What Are Royalties

Glossary > Royalties

💬 Definition of Royalties:

Book royalties are how you’re paid as a published author. A royalty rate is a percentage you’d get for every copy sold based on the retail price of the book. Royalty percentages differ between traditional publishing and self-publishing.

Related questions about royalties:

What is the typical royalty rate for a traditionally published author?

Book royalties under traditional publishing vary depending on the publishers. But generally, they’re around 10%.

  • Paperback: 5-8% royalties
  • Hardcover: 15% royalties
  • Ebook: 20-25% royalties

In traditional publishing, an author will also get a book advance.

What’s a book advance?

A book advance is an upfront payment from the publisher calculated based on how many copies they think your book will sell, and you start earning royalties only after you earn back the book advance. This is one of the reasons only some submitted books get published. A traditional publisher needs to be sure they’ll make a profit. 

What is the typical royalty rate for a self-published author?

The royalty rate for a self-published book also depends on the platform you choose to publish it. 

Here are a few popular ones:

  • Amazon KDP: up to 70% royalties for books between $2.99 and $9.99, 35% if below $2.99 or above $9.99
  • Apple Books: up to 70% royalties
  • Google Play Books: up to 70% royalties
  • Barnes & Noble: up to 70% royalties for ebooks, 55% for prints
  • Kobo: up to 70% royalties for books priced more than $2.99, 45% if below $2.99

How long do book royalties last? 

Usually, book royalties are paid out for the life of the copyright, which is typically 70 years after the author’s death. Some publishers may include a clause in their contract that reduces the number of years they have legal ownership of your work. 

What influences the book royalties an author receives?

The book royalties an author earns depend on:

  • The format of the book (hardcover, paperback, ebook);
  • The book’s price;
  • The royalty rate.

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