A Complete Expert Guide to the Amazon Self-Publishing Costs for New Publishers
Finishing your first book leaves you feeling like you’ve finally arrived at the center stage. The excitement alone can make your world spin around as you read it once more. It’s understandable when the authors want to rush into the next step.
However, they don’t realize there’s a bunch of sharks waiting out there, waiting to snatch them. New writers must take a step back and consider Amazon’s self-publishing cost and pricing before they allow these predators to grab hold of them.
I was in your position a few years back and I was impatient to get my book out there. I needed people to read my story and listen to my advice. I emailed publishers all over the world with a manuscript, hoping to get a response.
It was only two weeks before the first shark came at me head-first. This publisher was prepared to take my book, but they wanted me to pay for publishing costs upfront. The quotes started pouring in and I was shocked with the requests!
Suddenly, I felt like I had to sell my soul and those of my kids, spouse, and even my dog just to cover the costs. Figures ranged madly but the average was well over $2,000 from publishers that didn’t even leave a stain on the map.
This might not seem like Mount Kilimanjaro, but I assure you that this was only the cost to get started. I still had to pay ridiculous commissions on top of this. The sacrifice of my soul wasn’t enough and they only promised me 25% of future sales.
Unfortunately, I didn’t use the easily accessible internet to find other options like a normal person would. I ended up giving my book to a company that would give me 15% royalties and owns the first 5,000 copies in lieu of printing costs.
I sold my book to the devil, never mind a shark. They haven’t bothered to promote the book and it became lost in the vast world of available reads. The worst of all is that my book is sitting on Amazon at a price that even I wouldn’t pay.
My heart breaks every time I see my book without reviews, simply wallowing in the black hole of nothingness. I signed my rights away and have no power to take it back or change the price. I don’t want you to experience the same thing I did.
The good news is you’re not as ignorant and naive as I was because you’re doing the research that modern people should. Kudos to you for being a new author who has the right stuff.
I became part of the largest, expert players in the field of self-publishing when I was taken in and trained by The Urban Writers (TUW).
Now I get to help new authors steer clear of the disaster that befell me and use the power of Amazon to promote themselves.
Everything You Need to Know About the Costs
You woke up one day and realized you have a story to tell. So, you’ve done the right thing and put it on paper (or a computer to be exact). The beauty is that Amazon has made publishing easy and accessible to everyone.
There’s no need to sell your beloved dog on the black market to pay for people having the privilege of reading the book you wrote. The experts at TUW are here to guide you on all the Amazon self-publishing costing and pricing to make sure your book sells.
The Advantages of Self-Publishing on Amazon
There are countless advantages of self-publishing and I’ll mention the five that matter the most to me:
- It’s profitable and you maintain the rights to your work.
- You can continue to sell and market your book on other platforms.
- There’s no hidden agendas and smokescreens to fool us.
- Amazon is the number one book resource in the world and is available in nearly every country.
- You choose the price of your book.
The Nitty Gritty Costs Involved With Self-Publishing on Amazon
Amazon offers us various options to choose from when publishing and we can start our pricing conundrum by knowing which costs we incur and how we benefit from each package.
Amazon offers us a pretty standard and sweet deal like no other. Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform work hand in hand to bring you a simple and cost-effective method of telling your story.
Most authors will gather the majority of their revenue through Kindle purchases. The world has moved on and people have virtual libraries now, rather than a bookshelf stacked with paperbacks and hardcovers.
The costs involved will be determined by your pricing as soon as you upload your book via the KDP platform. Books that are priced between $2.99 and $9.99 are top-notch in this algorithm.
Amazon takes 30% commission and gives you a whopping 70% of retail. Prices below $2.99, as tempting as it may seem to a new publisher who wishes to get their name out there, are a bad idea.
Amazon changes its commission structure for authors who overprice or undervalue their work when they take 65% commission and leave you with 35% royalties.
The two royalty brackets are more complicated though. Choosing the 70% option will only remain in this bracket in certain regions, whereas the 35% bracket has no restrictions and you can earn this royalty in every country where you own the rights.
Giving Amazon a larger commission will also save you from one more cost. The larger royalty has to pay for delivery costs to Kindle devices. This is pretty standard at $0.15 per megabyte in Canada and the United States.
There’s a minimum charge to the author of $0.01 and delivery varies by country. The download size of your book will determine how much delivery costs you’ll encounter. The average 30,000 word eBook without images is 9.5 megabytes.
The average of 9.5 megabytes would amount to approximately $1.42 for delivery per book; however, this all depends on the size of your book.
The most reliable method to calculate the delivery costs per megabyte is to upload your book to the registered author's pricing page to give you an estimate.
Another cost shift can happen when your book becomes cheaper. This can happen due to a promotional list price or competitive price-match with other websites selling your book.
Amazon tries to keep your book at the front line and will adjust the royalties to 35% during this period if you don’t meet the requirements for 70% anymore.
Other costs to think about is whether you’ve formatted, edited, and designed a cover for your eBook. You can use our handy online guide to change your book into a format that will be ready for Kindle devices.
So, another option is to get one of our editors or cover design specialists to help you get your book ready for Amazon. Our cover designs are professionally designed for paperbacks, eBooks, and audiobooks for a low, once-off fee of $69.99.
Our awesome team of editors can help you get your book into the automatically accepted format that Amazon requires and will cost you a mere $0.90 per 100 words.
One more service offered by Amazon is called the KDP pricing support and this can help you see estimations of your expected revenue according to your price. Best of all is that this service is absolutely free!
