Many authors are unaware that KDP charges for each Kindle ebook delivery, which reduces your royalty
Hidden deep in Amazon KDP Terms and Conditions is a table of delivery charges for Kindle Ebook delivery. So deep in fact, that the breadcrumb to it looks like this:
Kindle Direct Publishing > Legal > Kindle Direct Publishing > Terms and Conditions > Pricing Page.
What is contained there is a list of charges that most authors are probably unaware of, and don’t know that the file size of an ebook can cut into royalty payments from Amazon. Here is the table Amazon provide.
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 text-only ebook with a normal resolution cover will usually be around 2.00MB in size, the above table doubles. If your cover image is very high-resolution, your ebook file size will start to increase dramatically.
So, if your ebook 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. 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 if you choose the 35% royalty rate. Go figure why!
It is only Amazon that charges for ebook 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, as other ebook retailers can manage to deliver without any 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 royalty?
Here’s a killer stat to finish. If your ebook 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. Yep, your images and Amazon’s delivery charge will wipe out all of your royalty. But if you choose the 35% royalty option, your will make $1.05. In fact, your ebook file size can be a 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.