How Writers Get Paid: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Royalties

Kristen Twardowski

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Congratulations! You have signed with a publisher that wants to bring your book to the market. But how will you get paid for book sales? What royalties are considered normal?

I suppose I should backtrack. First of all, how do traditional publishers pay authors, and what exactly are royalties?

Publishers typically pay authors in several ways: advances and royalties.

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Advances – Advances are initial, upfront payments presented to authors. Their full name is advances against royalties, so if a publisher offers an author a $1000 advance, that author will not begin to earn additional royalties until after the book has already “earned back” that $1000. Even if the book never earns $1000 worth of royalties, the author still gets to keep the advance.

Royalties – Royalties are the amounts of money an author earns on each book sold. In traditional publishing, authors tend to…

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