Contrary to that movie line, Greed is NOT good. We’ve all seen what greed has done to our nation – and our jobs, bank accounts and retirement funds – Greed caused the Second Great Depression.
Well Greed, when applied to an Indy or Self publishing writer, will also cause a Depression. One in which no one buys your books.
I’ve seen it happen quite a lot, when an author is using, for instance, Lulu to POD their titles. You’ll see it when you find a 200 page book going for $24.95 or some other ridiculous sum designed to give the author a profit of well over $10.00 per title.
When you reach the end of your design process with Lulu – and I assume it’s the same with all the PODs – you get to the point where you set the purchase price of your book. They show you what it costs, then give you a little square to add your author slice, and the calculator neatly displays what the purchase price will be for the public to buy a copy of your book.
Naturally the more pages you have, the more expensive it is to print. So a nice, thick, 400 page book is gonna end up in the $13.00 or $14.00 neighborhood. If you were to assume your efforts and creativity are worth a solid ten bucks per reader – you’ve just priced a 400 page paperback novel at $23.00 or $24.00.
Now ask yourself – do I honestly think someone’s going to pay that ?
Go to your local Barnes & Noble and wander around the hardback new releases. See those popular titles with price tags of $24.95? Not only is that a hardback, but it’s an established author with a big name publishing company behind it, probably sitting nicely atop the NYT BS list, or there’s a photo of Oprah holding it.
Well, until you’re on Oprah’s summer reading list, you’re gonna need a cold shower and a serious reduction in expectations. No one knows you, you’re using a POD to expose your novel to the world, and while it just may BE the next great American novel, no one’s gonna find that out if you’re pricing yourself out of the market.
Even your average midlist traditional author is only making a few cents for every book sold. This is why they have day jobs. Now, I don’t have overhead – I don’t have to pay a cover artist, or an editing staff, or see an agent take a big cut. And I don’t have to see portions of my profits pay for the running of a publishing house from the top exec down to the mail boy. So in the interests of full disclosure, I can admit that I make exactly $1.00 for every book I sell.
One Dollar. That’s more than traditional authors make per unit, but I’m not selling nearly their volume, or having ninety percent of each sale pay so many other people.
When I reach the final stage in my production line at Lulu, I take whatever their flat cost is, then I add one dollar, and that’s the price of the book. Am I making any money? Yeah, I am. Is it a lot? Of course not. Remember, I also let readers enjoy these novels online for free if they prefer not to send me any money.
Am I having a great time, enjoying an extreme sense of self-satisfaction, and basking in the light of my personal happy place?
Damn straight, I am.
If you’ve gone Indy, or you’re considering it, just remember – You’re going to get out of it exactly what you put in. Hard work, research, experimentation, writing, careful edits, and pride all pay off in the end. But sometimes the currency isn’t what you expected.
Power to the People!
Make Love, not War!
Is that the Sale Price?