This week I read a rather disturbing but highly illuminating post about something I rarely think about and have never mentioned before: the fact that Amazon takes “delivery charges” out of our Kindle book profits.
Utterly irrelevant, but a nice pic from my recent trip to the States. This is a view of Lake Meade from the Hoover Dam, first thing on a sunny June morning.
You can read the whole post by Andrew Hyde here—and you should; I’ll wait—but the problem he’s highlighting (among others) is that the size of your Kindle book affects your earnings from the sale of it.
Take my book Mousetrapped, for example. It’s $2.99 to purchase and I’m on the 70% royalty rate. Therefore Amazon’s cut is 30%, and I take home $2.09 from each sale.
Except that I don’t.
The average delivery cost, according to the detailed spreadsheet KDP presents me with once a month, is between 6c and 8c. (I have no idea why it changes; presumably it’s to do with geography.) And that comes out, surprise surprise, of my 70%.
Results Not Typical, my longest e-book when you take into consideration the length of the actual book and the word count of the previews included, has a higher delivery charge again, at 9c.
(If you’re on the 35% royalty rate, you’re all in. Amazon doesn’t take any extras—you make 35% off the sale price off every sale. This delivery charges thing only applies to the 70% option.)
Yes, these are miniscule amounts we’re talking about, but only because my books are relatively small (file size-wise). In his post, Andrew Hyde describes how he discovered that on the 70% rate for his $9.99, 18.1MB book, Amazon was taking $2.58 for delivery charges.
And that $2.58 was not covered by Amazon’s existing 30% cut, but coming out of his “70%” royalty.
Now this post isn’t about whether or not this is just, although I will say that I do understand that it costs Amazon more to deliver 300,000 words with a picture on every other page to your Kindle than it does to deliver my illustration-free 90,000, and you can’t calculate flat-rate royalties when every book is a different size. As you know, I’m the last person you’ll find bashing Amazon, because I’m able to earn a living as a writer purely because of them. This post is about why Andrew’s post has changed the way I’ll design my e-books in the future.
Andrew’s post and a review of Mousetrapped in which the reviewer bemoaned the fact that the book actually ended at 65% on her Kindle, because the remaining 35% was previews of my other books.
And you know what? I totally understand where she’s coming from.
Will I ever forget the trauma I experienced watching the very last episode of LOST? I’d stayed up all night, first to, ahem, watch as much as I could of the US broadcast on the magical interweb before it got found out and cut off, and then to watch Sky’s early morning “simulcast”. According to the channel guide, it was due to end at 7.20 a.m. So as I sat there, watching Jack watching the plane fly overhead, I seriously thought I had another 15 minutes of LOST in my life. Turns out, the guide was wrong and it was more like 30 seconds. So when I was left with the end titles at 7.05 a.m., it was quite the shock. I hadn’t had time to prepare for the end. I was devastated. Extra devastated.
Now I’m sure the ending of Mousetrapped is nowhere near as upsetting—some people, I’m sure, were glad when it came to its conclusion—and I’m also sure the Amazon reviewer is nowhere near as over-emotional as me (who is?!), but I totally get what she means.
Up until now, I always thought that the length of your e-book didn’t matter. (Note: I’m talking about the length of your e-book. Not the book itself.) I have three books now excluding Self-Printed and The Best of Catherine, Caffeinated, so theoretically I can put previews of two books at the end of each one. I think the longer the preview the better—the more time a reader spends on them, the more likely they are to go on to buy the book—so right now I’ve something like four or five chapters of each book at the end of my others. With a chapter being 2,000-3,000 words, that’s something like an extra 20,000 words at the end of the book.
Thinking that the length of my e-book didn’t matter—and knowing how important it was to use existing books to sell my other ones—I chucked everything in there but the kitchen sink. Lengthy previews of my other books? Sure! Book cover images of them too? Let’s do it! Superfluous reminders about my blog, Twitter page, etc.? Why not?! It wasn’t like I had to pay for the pages like I did in my POD paperbacks, right?
Well, now I’m seeing the error of my ways. When you chuck a load of extra stuff into your e-book after the book itself, you are:
- Eating into your profits because the larger the file, the higher the delivery charges
- Annoying your readers because your actual book might end at 65%.
So from now on, I’m going to be more economical with my e-books. I’m still going to include previews and ads for my other books, but they’re not going to be 20,000 words long. Far from it.
What do you think? Is this all news to you, or something you’ve already taken into consideration?