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Writing Books/Pay Expectations


If you author a book and it sells successfully, what can you expect to make in dollars from the sales and what are the other areas of compensation that may be possible from such success?

A rough ballpark average of compensation comes in the area of about 10% of cover price on sales, sometimes as high as 15%.  So if you have a book that sells a ton of copies, you can do quite well.  If it sells moderately... well, you can still do okay, but you might want to keep the day job.

With conventional publishing, an author will most likely receive an advance against royalties.  For example, an author might get an advance of $10,000 in addition to 10% of the profits.  What this means, though, is that all the 10% royalties up to the $10,000 mark on sales are paid 'up front,' and only after book has made more than ten grand (calculated by 10% of cover), will the author make another penny from them.  Most first books by authors never bring in those additional royalties, however.

Income from other areas depends a lot on the nature of your book.  Many authors (especially non-fiction authors) are paid for speaking engagements.  This is, often, the main income stream for quite a lot of authors.

Writing Books

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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