This month Amazon announced a change to the Kindle Unlimited payout system. Effective from July 1st, authors will be paid based on pages read. At present, authors are paid per book, where a reader has read at least 10% of the book. This change is going to have a significant impact on the incomes of authors, with some seeing an increase and others seeing a decrease, but it was also change the kind of content readers see included in the Kindle Unlimited scheme.
There’s a quiz doing the rounds at the moment called Ten Questions to Know if You’re a Pro, about your attitude to writing and other aspects of life, and apparently you can’t be a professional writer, or claim to be a professional, if you don’t answer yes to them all.
These sorts of things annoy me. The questions are a set of arbitrary rules based around one writer’s experiences, perhaps to justify certain things she does or doesn’t do because it’s a “writerly” thing to do.
I see myself as much a reader as a writer here, if not more so. I do intend, when the time comes, to self-publish what I write; I like the advantages it offers in terms of control, royalties and swiftness of reimbursement. As such, I want to see the self-publishing industry succeed, not just for my own prospects, but because it offers a variety to readers which traditional publishing does not – it contains books which might not be “marketable” or might be “too risky” to the traditional publisher, but which actually are very good, very enjoyable books.
The problem is that self-publishing’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: its inclusivity. It means that anyone can publish – good or bad. Finished or unfinished. And that’s what I want to address today.
Amazon have announced Kindle Worlds, a new scheme whereby they intend to publish fanfiction in the Kindle marketplace for money. This will be with the agreement of the owners of the intellectual property, who will also get some of the royalties, but it means that for the first time fans can publish fanfiction and get paid for it, without having to either change all the names to make it look like original fiction, wait a few decades for copyright to run out, or make a deal directly with the rights holder.
Authors will have to meet content guidelines, such as a ban on pornography, extreme violence, and crossovers, and a requirement that the work does not give a “poor customer experience”. There is also a minimum word limit works under 5,000 will not be accepted, and those under 10,000 will receive a reduced royalty rate.
You may possibly have noticed me raving a little bit about my short story, Ailith’s Gift, a few times on my blog. You can hardly blame me: it’s my first story to be published. Well, my second, but the first isn’t viewable any more because the ezine it was published in vanished at some point in the last 5 years. Ailith’s Gift was published in Myths Inscribed back in December; I worked hard to meet the deadline and then to improve it with help from Myths Inscribed lead editor Derek Bowen.
Recently I returned to look at it, and found a few errors, a few things I didn’t like about it any more. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still incredibly proud of it and myself, and for the main part I’m still happy with it, but the distance of time and perhaps a little extra experience has granted me a more objective perspective, not just on the story, but also on my frame of mind at the time I was writing and editing Ailith’s Gift.