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Summary:

Amazon Publishing is speeding up its royalty payments to authors, the company said in a letter to literary agents Monday. The full letter is printed below.

Amazon Package
photo: Flickr / William Christiansen

Amazon Publishing said in a letter to literary agents Monday that it will start paying its authors royalties on a monthly basis, up from every three months.

“In this digital age, we don’t see why authors should have to wait six months to be paid,” Amazon’s VP of publishing Jeff Belle wrote in the letter. “Beginning with our March payment cycle, we will move to paying our authors on a monthly basis. More specifically: each month’s royalties will be released within 60 days of the end of that month, every month.  For example, royalties for sales in January will be released by March 31, royalties for sales in February will be released by April 30, etc.”

Most publishing houses pay royalties twice a year. Authors who self-publish through Amazon’s KDP and Createspace lready receive monthly royalties.

Belle also wrote that “Based on sales in February, Amazon Publishing now ranks as the 5th largest publisher on the U.S. Kindle platform (excluding free downloads but including KOLL loans, for which we pay authors).”

Full letter:

Friends,

The team at Amazon Publishing has been working to continually improve our business, with the goal of turning efficiencies into higher author royalties, faster payments and even more support for the books we publish.  Building a new business can take time and patience, and the feedback and encouragement we’ve received along the way from you has been invaluable in making us better.

We’re particularly excited to tell you about upcoming changes to the way we pay royalties.  In this digital age, we don’t see why authors should have to wait six months to be paid.  Beginning with our March payment cycle, we will move to paying our authors on a monthly basis.  More specifically: each month’s royalties will be released within 60 days of the end of that month, every month.  For example, royalties for sales in January will be released by March 31, royalties for sales in February will be released by April 30, etc.

We recognize this may create a little extra paperwork in some cases, but we feel this change is in the best interests of authors — we hope you’ll agree.  As with any such change in our business, our tireless Author Relations team is standing by to answer any questions you may have on this topic.

In other news, 2013 is off to a strong start.  Based on sales in February, Amazon Publishing now ranks as the 5th largest publisher on the US Kindle platform (excluding free downloads but including KOLL loans, for which we pay authors).  The latest book to reach the 100,000 copy threshold is 47North’s THE MONGOLIAD: BOOK ONE, the first installment in the epic Foreworld saga, written by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland and Cooper Moo, which surpassed 100,000 copies in February.  Similarly, CRAZY LITTLE THING by Montlake author Tracy Brogan continues up the Kindle charts, also surpassing 100,000 copies in the last week of February.  Another Montlake bestseller, NOT QUITE DATING by Catherine Bybee exceeded the 100,000 copy milestone just last week as well.  Also of note is Christina McKenna’s “wittily and winningly-detailed” debut novel THE MISREMEMBERED MAN, which we acquired from Toby Press and re-published under AmazonEncore in 2010, re-entered the Kindle Top 10 in February on the strength of our backlist promotion, and is now on the verge of the 100,000 copy mark as a result.

Our AmazonCrossing imprint has also been on a roll lately. In January, THE BEGGAR KING by Oliver Pötzsch, the third installment in the bestselling Hangman’s Daughter series, debuted in the Kindle Top 10 to outstanding reviews, and just today surpassed 100,000 copies.  Translated from German by Lee Chadeayne, the Hangman’s Daughter series has been a breakout success, with over 800,000 copies sold to date (and occupying the top 4 slots in the US Kindle store, as of this writing).  In February, we launched the latest in our series of translations from Icelandic with REPLY TO A LETTER FROM  HELGA by Bergsveinn Birgisson, which garnered immediate praise as “a stunning work of art — resonant, earthy, heartbreaking”.  Meanwhile, in the other direction, our translations from English into German continue to surpass our expectations as well.  ABDUCTED by T.R. Ragan, itself a Kindle bestseller in the US and UK, was translated into German by AmazonCrossing as IM NETZ DES SPINNENMANNS in November, where it quickly reached #1 in our German Kindle store (combined English and German copies have already surpassed 100,000).  In all, for the month of February, six AmazonCrossing titles reached the Kindle Top 10 in Germany.

