Amazon to Indie Authors: Size Really Does Matter


Amazon recently changed the way they pay self-published authors who use their Kindle Owners Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited, paying authors per page read vs. per copy downloaded. While this could work in favor of some authors, the reveal of how little Amazon is paying per page shows that it’s going to be a major dent in prices for shorter books.

In an email to authors, Amazon revealed that their payment could be as little as 6 cents per page. An article in the Guardian worked out that this means an author will have to write 220 pages, which would have to be read in full, just to make the same amount they used to get for a book being downloaded.

The new payment plan will be devastating for authors of traditionally shorter books, such as erotica, nonfiction, cookbooks, and children’s books. Literary editor Casey Lucas, who focuses on self-published authors, also points out that many self-published authors rely on the payment they get from book downloads: “A lot of self-published romance authors are disabled, stay-at-home mums, or even a few returned veterans who work in the field because a regular job just isn’t something they can handle.” For those who write longer books that are read in their entirety, the payment change will be beneficial; but for the majority of self-pubbed authors, this will mean a huge cut in their income.

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E-book subscription sites like Scribd have always had the problem of balancing a large library and providing only the best-quality books. Now Scribd is looking to find a solution for this problem by beginning to rid its catalog of self-published books.

The main reason for this change, which will banish over 200,000 self-published books from Scribd’s catalog, is to provide Scribd’s readers with a smaller, more relevant collection to choose from. “We’ve grown to such a point that we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to grow in a sustainable way,” says Scribd CEO Trip Adler. Self-published books are one of the biggest contributors cluttering up Scribd’s collection, so getting rid of them will help with this goal. While this move will be useful for Scribd, it will be difficult for thousands of indie authors who have relied on Scribd to market their books. It will also be difficult for Smashwords, who have partnered with Scribd in the past and will now see their titles disappear from the e-subscription service’s catalog.

Scribd says that romance is one category that will be under particular scrutiny, losing 80-90% of Smashwords romance titles. In a Publishers Weekly article on the cut, Smashwords CEO Mark Coker says he believes the reason for the focus on romance is that “romance readers are reading Scribd out of house and home,” reading far more than the worth of their subscription. (Coker says more about his thoughts on the cut on the Smashwords blog).

In all genres, self-published authors will be taking a loss. It looks like indie writers will have to find another venue to get their work to e-book subscribers.


The Scott County Library System in Iowa is providing a new outlet for indie books to be seen by potential readers. They have asked local authors to submit their e-book files to Biblioboard. By submitting to Biblioboard, authors can share their books with patrons of libraries throughout the state of Iowa. Once a book is on Biblioboard, patrons can check out the ebooks for free.

In addition to reaching out to readers, this feature gives authors the potential opportunity to be one of the books chosen by Library Journal to be included in a nationwide database of self-published e-books. Biblioboard is free and available to all authors who have an e-book file they want to share (whereas traditional publishers continue to gouge libraries on ebook fees).


Have you ever wanted the e-book version of a book you already own, but not wanted to buy it twice? The new app Shelfie prevents this problem from happening. If you own a book, Shelfie allows you to get the e-book for free. Simply take a picture of your bookshelf (or “Shelfie”) and get the e-book versions of your books either free or at a deep discount.

Shelfie not only provides free e-books to readers, it also suggests new books based on what you already have on your shelf. Shelfie’s inclusion of self-published titles means that this is great exposure for indie authors, whose books will be suggested to readers with similar interests.  By providing free e-books and new book suggestions, Shelfie helps readers who want new books and authors who need exposure.

If you want something to read this weekend, be sure to check out Indie Reader’s list where indies count. And have a happy Fourth of July weekend!

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