Self-Publishing: My objective look into the true cost/pay of Amazon’s “free” Createspace service(which produces paperback novels). While I mention Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), I only use it as a reference number for percentages.
Not that I’m looking to self-publish yet (maybe this time next year if I still haven’t heard positive things from agents), but these numbers are a little disheartening. Note: all of the following are for Amazon’s Createspace and KDP. The following link is where I saw the numbers.
If my book printed at 350 pages (which is a good guestimate), and I set it at $9.99, I would get 95 cents per sale. Why? Isn’t Amazon supposed to be the generous self-publisher’s friend? Well, perhaps, but not if you have a large novel.
To start, if you set your book’s price between $2.99 and $9.99, you get 60 percent royalties, minus 85 cents per book, and $0.012 per page. So 60 percent of 10 is 6 (let’s just round up for brevity). Okay, I’m at 6 dollars royalty not bad. Take the 85 cents off. $5.15 still not bad. Then you take into account the page “tax”. 0.012 x 350 is 4.2 (Four dollars, twenty cents). So from the 5.15 that my royalty started at after the 85 cent fee, I now make 95 cents per book. That’s probably less than I’d get from a publishing house making 10 percent royalty.
What gives? Does Amazon simply hate big novels? Perhaps.
Why don’t I just sell it for more than 10 dollars? It is, as Admiral Ackbar is famous for saying, a trap. Once you charge a penny more than $9.99, your royalty drops from a generous 60%, to a paltry 35% (haven’t confirmed this for paperback too, but this is the case for kindle where the royalties drop from 70 to 35. edit: It could very well be 30% for paperback, which would be entirely worse for my below numbers). So in order to make the same 95 cents on a book selling it for more than 9.99, I’d have to sell it for slightly more than [insert sticky-note-mathematics here] $17 dollars…to make that SAME 95 cents. And let’s be honest, not many people are going to buy a 17 dollar book, family included. Interestingly enough, (because I wrote the math out), had I listed the book at 18 dollars, I’d break a dollar and a quarter ppb and if I sold it as steep as 20 dollars, I would almost make 2 dollars (less than the paltry 10% from traditional publishing houses). (Insert Pat Sajak’s Big Money).
While these rates are less than stellar, you don’t have as big, if at all, of an upfront cost for printing, though it’s entirely on you to make sure your manuscript is presentable, and you have all the legalities worked out (ISBN, Copyright, Cover, etc. etc.).
Of course, if I get in with a publisher, I’ll have people who know the industry taking the reins with almost all of that. And I’ll still make the same percentage per book sold. And people wonder why I hesitate to self-publish. Yes, I’d have immediate gratification (as our society is famous for these days), but if waiting a few more years means that I don’t have to deal with formatting, tabulating, and the ire-filled stares when you say that you’re self-published, then perhaps it is best for me to just wait longer.
And none of this is to say that I am in the writing business for the money. I’m really not, but I’m also not working for free, and I’d like to know my numbers going into any publishing agreement, regardless of whether it’s with Amazon, or Penguin.
So don’t take my words as a sign of greed. (It’s very likely that with a Pub. house, my ppb would sit around a dollar.) I’m merely looking as objectively as possible at the self-publishing route that seems, on the surface, to be 12 carat gold, when in reality, it’s covered in the same foil-thin paint as every other road in this business.
The numbers above were solely for publishing through Createspace (paperback). I haven’t looked at any of the fees/charges for Kindle Direct Publishing. The only reason I mentioned KDP above is because in the article, it was the KDP’s rate/percentage for the price listed.
PC: Pixabay user: MonicaLoreto