Show Me the Money
Updated: Jul 29
Two things people don’t talk about much—sex and money. Unless you’re in the business of either. Or unless you write fiction. Or unless you’re just crass. But I promised I’d write about my costs of hybrid publishing, and for free I’ll toss in the news about royalties.
Bottom line: cost of bringing Baby Doe into the world is $8292, not counting the writing MFA, many writing seminars and conferences, and a line edit or two before signing with Wheatmark publishing.
Here’s what I get for those $ from Wheatmark:
· A developmental edit.
· A line edit.
· Proof reading.
· Cover design.
· Page and cover proofs.
· Back cover info (Blurb describing what book is about and why one should buy it).
· Interior book layout (print and ebook).
· Registrations: ISBN, LCCN (Library of Congress control number), EAN barcode, listing with Ingram distributer and online bookstores. Official copyright with US Copyright office.
· Wholesale distribution with major wholesalers (e.g., Ingram and Bertram Books)
· Title maintenance with wholesalers and retailers.
· Management of returns and refund requests.
· Author discounts
· Print on demand.
· Marketing and sales sheets.
· Wheatmark’s continual online marketing advice (Authors’ Academy).
· Sales benefits: A $2000 credit when sales reach 2000, and a $3000 credit when sales reach 5000. (I know. If, sigh).
· Ten copies at no additional cost.
· E-book formatting and distribution (Amazon Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble Nook).
· Amazon marketing. Ad campaign setup and managing.
· One person who is expert in all aspects of publishing talks me through each step of the way.
What I also get is a non-exclusive agreement. That means I own the copyright as well as the publishing, audiobook, movie, and foreign rights to the book. I can cease my relationship with Wheatmark at any time. Before (and after) the book is published, I can peddle it to any agent or other publisher if I so desire.
So how much do I make? That depends. Nothing, if nobody buys the book. Boohoo. That ain’t going to happen. I have a son who went to business school and learned how to market
For print (paperback) books. Let’s assume a list price of $14.95. My royalty is 25% of list, equaling $3.74. Wheatmark’s wholesale price is 20-40% of the list price, therefore $5.98 (at 40% list), the difference being $5.23 which goes to the distributer and/or retailer. I don’t pay for the printing. except for those copies I buy myself at author’s discount, of $8.66 per book (for a purchase of 100-250 books).
For ebooks, let’s say the list price for fiction is $2.99. Wholesale price is 70% of list = $2.09. Author royalty is $0.90/ebook.
My goal is to sell a respectable 7000 copies (3000 paperbacks and 4000 ebooks) in a couple of years. My royalties for paperbacks @ 3000 x 3.74 = $11,220. Ebooks @ 4000 x $0.90 = $3600. With a goal for a combined print and ebook sales of 7000, the return to me would be $14,320.
Subtract off the immediate publishing costs, ($8292), the years of writing the damn book, the costs of schooling in the craft of writing, the time and costs of the website and blogging, and the future marketing costs to sell 7000 copies, you could say that writing the first novel, realistically, won’t pay the rent.
On the other hand, along the way I’ve had a good time. Met a lot of great folks. Learned, not enough, but a lot. The first novel is part of the learning, It can lead to more sales on a second novel by the same souls who liked the first book, and maybe some new readers. No way around it—a published novel is an achievement A published novel can lead to editing and teaching gigs. A first novel is a TMR, tangible, measurable result. A lot of us writers have fallen to the wayside as we try to publish, (traditional, hybrid, and self).
And then we can hope… When and if sales should sail past the 10k mark, and agents and traditional publishers come knocking, we can hope…
And if those satisfactions aren’t enough, maybe we persevere
just because that’s the way we’re wired, and it’s not (all) about the money.