It’s the first . . .

and the cries of dismay and disdain have already begun over on the Kindle and KDP boards. Folks are in a panic because they checked into their sales dashboards this morning and — gasp — things have changed. How dare they do that! Oh, wait, you mean I should have read that e-mail Amazon sent detailing changes to how they report and pay out for loans under Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select? But it is soooo much more fun to just bitch and moan.

Yeah, you guessed it. I’m already fed up with those who are complaining about the new changes. Some simply didn’t read or understand what the change would be. They don’t like change and this is a big one, at least when it comes to what your sales dashboard shows you. Some authors are getting pleasant surprises when they log on and see that they have already had thousands of pages read this month. Others are getting kicked in the teeth because they are in single and double digits.

So here’s the thing — and, yes, Amazon could have handled it a bit better. When you look at your sales dashboard, there are now two separate graphs. The first one shows the number of sales for the month. The second one shows the number of pages for “borrowed” titles. The issue is that it zeroed out the totals for the previous months because — duh — the reporting parameters changed. For those who want to see how many titles were borrowed last month, go to your monthly reports and check it there.

Now, there is one thing I do wish Amazon was still giving us — the number of borrows. It would make it easier to see how many borrows are being converted into completed reads. It would also let us see if there is a point in time where the book is losing readers. The best thing we can do right now is make a guess based on their page count. By the way, Amazon, why not give us the “normalized page” count for our title (in other words, on our dashboard, tell us what this number is so we can use it to figure out how many books are being read through.)

I’m going to withhold judgment on the new payout program for a couple of months. Right now, it looks good but that is just a few hours into the program and without knowing how much we’re going to be paid. I don’t believe for a minute that we will get the monies Amazon used in its example. Still, that would be a very nice surprise if it was even close to that.

Oh, one other idiocy seems to be running rampant on some of the Kindle related boards this morning and it revolves around returns. Now, no author likes seeing anything other than a “0” in the return column on the monthly report. However, returns happen, even for e-books. Amazon has a 7 day return period, if I remember correctly. There are exceptions to that, if you get the right customer service rep.

Here’s the thing about returns. There is always going to be that customer who accidentally hit the buy now button. I’ve made that mistake once or twice. When I did, I instantly asked for a refund. The only other time I’ve asked for a refund is when the book was so badly formatted that it was basically unreadable. I shouldn’t have to do the author’s — or the publisher’s — job and reformat a book I just bought just to be able to read it. I have never asked for a refund when I’ve bought a book and discovered I simply didn’t like it. The few times that has happened, it was my fault. If I had read the free sample, I wouldn’t have bought the book in the first place.

Now, there are some folks who will “buy” a book, read it and then return it. They are related to those folks who will “buy” a dress or a shirt, wear it once to a special event and then return it. The only thing we, as authors, can do is look for a pattern of returns by genre of books, etc., and then report it to Amazon. The company does take a look at things like that and will take action against a customer who is a repeat returner without good reason.

For the fellow who was bitching about Amazon and how evil the KDP program is because he’d had eight sales and six of those had then been returned, instead of blaming Amazon, he should be looking at his work product. Either he has the world’s worst luck or there is something very wrong with his book. It could be formatting. It could be he has it so badly tagged and described, readers are downloading it thinking they are getting one sort of book only to find it is something completely different. Or it could simply be so poorly written that the readers aren’t able to get through it. None of that has anything to do with Amazon.

One last not about the new reporting figures for Amazon. Because it is the first day of the new system, don’t panic if you log on and get a “down for maintenance” or similar note. Refresh the page or come back a few minutes later. I’ve had to do that this morning and so have others from what I’m seeing on the different discussion boards. Now I’m off to work. Three different novels are calling my name, demanding that I write them NOW!

7 Comments

  1. I freaked over one return. For all of a minute or so. But if I’d sold eight books and had six returns, yeah, I’d be looking at my product not Amazon.

    As for the rest, read the email, and it makes sense.

  2. I looked at my reports this morning and went, “Meh. This is annoying,” and called it done.

    It’s amazing how so many people will bitch because things aren’t perfect. I mean, I’d love it if Amazon could give us more information, such as how buyers found our books or how many are borrowed versus how many pages are read, etc, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. They’re giving me a place to sell my books in the largest book marketplace in the world.

    Yeah, I’m good with how things are. 🙂

  3. Heh! I saw this and went to look at my dashboard and was momentarily aghast… I saw the new dashboard for the first time. Evidently I was one of those with zero page reads… then I noticed I hadn’t scrolled down far enough and that there was now a second graph beneath the first and breathed a sigh of relief. I have the some criticisms as you, Amanda. I wish there was an accounting of the number of borrows; I’m a statistics fan and having a divisor to go with the page count leaves me wanting…

    1. At least we can now find out how many “pages” they say our work has. That gives us a little more of an idea about number of downloads. It still isn’t as accurate as I’d like, but it’s better than nothing.

  4. I kinda like the new dashboard. Of course, for me it’s a new toy to play with. My first indie ebook just went live on Sunday, so this is all new and kool.

    Since I don’t have a blog yet, and certainly haven’t broadcast the new publication, I’m kind of surprised that there are already four novels sold. Funnier yet, one of them seems to be from Germany {Amazon.de}.

    1. I sell 10-25% of my books outside the US. And Germany is #2, behind the UK and slightly ahead of Oz. I almost sell nothing in Canada because no one in Canada buys Kindles from amazon.ca. Just remember that the foreign sales are denominated in the local currency, but are paid in US $.

      1. Thank you. I took notes on your comments, hope you don’t mind.

        It would be interesting some time to compare notes on where things sold. Different sub-genres and differing aims.

        I put right in my description that I intended for this series to play like the pulps of the sixties and seventies. I’m going out of my way to discourage readers that wouldn’t appreciate what I write.

        Best for them, best for me.

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