How much money can you actually make if you write an ebook?

Follow Me on Pinterest That’s really the $64,000 Dollar Question isn’t it?

How much money can you actually make if you write an ebook?

The answer is: it depends!

The two things you need to look at are:

1. How much will you make per sale?

2. How many will you sell?

The answer to the first question is easy. List price less advertising cost, delivery, credit card fees, etc. If you sell on Amazon Kindle at a price between $2.99 and $9.99 (or your currency’s equivalent), Amazon pays you 70% of the list price, less a few cents for digital delivery (bandwidth) cost. If you sell for more than $9.99 and less than $2.99, they only pay you 30%. That translates into about $3.50 profit for you on a $4.99 ebook (which is virtually the exact same royalty you’d get from selling a $12 ebook). If you sell 100 books in a month, you make $350.00 – not bad, but certainly not getting rich! This is, however, a LOT more than you would make through a book publishing deal on the same number of sales in a month.

The reason Amazon Kindle structures its payout this way is simple: they are in the business of moving a LOT of ebooks at bargain prices to their Kindle owners. If YOU want to make money with Amazon Kindle, you need to make a lot of sales and you need to publish a lot of books. That sounds hard, but Amazon Kindle makes it easy and they help you out a lot if you structure your titles and descriptions correctly AND you’re willing to do some basic marketing of your ebook.

On the flip side, if you sell ebooks from your own website, that’s where you stand to make the most money AND have the most control over merchandising and sales. Selling from your own website however, also puts the vast majority of responsibility for success or failure squarely on your shoulders.

From your own website, let’s say you sell your ebook for $20 (just to keep the math easy).

Now, let’s take a timeout! For those of you about to freak out over ebook pricing, you can, by the way, sell an ebook for $20 and have a “Kindle” version of the same ebook sell for $4.99 without any problem. How? Have a LOT MORE content in the version on your website and make it plain what they get in the website version vs. the Kindle book. This can include bonuses, videos, charts, process maps, interviews and just about any extra you could imagine to differentiate the two offers.

Ok? Less stress now? Ok. Let’s get back to the example.

So you’re selling your ebook for $20 on your own website and let’s assume you have an advertising cost that averages out to 40% of the ebook’s cover price (this assumes you do NOT have your own list of subscribers, where your advertising cost is basically zero). That means after credit card and other expenses, you’ll probably net around $10 per ebook. So now when you sell 100 ebooks from your own website you stand to make $1,000 net profit. Not bad, but you’re still not rich yet (though this is one helluva part-time income). Between Amazon and your website you make about $1,350 off 200 sales.

How do you make it great? Easy! You want to do 3 things:

1. Sell more of the ebooks you’ve already written

2. Build up your buyer subscriber list through making more ebook sales

3. Publish more ebooks and sell them directly to your past customers (who love you and want more of your stuff)

So now let’s say next month you publish another ebook and sell it for $20 from your site as well as an Amazon version for $4.99. 20 people who bought the first book on Amazon buy your second book immediately because Amazon sends them an email announcing it. You also sell 100 copies of your first book AND 100 copies of your new book this month. That’s a total of 220 books at $3.50 profit totaling approximately $770 profit from Amazon.

On your own site you email the people who bought directly from you previously and sell 20 copies of your new book. You also advertise like you did last month and sell 100 copies of the first book AND 100 copies of the new book. Since the 20 copies to your own list didn’t have any advertising cost, you make about $18 per sale, or $360. Add in the 200 other sales at $10 net each and you’re up to $2,560 in profit from your own website. Combine that with the $770 from Amazon and you’re over $3,000 for the month net profit.

Now, a question for you: where would you be if you did this every month for just 6 months in a row? I’ll tell you! You’d be in a damn fine place! You’d have 12 different sources of revenue (6 Kindle, 6 your own site). You’d have a nice email list of subscribers you could make affiliate offers to and maybe even start a membership site to get you recurring revenue that was basically all gravy.

But the reality is, most people will never publish an ebook. Most that actually do it will then wonder why they aren’t rich off that one ebook, give up, and never realize how close they were to their dreams. And a few, just a few, smart and enterprising authors will publish and market consistently and create their own little ebook empires that will bring them profits, satisfaction, and happiness for years to come!

If you want to join the smart and enterprising author group, check this out. Truth is, a lot of ebook authors (or those who want to be) have asked “Can you still make money with ebooks in today’s market?” This Free Report I just published answers that question and a whole LOT more! You can grab it FREE here:


  • Pat Wiklund

    January 23, 2012

    You truly are one of the good guys. Thanks for keeping me on your list.


    • BigJim

      January 23, 2012

      Hi Pat,