Amazon-Only or Publish-Wide? See How Much You Could Lose in Royalties by Going Exclusive with Amazon

Amazon is the big boy in the self-publishing space, but for authors who publish wide (aka on other platforms), how much are they actually making from these other channels? I’ll share my year over year royalties and how much came Amazon and how much came from other sources.

I’ve spoken a lot on this channel about publishing wide and why I’m not making use of Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select. I want to make it clear that I am not anti-Amazon. I have a deep appreciation for the doors that Amazon has opened to me and other authors through KDP. That was the tipping point for me to decide to self-publish my first book. But, I’m not Amazon exclusive. Look, even Jeff Bezos has said that Amazon will be disrupted at some point. He is clearly doing a lot to forestall that. But, I am a career author, I am in this for the long haul. And that means I need to have wide distribution. Because if Amazon or Barnes & Noble or any of my other retailers go under, I need to still be able to sell my book.

And I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes. You might make thousands a month on Amazon and you are in Kindle Unlimited and you do just fine. That’s great. But you could be missing out. I pulled my royalty numbers since 2015 which was the year I published Nailbiters. If I look at the percentage of my royalties coming from Amazon the first two years were heavy on Amazon. The third year was almost entirely Amazon, I tested KU with Enemies of Peace. But then in 2018 and 2019, my Amazon revenue was half or less than half of my book royalties.

Just book royalties for my business, KDP %
72.74% -2015
68.17% -2016
94.58% -2017
57.47% -2018
40.69% -2019

I think that is pretty telling. Then I looked at Amazon and ACX. Because Amazon also owns ACX, so if ACX went away too, how would that impact me. Well, my first two audiobooks were exclusive deal with ACX so 2017 and 2018 were almost all Amazon ecosystem royalties for me. But with all of my book sales in 2019, across all ecosystems, Amazon was still only 50%. If I was exclusive to Amazon, I would have missed the other 50% of my royalties.

Amazon and ACX (the Amazon Ecosystem)
72.74% -2015
68.17% -2016
99.05% -2017
99.29% -2018
50.36% -2019

I’m sharing all of this with you not to brag or scare you, I’m telling you to show you that if I had been making my business decisions based on short-term gains or short-term data, I would have been exclusive to Amazon and taken the royalties and gone on my way without realizing how much I would be missing now. And I know I could be doing more to promote my books on these other channels. I love that Amazon is half of my royalties. I couldn’t have arrived at this point without Amazon, but I am glad to see that I’m not beholden to them either.

So, how about you? Are you Amazon Only or do you Publish Wide? Are you tracking your sales with the different retailers? Are you reevaluating the decisions you made when you started to make sure they are still good for your author business? I want to hear more from you in the comments below.

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Now you can get back to writing your book!

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