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3 Questions & Answers About Publishing

Hi Anne,

I’m a freelance writer and I would like to know a little more about getting my book published. I have never done this before.

Do authors get taxed on the profits from their books?

About how much percentage do they get on each sale?

About how much money will I get if I have a movie made out of this? I really feel it is movie material.

Thanks,

Sally in comments to 12 Essential Questions to Ask a Literary Agent Who Offers To Represent You

Hi Sally

Most people, even most writers have never had a book published or self-published one, so you’re not alone.

Yes, authors get taxed on the income they make from the sale of their books, usually known as royalties. Currently in the United States you must pay tax on any royalties above $10 a year. The exact law changes. I found this information by going to www.irs.gov and searching for book royalties. Other countries, obviously, have other regulations.


As far as how much you’ll make per book, it depends on the contract with your publisher. Although the actual percentage paid to authors varies widely, 7-15 percent of the net sale is not a bad guess. Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Self-Publisher gives a good overview of both self- and trade publishing.

A literary agent will probably charge you 15 percent of what you earn on your book. The article, Do You Need A Literary Agent? may help you decide if you want to look for an agent or a publisher.

As far as movies go, in truth I haven’t a clue. I do know that the movie industry is pretty complex. There are many blogs and other rescources about script writing including Scriptologist is one place to start.

Do you have a question about freelance writing? Contact me with Q&A in the email’s subject line and I’ll probably answer it.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • jorgekafkazar

    Movies are completely different, as Monty Python says. Not all novels, even the best of them, can be adapted for the screen. [“A Prayer for Owen Meany” was a great book; the half-ass adaptation called “Simon Burch” absolutely reeked.] If you can write a novel by seeing it through a mental camera, great–that will help the novel a lot–but don’t count on it becoming a movie, and, if it does, don’t count on getting huge money unless you participate in the adaptation.

    Finished, high quality screenplays frequently go for a million or more. For a beginning screenwriter, or for an indy project, maybe half that, at best. This reflects the difficulty of writing for the movies. Here’s my estimate of the relative level of difficulty for the major written art forms:

    Short story: 1
    Novel: 100
    Full stage play: 1,000
    Screenplay: 10,0o0

    Note that a beginning screenwriter is not the same as a beginning writer. Having 10 years’ experience in theatrical or novel writing might qualify you as a rank novice in movie writing. Each form has added things to learn, and (worse luck) things you have to forget.

    • Helpful, I think… I’m glad I took the easy route 😉

  • Anne, great stuff. I’ve published one book – myself. Online. No affiliate. Stupid probably, but the goal was to get the info out to the readers quickly (coincided with a course I was leading). This next book is going to be done a little differently. I’ll self-publish, but on my own again. However, I’m going to check out how to do it properly this time.
    Lori recently posted..Common Sense and the New FreelancerMy Profile

    • Anne

      Your ebook is a good one Lori. Learning how to market them properly is a process.

  • Hi Anne. Some useful information here for those wishing to publish. And helpful resources too. I just amused myself, as an aside, pondering on ways that I could make a movie from my work…..I’m not sure medical writing makes for appealing viewing for most folk, hehe! I’ll have to offer more of a trainwreck approach, I suppose, if I want to be as successful as the “Housewives” or the “Jersey Shore”…….
    Nicky Parry recently posted..I’ve Moved!My Profile

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