Kindle Unlimited, I’m breaking up with you.
I just can’t do this anymore. Every time I’m with you, I leave the encounter feeling dirty and cheap—because you’re paying me pennies for all of my hard work, and rewarding scammers with money that should be going to legitimate, hard working authors like myself.
I know that this is going to lose me some of my readership, and that really upsets me, but I value myself and my writing too much to continue to allow Amazon to devalue the work of all of the authors who publish there.
The simple fact of the matter is that Amazon isn’t paying authors who opt into the Kindle Unlimited program fairly.
If you’re not familiar with the program, it works like this: readers pay $9.99 per month for “unlimited” access to any and all books enrolled in the program. In order for a book to be enrolled, the author(s) are not allowed to sell their book(s) on any other storefronts (Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, etc.) for a 90-day period. In exchange for the exclusivity, Amazon pays the author based on the number of pages read by the readers. The per-page payout rate is determined by a monthly global fund that is supposed to be divvied up among all participating authors based on how many pages of their book(s) were read during the month.
Sounds fair, right? Wrong.
The system is broken and riddled with scammers who are taking away rightful earnings from legitimate authors by publishing books that are either total gibberish or that are boosted artificially through the use of things like Clickfarms. This post here goes into much more detail about how scammers are gaming the Kindle Unlimited system and how Amazon isn’t doing much of anything (if anything at all) to stop it.
In addition, authors aren’t being paid thanks to things like the Kindle’s “Page Flip” function, which allows readers to quickly skip through a book to any location within it. It’s a great feature, but did you know that if you use Page Flip to read a book enrolled in Kindle Unlimited the author won’t make a single cent from you reading it? And did you know that if you finish reading a book and then go back to page 1 before closing it out (as some people do), the author won’t be paid for that read through either?
To make matters worse, the per-page payout rate has been on a steady decline for months. The most recent payout rate, just announced today, is approximately $0.00403 per page. So, authors are being paid $0.00403 per page read of their book(s) during the month of July (the payment rate lags by one month). This is down from $0.0042 in June, which itself was down from the $0.00433 in May, which was down from the $0.00460 in April.
That’s a 20% drop in income over four months. Granted, the payout rate tends to flucuate up and down, and the summer season in general historically sees lower rates. It will most likely bounce back in a month or two during the fall… Most likely.
Meanwhile, however, scammers are continuing to game the system and steal money from authors like myself, and Amazon continues to ignore it. In fact, if you were to look at the top 100 books in the Kindle store, you’d likely find several books that are full of reviews outright saying that the books are nothing but gibberish. And yet Amazon continues to allow them to dominate the charts and take money from their readers and authors. So authors like myself are forced to share a pot of money with scam artists who are taking away our income without retribution—and in some cases Amazon is even rewarding them for it with their “All Star” monthly sales bonuses!
That’s wrong. It’s just wrong.
I love to write, it’s my life’s passion, and I love sharing my stories with my wonderful readership, many of whom I know are avid Kindle Unlimited readers and who are not going to be able to read my books if they aren’t in Kindle Unlimited. To those readers, I sincerely apologize, but I cannot in good conscience keep my books enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program past their intitial 90-day enrollment period.
Why? Because I deserve to be paid fairly for my hard work. I spend dozens of hours, sometimes hundreds of them, writing and polishing my books. I love them as if they were my own children, and I think they’re worth the asking price I assign them. Unfortunately, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited doesn’t agree.
What does this mean for you, as a reader of Garett Groves? It means that, once their current 90-day enrollment term expires, you won’t be able to borrow my existing books in Kindle Unlimited anymore. You will, however, be able to purchase them on Amazon and on all of the other major eBook retailers, including: Barnes & Noble, iBooks/iTunes, Kobo, Google Play, etc.
That said, for the time being I will continue to enroll my new releases in Kindle Unlimited for their first 90 days. Even with a broken system and lowered pay rate, as a full-time author I cannot afford to pass on that crucial first 90-day earnings period in Kindle Unlimited.
I will also continue to do limited-time 99¢ sales on all of my books and continue to bundle them at a discounted price in order to offset this change so as to continue to include as many of my lovely readers as possible.
There is a chance that I may return fully to the Kindle Unlimited program in the future, but that will be if and only if Amazon makes major changes to the way that authors are compensated and the way that pages read are calculated and tracked. There is also a chance that I may leave the Kindle Unlimited program entirely if things continue to go down hill. In either case, this is going to be a “wait and see what happens” sort of scenario that I wanted to be totally upfront about with you, my readers.
If you think all of this is unfair and want to do something about it, you can! You have a few options:
Spread the word. Share your thoughts and dissatisfaction about this situation on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Blog about it if you can or would like to. Tell your friends and family about how the program and authors are being abused. The only way the system will change is if we all speak up.
Complain directly to Amazon. If you find gibberish or dubious books on Amazon, report them. Email Amazon and tell them you’re upset about how they’re handling the situation and would like to see authors fairly compensated. Again, the only way the system will change is if Amazon hears from their most valuable asset: their customers.
Support your favorite authors. If you can, buy their books at their full price instead of borrowing them in Kindle Unlimited. In almost every case, the author will make quite a bit more in royalties from a full-price sale compared to a borrow/read through.