How much do picture books cost publishers? [Detailed Analysis]

Last Updated on September 25, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD


Creating lovely children’s books is something you do for love, not money, as anyone in the publishing business will tell you. Yet, many first-time writers and published writers are curious about how much money they may make from their children’s publications and if it is feasible to earn a livelihood from writing children’s magazines.

We’ll go into great detail about how much publishers pay for picture books!

However, it is a complex subject to discuss royalties. Commercial-in-confidence contracts frequently include ‘how much,’ which most people prefer not to discuss. However, if you play your cards right as an author, averages might be computed, and reasonable projections regarding yearly fee revenue from your children’s book sales may be made.

So, let’s proceed with the comprehensive facts on earning money via children’s picture books without any further ado!

What are the average royalties from children’s picture books?

The common belief is that royalties should be 10% of the publishing business. Therefore, authors usually get 10% of the book’s RRP.

Children’s books, on the other hand, have lower royalty rates. Much work goes into publishing a children’s book (or you, if you decide to self-publish), and we believe there is no shortcut. A children’s book, for example, needs more illustrations, layout, and typography than a novel. These costs may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As a result, a publisher must consider a substantial extra expenditure at the start, decreasing the author’s earnings. Children’s book royalties range from 3.5% to 5% of the book’s RRP. Typically, the artist receives these royalties, resulting in an average 10% royalty split across the industry.

Is it possible for a first-time children’s book author to make money?

This is a more complicated problem than you realize.

It is tricky because first-time children’s book writers frequently need to spend a substantial sum of money to publish their debut novel to not lose money (in reality, they might go bankrupt). As a result, first-time authors are often compelled to use a vanity publisher to get their book published because they either choose or are unaware of another option. If you obtain your book illustrated first, a few publishers will agree to publish it (this is also an expensive choice).

However, we’ve analyzed estimates of earnings for first-time authors through different publishers as follows:

How to make money from children’s books via hybrid publishers?

A publisher who solely publishes your work is known as a vanity publisher. A hybrid publisher, on the other hand, is someone who sells your book and procures distributors who will sell it for them on consignment.

Since distributors do not accept individual authors or single books, you will almost always have to use a distributor to sell your book in bookstores, schools, libraries, and big retailers. As a result, publishing with a mixed publisher is more likely to bring you money from your children’s book, even if you have to pay for it.

The way that hybrid publishers operate varies. Some authors are required to cover the entire cost of producing a book, while others are not. Some people want complete-illustrated books from writers, whereas others are satisfied to absorb the expense of the picture in their whole deals.

Publishing with a hybrid publisher often allows you to receive higher royalties since they can access them. Author royalties can amount to 40% of the selling price.

Calculate how much money you might make selling your children’s book for $15,000, for example! This includes the cost of images, ranging from AUD 5000 to $10000. This time, too, your book will cost AUD 14.95. To recover your money, you’ll need to sell 2,508 copies of your book with that level of investment and a 40% royalty rate.

How to make money from children’s books via vanity publishers?

Many traditional publishers despise vanity publishers because they believe they undermine the craft of publishing while also destroying industry standards.

You’ll need to spend (and quite substantially) if you decide to publish your children’s book with a vanity publisher. Vanity publishers charge anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for publication of your book, with no assurances about future sales and frequently no way to even get started. In a nutshell, a vanity publisher produces your book, and the partnership usually ends there.

It’s hard to say how much money you’ll make from a vanity publisher in your children’s book, although you’d seldom recover your investment. Say, for example, you opted to sell your book for AUD 14,95 (including illustration costs) and spent $15,000 to publish it. But, of course, you’d need to sell over 1003 copies to make any money from publishing your book.

How to make money from children’s books via a traditional publishing contract?

For many writers, securing a conventional publishing contract is the ultimate option and, indeed, the preferred one. The publisher agrees to market and distributes your book for you if you obtain a standard publishing agreement, which costs around $15,000. It’s a desirable deal! This approach, on the other hand, is challenging to succeed with. A conventional publishing deal is awarded to about 1% of all children’s book authors.

You might get paid in advance and get paid more if you get a typical publishing arrangement, or you may make money from sales. While children’s books continue to be paid advances by some of Australia’s largest publishing houses, many are instead choosing to pay royalties.

Your income will be determined by various factors, including the distributor with whom your publisher partners, if booksellers like your tale, and if people like it! However, if you sold 2000 copies of your book for $14.95 and the royalty percentage was 3.5%, you would earn $1046 based on averages.

Final Words

The saying goes, “Those who can’t tell a good story write bad ones.” However, if you are an author with a great story to tell your readers and have no idea how much it will cost you to publish your book, then keep reading! I wrote this guide for those people just like you. As an experienced writer, I know how difficult it can be to decide on the right platform for your book. In my experience, most of the time, it comes down to two things:

Are you confident enough in your writing skills that they warrant releasing a work full of emotional value? Are you willing to keep going even if you are not making any money yet?

With these questions answered successfully (or not), publishing through one of our partners is worth it! Now go ahead and choose whichever partner you suit best!


1 – What is the earning potential of a picture book author?

Answer: There is no definitive answer to this question, as income can vary greatly depending on the genre of picture books and the publisher. However, according to a study by Copyblogger in 2016, authors who self-publish make an average of $2-$5 per picture book sold. This figure may be lower or higher since it doesn’t consider other expenses associated with publishing, such as marketing costs or royalties owed to the author’s agents and publishers.

2 – How many copies does an average picture book sell?

Answer: An average picture book typically sells between 10,000 and 25,000 copies. However, depending on the genre and subject matter, a picture book can sell much more or less than this number. Why? Because there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question since it largely depends on factors such as the title’s marketability (e.g., whether it is geared toward young children or adults), marketing strategies adopted by the publisher/author, the price point of the book, etc.

3 – Which publishers are more likely to offer a lower price than the average?

Answer: It’s vital to assess the costs related to publishing before you decide to publish your material. Submitting and printing costs, as well as marketing and advertising costs, are included in this category.
One way to reduce the cost of publishing your content is to target publishers likely to offer a lower price than the average. This can be done through thorough market research or using tools like Publisher Rank Checker or Cost Range Calculator. Once you have determined which publishers fit this criterion, please submit your article electronically or send them a hard copy manuscript directly. Ensure all required information such as title, description, keywords, file type/format (PDF/ DOC), target audience, pricing structure, etcetera.
By targeting niche publishers that offer competitive prices for your specific topic area, you can save money on both monetary and time invested in producing quality content!


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