Look, we’ve made it clear that we think readers should dump Kindle Unlimited. The system (which forces authors to forsake all other booksellers in favor of Amazon), as it stands, is broken. Authors are paid only fractions of a cent for page reads, scammers are running rampant and ruining profit sharing for everyone, and Amazon refuses to divulge details of exactly how anything is calculated or to fix issues with their device’s page flip function which robs authors of even more page reads.
We even sent Jeff Bezos a letter about what needs to be done to fix the system, along with a survey that, at the time, was signed by over 870 readers (the number is even higher today) who demanded fair compensation for their favorite authors. The letter was answered by a Bezos flunkie who assured us that Mr. Bezos takes the issue very seriously. It was obviously a form letter that millions of people have probably received. Let’s just say we were less than satisfied with that response.
So, why are we writing about the same issue again? Glad you asked.
Our author friends are reporting that recently, Amazon has been working to shut down scammers who are gaming the system. Great, right? Well...not entirely. While we applaud Amazon’s efforts to fix the system, it would appear that countless innocent authors are getting caught up in the same net with the scammers. Here’s the form email authors have been receiving:
Now, I’m sure that for some of the authors who received this letter, it was warranted. As we all know, people are capable of some pretty shady stuff where Kindle Unlimited is concerned. But many of our author friends who received this letter didn’t do any promotions, let alone shady promotions. So, exactly where is this so-called “illegal activity” coming from? Amazon can’t (or won’t) tell you. Don’t believe us? Here’s a copy of the form letter that goes out after an author questions the initial letter:
And from what we’re hearing, in most cases, the amount of royalties that Amazon confiscated are equal to anywhere from 50-75% of the authors’ total Kindle Unlimited earnings. Yikes.
This whole thing leaves us with one big, scary question:
If Amazon isn’t being held accountable, what’s to stop them from taking ALL of their authors’ royalties and claiming that the seizure was because of “illegal activity” that they aren’t able/willing to disclose?
This isn’t about Amazon bashing, folks. Really, it isn’t. Frankly, we love Amazon! They’ve opened up the publishing business to indies, and for that we will be forever grateful. (And the Kindle is the best reading device EVER, bar none.) But this latest incident is just more proof that the Kindle Unlimited system is broken and in desperate need of repair.
But what incentive do they have at this point to make any changes? They still have plenty of subscribers, and there are plenty of authors who are enrolled. In their eyes, even if the system isn’t perfect, it’s still working for THEM, and for their customers, who are the READERS. That’s right, folks. Authors are NOT Amazon’s customers, so they’re never going to care about authors as much as they care about readers.
We think it’s WAY past time that authors start standing up for themselves and demanding more respect.
So, how do we make a change?
In our humble opinion, the only thing that will be powerful enough to get Amazon’s attention and convince them to make a change is a show of force. And, no, we’re not talking about a violent uprising. We’re talking about authors banding together in support of their fellow authors to put Amazon on notice, to force them to take author issues seriously and to work to fix their broken system.
In other words, it’s time to get your books out of Kindle Unlimited and keep them out until the system has been fixed.
Now, the last time we suggested that the system was broken, a bunch of authors argued, “But Romance Rehab, we make good money in Kindle Unlimited! We can’t afford to lose that income.” Here’s our 2-part argument for that:
We know that what we’re asking you to do is scary and that it won’t be easy. Kindle Unlimited has probably been comfortable for you for a long time. But it’s not just about you anymore. This is about all authors. And if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that authors are capable of banding together and forcing change. #CockyGate and #ByeFaleena certainly demonstrated that!
What do you say? Will you support your fellow authors and stand up for what’s right? Or will you hand control of your career over to Amazon?