Publishing Books

I got an email from a reader who asked me if it costs anything to get a book published. I thought it was a good question and other aspiring writers might be interested to know the answer.

A writer doesn’t have to pay a publisher to print their book. Writers have expenses of course (I have to pay for paper, ink cartridges, books, train fare to the library etc.), but when a publisher accepts a book that you have written or has commissioned you to write, they pay you for the right to publish the book. The writer gets an ‘advance’, an amount of money before the book is in the shops. (Though it usually isn’t enough to live on for a year or however long it takes to write the book.) Then the writer gets a percentage of the money earned from book sales.
It is the publisher who pays to get all those books printed. They are the ones who invest money in a book. I only invest my time. The publisher pays for the paper the books are printed on (an expensive item for a print run of thousands of books), cover design, marketing, distribution etc.

Some people think that it is the writer who owns all the books that you see in the shops. That’s not the case. Though the writer still owns the story, it is the publisher who owns the actual books. As part of the contract between the writer and the publisher, the writer gets a number of free books (I get 20).
Self-publishing is another way to get a book published. That’s when you pay for the printing yourself. I don’t know much about self-publishing, but I imagine that (unless you are very rich) you would print something like 500 books, a lot less than a publishing company would print.

49 responses to “Publishing Books

  1. …wow…I’d never be able to manage that…

    My respect for you has just gone up to a whole new level.

  2. Wow. That’s some great info. Thanks Carole.

    I am writing a book called SPIRIT RISER and it is the first book in The Spirit Risers Series. All six books are planned. They are about the Spirit Risers’ who are on a journey to save the land of Duskvelden from the powers of the evil Lord Raven. I am loving writing. Have you got any tips and also, how can I make my work longer. With 6 chapters there are 15,000 words but I am aware that a book is 50,000 minimum.

  3. Hey Carole. I live in Melbourne Australia too! I have completed Dragon Keeper and Garden of the Purple Dragon. They are Awesome! Thanks for the info on publishing books. Great stuff. Can’t wait for Dragon Moon!

  4. Krystal, Ryan,
    Glad you found the info interesting. Good luck with the book Ryan. The only tip I have is ‘keep writing’. Who says a book has to be a minimun of 50,000 words? I’ve written books that are 35,000. Novellas can be shorter than that. A book should be as long as it takes to tell the story and no more.

  5. hi
    i`m going to start write writing a advedture fantsy with dragons in i love drogon stories.
    it starts with a ordany tea picker who sees sommething snuggeld up in a bush and at first thincks its a snake then realises its a drogon!

  6. hey! i’m also writing a novel and i find myself terribly flexible with my writing plan! i think i change the plan a bit every week or so. not sure if it’s a good trait for a writer, what do u think? and i also have problem with getting my character out of a sticky situation.

  7. Sarah,
    Everyone has their own way of doing it. I like to be very firm about beginning middle and end and be flexible with the bits in between.

  8. I’m writing a book called DragonBlood,about a chinese girl that lives in Sanfrancisco. She was adopted and has very strange behavior which a girl should not have. Then she found out her real parents were dragons and were killed by a dragonslayer. Now she must escape and return to China before the dragonslayer kills the other dragons. She will have to make it in time and warn them. But will they trust her? How will they know she has dragon blood if she looks like a human?

  9. I am an eleven year old girl who lives in Canada. I enjoy writing and drawing during my free time. I am writing a series called Galaxy Royale, about the nine planets and the nine princesses that live them.
    Mrs.Wilkinson, if you read this, I have a question. Is my idea lame? A lot of kids in my class say so, but I am not sure if they are right. I wanted to know your opinion. Please try to reply. Thank you.
    P.S. – your Dragon Keepers book series is amazing!

  10. Margaryta,
    I can’t really judge your ideas. It sounds okay to me. The hard part is doing the writing and keeping it interesting and exciting. It took me 7 years to write the Dragonkeeper trilogy.
    Good luck with it.

