A lot of new authors keep asking the same questions. I know it's daunting to start a new enterprise, and there's a lot to read. The following info may help new authors, although, note, all of it is also on Amazon's own help pages. This is the New, Improved Edition, after some recent changes in KDP.
Q I've already sold two books to my family! When do I get paid?
A Sixty days after the end of the month in which you make the sales. That is, if you have EFT.
Q What is this EFT of which you speak?
A You either signed up for direct-deposit/electronic funds transfer to your bank (also known as EFT) or else to get paid by check. In the first case you get paid two months after the end of any month with sales. In the latter case you have to wait until your accumulated royalties total $100.
Q I tried to sign up for EFT, but the system wouldn't take my bank details.
A EFT is only possible for those with banks in certain countries, basically north America, western Europe, and Australia. For authors who life elsewhere, you have to be paid by check/cheque. If you're in a country where you can be paid electronically, make sure you have the right numbers entered. They aren't the numbers on your bank card. If you don't know the correct numbers, print out what Amazon is asking for and take it to your bank for assistance.
Q So could I get paid by Paypal?
A No, sorry, Amazon doesn't do Paypal. (It's owned by a rival company.)
Q So if I make $10 in royalties in October, I won't get paid until the end of December? I have EFT.
A Yes. Note, this is much sooner than you'd be paid by a traditional publisher or most other ebook sellers.
Q Suppose I get paid by check. If I make $60 in royalties in October and $60 in November, and so on, will I never be paid?
A In this case, you'd be paid $120 at the end of January. Royalties accumulate until you make your minimum.
Q I made $50 in the US store and 50 pounds in the UK store in September but didn't get a check at the end of November. What's wrong?
A This is because each national Amazon calculates and pays its royalties separately. The minimum for a check is $100, or 100 pounds, or 100 euros.
Q What happens if I switch from check payment to EFT?
A Your first EFT payment will be 60 days after the end of the month in which you switch, assuming you earned royalties during that month. At some point you'll get a check for accumulated royalties from before you made the switch.
Q How do I know how much I've made in royalties?
A Every month, download and save the "prior month report." It's in the form of a spreadsheet, and it shows all your sales and royalties for the month, for each national Amazon. The September one will be out around October 15, and it should give you a good idea of how much you'll get in royalties at the end of November.
Q So, where can I find my total lifetime earnings?
A Amazon has recently added a "historical" tab to the dashboard. In addition, you can figure it yourself by adding up the prior-month reports.
Q How will I know that I'm getting paid?
A The last week of the month, look at the Payments report (under "Reports," link at the top of this page). If you are owed money (that is, either you've made your check minimum or you are in EFT and earned some royalties two months ago), amounts will start to appear here. It may take a few days for all the different payments from the national Amazons to appear. Although the amount will say "paid," it won't actually be sent to your bank account until the last day of the month, and your bank may hold it for up to 5 days. A check can take a week to come wandering to your mailbox.
Q What currency will I be paid in?
A For EFT, your earnings will be converted into your local currency (for example, Americans receive royalties from British sales in dollars, Brits receive American royalties in pounds). For a check, it's usually drawn in US dollars--another reason to get EFT if you can.
Q Last week when I looked at the numbers below the graph it said I had made $20 in royalties. But this week I looked and the total was only $18. Where did my money go?
A The numbers, like the graph, show the previous 30 days by default. Every day a new day gets added on the front and an old one dropped off the back. If you sold more books 31 ago than you did today, then your total can drop.
Q I know I made a bit over $100 in royalties in September, but I never got my check at the end of November. I live outside the US.
A Non-US citizens have to fill out a tax questionnaire and enter their tax ID number from their home country. This indicates to the US tax authorities that you are not a US citizen. If you are in one of the countries (like the UK) with a "0%" tax treaty with the US, you will then not have US taxes withheld from your royalties (in Australia it's a "5%" treaty, so you have 5% withheld). If you have not filled out the paperwork, or are not in a country with a tax treaty with the US, then Amazon is required by law to withhold 30% of your royalties for taxes. This will drop the total amount Amazon owes you below $100 in the above example.
Q I signed up for 70% royalties, but for some of my sales I only got 35%! Amazon must be trying to keep me from making the minimum.
A No. For sales from the US (.com) site from outside the US, you get only 35%. Amazon explains this. People in South Africa and Ireland, for example, read ebooks in English from Amazon, but authors only earn 35% royalties on their purchases.
