Why Does Amazon Still Pay Some KDP Authors By Check?

Amazon Pays By Check

Update note: This article is now quite dated. However, there are still countries affected by check payments. Therefore, this article remains online for reference value only.

It really is time for Amazon to enter the 21st century.

I earn a lot of my living online. That means I get paid from a whole range of sources.

All except one company operates in this century. I get paid by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or Paypal by all of them, except for parts of Amazon.

Why checks?

Amazon has infuriated Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Createspace authors for years by insisting on payment by check or cheque.

It is not only old-fashioned, but it is also slow and expensive. (I will use check instead of cheque for this article for simplicity.)

For authors who live in Australia, Canada, South Africa and so many other countries that are outside the US and the EU, getting paid by check by Amazon is inexcusable in today’s world.

Amazon is one of the tech giants. Surely it can’t be too difficult to offer EFT, can it?

It can’t be financial regulation or rules, because Google manages to pay me by EFT every month without any problem at all for book sales and Adsense income.

For KDP self-publishers who get paid by check, they have to pay a bank charge to deposit an Amazon check. This charge can range from the equivalent of $10 – $30 depending on the bank and country.

One can probably presume that the costs for Amazon are higher for a check than EFT.

On top of that, these authors have to wait to accumulate sales royalties of $100, or more for some Amazon stores such as the UK, Canada, Germany, and France.

It is all, well, dumb, crazy, unfair, and old hat. It is about as silly as being notified of your monthly book sales, by telegram.

 

Stop the rip off Amazon! Get real.

My earlier article referred to Createspace and how it was ripping off authors.

But nothing has changed with the closure of Createspace. KDP is still as bad, and totally unfair and discriminating against non-US and UK authors.

In my own case, I am a little fortunate. I get paid by EFT by Amazon for my KDP sales.

However, my Amazon Associates account is still paid by an old-fashioned check. If you think KDP is bad, only US Amazon Associates have access to EFT payments. It is not even available for EU countries.

 

What can you do?

There is little one can do to move a dinosaur.

But if you kick its tail often enough, the message might one day get to its head.

In the case of Amazon, the best you can do is keep sending contact messages and complaining about the unfairness. It took six years, but it worked in the end with Createspace.

But don’t hold your breath.

But I have tried.

 

An open letter to:

Mr. Jeff P. Bezos
President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board
Amazon.com

Dear Jeff,

Without you, and Amazon, self-publishing, print on demand, and ebooks would not exist today in the book market. Nor would the opportunity for almost anyone on the planet to exercise their want to write what they truly believe in, and have the opportunity to be read.  

It matters not how many copies are sold, nor how many people read each book, nor whether a book is free or not. What matters is that Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing have empowered writers and at the same time, given readers a choice, which whether they understand or not, they did not have before Amazon self-publishing.

Even given that ebooks have become almost mainstream now and that there are many players in the ebook retailing market, it is always Amazon who has led the way in innovation.

As so often happens with innovation, though, there are those who resist or argue against change, but without evolution, improvement, trial and almost inevitably the occasional error or two, progress cannot be made.

From the advent of KDP to KDP Select exclusivity, to Kindle Unlimited, and now to pay-per-page royalties, no one can argue that Amazon is not at the forefront of innovating in both self-publishing and publishing as a modern industry.

In fact, in my personal opinion, Amazon is the only self-publishing company that is daring to innovate, change, and improve so willingly.

Digital products such as music, film, and video have proven over many years to be a challenge to market, so, therefore, ebooks are no different. A digital file is a digital file. However, when viewed in perspective, Amazon and ebooks must rate as one of the most outstanding success stories in digital delivery and sales.

For this, every self-publishing author should recognize Amazon’s amazing commitment to self-publishing and in Amazon sharing this success with authors.

Except for one very important issue, Jeff.

While self-publishing on Amazon, though, either Kindle Direct Publishing or Createspace is available to almost any writer anywhere in the world, the fairness of paying royalties to authors is definitely not. It’s time to pay all authors fairly.

While authors in the US, UK and a few European countries enjoy royalty payments every month by Electronic Funds Transfer for any accrued amount, a whole other world of authors is penalized by having to accrue either $100, £100, or EUR100 and then be paid by check, which is then subject to bank fees to clear for payment.

Depending on the bank and country, this can be from 5% to 10% of the check’s value.

Not only that but for authors, who may sell only a few copies of books in certain countries, this limitation can mean that they may not see their due royalties for years.

In addition to this problem, Createspace pays by EFT to far fewer countries than KDP. As both are Amazon companies, I for one I cannot understand why this problem has existed for so many years. In my reading of the community forum on Createspace, this inequity has existed for six years now.

