Y’know, there are times when I think some of those insulting clichés apply to me. Yeah, when I was born I got in line for what I thought were brains, but I got trains instead—Lionel. It’s true, I’m not the brightest light bulb in the socket. And it goes without saying, there’s dumb and dumber and then there’s me. Okay, you get the picture—not a lot of high self-esteem going on here today…but there’s a reason.
Back about a month or so ago, I read an article about how well some authors were selling their books via amazon.com’s program call KDP Select. This is a program you can opt for under amazon’s Kindle platform. It will—allegedly—pay a higher royalty, publicize your book a lot more with some specific promotions and widen its distribution. You do have to make one sacrifice, though, and that’s exclusivity. KDP Select prohibits you from selling an “e” version of your book anywhere else. So I took my newest effort, The 11th Year of Christopher Arthur McDaniels, and enrolled it into the KDP Select program.
I filled out the KDP Select form with all the appropriate information and when it came to making a choice of whether or not I wanted to earn a 35% royalty or a 70% royalty that is available under the Select program, I went for the higher pay out, of course. Hey, that’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? What silly nit would choose to make a lower royalty?
Now, bear in mind that I have four other books attempting to sell themselves on amazon.com. These are not in the KDP Select program so their royalty is restricted to the basic 35%.
Time marches on and I get my first month’s report on sales. I sold a spectacular total of three Kindle books in the past 5 weeks consisting of one copy of my adult novel, The Pope’ Stone, and two copies of Christopher. At 35%, the Pope paid me $.87—about the amount I need to buy a Keurig cup of coffee. Meanwhile, at 70% royalty, the two copies of Christopher paid me…what! How can this be? I was paid NOTHING for the two copies of Christopher. In fact, I was charged a $3.61 “delivery charge” for each book! What delivery charge? It doesn’t cost anything to deliver an e-book. It’s a download—how can that cost? The customer pays $2.99 for the Kindle copy of Christopher (the minimum price set by Kindle, not me) and then Kindle adds on a $3.61 delivery cost that I have to pay. I know, this makes no sense. I sent them an e-mail since this inquiring mind wanted to inquire.
Well, if you noticed the earth vibrating under your feet the other night, not to worry. That was only me jumping up and down in frustration trying to figure out how I could sell two Kindle versions of my book and wind up IN THE RED! Of course, amazon had a perfectly rational (to them) explanation. When you join the Select program they tout the added distribution to all the other amazons around the world that your book will be sold through. I guess for that added feature they choose to charge a delivery fee based on a specific amount per location, multiplied by the number of megabytes in your book’s file. Even though Christopher is a kid’s chapter book and runs only 100 pages, it has 12 small illustrations, one for each chapter. These drive up the megabytes into the stratosphere…hence the $3.61 charge for whatever. That’s the conclusion, more or less, that I drew from the silly response I got from the folks at amazon.
Now, remember, I’m the dummy here. I went back to that form I originally filled out when I joined the Select program. In the section where I chose my royalty rate it specifically offers me the opportunity to select the 70% royalty, but it also has a nice chart that clearly states there is a delivery charge and my net royalty will actually be “0.” In my case, not only did I earn 0, I wound up in debt because the delivery charge cost more than the sale price of the book. Why would that scenario even exist? Amazon, BTW, doesn’t explains why there’s a delivery charge in the first place…at least nowhere obvious.
Needless to say, I changed the royalty on Christopher from 70% to 35%. There is no delivery charge at the lower royalty rate. Now if I sell a Kindle copy of Christopher I will actually get paid, once I make up my deficit.
It really sucks being dumb like me. Whoddathunk amazon would dictate a minimum price of $2.99 for a Kindle version of my book, offer me a 70% royalty rate and then charge a delivery fee that results in my losing money on the deal? Thank God I did not sell a high number of Kindle downloads of Christopher. I probably would have had to take out a loan to pay amazon back. Like I said…I’m not the brightest bulb in the socket.