Dana Severson reports:
"Many professionals know exactly what they stand to make year-upon-year. Even in sales, you can often get a rough idea of your commissions. The same can’t always be said for writers. Their income is based almost exclusively on the popularity of their books. It also depends on the contract, as royalty rates can be fairly low for unproven authors and relatively high for authors with a devoted readership. As you might expect, a children's book writer's earnings can vary...Authors earned an average of $68,060 a year in 2011, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Like any average, high salaries can skew the figure, and median wage is often a better indication of an author’s earnings. Half of all authors earned less than $55,870 a year. But, neither figure accounts for genre, nor do they truly reflect how a children’s book writer is paid...In the publishing industry, a writer may be given an advance. The advance varies from author to author, but a children’s book writer gets anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 for a standard project, explains the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. These funds are then shared with the illustrator, so you’re now looking at a payment of as much as $4,000 to $6,000. Writer’s Market estimates the range a little lower, with an average of almost $3,000 for the advance...Advances are given against royalties, meaning you won’t earn any additional money for the book until the sales pay back the advance. As with advances, royalties vary, but you’ll likely be given 3.5 percent to 6 percent royalties on a picture book and 7 percent to 10 percent on an 'easy reader.'...Sometimes, a writer is hired to write a book. When this is the case, payments are made per hour or per word. Hourly rates range anywhere from $50 to $70, but the average is closer to $63 an hour, notes Writer’s Market. Per-word rates start out at $1 a word and go all the way up to $5 a word, with an average of $3 a word."
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