From The Book Designer:
This is a third and final perspective in my publishing strategy trilogy, a drama festival with three events, Amazon and Ingram being the earlier performances. There have been five-week breaks between these theatrics as I proceed in the Joel Friedlander modern publishing ecosystem.
If you want to distribute your ebook through Amazon directly and then also to “every ebook vendor beyond Amazon,” how should you do it? Smashwords is my recommended choice.
Non-exclusive is my chosen publishing survival mantra in book/ebook publishing. I work with Amazon directly, but am non-exclusive. I also think this is the healthiest approach for all citizens who control “knowledge products” in our society, meaning books/ebooks. We need as much diversity in the marketplace of ideas as we can arrange. Diversity in the marketplace is a socially desirable goal.
I have always wondered what percentage of ebooks sold in America are sold on Amazon. I have heard a lot of folks say 60% for several years. But recently a couple of knowledgeable people said the figure is higher. If you have credible info on this, please share it with us.
I wanted a way to distribute my ebook with Amazon and beyond Amazon. My targets would be Apple Books (formerly called iBooks), B&N ebooks, Kobo, and all the other vendors. How would I do this?
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I decided years ago, in my first ebooks, to proceed with BookBaby for two ebooks. They did and still do a good job. But revisions of my ebooks with BookBaby will require a substantial new cost, as I understand it. In Amazon Kindle and in Smashwords, I can simply write over the file at no cost. So I switched to Amazon direct and to Smashwords for “everyone else,” which is what I recommend now for ebook distribution.
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Details of Financial Return to the Author in Kindle, Ingram, and Smashwords
Authors need to keep track of exactly the cash returned to them in sales from their participation in each of these publishing ecosystems.
With my $4.99 ebook, how much do I earn today in the various structures?
In Amazon Kindle, the formula appears to be 70% of retail, but after a delivery fee, which depends on ebook size.
Your ebook on Amazon must be in the recommended $2.99-$9.99 range to get the 70%. The return appears to drop to 35% when you are out of compliance regarding the recommended ebook prices.
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In IngramSpark the formula for ebooks appears to be 40% or 45% return of retail price and there is no restriction on price parameters.
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In Smashwords, the situation is both simple and more complicated.
When Smashwords sells one of my ebooks in Apple Books, as an example, it appears that I earn 60% of list. For Libraries, the return is 45% of list.
However, Smashwords also has its own internal selling ecosystem, so my book in that structure appears to net for me 56% to 85% of list. The details are granular. Mark Coker recently wrote me about this as follows:
“For sales through the Smashwords Store, the percentage is based on the total amount of the shopping cart. The author earns 85% net where net = the purchase price minus the PayPal fee. So, for some common price points it would be 56% for a 99 cent ebook, 74% for a $2.99 book, 76% for $3.99 and 80% for books or shopping cart totals over $7.99. The easiest way for you to get the exact percentage at different price points is to log into your account, click publish, then enter sample prices into the pricing calculator. It’ll display a dynamic pie chart that shows how much is earned at each price for each channel.”
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Smashwords, as well as IngramSpark, does not appear to penalize authors who want to price their ebooks above $9.99. Two of my travel journalism colleagues, experts in their niches, like this set-your-own-price approach. They have their niche markets and are able to command higher than $9.99 for their ebook products. On Amazon their return would drop to 35%.
Link to the rest at The Book Designer
Perhaps it’s time for another exploration of Smashwords and IngramSpark, but PG’s long-ago experiment with non-Amazon platforms resulted in very few sales for Mrs. PG’s books.
While PG was on The Book Designer site, he discovered that Joel Friedlander, book designer extraordinaire, had vastly expanded his collection of templates for the interior design for various types of books. You find all the design templates here.
For the last two of Mrs. PG’s books, PG has used KindleCreate (if the link doesn’t work for you, just Google KindleCreate), a free downloadable book formatting mini-program.
KC has worked pretty well and none of Mrs. PG’s readers have complained, but Joel’s templates address some of KindleCreate’s shortcomings (in PG’s eyes):
- KC only has four different formatting templates (and to PG’s untutored eye, only one looks good enough for Mrs. PG’s books.)
- KC is tightly-integrated with KDP (good), but the file it produces doesn’t seem to be useful for anything but publishing with Amazon. No Epub sites need apply.
- Additionally, PG couldn’t find any way to adjust anything in the file produced by KindleCreate in MSWord. Any problems with the final ebook file could only be addressed with the very limited KC program.
PG would be interested in hearing other comments about KindleCreate vs. MSWord-based templates from visitors to TPV who are familiar with both.