From picture books to teen romances, the idea of writing literature for children to earn an income is one that tempts many aspiring authors. The amount of money that can be made writing children's books depends on the type of book, the publishing house, the author's representation situation and a bit of luck.
Method of Payment
Children's book writers may be paid either a flat fee for their book or in royalties based on how many copies the book sells. In the first case, more common for stories printed in magazines, the author receives a one-time fee for her work based on the rates offered by the publication. In the second case, the author will first receive an advance check, the amount of which is determined by how many copies the publishers expect the first printing of the book to sell. After those copies are sold, the author will continue to receive a cut of the royalties so long as the book is selling.
The average salary of a children's author is one that is difficult to estimate, as so many factors play a role in how much money a book will make. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of an author is £34,482. This average includes writers of adult fiction as well as children's. In some cases, particularly with books for very young children, a children's book writer will face a different advance and royalty situation. Perhaps more than many other professions, writing can have extremes, with a very few writers making fortunes and many finding it difficult even to get published.
The amount of money a children's book author can expect to make also depends on the type of book she has written. Children's literature covers picture books, middle grade books and books for teens. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators states that a writer with a 32-page picture book averages an advance of £5,200 to £7,800, which is shared with the illustrator. In this case, the illustrator will likely take a larger percentage on the advance and royalties than the author. However, with books for older children that feature few black-and-white illustrations or no illustrations, the author will receive the entire advance and a full cut of the royalties.
In most cases, traditional publishing houses will not consider children's books submitted by unpublished writers. Most successful children's authors have a literary agent who is responsible for submitting the book, negotiating the contract and handling royalties. Because agents are knowledgeable in dealing with contracts and getting the best deals possible for their clients, children's authors with agents can expect to earn more money overall on their books.