We all know that self publishing your book is straightforward and hence a very easy way to get your story out to readers. Whether you decide on an ebook version only or an additional paperback POD (Print On Demand) version, it takes only a matter of days or even hours before you book is ‘out there’.
Then comes the potential to fall into a trap. And it can be quite an expensive trap as well. Most authors will know that the most logical places to publish are with Amazon Kindle, Createspace and then to have your book available in electronic form via a number of other online retailers such as Apple, Sony and B&N, publishing with Smashwords is almost mandatory.
But here’s the rub. Now that you have your book on sale, you will have to wait until you sell enough books to reach the minimum amount before you can be paid. In Kindle’s case this can be complicated as there are different levels under different circumstances and vary from $10 up to $100. Smashwords at least have an option to be paid by Paypal. (Why Amazon cannot pay by Paypal is a mystery. Well, perhaps not. Read on.) However Smashwords’ payment conditions are just as complex and range from $10 – $75 minimum.
Then there is Createspace if you have published a paperback. The minimum is $20 -$28. However, if you live outside the US, direct bank deposit is not available, nor is Paypal, and as a check can cost up to $25 to cash outside the US, all your money has gone. In fact you probably just lost $5. So by only publishing with the three main distributors, you will need to generate somewhere from $50 – $200 before you see a cent of your royalties. That is quite a few books to be sold. Then if you do sell enough books to get over the minimum and be paid, you have to do it all over again.
Why I mention this, is because I was recently approached by another online ebook retailer who wanted me to have my books listed for sale on their site. Good news one would think? Well, a quick read of their Terms and Conditions, (Now you all read those, don’t you?) clearly stated that that their minimum balance for the payment of royalties was $35. Added to this, royalties were only payable 60 days after the end of the month in which the book was sold. When I checked out the bestselling book on their site, I discovered it had only been viewed a few hundred times. So how long would it take to see any money? I said no thank you of course.
To be perfectly frank, self publishing was never devised to help authors. It was designed to make big companies bigger and richer. Of the now tens of thousands of books being self published, how many of their authors actually sell enough copies to get over the minimum balance before royalties are paid? Answer? Not too many. Just check the sales ranking of some books and it’s an easy calculation. Check the number of reviews some bestsellers on Smashwords have received and you’ll be surprised at the lack of them.
My point is that there are swimming pools full of money now in the hands of these self publishing companies that has not, and may never be paid to authors. I can also quite easily be persuaded that this was always part of the business model of these companies, otherwise, why wouldn’t they just pay authors by Paypal at the end of each month no matter what the balance?
Because the amounts are too small? No way! I receive payments from other sources, including very large companies, by Paypal for often very small amounts on a regular basis without a problem. As little as $2 in some cases. No, this is about Amazon, Kindle and Smashwords along with a host of other book distributors who do not have an author’s interest at heart whatsoever. Only in pocketing your unpaid royalties.
So you may have thought self publishing was such a wonderful idea. But for who?