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Amazon Self-Publishing Royalties Explained

amazon self-publishing royalties

Amazon Self-Publishing, which is formally called Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, allows for any publisher, author, or rights-holder to select the royalty amount they wish to receive from every sale of their product. You also get to enter the pricing information desired for your product that is being sold online. There are two royalty options available right now through KDP: 35% or 70%.

Which Royalty Option Can I Choose?

Not everyone is able to choose the 70% royalty option for the KDP product. Any works that fall within the Public Domain are automatically disqualified from the higher royalty option. The only exception to the Public Domain rule is if you as the author or publisher make substantial changes to a work that was published originally before 1923 without a copyright renewal. In that instance, you may qualify for the 70% royalty option.

Certain countries do not allow for authors and publishers to receive a 70% royalty from sales, even if the author or publisher lives in a qualifying nation. In these circumstances, KDP will provide the 35% royalty instead when a sale from one of these non-qualifying nations occurs. It will appear on the sales sheet, less delivery costs, at the lower royalty option.

When sales to customers in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, or India occur, the 70% royalty option is only available for titles enrolled in KDP Select.

What Is KDP Select?

KDP Select is Amazon’s exclusive self-publishing category. It means that you’re agreeing to only sell that published work through KDP for a period of 90 days at minimum. There may also be a required waiting period to transfer to a new publisher after you decide to take down the Amazon listing for your published work.

There are certain advantages in choosing KDP Select. It qualifies you for the higher royalties in certain countries and you also earn a share of the KDP Select Global Fund if more than 10% of your book is read from the Kindle Unlimited program. You also gain access to promotional tools on the site, including Kindle Countdown Deals and scheduled free promotions.

You also receive the benefit of faster changes to your pricing structures when enrolled in KDP Select. Listing changes can be made in as little as 4 hours, while on competitive sites which offer a similar service, it may be days or weeks to institute a change.

The disadvantage is the exclusivity factor. Amazon holds a 40% share of e-publishing in some markets, which means your works may not reach every potential customer within your targeted market.

Do I Qualify To Receive 70% Royalties?

Yes. Every publisher or author qualifies to receive 70% royalties if they choose this option when entering the pricing information for their listing. You do not even need to live in one of the qualifying countries in order to receive the higher royalty. It is where your customer lives that matters for the royalty payment that you’ll be receiving.

Most of the major developed nations qualify for the 70% KDP royalty. This includes Australia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and the United States. A complete list of qualifying territories is available from Amazon’s KDP website.

What If My Country Charges a VAT?

Some countries charge a value-added tax in addition to sales taxes and other fees for KDP transactions through Amazon. Any taxes or fees that are charged, including the VAT, are not calculated into the royalty payment. Your 35% or 70% royalty comes from the purchasing price only, minus the delivery costs of the product, which currently average $0.06 per sale.

If you offer your listing for a discounted price as a promotion, then these royalty rules still apply. You will only receive the 35% or 70% royalty based on the actual sale price of the transaction. If you normally sell your product for $2.99, but discount it to $0.99 for a week, then all sales for that week will have a royalty based on the lower price, less any applicable VAT, sales taxes, and delivery costs.

The Amazon self-publishing royalties explained here give you some options over the price of your book and how much you can be paid from each sale. For titles to be eligible for the 70% royalty, the list price must be 20% below the lowest list price for a physical book, be made available for sale in all qualifying geographies, and satisfy all list price requirements that are in place under the KDP or KDP Select programs.

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Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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