How do book authors get paid?

In the previous post “academic book publishing process”, it was stated that when the draft of the book is approved, you will enter into a contract with the publisher. That is time to negotiate how you want to get paid as the book author.

The author will sell her rights to the publisher

The author has the right to copywriting. It means no one can copy her work without her permission. In fact, in a contract between a publisher and an author, the author gives the publisher permission to publish her book and gets money in return.

Mostly, the money will be paid in installments. The time and amount of the payments would be based on the agreement between the author and the publisher. So you can choose how it happens.

Usually, an installment will be paid when the contract is signed. It is called “signing advance”. Another installment will be paid when the book is finished off and is ready to be published which is called “publishing advance”.

The publisher may also pay the author after publishing the book based on the profit made on the sale. The payment made to the writer of a book depending on how many books are sold is called “royalty”.

There are other rights that a publisher may buy while the content of the contract is under discussion, e.g. the right to publish your book in a magazine, the right to publish a translation of your book into a foreign language, etc.

The book author can decide how to get paid

In the last section, you realized that there are two kinds of payments including “advance payments” and “royalties”.

Advance against royalties

You may choose “advance against royalties” and only get advance payments. The payments will be calculated based on some factors like the author’s reputation, the popularity of the area of the book, etc.

Advance payments

You can also choose to get both royalties and advance payments. In these cases the amount of each installment –in advance payments- and the percentages –in royalty- will be decrease because the whole money should be divided among installments and the percentage of royalty.


The other way of payment in book publishing is only getting the royalty. So you as an author will not get paid in advance and logically the percentage of the royalty will be increased to 50-50, 40-60, or everything else that you and the publisher agreed on. In this case, the amount of payments should be calculated on a regular schedule and the publisher should send checks on those times.

Note that you should discuss on the way you want to get paid when you are going to sign the contract.

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