Knowing the Truth about Royalty Checks: Recognizing the Lies

by Renea Winchester

I have been waiting for the right time to address this issue. Hoping to find a way to tactfully deliver the message. Praying I could do so in a manner that doesn’t alienate me, offend newbie authors, and yet deliver the truth. 

Y’all know that some people can’t handle the truth. Right? 

I’ll begin with a story: Recently, I was enjoying breakfast with a friend who works as a publicist/mentor/coach for other writers. She was sharing a success story and said that one of her clients told her, “each week I receive a check from Amazon for several hundred dollars.” 

Poker-faced, I steered the conversation toward his book and his marketing techniques,  all while thinking what is wrong with me? I don’t receive a check from Amazon every week? 

Many self-published authors would have immediately contacted Amazon and raised all sorts of ruckus. They would have accused Amazon of stealing. They would have cited examples of their sales (using Amazon’s own statistical numbers as evidence). They would threaten litigation. They would make complete fools out of themselves. 

Those who have read my book, Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author, (click link to order) understand that monitoring (or boasting about) sales isn’t a productive use of time. Here is an excerpt from my book about monitoring your sales:  Caution: It is easy to become obsessed with online sales. Before spending hours monitoring sales, (which is easy to do) please understand that the ranking system is an enigma wrapped in an unsolvable puzzle. 

Being in the top 10,000 Amazon ranking doesn’t mean your book is selling millions of copies.

Truth: Amazon does not, has not, and will not ever mail authors a weekly check. Any author who tells you otherwise is telling you a lie. 

So much for tact. 

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in claiming that good things will come your way. But, I kinda-sorta-believe good things also come to those who tell the truth, not to people who purposely spread misinformation. 

Don’t you?

 A quick visit to Amazon reveals the following: (bold area highlighted by me):

             5.4.2 Payment Terms. Amazon parties will pay Royalties on their respective Digital Book sales approximately sixty (60) days following the end of the calendar month during which they make the applicable sale. At the time of payment, we will make available to you an online report detailing sales of Digital Books and corresponding Royalties. All payments will be made via check, Electronic Funds Transfer (“EFT”) payments or other method we designate in the Program Policies, in the Sale Currency or other payment currency we provide for in the Program Policies. If we give you the option to change your payment currency and you select that option using our then-current procedures, the change will be effective on the first day of the calendar month following the calendar month in which you make the change (unless we make an earlier period available). If we pay you in a currency other than the Sale Currency, we will convert the Royalties due from the Sale Currency to the payment currency at an exchange rate we determine, which will be inclusive of all fees and charges for the conversion. We may require you to register in your Program account a valid bank account for receiving EFT payments that is in compliance with the then-current Program Policies, in which case we will not be obligated to make payments of Royalties to you unless you do so. We are entitled to accrue and withhold payments until the total amount due is at least $10 if by EFT or $100 if by check, or for payments in other currencies, at least those amounts we set forth in the Program Policies.

Clearly, the man claiming to receive weekly royalty checks is spreading misinformation. Even if he were selling hundreds of dollars worth of books every weeks, Amazon wouldn’t endure the expense of mailing him a check every week. Their own policy is clear. Authors receive checks every 60 days (or longer). While I do not know the reasoning behind his actions, I know that I immediately felt cheated. I do not want you to feel the same way, hence this blog post.

Hopefully, my message will clear up any doubt. No one receives compensation from Amazon. No one.

Keep writing and looking for those checks. As always, I welcome your comments. I kindly ask you to share my blog with others. In this case, knowledge is power.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author of Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author and In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. She teaches emerging author workshops across Georgia, NC, and Tennessee. Contact her through her website to book her in your state.