Print media / Books
This section offers some (very basic) advice for those writing books. Photographers and illustrators of course also contribute "content" to books: see those sections of this Fees Guide. There is a separate section dealing with book editing and production.
To emphasise what's in the advice section: do remember to register with the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society to get your share of money collected for copying of books; and for Public Lending Right to get your share of payments from libraries. See the links below.
The suggested rates
Read me first! Print media / Books: advice
See also: notes on negotiating rates for this work
See also: reported rates, to compare: Print media / Books
Know a better rate? Tell us!
Please note that the suggested rates below are minima; that rates for copyright works are for limited licences; and that VAT is not included.
RATES: Writing and research
RATES: Royalty rates
Royalty rates are percentages. Whenever anyone sees a percentage they should ask: per cent of what? See the advice section for a discussion of royalties...
And the royalties offered or agreed for ebooks (electronic publication) are still quite fluid: see the notes below and let us know what you get.
|Electronic publication - publisher arranges markup - % of receipts||50.00%
|Electronic publication - entire work delivered as multimedia - % of gross||40.00%
|Hardback (sales after first 5000)||15.00%
|Hardback (next 2500 sales)||12.50%
|Hardback (first 2500 sales)||10.00%
|Paperback (sales after first 20,000)||10.00%
|Paperback (first 20,000 copies)||7.50%
- Flat fees paid for technical writing should be at a higher rate. So too should writing children's books where extensive research is often involved. As a guideline, calculate the fee on the basis of the minimum hourly rate for editorial work. Similarly, use the hourly rate to help calculate an adequate return for the work involved when negotiating a royalty advance.
- The writer of the first edition of a guidebook or similar work should get a far higher fee than than someone updating an existing work. They should argue for first refusal on future updates.
- Do not underestimate the time it takes to do the research for a guidebook. For every place included another place will probably be tried and rejected as not suitable for recommendation. This is particularly the case if the book takes the "100 best places" approach, where places that would get a negative review are eliminated.
- Listings take far longer to write than running copy. Insist that the publisher engages a fact-checker. Freelances who are required to check all listing information for themselves should charge an extra fee for this.
- Picture research should be paid as an extra task.
- Royalty rates for electronic publications are still very fluid. Some publishers offer the same percentages as for print editions - which is clearly unjust, since the reproduction and distribution costs are essentially zero. Net receipts should, in fact, be sale price less credit card fees and a small sum for server maintenance. We advise adding a clause into contracts for such works specifying re-negotiation after two years.
Browse a selection of NUJ freelances with relevant skills through the Freelance Directory:
Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to email@example.com please. You may find the glossary helpful.
The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.
Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.