• E. Rachael Hardcastle

An Easy Way to Calculate Royalties

Money. Who doesn't want to earn plenty of it from writing books? All in favour, say I!?

Earning a living from writing books alone may not be as easy as some make it sound, because when you're a brand new indie, the odds are stacked against you—or so it feels. That's why it's important to calculate the royalties you can count on correctly.

In my new non-fiction, 'The Universe Doesn't Give A Sh*t About Your Book', I talk a little about how to calculate your royalties, and give a brief example.

"When I release a new book, I always calculate what I'll make based on 30%, 35%, 40% and 45%. Then, when I'm planning a signing and that store tells me what they'll be taking, I already know if it's a good idea."

To show you an easy way to calculate your print royalties, I'm going to provide an example based on the following scenario:

  • You want to sell the book at £7.99 - The book is a 5x8" paperback with aprx. 300 pages and you're using Ingramspark. When ordering a box of books for an event, you're starting with a batch of 50.

You're paying for basic shipping and are not in a rush to receive your order. The store you want to hold a signing with are asking for 40% of every sale.

So you've published the book and Ingramspark advise that to order one copy (if you're not in a rush to have it printed), it's £3.20. This figure is an estimate and an example only; it was not taken from their website. Pretend that postage is £3.50 per order for the slowest option, which we're not too fussed about. Ingramspark also charge a small admin fee, let's say £1.10 per order.

To order a box of 50 books for your event, this is going to cost you:

[50 x £3.20 =] £160.00 [+ £3.50 =] £163.50 [+ £1.10 =] £164.60.

This is your total print value for 50 books including all Ingramspark's costs/fees.

Divide that by 50 to get the price per book.

£164.60 / 50 = £3.292 (let's call it £3.30 to be on the safe side).

This is your total print value per book.

You're selling the book at £7.99, so you need to ensure that whatever you make at the store (for example Waterstones or WHSmith), minus their 40%, is more than what you paid per book. So let's calculate some percentages:

£7.99 / 100 = 0.0799 (1% of the price)

0.0799 x 40 (store's cut) = £3.196 (£3.20 rounded up)

0.0799 x 60 (your cut) = £4.794 (£4.80 rounded up)

£3.196 + £4.794 = £7.99

These two numbers should total £7.99, the book's retail price. If you're rounding, it should be within one or two pence. You will need to round up or down in your invoice for your cut to ensure it equals exactly £7.99 per book.

We already know you are paying £3.30 per book up front, but when you sell at this particular event, you will be making £4.80 per book, meaning you are in profit by £1.50. If you sell 10 books that day, you are in profit £15.00 (meaning you get your money book for what it originally cost to order those 10 books, plus another £15.00 on top).

Wait, are you sure? If you really want to get into this, you should also consider how much it cost to get to the venue, what your promotional items cost (bookmarks and leaflets or business cards etc.) for the day. When you offset those costs, you may only be in profit by a few pounds per book. Did you also have to eat lunch or grab a coffee? These are additional expenses that will eat into your profit for the day, meaning the balance of whether the event was worth it (money wise) will be significantly reduced.

However, if you order more books per batch, you may get a better deal on the price, which will increase your profit. If the store takes 30-35% instead of 40%, your profit will increase.

These are all factors you should take into consideration when approaching stores and planning an event. Go ahead and calculate what you would make if the store took 30, 35, 40 or even 50 percent of your royalties per book.

Here's a video from my YouTube channel to give you some further insight:


This post was created originally for curiouscatbooks.co.uk and has been re-published here for your convenience. Please refer to this website's policy, and ensure you adhere to covid-19 regulations if planning and attending events.

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