Your Hourly Income Isn’t Readers’ Problem

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Today is the fifth and final day Passports is FREE on Kindle. If you’ve downloaded it – or do – during this span, I hope you enjoy it. And speaking of Kindle:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

Recently, a Lexie Syrah was interviewed by CBC radio. She says she has published 17 books, and has pulled her Kindle titles from Kindle Unlimited. She’s angry about Kindle’s changed payment terms for Unlimited and the lending library.

If you as a reader even care, since July 1 authors are paid per number of pages borrowers read the first time they read a borrowed Kindle book, not merely for the book as a whole having been borrowed. Kindle tells us authors that authors themselves have sought this change:

Beginning July 1, 2015, we switched from paying Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) royalties based on qualified borrows, to paying based on the number of pages read. We made this switch in response to great feedback we received from authors who asked us to better align payout with the length of books and how much customers read. Under the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it.

However, since she writes short books, Ms. Syrah feels Kindle’s new borrowing terms are ripping off writers like herself. Separately, she also states that her “biggest problem” with the change is she believes consumers are getting a raw deal, telling the CBC:

They’re paying the $10 a month, but what are they getting? Content that they’ve already seen? Content that they don’t want to see?

Before that, she has already talked in terms of how much she had earned and projects to earn. She even supplied rough figures:

I figured out that it would take 10,000 downloads per month just for me to make $8 an hour. I couldn’t possibly write that much.

Considering her points, it crossed my mind that perhaps the change is Kindle’s effort quietly to “dissuade” some authors from using the platform? Maybe they aren’t too keen on having too many writers of “erotica shorts” that are more likely to be borrowed than purchased? But that’s just a guess.

I suppose I may be one of those to better “benefit” from the new scheme. I write “400 page, 100,000 word,” novels. Thus far, I’ve published (“only”) two. (Seventeen books? Whew. I can’t churn out books overnight. They can take well over a year to complete.)

But I had had no opinion on this planned change beforehand and had offered Kindle no prior feedback, pro or con. I write my stories as my stories, regardless of where they are, or may in the future be, published. (I do admit I have nodded to our world’s “short attention span,” as well as even to Amazon’s “sneak peek” facility. But how I address both of those, or don’t, is entirely my creative choice. “Short attention spans” are not Amazon’s fault, and “free samples” are not peculiar to Amazon.) Essentially, currently I’m lending Kindle my copyrighted novels to distribute.

As an author, if you don’t like what a publisher, or a de facto one, like Kindle, is doing to you in terms of payment? Yes, you should indeed leave. Take your product and find a better deal elsewhere. You’d be foolish not to. After all, you’re self-employed.

Free Stock Photo: A woman reading a book in her home.
Free Stock Photo: A woman reading a book in her home.

I can fully understand an impulse to seek out readers’ support in storming the Bastille. However, I also believe that given nearly all readers have real world money concerns of their own, that they should not be subjected to whinging from you about what you consider to be your “inadequate” compensation. As a writer what you earn is fundamentally YOUR problem, not theirs.

Readers want only to read your books. They choose to part with hard-earned money for them for their own reasons, possibly including a desire to seek some escape from this tough world that they live in, too. Give them that space. Do your best to deal with your own money matters in private.

Have a good Wednesday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

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