Self-published—and to an extent, traditional—writers who owe much of their reading audience to Amazon’s publishing platform are upset with the retailer’s new Kindle Unlimited program, notes the New York Times’ David Streitfeld.
The KU subscription service offers 700,000 self- and traditionally published books for $9.99 per month. While this new model may continue to draw readers, writers are earning less. Successful romance author Holly Ward, writing as H.M. Ward, saw her income drop 75% after two months in the program. She wrote on the site kboards under the topic “KU Crushed My Sales,” “I couldn’t wait and watch things plummet further,” and left the program.
Streitfeld writes, “Amazon, though, may be willing to forgo some income in the short term to create a service that draws readers in and encourages them to buy other items. The books, in that sense, are loss leaders, although the writers take the loss, not Amazon.”
Authors’ responses have included calls to unionize. As the Times points out, “since the payment is the same whether the book is long or short, other writers are taking the hint,” and adapting by writing in shorter forms, with serial novels and short stories, and publishing more frequently.
E-Book consultant and publisher Bob Mayer split his book on failures of technology and leadership into seven different Kindle Unlimited volumes. Ward’s first novel was 500 pages; some of her recent works average 100 pages. Volume 17 in her “The Arrangement” series pubbed in early November; she brought out “Life Before Damaged Vol. 1” at November’s end, following it with “Life Before Damaged Vol. 2” two week later.
“I’ve started working with four co-authors,” Ward told the New York Times. “If you’re not constantly putting out new material, people forget you’re there.”