Amazon Not Paying Royalties? Your Guide to Resolving Missing Payments

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Amazon Not Paying Royalties? Your Guide to Resolving Missing Payments
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When you publish a book, you hope to reap the rewards, but what happens when your royalties are suddenly missing? When Amazon is not paying royalties? How concerned should you be, and how do you know that Amazon will uphold their end of the agreement?

This blog post covers all things related to payment and royalty troubleshooting so you can focus on selling your next book!

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Standard Royalty Timeline on KDP

When you publish books on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you are agreeing to certain terms and conditions related to the pay structure in addition to their content guidelines.

Royalty Rates for Kindle eBooks

Depending on the options you select for your Kindle eBook, you earn eBook royalties based on two rate options:

70% Royalty Rate:

  • Available when your eBook’s list price is between $2.99 and $9.99.
  • The book must be priced at least 20% lower than the printed edition, if any.
  • This rate is applicable in specific territories where Amazon operates.
  • A delivery fee, based on the eBook's file size, is deducted from the royalty. This fee varies by region.

35% Royalty Rate:

  • Applicable for eBooks priced outside the $2.99 to $9.99 range.
  • This rate also applies if you choose not to enroll in the 70% royalty option or if your book is sold in territories where the 70% option is not available.
  • No delivery fee is charged under this rate.

Pro Tip: Royalties for paperback and hardcover books are different. Use our KDP Calculator to see how much Amazon will owe you for your future books!

Payment Thresholds and Schedules

Kindle Direct Publishing operates on a 60-day payment cycle. This means you’ll receive your earnings approximately 60 days after the end of the month in which the book sales occurred. Here's how payments are processed:

  • Direct Deposit (EFT): The preferred and fastest way to receive payments, with no minimum threshold.
  • Wire Transfer: Available for many countries outside the US, may incur additional fees, and has a $100 minimum threshold.
  • Checks: The minimum threshold for receiving payments via check is also $100, with a small fee per check issued.

Read more about when Amazon pays you royalties.

Common Reasons for Delayed or Missing Payments

There are several factors that might affect the timely deposit of your book earnings. Here are some of the most common:

  1. Incorrect Account Information
  2. Outdated Payment Method
  3. Not Meeting Minimum Payment Thresholds
  4. Payment Cycle Delays
  5. Tax Information Issues

Troubleshooting Payment Issues on KDP

If your book earnings from Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing have not arrived as expected, and you've already triple-checked your payment methods, here's what you can do:

  1. Check Payment Threshold: Verify that your earnings have met the required payment threshold. If your royalties haven't reached that threshold, they will be rolled over to the next payment period.
  2. Examine Tax Information: Confirm that your tax information is correct and submitted properly.
  3. Payment Timing: Remember that Amazon issues royalties approximately 60 days after the end of the month in which the sale was reported. For example, royalties earned in January will typically be paid at the end of March.
  4. Investigate Holds and Blocks: Sometimes, payments are held due to account issues. Check your email for notifications from KDP about potential problems with your account that may affect payments.
  5. Contact Support: If you've tried all the above and still haven't resolved the issue, you can message KDP support. Use the (Contact Us) link at the bottom of the KDP website and provide detailed information about your issue.

Pro Tip: Dealing with support can be a headache sometimes. Don’t be afraid to follow up, and stay persistent if you need help!

How to Set Up Payment Information Inside Amazon KDP

Here's how to update your payment information inside your self-publishing portal:

Bank Account and Direct Deposit

To set up direct deposit, log in to your Kindle Direct Publishing account and navigate to the “My Account” section. Here is how you can provide your bank information:

1. Under “Getting Paid,” select “Add a Bank Account.”

2. Choose your country and enter the following:

  • Bank name
  • Account number
  • Bank routing number (if required, varies by country)

3. Verification may be required for the details provided.

Other Payment Methods

If direct deposit isn't viable for you, KDP also offers alternative methods. To select a new payment method:

  • Go to the “My Account” section of the KDP dashboard.
  • Click on “Change Payment Method.”
  • Enter the required information for the chosen payment method.

