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