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Passion, People and Principles

Self-Publishing: The Economics

post # 469 — November 26, 2007 — a Strategy and the Fat Smoker post

There are only a few key numbers to pay attention to in self-publishing, which means that each is very important.

First comes the book’s cover price. There are basically two main strategies that people follow here – stay in line with other mainstream books if you want a shot at a general audience, or consciously set out to extract a premium from the niche audience you are targetting.

I set my new book (STRATEGY AND THE FAT SMOKER) at the mainstream price of US$29.95

Next, you have to factor in the bookseller’s discount, which can be anywhere from 40% to 55% (Amazon requires the latter if you want your book available for pre-order before publication date.)

So now you have anywhere between $13.50 and $18.00 to cover production and distribution.

There are two main technologies today for this: print-on-demand (no inventory) and old-fashioned off-set printing where you choose a print run and store the books.

The prices for these two are still far apart: I was quoted $2.75 per (hardcover) copy for offset printing and $11.75 for print-on-demand. That’s a heck of a difference! The latter would basically have reduced my profit per book to close-to-zero after order processing and other distribution charges.

Not surprisingly, I went with off-set printing!


David Kirk said:

If only all decisions were that easy, and the analysis so tractable. Wait, that way I wouldn’t get much work!

posted on November 26, 2007

Shawn Callahan said:

Hi David, how many books will you print to get a $2.75 per book price? And I was wondering whether you need to factor warehousing to the book price?

posted on November 29, 2007

David (Maister) said:

Shawn, I have an initial print run of 10,000.

The $2.75 is part of a broader production/warehousing/distribution deal, so basically includes warehousing costs (barring extreme events like being stuck with 9,500 of them for a year!!!)

posted on November 29, 2007