Book Publishing Royalties Compared

You’re paying a good chunk of money to publish your book. You are taking all of the up-front financial risk. What percentage of the sale price of your book should your self-publishing company keep? At Mill City Press, we think our percentage of your book royalties should be zero. Nada. Zip. You take the risk and you should reap the benefits.

When it comes to book publishing royalties, there are only so many hands that can get a piece of this pie before there is nothing left for the person who made it. We don´t have royalty calculation charts on our site because our authors earn every dollar from their book sales after printing costs and trade discounts to any third-party (e.g., 

Depending on where your book sells, the amount of money you make on each sale will be different. If your book sells on, you will get a percentage of the sales price after takes its share (which is between 20%-55%). If your publisher takes a cut, your share shrinks. If the publisher excessively marks up its printing costs, your profit sinks even more, except you probably don’t even realize it.

The chart below examines the royalties paid by some of the major self-publishing companies for a 200-page paperback with a 5.5" x 8.5" trim size, a black-and-white interior, and a laminated, full-color cover. Let's assume that this book retails for $13.95 (or the minimum price allowed by the publisher based on page count) on the publisher’s online bookstore or equivalent. For the purposes of our chart, we assume that the end customer is paying for shipping. When reviewing the numbers, consider that this book only costs the publisher $3.90 to print. Learn more about what these publishers tell authors the print costs are on our actual book printing costs page.

Don’t just take our word on royalties. Beneath the chart you’ll find links to the exact page on the publisher’s site where we found the information.


Publisher Retail Price Actual Printing Cost/Publisher’s Reported Cost Royalty % Paid to Author Royalty Amount Earned by Author Per Book Sold Revenue Made by Publisher Per Book Sold Total Earned by Author Per 100 Books Sold from Publisher/Author Website
Mill City Press* $13.95 $3.90 100% $8.55 $0 $855
iUniverse** $15.95 $3.90 10% $1.50 $10.55 $150
Lulu*** $13.95 $3.90
30% $4.00 $6.05 $400
Xlibris**** $19.99 $3.90
25% $5.00 $11.09 $500


So, why does Mill City Press not take any royalties? What´s the catch?

We hear these questions a lot. The answer is simple. We want authors to benefit from the sale of their work, which can´t happen when publishers make money on every side of a transaction. We charge you for the costs associated with creating your book and making it available in the marketplace. If you put the time, energy, and money into publishing and marketing your book, would it be fair for us to take royalties from you? We don’t think so.

*Authors make 100% of net revenue from book sales from author websites using our Website Order Fulfillment Service, less a $1.50 handling fee assessed by our third-party fulfillment center and a 4.5% credit card processing fee for each order. Those costs are deducted from the final total above.


(Schedule A)


*** Note that while Lulu states the royalty is 80%, that is based on a printing “cost” that is more than 100% of the actual print cost.


Based on data obtained in November 2011.



We believe every book should have a chance to compete in the marketplace. To ensure that, we combine our knowledge and experience in traditional book publishing with innovative book marketing. We provide real advice and help every step of the way.

  • Wholesale printing costs on any size book order
  • Opportunities for traditional book distribution
  • 100% royalties (after third-party retailers' fees)
  • Use our ISBN or yours
  • In-house editorial, production, and retailer sales teams
  • Patented ebook conversion and distribution
  • We won't sell you what you don't need or can't use
  • Real-time sales, royalty, and inventory reporting
  • Complete transparency - every fee is disclosed up front and we encourage you to read our contract
Learn more about Mill City Press Compare Our Publishing Packages Request a Self Publishing Information Packet Read our Book Publishing Author Contract Speak with a Book Publishing Specialist