How Much Do Textbook Authors Make?

Writing a textbook is not an easy task. It comes with many challenges like, writing, proofreading, editing, formatting, etc. Most textbooks take years to write and edit. That is why most textbook authors prefer using traditional publishers to get their books to their target audience. It is the reason the question of how much textbook authors makes always pops up all the time.

In this article, we look into how much authors make publishing textbooks.

Let’s get started.

How to Publish a Textbook

Publishing a textbook typically involves several steps. Here’s a general outline of the process:

Planning and Content Creation:

Determine the subject and target audience for your textbook.

Conduct thorough research and organize the content in a logical structure.

Write the text, create diagrams or illustrations, and develop any additional supplementary materials.

Review and Editing:

Review your content carefully for accuracy, clarity, and coherence.

Consider seeking feedback from subject matter experts or educators in the field.

Revise and edit the content to ensure it meets high-quality standards.

Securing Permissions (if applicable):

If you plan to include copyrighted material (e.g., excerpts from other books, images, or charts), obtain permission from the copyright holders. This typically involves contacting the rights holders and agreeing on the terms of use.

Formatting and Design:

Decide on the layout and design of your textbook.

Format the text, headings, and any other elements using a word processing or typesetting software.

Incorporate images, tables, and other visual elements into the design.

Obtaining an ISBN:

Apply for an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). An ISBN is a unique identifier for your textbook and is often required for distribution and sales.

Publishing Options:

Traditional Publishing: Submit your manuscript to publishing companies specializing in educational materials. They will review your proposal and, if accepted, handle the editing, printing, and distribution processes. Be prepared for a potentially lengthy evaluation and publication timeline.

Self-Publishing: If you prefer more control and quicker publication, you can consider self-publishing. Options include:

Print-on-Demand (POD): Use POD services such as Amazon KDP, Draft2digital or Barnes and Noble press to print copies of your textbook as they are ordered.

E-Book Publishing: Convert your textbook into an electronic format (e.g., PDF, EPUB) and publish it on platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Apple Books, or Smashwords.

Copyright and Legal Considerations:

Determine the copyright status of your textbook. Consider whether you want to retain all rights, release it under a Creative Commons license, or explore other licensing options.

If you are self-publishing, consider consulting a lawyer or knowledgeable professional to ensure you understand the legal aspects and protect your intellectual property rights.

Marketing and Distribution:

Develop a marketing strategy to promote your textbook. This may involve creating a website, leveraging social media platforms, attending conferences, or reaching out to educators and institutions directly.

Determine the distribution channels for your textbook. Depending on your publishing method, this could include online marketplaces, bookstores, educational institutions, or direct sales through your website.

How Much Do Authors Make?

Best-seller authors make an average of $500 to $1000 monthly, depending on the book’s popularity. This amount varies greatly depending on several factors, including the type of book, the number of positive reviews, its popularity, the publishing method, and the author’s negotiation skills.

Here are some key factors that can influence an author’s earnings:

Advance Payment: When traditionally publishing a book, authors often receive an advance payment from the publisher. The advance is an upfront sum of money paid to the author before the book is published. The amount of the advance can vary widely, ranging from a few thousand dollars to several million, depending on the author’s reputation, the anticipated sales potential of the book, and the publisher’s budget.

Royalties: Authors typically receive royalties on book sales, which are a percentage of the book’s retail price or the publisher’s net receipts from sales. Royalty rates can vary significantly, ranging from around 40% to 60% for hardcover books and 35% to 70% for e-books. However, it’s important to note that the royalty percentage is applied to the book’s list price, not the sale price, and the actual earnings can be further reduced by factors such as distribution and marketing costs.

How much do textbook authors make

Self-Publishing: Authors who self-publish have more control over their earnings, but they also bear the responsibility of covering production, marketing, and distribution costs. Self-published authors typically earn a higher percentage of royalties as they retain a larger portion of the book’s sale price. For instance, authors can choose the 70% royalty option in Amazon KDP and receive a substantial amount of their book payment.

Book Sales: The number of book sales plays a significant role in an author’s earnings. Bestselling authors can earn substantial amounts of money, especially if their books become global hits or best sellers in their category. However, most authors do not achieve bestseller status, and sales can vary widely depending on factors like genre, target audience, marketing efforts, and market conditions.

Ancillary Rights: Authors can generate additional income through the exploitation of ancillary rights. These may include options for film or television adaptations, foreign translations, audiobooks, merchandise licensing, and more. However, these opportunities are not guaranteed for every author or book.

How Much Do Textbook Authors Make?

Average textbook authors make $2000 to $5000 monthly, depending on the type of textbook, the market demand for the textbook and the popularity of the author. Other factors include the author’s credentials, the publishing method, and the negotiated terms with the publisher.