Q I put my book up for pre-order, and I know people have been ordering it. When do I get my royalties?
A Their credit cards won't be charged and the book won't be downloaded to their Kindles until your official publication day. Those royalties will be paid to you 60 days after the end of that month, just like regular royalties.
Q I've been looking at the graph, under Reports, and I understand that the orange bar shows how many sales I've had. But what's with the royalties down below? Why are they all in different currencies, and why did the US total go from $20 to $19 yesterday?
A The royalties show how much you've earned in the last 30 days in each national Amazon. When you are paid, however, as already noted, you'll be paid in your own currency.
Because the graph, by default, shows just the last 30 days, if you sold more books 31 days ago than you sold today, your royalties will seem to "go down." If however you set the graph to show "month to date", the amount below the graph will go up every day of the month, if you sell every day (then it resets to zero on the first of the new month).
Q I tried that, but my amount still went down one day.
A Almost certainly someone returned a copy of your book--sorry. Amazon lets customers return a book within 7 days. It will still show as an "order" on the red-line graph, because someone ordered it. But the royalty below the graph will be reduced.
Q Below the sales graph is another graph that says Borrows and KENP. It shows 113. Does this mean someone borrowed 113 copies of my book?
A No. it shows total pages read in your book by someone who "borrowed" your book. (In this case, probably one person read about half your book.) You have to be in Select to have your books borrowed (Select requires having your ebook available no place other than Amazon). People who pay $10 a month to join Kindle Unlimited can borrow your book.
Q Do I get paid for borrows?
A Yes, on a per-page basis. The exact amount varies month to month, but seems to be about half a cent a page read. So if you've had 113 pages read, you've earned maybe 50c there.
Q I've had lots and lots of pages-read this month but only a few sales. The royalty amount below the graphs doesn't show any money I've earned from the pages-read, just from the outright sales.
A Yes, that's right. Because the exact amount you will be paid for pages-read varies month to month, it won't show up below the graph. However, it will show up in the prior-month report.
Q When do I get paid for pages-read? Can this help me reach my minimum for payment?
A Any amount earned from people reading pages in borrowed books is paid as part of your regular royalties. You will receive a single payment that includes both royalties for books sold outright and amounts due you for pages-read.
Q How much do I get paid for free downloads? I did a "promo" with Select and moved several dozen books.
A You get paid zero. Amazon got no money, and neither will you.
Q If I do a freebie giveaway with Select, do I have to pay Amazon for the downloading charge? I noticed it's about 10c usually; I'm in the 70% royalty range, and it's deducted from my royalties.
A No. You don't have to pay Amazon, though since they're losing money, you can see why they only let you give the book away for 5 days every three months.
Q I think the royalties reports are wrong. I must have sold many more books than that!
A Unfortunately, most authors on KDP sell very few books. Enjoy whatever amount you earn, but don't quit your day job.
Q My mother lent my sister my KDP book. But I never saw an indication of a "borrow" on my reports, even though I watched her read it. Why not?
A You're confusing lending and borrowing. Yes, I know, it's confusing. But they're very different. Someone who has bought a KDP book may, only once, "lend" it another person, for 2 weeks. For two weeks, it disappears from the buyer's Kindle and appears on the other person's. After two weeks, the process is reversed. The author of the book will not know that this has happened, unless they're watching Mom and Sis. No money is involved. If you are getting 70% royalties, all your books are eligible for lending, and you can't stop it.
(But it's not a big deal, as each buyer can only ever lend it once, and most will never do so.)
Q I'd like to sell my books on other platforms (B&N-Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.). But someone told me that I have to stay exclusive to Amazon Kindle (Select) in order to get 70% royalties. Is this true?
A No. It's an urban legend and not true. For most countries, including US sales, the only stipulation to get 70% royalties is that your book be priced between $2.99 and $9.99. As long as your price is in that range, you can select the higher royalty rate. The confusion probably comes because, for sales in Japan, India, Mexico, and Brazil you do have to be in Select to get 70% royalties. But most English-speaking authors sell extremely few books in those markets. Unless you do, it's not worth worrying about.
(And as noted above, you will still get 35% royalties if people from countries like South Africa buy from the US site.)
Q I'm trying to set up EFT but I am very confused! The form asks me for routing codes and "Swift" codes and IBANs and all sorts of different things.
A These numbers assure that your payment goes to the proper account in the right bank in the right country. Often they appear on your monthly bank statement (they will not be on your bank card). If you can't find them, contact your bank directly. They will know.
