Tag Archives: writing

Show me the money: getting paid in publishing

Make money from writing

You wrote a book. Congratulations! This is in itself a great achievement. If it’s worth publishing, then how much money will you make?

Traditional Publishing

You may have heard terms such as advances and royalties in relation to book publishing but have no idea how they relate to your book. To understand how the industry works, you first need to know where your book fits. If it’s published by a traditional publisher, you will have been offered a contract that stipulates how much advance (if any) you receive and what the ongoing royalty rate is. Usually an advance is payment of royalty ahead of book sales. This money will come off any future royalties.

Royalty is usually set at 7.5–10% of the recommended retail price for a print book and 20–50% for an ebook. Some publishers may set the royalty on the NET price of the book. This is the price that the book is sold to the bookstore. Bookstores receive 40% discount on the RRP.

Here are some figures, based on a book that sells for $30.

Scenario: 10% royalty on RRP of $30 = $3 per book to the author

Scenario: 7.5% royalty on RRP of $30 = $2.25 per book to the author

Scenario: 10% royalty on NET of $30 ($30 minus 40% = $18) = $1.80 per book to the author

Scenario: 20% royalty on RRP of $12.99 (ebook) = $2.60 per book to the author

If you sell 1000 books and your royalty is 10% on the recommended retail price of $30, you will receive $3000. If you received an advance of $5,000 when you signed your contract, those royalty payments will come out of the advance, meaning that there is still another $2000 of royalties before your ‘debt’ is paid. Bear in mind that if you never sell more books than what your advance is worth, you don’t owe any money back to the publisher (but check your contract!).


Technically, there are no royalties when you self-publish. But you could say that you get 100% royalty, after costs. These costs are something that need to be monitored very carefully in order for you to make a profit. That’s why you need to do your homework to determine the best way to self-publish that is going to give you a good return on investment.

What are these costs? Some are once off, such as the publication costs: editing, design and layout, proofing and imagery. Ongoing costs are printing and marketing and commissions to bookstores and distributors, if you use them. If you are thinking big and want your book in bookstores, think about the commissions that they get (40%) and distributors (30%).

Scenario: RRP $30. Bookstore gets $12, distributor gets $9. You are left with $9. Can you print your book and cover publication costs?

Scenario: RRP $30. Sell on website using Paypal (cost $1.20 in fees). You are left with $28.80.

Questions to ask yourself: do I need to be in bookstores? Do I need a distributor? How will I market the book to get into readers hands?

Assisted Publishing

This type of publishing is a grey area because technically you are going 50/50 in the project, then getting 50/50 in royalties. Unless the company you sign up with is very transparent about how they work and you can’t work out how much money you will actually get, please steer clear of them. You may never see a cent.

The publishing industry is changing rapidly. The ‘old’ model, where a writer was paid by royalty is no longer the only way and new models of this system are also being created. The best way to work out what is best for you and your writing long-term is to educate yourself on these different scenarios and look at opportunities in terms of where you are in your writing career. In other words, if you are being offered an advance of $10,000 but you think you’re worth $50,000, take your time to consider your options.

If you’d like to know more about publishing and marketing your book, why not check out the many workshops that we run at Busybird Publishing. The next Book Camp is on Saturday 12 August and will cover this content in greater detail.

Blaise the book chick

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How do you tell people about your story?

Telling your story

Humans have been telling stories for as long as we have been able to communicate. From early cave drawings to oral stories around the fire. Stories are what bind humanity, allowing us to be connected, nurtured, entertained and educated.

Modern technology allows us to share our stories in so many amazing ways – some good, some not so good. Because there is so much out there for us to consume we can actually start to feel disconnected by so much white noise. It can be overwhelming. There is so much information, so many stories, that it becomes hard work to sift through everything.

For the person with a story to tell, there are so many ways to share it that this also becomes overwhelming. Do you write an article, a book, blog, create a video or podcast?

It always comes back to your intention, what you want your story to accomplish. If you want to write a novel, that is obviously a book. If you’ve overcome adversity that could be a book, a documentary, a series of blog posts or all three.

At our last Publish for Profit session, we had Peter Helft, from Jongleur, talk to the group about using video to tell your story or to promote your book. Peter gave us some amazing statistics about social media platforms that really make it a no brainer in terms of sharing information to the wider population. The reach is huge, it’s easy to implement and free or cost effective (paid ads).

When you think about how most people consume media, visual platforms outperform everything because the majority of us are visual communicators. If you want to find out more about the different ways we communicate, or consume material, have a think about whether you are auditory, visual or kinesthetic in your preference. This site may illuminate things a little for you: http://visualteachingalliance.com/ OR you can google it!

So what does that mean for writers? It means that we keep writing but we can use different platforms to make our audience aware that we even exist. We need to do this because we need to cut through all the noise. When you think about the fact that people buy people (no matter what story you have), we need to connect with them. This is where the whole ‘author platform’ comes in. The upshot is that visual communication should be a BIG part of your marketing plan. Share photos and videos, live stream on Facebook and you will be able to reach more people and get your story into their hands.

At the next Publish for Profit, we’ll be learning about how to blog. Go here to find out more.

Blaise the book chick

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