published books

How Much Does an Author Make Per Book?

Have you found yourself wondering, “how much does an author make per book?” Success as an author is sometimes depicted as a paradise island where the author can lounge on a remote island while collecting royalties from their best-selling books. The truth, of course, is very different.

Do you want to write a book but are unsure if it’s worth your time and effort? Have you ever wondered how authors can support themselves? How much money does an author get for each book?

If you’re curious about the earning potential of authors, such as how much a first-time author or an eBook author makes, then keep reading because we have some answers.

This post will dive deep into how much an author makes per book, and different ways to make money with books. You can explore his other works here.

How Do Authors Get Paid?  

When an author accepts a publishing contract, they or their agency negotiates an upfront payment in exchange for royalties that will be paid. Press releases or article mentions could say a book “has been sold for” a certain amount of money. This amount is referred to as the advance and not a fixed final price. The publisher accepts the manuscript when the contract is signed. And then, the book is published and the author receives an advance payment. Depending on the publication, the fee may be broken down even more.

Authors get paid a percentage of each book sold, known as “royalties.” These royalties go to the author once the work has been published. Due to the advance against royalties, they are essentially earning money already paid. They don’t get paid again until their revenues exceed their advance. Once a book has reached the number of royalties the author promised, they can start earning royalties again. This process is known as “earning out.” Unless the publisher has broken or terminated the contract, the author need not return the overage if the book never repays the advance.

Some authors may receive no advance, while others will receive a flat sum instead of royalties for their work on established intellectual properties. Some traditional authors will never see a penny more than the advance they received. And others may make money off their books until the day they die. Some authors lose money because of the time and money put into advertising, marketing, and other costs.

How Much Do Authors Make Per Book?

On print books, a conventionally published author receives 5–20% royalties, 25% on ebooks, and 10–25% on audiobooks. However, these rates are subject to change after the global pandemic.

Amazon pays self-published writers 70% on ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99, 35% on ebooks priced outside of that range, 60% less printing expenses on paperbacks sold on their platform, and 40% less printing costs on paperbacks sold through wider distribution.

Authors who choose to self-publish on amazon or elsewhere are responsible for all the costs associated with producing and distributing the book, as well as a wide range of marketing. In contrast, traditional publishers oversee and pay for the entire process.

Factors that Can Affect an Author’s Earnings

While estimating the prospective earnings can be challenging, various elements can determine how much an author earns:

Genre

The content and genre of the book you write will undoubtedly influence its earning potential. For example, you may write the most detailed and beautifully written book on forensic accounting ever published, but will there be a niche audience for that subject? 

Theme

Depending on current trends, the theme and style of your book may affect its earnings. This can be true with nonfiction works if, for example, there is a surge in public interest in a specific activity, sport, or political person. Young adult fantasy novels, children’s books, and historical fiction, for example, can all become very popular at different times.

Editing Costs

Any great author, new or old, understands that mistakes are bound to happen. A second set of eyes is always helpful for spotting inconsistencies and minor errors. Also, authors should expect to pay anywhere from a few thousand to many thousands of dollars for editing services.

Output

Some authors are prolific, churning out many books each year. The more books you have for sale, the more money you’ll make in total royalties.

Series

You can count on recurring clients if you publish a series.

Marketing

Marketing is a critical component of financial success. It doesn’t matter if you’re creating the best book on the hottest topic if no one knows it exists. You can always look at complex niches and see examples from Scanteam, who can guide you into marketing a successful book too.

Effort

Selling books takes a lot of time, especially for self-published authors, who must handle their own marketing.

Talent

The higher the quality of the writing, the more likely it is to be successful. The answer to how much an author makes per book highly depends on practical aspects of the book’s construction. Is it going to be a hardback or a softcover? Is it better to have a large coffee-table book or a slim volume? Or, is it in color or just black and white? The more money you spend on the book’s design, the less money you’ll make from each book’s sales.

