Oct 7 2007
In the past year, we’ve seen more than one epublishing company crash and burn whether it is from mishandled funds, poor business planning; or simply not enough business. It appears that many authors who are epublished are relied upon to do their own advertising and editing appears to vary in quality a great deal. Unless you have signed with a major epublishing house such as Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, Loose Id, and so forth, does it make sense for an author to self publish her ebook?
Benefits of an e Publisher
Most epublishers will take 60% of the royalty of an ebook. In exchange, the publishing house will edit your book, produce a cover of varying quality, and make it available to its existing audience. You also benefit from the publisher’s general advertising.
Costs of POD
Print on Demand is quite difficult, if you think about it. Few stores, particularly the big box retailers, will carry a POD book. The costs of a printed book is much higher for a self published author. For example, according to this book estimator, the cost of a small print run of 500 trade sized books running under 200 pages would cost an author a little more than $2300.00.
Of course, the technology behind most self published books is the idea of the book being printed when it is ordered instead of financing a print run. Without a print run, though, there is little chance of gaining the browsing crowd. Instead, a true print on demand author has the audience that buys online, a similar audience to those who might be enticed to buy an ebook.
Some POD companies offer publisher-like resources such as editing, proofing, and cover art. Lulu.com is the most economical POD company due to the fact that it offers none of that. Instead, the author must edit, proof, format, submit artwork, and upload the materials to Lulu.com. For $99.95, Lulu obtains an ISBN and lists your book in a Global Catalog so that online retailers such as Amazon.com can offer the book in its database. Interestingly, as part of deal, though, you must purchase a proof copy of your book.
Beyond the $99.95 that Lulu.com charges, however, are the packages you might have to purchase to sell your book. For example, Amazon’s Advantage program costs $29.95 per year plus 55% commission for each sale. As part of the Advantage program, Amazon will stock approximately 5 copies; show your book as “In Stock”; make your book eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping, Amazon Prime, Fast Track, 1-Click ordering; and the Search Inside feature.
BookSurge, Amazon’s new POD service, offers a Fiction Writers package that includes editing and proofing, cover art, and Amazon promotional services for a grand total of $5,759.95.
According to this Absolute Write Forum poster, the retail price of a POD should be eight times the per printing cost which means an average fiction book will cost the reader over $35. At that cost you’ve got to be printing golden books; books with more potential crack addiction properties than the Navy Seal Vampires with color coordinated heroines. I recall one pirate book that was making the rounds a few years back. When I checked it out, the book cost $30.00 and was trade paperback. There was absolutely no way I was going to pay $30.00 for a trade paperback from a new to me author even if my blogging partner, Jayne, recommended it to me.
According to the statistics examined by the Science Fiction Writers of America, the average print on demand book sells fewer than 200 copies. AuthorHouse averages 111 sales per title; iUniverse 166 sales per title; and Xlibris, the largest POD publisher, sells less than 200 copies 85% of the time.
If you are selling 200 copies of a self published book retailing for $14.00 with an individual cost of $4.61 and 40-55% discount off the retal price, each book makes a $3.79 to $1.69 profit. This obviously doesn’t include any shipping costs nor does it take into account any promotional costs. On the average, I think its safe to say that POD doesn’t really pay for authors.
eBook Self Publishing Costs
Lulu.com is offering iPhone and Sony Reader ebook optimization for $25.00 per format. I’m not sure if there are other companies offering this service. I do know that to get a title on Sony’s Connect store costs $200 per book.
You cannot sell at Fictionwise directly unless you have 10 books published with a reputable publishing company (no POD or Vanity Press authors need apply). The ebook author, however, biggest investment in an self published ebook is time, as in time spent marketing the book aggressively to the online ebook reading community.
Stigma Still Exists
Personally, I know that I am less likely to buy a self published book than any other book being sold, particularly on a new to me author. M.J. Rose, a self publishing phenom, says that self publishing should be a last resort for an author, particularly a fiction writer. In my opinion, with the plethora of eBook publishers who are putting out nearly every kind of book in every kind of sub genre feeding nearly every kind of fetish and fantasy, self publishing should be the last resort for an ebook author as well.
Truthfully, when I see a book that is self published, either in ebook format or print format, I tend to believe it is simply not good enough for a publishing house and therefore not worth my time. This may be completely inaccurate and I might be missing out on great books but with the enormous number of books available from NY and reputable ebook publishers, I can’t think of a reason I would take a chance with my time and money on a book neither set of publishers wanted.
Can someone convince me otherwise?