Meanwhile, Kindle Serials also continues to outperform our expectations.  Since the release of the first episode in its serialization, OPTION TO KILL by Andrew Peterson has sold over 70,000 copies and is now available as a complete book in both Kindle and trade paperback. And we are excited to see PINES, Blake Crouch’s Kindle bestseller, which has been called a “genre-bending, completely riveting thrill ride” of a novel, going into development at Fox and FX, with the pilot to be directed by M. Night Shamalyan.

We’re pleased with this strong growth overall, and in particular the results of our US and German translation publishing businesses, as well as Kindle Serials.  And yet we are also quite aware of the many improvements and inventions that lie ahead —as always your feedback is welcome and appreciated.  If you have any suggestions or questions about the new royalties process, or anything else about Amazon Publishing, please feel free to reach out to me directly.  –Jeff

Jeff Belle
Vice President
Amazon Publishing

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  1. ctfranklin28 Monday, March 18, 2013

    Reblogged this on This College Dropout and commented:
    More Amazon news….

  2. The traditional publishers have traditionally taken — and continue to take — the lion’s share of a book’s royalties, effectively short-changing the person who did the lion’s share of the work: the author.

    To add insult to injury, the publisher delayed 6 months to a year before passing the hard-earned royalty on to the author. Meaning that the publisher was enjoying the interest accruing on money earned by another. Nice, eh?

    Now Amazon is changing all that, god bless ‘em. Will the bricks-‘n’-mortar houses follow suit? I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Yes it’s about time that authors start getting paid their royalties in a timely manner. Print on Demand will also herald an evolution in the business. Hopefully it will see more talented writers producing better books and cutting out the publishers who have been taking a huge slice for very little work or risk.

  3. Yet another reason why Amazon Publishing is the best publisher in the world right now.

  4. This is definitely a bitch slap that publishers invited on themselves. Their payments to authors are notoriously slow and suspect, lacking clarity and transparency. Royalty payments should be as immediate as possible and accompanied by a statement that anyone can understand. If you want to be in partnership with authors, publishers need to treat them that way.

  5. Beverly Swerling Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    Careful folks. I’ve been trad published for years and I vehemently object to this 6 month wait while someone holds onto my money. BUT if Amazon is the only publisher… You do not need to have that disaster scenario spelled out. Publishers, and incidentally agents, are banding together so big can confront big. Speaking as one author, I think we have to support them.

    1. A handful of publishers enjoyed something close to a monopoly since the success of Barnes and Noble. Instead of supporting ”big” vs. ”big” I’d much rather support up and coming publishers/content providers that are thinking about initiatives or fresh ideas that are on the forefront of discovering new talent and news to deliver talent to consumers. If I was to attach these qualities to which of these two ”bigs” closer represent this thinking and movement, I would say it’s Amazon. Certainly, Amazon has issues too, however, the big traditional publishers, Barnes and Noble, and the group of literary agents connected to this model have made a very good living from working with a relatively small number of authors that sell a lot of books. The fact that most traditional publishers weren’t the first to try to change this way of conducting business with authors, tells me they continue to have nothing fresh to offer and could care less about authors whose last names aren’t Grisham, King, Tan. or Rowling.

  6. lornasaxbee Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    Hello there,

    I am currently in the process of publishing with Amazon but have discovered they don’t have facilities to PAY Australian Authors.

    Still trying to decipher the web of instructions from all and sundry I am lost but shocked that Amazon make it so hard to receive payment from them.

    Is this a global village? Is this 2013? The modern technical age? Sorry I am very disappointed to have to unravel this mess as are many others going by the forums I have stumbled across.

    Could you enlighten us Australians as to how we too could be paid so promptly?

    Kind Regards
    Lorna

  7. Larry Spates Thursday, May 9, 2013

    Thanks, I appreciate being able to read infomation on what is going on with Publishers, and what I can expect as and author.

  8. But what will this cost me? I have a book on your site by Publish American Book Company and I will not be receiving any cash because sells are not profit enough. Thank you. Rhonda Gay Fox-Eads. My book is called…Little Abraham’s Fun Hanukkah.

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