my website www.michaelandrews.co.uk to have a look and the links will take you to my product pages on Amazon.
Thanks for listening folks. Enjoy your weekend.