Your Guide to Royalties and Costs When Self-Publishing with Amazon

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While self-publishing isn’t for everyone, Amazon makes it as easy as possible. If you have published with Amazon, you’re aware of what’s involved in working with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). However, do you know the associated costs and the royalties you should expect to receive? 

Before you begin your self-publishing journey with the company, it’s a good idea to know how much you’ll get paid, when and how you’ll receive payments, and how much Amazon subtracts for specific costs. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised when you don’t get money every week. To avoid potential pitfalls, it is crucial to learn about how self-publishing with Amazon works.

In the concise introduction to Amazon costs and royalties below, you can discover the answers to all those questions and more. If you need more help, contact our trusted professionals.

When and how should I expect royalties?

You should expect to get royalties every month. However, you need to know that the payments will begin 60 days after your first sale, so make sure you have other funds to rely on in the meantime. In short, don’t expect any money immediately after a sale.

Are you wondering how you will receive your royalties? You can choose whether you are paid via direct deposit (electronic fund transfer), wire transfer, or check. KDP suggests that you use direct deposit for several reasons.

  • There is no payment threshold.
  • It is secure and quick.
  • It doesn’t leave a paper trail, so it’s good for the environment.

Note that if you choose to be paid via wire transfer or check, you will have a minimum payment threshold, and you may have to pay associated fees. You can refer to Amazon’s KDP website for a list of the payment thresholds. Also, keep in mind that checks will have to be sent out to your mailing address. If you need the cash in a more timely fashion, you’ll want to avoid this route. Most authors opt for direct deposit as this is a guaranteed way to receive their money quickly and efficiently.

The royalty plans are different for eBooks and print books. Find out the specifics below.

Amazon’s eBook royalties

You can choose from two options (70% and 35%) in Amazon’s eBook royalty plan. Though you may be tempted to go for the higher number, you should know there are certain requirements your book will have to meet. While they may not be a deterrent, it’s a good idea to understand how each of the royalty plans works. 

The 70% option requires the following: 

  • Books must not be in the public domain.
  • List price requirements must be met. The list price has to be no less than 20% lower than Amazon’s lowest list price for the printed book. In addition, books sold on should be priced between $2.99 and $9.99. 
  • You have to pay delivery costs, which will be subtracted from your royalties. These charges may include processing, storing, and delivering your eBook.

It’s important to know that the 70% plan can only be selected when selling in certain countries. However, the largest markets—the United States, Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and many countries in the EU—are on this list. There is the option to enroll your title in KDP Select, which will add Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India.

Copies of your book sold in other territories will earn you a 35% royalty. The only condition with this plan is meeting the list price requirement. If you don’t want to bear any delivery costs, then the 35% royalty plan may be the better option for you.

Amazon’s print royalties

Since many love the smell of a new book and the feeling of holding it in their hands, there’s also the option of self-publishing a print book. Amazon provides two distribution channels for paperbacks. While the royalty payment is different for each, the printing cost is taken out from the royalties in both cases.

The royalty payment will be 60% of the list price if you sell your paperbacks through the supported Amazon distribution channel. However, if you go through the company’s expanded distribution channels, you will receive 40%. This allows you to sell your book through non-Amazon distributors such as Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble. Thus, even though the royalty is lower, you could reach a wider audience and boost your sales. After all, readers buy their books from multiple platforms, so by selling yours through non-Amazon distributors, you will be reaching further afield. Remember that with both options, the printing costs—which are determined by the number of pages, ink type, and the Amazon marketplace your book was bought at—will be deducted from your royalties.

Amazon’s self-publishing costs

One of the most attractive reasons for self-publishing with Amazon is that you don’t have to cover any upfront costs—they are deducted from your royalties. These include the printing costs for physical books and the delivery costs for eBooks. Self-publishing with Amazon is also quick, so if your main goal is to become a published author in as little time as possible, then self-publishing is a great option. Still, there are some costs associated with publishing your book with Amazon. Read on to see how to determine the exact amount.

eBook delivery costs

If you choose the 35% royalty plan, there will be no delivery costs. This plan also allows you the freedom to set your book price (i.e., you are exempt from sticking within the $2.99-$9.99 range).

However, costs will be subtracted from your royalties if you select the 70% plan. They are determined by the currency used, so they vary by country. The best way to calculate them is to upload your book to KDP’s pricing page. That tool will give you the precise amount.

Paperback printing costs

Having your book printed will require you to pay printing costs from your royalties. Once you upload your book, Amazon will specify those costs, which are determined by the number of pages in your book, the type of ink you use (black and white or color), and where the book is sold. Amazon also gives you a suggested list price so that you can at least cover the printing costs. It is recommended that you set your book price close to the suggested price. You want your book to be comparable to works of a similar length, genre, and tone. If it is too expensive, readers will be turned off, and if it is too cheap, they may wonder whether the quality is inferior.

There is a standard formula used to arrive at the printing cost. The fixed cost is determined by the page count and type of ink.

Fixed cost + (number of pages x individual page cost)

The USD fixed costs shown below come from Amazon’s website.

Paperback specs

Fixed cost (per book)

Additional per page cost

Black ink (24–108 pages)

2.15 USD


Black ink (110–828 pages)

0.85 USD

0.012 USD

Color ink (24–40 pages)

3.65 USD


Color ink (42–500 pages)

0.85 USD

0.07 USD


Thus, if you want a 200-page book printed in black and white, you will be charged 3.25 USD per book (0.85 USD + [200 x 0.012 USD] = 3.25).

Other costs

If you want to put out a first-rate, professional book, you will have a few more expenses to cover up front. Remember, it takes a team to publish a successful book!

You may want to invest in book formatting, a marketing plan, book cover design services, and editing. You may have the skills to format your work yourself, but you can choose to pay for help as well. After all, a professionally formatted eBook will be much easier to sell. Figure out if you need to pay someone to help you market your book; we have a comprehensive marketing package that may be ideal for you. This can include a website, email lists, social media, and even services from Amazon. An amazing cover will attract potential readers and possibly improve sales. You can attempt cover design, but this is best left to the experts, such as our professional book cover designers. Similarly, linguistic errors can turn readers off. A professional editor can polish your book and make it error-free. These are all optional services, but they are highly recommended.

If you decide to self-publish your book with Amazon, make sure you do enough research so that you are prepared for both the costs you have to cover and the payments you can expect to receive. When it comes to income, no one likes to be surprised. 

Are you ready to take the next step to self-publish your book? We are here to help with cover design, eBook formatting, and more.

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