Posted by: nancyisanders | December 3, 2010

Marketing: Speaker Tables

Let’s talk math.

If we want to try to invite speakers to carry our books at their own tables at conferences and other events, it’s important to know they’ll want to make a profit.

We want to make a profit, too.

But just how much profit is worth your time and energy to connect with speakers and try to convince them to carry your book?

It depends.

After you find out the kinds of discounts your publisher gives to people who order multiple copies of your books, it’s important to learn the amount of money you receive on your royalty statements.

Or, for some writers who sell their own books (such as writers who self-publish or if you purchase your books from the publisher for resale), the amount of money you can make when you sell your own book.

After 20 years of getting paid royalties from various traditional publishers and also having a few self-published books under my belt, I’ve got some ballpark figures for you to consider.

First of all, for the 80+ books I’ve had published with traditional publishers, I’ve had a couple of books that earn me about $2 per book royalty. That’s because these books cost over $30 and are for educators.

I have a couple of books that earn me about $1 per book royalty. That means that for every book that sells on amazon or in some bookstore or somewhere, I get $1 from the publisher.

Most of my books earn under a dollar royalty per book. In fact, I usually tell people who ask that the average royalty I earn per children’s book is somewhere around 35 cents.

On my most recent royalty statements for 2010, some of my books earned me as low as 2 cents royalty per book. That means that for every book that sold, I got paid 2 pennies for it.

If you’re not familiar with children’s book royalties, that may sound pretty low. And it is. But these numbers are the ones I see on my books when I get my royalty statements.

If you purchase your own books from the publisher and resell them, authors can earn a much higher percentage. I know some writers who earn up to $10 per book or even higher when they do this. Some of these writers have self-published their books.

For self-published books, the authors are doing a lot of production themselves so they are spending their time doing the legwork. And usually a self-published book doesn’t even begin to compare with the sales figures that a traditional publisher can bring in because most bookstores won’t carry self-published books.

Personally, I prefer working with traditional publishers because I want to write full time, not spend my time in the production stages of the book.

But each person has her own preferences. Think about what yours are as we continue to discuss this in my next post.


  1. interesting!
    Can I just say that for a translated book, 3OOO books sold, I got exactly 5,7O dollars for it all?
    I don’t know how a publisher arranges all this, but I must say… we can only laugh about it being so ridiculous!
    But on another hand I am glad that children from a far away land can get to read my story!!!

    • Yes, I believe it, Nicole! That’s why I want to share some of these actual numbers with people here. I’m going to share even more numbers in the days ahead while we’re discussing the topic of marketing. Hopefully, this will help our understanding of this aspect of our career as we’re all working to increase actual sales of our books. -Nancy

  2. Interesting post, Nancy. Wow, only $.02 on some of your books, doesn’t sound good, with all the effort and time you spend.

    • Yes, 2 pennies per book is pretty low. But the interesting thing to consider is that even though some of my royalties per book for this payment cycle were low, I got much larger checks than I expected this time overall. So the quantity of books a traditional publisher can sell, even at low prices, can add up to quite nice royalty checks versus the amount of books I can sell myself at higher profit-per-book rates. This is all just stuff that it’s good to learn about and be aware of as we’re exploring trying to market our own books. -Nancy

  3. I love your series on book marketing! No one has given us yet-to-be-published writers so many good tips and honest discussions on this subject as you do! Thank you so much!

    • Anne, I’m so thrilled you’re finding this info valuable along this stage of your writing journey. I hope it will help launch your first book off the charts! -Nancy

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