Please note that the suggested rates below are minima; that rates for copyright works are for limited licences; and that VAT is not included. See notes on negotiating rates and *find a freelance

This section offers some (very basic) advice for those writing books: we've called it just "books" to fit with the rest of the Guide - photographers and illustrators also contribute "content" to books, for example. There is a separate section for those doing book editing and production.

* Read me first!  Print media / Books advice
* Uploaded 2222/0606/17171717: if you have a printout, check the current version at www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/PrBooRat.html
The suggested rates (Know a better rate? tell us!)
For full definitions of the categories, click on their names
RATES: Royalty rates
Books

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...

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%
RATES: Writing and research
Books

...and see also the advice section for a discussion of flat fees, which should be negotiated as royalty buy-outs.

Rate/1000 words GBP 275.00

Notes:

  • 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 an updater. 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 "300 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 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.
  • Freelances who submit work on an expensive medium (such as a Zip™ disks) should make sure the client agrees to return it after use and to pay for or replace any lost or damaged disks.
Agreements
Find a freelance

Browse a selection of NUJ freelances with relevant skills through the Freelance Directory:

More advice and links...
* On negotiating for Print media / Books
[www.londonfreelance.org]
* Rates for the Job good, bad and ugly
* Join the NUJ to get individual advice & representation

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. Comments to ffg@londonfreelance.org 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.