Hey Indie Authors, Has the Giant Lost its Nimbleness? (Taxes and Amazon)

Navigating tax season is certainly not one of the joys of being an indie author. (Nor of anyone else in the universe, but we’ll keep this post about writers.)

As I was beginning to think through necessary documents and collate what I had received already, something strange became very apparent: perhaps the mammoth, gargantuan, enormous, industry-leading Amazon is not quite as quick and nimble as it once was.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a devoted Amazon follower – for better or worse. I understand what they have done for indie authors like myself, and while I may not always agree with everything they do, they’ve given me a platform and have helped to even the playing field for no-name authors like myself.

But it does make me wonder what’s the problem when small matters such as tax forms become so difficult to receive online. I wrote the following note to KDP customer service the other day: “Can you tell me if the 1099-MISC tax form is available on-line?”

Reasonable and logical question in this day and age, I believe. Here was their courteous and prompt response. I’ve always had excellent customer service from Amazon and this encounter was no different:


I hope this mail finds you well. I’m glad you wrote us today so that we can take care of this right away. Thank you for the opportunity.

I’m sorry that the 1099 form will be a physical copy that will be mailed to your address.

We will make every effort to evaluate the information and try our level best to lead it to program changes or enhancements to make 1099 forms available online.”

Fine. Not a big deal. I’ll get it in the mail. But contrast this with the email I received from Smashwords. They said that my 1099-MISC form was now available on-line and can be downloaded immediately by logging into my account. Wow.  Extremely convenient. I logged in and in a matter of seconds, I had my form.

Amazon doesn’t have it available on-line. They are going to mail out thousands upon thousands of 1099 forms because for whatever reason, they aren’t available.  Think of the thousands of dollars they will spend on postage. A pittance, no doubt, but it does say something to me: the giant is not as nimble as it once was. This is not the only example of Amazon being slower than someone else in the industry. Smashwords had pre-release selling of books for indie authors a long time before Amazon finally did the same thing. There are probably other examples as well.

It’s not uncommon for big behemoths to eventually slow-down – just look at the government. But here’s hoping that first off, Amazon will catch up and offer simple downloads on tax forms, and secondly, will continue to innovate in the big and small areas which will ensure a better experience for all kinds of authors, thus increasing book sales across the board. That would be good for everyone.

One response to “Hey Indie Authors, Has the Giant Lost its Nimbleness? (Taxes and Amazon)”

  1. As a long time bookkeeper and tax preparer I must say I am not surprised. Couple that with the scandal with Turbo Tax and the hacking of Social Security numbers… it is a step backwards. Maybe it is still the safest method. 🙂

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