New Modifications on Amazon to Look Out For

It’s a good time to be independent. That’s part of the reason this site exists: to make sure authors know that it’s a good time to be independent and we’re here to help you make the most of it. And it’s about to get better: recent announcements from Amazon about modifications to ongoing programs are bound to benefit authors, especially of the independent variety.

The first announcement is a coming change to the KDP Select program and deals with how authors are paid. Currently, authors whose books are available through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library are paid based on how many times those books are “borrowed” through these services. Starting July 1st though, Amazon will start paying authors based on how many pages a customer reads the first time they read the book. If a page is on the screen long enough to be registered, it’ll add to how much the author is paid.

According to Amazon, authors who write longer works and feel short-changed by the current pay-by-the-rent format can stand to earn more if they can write long stories that are exciting and keep the reader involved. At the same time an author who writes a 100-page thriller novel is encouraged to maybe see if they can extend the story a little bit longer.

Of course, one shouldn’t write a book based on this sort of formula (or possibly on any formula(, but it might give some authors encouragement to try a few new things while giving other authors who already write longer books hope for a little extra income through KU and KLL.

The other announcement deals with changes to reviews and rating. You ever get that low review where someone just takes offense at something on your cover art or a typo in your author bio on Amazon or just to say “I did not like this book. It was totally stupid?” Sometimes they don’t even buy the book? Had my first of those recently, brought down my rating a little. Thankfully, with this little change these sort of not reviews will matter less in the grand scheme of things.

Currently, Amazon rates its books by averaging customer reviews. If you have a book with eight reviews, for example, and you have five four-star reviews, two five-star reviews, and one three-star review, your book’s rating will be 4.1 out of 5. Under the new system though, which they are already testing, reviews that are recent, have been written by a customer who bought the product, and are found helpful by other customers will be given more emphasis than other reviews. So if you have a five star review that’s been found helpful by twenty people and it was written last month by someone who bought the paperback, it’ll be given more weight in the rating than other reviews.

This is a huge change in the review and rating system, and has a number of positive benefits for both Amazon and people who sell their work through Amazon. It’ll not only prevent those fake reviews intentionally posted to bring down ratings, it’ll stop false reviews meant to pump up reviews (Amazon has had a heck of a time trying to stop these reviews, even suing companies that provide positive reviews to authors for a price). And if products have a few flaws around release, once the updates are done and people start reviewing the updated product, the reviews dealing with the product flaws will be less prominent and matter less in the long run.

Right now they’re still experimenting with the new system, and it’s only covering a small group of products, but once Amazon starts using it for all their products, it’ll change everything about the reviewing system! And it can only benefit. Assuming an author writes a very good book, customers looking at the reviews will get access to the most helpful reviews first and foremost.

Like I said, it’s a very good time to be an independent author. And it’s going to get even better. With more chances to get paid for writing the stories you love and not having to worry about length, and a new ratings configuration that keeps bad reviews from totally ruining your rating, authors stand to prosper more from doing what they love and do best. And I cannot wait for these programs to become available for all.

What are some modifications you’d like to see done to Amazon or other book distribution sites?

What are you looking forward to with these new changes?

12 thoughts on “New Modifications on Amazon to Look Out For

  1. Lauralynn Elliott June 22, 2015 / 7:06 pm

    I’m not worried about the KU changes since I don’t sell exclusively through Amazon.

    I think the review changes might make the whole thing more professional. I’ve gotten “troll” reviews before, and there’s never been anything you could do about it. Funny you should mention the “paid” reviews. Someone in a FB group today offered to give good reviews for $5.00. The group administrator deleted it immediately.

    • rami ungar the writer June 22, 2015 / 8:00 pm

      Good on the administrator. That’s not the sort of thing we try to encourage here. A good review should be posted because someone liked the story or product, not because somebody got paid to read it and then pick a few good things to discuss in the review.

    • Ruth Ann Nordin June 22, 2015 / 9:17 pm

      I’m surprised anyone would try this after all the uproar about paid reviews. LOL I’m glad the group administrator got rid of it.

      • rami ungar the writer June 22, 2015 / 10:58 pm

        Maybe the poster was out of the loop on that or just didn’t care. You never know with these sort of people till you ask them.

  2. 2kathleenivan June 22, 2015 / 9:19 pm

    Thanku for this important info 🙂

  3. Ruth Ann Nordin June 22, 2015 / 9:27 pm

    I’m glad to hear a positive spin on both of these new developments. A lot of what I’ve heard has been negative, so it’s nice to get a positive perspective. Like Lauralynn, I’m not in KU, but if I was, this would make me happy since I write longer works. However, those people who write shorter works aren’t necessarily doomed. What this does (in my opinion) is level the playing field. Everyone is given the same amount of money based off pages read. If you write short stories and have 100 out there, you could make as much as an author with the same number of total pages who wrote three full-length novels. Really, what it all boils down to is how compelling your story is. If the story is good, people will read the whole thing, and if your short story is good, people will read more short stories. In the end, I think it can even out.

    It would be nice if this cut down on fake reviews. That’s been a hard thing for all us to deal with. I hadn’t thought of a previous reviewer mentioning editing errors, the author cleaning it up, then a new review saying the editing is clean. The editing being clean review should be the one given more weight.

    • rami ungar the writer June 22, 2015 / 11:01 pm

      As always, thank you for your kind words of wisdom, Ruth. Like you said, it’s not punishment or anything, it’s levelling the playing field. And if false or fake reviews are given less priority, than authors can have an easier time knowing their works aren’t being rated lower unfairly.

  4. ronfritsch June 22, 2015 / 9:29 pm

    I think it might be a little early for authors to assume these Amazon changes will benefit them. Authors whose books are readily “borrowed” — by an enticing cover and blurb, perhaps — but quickly abandoned will suffer. As for the reviews, I can think of no easy way for Amazon, or anybody else, to determine which of them are “fake,” “false” or paid for. When Amazon leaves its current mathematically determined rating system, does it open the door to punish authors such as myself who keep our books out of KU because we don’t want to sell them exclusively on Amazon?

    • rami ungar the writer June 22, 2015 / 11:03 pm

      I don’t see any punishment in these scenarios. Plenty of authors don’t use KU, it’s optional. It’s just a new opportunity for authors who use KU to maybe earn a little extra income.
      And if a book is borrowed easily and just as easily cast aside, I don’t think that’s on Amazon. I think that’s more likely on the reader or possibly the book itself.

  5. Mary Schwaner June 23, 2015 / 10:31 am

    I’d like to see ebook viewers (the app you read with, like Kindle) show the author’s name at the top of every other page. In a paperback you are constantly reminded of the author’s name because it’s in the header of every odd or even page, with the title opposite it. But author’s names are getting lost in ebooks. I’d like to see them be more visible. With regard to these KDP changes, the jury is still out. Currently the borrows make less than a sale of the book would…losing money on a regular basis. Will be nice if this brings earnings more in line with sales.

    • rami ungar the writer June 23, 2015 / 10:33 am

      I think you have to format e-books to have your name at the top yourself. After all, the author is the one who uploads their work onto KDP and other e-book sites.

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