Q I think I will have to pay taxes on my royalties. How can I find out how much I made in royalties in 2016?
A Yes, you have to pay tax on your royalties. If you're a US citizen, Amazon will send you a 1099 form at the end of January/beginning of February with your total 2016 royalties. This is the amount they report to the tax authorities. Your earnings for all the different national Amazons are combined on one 1099. If you're not a US citizen, you still get a form, but it comes later (by March 15) and has a different number. Note that you can also access your 1099 through the "your account" link (upper right of the screen when you log into your Bookshelf).
Note that Amazon does not withhold any taxes from Americans or from those authors in countries with 0% treaties with the US (as discussed above). If you make a lot of money, you need to plan to pay estimated taxes in the US.
A No, not directly. But you do get royalties on all sales, including sales to yourself. So you will get an effective discount of either 35% or 70%, depending on your royalty rate.
It is generally recommended to buy your own book to see how it looks on an actual Kindle. Besides, if the book is new, it gives it a first sale and a ranking.
Q My payments are all messed up! How can I telephone Amazon to make them straighten them out?
A Amazon doesn't have phone support for KDP indies. My guess is that one too many confused people called up and screamed at them. So read through all this thread again, try to figure out where your payments are, and if it still doesn't make sense, contact Amazon directly via "Contact" link at lower right. I recommend asking very nicely and avoiding all-caps or lots of question marks and exclamation marks.
Q I got an email saying that I was getting paid, but no money has reached my bank account yet. I have EFT. What should I do?
A Wait a few days. The payment emails come a week to ten days before the money actually reaches your account.
Q In my Payments report, it said Payment Failed. What does this mean?
A It means that something slipped up between your bank and Amazon's. You have my sympathy. First, make sure all your bank details are correct (click Bookshelf at the top of this page, then, in the upper right, you'll see a link to your account). Then email Amazon with as much detail as you can provide. These glitches occasionally happen and are extremely unfortunate, but they always try to straighten them out.
I thought I'd gotten everything, but then I thought of some more things.
Q Is there any way to be paid other than EFT or check?
A Some people in some non-western countries have been paid through Payoneer, which is a reloadable credit card. Look for info on the forums. I don't believe South Africans can use it, however. One can also be paid by wire, at least in Australia, but I gather that there are often large fees involved.
Q Can I get paid with an Amazon gift card?
A Sorry, afraid not. But Amazon would be pleased if you used what you earn in royalties to buy Amazon products.
Q I get paid by wire in Australia, but with these wire charges, half my payment gets eaten up. What can I do?
A Either switch to check/cheque (which will also probably result in fees) or ask Amazon to "hold" your payments rather than paying every month. Then, when it seems like a reasonable amount has accumulated, contact them and ask for payment.
Q My buddy and I want to co-author a book. Will Amazon split royalty payments between us?
A Sorry, no. Each publishing account must have one person (or company's) name attached to it, and all royalties will go to that entity. Best for one person to be the official publisher and pass on half the money to the other. I strongly recommend a written, legal agreement, or your friendship may not last.
Q I published a paperback through KDP-print and priced it at $9.99. If I get 70% royalties, shouldn't I get $7 for each book sold? But I'm getting way less than that! Only about two bucks!
A Sorry, but you're confusing paperback and ebook royalties. Print books also have production costs, far more than the dime or so download fee of an ebook. For KDP-print, your royalty is 60%, not 70% (and you can price higher than $9.99 and get that much), and the production cost comes out of the author's royalty. So if the production cost of a $10 paperback is $4, the author gets $6 (i.e. 60%) minus $4, for a $2 royalty on each sale.
Q I still don't understand how to figure out how many books I've sold.
A Start with the thread, "Know your Reports and Sales" over in General Questions.
Q I read this whole thread, but a weird glitchy thing has happened with my payments that you didn't cover. What should I do?
A You can either start a new thread with your specific question, or contact Amazon directly (Contact link at lower right), especially if the question is unique to you.
I choose EFT but I did not get any payment till now. I was expecting to get payment of July 2015, till the Oct 2015 first week. Even my KDP account does not display "payment pending" or anything else related to payment.
What's wrong and What's Now?
It's still morning in Seattle. Usually deposits don't show up until the end of the day. I'm not Amazon but an author like you, so I'm afraid I can't help you personally I'm afraid, but I'm passing on what I know. Good luck!