Self-Publishing FAQ: Why Would My Royalties Suddenly Drop on KDP?

Algorithm updates, seasonal trends, and competition. Oh my!

Self-Publishing FAQ: Why Would My Royalties Suddenly Drop on KDP?
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Slow periods are common in every business from photography to self-publishing, but that doesn’t make them any less disappointing or nerve-wracking. But before you panic, this blog post is here to reveal the most common reasons for a sudden drop in royalties (and what you can do about ‘em). 

This blog post is part of our Self-Publishing FAQ series, where there’s no such thing as a silly question. Have something on your mind? Drop us a note on our Facebook page. 

Why Are My Royalties Going Down? 5 Common Reasons

Part of managing a business is knowing where your money is going. 

Here are some common factors that could contribute to a dip in your earnings: 

1. Changes in Pricing

If you recently adjusted the price of your eBook, it could automatically trigger a change in royalty structures. Since Kindle eBooks offer a 70% Royalty Rate when priced between $2.99 and $9.99, setting the price outside this range could result in a reduced royalty percentage. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on your pricing strategy!

Solution: 

  • Experiment with Pricing: Don’t be afraid to play around with pricing of your Kindle book to find the sweet spot that maximizes sales volume and revenue.
  • Monitor Competitor Pricing: Keep an eye on how similar books are priced and price yours just slightly above them to have a more premium feel.
  • Seasonal Pricing: Consider temporary price reductions during busy periods to gain even more visibility and momentum. 

Speaking of seasons…

2. Seasonal Fluctuations

Sales often ebb and flow with the seasons, and a drop in purchases after the holidays can lead to a lower royalty payout for several niches. The more you publish, the better you’ll be able to anticipate these changes in royalties over time. 

Solution: 

  • Strategic Marketing: A common mistake is to turn down ads during the slower periods, but that’s exactly when you should be ramping them up to maintain interest and visibility. Think about it this way: If you’re not getting your book in front of new potential readers, others definitely will. 
  • Bundle Offers: Create bundle deals with similar books to increase value perception and boost sales during slow periods.
  • Holiday Promotions: Take advantage of holidays by aligning your marketing messages with current themes and trends.

3. Changes in Market Trends

The public's reading habits and interests can shift, impacting the demand for certain genres or topics. This is especially true with platforms like TikTok where book-themed videos get over 29 billion views

The cool thing about these trends is that a total “dud” that isn’t making any sales today might randomly make thousands of sales 8, 9, or even 10 months from now. You really just don’t know the good that could come of publishing multiple high-quality books! 

Solution:

  • Stay Informed: Regularly research current trends in your genre to adapt your content and marketing strategies. Self-publishing is probably 25% writing and 75% research. 
  • Pivot Your Focus: If necessary, adjust the themes or topics of your upcoming books to better align with emerging trends. At the same time, try not to jump ship to follow every single trend you notice. Not only is it overwhelming but it’s just bad business and not a sustainable long-term strategy. 
  • Evergreen Content: “Evergreen” is a common marketing term that basically means creating content that will stand the test of time, because it’s something that people will always be interested in like health/wellness, finances, and relationships. 

Making thousands of dollars by accident feels pretty good, but knowing how to follow market trends without becoming a victim to “Shiny Object Syndrome” is sometimes easier said than done. Just ask Carli, who shares some of her best self-publishing tips below: 

4. Increased Competition

New books and authors entering your genre or niche can dilute the market, making it harder for your titles to stand out. This increased competition can lead to fewer sales and lower royalties.

Solution:

  • Differentiate Your Book: Find your book’s unique selling propositions (USP is another big marketing term) and make sure they’re in your book description to stand out from the competition in the search results. You can also add “badges” to your book covers—just be sure not to use terms like “bestseller” if you don’t have the proof to back it up. 
  • Improve Book Quality: Invest in professional editing, cover design, and marketing or better DIY software and tools to improve your overall book presentation and appeal.
  • Expand Marketing Channels: Explore new marketing avenues like social media platforms, podcasts, or collaborations with other authors and publishers.

Self-publishing led Jacob to guest-starring on radio shows, podcasts, and interviews in a super competitive niche. Here’s his story: 

5. Changes in the Algorithm or Platform Policies

Platforms like Amazon KDP often update their algorithms and policies, which can affect how books are promoted and displayed to potential readers. If your book suddenly isn't appearing in searches or recommendations like it used to, your royalties could potentially begin to suffer.

