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Recommended rates of pay

The ASA membership list is a virtual compendium of the types of writers and writing, illustrators and illustrations in Australia. A sample would include – among others – one-time, part-time and full-time writers who contribute to or produce newsletters, newspapers, pamphlets, journals, magazines and books brought out by small and large presses with local, national and international distribution. As well as print, our members write for screen, stage, radio, or the web.

Their subject matter includes arts/business/science (natural, social and political), teaching/research, criticism/theory, sport/hobbies/leisure. They create how-to and DIY books (cookery books prominent among them), whodunnits, histories, life writing (biographies/memoirs/autobiographies), comics, speculative fiction and books for children, along with illustrations for such texts and even stories exclusively comprising pictures without accompanying words. And many ASA members work in more than one of those categories.

Although not all authors are in it for the money, all of us should be interested in maintaining and improving the status of writers and illustrators, especially when the future of the book now seems so uncertain following such rapid developments in online and electronic publishing.

Historically, different genres and disciplines have developed their own assumptions and conventions regarding rates and conditions which, although they might be changing, have a long way to go before they become uniform. Thus, producing an exhaustive and universally applicable guide to rates and conditions for writers and illustrators working across such a broad spectrum is simply impossible.

A few years ago a 2000-word story in The Bulletin would have commanded a $2500 fee, whereas today a short story in a struggling "little magazine" might only receive a couple of copies of the magazine in which the article appeared. An academic writing for a learned journal might not receive even that, instead having to hope that another publication on the curriculum vitae will improve her/his chance for promotion and/or tenure. Indeed, in the not-so-long-ago past it was not unheard of for a researcher in the so-called ‘exact sciences’ with an article accepted in a prestigious journal to have to come up with ‘page fees’ for its publication, ostensibly to subsidise the extra typesetting costs generated by the special symbols used for the concepts and the formats required for the formulas – such fees could be hundreds of dollars.

And none of those would be examples of what is traditionally called "vanity publishing". Part of the ASA’s commitment to achieving better conditions for writers and illustrators also involves working for greater uniformity of pay rates in the publishing industry, for work other than writing – including festival appearances and workshops.

While members occasionally might allow their work to be used for less, we encourage them to regard ASA recommended rates of pay (shown below) as an industry standard and, if possible, to negotiate fees higher than the minimum.

  • Book illustration

    The following rates are based on A4-size projects. Rates can be increased depending on detail required, research involved and conceptual input required. For ‘one-off’ or single illustrations paid on a flat fee without royalties add 20 per cent; for online usage, a limited time agreement of a maximum of two years and an indication of the type of access should be specified. The rates are exclusive of GST.


    • Black and white = $65
    • Colour = $95

    Black and white book illustration

    • Quarter page or chapter head = $215
    • Half page = $340
    • Full page = $455
    • Double page spread = $575

    Colour book illustration

    • Quarter page or chapter head = $300
    • Half page = $475
    • Full page = $675
    • Double page spread = $900
    • Cover = $1300

    NB: These rates are based on the recommendations of the ASA’s Illustrators portfolio holders. Alternative rates are available in the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s 2010 National Freelance Rates (for media, journalism and commercial illustrators) and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

  • Book publishing

    Print Agreements

    In its Model Publishing Agreement Template, the ASA recommends authors receive a minimum royalty rate of 10% of RRP (recommended retail price) for print books. This royalty rate applies to traditional publishing contracts where authors licence their work to a publisher to be sold in book form.

    An estimated potential royalty can be calculated using the following formula: Potential royalty = RRP x print run x 10%
    Thus for a $32.95 paperback with a first print run of 3000 copies, the potential royalty to be earned would be $9885.00.

    Typically, an author will be paid a proportion of this amount as an ‘advance’, the remainder being ‘earned out’ as the book is sold in shops. The advance may cover around 50% of expected royalties and be paid in instalments: on signing the contract, on delivery of the final manuscript and on publication.

