7 Sets of Commonly Confused Words
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When and how do I get my royalties?

After countless Money-1428594_1920 hours of writing and revising, wringing your hands over the cover design, and struggling with formatting glitches, you’ve finally done – you’ve self-published your book! You’re euphoric, but one nagging question remains: When and how do I get my royalties?

Technically, most self-published authors don’t receive royalties. Royalties are a publisher’s payment made to an author. Since you’re self-publishing, you’re probably the publisher. Because of this, some print on demand companies don’t pay “royalties” to their authors but use several other terms, like profit or revenue.

Of course, you’re the author, so what’s the difference, really? Royalties is simply one of those words whose definition is morphing to keep with modern realities. And it really doesn’t change the question: When and how do I get my money?

As with most corporate publishers, royalties from print on demand publishing are on a per-sale basis. Both royalties largely depend on a percentage of the retail cost. If the book sells for $10, and you receive 10 percent for royalties, then you earn a dollar for every book sold. Sell 100 books, and you’ve made a hundred bucks.

A major difference is authors with corporate publishers typically receive an advance against future sales. So once the author delivers the book to the publisher, the latter cuts the former a check. The author won’t receive any royalties, however, until total sales surpass the amount of the royalties check. So if the author receives a dollar for every book sold, and the advance is for $10,000, book sales will have to top 10,000 before royalties are received. Self-publishing, in contrast, offers no advance, and you are paid out your share of the book sales usually within 30-90 days.

In self-publishing, the amount you earn per book sale usually varies based on the retail price. Kindle Direct Publishing, for example, requires that an ebook be priced at a certain level (as of this writing, $2.99) to receive 70% of each sale; ebooks falling below that price can only receive 35% of each sale. The length of the book, the paper quality, whether or not color is used, and other factors also can affect the price, depending on which format (paperback, ebook, audiobook) you publish.

Without question, self-publishing gives you a higher return for royalties than corporate publishing. The challenge for self-publishing authors is to obtain the sales that would equal the corporate publisher’s advance. Almost all authors, even those who’ve published a couple of books, will have to promote their own titles, however, so self-publishing often is the smarter route to go.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.


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