The Reality of Publishing
Welcome to your e-book education!
Thank you for joining me on this journey of discovery.
Without further pause, let us begin.
The Reality of Publishing
It’s time to rip the grand illusion of publishing off like a band-aid stuck to a hairy leg. This is the reality of the industry as it stands folks. Hopefully this will free your mind to the possibility of making good money from your e-book online. The publishing industry is going through a forced (and much needed) overhaul. The way some publishers talk, you would think that they were being held at the literary equivalent of gun point! One thing is for certain, many challenges face the traditional publishers to whom we turn to release our long nurtured work. Traditional publications are expensive to produce, promote and distribute and as such the cost is passed onto the consumer (the average book costing $25), who let’s face it, needs to be pretty convinced to spend $10 these days let alone $25. While publishers have the luxury of dictating what they believe the public will read, this more often than not results in difficulty in predicting demand. Publishers cannot afford large budgets to promote the majority of their list, which leaves many authors to be their own publicists. The feeling that you had made it and could relax? Yep, that goes up in smoke. Because if you don’t help speed the sales along yourself then your book, your labour of love, is going to have a much shorter life than you thought.
Novels only have a limited geographical distribution, generally restricted to the country in which they are published. Shelf space in bookstores is limited and a book has only three months on the shelf to prove its worth against the other midlist books before being returned to the publisher and pulped (destroyed). There are no more print runs of your book and that is the end of it. This is a danger for every published author. For example one of Garth Nix’s famous books, Sabriel, only sold just enough copies to keep getting small print runs. It took 7 years until it had gathered enough popularity to be placed prominently on bookstore shelves rather than shoved in a back corner.
Right, there’s half the band-aid, now to how authors make their money. If this has demoralised you, just take a deep breath and rip the rest off with me. The hair will grow back…
One of the burning questions we all have is, are e-books profitable? It appears through all the research I have done, and successful e-book authors I have talked to, that e-books can be MORE profitable for an author than traditional runs.
Let’s take a look at the traditional publishing mouse wheel. A first time author is lucky if they get a $1000 advance. Now that is an advance against royalties, so you must make over $1000 worth of royalties to start receiving more royalty money. The average royalty payment for an author is about 40cents per book. This means you must sell 2,500 copies to make your $1000 and start getting paid ANYTHING. To get another $1000 in royalties you must sell 5,000 copies in total. If this book is sold for $15 a book (we’re going low brow here), they make $75000 for 5000 copies and you get $2000 of that. That’s 2.6% of the total earning that you receive. For potentially several years of work by the author, that’s a little steep. Most first time books will sell under 5,000 copies. The only marketing done for 1st time authors is generally a mention on the publisher’s website/newsletter and a local book launch and, well, that is it. How your novel sells is entirely dependent on where the bookstore owner decides to put them on the self. It’s not based on keywords or searches but biased opinions about what will sell.
Now look at the profit when selling an e-book. Even if you sell your book online for $7 a copy and you only sold 2,500 copies you get $17500, a damn sight more than you would through a traditional publisher.
Are those ripped follicles starting to feel better now?
TOMORROW: Why publishers reject perfectly well written and engaging books.