More Terminology In Self-Publishing’s Winter Garden: Are They ‘Royalties?’

Image - iStockphoto: Rrrainbow
Image – iStockphoto: Rrrainbow

Another Day, Another Ill-Used Term

In the strictest sense, there really is no such thing as royalties in self-publishing!

Mick Rooney is a little kinder than I am, warning you to sit down before you read that line about there being “no such thing as royalties in self-publishing.” Me, I prefer to dump the ice over your head first. The better to get your social-media-challenged attention.

Rooney goes on:

You are the author. If you are a true self-publisher, then you are also the registered publisher of origin. Authors get royalties. Publishers don’t!

In our last article, In The Hothouse Of Publishing, Our Terminology May Need Pruning, we looked at how the term hybrid is being used in publishing at times to mean something other than an author who both self- and traditionally publishes. When we snap up phrases and use them to mean more than one thing, we unnecessarily invite confusion. As if we didn’t have enough of that here in bookish country, right?

Mick Rooney
Mick Rooney

Rooney is going on to explain why those “self-publishing royalties” really aren’t royalties.

“Stay sitting down!” he instructs us in his Royalties: The Seduction of Self-Publishing.

Publishers receive revenue and work out their profit on every single unit sold. Ideally, the publisher sets out to cover their initial investment (once all the production and marketing costs are paid for) and earn a little or a lot on top to make the endeavour worthwhile.

In fact, he writes:

A royalty is the total amount paid to an author. In royalty universe, there isn’t any such thing as 10 percent, 25 percent, 50 percent, or even 99.9 percent of an author royalty.

A royalty is 100 percent of whatever is paid to the author! The only exception to this is when two or more authors have co-authored a book, or an author has agreed to split his/her royalty with an illustrator or translator directly contracted in the book project.

Read More

There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son

Writing on the Ether: More Terminology In Publishing’s Winter Garden: Are They ‘Royalties?’

Originally published by Thought Catalog at


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