The basic conclusion is that it depends on how much an author earns per book. As an author, all the following factors will affect your earnings potential.

The Earnings of Traditionally Published Authors

The publisher pays an advance fee to traditionally published authors before the book is published. An advance is a forecast of how well the book will sell in the first 6 to 12 months after its release. A hefty advance fee also signals that the publisher would sell the book aggressively to repay their investment.

Publishers typically pay a $5,000 to $10,000 advance to good first-time authors. This means they would need to sell around 1,000 copies of a book that costs $20 per copy to break even after printing and distribution costs. Following that, the author will receive royalties, typically about 10%. The percentage could climb to 15% with the number of copies sold.

However, books written by well-known authors or public figures, such as politicians, frequently command greater advances. This is because an audience is already interested in the book, allowing publishers to be more confident that the book will sell many copies. For example, in 2014, Simon & Schuster reportedly paid Hillary Clinton a $14 million advance for her book Hard Choices. The book recounted her time as Secretary of State, including the overthrow and killing of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

A Self-Published Author’s Earnings

Unlike self-published writers, traditionally published authors do not have to worry about the time and money it takes to develop a marketing strategy for their work. However, self-published authors benefit from higher royalties, if not complete recognition.

Self-published authors who have invested in editing and cover design but lack a traditional publisher cannot charge as much as a published author. Self-published authors can charge anywhere from $5 to $20 for their book instead of $10 to $30 that traditionally published counterparts charge.

A self-published author’s sales will also be much lower than their peer’s, especially if they are just getting started in the publishing business. They lack a name and a publisher that can get their book into bookshops and libraries worldwide. In addition, they lack the resources to promote their book effectively. This is why most self-published novels sell just 100 print copies throughout their lifespan. Ebooks, on the other hand, can bring in more sales.

Publishing With a Hybid Publisher

But, what if you don’t want to go the traditional route, but don’t have the time to self-publish a book? This is where hybrid book publishers, such as Leaders Press come in.

Hybrid book publishers take many of the best aspects of traditional publishing and offer you a “done for you” self-publishing service.

Writing a book is a big task.  Authors are often very busy and keep tight schedules. So, writing can seem like a great idea today, but it’s something that’ll get done tomorrow. If this sounds like you, the hybrid publishing model might make better sense as you’ll get most of the benefits of traditional publishing while still retaining control over your work.

Furthermore, the hybrid publisher can assist with ghostwriting, editing, and marketing. The main benefit of this is that by the time your book launches, it already has an audience.

How Much Do Authors Make a Year?

It is possible for authors to earn a full-time living writing if they have many published works, are adept at marketing those works, and have a devoted following.

The number of books sold, the royalty rate, and the cost of book printing are just a few of the many variables that go into determining how much an author makes in a year. We all hope we can be like Stephen King or John Grisham and make as much money as they do.

Earnings will vary depending on the method you use to publish. The following example compares the average salary of a traditionally published author to self-published authors:

Traditional Earnings

  • Book retail price: $14.99.
  • Initial Royalty Rate: 10%.
  • The income per book: $1.49.
  • Books Sold: 5000.
  • Earnings: $7,450.

Self-Published Earnings

  • Book retail price: $14.99
  • Initial Royalty Rate: 60%
  • The income per book: $8.99
  • Printing costs (Assuming 333 pages): $4.85
  • Books Sold: 5000.
  • Earnings: $20,720.

At the same sales volume, the differential between traditionally published and self-published writers is more than $13,000, as the above example shows.

Because of wildly successful authors like J.K. Rowling, many people believe that professionally published authors make more money than self-published authors. This isn’t always the case. An author’s annual salary is determined by a variety of factors, including:

  • The rate at which a publisher earns a royalty on each book sold
  • An upfront payment made in advance (traditionally published only)
  • The scope of book marketing
  • Size of the audience
  • The average number of books released each year
  • How many books are currently on the market
  • How many books are sold regularly

Our real-world example shows that self-published authors have an advantage over traditionally published authors regarding the averages.