    If a book is being published both in print and electronically (e.g. as an eBook), the ASA recommends the author receives as a minimum an amount of 35–50% of Net Receipts on each eBook sold, or 10% of the RRP of the Primary Australian Print Edition, whichever is the greater. This rate applies to new publishing agreements and addendums to existing agreements for print books.

    For more information about royalty rates for print books, see the Model Publishing Agreement.

  • Comics and graphic novels

    These rates can be used by publishers, organisations such as teaching institutions, the corporate sector and individuals wanting to commission comics creators to produce comics work

    The rates apply to commissioned work (work-for-hire) situations where the copyright might or might not reside with the artist or writer.

    The ASA recommends that comic creators who create original work where the Intellectual Property (IP) is already pre-owned do so under an exclusive licence whereby they retain the copyright. However, if the work is produced for a pre-owned project, then the comics creator may need to assign copyright.

    Comics creators could negotiate two payments for the one work: (1) pages rates; plus (2) royalties for copies sold over a certain threshold. For example, assume that a publisher releases 50,000 copies of a comic book containing 24 pages of art and story with a recommended retail price (RRP) of $5.00. The writer will receive a page rate of $100.00 per page, totalling $2,400.00; and the artist will receive a rate of $100.00 per page for pencilling and also $100.00 per page for inking, totalling $4,800.00. As well, once sales exceeded 35,000 copies (say), the writer and artist could ask for up to 5% each.

    Publishers or other commissioners wanting to audition creators for jobs should pay the recommended rates for work performed during the audition period.

    Where publishers or other commissioners want to bundle jobs with one particular artist (e.g. pencilling, colouring and lettering), then the commissioner needs either to pay out the rates for each individual job component or else the artist can negotiate a reasonable package rate that does not undercut by more than 15% the recommended rates for the total of all job components.

    Please note that these rates should apply as minimum Australian rates; some overseas companies pay higher rates. There will also be variations in pay scales for emerging talent as opposed to established brand-name creators or those who have amassed a large backlist of titles and many credits.

    Download the Comics/Graphic Novels page rates for 2011 here.

  • Freelance writing

    These rates are based on the 2010 National Freelance Rates approved by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and apply to all genres except poetry. They apply to prose (such as articles or short fiction for magazines, journals or newspapers) which is commissioned on a freelance or casual basis and previously unpublished. See the MEAA website for more information.

    • Per day = $878.00
    • Per half day = $585.00 (2/3 day rate)
    • Per hour = $219.00
    • 1000 words or less = $892.00
    • Per word thereafter = $0.89

    Cancellation fee

    In the event of a late cancellation of a commissioned piece, a cancellation or "kill fee" to the writer should apply.

  • Judging literary competitions
    • Whole day (max. 6 hours) $500
    • Half day (max. 3 hours) $350
  • Online use

    Rates for use of previously published material in digital form - download the PDF here.

  • Poetry

    It is ASA policy to review its Poetry and Poetry Anthology rates, with reference to Consumer Price Index changes. Please note that these poetry rates apply to first publication. For previously published poems, see the poetry anthology rates below. When calculating payment, the title of a poem should be included as a line.

    • Per line = $3.13
    • Up to 40 lines = $125.00
    • 41-60 lines = $188.00
    • 61-90 lines = $281.00
    • 91-135 lines = $422.00
    • 136-200 lines = $625.00
    • 201-300 lines = $938.00

    Poetry anthology rates

    The rate for previously published poems used in anthologies is $1.23 per line per 1000 copies printed, the minimum rate being $58.00 per poem (see chart below). Thus for a 65-line poem in an anthology of 2500 copies, the rate would be $199.29 (65 lines x $1.23 x 2.5 thousand copies). The title of a poem should be included as a line.

    Optionally, editors and poets could share a one-off payment of 12% of the RRP of the edition times the print run. For example, 2% of the RRP might be attributed to the editor/s and 10% be attributed proportionately to the poets: 10% of the RRP times the size of the print run would be divided by the number of poems in the anthology in order to produce a dollar value for each poem; and then each poet would receive a sum based on the number of her/his poems appearing in the anthology (a sequence being counted as the total of the number of poems within it).

