I am writing to a growing group of capable authors who self-publish. If your book is being published by someone else, you may still enjoy these suggestions. If you read my blog casually, this one may not be for you.
Several factors weigh in on whether to self-publish.
- Print on demand is inexpensive and requires keeping little inventory.
- Any specific religious organization is to a degree self-limiting. There is a limited market size for any one who writes for a specific organization.
- Publishing houses publish a limited number of books each year. Quite often, books are scheduled years in advance.
Considering the return on your investment of time and the limits any publisher had it may make more sense to self-publish.
Let’s look at some numbers. You have to consider that a large publisher edits, designs, prints and markets. These are worthy considerations, but the modern “Print on Demand” has reduced costs. Nor is the cost for quality editing and cover design exorbitant.
In our scenario, imagine your book selling 300 copies in the first year of publication. You may imagine such a sell number to be low. That number is low, compared to a book on the list of New York Times Best Sellers. But selling 300 books is realistic in the denominational market. It is actually above average. I’ve now written 22 books and for me selling 300 books in year one is a success.
If you have questions, go back and read my post about print on demand. A small market size and the challenges of marketing limit sales.
Paths to Increased Sales
Any of the following things may result in an increase in sales:
Move the selling of your book beyond a single organization.
Speak at some events each year.
Travel and speak in local churches.
Market your book using direct mail or social media.
Your Book Published by a National Publisher
Now back to the numbers. The scenario has an author selling 300, 150-page perfect-bound 6″ by 9″ books.
In scene #1, envision the book as published by a small national publisher. In such cases, an author receives royalties of 10% on books sold by the publisher and 50% of the value of digital sales. An author can buy copies of the book for 50% of the retail price. The publisher does all editing, printing, shipping and marketing of your book. As envisioned, your print book sells for $16 and a digital version sells for $10. In most cases, more books sell in the first year than through the rest of the book’s life. So the numbers:
Sales Book Price Royalty to Author
150 Print Copies $16 $240
100 Digital Copies 10 500
Profit from 50 Copies you buy @ $8 16 400
Money to Author $1140
In this scenario, the $1140 is the money an author gained. You had better be writing for ministry! With the amount of work involved, $1140 does not pay an author minimum wage.
Your Book Self Published
Now in my second scenario, the author self-publishes the same book.
- The author handles paying an editor. My average cost for this work has been $250. To be conservative with the scenario, let’s set this cost at $300.
Cover design cat cost $200 – $300. I will use the more expensive number.
Printing your book with a “Print on Demand” publisher at a print and shipping cost of $3.50 per book.
Now for sales. The following projections reflect two authors recent experiences.
50 books were sold to a national book seller in for a Conference. That publisher pays 55% of the cover price. Net – $440
10 books to a bookstore who pay 60% of the cover price. Net – 96
50 digital copies for the Kindle. Currently, on a Kindle book priced at $9.99 or less the author receives 70% of the sale price. To gain this benefit, I price my Kindle books at $9.99. Net – 350
25 digital books as digital downloads either from your website or via social media sales. 100% of the revenue from these sales comes to you. Net – 250
100 print copies of your book. Any shipping cost being covered by the purchaser. Net – 1600
On sales of 235 copies of this book, mixed digital and print versions the cash generated to the author is a total of $2736. Costs of editing, design and printing is:
Print Cost (160 books x $3.50) 560
Total Cost $1260
Selling 235 books the author has an increase of $1476. Still you are not making minimum wage for your work. Yet, in this case, self-publishing is a greater benefit to the author.
I do believe a self-published author can do as well with total sales as by going with a publisher. I’ve already written about various forms of marketing your book. My next, and final blog on this topic will envision an ideal future for Apostolic authors.