Solution:

  • Optimize Metadata: Regularly update your book’s metadata—the keywords, categories, and tags—to keep your book listing fresh in the search results.
  • Engage With Your Audience: Increase reader engagement through newsletters, reader polls, or social media to drive organic traffic. It might feel awkward at first, but adding a review request page to your books can also go a long way in building an active and engaged audience. 
  • Monitor Policy Changes: Read up on KDP’s forum to stay updated on any changes to the platform’s policy and learn about new features.

Analyzing Sales Data

When you notice a change in your royalties from KDP, it’s best to go straight to the data to figure out what’s going on. 

Here’s how: 

KDP Reports Overview

KDP provides several free reports for you to automatically track book sales and royalties. You can use KDP Reports to filter your data and view things like your Book Orders, Royalties Estimator, Payment Report, and KENP Read reports. You can also compare data for up to ten books simultaneously, getting a detailed look at each title's performance.

  • Orders: Counts the number of orders placed for your books within a certain timeframe.
  • Royalties Estimator: Estimates your earnings based on current sales data. You can use our KDP royalties estimator to get an idea of how much you can earn based on the price of your book.
  • KENP Read: Records pages read if you participate in Kindle Unlimited.

When reviewing your reports, pay extra attention to the royalty rate and any returns that may have affected your bottom line. Discrepancies between expected and actual royalties often stem from these areas. 

What Impact Do Exchange Rates and International Sales Have on Mreviewed the reports and the numbers don’t addy KDP Royalties?

Royalties from international sales on Amazon KDP are impacted by exchange rates, which are subject to regular fluctuations. These fluctuations can affect the amount of royalties received in the following ways:

  • Royalties are Converted: When your book is sold in a country using a different currency from your home currency, royalties are converted based on the current exchange rate.
  • Fluctuations May Increase or Decrease Royalties: Depending on the movement of exchange rates, the converted amount of royalties can be increased or decreased.
  • Impact on Pricing Strategy: The variability in exchange rates should be considered when setting and adjusting prices for different markets to ensure consistent earnings.

Troubleshooting Guide

If you’ve gone through the reports and the numbers aren’t adding up, here’s what to do next!

Review Your Account Status

First, verify your account status with KDP. A hold or restriction on your account could result in a temporary suspension of royalty payouts. Log in to your KDP account and check for any notifications or emails from KDP that may explain a change in status. Also double check that all the necessary tax documentation is up to date in your profile and that there are no compliance issues with your published works.

Evaluate Your Promotional Campaigns

Examine any recent promotional campaigns you've run. Visibility does NOT always equal more sales.

  • Kindle Countdown Deals: Increased volume, reduced income.
  • Free Book Promotions: Spike in downloads, no immediate royalties.

It might seem like these promotions aren't worth it, but they can encourage more readers to leave reviews for your book, which basically serves as free marketing for your book to reach other potential readers. That is HUGE in the long run.

Analyze Sales Channels

  • Diversify Your Sales Platforms: Don’t rely solely on KDP; explore other sales platforms like Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Press, or Kobo to broaden your market reach and buffer against dips in one market.
  • Compare Sales Trends: Look at the performance of your books across different platforms to identify if a drop in royalties is isolated to Amazon or is a broader trend affecting multiple channels.

Check for Technical Errors

  • Link and Listing Checks: Make sure that all the links to your books are working correctly and that there are no errors in your listings that could be preventing sales, such as broken images or incorrect book details.
  • Format Compatibility: Confirm that your book files are compatible with Kindle devices and apps. Issues like poor formatting can lead to negative reader experiences and impact your sales and reviews.
  • Check User Feedback: Pay attention to customer reviews and questions on your book's Amazon page. Readers may point out issues you weren't aware of, such as grammar or content errors, which you can then correct to improve overall satisfaction.

If you go through all the troubleshooting and still can’t figure out why your book sales are sinking, it might be time to reach out for help. 

How to Contact KDP Support

Sometimes, the support team can see things about your account on the backend that aren’t obvious to you. 

Here's how to contact KDP's Customer Support:

  • Log in to your KDP account.
  • Navigate to the Help section within the dashboard.
  • Within the Help section, look for the "Contact Us" button and click on it.

When you submit a support request:

  1. Select the topic that best describes your issue. For royalties, choose "My Books" and then "Royalties."
  2. Provide details of your inquiry, such as the specifics of your royalty concerns.

KDP aims to respond to queries within a few days, so check your email for communications from the support team. You should receive a case ID; save it for future reference! This is useful for tracking the progress of your inquiry and for any follow-up correspondence that might be needed.

For more immediate information, you can also check out the KDP Community forums to see if others are experiencing similar issues, but for account-specific concerns, direct contact with KDP support is the best course of action.

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