What’s the Cost of Publishing a Book on Amazon?
It’s free to publish a book on Amazon through their Kindle Direct Publishing program. While there is no set-up price for authors on KDP, delivery and printing costs are automatically deducted from royalties made on each sale. This no-upfront-payment system has allowed self-publishing authors to publish their ebooks with minimal financial risk.
In this post, we’ll look at the costs charged by Amazon when you publish on Kindle Direct Publishing.
Ebook delivery fees
The idea of online delivery fees may sound laughable. After all, it’s not as though Amazon has a fleet of underpaid drivers shuttling ones and zeros across the internet. However, KDP has to maintain the servers where ebooks are stored — so they charge their authors a “delivery fee” for each digital copy sold.
Ebook delivery fees are deducted from the author's royalties and apply to all titles on KDP’s 70% royalty plan. The delivery cost will depend on the ebook’s file size and the territory where the book is sold. For example:
- In the USA and Canada, you are charged $0.15 per megabyte on each ebook sold.
- In the UK, the delivery rate is £0.10 per megabyte.
Example: 80,000-word thriller
To put this into perspective, let’s say that you’re publishing an 80,000-word thriller novel. With a full-color cover, but no images in the body. Using the Reedsy Book Editor, you can format that into a 2.5-megabyte EPUB file.
2.5MB x $0.15 = $0.375
If you price this ebook at $4.99 (which is fairly standard for fiction), your royalty at the 75% rate will be $3.74. After this, Amazon will deduct another 37 cents for delivery, representing 10 percent of your earnings.
The takeaway here is to be careful with your file sizes. Consider whether your book really needs graphics or images, because you’ll end up paying for them in the delivery fee.
Note: If you’re on KDP’s 35% royalty plan — usually due to your book being priced under $2.99 or above $9.99 — Amazon will waive the delivery fee.
The cost of printing with KDP
KDP Print is Amazon’s print-on-demand solution — allowing you to turn out copies of your book as and when someone buys them on the Kindle store. Again, the cost of printing will be deducted from your royalties, meaning that you won’t have to go out of pocket to sell paperback copies to your readers. But what’s the damage going to be?
The biggest factors in determining your print costs will be:
- Page count
- Black ink vs full color
- Format (paperback vs hardcover)
|Format||Specifications||Fixed cost/book||Add'l cost/page|
|Paperback||Black ink 24-108 pages||$2.15||None|
|Paperback||Black ink with 110-828 pages||$0.85||$0.012|
|Paperback||Color ink with 24-40 pages||$3.65||None|
|Paperback||Color ink with 42-500 pages||$0.85||$0.07|
|Hardcover||Black ink with 75-108 pages||$6.80||None|
|Hardcover||Black ink with 110-550 pages||$6.80||$0.012|
|Hardcover||Color ink with 75-550 pages||$5.50||$0.07|
Example: 300-page paperback novel
Let’s use these numbers in a hypothetical example. If you’re printing a 300-page paperback book in black ink, your cost per copy printed will be:
$0.85 [fixed cost] + (300 x $0.012) [per page cost] = $4.45
Assuming you’re selling your book at $15.99 (fairly standard for paperback fiction in the US), your 40% royalty from Amazon will be:
$15.99 [retail price] x 40% [royalty rate] = $6.40
Now let’s deduct KDP’s printing cost for this title:
$6.40 [royalty] - $4.45 [printing cost] = $1.95 per copy sold.
So, $15.99 quickly turns to $1.95 once you take away the cost of selling, printing, and shipping your book.
Amazon will calculate and display your printing cost when you upload a title as well as suggest a minimum list price — so you won’t have to worry about accidentally losing money with each sale. But now you can see why most self-publishing authors make most of their money from selling ebooks, where they still keep 60-70% of the list price.
Read more about KDP’s printing costs on the Amazon website.
For many authors, that covers most of the costs they can expect to pay when publishing their book on Kindle. However, if you’re really looking to make the most out of Amazon’s sales platform, you may want to consider investing in advertising.
Remember to set aside part of your budget to edit, design, and format your book to a good standard. Download Reedsy’s 2023 Cost of Self-Publishing Report for an inside look at publishing service rates.
Advertising costs on Amazon
How much does it cost to advertise your book on Amazon?
That’s sort of a “how long is a piece of string?” question: most ad platforms are happy for you to spend as much as you like. But let’s have a look at some minimum spends to see how you might budget for this promotional activity.
Sponsored product and Sponsored brand ads are displayed to users browsing targeted categories, keywords, or even titles. You can allocate a daily budget starting as little as $2 or $5 a day — and Amazon will only charge you when users click on the ads. As a result, most authors only end up spending a small portion of their daily budget.
You can also purchase spots on Kindle Lockscreens. This is where your ad will be served to readers using ad-supported Kindle devices (the ones that are a bit cheaper because you let Amazon advertise to you).
To book these ads, you need to commit to at least a $100 budget and set a bid for each user that “clicks” on the ad. The average cost-per-click bid on lockscreens is $0.15 to $0.20, according to Amazon.
Digital book advertising is a much more complicated beast than described in the section above. If you’re interested in learning more about advertising on Amazon, Facebook and Bookbub (the holy trinity of indie ad platforms), download this free book written by Reedsy co-founder Ricardo Fayet.
As you’ve seen, while it’s free of cost to publish your book on Amazon, there are certain charges you need to bear that will affect how you publish your book. By keeping your ebook files compact, choosing a cost-effective print option, and selecting a suitable price for your books, you can keep your KDP account in the black as you grow your readership on Amazon.
In the next section of this guide, we’ll take a detour into KDP Select and the potentially powerful promotional opportunities it can offer you as an author.