You’ve worked really hard researching and writing your first book. Now you want to get paid and enjoy the fruit of your labors. You’re not alone. There isn’t an author in the world who doesn’t want to get paid for their writing. It’s fun to see those checks come in the mail. But how do authors get paid? What can you expect when you establish a relationship with a publishing company?
How Authors Get Paid
Authors are paid in one of two ways. An author either earns an income called royalties which are paid as a percentage of sales, or in a lump sum amount known as an advance. Here’s how each works:
Royalty percentages are specified in your contract and vary from publisher to publisher. The most common royalty arrangement among the big publishing houses is 10% for hardcover books and 6% – 8% for paperbacks. Traditionally, publishers pay royalties based on the suggested retail price of the book. You receive no money upfront and get paid in direct proportion to your book’s sales performance. Keep in mind that retailers can sell your book at any price they desire. The price they eventually sell it at has no impact on your royalties because in this traditional model you are earning based on the suggested retail price not the actual sales price.
So let’s say you and your publisher agree to sell your paperback at a suggested retail price of $19.99. As a first time author with no track record for sales, you’re probably earning a 6% royalty or $1.20 for each book sold. That’s not a lot of money for the time and effort you’ve put into writing your book, unless of course you make it onto the New York Times best seller list or into Oprah’s book club.
With the advance royalty model, an advance is a payment against future royalties. The amount is mostly determined by estimating how much royalty you would earn on the book’s first printing. For a first-time author, the advance is lower (because you don’t have a track record for sales and you can’t guarantee the publisher any certain number of books sold). Authors with an established audience command larger advances.
With an advance, the publisher usually pays you a lump sum at the time you sign the contract and you receive the balance when you deliver the completed manuscript. If you receive $3,000 total, the publisher is assuming all the risk for the money because he/she has got to sell $50,000 worth of books at a 6% royalty level to earn back what you’ve already been paid. If your book doesn’t produce that kind of sales performance, the publisher loses. You lose in a way as well. Sure, you may have walked away with $3,000, but the publisher probably won’t want to take that kind of risk with you again if your books aren’t performing, no matter how well written they are. And the only way for you to make any more money with the advance model is if your book sales exceed the publisher’s break even point on the advance.
How You Earn with FontLife
A FontLife Publication, LLC is owned by a published author who believes that the author, not the publisher should take the lion’s share of the income. Our royalty model is different and we firmly believe we pay authors the highest royalties you can earn anywhere! We also pay our royalties on the net income actually received, not the suggested retail price. So under our model, how much will you earn on your $19.99 book? Please feel free to use our new Royalty Calculator to find out.