Amazon: Over 1,000 Authors Each Earned Over $100 Grand in Royalties in 2018


Amazon released an advert a report on Tuesday concerning its impact on small and medium businesses. Or as Amazon put it:

Amazon today published the 2019 SMB Impact Report highlighting how the company benefits the millions of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), content creators, and developers in the U.S. and worldwide working with Amazon.

The report is rather thin on data (it’s a 12-page PDF that is closer to a slidedeck than a report) but it did include a few nuggets about authors (but nothing about publishers, alas).

For starters, Amazon revealed that thousands of independent authors earned more than $50,000 in royalties for books, audiobooks, and ebooks sold through Amazon in 2018, with more than a thousand surpassing $100,000 in royalties last year. Amazon also reminded us that in 2018, authors earned more than $260 million from the Kindle Direct Publishing Select Global Fund, totaling more than $840 million since the launch of Kindle Unlimited.

The factoid about KU isn’t quite true; while the number is correct, Amazon has overlooked that fact that there are publishers who have put their books into Kindle Unlimited under the same terms as authors. Also, some of the “authors” in Kindle Unlimited aren’t authors so much as brands where the books are actually the work of ghost writers (think Hardy Boys, or Nancy Drew).

In this day and age, it’s really hard to tell whether the person you’re interacting with is actually a person rather than a company or a team. This is why you should be careful about believing what you read online, and in terms of today’s it also means that sometimes we just can’t reliably separate author income and publisher income any more.

image by ActuaLitté via Flickr

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Mike Cane8 May, 2019

    Hmph. No more braying about unknown writers who have hit 1M in sales?

    And whatever happened to those they touted in the past? Max and Amanda whatever their surnames are …

  2. […] Kindle-Unlimited-Ausschüttungen auch Teams und Firmen sind. Nate Hoffelder von The Digital Reader weist darauf hin, dass es daher nicht möglich sei, einwandfrei zwischen den Einnahmen von Autor*innen oder Verlagen […]

  3. […] $100,000. The individual royalties earned by 1,000 authors on Amazon. Source: Digital Reader […]


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