There is a significant price disparity between officially published authors and those who self-publish. The latter earning several dollars per book and the former earning as little as a single dollar.

How Self-Published Authors Profit from Their Online Book Sales

The internet has affected many industries and businesses, including the publishing industry. Authors can now publish their work without going via traditional publishers thanks to the World Wide Web’s level playing field.

Although several other options exist, Amazon self-publishing has become a popular option for authors who want to sell their work online and generate money. There’s no need for authors to worry about reaching their intended audience because the platform is the world’s largest online bookstore.

How Much Do Self Published Authors Make?

As a self-published author, you can set your own rates for your books on Amazon because you own the copyrights. Ultimately, Amazon pays 70% of the net profit in royalties. To put it another way, for every book the self-published author sells on the site, they keep 70% of the sale price, and Amazon gets the rest.

Something to keep in mind when self-publishing books on Amazon is that authors don’t need to write long volumes. You can begin by writing less time-consuming and labor-intensive, shorter books that concentrate on a single topic and charge a lower price for the books you write. According to google, books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 make the highest revenue per book sold. 

Aim to publish two books on Amazon at the very least to increase your chances of success. It’s a simple math equation: The more books you publish, the more money you’ll make from marketing. This is because it is much easier to generate repeat business from an existing customer than to find a new one.

Many self-published authors, including those with many books and a large following, only make $1,000 per year during their beginning phase. For example, a mystery novelist who self-publishes on Amazon will not earn millions of dollars despite being one of the best-selling self-published authors in the world. But, if you persevere, you can make a lot of money from self-publishing. 

What Are the Most Profitable Genres for Authors?

Because of the high demand for specific book genres, authors in certain genres tend to be more successful than their colleagues in other genres. As a result, these higher-grossing genres will face increased competition. New writers should focus on their talents rather than just publishing novels in the highest-grossing genres. Whatever the case may be, here is a list of the most lucrative literary genres.

Erotica and Romance

Authors like Danielle Steel have sold over 800 million copies of her books and became the world’s best-selling romance author, so it’s no surprise that this genre is profitable.

Mystery & Crime

An excellent mystery novel is timeless. Take, for example, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (1939), which is one of the all-time best-selling novels. James Patterson is currently the best-selling novelist in the mystery and crime category, with over $700 million in sales over the last decade.

Inspirational (Religious & Self-Help Books)

This category of books is estimated to be worth $11 billion, with book sales accounting for $720 million approximately in a year. Memoirs are frequently the best-selling novels in this genre.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Fantasy and science fiction literature account for a significant portion of the best-selling books of all time. If you’re looking for examples of successful writers in this genre, look no further than J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books.

Young Adults and Children (Picture books)

Writing a novel that appeals to a younger audience takes a lot of expertise. However, if one is successful in doing so, many parents will be eager to purchase books for their children.

How to Boost Your Author Income

If you want to make a living as a writer, you can do a few things to boost your earning potential. You have complete control throughout your writing career if you are a self-published author. Take a look at these ideas to boost your profits:

Commit to the Decision to Become an Author

You have to work, whether you’re in the mood or not, just like any other job. Committing is one of the best pieces of advice we can give you. If you’re only sort of interested in writing or only work on it when the mood strikes, you can’t expect to make a full-time living from it.

What exactly does it mean to “commit to being an author”?

  • Decide that this is the path for you.
  • Invest and budget where it is necessary.
  • Make a schedule for when you’d like to be “full-time.”
  • Set writing goals and work backward to meet that deadline.
  • Learn how to become a full-time author as a self-published author.
  • Say no to things that get in your way and make the sacrifices necessary to accomplish what you love to do for a living.

Write Every Day and Publish Frequently

The goal is to find your writing motivation and make writing a way of life. Instead of devoting an entire month to it, start with writing 1000 words a day. Then, devote your entire life to developing daily writing habits. Indeed, you must make writing a habit, a part of your life, and a job if you want to make money as an author. So, to constantly continue working on a storyline, we propose developing writing habits you can stick to.