In comments I received on my blog posts on these subjects, I was very surprised to read that even authors in Australia and Canada suffer from payment issues from both Createspace and KDP.

This is not a fair situation. I know many, many self-published authors have contacted Amazon either directly or via Amazon Community Forums regarding this issue for a very long time now, but very little positive action has been taken by Amazon.

For all that you have done so brilliantly for self-publishing, thank you Jeff, but I ask you to extend your innovation, ingenuity, ongoing improvement, and commitment to all authors, and not only those who luckily reside in one of the very few selected countries.

If an author can self-publish on Amazon, and then sell books or ebooks that make a profit for Amazon, surely they all should be paid for their work – fairly, equally, and as promptly.

Thank you again for all your achievements in self-publishing, but I hope this one important issue of fairness to a world of Amazon self-published authors will warrant your personal attention.

Sincerely yours,

Derek Haines

If you are a self-publishing author, who agrees that Amazon should act to ensure all self-published authors are paid equally, fairly, and promptly, please send your thoughts to Mr. Jeff Bezos by email – [email protected]

 

The earlier story

I am leaving the contents of the earlier article that pertained to check payments by Createspace to set the historical background to Amazon’s reluctance to embrace EFT payments.

Some of the information is of course dated, but it is relevant to the current reluctance of Amazon to offer EfT payments to more countries.

The comments at the end of the article are also an illustration of the frustration felt by authors.

An Amazon Company That Rips Off Authors

Createspace penalizes international self-publishing authors.

If you are a self-published author, who has the misfortune to reside outside the US or the UK, or a small handful of selected European countries, and publish paperbacks on Createspace, you will know that Createspace treats international authors in general like, well, there’s no other word, so why should I censor this?

Createspace treats most of their international authors like shit, as they have ripped them off for a very long time.

If you live for example in Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, India, or like me in Switzerland, Createspace does not offer electronic payment of royalties (EFT), and will only pay by check for royalty balances over US$100, £100 or Euro 100.

This is archaic, discriminatory, and close to predatory.

For EFT, where it is offered, the minimum payments are US$10! (Update: There is now no limit, so all balances are paid in full each month by EFT.)

Not only are these balances uneven, as US$100 is only worth about half of £100, paying by check means that authors suffer from bank clearance fees, so they lose a lot on the deal.

In my case, every US$100 check I receive costs me $10 to clear. With EFT, there are no charges whatsoever. This is UNFAIR!

 

Createspace has done nothing in six years, except to make false promises.

Now, if this were a new problem it wouldn’t be so bad, but Createspace has been promising to address this issue for over six years, as their Community message boards on this subject prove.

But nothing has been done, except for Createspace to keep making as yet unfulfilled promises.

I sent yet another message only yesterday about this unfair situation, and received the same stock standard reply I have been receiving for years, in that Createspace value their customers and are working on it! Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Let’s get something clear.

Createspace is an Amazon company. Amazon KDP has no problem at all in paying by EFT to authors in most countries, but for some unfathomable reason, Createspace can’t manage to do it.

Worse still is that Createspace is sitting on a huge pile of unpaid royalties that have not managed to get to the minimum amounts payable by check. So how many books do I sell in France, Spain, and Germany? A few, but at my current balance of around Euro 20, I’ll be waiting ten years to see a check.

I imagine a lot of authors have similar outstanding balances. But if EFT were available, I would have been paid already. Theft? Hoarding? Stupidity? Ineptitude? Whichever, it amounts to a lot of money Createspace is sitting on that should be paid to authors!

This is not an isolated problem either, as I have written before about International Self-Publishing Hurdles, and Is Self-Publishing Only For Americans?. If you are not American, you are almost always at a disadvantage in one way or another with Amazon.

If you are an Amazon Associates member, for example, there is the same $100 minimum problem for non-US residents, but at least Amazon Associates offer an Amazon Gift card for balances over $10. Not a fantastic solution, but it is more than Createspace can manage to do.

If you are an international self-published author, who is suffering from the reluctance of Createspace to change their discriminatory payment options, all I can suggest is hitting them with a message every month, complaining about the unfairness of their payment system.

Mind you, on their Community Boards; this topic has been hit by the same complaints since two thousand and nine! That’s only 7 years!

Amazon is a company that started with books and still owes a lot of its success to books and ebooks. But isn’t it high time that it treated (all) their authors with a little more fairness?

 

Notes

Footnote: Since writing this post, Createspace finally acted after six years and now offers EFT payments to a few more countries

 

Update: I have filed this article as Dated due to the fact that Amazon KDP now offers easy paperback publishing, which overcomes the Createspace EFT payment problems for almost all authors. 

