Where is Chicken Little?

I can’t tell you where Chicken Little is, but I can tell you where his cousins and siblings are. They are hanging around the “Amazon is evil” campfire and on some of the Kindle boards. They are running around, pointing their fingers and crying “foul” over changes to the KDP Select rules pertaining to borrows. Now, I will admit I have some questions about the new program but I also have been one of those asking for changes to be made.

What are those changes and why are so many folks panicking?

Starting July 1st, those titles in the KDP Select program that are borrowed will be paid according to the number of pages read instead of a set sum based on the Global Fund being paid to every title once a reader hits the 10% mark. You can read the initial announcement of the changes here.

As you read the announcement, you’ll see some general figures thrown out. I’ll admit I’m a little leery of the numbers Amazon uses but I’ll leave it to those not math-challenged to work out whether they are complete hand-wavium or simply putting a positive spin on something that is possible. Frankly, I look at it as a mix of both because it assumes a certain number of pages read as well as a certain amount of money in the Global Fund. However, there is one fact about the new program that I do like and I am going to give the program a chance, albeit I will be watching it closely, because of that particular change.

Under the current program, a title enrolled in KDP Select garners $1.40 each time a reader passes the 10% mark. Until that happens, the author receives nothing. Now, $1.40 per qualifying borrow is better than nothing by a long shot. However, that is $1.40 no matter how long that “book” happens to be. So a short story that has only 2,500 words and cells for 99 cents gets the same “royalty” as a 100,000 word novel. Further, that short story is more likely to qualify for the royalty than the novel because that magical 10% mark can be reached before the reader actually gets to the story. For the novel, you are talking several chapters at least (on the whole).

Because of this, a number of authors — yours truly included — had been calling for changes to the program. We looked at short stories earning more for borrows than they earned when they were sold. It was an inequality in the system that needed to be addressed. Amazon has listened and is attempting a change. Whether that change will work out or not, I’m not sure. I do know that I will give it a chance.

It is up to you to decide if you are going to enroll — or stay — in the system. I urge you, however, to do your homework before making a decision. Do not rely upon articles like this that make it appear that this pages read = amount paid applies to all downloads. It doesn’t. This is only for the “borrows”. You will still get your standard royalty for purchases.

What is going to be interesting — in a scary, fascinating, can’t look away sort of way — is another change that will come with this alteration to the program. We will now be able to see how many pages of a book were read. To me, that is sort of like keeping track of our sales, in that obsessive sort of way so many of us do, and our author ranking. It’s a great ego boost when the rankings and sales go up and a kick to the gut when it goes down. One thing about it, it will let us know if readers get to a certain point and then stop. That is the sort of thing that can help identify a serious flaw in a book.

I will be interesting to see how this plays out. I expect to see a lot more about it middle of August when we see our reports for July and know for sure how much we are being paid under the new program.


  1. Okay, one more thing: I absolutely refuse to get paranoid about the fact that they can tell what I’m reading. I am never more than 1 step away from a firearm, and Big Brother is toothless unless he can inflict tissue damage.

  2. Thanks Amanda

    I followed the link and think I understand. At first look, it appears to make things better for a typical novel author. Might make the short story author upset though.

  3. Actually, I think it is a very good thing. Our novel is currently at 110000 words and it is about two-thirds done. In order to make some money on KU, we were planning to split it into two, and offer the two on KU, while the complete novel would only be available for purchase. It made me feel kind of dirty, like we were planning to game the system, but it seemed like the only way that we could compete against someone who cranks out several short serials a year. However, under the new system, if our book holds people’s interest and they like the world-building and story and stick through the entire 600 (likely final page count) pages of the thing, we will be rewarded for our extra work.

    Of course, if it sucks, we will still get bupkus, but, of course, I’m not worried about that, because our writing is brilliant and captivating, and how could anyone NOT like it?


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