Here are some key considerations regarding textbook author earnings:

Royalties: Textbook authors typically receive royalties based on book sales. The royalty rates for textbooks can range from around 40% to 60% of the publisher’s net receipts, although rates can be higher or lower depending on the negotiations and the author’s track record. It’s important to note that royalty rates for textbooks are often lower compared to trade books due to the higher production and distribution costs associated with textbooks.

Advance Payments: In some cases, textbook authors may receive an advance payment from the publisher. This upfront sum of money is deducted from future royalty earnings. However, advance payments for textbooks are not as common as in trade book publishing.

Market Demand and Sales Volume: The earnings of textbook authors are closely tied to the popularity and sales volume of the textbook. High-demand textbooks with wide adoption in educational institutions have the potential for higher earnings, as they are more likely to generate significant sales. Conversely, textbooks with niche markets or limited adoption may have lower sales and, therefore, lower earnings.

Revisions and Editions: Textbooks often require periodic updates and revisions to stay current with changing curriculum standards or advancements in the field. Authors may receive additional payments or royalties for revised editions or subsequent editions of their textbooks.

Supplementary Materials and Ancillary Rights: Some textbooks come with supplementary materials, such as online resources, workbooks, instructor guides, or access codes for digital platforms. Authors may receive additional compensation for creating or licensing these supplementary materials. Additionally, there may be opportunities for authors to negotiate ancillary rights, such as foreign translations, digital adaptations, or adaptations for other educational formats.

Publishing Method: Textbooks can be published through traditional publishing houses or through self-publishing or digital platforms. Traditional publishers often offer resources and expertise in editing, production, marketing, and distribution but may provide lower royalty rates. Self-publishing or digital platforms can offer higher royalty rates but require authors to handle more aspects of the publishing process themselves.

How to Calculate Book Royalty

Calculating book royalties involves understanding the royalty rate and applying it to the appropriate sales figures. Here’s a general formula to calculate book royalties:

Determine the Royalty Rate: The royalty rate is typically specified in the publishing contract between the author and the publisher. It is expressed as a percentage and can vary depending on factors such as the type of book (e.g., hardcover, paperback, e-book), the format (print or digital), and the negotiated terms. For example, let’s say the royalty rate is 60%.

Determine the Base Price: The base price is the amount on which the royalty percentage is applied. It can be the list price (retail price) of the book or the publisher’s net receipts from book sales, depending on the contract terms. Let’s assume the base price is the list price of $15.

Calculate the Royalty Amount: Multiply the base price by the royalty rate to calculate the royalty amount. Using our previous examples, the calculation for paperback would be:

Royalty Amount = Base Price x Royalty percentage = $15 x 60% = $9.

This means that for each book sold at the list price of $15, the author would earn a royalty of $9. However, printing cost needs to be removed for paperbacks. So, you might not get the $9 but something around $5 when the printing cost is removed. The printing cost depends on the number of pages of your book. The bigger the book, the higher the printing cost.

It’s important to note that there can be additional factors that affect royalty calculations, such as returns or discounts. Publishers may deduct certain costs or apply different royalty rates for specific sales channels (e.g., direct sales, wholesale, e-books). The specific terms and conditions outlined in the publishing contract will provide more precise information on how royalties are calculated for a particular book.

What Is the Best Book Royalty Calculator?

There are several book royalty calculators available online that can help authors estimate their potential earnings based on various factors. While I can’t recommend a specific calculator as the “best” one, here are a few popular royalty calculators that authors often find useful:

Reedsy Book Royalty Calculator: Reedsy offers a comprehensive book royalty calculator that allows authors to input details such as the book’s format, price, and royalty rate. It provides an estimate of the potential royalties based on the entered information.

PublishDrive Royalty Calculator: PublishDrive provides a royalty calculator specifically designed for e-book authors. Authors can input the e-book’s price, royalty rate, and information about the distribution channels to calculate their potential earnings.

BookBaby Royalty Calculator: BookBaby offers a royalty calculator that allows authors to estimate royalties for both print and e-books. Authors can input various details such as the book’s format, price, printing costs, and distribution channel to calculate potential earnings.

IngramSpark Royalty Calculator: IngramSpark provides a royalty calculator for authors considering self-publishing. It allows authors to input the book’s format, list price, and other details to estimate potential royalties based on various distribution scenarios.

These calculators can serve as helpful tools for authors to gain a rough estimate of their potential earnings. However, it’s important to remember that these calculators provide estimates and may not account for all factors, such as printing cost, returns, discounts, or specific contractual terms. Authors should refer to their publishing contracts for the most accurate information on royalty calculations.

It’s also worth noting that some publishing platforms, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Barnes & Noble Press, provide built-in calculators within their author dashboards to help authors estimate their royalties for books published through their platforms.


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Hi, I'm Benedict. The founder of Bennyselfpublishing Academy. A platform designed to teach people how to write and publish their books online and offline from the comfort of their homes. When I am not writing, I am outside playing football or watching my favorite team Chelsea play.

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