Who doesn't love payday? Self-publishers get paid in book royalties, but these can vary SO much between different platforms, which is probably why you're here. To set the record straight and see if KDP is really worth it compared to non-Amazon retailers.
If you're looking to make money online, you're in the right place.
This blog post covers all things book royalties, like how to calculate them, how they vary based on book format, and how to make even more money with Kindle Direct Publishing as a self-publisher. Let’s dive in!
Royalty payments can be upwards of $10k-50k in a single month. Wanna see proof? Head over to our free webinar to see actual royalty checks and bank deposits from self-publishers who had zero experience with tech or writing whatsoever and see how you can get started ASAP!
Amazon KDP offers different royalty rates for different types of books. These royalties are calculated along with things like delivery fees and printing costs, which we'll get to later in this blog post!
The type of book you publish (whether it's high content, low content, or no content) can influence the royalty payouts you're entitled to. Here's a brief overview:
Pro Tip: The bulk of the money with royalties is going to come from high-content chapter books, but it doesn't hurt to diversify your income streams by adding other types of books down the line as you establish yourself as a publisher.
Amazon offers two royalty plans for eBooks: the 35% royalty option and the 70% royalty option. There's also a special program that you can opt into to increase your visibility and hopefully connect with a bigger audience.
The 35% Royalty Option:
The 70% Royalty Option:
Kindle Unlimited Royalties:
You can use our free Kindle eBook royalty calculator and estimate your potential earnings!
The royalty rate for paperback and hardcover books is the same, but hardcover books will incur higher printing costs.
Amazon offers a royalty structure for audiobooks through ACX, which is primarily based on the distribution choices rather than the length of the book:
Royalty Share Programs:
Pro Tip: We never recommend sharing your royalties with others, as this can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. Don’t learn this the hard way like some of our students did!
Here are a few helpful tips and things to keep in mind when calculating your Amazon royalties:
We created our very own Amazon Royalties Calculator that is 100% free to use. To use the calculator, you'll need to enter your book's list price, trim size, and whether you'd like to print your book in black and white or color. The calculator will then calculate royalties that you are entitled to.
It will also provide you with your Breakeven ACOS number, which you'll use to determine whether your future Amazon ads are profitable.
Self-publishing and Amazon have their own lingo, but it's really not that complicated once you get the hang of it. Let's break down the list price vs. retail price:
Printing and delivery costs can also impact your Amazon royalties. Amazon deducts these costs from your list price before calculating your royalties. You’ll want to keep these costs as low as possible to maximize your earnings.
Pro Tip: We tell our students to print in black and white whenever possible for this exact reason. Most readers don't mind black-and-white photos or diagrams! Unless it's absolutely necessary to use color (like with a children's book), you should do yourself the favor and cut down on your printing costs to maximize your royalties.
There are several factors that can affect the royalties you earn. Understanding these factors can help you make informed decisions about your book and optimize your earnings.
Book length will be most relevant to print books and paperback distribution, but formatting will affect every type of book you create. Here's how these two factors can affect your book sales and price points:
Book Length and Printing:
Importance of Professional Formatting:
Optimized Formatting for Earnings:
Copyright is something that you want to get right the first time, and it's really not that difficult as long as you remain conscious of these topics:
Public Domain Content Considerations:
Exclusive Distribution Agreements:
Ensuring Optimal Distribution:
VAT taxes and fees won’t be relevant to self-publishers in all countries, but it’s worth brushing up on Amazon’s rules:
VAT Deductions from List Price:
International Fees and Taxes:
Setting the Right List Price:
Seeking Professional Guidance:
How do you get paid when you self-publish a book on Amazon?
Here's the rundown:
Amazon offers several payment methods for authors and publishers to receive their royalties, including direct deposit, wire transfer, and check.
Amazon KDP provides comprehensive reports to help you track your book sales and earnings, accessible directly through your KDP account. These tools offer valuable insights into your book’s performance:
Sales and Royalties Reports:
Analytical Tools and Resources:
Here's how the Kindle store compares to other, more traditional distribution channels:
In traditional publishing, authors and publishers typically receive a royalty rate of around 10-15% of the book's retail price (in rare cases, up to 20%). This rate can vary depending on the publisher and the author's negotiating power.
On the other hand, self-published authors on Amazon can earn up to 70% of the book's retail price in royalties. Not to mention, Amazon also offers Print-on-Demand services, so you don't have to worry about inventory management or shipping your books to customers. They handle everything for you.
When working with a traditional publisher, authors and publishers often have limited control over the pricing of their books and the rights to their work. The publishing house may set the price of the book and determine which formats and territories it will be available in.
In contrast, indie publishers on Amazon have complete control over the pricing of their Kindle books and their distribution. You can choose to sell your book at any price you want and have the ability to make changes to the book at any time (even if that means pulling off the shelves or redoing the cover).
With Amazon, you also retain all rights to your work, whereas traditional publishers may require you to sign over certain rights, such as film or audio rights, indefinitely.
Amazon isn't the only self-publishing company on the market, but it's definitely one of the best. Curious about the others? Read about the top self-publishing companies to keep an eye on!
One popular self-publishing platform is Smashwords. With Smashwords, authors can earn up to 80% of the list price on sales made through their platform. However, this percentage is only available for sales made through their own website. For sales made through other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble or Apple Books, authors earn 60% of the list price.
Another platform to consider is Draft2Digital. With Draft2Digital, authors can earn up to 70% of the list price on sales made through their platform. They also offer distribution to a wide range of retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo.
How do you know which self-publishing companies are worth publishing on? You'll need to consider things like subscription costs, whether the platform offers ancillary services like editing and formatting, and whether they offer expanded distribution.
As a quick reminder, Amazon offers a wide range of marketing and promotional tools, as well as access to its massive customer base for free. These tools can help you create your book cover for all formats of your Kindle books as well as track your customer reading behavior.
First things, first. Can you make a good Kindle publishing income? The amount you can earn from self-publishing on Amazon depends on several factors, including the price of your book, the royalty rate you choose, and how much effort you put into your marketing.
What better way to learn about the realistic earnings for self-publishers than to hear directly from some of them?
Nicolas and Marie-Lou are a couple who started self-publishing on a whim, even while juggling a dozen other responsibilities. They published their first book in less than six months, and it wasn't long before they were earning nearly $1k in a single month.
Samuel was a college student who felt unfulfilled and lost. He didn't really know what he wanted to do with his life, but he did know financial freedom was something he valued. He went on to earn nearly $4k in a single month from just three books, and English wasn't even his first language.
Brock made a LOT of mistakes in publishing over the course of 90 books, but each mistake brought him closer to making over $100k from publishing (you read that right). Brock's story isn't the average self-publishing success story, but it goes to show what's possible if you take your print book and eBook sales further.
Pro Tip: Plenty of side hustles sell the idea of a passive income, but self-publishing is one of the only side hustles that can generate truly passive income...the kind that pays in your sleep. If you have multiple books for sale and continue to promote them, your earnings can add up over time, and those royalty checks will continue to hit your bank account for decades to come.
Before we wrap up here, we'll leave you with five ways to maximize your royalties on KDP:
Forget the business or law degree. Forget the upfront costs and inventory hassles of other side hustles. Self-publishing doesn't require any of that. What's stopping you from turning half a dozen self-published books into...
See how self-publishing has already changed thousands of lives by heading over to our free webinar that simplifies the entire process and shows you exactly what you need to get started today!