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Writing Books/writer's profit per book


How much from the price of the book goes to the writer of the book? Where else does the rest of the money go to?

In the old days "standard" terms were a 10% royalty on domestic sales and 15% for foreign sales, with the 10% being calculated on the retail price. Now publishers often try to get authors to agree to 10% of net -- in other words calculating the royalty percentage after the distributors/bookstores have taken their 40-55% cut; which basically means that the author gets about half of what he/she would have gotten if it were calculated based on the retail price.

But keep in mind, that it is very rare that an author ever sees any royalties. Typically, you must get an "advance", which is an "advance against royalties". Only when a book earns enough royalties to exceed the advance does the author receive additional money.

Also, almost all books these days are sold by way of agents, who take (typically) 15% of whatever is paid to the author.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes.

Richard Seltzer,,

Writing Books

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Richard Seltzer


I prefer questions that directly relate to my current areas of interest: historical works and historical fiction dealing with Russia and Ethiopia around 1900.


Author of fiction:
The Name of Hero, historical novel (Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin)
The Lizard of Oz, fantasy (B&R Samizdat)
Also nonfiction:
The AltaVista Search Revolution (Osborne/McGraw-Hill)
Shop Online the Lazy Way (Macillan)

See my Web site
for complete novels and short stories by me, as well as resources for

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