If you are a published author with the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) publishing service, do you understand the royalty structure for Kindle ebooks?
Hidden deep in Amazon KDP Terms and Conditions is a table of Amazon delivery charges for Kindle ebooks.
So deep in fact, that the breadcrumb to the Amazon digital downloads charge looks like this:
Kindle Direct Publishing > Legal > Kindle Direct Publishing > Terms and Conditions > Pricing Page.
Here is the list of digital delivery charges for ebooks. Most authors are probably unaware of this and don’t know that the file size of an ebook can cut into their Amazon ebook royalty payments from Amazon. Here is the table Amazon provides.
Delivery Costs are equal to the number of megabytes we determine your Digital Book file contains, multiplied by the Delivery Cost rate listed below.
Amazon.com: US $0.15/MB
Amazon.ca: CAD $0.15/MB
Amazon.co.uk: UK £0.10/MB
Amazon.in: INR ₹7/MB
Amazon.com.mx: MXN $1/MB
Amazon.com.au: AUD $0.15/MB
While this might only look like pennies at first glance, once you understand that even a plain text-only ebook with a normal resolution cover will usually be around 2.00MB in size, the file delivery costs in the above table immediately double.
If your cover image is very high-resolution, your ebook file size will start to increase dramatically.
So, if your ebook list price is $2.99 and you are on the 70% royalty rate, you might think that your royalty will be $2.09. But in fact, it will only be $1.89 for a 2MB ebook file size after the $0.30 delivery charge has been deducted.
But that is only the beginning of the story.
Go easy on images in Kindle ebooks
Once you start adding images to an ebook, the file size will increase rapidly.
But it depends on which royalty level you select when you publish.
So much so that if the file size reaches 10MB, your royalty will be less at 70% ($1.04) than at 35% ($1.05).
This is because Amazon does not charge delivery costs on digital orders if you select the 35% royalty rate.
It is only Amazon that charges for ebook sales delivery as far as I can ascertain, and it may have something to do with delivering to Kindle devices, but I really don’t know why.
Other ebook retailers can manage to deliver without any additional charges at all.
To check the file size of your ebooks on Amazon, go to your book page and check your product details.
It is the first item, and it will be listed in KB. 1,000KB equals 1MB.
While researching this post I came across a useful online tool to calculate royalty returns on Guy Kawasaki’s website for all the major ebook publishing platforms.
Input your ebook file size in megabytes, and it will give an approximation of your expected royalty from Kindle, Apple, Nook, Kobo and Google Play.
Earning a minus ebook royalty?
Here’s a killer statistic to finish.
If your ebook retail price is priced at $2.99 on KDP’s 70% royalty rate, and it is loaded with images and reaches 20MB in size, your royalty with be, -$0.01.
Yes, your images and Amazon’s delivery charge will wipe out all of your earnings. You will earn nothing for every book you sell.
But if you choose the 35% royalty option, you will make $1.05. In fact, your ebook file size can be as large as you like at 35% because no delivery fee is charged.
However, if you publish on Apple, Nook, Kobo or Google Play, the size of your ebook file will not affect your royalty return at all.
As with all things self-publishing, nothing is ever plain and simple.
To solve the problem, my advice to those who are publishing ebooks with a lot of images would be to consider using either Draft2Digital or Smashwords to publish your ebook as you will earn much higher royalties.
Or, publish in print book and be sure that when you sell a copy of your book, you will earn your expected royalty.
The only good news is if you enrolled in KDP Select and your ebooks are available on Kindle Unlimited in the Kindle Store. As far as I can gather, there is (probably) no delivery fee for subscriber reading.