So, you’re ready to publish your first ebook and you’re wondering how much moola you can rake in. While the money is ultimately tied in to how many books you sell, I can at least tell you the cut the main ebook retailers are offering.
Note: this is for authors who are uploading their ebooks straight to the marketplaces without a middleman (AKA publisher). The downside of being an indie author is that you have to handle the cover art, copy-editing, and formatting yourself. The upside is in what you get to keep at the end of the day!
Amazon Kindle Ebook Royalties
Amazon is interesting in that your cut changes, depending on the price of your ebook. Between $2.99 and $9.99, you receive 70%. Less than or more than that and it’s 35%. Fortunately, that’s probably where most of us will want to price our ebooks anyway. You won’t find many buyers at higher prices, and, though you may get more sales at $1.99 or $0.99, you may be doing yourself a disservice going lower (lower perceived value by customers + many more sales required to recoup expenses and turn a profit). That said, for a novella or short story collection (such as I’m starting out with!), $.99 may be a fair price. In which case, we just have to suck it up and accept that 35% royalty rate.
Upload your book to the Amazon marketplace via their Digital Text Platform.
Barnes & Noble Nook Royalties
Load your manuscript to the Barnes & Noble marketplace via their PubIt site, and start earning 65% of the list price for ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99. For titles priced lower or higher, it’s a 40% royalty.
Apple iBookstore Royalties
Apple makes you jump through some hoops to upload your ebooks, but if you’re game, you can earn 70% for your titles.
Smashword Ebook Royalties
This big indie ebook marketplace offers the most attractive cuts for authors, though they get fewer eyeballs on their site than the mainstream book sellers. They will give you 85% of the list price for each ebook you sell.
You’ll earn less if ebooks are sold via affiliate links (meaning someone promoted your ebook on his/her website, made a sale, and will earn a cut), but those are books you wouldn’t have sold anyway, so don’t begrudge affiliates (in fact, you may want to become an affiliate yourself and earn a few extra bucks).
Smashwords also acts as a distributor and can handle getting your ebooks to Apple, B&N, Amazon, etc. if you don’t want to deal with each company yourself. They also handle getting an ISBN for your ebook (which most of the marketplaces require). It follows, of course, that they take a cut if you go this route: “For most retail distribution partners, Smashwords pays the author/publisher 85% or more of the net proceeds to Smashwords, which works out to 42% or more of the suggested list price you set for your book.”
Visit their publish page to get started.
Anybody else we should mention here? Any numbers that need a correction? Feel free to chime in below!