There are many factors that go into the decision of how much to charge for your e-book. Some of these are within your control, such as which self-publishing platform you go with and what countries you publish in. Others are outside your control, such as the worldwide economy and trending prices of books similar to yours.
We’ll use two popular self-publishing platforms as an example, Apple and Amazon (facts and figures below are correct at the time of this writing). Amazon currently outranks Apple in terms of book sales, while Apple’s popularity is growing rapidly. If you publish with Amazon, for example, you’ll get some control over the price of your books for your international audience, while when publishing with Apple, you have complete control to decide your prices, and can even change your price as you track successful strategies and make adjustments.
Putting aside all the hype surrounding these top two book publishers, let’s take a look at their payment rates and the commissions they pay to authors, as these items will help you determine the final price of your e-book.
Comparison of Apple and Amazon in terms of Commissions and Royalties
Commissions and royalties are important things to keep in mind before deciding which company to choose for self-publishing.
A commission is not the same as a royalty. A royalty is the sum paid to the author for each copy of their book sold. On the other hand, a commission refers to a one-time payment. Commissions may seem very lucrative, but you need to look closer to understand the real workings behind being paid commissions.
Commissions with Amazon
With Amazon, you get a 35 percent commission if your book is priced between $.99 and $2.98. For books priced $2.99 to $9.99, you get a 70 percent commission. The rate goes down to 10 percent if your book costs above $10.
You’ll also need to join Amazon’s KDP (its exclusive program); otherwise, if you are a resident of India, Brazil, China, or Mexico, you’ll get only 35 percent commission, no matter what your book costs.
In the early stages of e-publishing, Amazon offered a 35 percent rate across all categories, but they later raised their rates to 70 percent in some instances.
You may think that sales in India, Brazil, China, or Mexico won’t affect your book sales much, but if you combine the English speakers of all these countries, they form half of the world’s English-speaking population. It is definitely something to think about when you take in the wider scenario.
Commissions with Apple
Regardless of your book price or where you live, Apple pays you a 70 percent commission rate.
Another factor: Delivery Charges
The delivery charges you may need to pay are directly linked to commissions in the case of Amazon. If your commission rate goes to 70 percent, you’ll have to pay a delivery charge.
Delivery charges are 15 cents per megabyte. It may not seem like much, but looking at the big picture, this means your commission rates drop by almost 30 percent. This may not be a problem for novelists, but for non-fiction authors, this is a serious problem.
Cash Flow Considerations: Payments
Apple pays 32 days after the month ends, while Amazon pays every 60 days.
After thinking about how much of a percentage of sales is taken off the top before it even hits your wallet, another major consideration in pricing your e-book is to keep the price within the usual range of similar e-books. If everyone else is charging $10.99 for an e-book of the same length in the same genre, you wouldn’t want to price yours at $1.99 (excluding intro to market strategy or giveaways and the like), and you also wouldn’t want to climb to the other end of the spectrum and overprice your e-book at $29.99. Don’t undervalue your writing, and likewise, don’t price yourself out of the market.