Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Economics of Self-Publishing

As readers know I went on a Self-Publishing Masterclass.  It was interesting, which is a politic way of saying I learnt a lot, but disagreed with parts of the day.  In fact I would go so far as to say with a major part of the theme.

The theme was that if you want to be taken professionally then you will need to hire professionals to make sure your work looks professional.  When written like that it seems so obvious and even self-evidently true.

And at one level it is.

But, here's my problem with it.  The cost.  The cost to have a developmental editor to make sure your story is all it can be.  The cost of a copy editor, which is essential for consistency.  And the cost of a proof reader, because it's a mystical art to be able to be a proof reader.  Add to the cost a book cover designer, and if like me you're working in a genre where the readers expects a type of cover, then you need an artist too.

A quick back of the envelope calculation produces a figure of about £4000 pounds or $5,500 dollars.

And that's before any sales.

Over on Kristine Kathryn Rusch's site she breaks down the publishing industry, and I was staggered to read that in traditional publishing the cost to bring a book to market is around $200,000 dollars.  From this one can see how traditional publishers don't make any money on the books they sell, and how this leaves the authors where they are.

So while Print On Demand, POD, does away with the inventory costs, the hidden production cost remain, and are something that needs managing so that they don't grow out of control.


  1. Interesting. Would it be possible to work with college or university students who are studying in the relevant fields to bring some of those costs down?

    1. Possibly, but don't traditional publishing houses call them interns? ;-)