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publishing royalties Understanding the Business Side of Self-Publishing


The complex business of self-publishing is difficult to navigated. Having a top-notch team like the one at Dog Ear Publishing available to clarify information like print costs, fees, and royalty payments puts you one step ahead of the game. To further help you with what is involved, we created a handy factsheet that explains our publishing process. Share our guide and companion blogs with fellow writers looking at self-publishing their books.


Ways to Sell Your Book

There are two different types of sales – distribution sales and direct sales. Distribution sales are books sold to retailers and wholesalers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Ingram. Profits from this type of sale take up to 120 days after the actual sale. Direct sales are books sold from the self-publisher, author website, or a direct bookstore. These profits pay 60-90 days after the sale.


When Will I See a Profit?

A misconception many first-time authors have is that once their book goes on sale, they will start seeing a profit. Unfortunately, an author may not see royalties for months after their book goes on sale. Understanding how the publishing business works will keep you from anticipating an immediate cash flow that may not materialize.


What Are Royalties?

In traditional publishing, royalties are the amount an author receives from a book sale once the printing costs, fees, and discounts are subtracted. For a self-publishing author, the production costs have already been paid. Indie authors still need to factor those costs in when establishing the retail price for their book.


The Advantages of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing authors have several advantages over those that choose to go the traditional publishing route. First, they take home around 70% of their sales after you deduct the cost of printing and discounts. Traditional publishing only pays around 10-15% of the list price of a book. Advances, printing costs, fees, and discounts are all taken out before an author turns a profit. It takes a writer a long time to “earn out” their advances and start earning royalties.

how to sell a book

Taking Control of Your Book’s Earning Potential

Because a self-publishing author has more control over setting the retail price of their book, earning a profit is easier than with traditional publishing. Indie authors also have the option of allowing retailers and wholesalers to buy their book at a discount. This reduces the profit margin per book but gives the book more exposure than selling online alone.


Don’t Get Hung Up on Unit Costs

With traditional off-set publishing, getting a low per-unit cost requires a large print run (around 1,000 copies). Self-publishing per-unit costs are higher but don’t require volume orders. Who wants boxes of unsold books filling up their garage? On-demand printing keeps inventory storage costs low for both authors and retailers. Don’t be swayed by the low per unit cost of traditional off-set publishing especially if you aren’t sure of the number of books you can sell.


Learn the Business Side of Self-Publishing

Read your contract, do the research, and ask questions to understand exactly how your book costs and profits are determined. Taking control of your book’s production means crunching the numbers to find the best solution for your printing needs. Knowing how author profits are processed eliminates the stress of waiting on royalty checks.

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Why Dog Ear?

With over 50 years of traditional publishing experience, our expert staff can answer all your questions regarding book pricing and sales. At Dog Ear Publishing, empowering you to become involved in all stages of your book’s development is our goal. If you want your book to be a quality reflection of who you are as an author, visit our website at www.dogearpublishing.net today and take control of your publishing destiny.

Ray Robinson
Ray Robinson

When Ray first entered the publishing industry, authors relied on “vanity presses” to produce their work – many of whom would charge $15,000 or more and leave the author’s garage filled with hundreds of books. Ray, along with coworker Alan Harris, joined forces with Miles Nelson to create Dog Ear Publishing to provide the author community a self-publisher with a heart. The group’s application of new technologies and publishing on demand reduced the cost of publishing a book to a fraction of what it had been for previous generations; authors now have the ability to publish a book in as little as six weeks and print as few as a single copy.