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See How Much You Can Make With Self Publishing eBooks: Plus A Royalty Chart

So how much money can you make by self publishing eBooks?

It depends on a few variables:

  • Exposure – how many eyes see your eBook. Exposure can come in many ways, from referrals, existing readership, a well thought out and executed marketing plan as well as the number of platforms your eBook is available for sale on.
  • Price – eBook buyers tend to be very price conscious, especially today when you have a plethora of .99 cent and $4.99 or under eBooks (not necessarily a bad thing).
  • Demand – the need or interest that exists in the marketplace. In other words, the audience of your message
  • Quality of content
  • Perhaps some others…

How much money you make from your eBook can vary across a real broad spectrum. What I want to do is summarize the royalty schedule in an easy to reference table so you know exactly how much money you can generate from eBook sales on each platform.

The Self Publishing Royalties Table

These rates are the royalties you receive on each sale of your eBook. Each platform takes a certain amount of commission percentage resulting from each sale. This is your cost of doing business. The good news is that you don’t pay anything unless you make something, thus a win win for all involved.

eBook Platform

Need ISBN?

Can You Directly Publish?

Royalties (Based on Sale Price Below)



Over $10

Amazon Kindle






Barned & Noble






Apple iBookstore






Google Books



Good Luck

Good Luck

Good Luck

Sony Reader


















*These platforms will assign your eBooks an ISBN for free – however, you can also provide our own

**You need to go through an aggregator or a mass syndication program to make your eBooks available on these platforms

***Kobo wants you to contact them to find out. You can do that here

****Google doesn’t tell you how much, at least not clearly – but what’s new? Publish your eBooks with Google anyway for added income.

Each of these platforms has a designated eReader. For example, Amazon eBooks are meant to be read on the Kindle. Barnes & Noble books are meant to be read on the Nook. Sony has its own reader, and so it goes.

Each platform however offers a conversion service when you first submit your eBook (in raw word document file format).

Here is a shortcut. Instead of messing around with each platform separately, why not take a one and done approach through an eBook aggregator program like Smashwords? Smashwords will convert your file into all the required formats such as .epub, Sony Reader (LRF), Kindle (.mobi), Palm Doc (PBD), PDF, RTF, Plain Text, online reading (HTML and javascript), etc. You can read more about it here.

Note: Smashwords and Kindle have a love-hate relationship. Depending on when you are trying this, Smashwords may or may not submit your eBook to Amazon. The good news is that submitting your eBook to Kindle is pretty easy. Read how you can increase your eBook sales on Amazon here.

eBooks are one of my favorite ways to generate income online. Once published, eBooks can be a nice source of passive and residual income. Not only that, you don’t need a website or a blog to make money from self publishing eBooks.

Are Training Courses on Self Publishing eBooks Worth the Cost?

Many internet marketers have realized this and have developed training courses and products to help you self publish eBooks. There are training programs out there that promise that you will learn how to prepare your eBook files and publish your eBook to the various platforms listed above.

The way they position themselves is by saying that each platform requires a different format and therefore you need to learn how to format your eBooks in different ways, etc. That is all true, but thanks to Smashwords you can do all that on your own very easily. You can read how here.

If you don’t have an eBook yet, read my guide on how to brainstorm, create, publish, market and successfully profit from an eBook here.

I am not against paying for training. In fact I am all for it. Just make sure you are getting your monies worth when you pay for something. The process is straightforward enough to where I think I can answer most of your questions. Why pay for training when you can get free answers here? If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments section below.

So how much money do you think you can realistically make from an eBook? What’s your experience been like with eBooks? What kind of results are you seeing? What are some marketing strategies that are working well for you?

For those who celebrate, an advanced Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. For everyone else, Happy Holidays and please be safe with your loved ones. I am sure will see you at least one more time before 2013.

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35 Responses to “See How Much You Can Make With Self Publishing eBooks: Plus A Royalty Chart”

  1. Sunil, I haven’t worked with iBooks yet. If you don’t have an ISBN, they will provide you with one?

    Google does not require an ISBN any longer. You can upload a pdf or an epub without an ISBN and Google will assign a unique identifier called a GGKEY (Google Key?). Digging through their help pages, I did find a mention of a 54% royalty rate. So if you have a low-priced or high-priced ebook, Google is a great place to sell. If it’s in that middle range, then not so much. :/ Of course, your book is getting listed in the largest app store on the planet!

    After playing around with prices, I got the following results for Kobo’s royalty rates: $12.99=45%

    Also, Amazon and Barnes & Noble should really be listed at $.99-$2.99 for the bottom tier, as they don’t allow prices under 99 cents.

    If you keep an eye out on sites that feature free Kindle promotions, books on formatting ebooks, books on publishing ebooks, and books on marketing ebooks can be had at no cost all the time.

    • For some reason part of my reply cut off. For Kobo royalties, if you book is priced under $1.99 have a 45% royalty. $1.99-$12.99 have a 70% royalty. And books over $12.99 have a 45% royalty.

