Friday, 7 November 2014

Which site should I purchase from?

I have had this conversation with a few people about the best place to purchase copies of my book. I usually give them a watered down version of my point of view, so decided to air it properly here.

For many readers, the whole royalty thing is a bit of a mystery - they purchase a book (either a print copy or a digi copy) and make the fair assumption that somehow a percentage of what they have paid ends up in the hands of the writer - the creator of the tome in their hands, which has put the most time and energy into it by far . Most readers assume that almost all of their money will end up with the writer, but it is not the case.
I will give you an example of how royalties work for me - this may be different for other authors, and I don't want to make assumptions, so I'm being very specific to my own book.

Print Copies
My print copies are available from Create Space for the list price of $15 (US).
If you purchase direct from Create Space, I end up with $7.46 in my hand.
If you purchase through Amazon, I end up with $4.46 in my hand.
If you purchase through The Book Depository (and other extended distribution channels), I end up with $1.46 in my hand.
There are other mysteries to untangle also such as the fact that Create Space only pay out royalties when they reach $100 or more. So I haven't actually had any royalties for my print books yet - I hope maybe sometime in the future when the world discovers them the cheques will be flooding in. However, before that happens I will have to sell 68 books through The Book Depository.
Of course there is more to consider for the reader too - such as the price of postage. The Book Depository offers free postage, which is a huge selling point anywhere in the world. I've used them myself, and will probably continue to do so unless I can work out a cheaper way of sending books overseas.
Digital Copies
My digital copies are available through Smashwords for the list price of $2.99 (US). Obviously if you download a copy for free there are no royalties for the author.
If you purchase directly from Smashwords I end up with 80%, or $2.39
If you purchase from Kobo, Apple or Barnes & Noble, it's 60%, or $1.79
The Smashwords threshold for paying an author is $10 (US). (that wasn't a typo)
My digital copies are also available through Amazon Kindle at a list price of $2.96 (US)
The royalty is 70% for most countries, and 30% in some. Which means either $2.07 in my hand, or $0.88.
However, the threshold for royalties - what I have to reach before they send me a cheque - is $100 US, so I'll have to sell 48 books through Amazon before I get paid. (I have $9 in my Amazon account so far!! Whee!!!)

So where to buy? Speaking from the author's point of view, I would recommend Create Space for print copies, and Smashwords for digi copies. It just means I'll get paid sooner!
During this whole Indie author journey so far, the only place I have received royalties from is Smashwords, because their threshold for payouts is so reasonable. (One of the reasons I love Smashwords). I may never receive any money from Amazon, or Create Space. We will have to wait and see.
Which then begs the question... how many small authors are out there, with $95 owed to them in royalties from companies such as Amazon, which they will never see? Add those royalties up... well, you get the picture.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and finding out how much your purchases mean to Indie authors.


  1. Hi Jo, I have done it slightly differently to you. I published direct with Amazon and Kindle Direct rather than via Smashwords. So, I do at least receive payments from Amazon for sale of the kindle copies. (There is only the restriction of $100 on .com sales not etc) I also publish separately on Smashwords and uncheck the publish on Amazon box (As I publish separately there) I love Smashwords for the ease of generating discounted/free coupons and the fact that they will distribute to Barnes & Noble and ITunes etc.

    1. I think we have done it the same way, Ingrid. :-)