Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Something Smells in Denmark

Here's some news I would love for you to share if you can-- it will help indie authors across the world. Amazon has recently changed its policy, in a decision that smells like a bad apple, with self-published authors who have their eBooks enrolled in the Kindle's Own Lending Library (KOLL) and Kindle Unlimited (KU) programs. KOLL is a program where a subscriber to Amazon Prime can "borrow" one downloaded version of an eBook per month at no charge other than the yearly Prime fee. KU is a subscriber service allowing members to download books at no cost to them, other than the membership fee.

Authors used to be able to make a little profit whenever anyone downloaded a "free-to-them" e-copy of their books through KOLL and KU. Now, authors get paid only on a pages-read basis. This means all readers are being tracked electronically as they read (kind of scary, right, being monitored like that?!). Someone can own an author's material, but the author doesn't get paid until it's read. If, for some reason, a reader only reads a few pages, that's all the author gets paid for. If a reader downloads a book, but doesn't read it for a year, they don't get paid in full for that copy until then. If it takes months to read, it takes months to get paid. Imagine print copies working like that!

Not only that, but authors can no longer tell when a copy is downloaded through one of the KOLL or KU programs in order to verify the electronic tracking is even keeping an accurate record of downloads. Indie authors just starting out definitely don't have the clout or the draw of a known name, so these programs were a way to gain a readership. This takes away the shine of these programs for the authors; even if they want to be able to offer their material for free, to do so is no longer that easy. There is not much of a draw to stay loyal to Amazon (authors in the KOLL and KU programs need to agree not to allow e-versions of their books on any other forums--Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.-- thereby potentially limiting their costumer reach).

Also, with borrowed downloads no longer being visible to the author, the author cannot tell if advertising or promo sales tactics are working. Since authors (like anyone else in the world who is trying to sell something) have to pay for their own advertising and promos, knowing the sales impact is important. Many indie authors budget for these ways of reaching customers, and to be unable to tell if they have made an impact on downloads affects the productivity of such endeavors.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, please read lots and read fast, if you belong to KOLL or KU! :-) Or stand up for indie authors and question Amazon's new policy. Or understand if we can no longer offer our books free to you through these programs, and support our works on different forums. Or help us find a Taylor Swift who can be the voice of the little guy and make a difference. And please let everyone know. We all appreciate it!

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