Doing Math with Amazon

I think the most frequent question / statement I get when I tell people I have a book coming out is about money. People get this look in their eye like, “Oh, you’ve made it now. Rolling in the dough. All those royalties.” They think of J.K. Rowling. And Stephen King. I can’t blame them. Even the word itself, royalties, sounds kind of, you know, lucrative. I hate to burst bubbles during this happy Christmas Season, but writing and money are not two words that often belong in the same sentence.

Making money selling books is a numbers game. And here it is, whether you like math or not, a sneak peek into this author’s pocket(book).

My book sells for $17.95 list price (full price)
I can sell it three different ways.
Amazon. Autumn House Press. My website.

Amazon: And I’m not knocking Amazon. Well, not completely. It’s this love hate relationship. Selling books depends on Amazon. They Sell Books. They rate books. You can look inside their books and read reviews and, they sell internationally,  and, and.

They also take 55% OFF THE TOP.

List price $17.95 x 55% = $9.87
$17.95 – $9.87= $8.08
Minus $5 cost of production = $3.03
According to my contract I earn 7% net. 7% of $3.03 = 21¢
Yes, you read that right. When I see a book on Amazon, I made 21¢ per book. That is if Amazon sells the book for list price. Right now there is a pre-sale sale price of $16.16.
If you buy my book from Amazon today, I will earn 16¢. Lovely.

Do some more math. If Amazon puts my book on sale (which it can do anytime at its own discretion) and it gets down to $11 per book, then I will make ZERO on each book I sell.

I wonder if they sell it for less than $10, if I will owe them?

So here are the other breakdowns. Without the math details. But believe me, I’ve done them.

If you buy my book direct from Autumn House Press: I earn approximately $1.00 per book in royalties.

If you buy the book from my website: I pay shipping & handling both ways. I don’t get any royalties because I am purchasing the book myself. I can buy the book at 40% less than list. So I will earn approximately $4 to $7 per book. Depending on shipping, handling, packaging, and taxes.

Love a writer? Consider buying direct from her or her publisher. It does make a difference. You’re right, I didn’t do this for the money. I’m not starving. But the main reason I can continue to write is because I have a hubby who is my patron. Sometimes I call him my Patron Saint. And that’s okay. But it also makes me feel like a charity case. I somehow just think the work is worth something. And although I do not confuse value solely with monetary outcomes, there is a correlation between the two. Arthur Miller said, “Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.” I couldn’t agree more. But I wouldn’t mind if the two of them shook hands on occasion.

Whether you like math or not. It makes a difference. And now you know.

Photo: Two Kwacha Bill, currency of the Republic of Zambia

Jill Kandel
  • Gianna
    Posted at 15:32h, 02 December Reply

    Begging your pardon ever so sarcastically, but I have a minor problem.

    Where is the “Purchase Now” link?

    Thank you kindly,

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 06:29h, 03 December Reply

      I don’t want to do pre-sales here. So I’ll wait till I have the book-in-hand and ready to mail out: January 15.

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