Children’s books are always popular with new parents. Many children’s books have launched the writing careers of several authors, like Robert Munsch and Mo Willems.
So how much money can you make from a children’s book? Here’s an overview of the median and average incomes for authors in the United States.
Children’s Book Author Salary
There are a few different statistics regarding the salaries of children’s book authors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2020 median pay of all authors and writers is around $67,120.
Unfortunately, this statistic includes several categories, such as copywriters or magazine editors. This means it doesn’t give us the full picture when it comes to authors of children’s books specifically.
To answer the question, “How much do children’s book authors make,” it’s best to look at statistics from the authors themselves.
A survey conducted by The Author’s Guild found that the median income of full-time book authors in 2017 was only $20,300, with 18% making nothing from their publications.
In addition, authors of children’s fiction were near the lower end of the spectrum, with a reported median income of $5,970 out of those who end up making money from their publications. If including those who make nothing, the median drops to $1,770.
Factors That Affect Income
Of course, there are many factors that may affect the overall income of a children’s book author. While not all these factors carry the same weight, they’re important when considering if becoming an author is right for you.
It may not seem like it at first, but location has somewhat of an impact on the amount an author makes. So, how much do children’s book authors make based on where they live?
According to recent BLS data, larger states such as New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania have the highest number of authors.
One reason for this is that many traditional publishers operate in these states, such as Penguin Random House or HarperCollins. In states like this, writers of all backgrounds make more, with writers in New York making upwards of $95,880 on average.
Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing
With traditional publishing, a publisher may offer an advance of $5,000 and 5% royalties on sales. In this case, we’ll say that the author is also the illustrator of the children’s book.
If the book costs $15, the author makes about 75 cents per sale. A relatively popular children’s book may sell 5,000 copies, which generates about $3,750. In total, the author makes $8,750 off one book.
Self-publishing is a little different. If an author prints their own books using a print-on-demand service, such as IngramSpark or Amazon, they don’t get an upfront advance.
However, they retain more royalties from overall book sales, sometimes as much as 70%. The only catch is that they must market the book on their own, which may cost time or money.
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