Have you ever wondered why best-selling Indian authors like Chetan Bhagat, Ankur Warikoo, and Ashneer Grover don’t earn as much as their foreign counterparts from book sales? It’s an interesting question that I came across while researching for one of my content posts.

According to data, writers in India don’t make a lot of money from book sales. For example, the most popular Indian author, Chetan Bhagat, has sold over 11 million copies of his books. At a royalty rate of 30%, this would equate to around INR 60-70 crore (approximately $8.2-9.9 million). However, a quick Google search on Bhagat’s net worth reveals a range of INR 200-350 crore (approximately $27.9-48.5 million). So, where is this additional income coming from?

My hypothesis is that Bhagat has leveraged his brand to create an ecosystem of revenue sources. He appears as a motivational speaker, judges shows, writes screenplays, columns, and even has his own YouTube channel and podcast. In addition, Bhagat and his wife have a registered company called Chetan Bhagat Entertainment Ltd. that reported a profit (PAT) of INR 6.38 crore in FY22. Many of the movie adaptations of Bhagat’s books also have him listed as a producer, rather than paying upfront royalties. In fact, Bhagat earned INR 1.24 crore (approximately $173,000) last year from brand promotion, promotional videos, and TV and talk shows.

But Bhagat isn’t just limited to the entertainment industry. He also has a significant investment in mutual funds, with around INR 20 crore (approximately $2.8 million) worth of assets listed in his company. It’s worth noting that these estimates are based on Google’s net worth figures, which means Bhagat may have earned even more due to his brand equity.

So, why do Indian authors like Bhagat earn less from book sales compared to their foreign counterparts? One possibility is the pricing of books in India. According to data from the National Sample Survey Office, the average price of a book in India is around INR 250 (approximately $3.5), which is significantly lower than the average price in other countries. This lower pricing could potentially lead to lower royalty rates for authors.

Another reason could be the overall demand for books in India. While India has a population of over 1.3 billion, the country consumes significantly fewer books compared to countries with smaller populations. For example, the United States, which has a population of around 330 million, consumes 20 times more books than India. This lower demand could also contribute to the lower royalties earned by Indian authors.

It’s worth comparing Indian authors to foreign counterparts to get a better understanding of the differences in income. For example, JK Rowling, the best-selling foreign author, made 165 times more money in royalties (at a 15% rate) on the Harry Potter series, which sold 45 times more copies than Bhagat’s books. While it’s not possible to directly compare the two authors, it’s clear that foreign authors have the potential to earn significantly more from book sales alone.

In conclusion, it’s not uncommon for best-selling Indian authors like Chetan Bhagat, Ankur Warikoo, and Ashneer Grover to earn less from book sales compared to their foreign counterparts. There are a variety of reasons for this, including lower demand and pricing differences for books in India. However, these authors have been able to leverage their brand and pursue additional income streams in order to build successful careers.

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