    This system of paying poets whose works are anthologised could advantage them: anthologised poems would receive an up-front 10% whereas publication for poems in books that pay on the basis of sales, despite the size of the print run, could produce less than 10%.

    These rates should be used with the ASA Poetry / Book Anthology Licence.

    Print and digital editions

    If a poem is being published in both print and eBook formats, the licence and fee should reflect this twin form of publication. To calculate the fee, poets should use the above chart to determine the amount for the print edition, and then add an additional 50% for the eBook edition.

    The poet or rights holder should ask the publisher to clarify the digital formats they will publish in, and their anticipated number of digital sales. The licence should stipulate that the fee paid reflects a capped number of eBook sales (e.g. half of the print run), following which an additional fee will be paid based on sales figures.
    Digital-only editions

    For digital-only (eBook) editions, the poet or rights holder should request that the publisher stipulate in the licence the digital formats it will produce (e.g. ePub, Mobi, PDF) on the licence. The poet should also request that the publisher provide a projected number of sales of the eBook. Based on this figure, the poet should use the above table to determine a fair fee. The licence should stipulate that the fee paid reflects a capped number of eBook sales, following which an additional fee will be paid based on sales figures.

    For poetry published digitally in online databases or platforms other than ebooks, please refer to the ASA’s Online Use Rates (above).

  • Prose anthology

    Minimum rates for previously published material

    Price per 1000 words:

    Where the RRP is less than $25 = $135.00
    Where the RRP is $25 - $39 = $205.00
    Where the RRP is $40 - $55 = $267.00

    NB: The minimum rate of $135.00 applies for work under 1000 words. Works over 1000 words are calculated as a proportion of the price per 1000 words.

    For example, a 1800 word story in an anthology with an RRP of $24.95 would be calculated as: 1.8 x $135 = $243.00

    Minimum rates for original material

    The rates above apply to work which has already been published. Where material for an anthology is specifically commissioned or previously unpublished, a minimum rate of $325.00 per 1000 words or part thereof should be paid in addition to the minimum rate for previously published material. These rates apply to all kinds of anthologised prose. For example, if an original work with a word count of 700 words is being included in an anthology retailing at $24.95, the minimum recommended rate is $325 + $135 = $460.

  • Public appearances

    Speaking and teaching

    These rates apply for literary festivals, residencies, writers centres, tertiary institutions, and other public appearances except for schools. Members are encouraged to negotiate fees that are higher than the minimum.

    • Whole day (max. 6 hours) $880
    • Half day (max. 3 hours) $550
    • Per session (max. 1 hour) $350
    • Keynotes $1000 (This does not include online or print publication - which must be negotiated separately).
    • Weekly rate (max. 5 days - average 6 hours per day) $3600

    Schools (primary and secondary)

    Groups of over 120 or with mixed ages may incur an additional charge. Sessions may run for 45-60 mins, to be set by the speaker. Workshops for longer may be negotiated.

    • Whole school day (max. 3 sessions) = $600
    • Half school day (max. 2 sessions) = $450
    • Per school session (max. 1 session) = $300
    • Weekly school rate (max. 5 days - average 3 sessions per day) $2500

    NB: This discounted rate applies only if the booking is for one school, for a one-week block.


    Sessions may run for 45-60 mins, to be set by the speaker.

    Whole school day (max. 3 sessions) = $550
    Half school day (max. 2 sessions) = $400
    Per school session (max. 1 session) = $250


    This rate is for events where an author is required to read or perform their work individually, for a maximum of 30 minutes: $230

    Panel member participant rate (interim)

    This rate is for circumstances where an author participates as a member of a panel with three or more participants (including the chair/mediator), to discuss and issue or to present their views, with no preparation required. Metro travel time (home to city and return, or similar) is included.

    Total: $147.50 (ex GST)

    Cancellation fee

    In the event of a late cancellation of a speaking engagement, a cancellation or "kill fee" to the speaker should apply.

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