Author Gets Shafted On Royalties By Amazon
People talk about how great self-publishing is because you get more control over your product and get to keep more of what you earn off sales. But it's not all sunshine and kittens. Just ask James Crawford, who recently got screwed out of royalties on 5,104 books.
Crawford's zombie novel, Blood Soaked & Contagious, is currently for sale in the Amazon store through Amazon Digital Services. And one night he noticed a huge spike in downloads. That's pretty cool, right? But as it turns out, that's only because Amazon decided to drop the price of the eBook from $5.99 to $0.00.
The company's terms dictate that if they find the book for less on another website, they have the right to drop the price. And they claim the book was for sale for free on Barnes & Noble's website.
Except all Crawford did was offer a couple of free chapters as a sneak peak, which doesn't actually qualify him for a price drop. The price has since been corrected, but Amazon won't pay out the royalties he lost on the sale of 5,104 downloads of his eBook.
Let's all put on our math hats for a moment.
If the standard split for a self-pubbed book on Amazon is 70 percent for the author and 30 percent for Amazon, Crawford is earning $4.19 per book, so he just lost out on... $21,385 in sales.
Crawford, of course, is not thrilled.
“KDP’s terms stipulate that they will change the price if they find the SAME work priced differently elsewhere. This isn’t what happened with me. They found something that is quite similar, asked no questions, and used their power to discount my novel 100%.”
Now, in one sense, the book probably wouldn't have been downloaded so many times if it wasn't free. But at the same time, Amazon goofed, and that's 5,104 potential customers who don't need to spend their money now. And it's not like Amazon bothered to check with Crawford before slashing the price of his book.
There's at least one interesting argument to be made here: Crawford wrote a blog post about how he's not really too hot on filing a legal claim, because Amazon is a humongous company with a powerful legal team and a near-monopoly on the eBook market. This is a great example of an instance where an agent and a publisher would come in handy, because they can more effectively fight those battles for you.
So, should Amazon pay up?
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