Echoed manually (and belatedly) from http://pdlloyd.livejournal.com/80397.html
I recently came across the blog, Publetariat: People Who Publish
, through an article to which someone on my reading list linked. The articles I saw on their blog were articles that had been republished with the permission of the original authors and I found many of them interesting, so I started following the blog. Then along came this article, which Publetariat
states is included in their Vault University
as a "sample" article, Crunching The Numbers: How It's Possible To Sell Every Copy Of Your Self-Published Book And Still Lose Money (And How To Avoid That Outcome)
. Looking more closely at Vault University
, I see that they are offering a "curriculum" centered around self-publishing.
[As an aside, at TusCon 36
, Mike Stackpole
spoke for most of two hours on self-publishing and related issues, so you can expect a future post on the subject.]
I don't feel that the figures given in Crunching The Numbers
are reasonable, at least with regard to the cost of getting books into the hands of readers. Here's why:
- Someone who orders a book expects to pay for postage, so it's far more reasonable to assume that the self-published author will charge for postage.
- The actual cost of postage for a standard hardback is closer to $3.50, which I know because my family has been involved in the used book market and has shipped many books.
- It's not unreasonable to charge one's customers a fee of $6 for shipping and handling within the U.S., with appropriately higher fees for international purchases, should you choose to ship world-wide.
So, instead of adding $89,700 to the author's expenses to cover the postage, if one assumes that the author only charges $2.50 more than the cost of shipping regardless of the final destination, and that the author does his or her own handling, rather than paying someone to do it for them, it's possible to actually subtract $25,000 (10,000 x $2.50) from the expenses (or add that to the profits, which is the same thing). Here's what happens to the table of expenses shown in the article
, showing what happens when you make the changes I've mentioned here:
|10,000 books sold at US$20 each, minus 3% proc. fee
|Fees paid to Publisher X for setup, + add-on services
|10,000 copies of book @ $12 per copy
|Shipping from Publisher X
|Shipping to all buyers, 10,000 copies @ a profit of $2.50 ea
Now, I'm not going to go to the effort of verifying the rest of these figures; I certainly don't have any experience or particular knowledge of self-publishing. But, I don't feel it's reasonable or necessary to exaggerate the financial costs of self-publishing a successful book (i.e., one that sells out) in order to suggest that one needs to be cautious when considering self-publishing, primarily because it makes far more sense to be aware that very, very few self-published books will sell in large enough numbers to pay back the cost of publication.