In Your Pocket

books4In this day and age there are so many books out there, the ultimate question asked by every reader of every author is, “What makes your book different?”

While I don’t want to say that question is impossible to answer, it can be difficult to answer. Even though books often share similarities with one another, they are all different. Otherwise, it would be a copyright infringement. But I digress. Because the entire point of that question is why should I, as a reader, spend my hard-earned money on your book?

This is why so many Indie (independently) authors have a multitude of ads and spend a lot of time talking about their work. Unlike traditionally published authors who get paid before the book even comes out, Indie authors don’t make any money until books sell.

Back in October, I wrote a blog about the realities of what an Indie author could spend to publish one book. If you need a reminder, click here. How-to-Increase-SalesNow that the year has closed and I spent a chunk of New Year’s Day completing my financial books for 2017, I thought it was important to talk about the other end of a book. The green part.

As I pointed out before, there are a number of free sites to use to publish the book. And I even stated that including editing, cover, interior design, and advertising, an author could be looking at anywhere from $1650 to $4600 to publish one book. To keep this simple, I’m going to refer to Amazon e-book publishing only in regards to earnings. It gets a bit more complicated if you get into POD (print on demand)/paperback novels or other e-book sites.

With Amazon, you have two options via KDP. One, you do not commit to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for the first 90 days your book is out, in which case you only make 35% of each book sold. Two, you commit to KDP for the first 3 months, in which case you make 70% of each book sold. We’ll look at each individually. There are two things I’ll be addressing: how much you would make per e-book sold on Amazon and how many books you’d have to sell to break even.

simple-math-addition-e1444300281982Generally e-books have what we call a sweet spot for prices and it’s between $0.99 and $5.99. Most readers don’t want to spend more than $6 for a book they cannot physically hold in their hands and to some even that’s too much. So again, to keep it simple, we’ll set the sale price at $0.99.

Looking at our two KDP options, if $0.99 is the sale price of your book, then at 35% you’ll make $0.35 for each e-book sold and at 70% you’ll make $0.70 for each e-book sold.

That means that based on our previously mentioned costs to publish that one book, then the following sales would be required to break even.

(Publishing Cost) $1,650.00 ÷ (Income per e-book) $0.35 = 4,714.29. This means an Indie author would have to sell 4,715 e-books to break even for one book.

There’s one problem with this equation. It takes into account advertising at a cost of $150, which is a continuous expense. So, to get a better idea of a break even cost, we’d either have to increase advertising to a yearly amount or take it out all together.

Taking that into consideration, let’s look at the higher end of publication without advertising and making $0.70 per e-book sold.

(Publishing Cost w/o advertising) $4,100.00 ÷ (Income per e-book) $0.70= 5,857.15. Which means an Indie author would have to sell 5,858 e-books to break even on the higher end of publication alone (editing, cover design, interior design).

But what if the sale price were higher? The number of books required to sell to break even would change, right? Let’s take a look.

(Publication Cost) $1,650 ÷ (Income per e-book) $0.70 ($1.99 x 35%) = 2,357.15 e-books to sell. SZAXMD7

And this is only through Amazon. The amount made per book varies with each site. Sadly, it begins to make a little sense why some authors cut certain costs.

Still, there’s one more thing to think about. Not all authors write to make money. Some just write because they have something to say. It doesn’t mean those authors don’t think about the expense, they simply think about it differently.

Let’s Get Real

bigstock-Money-Laundering-Cartoon-Illus-64544617The other day I was going through my Facebook posts and I came across one that had a generator for self-publishing. I took the quiz just to see if it would even come close to what I had spent. It wasn’t entirely accurate, but it wasn’t too far off either. Later that day I’m reading some of the comments and I read this one where the author (and I use the term lightly) stated the lowest amount he came up with was $1800. He went on to say he doesn’t pay for editing, he just puts it out there.

I had to stop because the # 1 rule for writers is you NEVER forego editing. And there are a multitude of reasons why. imagesIn fact, if you’ve ever read Fifty Shades of Grey you know what I’m talking about. Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect. No writer is and no writer will ever claim to be perfect. Perfect does not exist in the world of writing. The closest any of us can get is “just right.” That means it is “just right” in the eyes of the author. No offense to E.L. James, but the writing was atrocious. I read the book once and it was enough to make me question if an editor even glanced at the novel before it was published.

That’s a major difference between self published authors and traditionally published authors. There is almost a guarantee that traditionally published authors have gone through the editing process. Self published authors don’t have to pay an editor to look at the work. Some, like our aforementioned “author” prefer to do their own editing. cross-eyed-kidHere’s the thing, writers can only look at their work so many times before their eyes begin to cross. It’s the reason a break is often suggested after the first draft. Then again after the second and third and so on. This is also one of the many reasons why an editor is NECESSARY. An editor can find things the writer can’t. They can correct grammar, take out unnecessary prattle, and strengthen the work.

The reason why some authors refuse to use an editor is cost. On average an editor charges anywhere between $0.015 and $0.035 per word. That may not seem like much, until you realize the typical novel runs between 70,000 to 100,000 words. This means an author can spend anywhere from $1,050 to $3500 for the edit of one book. Seems like a lot, huh? Yeah, it can cost a pretty penny, but if the editor is awesome (like mine), then the money is well spent. And this is only if the author self publishes.

Editing isn’t the only thing to think about. A self published author also has to consider their novel’s cover. There are a number of ways to handle this. One, the author may be someone who can put together a good cover, but let’s say for arguments sake they aren’t. The next option is to use a generic cover provided by some of these free sites an author uses for publication. tumblr_mwq9bqqHOD1t06k0mo1_400For example, www.createspace.com or www.draft2digital.com. Both sites offer a walk-thru cover set-up. The last and final option is to pay for it. Now, depending on who the author uses, this can range anywhere from $50 to $200. This is on top of the editing cost. And let’s face it, readers do judge a book by its cover.

There’s also the interior design, but that’s limited to two choices. Either the author learns how to configure their novel or they pay someone to do it. If an author chooses to pay for the interior design, it could run another $400 in cost. So if the self published author has decided to pay for everything, then they have spent anywhere from $1100 to $4100 to publish one book.

And that is just getting the book out there. You’re probably thinking, what’s left? They’ve done everything right? Wrong.

There’s still advertisement, which is always optional. Creating ads isn’t necessary, but it helps get the information about an author’s book out there. This doesn’t include free advertisement, like friends sharing information about the author’s book or readers who leave reviews. Mobile-App-User-Acquisition-Increases-Through-Aarki-Social-AdvertisingOr if an author gets blogs to review their book in exchange for a free copy. There are a number of ways to advertise and not all of them are expensive, some are even free. But if an author chooses to pay for ads, this cost could range from $150 to $500 or more.

Let’s review.

Editing: $1050 to $3500, Cover Design: $50 to $200, Interior Design: up to $400, Ads: $150 to $500.

In total, a self published author can spend between $1250 to $4600 to publish one book.

Suddenly it makes sense why a self published author might chose to cut corners.