"How much money do historians make from all the writing they do?"

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Drew

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From @John Hartwell's link:

"One historian told me the most money he’d ever made off of a book was $1500 in royalties; none of his other books had come close. Another told me she’d received a $2000 advance, but had never received any royalties."


This is a losing proposition, but God Bless those who go forward with it.

They make the rest of us a lot smarter.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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I've never been sure why we like to keep academics underpaid, like it's a rite of passage or some poverty inducing hair shirt proving one's commitment to their field. My son told me there's a 16 year old millionaire out there, whose work consists of opening packages on You Tube. You do like seeing kids using all this tech to achieve a different lifestyle and more, I'm a little smitten by the various creative ways they find to do it. This kind of thing isn't, however, necessary to further mankind's knowledge. Surely it can't be a good thing to keep historians and academics in general financially confined when their work is so valuable?
 

Pat Young

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A few years ago I was lunching with some professor friends. They were encouraging me to publish a book with an academic press. I asked them what they were paid for their books. The reply was a couple of thousand dollars, on average. Typically these books sell 500 to 1,000 copies. I took a pass.
 
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Robtweb1

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Depends on a lot of variables. Self published or by an established publisher who will handle advertising, distribution, etc. If self published you have to put an effort (and maybe some money) on getting the word out. I self published mine and though it's on Amazon, the only time any sell is if I post something online or speak at a civil war roundtable or something like that. The answer to the original question is not much.
 

Saint Jude

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I think most authors are lucky if they end up with a buck per copy. (But, then, if you sell a million copies... ) For professional historians, it's mainly about tenure, reputation, or love of the subject.
 
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rbasin

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Unfortunately, history is not a big seller in the U.S., unless its make-believe. If we are talking about ACW writings, most are just re-hashing someone else's material. Seems like almost every year, there is yet another definitive book on Lincoln. Its no different from the one from the year before, but its definitive.
 
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Drew

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Unfortunately, history is not a big seller in the U.S., unless its make-believe. If we are talking about ACW writings, most are just re-hashing someone else's material. Seems like almost every year, there is yet another definitive book on Lincoln. Its no different from the one from the year before, but its definitive.
This is a picture to the "Lincoln Tower" at Peterson House in Washington, DC. Every one of them is about Lincoln.

Peterson House Tower.jpg
 

huskerblitz

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I've never been sure why we like to keep academics underpaid, like it's a rite of passage or some poverty inducing hair shirt proving one's commitment to their field. My son told me there's a 16 year old millionaire out there, whose work consists of opening packages on You Tube. You do like seeing kids using all this tech to achieve a different lifestyle and more, I'm a little smitten by the various creative ways they find to do it. This kind of thing isn't, however, necessary to further mankind's knowledge. Surely it can't be a good thing to keep historians and academics in general financially confined when their work is so valuable?
Being in education and not wanting to get into politics and the like, the short answer is those in academics do not produce a product that can be sold for profit (meaning educating students). Instead, we are paid by tax dollars and there is only so much to go around or we wind up paying considerably more in taxes. Yes, it's a sad commentary but it's true.

This is a picture to the "Lincoln Tower" at Peterson House in Washington, DC. Every one of them is about Lincoln.

View attachment 299048
As impressive as this is to see, it's also important to note that there are multiple copies of the same book in the tower. I was initially led to believe it was all the books about Lincoln (singular copy of each one). I was a little disappointed after seeing it and realizing it wasn't what I thought it was.
 
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Zella

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Depends on a lot of variables. Self published or by an established publisher who will handle advertising, distribution, etc. If self published you have to put an effort (and maybe some money) on getting the word out. I self published mine and though it's on Amazon, the only time any sell is if I post something online or speak at a civil war roundtable or something like that. The answer to the original question is not much.
Yes, self-publishing requires a lot more work than people often imagine. But even traditionally published authors are expected to put a lot more personal effort into marketing than they did in years past, with the rise of online sales and decline of bookstores. Publishers, including the academic ones, can and do factor an author's social media presence and prowess into decisions about picking up a manuscript and then expect the authors to take the lead on a lot of things that company PR used to do.
 
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Mr King

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Wow! The size of that Lincoln Tower!!! I didn't know there were at least 16,000 books on Lincoln! That's too much for me to read lol
 
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