  11. I absolutely, well and truly love your dragon keeper books!!!!!!!
    I must admit i have only read the first one but the others are just as good so i’ve heard. Me and my friend are your faithful fans to the end!! We live in Western Australia and today we are going to a writers festival at the university of western australia. After reading about it on the internet a bit, i got the impression that you were gonna be there!!!!! You are aren’t you? Well if you were you probably won’t get to answer that question. I’ll find out soon anyway. I really hope you’ll be there!!

    Write on!!

  12. I like writing a heap.
    But I will never manage to become a full time
    If you have any ideas could u plz write them here. You don’t have to, I have a few ideas of my own too!

  13. Sakinah,
    I think it is always best to come up with your own ideas. It isn’t always easy, but that’s the challenge of writing.
    Best of luck with it.

  14. This information is very helpful, thanks so much Mrs. Wilkinson I really love your books!I am thirteen years old and I decided to write my own book in fact, I am done now editing and all. Now I need to publish it. I was wondering does Black Dog publishing have an age limit? I am not sure if they will accept the work of a thirteen year old boy.

  15. Navin,
    I’m glad you found it useful. I wrote this blog a couple of years ago. I am currently writing a series of blogs about writing. So far I have written called The Premise and another called The Research Phase.
    I can’t speak on behalf of black dog books. You will have to email them. I imagine there are no age limitations. They will be interested in publishing any good book, no matter who wrote it.
    Good luck with your writing.

  16. Hi Carole! 🙂
    I’m 12 years old, and am currently writing a book about dragons. I’ve done my maths, and if everything goes to plan, it should be roughly 130 pages long. I’m deeply inspired by your writing, and love your books. I was actually looking around your site for some facts like ‘how much does it cost to have a book published?’, although I wasn’t very sure I’d find what I was looking for. I’m glad you have questions like this answered on your site, as it will help alot of writers-in-the-making. I actually didn’t know that the publisher was the one paying for the making of the books!! So thankyou for adding this into your FAQ’s.
    Thankyou once again, from Chloe 🙂

  17. Hi the dragon keeper series rocks

    I’m a ten year old girl from ausralia(vic)
    i am currently writing a book called the secret of the plesure gardens it’s about a homeless boy in china who is kidnapped by a very mean and selfish man. The man has a wife and a daughter surprisingly his daughter and the boy turn out to be great friends and one day they go out to the plesure gardens and catch sight of a fairy the fairy turns them both into fairies the fairy asks them to accompony her on an adventure to find out the truth about what happened to the young fairy prince that dissapeared at the age of three they accompany her and find out what happened to him and relised he had been close to them the whole time

    Do you like it?


  18. Hi my name is shakira and im 18 i wrote a book when i was 16, i have been thinkin bout publishing my book but it needs more work and an expert to read though my book to seeif it is good enough to publish.
    I have a daughter and she is 2 we have been through a bad tiime in the last few years even me myself she has a heart condition and also an operation in september, one thing i have wanted is to have a book that everyone wants to read and say to my daughter that is what i wrote and make her proud.

    Would you be able to contact me as i would love to here more on how you published your first book.

  19. Hi!!! Your DragonKeeper series ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m currently writing a story called DragonStar. A normal girl discovers an ingured dragon and they become fast friends. She soon learns that when a specific star rises, dragons will re-inhabit the earth. But, some of them want revenge. The girl and the dragon must stop an on-coming war bettween dragons and humans. Is this a good idea or not?

  20. Carole,
    How many times did you practise writing books or did you not like some of the books you had started to write and not finish them? Should I do that or should I not? Practise make perfect, I guess. Other than history or dragons what other subjects do you like to write about?
    Maddie 🙂

  21. Maddie,
    I started off writing short stories. Then I tried writing a novel. I wrote three that were never published before my first book was published. I always finish my writing projects. Yes, practice makes perfect with writing as with all skills. I mainly write historical books. You can see my other published books on my website.
    Good luck with the writing.

  22. Hi Carole,
    You and your daughter Lili are very big inspirations to me and I love your Dragon Keeper series.
    Like you, I do like history, and I am currently writing a story loosely based on the Spartan war. Even though I am 13 years old, I hope one day I will be able to publish it.
    Thankyou for sharing your expriences in writing because they have really helped me with mine 🙂


  23. Meg,
    Thank you. It’s great to hear that you have found my experiences inspiring. Best of luck with your writing, it sounds like a terrific idea.