Update 2: There is news speculation that Createspace will be closing down. This might be the right time to move your paperback POD self-publishing to KDP.

Update 3: We have published a new article explaining how to move your existing Createspace paperback titles to Amazon KDP.

Update 4: Amazon announces it is taking over media production from Createspace.

Update 5: Amazon Associates has come out of the cave and announced that direct deposit EFT payments are available now for a limited number of countries outside the US. See the list below.

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Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

36 thoughts on “Why Does Amazon Still Pay Some KDP Authors By Check?

  • Avatar for Trevor Dunn
    July 22, 2020 at 6:34 pm
    Permalink

    MEGA problems with KDP EFT payments. BEWARE
    As an author publishing newly with KDP, I was happy to get an email telling me that a payment was on the way ! Great, I thought. All my first month’s royalties coming along. Then I opened the payment info and saw a payment for the equivalent of about 0.20 USD ! Yes, I repeat, KDP were sending an EFT for the equivalent of 20 US cents !
    Then next day it was a payment from Japan, for KOLL reads. Value in USD 0.01 USD. KDP had sent of an international EFT for one cent ! I couldn’t believe it! Banks worldwide charge their customers to receive EFTs…. mine charges a minimum of about 40 dollars per transfer.. peanuts if it’s for 10000 bucks, but totally ridiculous if its for a payment of 0.01 USD.
    KDP must know that banks charge their customers, but they carry on regardless.
    EFT is great ! Yes; but not the way KDP/Amazon do it.
    Take care, authors. If one person happens to buy your book on some distant Amazon market in a month, you’ll lose a lot of money. Unless you tell them to hold payments (which you can do) KDP’ll send you an EFT payment for even just one cent… even though they have to know that this is going to cost you a lot of money in bank charges.
    Removing minimum EFT thresholds was NOT a good idea for people who sell on all amazon markets, unless you want to pay more in bank charges than you receive in royalties from some Amazon markets.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      July 22, 2020 at 6:51 pm
      Permalink

      I have to say that I have never been charged by my bank for even the smallest payment from Amazon. I regularly get very small payments from some international Kindle Stores. I really think you should check with your bank. If you are being charged $40.00 to receive a payment, something is really wrong with your bank. I don’t see this as an Amazon problem.

      Reply
      • Avatar for Trevor Dunn
        July 22, 2020 at 8:42 pm
        Permalink

        Interesting. Ill keep this thread updated when the payments actually get through. Maybe the guys at KDP help don’t know exactly how EFT payments work … which is maybe not too surprising.

        Reply
      • Avatar for Trevor Dunn
        July 29, 2020 at 10:52 pm
        Permalink

        In the end, this was a false alarm.
        the EFT payments were in fact all made from the same Amazon account located in my currency area, and were converted before sending, so came as local electronic transfers and were not subject to any charges.
        The problem arose from confusion in the terms used by Amazon/KDP . What they call an EFT payment is actually a BACS payment in the UK or a SEPA payment in the Eurozone – neither of which incur charges. If the terms BACS and SEPA had been used from the outset, I’d never have worried (apart from the actual sense of sending a payment of less than 10p or 10c).
        As my original post was a false alarm, it would be good to delete it as it does not add anything of use to this discussion.

        Reply
  • Avatar for Seema Gurwara
    June 30, 2019 at 10:39 am
    Permalink

    I’m still haggling with the Kdp customer care over my first check payment of UK sales.

    They say it’s delivered when actually it hasn’t! When I raise query they Just ask to void the check and reissue another.

    Does anyone have any advice?

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      June 30, 2019 at 10:54 am
      Permalink

      I have had this issue a few times over the years with KDP. I have always received a replacement check. So it should be okay. But it is much better if you have the option to get your payments from KDP by electronic transfer.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Catherine Forsayeth
    May 16, 2019 at 2:20 pm
    Permalink

    Totally agree. I had a dreadful experience publishing my first book with them, so many errors. Then I discovered I would probably never get my royalties as they are spread across several domains. After I threatened to write an article on just this issue I immediately had a phone call from some supervisor trying to smooth my very ruffled feathers and promising that Amazon were thinking of reviewing the policy. Yeahhhh right.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Jason
    May 16, 2019 at 9:11 am
    Permalink

    Perhaps it’s time for a class action lawsuit, where ALL of Amazon’s ripped off authors together might have enough power to get Jeff’s attention? The combined slush fund of all those under $100 thresholds must be a massive pile of cash they are sitting and earning interest on. Surely, this dodgy from some legal aspect. Time to unite?

    Reply

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