When you self publish a paperback book via Createspace, LightningSource or another Print on Demand (POD) service, how much money do you actually get paid when you sell a book?
The Createspace Royalty Calculator
Createspace provides a free royalty calculator you can use to determine how much you will earn each time you sell a book using Createspace’s POD publishing system. All you need to determine the final pricing is:
- Trim size
- Color or black and white ink
- Page count
- Sales price
For example, a 200-page black and white book with 6×9 trim size and a list price of $9.99 will net the author $2.74 for every book sold on Amazon.com, $4.74 for every book sold through the Createspace eStore, and $0.74 for every book sold through expanded distribution.
If you take the same book and change the price to $19.99, you’d now be earning $8.74 for every book sold on Amazon.com, $12.74 for every book sold through the Createspace eStore, and $4.74 for every book sold through expanded distribution.
The Effect of Book Length on Printing Costs and Royalties
Printing costs can eat up a huge chunk of profits for self published authors of longer books.
For example, taking the same POD print options as before (trim 6×9, black and white, and a price of $19.99) but changing the print length from 200 pages to 500 pages drops the royalties earned to $5.14 for every book sold on Amazon.com, $9.14 for every book sold through the Createspace eStore, and $1.14 for every book sold through expanded distribution.
That’s a loss of $3.60 cents per copy in royalties due just to the printing cost of an extra 300 pages. That’s 1.2 cents per page.
Self-published novelists with 120,000+ word manuscripts beware! Printing costs can eat up a huge piece of your royalties when using POD publishing.
The Effect of Color Printing on POD Publishings Costs
Printing costs can be steep, but the cost of color printing for POD publishing can be downright exorbitant!
Taking the same book as before (trim 6×9, 200 pages, and a price of $19.99) with full color POD printing changes the royalties to -$2.86 for every book sold on Amazon.com, $1.14 for every book sold through the Createspace eStore, and -$6.86 for every book sold through expanded distribution.
You read that right! We’re talking NEGATIVE royalties now. In other words, you’d have to pay Amazon $2.86 per copy to print and sell your book at $19.99 on Amazon.com. (You can’t actually do that as Amazon will simply force you to raise your price until the royalty becomes 0 or positive which happens to be $24.76).
Thus, changing a 200-page book from black and white to full color printing decreases the author’s royalty by $8 per copy! That’s 4 cents per page, or 3.5 times more than the cost of black and white printing.
If you want to sell your books at a reasonable price and still earn a decent royalty with print-on-demand, you should probably avoid full color printing except for very short children’s books.
The Effect of Trim Size on POD Publishings Costs
Here’s where the good news comes in. Trim size has no effect on pricing!
Whether you choose 5.5″ x 8.5″ or 8.5″ x 11″ or even a custom trim like 6.69″ x 9.61″, the price is the same.
What’s this mean?
Generally speaking, you can actually reduce your cost of printing with Createspace by choosing a larger trim size because your page count would be decreased.
In other words, switching from a 5.5″ x 8.5″ to 6″x9″ could save you about 5-10% on your printing costs by reducing your page count correspondingly. Switching to an even larger trim like 8.5″ x 11″ can further reduce your printing costs and increase your royalties per sale.
So, if you and your readers don’t mind having a bigger trim, go for it! It’ll save you money and increase your income.
More Information About Royalties for Self Published Authors
Read article 1 in this series on eBook publishing royalties for self-published authors here.
Article 3 on audiobook royalties coming soon!
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.