Book Royalties

Written by Christa Gatewood
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When you publish with a publishing company, you will be paid in royalties. Royalties are a percentage of earnings made from the sale of your book. A publishing contract will determine the royalty rate.

How Book Royalties Work

While there is no gold standard for what a royalty will be with a trade publisher, the average writer could expect no more than 15 percent of the cover price. This is for hardcover books. Lesser royalties are common. The percentage will depend on the author, the genre, and anticipated sales.

Sometimes a contract will outline a step scale for escalating royalties. In these cases, an author might not receive any royalties until a certain number of books is sold. After that, a lesser rate of royalties might be given until the book sells even more copies. You might not receive your full rate until the book has sold 10,000 or more copies. The contract might also specify that only certain types of sales will be counted for royalties. For example, only books sold at full price might count towards royalties. These points can make a huge difference in an author's compensation and should be negotiated.

If you work with a subsidy publisher, the royalties might be defined differently. You might be able to choose a royalty rate based on how much the cover price will be. For example, if the book is priced at eight dollars, you might get a 15 percent royalty. If the book is price at 10 dollars you might get a 20 percent royalty. You can decide for yourself how much your royalty will be--this can be a real advantage.

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