What is Important to Know About a Publishing Contract (Part 2)

EPGD Law Intellectual Property Law

What Are Typical Royalties for Writers?

Typically, an author does not receive royalties until the advance has been recouped. The advance is an advance against royalties. Usually, the amount paid to the author will depend on the format of the book being sold as well as on the book retailer selling it. Hardcover books can earn royalties of about 7%-17%. Usually it is 10% on the first 5,000 copies, 12½% on the next 5000 copies, and 15% on copies after that. Paperback books earn about 6-7%. The industry standard ebook royalty is around 25%. The royalties should be negotiated in the publishing contract. Discount stores such as Costco or WalMart are known for discounting prices on books, so the amount received from the royalties will be diminished as well. Additionally, the author should expect to pay around 10-15% of what he earns to his literary agent.

Self-Publishing at a Glance

Some of the potential problems of self-publishing could include:

  • Expenses. Potential expenses could include professional editing, cover design, book advertisements and promotion, book reviews by newspapers, television advertisements and interviews.
  • Creating an audience. A less known or a new author could face this problem if he/she does not already have a fan base. Using a publishing house helps to avoid this problem, as readers tend to trust well known bookstores to sell high quality writing products. Self-publishing, however, does not give the potential reader any quality assurance. Additionally, without a fan base or marketing tools it is hard for a self-publishing author to attract attention.
  • Copyright laws. Signing a contract with a publishing house often ensures compliance with copyright laws. However, a self-publishing author could potentially violate copyright laws without realizing it.

When faced with some of these problems, a self-publishing author could use the following strategies:

  • Marketing. The author can use social media to advertise the book in order to avoid professional advertising costs. This strategy could include using websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to promote the book.
  • Reviews. It is crucial for a new or less known author to get favorable reviews from respected sources. Many new authors report selling their books after posting the reviews they got on their personal websites or blog pages. Getting reviews for the book could include sending free books to well-known or less known individuals looking to write reviews and submitting them to certain websites that do just that. Circulating the book to book clubs could also be a good idea.
  • Copyright the work. A self-publishing author should always apply for a copyright in order to protect the writing and avoid having the book circulate online without receiving the credit.

What Are New Monetization Strategies for Writers?

  • Creating and maintaining a professional blog. Not only does a professional blog page help with staying in touch with the author’s fan base, growing the readers’ email list, and advertising the author’s books and any new events that will feature the author – a professional blog can also be monetized. Additionally, if a blog is generating traffic of visitors, the author can open the page up for advertisements that will also generate revenue. One way of doing this is using Google AdSense – a tool that pays the owner of the website each time a visitor clicks on one of the ads.
  • Public Speaking Engagements. Authors (even new authors) often receive invitations to speak in front of potential new audiences. These include schools, book clubs, nonprofit organizations or any other entities that could find the content of the book interesting or useful. An author can increase his/her chances of being invited to speak by advertising it on his/her website and other online platforms. This strategy could also include asking social media influencers to create content around the book in exchange for the author promoting the influencer on his own social media pages or websites.
  • Marketing on Amazon. As the company has grown substantially in the past years, the website is currently experiencing an enormous traffic of visitors. Books that are marketed on Amazon and that have a long list of reviews attract a lot of buyers. Moreover, being considered a serious author on Amazon increases the writer’s reputation in social media circles overall.  One possible way of doing this could be to use Kindle Direct Publishing, which gives the author access to Amazon users after payment of a fee.


EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Silvino Diaz

Silvino E. Diaz’s practice ranges from Civil and Commercial Litigation to Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law. Silvino has earned a reputation as one of Puerto Rico’s foremost advocates for independent musicians and artists. As a result of his sustained commitment to creative industries, he was named Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Atlantic University College (Guaynabo, PR) – the Caribbean’s leading digital arts institution – where he spearheaded the “Introduction to IP” course for both the graduate and undergraduate programs, and was appointed by the Office of the President to develop an Intellectual Property graduate curriculum, where he served until moving to Miami in 2017. He is the founder of the service known as Starving Artists, where he offers innovative business and legal counsel for artists and creatives.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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