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How do authors make money? Many authors start out writing simply for passion and nothing more, just because they enjoy it, but successful authors know how to make money at the same time. Writing for passion is fun, it’s fulfilling, it’s enjoyable but you can make your time a whole lot more worthwhile by making some money from your efforts, too. There are lots of different ways to make your work as an author pay off – consider J.K. Rowling – you just need to know how to go about it. In this article, we will look at some of the best ways authors make money, how you can also implement these methods,and get paid for your work.

How do authors make money from Royalties

How do authors make money from royalties? A royalty is a percentage of the retail cover price of every book sold. This percentage goes to the  book’s author or copyright holder by the publisher only after the publisher’s expenses have been deducted. Royalties are usually paid only after the book sales are confirmed, often thirteen months after the initial publication date. And there are different royalty percentages depending on the format of the book: hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, ebook, audiobook.

Regardless of format, the royalty percentage is based on three major factors:

  • The book’s retail cover price
  • The publisher’s expenses, primarily the book’s production cost
  • The contract between the publisher and the author

Keep in mind that if you work with a co-writer or ghostwriter, there needs to be a contract between you and the writer to stipulate the co-writer’s percentage; the same if an illustrator is involved. In the case of an ebook, the royalty is typically higher because the production costs are less.

From Advances

How do authors make money from advances? Advances are signing money negotiated with an author before publishing. It is basically a payment against future royalty earnings, implying that the advance must be cleared in book sales before subsequent royalties can be received. For instance, if your publisher grants you an advance of $10,000 at a royalty rate of 15%  per book, you have to sell enough copies to pay off the $10,000 before you see any additional money.

Normally an advance will be split into three payments – the first one on the contract’s signature, the second after the manuscript has been accepted and delivered,  and the third payment on publication. If the book has already been completed, then the advance should only be in two parts – one on signature and the other on publication. When drawing up the contract of your advance, be sure to consider all necessary tax implications – as this is a mistake most authors make. Understanding book royalties and advances.

From Book Tours

Book tours give authors an opportunity to connect with their readers and fans on a personal level. For the publisher, it is an opportunity to sell books, especially if a local bookstore is involved. Book tours improve a book’s success by increasing the momentum of the book’s awareness and buzz through attendance and readings at literary festivals, libraries, book clubs and bookstores. This increased awareness is also a terrific marketing tool for your future books.

From The Book’s Content

Apart from book sales and the other methods listed above, you can increase income through your book’s content. This will help you overcome the limited sales capacity most books usually have. When earning from your book is based on its content, you are open to an unlimited number of opportunities to make more money. Here are a few ways:

  • Pre-sales
  • Crowdfunding
  • Special events
  • Product sales related to the book’s content
  • Consultations in your genre

The Written Word has good supplemental information in the article How To Market Your Book Using Content Marketing in Five Easy Steps.


The methods for earning from your books listed in this article are actually just a tip of the iceberg. If you can take the time to come up with innovative ways to leverage your content, you’ll be open to even better options. In this age of information, an author is not supposed to sit around and wait for their book to be sold. Get out there and use your book’s content to develop more opportunities for earning money. The only limits you face are your imagination and time.

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