24 June 2012

More Statistics for the Sadists

Because I'm an engineer as well as an author, I salivate at facts and statistics...so bear with me, both of you.

I'm sitting here staring at a check from a recent signing I held (you may have seen the post), and was finding the amount of the check interesting. So, of course, my brain is begging me: Run the numbers, fool!
(and who am I to argue with my mind?)

So, for the purposes of this exercise, we'll start with my two self-published titles in paperback, both of which sold at the event.

The Cure retails for $11.95. Through Createspace, I originally picked up copies for $4.78 each (this includes shipping costs to get them to me). The store sold them at retail price, and sent me 80% of that, taking a 20% cut for themselves (which is phenomenal, since most stores require a 60/40 (their cut being 40%) split). In a nutshell, this netted me $9.56 per copy sold, for a net profit of $4.78 per book (or, a 100% markup).

Death Brings Victory retails for $12.95. Through Createspace, I originally picked up copies for $6.35 (I had to add some rush shipping to get them in time for my trip to ConQuest in Kansas City). Again, my final take from the store (80%) was $10.36 per copy, for a net profit of $4.01 per book (a little over 60% markup).

As a comparison, let's take a look at Heroes Die Young. This book retails for $9.95. For the copies that sold at the store which I supplied, I had originally ordered direct from the publisher. My last order cost me (including shipping) $7.97 per copy. The store also had a copy left over from a previous order from the publisher, which I have no idea what they paid to the publisher...

So, taking the 80% I received on my personal copies, that ends up with me making $7.96 for each book, which (your eyes do not deceive you) means I'm throwing a penny away with each copy that sold during that event. Now, the copies that the store orders direct from the publisher, I do earn royalties on. Looking through my royalty statements, my most recent paperback royalties netted me approximately $0.80 for each copy (which doing some math in the background on my paperback royalty rate, means I've been getting paid based on the cover price? Score!), so we'll assume $0.80 was what I made from the publisher when the store's copies were paid for...

Now, of course, one might be correct in assuming that a book through a publisher is going to sell more, since readers will take that as a sign of quality over self-published works. At least in the case of this event, I sold more copies of Death Brings Victory, and the same number of The Cure as I did for Heroes Die Young.

I'm beginning to come to the realization that readers in general don't seem to notice (unless it's glaringly obvious that that the quality is poor, of course...which I've discussed at length before on my blog). Even some writers have trouble with the distinction...I discovered that one of my writer friends here in Wichita didn't realize that Death Brings Victory didn't come out with the same publisher as the previous two books in the series. That was interesting to me, personally.

So, there you have it...hope you enjoyed this trip through the facts and figures (and a little side trip into opinions)...if you have any questions or would like something broken down a bit more, feel free to ask.


  1. Dean Wesley Smith often states that readers don't care who publishes a book, only that it's a good book. In general, I would agree, but I know that for some markets (like Christian "bonnet" romance) readers will trust Bethany House and Zondervan over, say, Harlequin. SF/F readers used to think Del Rey and TOR meant something, but today I'm not so sure. Thoughts?

  2. I think that the only readers who care who publishes a book are writers who entrench themselves in learning about publishers. I do think that some publishers (like certain ones from Maryland) earn themselves a much-deserved reputation for putting out dreck, and readers (and writers) would be well-advised to keep an eye out for those titles.

    In the grand scheme of things, though, I think Dean Wesley Smith is right. Readers want a good book, nothing more and nothing less.

    One thing that might break out from that discussion, though, is whether a person could potentially kill their career by jumping the gun too early (before their writing has had a time to mature to the point they're writing "good books") into self-publishing.


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