Leading Ebook Channels and Royalty Rates for Independent Publishers

Leading Ebook Channels and Royalty Rates for Independent Publishers

This post is now a resource for writers and authors, that covers the top eBook retail platforms along with the royalty rate offered by each retailer. It’s a weekly question, so I thought I’d address it with a post.

Notice I referred to these as ‘retailers‘  not ‘publishers‘. This is because if you’re independently publishing via the self-publish the smart way method, then YOU are the official publisher, not these channels. They are only the distributor and retailer in one. An important distinction, but it’s often mistaken by authors.

I’m only focusing on these big four, Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s Pubit!, Apple Bookstore and Smashwords. These channels are where all the action happens and I’m a fan of the 80/20 rule (80% return for 20% effort). You may choose to have your book available on all these channels, or just focus your sales numbers on Amazon.

Distributor / Retailer

Royalties & Fees

(list price of eBook)

Distributes/Available on

Amazon (Kindle/KDP) 70% titles between $2.99-$9.99
35% titles between $0.99-$2.98
All Kindle devices. Including mobile and computer apps
Barnes & Noble (Pubit!) 65% titles between $2.99-$9.99
40% titles priced outside this range.
Nook reader and Nook apps
Apple iBookstore 70% of list price Apple iBookstore
Smashwords Upwards of 35%, depends on where sales are made iBookstore, B&N, Sony’s reader and others. Excluding Amazon.

It’s important to understand that as the author and publisher, the quality of your eBook falls on your shoulders. EBook formatting is a technical process for the most part, so adhering to the 80/20 rule of maximising your time with contracting the work out is going to be much more efficient and far less stressful.

I’m a huge advocate of contracting out what someone else can do and just focus on the big key things only I can do. Ebook formatting a quality HTML file  is inexpensive and not something you should beat your head on the wall about, nor is it the best use of your time.

Note: I don’t like the Word.doc method, where a Word.doc is used in an auto-formatter process like Smashwords. Some authors have learned this when seeing the end result, with their book being butchered with layout, presentation and formatting errors. This is most apparent with books that include images, lists, tables, indexes and more. I’ve included Smashwords here because it’s been the only way non-US authors could get access to Barnes & Noble’s Nook, as they only accept those with US bank accounts, credit cards and addresses).

As an author and publisher, your time is best spent executing your launch plan, building relationships, networking, writing guest posts and so on. These types of things only you can do. Quality eBook formatting isn’t expensive considering it’s importance of getting your book to market.

You’re looking on average around the $150 mark for a complete format, giving you ‘Mobi‘, ‘EPUB‘ and ‘Smashwords file’ for these key channels. Expect a time to completion of around a week or two. This price of course varies based on the complexity of your book.

For example: Cookbooks will likely require more investment than a bare bones, straight text novel, due to added layout complexity.

It’s an exciting time, no one knows exactly how eBooks are destined to evolve. Right now, these channels are where you should be focusing your efforts, depending on your type of book.

Getting digital

6 Responses to Leading Ebook Channels and Royalty Rates for Independent Publishers

    • It’s remarkably lower. Average traditional royalty rates are about between 10-15%. One reason is because the publishers have to recoup the production cost. Thing is, after that cost is returned in sales, the percentage doesn’t change and the author continues receiving this bottom end royalty return. Not to mention having to wait 18 months before your book is even released. The industry is moving far to quickly for that turtle pace. Thanks for the comment Wendy!

  1. Thanks for that information. Would you recommend ebook publishing in all of the different formats. or just the one? and how do you find who is good at doing the ebook formatting? or is this what you contract out mazon or which ever one you are suing to do?

    • You’re welcome Deborah. For the first time author, I recommend starting on Amazon first and focusing all sales there to start getting your ranking up. This is because about 85% of all eBook sales are Kindle, as the Kindle apps are available for so many devices. Myself, I buy all my eBooks as Amazon Kindle, then read them all on my iPad. We do eBook formatting here, it’s real HTML/CSS formatting in the native code of the devices. All ePub compliant as well. Price for eBook formatting is simply based on word count and complexity, particularly for non-fiction books. If you’d like a quote, more information or have any questions you can use this form.
      Thanks for the comment Deborah.

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