It doesn’t matter if libraries have become virtual lists because there are still many people who love the smell of a paperback that resembles the earth after a downpour. The aroma makes your mind want to escape into a world between the pages.
There will always be people who cherish the texture of clean, crisp pages as they open the book for the first time. They don’t get the same joy from swiping their finger across a screen. Bookworms will love the fact that you offer them paperbacks.
Paperbacks aren’t that difficult to format either when you have guidance and simplistic advice to follow. This will remove an additional charge for Amazon to format the book for you.
There are a few things that determine what you’ll be charged for the printing of your book through KDP. These include:
- The list of countries where you want to make this option available
- The page count of your book
- Whether you print in black and white or color
- The type of ink used
Issues that won’t affect your manufacturing costs are:
- The dimensions of your book, meaning you can choose the popular eight and a half inches by five and a half or you can go with a six by nine inch
- Choosing cream or white paper as a background
Paperback costs are calculated on another easy-to-use platform called the KDP Royalty Calculator.
Using and Understanding the KDP Royalty Calculator
KDP Print offers an on-demand paperback printing service to the people who love the real thing. Royalties are always a hot topic because we want to know how much of our profits are being taken by the marketing and publishing platform.
The print-on-demand service will offer you a flat rate of 60% royalties and only drop this to 40% if you enter an expanded distribution market. This is when Amazon uses its affiliates to get your book to bookstores and other websites.
However, Amazon will create a minimum listing price for your book to make sure there are no losses. They take the royalty amount and multiply it by your list price before charging you for the printing costs. The figure you’re left with is what you earn.
Printing costs are calculated by multiplying the fixed cost, which is currently $0.85, by the number of pages, which are charged at $0.012 per page. This gives you the printing cost that will be deducted from your royalties before tax.
A 30-page book will amount to $1.21 per print. Other factors that influence your pricing and cost can include the country from which it’s ordered.
Amazon has one tiny flaw and that’s called Whispernet wireless network. It’s the network that brings Amazon and readers together and readers don’t need to be part of the network to pay their additional surcharge if they reside in outlying countries.
It’s a hidden secret that can take away an author’s profits and sales if they’re unaware of it. Authors in “developing countries” can see a hike in their price due to a surcharge of $2. This usually fluctuates with tax prices in various countries.
Amazon charges different commissions and royalties based on the country you live in and the country you supply. Mainstream countries include the likes of:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
- And a few more…
Any of the minor regions will automatically revert back to the 35% royalty earnings for the author. Amazon and Kindle have higher costs to deliver the book to the outlying regions and, therefore, your costs will increase and they take a larger portion.
Pricing Your Book
This doesn’t need to have you feeling the crunch because you can use all the costs you’ve gathered to help you decide. The most important thing in your mind is that you want your advice or fictional story to hit the shelves with a bang.
Keep in mind that prices, besides paperback manufacturing, are highly elastic. You have the opportunity to get your book onto Kindle devices and you don’t have to necessarily pay a cent before you do this.
The KDP pricing support will help you estimate what different price ranges can mean in sales. It will give you a chart you can work with. The next step you can take is doing some research to see what competitors are pricing their books at.
Keep some factors in mind while you snoop around:
- Is it the same genre?
- What is the book-length or size?
- Is the competitor’s book authoritative?
- How big is their following or how popular are they?
- Can you see a perceived value according to their reviews?
You can see the analyzed data of each author’s book under their description on Amazon. Compare both the eBook and paperback prices to what you have in mind. New authors will need to price their work a tad lower than an established writer.
Amazon also has free book promotions that can allow you to market your book for a set period at a lower price. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as it’s temporary. It can be useful for new self-publishers to get their name and work seen.
The advantages of promoting yourself are:
- Gaining some reviews from readers that automatically act as marketing. They might even tell their friends about the great read.
- It can promote sequels to your book and the first one is simply marketing the rest of them. Publishers call this a loss reader because it only lays the foundations for the series to come.
- Establishing a report and authority for yourself in the genre.
However, heed my warning that pricing your book too low on a permanent basis can be detrimental to you. Underpricing your book doesn’t always market it for you. It will only lower the perceived value of your information or story.
Readers will wonder what’s wrong with your work that you value yourself so low. Keep in mind that Kindle readers are avid and regular. They’ll think your grammar or storyline comes from the dark ages.
The pricing support chart might tell you that you can sell countless copies at $0.99 per book, but we know that profits will be bashed by higher commissions and lower interests from seasoned readers.
My advice is to take a higher price, one which doesn’t outshine popular publishers, but one that shows your confidence in your work. There’s no rule to how many times you can change your price.
Dale Roberts runs a channel that helps self-publishers with many aspects of the topic. He agreed that we can play with our prices and dedicated a video to three fluctuating price strategies for us to choose from.
It’s as simple as clicking on the Actions menu under the bookshelf on your Amazon profile and choosing to edit pricing. Don’t forget to publish your changes. Your book will enter a pending stage in which you wait for it to become available with the new changes.
You can use Amazon’s suggested prices from the chart and change it as you see sales increasing or decreasing. Use all the knowledge you’ve gained about costs and reader’s prices to make up your mind.
We don’t need to start at the bottom of the ladder, but we also can’t start at the top. Selling yourself short will only make readers think you’re desperate or the book is simply a babble of incomprehensible words.
Ask yourself why you wrote the book. Were you proud of the fantasy you formed in your mind or was there an experience you needed to advise people of overcoming? Think back to the value you saw in the words before you started thinking of a price.
However, reaching too high can hurt your sales and make you crash down to the bottom of the ladder. Rather focus on marketing and creating a fair price. You can always gradually increase your price as people start raving about your work.