New for 2018, Amazon adds a 50% Kindle royalties option for nonfiction books that meet specific eligibility standards.
Image-heavy Kindle eBooks have been difficult to price since Amazon first announced the Kindle royalty structure of 70% vs. 35%. There are two reasons for this:
- Amazon charges self-publishers using the 70% royalty option a 15 cent per megabyte download fee when readers buy your book. For example, if your book is 2MB, and is priced at $2.99 with the 70% royalty option, your royalty is $1.79.
- Screen resolutions on all devices have been steadily improving. However, publishers producing books with lots of images are sensitive to the 15 cent/MB delivery fee and some deliberately format images with lower resolution. This decreases the reading experience.
50% Kindle royalties option eligibility for “Great on Kindle”
The new, optional, 50% royalty makes it more lucrative for selling nonfiction books if publishers meet these 6 criteria. (Scroll down for details about the 35% and 70% Kindle royalties options, and where the 50% option fits.)
Great on Kindle (beta) also introduces a new pricing tier requiring participating nonfiction books to be priced between $4.99 and $19.99 to receive the 50% royalty.
As with the current Kindle royalty requirements, this new program has some restrictions. I’ve summarized below the requirements and benefits.
The 6 official requirements + 1 implied requirement
- All images must be high resolution. Amazon defines this as at least 300 pixels per inch. This way your readers can pinch and zoom in on images such as maps and drawings to see detail. Click here for their help page on formatting images.
- Enhanced Typesetting must be enabled. Enhanced Typesetting is a collection of book layout and typesetting features that allow readers to adjust various reading settings. To check your book, get Kindle Previewer and open the book. Click View, then check Book Information as you see in the image below.
- Have accurate and consistent metadata. Metadata is the information you enter in KDP to describe your book such as title, author name, series name, price, etc. It should match your print book, if you have one. Read my article on AuthorImprints.com titled, The 7 Habits of Authors Obsessed About Metadata, and download my free optimizing metadata guide here on DavidWogahn.com (sign-up on the home page).
- Enable Amazon X-Ray. Kindle eBooks have an X-Ray feature that enables readers to get more information about an industry term, event or place in your book (it’s like X-Ray for the Amazon Fire Stick). Here is how Amazon describes the feature, and how you enable it:
X-Ray for Authors is a free Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) tool that enables you, the author, to add your own descriptions or commentary that will show up when the reader engages the X-Ray feature. With X-Ray for Authors, you can add new X-Ray entries, edit existing ones, or enable X-Ray for a new book.
You can turn on X-Ray for any of your books using X-Ray for Authors (see steps below). To make it easy to get started, we automatically create X-Ray entries from Wikipedia content and excerpts from your book. All you have to do is review these entries, choose which ones you want to publish for readers, or replace them with your own custom commentary.
Your book must be on KDP (not distributed there via Draft2Digital, IngramSpark, etc.). Go to your bookshelf, find the book, and click the ellipsis button (“…”) next to the book you want to update.
- Correct any typos or formatting errors. Duh! For many authors this is already done. But this also includes inconsistent line and paragraph spacing and missing links, like a table of contents.
- Have a completed AuthorCentral page. This too should be easy, and who wouldn’t want one? See my detailed guide on AuthorImprints, Create and Manage the Perfect Amazon US and UK AuthorCentral Page.
#7: The only way to enable X-Ray, the #4 requirement, is to use KDP to distribute your book to Amazon. That means you can’t use an aggregator (read my eBook Distribution Round-up here).
Great on Kindle publisher benefits
In a way, Amazon is using the Great on Kindle program like they do KDP Select: as a program that benefits Amazon Kindle readers. But unlike KDP Select, your eBook does not have to be exclusive to Amazon.
As of the announcement date, they are offering these benefits to nonfiction self-publishers who opt into the 50% royalty program:
- A message on your book’s detail page that identifies it as a high-quality book
- Promotional credit offers for readers (with no impact on your royalty)
- Nominations for potential merchandising opportunities
Again, books must meet their eligibility requirements.
Summary of key Kindle royalties requirements
There is a lot of fine print for all the royalty programs, but I can summarize key elements here. Where it gets tricky is when your book is sold in foreign markets or falls out of compliance with the terms.
This summary is subject to change. Amazon and your KDP pricing page (where you enter your book’s price) is the final word.
- When your eBook is available in competing stores. Amazon will price match those prices and your royalty will change accordingly.
- When you have a print book. The eBook list price must be at least 20% below the price for the physical edition of the same book.
- Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India. eBooks sold in these countries must be enrolled in KDP Select to receive a 50% or 70% royalty, otherwise it is 35%. eBooks must also meet the other criteria such as pricing and Great on Kindle requirements.
- The 70% royalty countries are the same as they are for the 50% program. Sales in other countries receive a 35% royalty. See the current list here, or the table below.
- Book lending is required for the 2 higher royalties. Kindle eBooks can be loaned once for a 14-day period, but you can opt out of this if you select the 35% option.
Comparison of selected royalty terms
A quick reference showing other terms, by royalty level.
|Min/Max eBook Price||$2.99 to $9.99||$4.99 to $19.99||Files <3MB: $0.99 to $200; Files >3MB & <10MB: $1.99 to $200; Files >10MB: $2.99 to $200|
|Public Domain Books||No||No||Yes|
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil*, Canada, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Guernsey, India*, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Japan*, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico*, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, San Marino, Switzerland, Spain, United Kingdom, United State, Vatican City (*must be enrolled in KDP Select to receive 70% royalty)
Amazon has come up with yet another way to differentiate their eBook format and market position from the EPUB standard and eBooks sold in other stores. No other store charges a file delivery fee, and leading competitive stores pay equal or better royalties.
Add to this a growing use of eBook aggregators capable of distributing eBooks direct to the Kindle store. Draft2Digital and IngramSpark come to mind.
This past January, the Amazon-owned Goodreads rebooted their popular giveaway program with the ability to giveaway Kindle eBooks. The catch? Your book must be on KDP to be eligible (however, it does not have to be enrolled n KDP Select).
Like KDP Select, the 50% royalty option is just one more way to tie self-publishers to the Kindle store. We receive potentially more money if we take advantage of what the Kindle eBook format has to offer. In return, Amazon will give our books extra promotion.
Their sentence under benefits puts us on notice of things to come (emphasis added):
Note: The Great on Kindle program is still in its early stages, so these benefits may change.