Monday 10 March 2008

Writers' Earnings

Some interesting questions came up on my latest school visit. One group did become very obsessed with how much a writer earns. Well, of course, the frightening thing about writing fiction is that one never knows whether one will be paid at all, and even if one is, there’s never any surety about how many books will sell – no matter how good they are – or bad.

If you are very lucky you get 10% of the price the publisher sells to the retailer. This tends to happen only after you have sold 2000 copies. Before then it can be just 7.5%.

Standard discounts are 35% to bookshops but supermarkets and Amazon expect 60%, leaving very little profit margin for the publisher and low royalties for the writer. However, supermarkets increase sales, so it may be worth it for writers and their publishers. Amazon is a great equalizer. Books that don’t have a chance in getting into a bookshop appear there and are sometimes linked to books which sell very well.

My most lucrative book?

That has to be the “World of French Revision” series which has earned me £6,000. The best paid work, though, is the case study I did for NAWE. £100 for an hour’s work.

One of the nice things, though, is that you carry on earning years after you’ve written the books. And as I tend to go on holiday in September and as royalties are often paid at the end of September, I can feel quite smug as I sit and sunbathe.


Cristina Costa said...

Dear Gill,

How interesting... I had no idea. In fact, I had never thought about writers being paid...which is quite silly of me, because writers also need to make a living!
Thank you for opening a little window to your world.
As I was reading your post I was wondering how great it would be if you joined a ning group I am part of where educators and students are talking about books. I would imagine we would benefit greatly from your perspectives and remarks.
Anyway, here is the link in case you feel like visiting it:
And Thank you so much for the simple, yet very genuine post.
And keep blogging!

AnneR said...

Hi Gill - how telling, no one thinks of writers being paid! Good luck with The Lombardy Grotto; I'm glad the launch went so well. I'm planning a trip into Borders tomorrow (as a prize for doing lots of work today, as long as I do it!), so I'll look out for it. I need some Eurostar reading for Monday :-)