Show Me the Money

By C.J. Barbre

eBook or Paper

I mentioned Putting Your Passion into Print (PYPiP) in a previous blog but did not review it. I must say it is an incredibly thorough report on all things publishing up to 2005, but I would prefer to have an updated version. Tumultuous changes continue to take place with the onslaught of eBooks. Just this week Random House announced it is setting a new pricing system for eBooks and listing 17,000 titles on the iBookstore.

In PYPiP they discuss the “Reality of the Royalty,” a payment you receive when a publisher sells a copy of your book. For Hardcover you receive 10 percent for up to five thousand copies, 12.5 percent to ten thousand copies, and 15 percent above that. For Trade Paperbacks, you get 7.5 percent because they use better paper and are sold through regular book channels while for Mass-Market Paperbacks you get eight percent to 150,000 copies and ten percent thereafter, sold through special distributors.

PYPiP says authors are generally shocked to discover they get between five and 15 percent of the sale price of their hard work, their work-of-art, while the publisher keeps between 85 and 95 percent. But the publishers’ costs include any initial advance, the author’s royalty, the production costs of paper and binding, etc., shipping costs and overhead. The royalties are for one-color, standard-size books and are based on the cover price.

Of course, unless you go with a small press, you need an agent who gets a 15 percent commission on your advances, royalties and most subsidiary sales and 20 percent for foreign rights, after they sell your book, plus out of pocket expenses like postage, overnight delivery and messengers.

I attended a writers’ conference last year and heard Stacey O’Brien talk about her book Wesley the Owl. She shared that she hired an editor at her agent’s suggestion, whose editing she did not agree with, but spent half her advance finding this out. She then hired a friend who did a beautiful job but pretty much used up all her advance. In other words, if you do get an advance, you will need to use it to promote your book or simply get it ready for publication in this instance.

What are your thoughts on old school paper books vs. new school eBooks, their production and promotion costs vs. author royalties?

1 Comment

Filed under On writing

One response to “Show Me the Money

  1. I’m embracing the change. Any way to democratize the process I’m all for. Of my 4 children’s books published, (now that I’ve been through that process), there are so many things I didn’t agree with, but went along with because I thought the publisher knew best. WRONG. Everything from font size and style, to illustrations, to editing. A level playing field…FINALLY!

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