Though some authors succeed and make millions from their work, most writers will find that they earn a lot less. 

The amount authors earn can vary widely based on several factors, like whether they are self-published, beginner writers, or writing a book series.

If you’re wondering how much authors make per book, keep reading. 

We’ll cover the answer in this post, including the elements which affect a writer’s earnings, as well as the difference between self-published and traditionally published authors. 

How Do Writers Get Paid For Their Work?

After an author signs their publishing contract, their agency or the writer themselves will arrange a down payment that covers the royalties.

You may see press releases that claim a novel has been sold for a particular amount. This total is known as an advance, but it’s not a firm final charge. 

After the contract has been signed, the publisher will then receive the writer’s manuscript. The author will get an advance payment when the text is released. The price may be broken down further depending on the type of book.

Royalties refer to a percentage of book sales that authors receive after their text has been released. As royalties have an advance, the writer earns income that’s already been paid.

They won’t get paid after this until their work earnings surpass the advance. 

A book can begin earning royalties once more when the text achieves the number of royalties agreed upon by the author. This is called ‘earning out’.

If the book never reimburses the advance, the writer won’t need to pay back the excess, unless the publisher terminates or breaks the contract.

Rather than royalties, some writers may achieve a lump sum for their work, while others may not obtain an advance at all.

Several traditional writers may not achieve a percent more than their original advance, while others keep earning off of their work until they pass on.

Many writers lose money due to the money and time spent on marketing, advertising, and other publishing expenses.

How Much Money Do Writers Earn Per Book?

In the case of printed books, traditionally published writers can earn between 5% and 20% royalties. Ebook writers can earn 25% royalties, while audiobooks can earn between 10% and 25%. 

Amazon gives self-published authors 70% on ebooks that cost between $2.99 and $9.99. eBooks that cost outside of that range receive 35%.

Paperbacks sold on Amazon receive 60% less printing costs, while paperbacks generally sold receive 40% less printing costs.

Writers who decide to self-publish, either on Amazon or other areas, need to cover all of the expenses involved with book production, distribution, and marketing. 

On the other hand, traditional publishers will handle and pay for the whole process. 

Things Which Affect A Writer’s Earnings

It can be difficult writing to assess how much an author’s future earnings may be, as many factors affect how much the writer may earn.

Book Genre

The genre and content of a writer’s book will determine how much it may earn. 

For instance, a writer may develop an incredibly detailed book on accounting, but as there isn’t a niche readership, it won’t have that much earning potential.

Book Theme

The style and theme of a book can affect its earning potential, based on trends at the time. 

For instance, in the case of nonfiction texts, an increase in interest in a notable person, sport, or activity can make a text earn more. 

Fiction-wise, children’s books, romance novels, and YA fantasy series can increase in popularity and decrease in popularity, depending on when the book is published.

Editing Expenses

Whether they’re new or experienced in writing, talented authors know that errors are inevitable. Another pair of eyes is essential to find discrepancies and little mistakes. 

Writers need to be prepared to pay a few hundred to thousands of dollars in editing expenses.


Many writers are productive, releasing a lot of books every year. The more texts a writer sells, the more royalties they’ll earn.

Book Series

Releasing a popular book series can increase your earning potential, as it leads to a recurring reading audience.

How Much Do Authors Make Per Book?


Marketing is always an important part of financial achievements. You may have written the best novel in the world, but it won’t earn anything if nobody knows about it.

Traditional publishers take care of marketing, while self-published writers need to generate interest themselves. Examples include book signings, advertising, radio and podcast show appearances, and live social media sessions.


Selling a writer’s work requires a lot of time and effort. This is particularly true of self-published writers that need to manage the marketing themselves.


The amount a writer earns per book also depends on the book’s format. 

For instance, is the book a soft cover or a hardback novel? Slim or coffee table size? Black and white or color printed?

Spending more on design means that the writer earns less from the text’s sales. 

Traditional Publishing 

Traditionally published writers will receive an advance payment before their work is perfect. A larger down payment indicates that the publisher would sell the text belligerently to compensate for the investment.

Publishers tend to pay talented beginner writers an advance between $5,000 and $10,000. 

If a novel cost $20 per copy, the publisher would have to sell 1,000 copies to recover the expenses, after production and distribution costs.

The writer will receive royalties after this, usually around 10%. The percentage may increase to 15% depending on how many copies are sold.

Books written by popular writers or notable figures, like celebrities, often require larger advances, as a large audience is already curious about their work. In this case, publishers are more confident that the novel will sell a lot of copies.

Self Publishing

Traditionally published writers won’t need to be concerned about the money and time required to create a marketing strategy for their book. Self-published writers, on the other hand, have to spend more effort marketing their work. 

Self-published writers can charge between $5 and $20 for their work, which is less than the $10-$30 that traditional publishers tend to charge.

A lot of self-published writers, even those with a bigger audience and several books, just make $1,000 a year when they are first starting. 

Self-published writers tend to have lower sales than traditional publishers, particularly if they’re just starting within the publishing world. 

This is because they don’t have a publisher or well-known name that can get their work into libraries and bookshops. They may also not have the means to promote their work as well as traditional publishers can. 

These factors mean that the majority of self-published books don’t sell more than 100 print copies in their lifetime. Ebooks may sell more, however.

Despite all of these drawbacks, the advantage of self-publishing is that the authors receive greater royalties and almost complete recognition for their books.

The Bottom Line

It can be difficult to assess just how much writers earn per book, as there are a lot of factors that affect earning potential. 

Traditionally published writers can earn between 5% and 20% royalties for printed work and 25% for eBooks. Self-published authors that sell their work on amazon may receive 70% royalties on ebooks that cost between $2.99 and $9.99.  

However, these figures can change depending on editing expenses, marketing, and effort put into the publishing process. Self-published work also tends to sell in much lower quantities, which is why beginner self-published authors tend to earn around $1,000 a year. 

You can improve your earning potential if you want to earn a living as an author, but this involves writing consistently and perfecting your craft. 

You’re unlikely to maximize your earnings if you tend to write when the mood strikes, so try to make writing a daily part of your life. 

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