We need a hero.
I’m sure you’ve seen by now the announcement from Amazon regarding its royalty payments to authors who take part in their Kindle Direct Program. But, just in case you haven’t, allow me to briefly fill you in.
The Kindle Direct Program, or KDP, is a self-publishing service offered by Amazon. Independent writers who are still in the process of finding an agent utilize it to publish their writings as a means of getting more eyes on their work. Amazon has recently announced that it will stop paying these writers for their work. Rather, writers who have opted in to a program that Amazon promises will “earn higher royalties,” “maximize your book’s sales potential,” and “reach a new audience” will actually only be paid for what Amazon determines the reader has read, despite Amazon’s own promise on their KDP FAQ that “you'll continue to earn royalties from those sales like you do today.”
I have a problem with this, and so does every independent author I know. Authors work hard, and anyone who doesn’t believe that doesn’t know an author. We spend countless hours over our work, stretching our minds, and sometimes breaking our own hearts, creating these lives and these intertwining stories that weave in and out of our own lives. Our families watch us crouched over our keyboards, lost in the work, and they sacrifice their time with us so that we might be able to put everything we have into the story that occupies our minds. You know just as well as the rest of us the labor of love that is a novel. You know the hard work, the re-writes, the stress and the tears that are part of the creation of a story. And that doesn’t even include the research, the agent search, the time spent crafting the perfect agent query…
Our very existence as authors depends on our ability to thrive, and this most recent move by Amazon threatens that existence. By saying that our work is not worthy enough to be paid for the way Amazon pays for any other product on their website, Amazon is saying that they don’t value literature. They are saying that the work that goes into creating a novel is not respectable.
A lot goes into writing a novel, and when authors decide to sell their work, they should be paid for their work. We don’t only pay for the portion of our dinners that we eat in a restaurant. A restaurant owner would never pay their chef only for the portion of food on a plate that a patron consumes. They’d never get away with that.
So why is Amazon being allowed to only pay for a portion of the work a writer does?
Because Amazon is a big name, and the writers who use KDP are not. Why would we have the clout to stand up for ourselves? If we had that kind of pull with Amazon, we wouldn’t be independent writers. We’d be big name published writers with agents and movie deals and millions of fans to back us up.
That, Miss Rowling, is why I am reaching out to you today. I am writing to ask you to stand up for us little people. As was evidenced just earlier this week with Taylor Swift and Apple, when a leading lady stands up and tells the world that something isn’t right, the world listens. You, Miss Rowling, are the leading lady in the world of literature. Basically, we all want to be you when we grow up. You have the voice that we so desperately need right now.
Please consider lending us that voice. Please consider being our hero. The worlds that we create would forever be indebted to you.
Update: "My Apologies: How I Got the Amazon Thing Wrong"