I just got off the phone with two people at the Amazon KDP UK office and overall I am disappointed. Not because the two people I spoke to didn't care (I'm certain they did). Not because I feel as though my voice wasn't heard (I know it was), but because I came away knowing nothing I didn't know before.
The only thing I can say about the Kindle Unlimited situation is wait and see (which is what i would have said before). One of two things is true.
1) Amazon are trying to shift sales to a model that better suits them and we will all find that conditions worsen as a result, but have no choice but to accept it as Amazon now have enough control to do as they please. This happened with the ACX royalty reduction in the Summer, but they would never get away with doing the same with KDP (as they have competition from other vendors) so they have sought a more subtle way of redirecting profit to themselves.
Or 2) Amazon created Kindle Unlimited with the best of intentions and what we are seeing right now is mere teething troubles. Things may very well be tweaked and improved soon to a point where we embrace and love the service. After my phone call with Amazon, I can genuinely say I am 50/50 on what I believe. They convinced me that Amazon is looking at unhappy authors and thinking of ways to make them happy again, but thinking about it doesn't mean anything will come to fruition.
I was told that there has been as much positive feedback about KU as there has been negative. I struggle to believe that based on what I have seen, read, and heard, but perhaps that's the truth. Perhaps we are the unlucky few who have been hurt. Maybe we just need to get with the new system and try to succeed all over again within the new framework. If that is the reality of things, then I am going to get to work climbing back to the top where I was before. Changing the game does not mean any of us are out of the game. Perhaps what we have just been through was a golden era and things are destined to settle at a lower standard of prosperity. If so, then I will quit whining and start trying to learn to play the new game and make what money there is to be made.
I wish I could tell you that Amazon assured me things would get better, but they did not. They gave me hope that Amazon is taking things seriously and will be looking at making the KU platform the best it can be, but authors may not factor into the outcome as much as profit or value to customers. I truly do not know. There is every chance that the Amazon boffins come up with a brilliant solution. We will have to see. I am sorry I have no answers.
My advice is to wait until January. Amazon will not change anything over the holidays. If things get better, then the end of January is my estimation as when they will. Wait with me and then decide. We must decide amongst ourselves what is best to do. While we have to look after our own interests, we have more power as a collective. If things are still bad in the new year, then I would ask you to seriously consider taking your books to other platforms and working against Amazon until things improve. It may hurt us in the short term, but if we do not think about the long term also and act accordingly, then we are willing lambs to the slaughter. If Amazon truly cares about authors, now is the time to show them. If we are still leaking our livelihoods away come February 2015 then I would feel safe in saying that our fears about Amazon caring only about profit are true (and perhaps obvious). We then must fight not for ourselves, but for each another. We deserve to make a living at something we are good at and that people are willing to pay for. Make sure Amazon hear your voices. If you are unhappy, complain now! If your earnings are dropping, let Amazon know now! If a new platform comes out to challenge Amazon, support it! Don't sit back and hope for the best. Get fighting. Make the effort to keep things fair. Fight for your fellow authors and yourselves.
I love Amazon, I truly do. They have had my loyalty for 4 years now, but I do not owe them my life. If they are unwilling to treat me fairly, then my loyalty will go to whoever will (maybe that's not the definition of loyalty in that case, but you get my point).
Think hard and think carefully about what you will do in the new year. When you decide, I will be ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, brother and sister. I'll always be here to fight for you.
Iain Rob Wright, December 2014