Amazon, CreateSpace, KDP, Kindle, print-on-demand, royalty, self-publishing, tax
Part of being a self-published author is dealing with the money side of things. I am extremely lucky in that, for me, writing is a hobby and so I do not count on it for my income. (Just as well, considering it makes me £25 per week.) I do hope that one day I will be able to rely on it a little more, but for the moment, it’s an enjoyable side-line. And this is why I have never bothered getting to grips with the royalty situation. (Isn’t that a marvellous word for something rather ordinary? Here’s the explanation from etymologyonline, one of my most-used websites: “c. 1400, ‘office or position of a sovereign’, also ‘magnificence’, from or modelled on Old French roialte [12c., Modern French royauté], from Vulgar Latin regalitatem, from Latin regalis. Sense of ‘prerogatives or rights granted by a sovereign to an individual or corporation’ is from late 15c. From that evolved more general senses, such as ‘payment to a landowner for use of a mine’ , and ultimately ‘payment to an author, composer, etc.’ for sale or use of his or her work .”)
Don’t get me wrong: I have a fair grasp of how much I make from each copy sold. (It’s a bit approximate, because it does vary according to country of sale, exchange rates, etc., but it’s about £1.10 per paperback copy sold on Amazon, and £1.10 per Kindle book.) But what mystifies me is that every month I get five royalty payments. Yes, five. Three of them come accompanied by statements, while the other two sneak in alone. The three statements cover purchases made in pounds, US dollars and euros. But I have no idea what the other two payments are for. On my bank statement all five payments say simply that they have come from “Amazon Media”. And so I tot them up and bung them on the tax return.
But now change is a-foot. I have received an email from CreateSpace (the print-on-demand company that I use, which is – like almost every business under the sun – owned by Amazon) announcing that “CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing will become one service”. KDP is the service I use to sell my Kindle books, and CreateSpace authors seem to have little choice in the matter (pick your battles, as my grandma used to advise), so I have pressed the button to migrate my CreateSpace titles to my KDP account. On the surface, this seems like a good development: I can now go to one dashboard to see all my sales – POD paperbacks and Kindle books. But I can’t help thinking that things might not be that simple… For a start, I’m going to have to wait longer for my £25: “CreateSpace pays monthly royalties 30 days after the end of the month in which they were earned while KDP pays monthly royalties approximately 60 days after the end of the month in which they were earned.” And those royalties might well shrink a little, as they are calculated after the cost of production is deducted, and “some low-page count books will see an increase in printing fees when they are printed in the UK and EU”. It remains to be seen how low is low when it comes to page count…