How Can I Calculate the Amount of Profit a Book Earns?
Before investing time creating a book, you should research a niche and attempt to determine the number of monthly sales and earnings the top-selling books in that niche are producing. You don’t want to spend effort on creating a book only to find out the audience for that type of book doesn’t exist or is only going to make a couple of sales per month.
There are two steps to calculating the profit of a current book. First, estimating the number of monthly sales using the Best Sellers Ranking (BSR) that Amazon provides on the book’s product page. And the second step is determining the royalty amount the author is earning per book.
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Where to Find a Book’s BSR
For this example, I have randomly selected a word search book. Go to a book’s product page and scroll down to the “Product details” section.
Be sure that Publisher listed there is either Independently published or CreateSpace. A commercial publishing company has advantages like spiral binding, branding, higher quality paper, and lower printing costs that self-publishers don’t so their earnings not are comparable to your possible earnings using KDP. And you’ll want the BSR for the Books category, not one of the sub-categories. See the highlighted fields below:
The BSR for the book at the time this screenshot was taken is 68,372. The top-selling book on Amazon has a BSR of 1. The lower the BSR, the more books are being sold.
How to Estimate the Number of Books Being Sold
Now that we have the BSR we need to get an estimate of the number of book sales it takes to reach that rank. Go to https://www.tckpublishing.com/amazon-book-sales-calculator/ and enter 68372. You’ll need to enter the BSR without the comma or spaces before or after the number, Select Book for “Book Type” since we’re looking at a paperback book, and click the “Calculate Sales” button.
As you can see in the screenshot, the estimated number of monthly sales for this book is 69 copies.
You can also find BSR calculators at https://bookbeam.io/book-sales-calculator which allows you to estimate sales in the US, UK, German, or Italian marketplace; and https://kindlepreneur.com/amazon-kdp-sales-rank-calculator/ which only shows estimated sales per day, not monthly. Note when I tested the above BSR at all 3 sites, I got 3 different sales figures. These are only estimates after all.
How to Estimate the Profit Per Book
Now that we have an estimate of the number of books sold, we need to calculate how much royalty (profit) is earned on each book. Amazon KDP has a printing cost and royalty calculator for this. It’s found here https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/GSQF43YAMUPFTMSP
You’ll need to select whether the Book Type is Paperback or Hardcover (usually paperback), the Interior & paper type (usually Black & white interior with white paper), Page Count (you can see this in the “Book Details” section where the BSR is located (in this example the page count is 255), the Marketplace, and the List Price of the book.
Looking in the rightmost column we can see the estimated royalty is 88 cents per book.
Putting it All Together
So using our example book, we can see that the estimated number of books sold is 69 per month and 0.88 USD is earned per book. So multiplying 69 times 0.88 we get estimated earnings of $60.72 per month for this book.
Estimated Copies Sold Per Month Based on BSR X Estimated Royalties Per Month = Estimated Earning Per Month
Getting More Accurate Estimates
This is the way most people estimate book earnings. It’s not accurate though for a number of reasons.
The ranking changes each couple of hours, sometimes drastically. Many factors can drive a book’s sales up or down including seasonality, news trends, results of the author’s Amazon Ads if they’re running them, new competition continually being added, etc.
As a general rule, the more sales a book is making (the lower its BSR) the less the ranking is making these wild swings.
It also doesn’t take into account any expenses the author may need to recover. The calculation above assumes the author created the book for free (which is possible) but some authors are going to have expenses for ad costs, outsourcing, image licensing, etc.
To get a more accurate estimate of how much a book earns, you need to get an average of the BSR over time. The longer the time interval, the more accurate the calculation will be. KDP Spy enables you to set up tracking on a book and can view its average BSR over time. It will continue to track BSR until you stop it. It also displays the average monthly revenue for a book you’re tracking but the amount appears to be based on the current BSR and not the average BSR.
Another more accurate way to obtain an estimate can be obtained by viewing average BSR not for a single book but for an average of books returned by a niche’s search results. Using the free KDP / Amazon BSR & Keyword Research SEO Tool chrome extension from Self Publishing Titans found here, https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/kdp-amazon-bsr-keyword-re/eefljgmhgaidffapnppcmmafobefjece?hl=en&authuser=1, you can view average BSR across search results.
For example, the screenshot below shows the average BSR for the search Large Print Word Search.
You can make a rough estimate of the number of books (paperbacks) being sold per day using the table below:
|BSR||Approximate Sales Per Day|
|1 – 5||4000 and up|
|5 – 20||3000 – 4000|
|20 – 35||2000 – 3000|
|35 – 200||500 – 2000|
|200 – 350||250 – 500|
|350 – 500||175 – 250|
|500 – 750||120 – 175|
|750 – 1500||100 – 120|
|1500 – 3000||70 – 100|
|3000 – 5500||25 – 70|
|5500 – 10000||15 – 25|
|10000 – 50000||5 – 15|
|50,000 – 100,000||1 – 5|