There’s a lot of news about Amazon Unlimited going around right now. Between the worries about the program as a whole, the perhaps lack of innovation in the product, and the ongoing fight between Amazon and the Big 5 publishers (and their refusal to participate in the program at all), there is a lot of news out there about Amazon Unlimited.
But Amazon Unlimited and what it means to consumers is not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about it the payment system for authors who self publish and have their books downloaded through Amazon Unlimited. The majority of the 600,000 plus titles that are available on Amazon Unlimited are titles that have been published by self published authors. And these authors will only get a payout if their books are downloaded and the first ten percent of their book is read.
That’s right. Just downloading a self published author’s book does not necessarily mean that the author will get paid. You also need to read through at least the first ten percent of the book — or just scroll through, but we’ll get to that.
Being a self published author is a hard, low paying endeavor. There is little more in it for the author than the happiness that comes with putting one of your works out there to be enjoyed by the world. Often times a self published book is rarely downloaded (quick plug! go check out my self published book Tim and the Break Up of Impending Doom), and there is little real payment for what you have put all your hard work into.
I’m not against the practice by Amazon. They are a business and they have built a business model that they think works. It is unfortunate that this business model has been built on top of the thousands of authors who publish on Amazon, but that’s just the way it is. People won’t stop publishing on Amazon, and Amazon won’t stop practices that it deems to be in its best interests. (Plus, we tricky authors have maddening methods in order to get paid!)
What do you do about it, though? Well, I have an idea. It is my vision that if you have Amazon Unlimited (or Lending Library — which has the same ten percent in order to get paid practice), if you download a book you scroll through the first ten percent as soon as its finished downloading. That way, even if the book turns out to not be your thing, if you get busy and aren’t able to finish the book, or whatever the reason may be, at least the author will get paid. At least the person who put all that hard work forward will get a payment for their book being downloaded. And, if you really enjoy the book, maybe consider outright buying the book instead of just getting it through Amazon Unlimited. That way, you are giving the author their full royalties. If not, at least scroll the ten percent — and spread the word with #scrolltenpercent on twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media sites — and help some poor self published authors out!