Most of our print books by The Difference Press & The Author Incubator sell in paperback, so I’m going to give you a basic calculation of what it would take for you to “not pay to publish” with a traditional publisher.
Let’s take a $14.95 trade paperback where the author a standard receives 7.5% retail. That translates to:
- $7.48 to the bookseller
- $5.83 to the publisher
- $0.95 to the author
- $0.17 to the agent
Let’s say you got a standard “good” advance of $10,000.
Let’s say in a year you sell the predicated 10,526 copies in order for you to “earn out your advance.”
You will have $0 new dollars – because you already got paid for all that work before you did it, remember? YAY!
And your publisher will have $61,366.58 shiny new pennies.
Alternatively let’s say you invested half of the money you and your publisher made in a year – that’s a total of your $10K plus your publisher’s $61K divided by 2 that’s around $35,000 in your budget.
Let’s say you and I sat down and came up with a plan for you to spend $35,000 wisely on publishing and marketing your book, right? And you sold that same 10,526 copies on your own. Then you would have $6.95 in gross revenue from each book to keep yourself or a total of $73,155.70. After your expenses of $35,000, that’s $38,155.70 for you to keep. Almost 4 times what you got from the publisher and oh my god how much more satisfying.
Now of course if your book only sells 200 copies, then a traditional deal would be great.
You get $10,000 when you really only earned $190. You are up almost $9,800 on the house assuming they aren’t asking for the money back which some publishers do these days.
The publisher gets $1,166 so they lose about $9K plus all their expenses for the services they provided – probably a $20k – $25K loss for the publisher all together.
Oh and your agent, let’s not forget her, she put in about 100 hours on working with you. She’s made $1500 back on the advance but now she has burned a bridge with this publisher and she’s not super excited about your next book.
So saying you don’t pay to publish is either a complete myth or a complete scam.
Either way my vote is always for betting on yourself to win.
P.S. Gold Star for you if you followed the math here! Most people just don’t get it!
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