Making lesbians happy – one book at a time!


By Layce Gardner & Saxon Bennett

As Indie authors who have had three best-selling novels in the past twelve months AND who have also had eighteen novels published with a small lesbian publisher, we are often asked this question. We don’t normally talk about finances and how much money we make but in this case we want to make an exception.

MYTH: Authors make more money if you buy their book directly from the publisher’s website.

TRUTH: Authors do not make more money. The PUBLISHER makes more money if you buy directly from their website.

That is why publishers hold on to a book at their website for a month or more before putting it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or other platforms. They make more money at their website. But they still pay the author the same amount regardless.

Here’s a typical breakdown of monies the author sees from sales on different platforms: (some authors may make more or less than others.)


With a publisher an author makes up to 8 percent on the cover price. If you buy a print book for $16, the author makes $1.28. Regardless of where the book is bought, the author makes $1.28 per book. That means if 100 books are sold the author makes $128.

By the same token, the publisher makes $1,472 per every 100 print books sold. Unless it’s at Amazon. Amazon only gives the publisher 70 percent of every book sold. That is why publishers hold their books on their website and urge readers to buy from their website. Because the PUBLISHER makes less money at Amazon.

To put this in perspective, imagine that you are working for a company that pays you a salary of $50,000 per year. But they take 92 percent of your salary and put it back in their own pocket, giving you only $4,000 for the year. And you still have to pay taxes on that 4 grand! That means you bring home $76 a week before taxes.

Indie authors vary on how much they make with a print book. It depends on the cover price they set, how big the book is and who they use to print the book. Saxon and I use Create Space and their print on demand services. Create Space then offers the book for sale everywhere, including bookstores, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

For our latest book, Kiss & Tell, we set the cover price at $12.99. That means for each book sold (70,000 words) we make approximately $4. For every 100 print books sold we make $400.

For Indie authors, print books are only a drop in the bucket of total sales. Print amounts to a mere 1-2 percent of our sales. We do it mainly to have books to autograph and hand out.


Publishers typically pay an author 15 to 25 percent per ebook. Again, some authors make more and some make less, but this seems to be industry standard. If an ebook is for sale on the publisher’s website for $10 then the author (at 25 percent) makes $2.50. If the ebook is bought on Amazon for $10 then the author makes $2.50. The author makes the same no matter where the book is purchased.

Indie authors make considerably more money from their ebooks. If an Indie author has a book for sale on Amazon for $10, they will make $7.00 from that sale. (Give or take a few pennies that Amazon takes for downloading fees.) If the Indie author sells 100 copies they make $700.

MYTH: The Amazon top 100 doesn’t help book sales.

TRUTH: The Amazon top 100 means A HELLUVA LOT more book sales.

I have had three books in the Amazon top 100 of Lesbian Romance in the past year and have pieced together the following information on have many sales it takes to reach a spot in the top 100.

Amazon ranking (Lesbian Romance)                                        How many sales per day

50 – 100                                                                                                         10-15

30-50                                                                                                              15-20

10-30                                                                                                              20- 50

6-10                                                                                                                50-100

1-5                                                                                                                  100 or more

Our book More Than a Kiss was Number One in Lesbian Romance for six months. Each day we sold between 100-175 ebooks per day. We made $8,000 in the first month of sales. To date we have sold over 6,000 copies and are still selling.

To make matters more clear about the difference between authors with publishers and Indie authors: One year with her publisher Layce made $252 total. In our first year as an Indie author we made $28,500. And we are in no way exceptional. We have talked with other Lesfic Indie authors who have made much, much more.

All the figures discussed in this blog come from our own experience and from talking to authors who are with publishers. It has also been brought to my attention that Sapphire Books pays their authors considerably more than most other Lesfic publishers.

Comments on: "How Much Money Does a Novelist Make?" (15)

  1. Thanks for being so honest and direct in this posting. It was an eye opener.

  2. Balls to the walls. Some people will throw rocks at you for this. Very honest breakdown. High, high praise. My friend, this will be your best read post. Wowser……

  3. I am relieved to know I’m not cheating the author by buying on Amazon.

  4. Shadoe Publishing also pays 75%-85%

  5. Reblogged this on K'Anne Meinel and commented:
    My publishing company Shadoe Publishing pays 75% to 85%

  6. Fascinating read.

  7. Have always wondered, now I know! Thanks for the info!

  8. Very enlightening blog. Thanks for sharing your insight and I am very glad to know I am not cheating an author by buying from Amazon.

  9. Thanks for this. I have wondered about the financial end of print and e-publishing. Also glad to know that if I buy through Amazon I am not hurting the author. I buy ebooks exclusively and prefer Amazon because of the cloud and automatic downloads to my Kindle, Also makes it easier to keep track of what I have bought and when, although it is no big deal to buy from the publisher and manually transfer.

  10. thanks for sharing this. very interesting and I am very glad to know that using amazon doesnt hurt the authors.

  11. Thanks for sharing real numbers. It is educational and good to have these ‘facts of life’ be brought out from the dark closet. I agree with others here, that it is good to know that you get the same amount of income from a publisher whether a book is purchased from Amazon or directly from the publisher. And it is really good to know that indies can do much better by being an indie. Congratulations!

    • Thanks so much. You’re right. It was time to come out of the dark closet. Writers need to stick together and give each other a hand up. Knowledge is power–that’s why it is so carefully guarded. It’s a good thing Layce and I live in this country or we’d end up in Gorky Park.

  12. Thank you for spelling this out so clearly!
    Yay, you ; )
    I have a question about how reviews affect books on amazon…
    Do you need a certain amount of reviews to get bumped up in status?
    And Yay, Sapphire Books ; )
    I’m not surprised that Sapphire is good to it’s authors though, while I was running LesficREADER they were the most active participants in asking questions of each other and sharing the love ; )
    This really helps me as I work on my novels so thank you again and any other useful tip bits of information you’d like to share I’ll be all eyes ; )

    • Reviews can be good things but it’s so subjective that a lot of people myself included don’t necessarily buy on the weight of reviews. They do help give the writer a boost in confidence. Mostly the bump in status comes with selling books. The more books you sell the higher up on the list. The best way to get up there is to have a core group of fans that will always buy your book. I hope this helps.

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