How Much Can You Make Writing a Book?


How Much Can You Make Writing a Book?

So far we’ve covered many different ideas on how to make money online but one visitor has raised a question I found very interesting – how much can you make writing a book?

One fact should of stood out through my posts so far – if you are able to write you are able to make money!

Considering I constantly badger people on the importance of finding a voice online I felt it was only fair I did a little research into this question. So, without further ado, let’s look into how much can you make writing a book…

Writers And Publishers

So you’ve completed your masterpiece and you are pretty sure the book is gonna rock – what happens next?

Simple – you sign a contract with a publisher!

You are in fact signing over the rights to your book in exchange for a method of payment on your book. Here are your three payment options:

  1. Money Upfront Flat Fee – This is fairly straightforward really. You are given a lump sum of cash before the book even hits the shelves. If your book is a stinker and fails to reach the limits the publisher expects it to you are still safe – the flat fee remains yours by law!
  2. Payment Through Royalties – This is simply a small percentage of the price of every book copy that sells.
  3. ​​An Advance Against Your Royalties​​ – This is a pretty cool option due to the fact it is a bit of a mix of the first two options ( you get the best of both worlds! ). You are basically handed a flat fee to begin with and then royalties when the book finally goes on sale.

I should mention that option 3 above is not quite as clear cut as it first may seem. The lump sum they give you at first is actually taken out of the royalties you will be eventually earning.

This means that you will have to sell a few books first to cover the initial lump sum before you begin earning more through the royalties.

Paying Money Back

There are good and bad sides to this subject. First off, you are safe with any flat fees or paid up front amounts as an author. If they hand you cash in advance that is that – it’s yours to keep!

Paying Money Back

Even if they don’t even manage to sell one copy of your book you still get to keep the initial payments!

​The downside to this is your career – it’s pretty hard to convince a publisher to take on one of your books when you have crashed and burned with your last one.

Royalties & Advance Sums

So, how much can you make writing a book through royalties or advance sums?

Well I’m afraid there is no clear answer here – nothing is set in stone and there is no rule of thumb. Every publisher is different therefore every deal that gets put on the table will be different.

So When do I Get Paid?

When do you get your cheque?It’s important to realize that even the lump sum or advance payments are not necessarily paid in one big hit. The most common way to pay an author this way is to split the payments up into 3 blocks.

For example if your advance is $6000 you may receive the first $2000 when you put pen to paper on the contract. You may then have to wait until the editing process is complete before you receive the next $2000 and then the final payment when the book is released.

Again nothing is set in stone here – it may even be split into 4 or 5 block payments!

Literary Agents

Most modern day authors use a Literary Agent for their work as they are usually able to smash out the best deals for you.

Literary Agents work on commission so it is in their interest to fight tooth and nail for your project and get the best possible contract. They then receive your payment, take their commission cut and then pass on the remainder of the earnings to you.


It’s important not to get to greedy when you are making a decision on which publisher to go with. It’s easy to pick the one that offers the most cash and ride with them without thinking about the long run.

Try to take a step back and look at the big picture…

  • What is the marketing team like with this publisher – will they promote your book in the right way?
  • What is their body language when discussing the book – are they fairly laid back on the subject or are they excited by the prospect of it’s release. The more excited they are the more effort and therefore coverage they will give it
  • ​Have you checked out any of their other published books – do they look professional or are they fairly bland?
  • How many books do they publish every year – if they are releasing 1000’s of books a year will that mean YOUR book will receive less attention from them?

​Writing is a beautiful way to earn money and is relatively easy to get into. If you have the knack for it you can land yourself the self-employed lifestyle that you always dreamed about…

If you are interested in FREE training for creating online content check out our review on the WA Community located HERE

10 comments on “How Much Can You Make Writing a Book?

  1. Hi, this is an interesting text. I do have in mind two totally separate books, one on mountains and another on theoretical physics. Both are half-written, the latter a bot more.

    So it is good to read about terminology used here. Literary Agents are a new thing to me. Many thanks, useful information.

  2. There is alot of money to be made in the book industry, hoarder there is alot of competition it they’re too. More and more writers are cutting out the publishers and publishing their self through digital platforms. What is your advice on this method? Also, with all the freelance websites on the internet writers can stay add busy as they want but writing for others.

    1. Hi Sheila,

      Digital platforms for book publishing are pretty much awesome – the only tip I can give you is to leave your price as low as possible to begin with!

  3. Very interesting post! I didn’t know about literary agents. I used to consider writing a book and trying to sell it or at least publish it on the Internet, but finally I think that blogging is the best choice. Blogging makes you interact with other people interested in the same topics, and to me it’s priceless.

  4. A very detailed and instructive post. I’ve had a book on a shelf of my bedroom for a couple of years, maybe now I will find the motivation to take the next step.
    I have a question, though: since I’m Italian and I would like to publish a version of the book for the Italian market too, do you know if the guidelines you provided are valid outside of the U.S.? I assume most of them are, but better be sure …

    1. I would of thought so Sergio but I’m no expert on foreign language books I’m afraid. To be honest, I’m probably not the best person to ask here (it’s above my pay grade!)

  5. Very informative post, thank you! Especially the cautionary note on advance against royalties. A big advance payment sounds nice but it means your next check may come in later, because you have to sell more books to cover the initial sum paid.

    Question though: Do these terms and practices also apply for ebooks? Or do publishers and agents mostly deal with traditional hard copy books?

    1. Well a lot of eBook are actually self published these days – I’d go as far as say the majority of them are! Hard copy books usually need publishers and agents to help them out.

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