Monday, August 27, 2012

The Dollars and Sense of It

I have avoided writing this post for several reasons: (1) a general aversion to discussing money matters, (2) an incomplete understanding of what traditional publishers pay new authors, and (3) I really didn't want to know the truth. But perhaps this delay will help blog followers, who usually want this information, find what they're looking for without having to search through older posts.

Below is an accounting of my biggest expenses for Brute Heart on a per book basis. These expenses relate to a 500-book print run for a 6" x 9" soft cover book 251 pages long with no pictures or graphics.

Printing                $5.50
Cover design           .90
Cancelled contract 1.08
Interior design        1.00
Copyright                 .07
ISBN                        .25
Bar code                  .07
Total                     $8.87

I have not included miscellaneous expenses such as copies made, telephone, postage, transportation, travel, computer supplies, etc. because they aren't terribly significant, and also because I am part ostrich.

Here are several ways I have sold the book and the net back to me.
Direct sale: $14.95 - $8.87 = $6.08
Mail order: $14.95 - $8.87 - $2.41 (shipping) = $3.67
Book store: $14.95 - $8.87 - $5.98 (standard 40% discount) = $.10 (yes, 10 cents!)

Just think, if I hadn't erred by picking, then dropping the bait and switch online publisher I originally contracted with, I could have at least made a dollar or so on books sold through book stores.

Do you, like some of my friends, wonder why I haven't tried to set up more book signings at Costco? I was paid a flat $6.73 per book and was required to print a poster at their photo center for $24.95; therefore the 42 books I sold during the 90 days they carried Brute Heart netted me a loss of $114.83. I think I will just be somewhat pleased they gave me some publicity and leave it at that.

So, you ask, what would I make if I negotiated a contract with a traditional publishing house? Royalties will vary, but typically an unknown author will receive 8% of the retail price, which means $1.20 apiece for a book priced $14.95. That looks pretty darn good to me at this point, and now that I finally know the truth about my bottom line I think I'll go drown my sorrows in a glass, maybe even a bottle, of wine. :) No, that doesn't change anything and just gives me a headache. Instead I will concentrate on selling the books remaining from the first printing and make plans for a second, this time doing the math before I start.

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