Have you ever wondered why so many romance novels are priced at $2.99 or $3.99? (Note that I’m only addressing US prices/dollars in this article.)
To put it simply, $2.99 is the minimum price necessary for an author to make money on a book.
This is because of Amazon’s pricing policy. Anything under $2.99 pays the author only 30%, while books priced above that pay 70%.
So, on a 99-cent book, I make 30 cents.
On a $2.99 book, I make $2.04 (after Amazon’s ‘delivery fee’).
The Kindle Unlimited Effect
Then there’s Kindle Unlimited, which is a great deal for readers and—at one time—was a pretty good deal for authors as well. Unfortunately, the per-page read currently hovers around $.0004. Over time, the author payout has averaged just over 40 cents per 100 pages read.
To put this into perspective, my book PROTECTING HIS HEART (which at time of writing is priced at $2.99) earns about $1.20 when read completely in Kindle Unlimited, versus $2.04 if purchased—41% less.
In theory, there’s a larger pool of readers willing to read in KU. But there’s a downside. When a book is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, it cannot be sold elsewhere, which means the author is giving up potential sales (full disclosure here!): A $2.99 book nets me $1.78 if purchased on either Apple or Nook (because I use an aggregator), and $2.09 on Kobo.
Ideally, an author would have an even ‘mix’ of purchases from all four platforms, but Amazon drives far more readers (in general), so it’s the main consideration.
The value of time
The advent of electronic books (remember that, around 2007?) opened many doors for independent authors like me—and I’m grateful!
But a book takes hundreds of hours to produce (not including the time for promotional strategies, social media, newsletters, etc), and every author has to decide for themselves what their time is worth and how much they’re willing to ‘give away.’
Just know that when you purchase a book for $2.99 or higher, you’re showing the author that you value their hard work and creativity—and you encourage them to keep on writing!