Kindle Direct Publishing: Is it The Right Choice?

Kindle Direct Publishing is basically Amazon’s platform for self-published authors. If you are planning to self-publish, it’s currently the most viable option for you to get your writing to readers and to make the most money. 

What Publishing Services Does Amazon Offer?

Amazon does publish a very small number of authors each year in the number of about 200. However, self-publishing through Amazon is a different ballgame. Kindle Direct Publishing doesn’t edit or manage your book, the marketing, or any other aspect of your book. It’s the e-book equivalent of there being a large store somewhere that says, “You bring us a product already in packaging with labels and price tags and pretty pictures on the box and we’ll slap it on a shelf. If people buy it, we’ll give you 70% of what they pay and keep 30%.” It’s obviously a little more technical than that, but for all intents and purposes, that’s the deal.

Do I Need to Be a Technology Wizard to Figure It Out?

Nope. As long as you have grandma/grandpa-level skills, you should be fine. Amazon made the process intuitive and simple. The only way it gets complicated is if you have some really specific formatting needs. In that case, you would probably want to be passingly familiar with html. Otherwise, just type it in your word processor of choice and plug it in when you’re done. Easy as that.

Pricing

The simple version is that you have two royalty options: 35% and 70%. You might wonder why anyone would choose to keep 35% of their profits instead of 70%, but each royalty option has pricing and size requirements.

If your book is over a certain size (3 MB = $0.99 and 10MB+ =$1.99) you are forced to set your price above a certain point. Beyond that, it would make sense for most authors to choose the 70%. One of the only reasons to choose 35% over 70% is if you have a problem with some of the conditions of the 70% agreement. The list of terms you agree to is relatively benign, with perhaps the exception of agreeing to a digital delivery fee. This is a fee Amazon tacks on for each megabyte of data you’re “delivering” to readers. The fee breakdown is as follows:

Amazon.com: US $0.15/MB
India: US $0.12/MB
Amazon CA: CAD $0.15/MB
Brazil: BRL R$.30/MB
Amazon.co.uk: UK £0.10/MB
Amazon.de: €0,12/MB
Amazon.fr: €0,12/MB
Amazon.es: €0,12/MB
Amazon.it: €0,12/MB
Amazon.co.jp: ¥1/MB

That means if a book published in the US is 13.26 megabytes or larger (that’s really big for an ebook), then you will pay more than $1.99 in transfer fees. Thus, it would make more sense to publish that particular book at the 35% royalty rate if you were interested in the $1.99 price point. Of course, if you thought it could sell for more than $1.99, you could just increase the price by more than 35% and the 70% would still make more sense.

Whew. I’m bad at math and that was mildly confusing. Just remember that 70% makes more sense in the majority of cases. If your book is loaded with pictures or extremely long, and you’re set on selling it at $1.99, then and only then would it matter to you.

For a better idea of how large an e-book is, check out these.

Screen-shot-2009-11-16-at-10.58.04-AM
Photo Credit – Safaribooksonline

This shows the average size of e-books in megabytes. If your book has little to know pictures and is average length, it will likely be around 1 megabyte or $0.15 in delivery fees per purchase.

Final Thoughts

Kindle Direct is a great opportunity, but it could also serve as a little false hope for many. The truth is, there’s a reason publishing companies still exist and they probably will continue to exist. They do the leg work: marketing, editing for audience, book covers, blurbs, sending out advance copies for reviews, etc. If you choose to self-publish, you have to understand that you can’t just throw your book on the internet and expect anyone to read it. I don’t care if you wrote the next Song of Fire and Ice, there’s a good chance it will get buried and never read.

Think of it this way. Your book is like a seed that you’ve been nurturing and building (pretend you can build seeds for the sake of my metaphor here) for months or years. When it comes time to plant it, you had better take the time to turn the soil, fertilize it, check the weather, and carefully plant it. It might even be a good idea to water it afterwards.

Good luck out there.

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