Thursday, May 8, 2014

#ISWG: Missing #Royalties? Don't Blame the #Publisher.

Welcome back to the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. Today I want to talk about sales. Many times an author will believe they have made X amount of sales because people will tell them that they have bought their book but when the reports come in from Amazon it shows a different number. Most of the time it's a lessor amount than the author was expecting. As a publisher and an author, I have experienced this phenomena many times.

Publisher - If you are with a publishing house then the only sales reports you get are from them. I want to lay aside a common misconception about publishers. Publishers are not responsible for your book's sales numbers. The publisher receives sales numbers and royalties from the distributor. Most of the time this distributor is Amazon because Amazon is such a powerhouse in the publishing world. Sad fact is even if a publisher or author doesn't like Amazon we are forced to deal with them because that's where most people are buying books.
Amazon gives the publisher a monthly report of sales and royalties at the end of each month. But the numbers being reported are a month behind. The publisher then has to put the data into a spreadsheet. Once it's in a spreadsheet they can send the data to the author along with the author's cut of the royalties.

Author - You can track your sales ,just as a publisher would, through Createspace and Amazon. It's harder to track your sales on Smashwords because Smashwords doesn't give monthly reports. If you find any discrepancies with your reports you can challenge the distributor.


Before you let your emotions get the best of you and you go off charging allegations of fraud at Amazon, Smashwords, etc. you need to understand that many people will say they have bought your book only to appease you as an author. It's a sad fact but a reality in this business.  Yet Amazon is infamous for under reporting sales as well. I haven't had much of problem with this on Smashwords but I have known several authors who have had issues with Amazon.

So how do you challenge the great and mighty Amazon?

There are two ways of doing this.

Ebook - If you know the person has bought a copy of your ebook but it hasn't been reported by Amazon ask the person to send you the order# found on their receipt. Every time someone orders an ebook Amazon will give them an order #. Once you have that order # you can email KDP (they do not have phones) with the order # and challenge the report. If Kindle finds they never reported the sale to you they will correct their records and release the royalty due to you the following month.

Print Book - If you know the person who has bought the print book and the sale hasn't been recorded then ask the person to take a photo of the bar code found inside the back cover. The bar code should say the city and date in which the book was printed. Once you have that you can call Createspace, give then the bar code and challenge the sales report. Like Kindle, if they find the sale was not recorded they will fix their records and release the royalties due the following month. I have had this happen on more than one occasion and have always received my missing royalties.


  1. I just started selling so I haven't had any problems yet but that is excellent advice to remember. Thanks for sharing that!
    History Sleuth - IWSG .

  2. Glad you added your name back to the list. Sometimes, we get bogged down in life and can't blog! Great advice. You can leave a message in Alex's comments, and he'll reply.
    Play off the Page

    1. You're welcome. I left him a message in the comment section of his blog before I posted about it in the Facebook group.

  3. A sad fact and sometimes "it" just happens. I'm curious if there have been any proven malicious attempts to under report sales. I've wondered about the accountability of this system. Trust and second guessing seem to be the way to go. As usual, we have to look out for ourselves. For writers, this should be an every day occurrenc

    1. I think Amazon has just grown too big. As a business owner I understand how wonderful a large business can be but when you get too big it's easy to loose important information if you're not organized. I wonder somedays when enough is enough with Amazon.

  4. Thank you for the information. I'm probably years away from worrying about this, but it's always good to know what's what. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

  5. Never would have thought about that! thanks

  6. Thanks for sharing this information, Alison. It's very helpful.