  24. Dear carole,

    I am wanting to write an alternate second book for Dragon keeper. Is this okay? It will be sortof a half way book between The 1st and 2nd. It will be about Lung Danzi and Hua being on the Isle of the Blessed. The name of the book is wavering between Danzi and Isle of the Blessed. Which is Better? Three questions. much does international mailing cost. I live in Roswell New Mexico,United States of America. I am fourteen. 2.i hear u hte tlk lk ths. Is that true? i know i do. 3rd and final , can you mail some thing to me ? i Remember your adress its to long. i would post mine but this blog is international so no thanks. And hey you do look groovy in those pictures. Signed Christopher

  25. Christopher,
    You can write a Dragonkeeper book, as long as you don’t try and make profit from it. Not until I’ve been dead for 75 years anyway! If you did publish it and try to sell it, I suspect my publishers would sue you.
    You can publish it on a fanfiction website or something like that.
    Answers to your other questions:
    1. You will have to ask at a post office where you live. It’s different here in Australia.
    2. Don’t hate it. Just can’t always read it which is annoying.
    3. I can answer a letter if you send one to me. Mailing address is at Contact below.

    The reason your comment took a while to appear is that I have to approve all comments (I get a lot of spam), and I have been away, so I only just got a chance to respond to my mail.

  26. Hello Carole, I recently read my son’s “Dragon Keeper” book and I have to say I absolutely loved the story. I used to write novels and then shelve them, it came to a point where I just stopped writing due to a block. Thanks to you the block is lifted, I throughly enjoyed reading about this entirely different culture which opened up a whole new genre to me.

    🙂 Thanks for this great FAQ’s


  27. Grant,
    Glad to hear you enjoyed the book, and I am please you have been inspired to continue with your own writing.
    It’s nice to know that someone reads the FAQs!

  28. Hello Carole.
    I have read your dragon keeper series many times, they inspire me a great deal, a really good way to help keep my well of inspiration full!
    I am a twelve year old girl with a love for writing. I have been writing since I was about five years old and have continued to do so since then.
    I was wondering if you might have any ideas on how to focus and keep myself working for a little longer so I can gradually build up to the end of my story( which I have already started to plan.)I am currently writing about time travel and going back to the times of joan of arc and saving her from execution. I was also wondering if I should make the idea into a series and have different adventures at different times.


  29. Mikaela,
    It sounds like you are doing a great job already. I find it is good to have a daily or weekly goal for the number of words I want to write. Though at the moment I am having trouble getting my story right, so I don’t feel like I’m the right person to ask!
    As far as writing a series, I would concentrate on getting one story the best you possibly can first. If that works out and you have more ideas then you can write a series.

  30. Hello Carole,
    Who are you today? Well I’m 12 and I’m doing a book report on your last book in the DragonKeeper series, Dragon Moon. I accidently picked Dragon Moon up first sorry but I still love it, and well I’m not really a writer myself but I do take a sens in poetry. Do you have any tips? And I live in Geelong about an hour away Melbourne.

  31. Mykayla,
    I’ve been sick in bed with a cold, but I’m feeling a lot better today.
    I’m glad you are enjoying Dragon Moon. WIll you go back and read the other two?
    I’m not sure what sort of tips you want. I can’t write poetry, so I can’t help you there. But if you look at my FAQs you will find some tips on writing stories etc.

  32. Im writing a series called Time monsters and have written 7 chapters or so and am taking a break. love the DK series! to bad the film cant go…would be a real blast! :-I catch you later carol!

  33. hi Carole,

    I am 11 and i love dragon keeper. I have read all of the series and it is so good .
    I was asked to write a book report for school it was extremely fun i wrote almost 7 pages and have run out of ideas .

    thank you

  34. Hi Mrs Wilkinson. I am 12 years old and i live in Sydney Australia. I absoutely love your dragonkeeper series and all the other books you wrote. Can you please give me some tips on writing to help me improve on it. Thanks so much.

    Kind regards

  35. Hi Mrs Wilkinson,
    Than you so much for the tips.
    Now I am going to try write a book using your tips
    Thanks Again

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