Another year, another variant, another lockdown. Who would have thought that this year, South African indie authors would be getting an Xmas present we really wanted?

Our journey to financial emancipation begins within the Amazon KDP backend, the section oft hidden behind Amazon’s paranoid OTP access. This section is typically where the indie author shares intimate details such as their physical address, tax information as well as banking information.

Amazon KDP Account Backend

Up till recently, setting up banking info with Amazon – for those of us from the 3rd World – was a painful process, feeling a little like this =

Amazon = So author, where do you live?

Author = South Africa

Amazon = Shame, let us post you a royalty check*

*Fine print: Once you earn over $100 [Evil Laughter]

For years 3rd World authors have been relegated to receive hard-earned financial appreciation via posted check. Kak right?

How it was. (Using Payoneer to collect Amazon payments)

For authors wanting to level up, we started using the Payoneer banking platform. This platform gave writers from Developing Nations a fighting chance by issuing us banking details held in the 1st World. Amazon would accept these details, begrudgingly releasing our pittance into our Payoneer accounts. Well, up to 60 days after the month in which your book was sold. Close enough. These funds could then be withdrawn to our local accounts.

Payoneer account countries

As simple as the Payoneer platform might seem, this extra step still meant that many of our less tech-savvy authors were getting left getting behind, unable to collects royalties from Amazon who – like a pouting child – still refuses to talk with PayPal ☹

This has now changed. For South African authors at least.

How it can be. (Getting paid directly.)

Logging into the Amazon KDP account screen – Amazon’s banking section now opens up for us Saffers to enter our local banking info directly. Yay 🥳

Getting Paid in KDP

I don’t for a second think that this means million will flood your bank account however, you and I both know how important monetary validation is for authors. Those few ZARs reaching your account on a monthly basis might just be the motivation needed for you to pull finger, wikkel daai boude and carry on writing.

Now. Before you fall out of your chair, frothing from excitement, there are a few things I want to cover.

Currency Conversions ($ -> R)

You never have to worry about seeing Dollars landing in your account. Amazon will be converting your royalties, typically earned in Dollars into our local ZAR currency at a spot conversion rate.

It Takes Time

Don’t forget that royalty payments from Amazon can take time before a book sold results in cash in your account. I know how frustrating this can feel for the eager author. However, before you throw up your arms in frustration, placing a long distance call to Amazon support – try browsing your “Payments” report tab from the KDP Reporting backend. Do you see any payments falling due?

Amazon KDP Payments Report

Once you have added local banking details to Amazon; expect the following to happen…

Meet the SARB (South African Reserve Bank)

After capturing your local banking info you will more than likely be greeted by a message directly underneath, something to the effect of…

“To receive your payments, choose a Purpose of Payment (PoP) on the South Africa Reserve Bank. You must update this information one time per calendar year. If your PoP expires, Amazon’s banking partner will contact you to update it.”

Adding SA Account to Amazon KDP

I take this to mean that once payments from Amazon are made to your local account you should expect an email to be sent that will require your attention before the payments are allowed through. This emailed form will need to be updated every 12 months.

I am not 100% sure which email they might send this too, whether it is the one registered with Amazon OR the one you might have registered with the local bank.

Here is the example email I received. This email I then received from linked to a form I needed to complete online. (Your email might look different…)

SARB Reporting Mandate for South African Authors

After signing the above mandate online earlier in the year, I still received the SMS below from my local Standard Bank at the time Amazon made the first payments asking for the reasons I was receiving money.

The SMS (received from your local bank)

Amazon KDP Royalties - SMS

Once the yearly, emailed mandate was completed AND I had replied to the SMS from my local bank I was greeted by the following entry on my local banking platform 🥳

it arrived!

Amazon Royalty Payments

So, we have proven that local payments are indeed an option for local authors…

How does SARS tax royalties?

To my knowledge, royalties from sales of your books (that SARS knows about) is taxed “in hand”. SARS will include any royalties earned from sales of your book as part of the taxable income you declare at the end of each financial year. Meaning, you might just be nudged into the next PAYE income tax bracket from the payments you receive.

If you are wondering whether it would be better to leave your royalties within your Payoneer account rather than bringing them into the country, I suggest you start a conversation with whoever you might be paying to help with your yearly tax submissions 😊

Why now?

For years, South African indie authors have been fighting for recognition from Amazon. Perhaps the opening of the local Amazon head office here in Cape Town has fast tracked the process of putting SA on Amazon’s radar.

How long before our brothers and sisters from other neglected territories get the same local banking option from Amazon KDP?

Will local payments be better than collecting into an international account such as Payoneer? Time will tell, but what I do know is that more options never hurt anyone.

//Updated January 8th 2024

I have packed all new info on Amazon KDP for South African authors in this article linked here.