5 Most Common Questions Authors Get From Readers About Being An Author

Well hello there, Gentle Reader.

I get a great many questions from readers about being a professional author. Many I could probably have guessed at and a few surprise me.

Here’s a selection of some of the most common things I’m asked (online and in person) specifically about the author business side of things.

Part of Miss Gail’s Occasional FAQ series.

1. What edition should I buy that gives the author the most money?

Honestly, the first time someone asked me this I was genuinely flummoxed. Now I realize it comes from a place of patronage, really wanting to support the author.

So thank you for even thinking to ask this question!

Here it is in order of “the most money comes directly to the author” (if the author is wide like me) 

  1. Digital, print, audio purchased directly from an author’s website
  2. Digital purchased from Amazon – KoboB&N – Apple
  3. Amazon print on demand
  4. Anywhere else print on demand (these almost all originate from Ingram) online or in a store
  5. Traditionally published (print) purchased online or in store
  6. Traditionally published foreign editions & translations (digital or print)
  7. Libraries
  8. Short story reprints (anthologies/audio collections)
  9. Anything priced below $2.99
  10. Digital subscription models (like Audible, KU, Raddish) where the author is paid in listened hours/page reads/check out via a communal pool

I am a wide hybrid author which means my indie books are available in most formats on most venues, often as much as (if not more so than) my traditionally published books. This covers the gambit of my experience and takes into account the same book priced the same in all venues what actual % of the retail price I earn from a purchase. For libraries I assume 10 check outs per purchase.

Generally speaking, most actual income depends on the author’s contract with their publisher, the retail price of the book, and the terms of service they signed with the vendor.

2022 Publishing Industry Print Book Supply and quality issues

Traditional royalties are the hardest to understand. Yes, I can figure out how much I am theoretically owed via my contracts but with advances, agent(s) %, flash sales, discounts, distribution, wholesale deals, subscription models, returns, and licensing fees this is unbelievably difficult to tease out.

Please note that even with direct sales the author never gets 100% of the cover price. The author still has to pay for their website and all associated costs and the host/handler/distributor of the book (like Gumroad, Payhip, Shopify). These services charge a monthly fee and/or a % of sales, plus also often:

  • a per item credit card processing charge,
  • delivery charge (yes for digital books),
  • shipping & handling (for print).

Paypal charges an additional fee on top of all that.

Amazon also charges fees like this, which is why if a reader “buys” a digital book, reads it and then returns for a full refund that can actually cost the author money. Because Amazon will still charge the author the delivery fee. The poor author has just paid to have someone steal their book. Charming.

7 things authors get no  $ from…

  1. Used copies
  2. 3rd party indirect sellers (on Amazon & elsewhere like Book Depository)
  3. Etsy, ebay, etc…
  4. Charity auctions
  5. Charity foreign edition sales
  6. Giveaways

I’m talking purely fiscally here. There is a return on many of these, it just isn’t always in hard cash. Also, this is dependent on my own business model so other authors may vary.

neil gaiman quote writer idea

2. Where do you get your ideas?

My arse, if I sit on it long enough.


I pay very close attention to my friends when they’re drunk, but usually inspiration comes to me when I’m contemplating the absurdity of the universe and at the most inconvenient time – like in the shower.

3. Was being an author always a goal for you?

You betcha. Along with sleeping in Pompeii, owning a motorcycle, traveling to Egypt, and eating guinea pig.

Four out of five ain’t bad.

4. What are your least favorite parts to write?

The nookie and the humor. It’s true what they say; it is harder to make people laugh than cry. With the smooching scenes, I keep embarrassing myself.

Love My Books Review Them Gail Carriger

5. What’s the best thing I can do to help an author?

  1. Buy the book.
  2. Leave a review.
  3. Tell a friend about the book/author
  4. Follow the author in a way that means you’ll know when their next book comes out: Amazon | BookBub | Goodreads | Newsletter (BEST!)

Other things are sweet and thoughtful: tribute, fan mail, cosplay, social media interaction, but honestly the absolute nicest thing you can do for any author is leave them a review.

Fan Art Conall by Matt Harrison via Twitter

I have a career because YOU spread the word and shared the love.

For no other reason.


Hey, thanks for that.

Yours forever,

Miss Gail

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Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

  • Tired of the hero’s journey?
  • Frustrated that funny, romantic, and comforting stories aren’t taken seriously?
  • Sad that the books and movies you love never seem to be critically acclaimed, even when they sell like crazy?

The Heroine’s Journey is here to help.

Multiple New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a clear concise analysis of the heroine’s journey, how it differs from the hero’s journey, and how you can use it to improve your writing and your life.


Your Infusion of Cute . . .


Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Gail’s guest blog post for Horn Book Review: Fashion-Forward Vampires and the Power of Humor in Genre Fiction

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Parasol Protectorate in Thailand (thanks Pete!)


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Posted by Gail Carriger

5 Responses

  1. Malena said:

    I went for option 5 with both Poison or Protect and Romancing the Inventor, as I came across both of them in my local SFF bookshop. Also, I prefer to read on paper and the locality I’m speaking of is located in… southern Scandinavia. On that note, I hope I’ll be able to see you in Denmark in October. Will try to convert people for you; bought Soulless in translation for that very purpose.

  2. Laurie A. Green said:

    What is it about showers? *eye roll* My muse also seems to delight in hitting me with some of the best possible ideas at the worst possible time.

    Loved the list and your responses. Thanks to Lea for posting the link.

  3. Richard Dengrove said:

    You’re great when you combine the nookie and the humor scenes. I really laughed like hell at your scene where Alexia has, at least foreplay, with Lord Maccon. However, she is thinking of anything but the action in bed.

    On the other hand, couldn’t you do something with Victorian flirting? I gather there was a lot of that, at least in Victorian literature.

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