Publishing a book is quite an exciting time for any author. Whether you choose to take the journey with a traditional publisher or to pursue self-publishing, your masterpiece is about to go out to the world. It’s important to select the right method to publish your book, and an extremely popular platform is Amazon. An important question for any author is how much they’ll receive in royalties. If you’ve selected to publish on Amazon, you may ask yourself, How much do self-published authors make on Amazon?
There are pros and cons to becoming a self-published author on Amazon, so read on to find out what sort of sales are typical and some more information on what you can expect to earn.
Traditional publishing and self-publishing platforms have unique advantages and disadvantages. Amazon, as one of the most popular places to self-publish, deserves its own section on this.
If you’re interested in the pros of selling your self-published book on Amazon, check out this list:
Here are some of the cons of publishing on Amazon:
If you’re okay with relinquishing rights to your book for at least 90 days in order to start building a presence on Amazon, and you’re willing to do the editing and formatting yourself (or pay for hiring an editing agency to do so), Amazon is an easy publishing company to gain sales traction with. Frequent royalty payments are also a huge plus, if immediate results are important to you.
Some of the cons may swing your decision in the other direction. If you’re looking for professional help with your layout and book cover and a more focused marketing plan to help reach your target audience and generate more sales, a traditional publisher may be a better option for you. Just be sure to do your research and not fall prey to any self-publishing myths that are floating around.
It’s important to have realistic expectations when you self-publish anywhere. Among indie authors, to date, only about forty people have earned six figures or more selling on Amazon. So, because you shouldn’t expect to become the next James Patterson selling your book as a Kindle e-book, what are the average book sales for an author on Amazon?
If you want to become a bestseller on Amazon, it all depends on book sales in a twenty-four-hour period. You’ll need to sell approximately 3,500 to 5,000 books to reach that coveted bestseller status. However, there are different rankings for different categories and genres of books. It’s ultimately based on how well your book is selling relative to other similar books during the same period of time.
Bestsellers are also updated on an hourly basis, so you can expect to see quite a lot of fluctuation on these lists.
Again, it’s important to be realistic about how many books the average indie author can expect to sell. Some research shows that 250 to 300 books per year is pretty average. However, as an indie author, you can expect to earn much more in royalties per book than you would if you went the traditional publishing route.
Determining how many authors are successful when self-publishing on Amazon can get dicey. It depends on your definition of “success.” If your goal is to sell fifteen thousand copies of your book in a year, it’s possible you’ll hit the jackpot and get incredibly lucky. But if the majority of self-published authors are only selling 250 to 300 books per year, your goals may be out of alignment with market realities.
Those taking different publishing paths may have more options available. Published authors signed to a traditional publishing house may achieve higher sales, but that’s not guaranteed. Many fiction authors have found plenty of success with self-published e-books. Consumers looking for a quick, fun read in romance, fantasy, and sci-fi genres tend to do quite well with indie books on Amazon. Nonfiction authors may wish to try other platforms, or a traditional publishing house, to better target their key audiences.
Now we reach the all important question: What’s the skinny on self-publishing money, and is there any to be had? How much do self-published authors make on Amazon? What can the average indie author expect to make selling on the Amazon self-publishing platform or Amazon Kindle?
How much a self-publishing author makes in a year on Amazon is not one size fits all. Let’s say you price your book at $9.99 and are at the 35 percent royalty level. You sell 250 copies of your book in the first year, grossing about $875. Perhaps a few hundred people are also picking up your book on Kindle, so you could potentially earn a few hundred dollars more based on the number of pages read. Other authors may sell more or less.
Naturally, the amount you can expect to earn as a self-published author on Amazon depends on many things. These can include the following:
Earnings also depend on the number of pages read via the Kindle e-book platform. This rate can be around $0.0045 per page but can fluctuate.
The initial royalty on your self-published book is based on which royalty tier you are in—35 percent or 70 percent. The royalty percentage is calculated based on your listed purchase price.
After that, delivery costs are deducted (around $0.06 per book), as are sales tax, value-added tax, and delivery costs.
One of the pros of self-publishing is that you’re not beholden to a traditional publisher’s “rules.” Often, your book’s success comes from the work you put in to reach readers. Therefore, the more effort you expend, the more your sales may improve.
As an indie author, without the full marketing services of a traditional publisher behind you, marketing is absolutely central to improving your sales on any self-publishing platform. Readers need to find your book before they can buy and read it, so you need to point them in the right direction.
If you have some background in marketing, this may be no problem for you. But if you don’t, and your goal is to hit higher than average sales, it may be worth investing in some professional help to market your book.
Hosting author events like book signings or book sales can help boost your Amazon purchases. Perhaps you have a local bookstore or library that is willing to help you. Promote your event several weeks in advance, both within the store and on social media. And invite as many people as you can. Maybe you can also arrange a giveaway or raffle of some free copies of your book.
Libraries may also book you for a speaking event. They can purchase extra copies of your book and leave them around the building for patrons to see. The library or bookstore’s social media pages can also promote your events and direct readers to your book’s web page. Maybe they have podcasts or YouTube pages where you can post an interview discussing your work.
To improve your Amazon sales, there are some key areas to focus on. Your book’s listing page on Amazon is an important tool. A catchy book description will help draw potential readers to your work. Using targeted keywords associated with your book will help direct traffic to your book’s site.
Book reviews from verified purchasers can also help your book gain credence. Word of mouth is still one of the best tools out there. Growing a network around your book, especially on social media, is vital these days. Be sure to engage with your readers on your social media and thank them for reading your book. Creating lots of engagement on social media can help generate buzz about your book with your network connections.
Book trailers are a fun and catchy way to capture a potential buyer’s attention. And don’t underestimate the power of a well-designed book cover. Despite the old adage to “never judge a book by its cover,” let’s face it: The cover is still the first part of your book a reader sees. If it’s colorful and attention grabbing, buyers may be more drawn to it.
Amazon Advertising is another resource you have available. If you want to invest in some extra advertising, it may be worth it to use Amazon’s services here. You can also take advantage of a free Amazon Author Central account to enable you to quickly adapt your book’s marketing text, your author biography, and any reviews of your work.
Although Amazon still holds the lion’s share of the self-publishing market, that’s not to say that other platforms, like Apple Books and Barnes & Noble, aren’t going to grow. To expand your book’s reach, working with an agency that specializes in assisting indie authors could be a great investment.
Elite Authors offers a full staff to aid with your editing, formatting, and marketing needs, with a particular focus on helping authors self-publish and earn more on Amazon. Reach out for a free quote on our packages today!