Write and Publish a Book Series

Writing and releasing a book series is a quick way to “make it” as an author, especially if you publish a series of books. The reason you make more money when you write and publish a series is simple: A single buyer is more likely to purchase many volumes.

Series build a loyal following, keeping you “employed” as a full-time author. If your first book is good, they’ll buy the second, then the third, and so on. That means that a single person can earn you more money. Not only may readers buy more books, but if a customer buys all of your books in a series, they’re more likely to give reviews and buy other books you’ve written that aren’t in the same series.

Make an Email List

It’s critical to have a single means to communicate with those who have said “yes!” to receive information from you. It is similar to having a mailing list. Because you own your list, we always advise authors to develop an email list. You do not own your followers on social media networks; instead, the publishing company does.

So, if something happened to a social network and you lost all of your followers, you’d have no method of connecting with them. Email lists are also a terrific way to find beta readers, launch team members, and get people enthusiastic about your book when it comes out.

Write to Market

Did you know that traditional publishing houses have staff members that come up with book titles that are “trending” or popular in the market? Then they hire writers to bring those ideas to life? They do this to take advantage of the current literary “hotness” and make as much money as possible.

As a self-published author, you have the option to do this yourself. If you enjoy writing, generate narrative ideas rapidly, write well, and publish quickly, becoming a published author is a viable (and wise) professional option.

Self-published authors can write to market by looking at the categories they enjoy writing in and seeing what kinds of stories perform well.

Promotion

If you want to increase your income potential as a writer, there is no room for fake modesty. Learn how to host book signings, guest appearances on podcasts and radio shows, live social media feeds, and innovative advertising to promote your books.

Increase Sales with Your Self-Published Book’s Content

Savvy authors look for ways to supplement their income beyond book sales. The main reason is that a book’s sales capacity is restricted. The transaction is complete when a book sells. If you sell items based on the book’s content, though, you have an almost limitless amount of methods to make money.

What are some examples of ways to make money from your book’s content?

  • Sales of products
  • Public speaking engagements
  • Consulting
  • Teaching
  • Pre-sales
  • Crowdfunding
  • Travel excursions and special events

All of these things are done by several well-known authors. Take Dave Ramsey, for example.

He generated many money sources from his first book, The Total Money Makeover. Podcasts, live events, workshops, and online courses are all examples. With a net worth of $200 million, it’s clear that he’s done a fantastic job promoting his books.

He earns most of his money from his content, though, rather than from book sales. His online classes and advertising revenue from his radio show and podcasts provide him with a steady income.

Make a Video Trailer

A book is nothing more than a mental projection of a movie. Make a brief video trailer to spark people’s interest in your book. 

Do a Virtual Book Tour

A virtual book tour is a great way to promote your book. You want to be wherever people have a good time and talk about your book. Create a list of podcasts, tweet chats, and Facebook live sessions, in addition to sending copies of your book to book reviewers and book review sites like Goodreads. The average duration of this virtual tour should be 4-6 weeks.

Create a Website

For less than $100, you can create a decent book or author website on your own. Invest in sound design, a good book image, and professional head pictures. Create a set of downloadable materials and tools for your audience, Like a table of contents, a chapter or two to read for free. Your audience, fans, and future readers will appreciate it if you create a place for them to interact with your content.

These are just a few examples of how authors can earn more money with less effort and understand how to utilize their content. You don’t have to sit around and wait for your book to make money if you’re an author. You can make money by repurposing the material of your book. Your imagination and time are the only constraints.

Conclusion

To be financially self-sufficient as an author, you need to have a significant number of published works, be adept at marketing them and have a large and dedicated fanbase. So, if you’ve always wanted to earn a salary by writing books, know that you can do so. We hope the above guide on how much authors make per book has helped you understand how the industry works.

Discover the 17 Steps to Creating a Best-selling Business Book

Scroll to Top