      They also occcasionally do promotions where they offer an even higher royalty. In Novermber, books priced at the 70% level actually got an 80% royalty.

    • Sunil says:

      many platforms do not require this. through Smashwords you can get a free ISBN assigned. personally I have my ebooks on all these platforms, including Google.

  2. The Rookie says:

    Great post, I was always wondering the payout rates and how the bookstores setup this stuff.

    A couple questions. Are the royalties setup progressively? For instance its 40% of the first 2.99 then from 2.99 to 10.00 its 70% and the royalties above 10.00 is paid at 40%.

    Or is it flat if you sell a book at 5 bucks the whole royalty is based off 70%. This seems odd to me but I have seen stranger things.

    Also what about the free books, do they charge for distribution. I would thing they would.

    Secondly have you found that raising the price of certain books increases the sales rate. Pricing in the middle sometimes doesn’t work because free and extremely cheap is no risk expensive must be good but middle of the road prices just seem like it might not be worth the risk. (that was the mind of the buyer lol). Whats your thoughts on that.

    • Rookie,

      The royalty rates are flat, not progressive. Most sites don’t actually allow free ebooks. In Amazon, it can only be done as a limited time promotion and you have to grant them exclusivity in selling the ebook.

      To my knowledge, Amazon is the only company that charges for distribution costs, and only at the 70% royalty rate. Which makes the fee they charge, at $.15/MB, rather exorbitant.

    • Sunil says:

      in my experience it’s a flat percentage/rate. my only experience with freebies is through promo programs like the Amazon KDP Select program. your second question is very interesting. I have experienced that in some of my specialized topics, such as annuities/high end insurance, raising prices has indeed increased sales. this has not fared so well for hobbyist type topics such as gardening/plants, etc.

  3. “Good luck” 🙂

    Google is always like that it seems. Gone are the days where you could publish and ebook for $27 and sell it via Ejunkie or Click Bank. That’s OK though because Amazon is a huge market.

    Your price though depends on how technical or specific your book is. If it’s a fiction book keep it around the .99 to 2.99 price point. If it’s technical you can charge more. Informative post.

  4. I long wanted to write my own eBook. I just cannot think of a good topic to write about. I hope I can finish at least one before 2013 ends.

  5. Emily says:

    After not having the success with Kindle I had hoped for, I am going back to selling my e-books from my blogs. I believe the day when you can make thousands on Kindle without doing any marketing has passed. (and yes, I was writing on evergreen topics with highly-searched keywords, did free promos, etc.)

    If I have to market to sell my books, I would just as soon kill two birds with one stone and market my blogs in the process.

  6. I totally disagree with the comment above that states that “gone are the days when you could publish an ebook and sell it via Clickbank or Ejunkie for $27.” There is still (and always will be) a huge market for specialized content. The key is learning how to market that content. Most ebook publishers would find it very valuable to invest some time studying basic marketing and copywriting techniques.

    Heck, even this site is promoting Financial Samurai’s “How To Engineer Your Layoff” ebook which sells for $48.

    • Sunil says:

      I agree with you Scotty. I have a feeling that David really meant the easy money frenzy is over, or at least more difficult now that we participate in a more saturated market (like any other growing industry). money can def still be made, especially with specialized content as you mentioned

  7. vicky says:

    Writing an ebook is certainly challenging and seeing the need for it makes me want to write one. I hope using help I could write one soon.

  8. One of my goals for 2013 is to write an ebook. I am not sure what topic it will be on but it will most likely be related online marketing. Thanks for a little more motivation!

  9. Jim Juris says:

    Sunil, I have two ebooks on Amazon in the Kindle store and I have been seeing an increase in sales for both of my ebooks in the last couple of months.

    I don’t make a large amount of money from these two ebooks, right now it is only double didgets, but I do ok with selling them on Amazon in the Kindle store.

    • Sunil says:

      Nov/Dec tend to be better months for sales given the holidays as well as new reading devices being given out as presents. what’s working for you in terms of marketing strategies?

  10. Latusha says:

    Hi Sunil

    I published an ebook on amazon and smashwords. Although smashwords allows you to put your book multiple retailers sites, I didn’t make any sales at all. When I went exclusive with amazon I’ve been making sales. I haven’t done any promotions because I’ve been busy with other things. But for now it seems as if amazon is the winner between the two.

  11. Latusha says:


    My ebook is about work at home customer service jobs. At the time I took it off smashwords, it was on apple & Barnes and nobles. It was getting some views but 0 sales.

  12. Joe says:

    I’m thinking of trying this in 2013 so this has been a great guide. Thanks.

  13. Thank you.very useful article. i have bookmarked your article to read again later.

  14. This is very helpful. I am always sitting on the edge of ‘almost’ gonna write an ebook! lol This helps put the profitability into perspective.

  15. Jay says:

    Hello! I’ve been reading your weblog for a long time now and finally got the
    courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas!

    Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!

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