Economics / Profits of Writing a Technical Book [with Examples]

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You are here because you want to know how much profit can you make by writing a technical book (Economics of Writing a Book). In short, if you have published your book through a Publisher, then you can expect between $2000 to $10,000 per book depending on the popularity of your book. If you have self-published your book, you can expect $0 to $15,000 per book.

We have explained the profits with actual calculation with figures which you can expect with an actual book.

Table of contents:

  1. Profit with a Publisher
  2. Profits on self-publishing
  3. Why Self-publishing is more profitable?

Profit with a Publisher

When you publish your Book with a Publisher, you will get an advance amount which you need to return back. In case of profits, your advance is adjusted that is it is subtracted from future profits.

The standard advance amount is $2000.

Different ways you will earn profit from a Publisher are:

  • Advance
  • Hardcopies
  • e-copies
  • Corporate sponsorship
  • Course bundling

When you publish your Book with a Publisher, you will get (usually) 10% of the profits as your the royalty of the books sold. This is significantly less compared to profit margin when selling independently (>= 60% of the profits).

That being said, if your book is being sold at $25 then, the profit will be around $15. Of $15, the Publisher will make 70% of it that is $10.5. In this case, your profit will be $1.05 per book (10% of $10.5). This may look to be a small amount but it can add up to a significant amount if your book sells well.

Let us assume your book is a hit and sells 2,000 copies. This is a reasonable figure for programming books.

This brings your profit from 2000 copies to $2100 from hardcopies.

Now, in addition to hardcopies, e-copy of your book will be distributed by your publisher as well. The price of your e-copy might be $15. The profit will be $11 and the publisher will make 70% of it that is $7.7. Of this, your profit will be 10% that is $0.77 per book.

In general, e-copies sell more than hard copies and we can expect 5,000 copies for a good selling book. This brings your profit to $3850.

In addition to all these, your book may get sponsored by Corporates which makes your book available to the employees for free. You will receive a sponsorship fee which will be around $2000 and can be higher depending on the company.

Assume your book cracks 2 such sponsorships and you make $4000.

Additionally, your book may be bundled with online courses and you may get royalty from the sale of each course or a fix amount. This may usually be done at the online course by the Publishing company. You can expect $1500 from this.

With this, the total profits will be as:

  • Advance: $2000
  • Hardcopies: $2100
  • e-copies: $3850
  • Corporate sponsorship: $4000
  • Course bundling: $1500

The advanced will be deducted from the profits so your total profit will be around:

$2000 + ($2100 + $3850 + $4000 + $1500) - $2000

= $ 11,450

Hence, if your book is in good demand and you can see 2000 hardcopies and 5000 e-copies with other sponsorships, you can expect a profit of $11450.

If your book does not sell well, then the only profit you will make is the advance paid to you that is $2000.

It may take up 4 months to write the book with constant discussion with the Publishers. This brings your monthly pay to $2862 if your book sells well.

Profits on self-publishing

Self-publishing is the way to go today as it gives you more flexibility and you are not bound in any legal contract.

When you publish your Book as self-published, you will get (usually) 70% of the profits as your the royalty of the books sold. Other 30% will be taken by the platform like Google Play or Amazon.

That being said, if your book is being sold at $25 then, the profit will be around $15. Of $15, you will make 60% of it that is $9.

Let us assume your book is a hit and sells 700 copies. This is a reasonable figure for programming books and note for Publisher, we assumed it to be 2000 copies as they will use ads and hence, your book will more audience.

This brings your profit from 700 copies to $6300 from hardcopies.

Now, in addition to hardcopies, you will be selling e-copy of your book. The price of your e-copy might be $15. The profit will be $11 and you will make 70% of it that is $7.7 per e-book.

In general, e-copies sell more than hard copies and we can expect 2,000 copies for a good selling book. This brings your profit to $15,400.

As you have self-published, you may not get an opportunities of Corporate Sponsorship and Course bundling. Hence, you are limited to the profits from selling copies.

Of the profits, let us assume you have spend $5000 on spreading the word of your book. This is important as you cannot reach audience if you do not have a large following. You can use this money on:

  • Amazon ads
  • Ads on sites like OpenGenus IQ
  • Sponsored posts, tweets, podcast episodes, YouTube videos and much more.

So, you profit will be:

  • $6300 from hardcopies
  • $15,400 from e-copies
  • -$5000 for ads

This brings your profit to $16,700.

Why Self-publishing is more profitable?

As you have seen in the above examples:

  • We are selling significantly more books with a Publisher than on self-publishing.
  • We are allocating a significant amount of money on ads on self-publishing. Hence, we are investing on the success of our book.
  • The % of royalty is significantly more on self-publishing. 10% for with Publishers to 70% with self-publishing.

Despite selling less copies, we are making more profit on self-publishing. To summarize:

  • Publisher: 2000 hardcopies, 5000 e-copies + intense marketing = $11,450
  • Self-Publishing: 700 hardcopies, 2000 e-copies = $16,700

Hence, even on selling half the number of books we could have sold on being in a contract with a Publisher, we are able to make $5000 more profit on self-publishing.

The downside of self-publishing are:

  • There is no guarantee of success. If you are able to do marketing of your book well, it will be a hit depending on the quality of the book.
  • You need to manage everything from making cover images, formatting your book to publishing it on different platforms to marketing your book.
  • Your work is more intense on self-publishing. You need to be an all-rounder.

If you try it, you will be able to do it. If you want to publish a book on a self-publishing path with OpenGenus, you can email us (team@opengenus.org) for guidance.

With this article at OpenGenus, you know the profits you can get from writing a successful book that is the Economics of a book. Get started now.