Pro Tip: The bank account name does NOT have to match the pen name you use for your books, but it should match the KDP account holder name.

Tax Information and Withholding

Tax laws will vary by state and country, but you'll need to provide your tax information to stay compliant in the US:

Providing Tax Information to Amazon

Here's what Amazon asks of self-publishers:

For U.S. Residents:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN): Required for tax reporting purposes.
  • Form W-9: Submit this to confirm your U.S. tax status.

For Non-U.S. Residents:

  • Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) or Foreign Tax Identity Number: Necessary if you have tax obligations in the U.S.
  • Form W-8BEN: This certifies that you are not a U.S. person and assists in claiming any tax treaty benefits.

Amazon's Tax Withholding Policies

Tax withholding is a legal requirement for US citizens to comply with tax regulations, and it can get complicated. The amount withheld depends on several factors related to your tax status and the information you provide. It's always best to consult with a professional, but here's a general overview. You will be responsible for your own state and federal withholding!

Withholding Rates:

  • U.S. Residents: Typically 0-30% depending on your individual circumstances.
  • Non-U.S. Residents: Up to 30%, which may be reduced under a tax treaty between your country and the U.S.

Impact on Royalties:

  • The withheld amount is deducted from your royalties.
  • Withholding tax is reported on forms such as 1099-MISC for U.S. residents or 1042-S for non-residents.

Reducing Withholding:

  • Make sure your tax information is complete and up to date.
  • Claim any applicable tax treaty benefits.

Pro Tip: Working with a tax professional might cost you more in the short term, but it’s well worth it in the long run, especially as you grow your publishing business. 

Amazon's Global Payment Policies

We’re almost done with the nitty gritty finance stuff. Stick with us!

Currency Exchange and Conversion Fees

When Amazon pays you, currency conversion comes into play if you're receiving payments in a different currency than the one used for the purchase. For example, if your eBook is sold in Australia, but your bank account is in USD, Amazon will convert the Australian dollars (AUD) to US dollars (USD) using the exchange rate at the time of payment. Be aware that conversion fees may apply, influencing the final amount you receive.

  • Conversion Procedure: The exchange rate is determined on the day of payment, not the day of sale.
  • Conversion Fees: Typically a small percentage of the transaction.

VAT and Regional Pricing

Your royalty is calculated based on the list price you set. Therefore, the addition of VAT for customers in certain regions does not reduce the royalty amount you receive.

Kindle Publishing Programs and Royalty Payments

Enrolling in certain Amazon programs, like KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, can also affect your book earnings. Here's the gist:

Kindle Select

Select is a program that offers you, the publisher, additional opportunities to earn money and reach new readers. Enrollment in KDP Select grants you access to the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program, where readers can access your book through a subscription-based model. What you earn is based on the number of pages KU subscribers read rather than traditional sales.

  • Exclusive Benefits: KDP Select offers exclusive promotional opportunities and increased visibility.
  • Global Fund: Payments come from a global fund, and the amount per page read can fluctuate monthly.
  • Royalty Calculation: Earnings are based on the total number of pages read.
  • Payment Frequency: Authors and publishers receive monthly payments.

Tracking and Documenting Payments

Amazon has built-in tracking for self-publishers through the KDP portal, but it doesn't hurt to keep an eye on the numbers and make sure they're adding up.

How to Monitor Payment Metrics Through Your KDP Account

Your KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account is the center for monitoring your book sales. Once logged in, navigate to the Reports section. Here, you can view all of the following:

  • Month-to-Month Earnings: A breakdown of earnings per book per month.
  • Payment Thresholds: Minimum earnings required before payment is released.
  • Fee Deductions: Any potential fees subtracted from your earnings.

Managing Payment Receipts and Documents

Record-keeping isn't necessarily the most fun part of running your own business, but it can be a lifesaver come tax season. Here are some documents and forms you might want to consider keeping in a safe place.

  • Payment Receipts: Keep digital or printed copies of all payment receipts. You can access these from your KDP account under the Payments tab.
  • Tax Documents: Download and store any tax-related documents provided by Amazon as they relate to your income.
  • Check Delivery: For those opting for checks, document each check's delivery date and the associated payment period.

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