Amazon: Indie authors raking it in with Kindle exclusives

Amazon.com doesn’t traditionally disclose a lot of numbers when it comes to the Kindle, but the company is getting specific today to make the case that independent authors who commit to publish their digital titles exclusively on its e-book platform are seeing a windfall as a result.

Authors who participated in the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program — who agree to make their books exclusive to Kindle for at least 90 days — are seeing their income increase in two ways, Amazon says in a news release.

First, they’re sharing in a fund that Amazon created to compensate authors for the distribution of their books through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program. Amazon is boosting that fund to 700,000 this month, from $500,000 in December.

Second, the company points to a halo effect — saying it has been surprised to see an increase paid sales of titles participating in the KDP Select program. Here’s an excerpt from the news release.

The top ten KDP Select authors earned over $70,000 in the month of December from their participation in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, a 30% increase on top of the royalties they earned from their paid sales on the same titles in the same period. In total (paid sales plus their share of the loan fund), these authors saw their royalties grow an astonishing 449% month-over-month from November to December. The list of top 10 KDP Select authors includes Carolyn McCray, Rachel Yu, the Grabarchuk family and Amber Scott.

Carolyn McCray, a writer of paranormal romance novels, historical thrillers and mysteries, earned $8,250 from the KDP Select fund in December. “KDP Select truly is a career altering program,” said McCray. “I couldn’t be happier with the tools, support and exposure it has given me. To say the trade-off of exclusivity on Amazon for the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library has been a profitable one would be a gross understatement. Participating in KDP Select has quadrupled my royalties.”

This is all part of Amazon’s effort to exert more control over the channels for distributing and pricing books, and get more authors to work with the company directly. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, launched in November, lets Amazon Prime subscribers read up to one book a month at no extra charge as part of their $79/year membership fee.

(This is separate from the lending of Kindle books through public libraries.)

Major book publishers, wary of cutting in to their sales, aren’t participating in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program. However, Amazon says the participation of independent authors has helped to push the selection to more than 75,000 books.

  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com FrankCatalano

    The flip side, reportedly, is that as authors move their books to the exclusive Kindle programs, these authors have also pulled more than 60,000 books from free/promotional availability for the Nook and other eReaders, causing at least one website to stop listing new free books from indie writers:
    http://www.pixelofink.com/nook-faq/

  • James A. Anderson

    That’s not been my experience as an Indie author. Enrolled my lates novel but so far no one has borrowed from library and only 39 sales in a month. My first novel generated 30,000 in Kindle, Nook, KObo and other ebook formats. I will be pulling out at end of my contract period. Exclusivity hurts authors more than it helps.