One of the decisions everyone who writes a book must make is to either self-publish or to look for a trade publisher. Here are some things to think about. Awhile back I attended a retreat given by Mark Silver who runs Heart Of Business.
What to expect from trade publishing
It’s hard to get rich in trade publishing. Oh, it’s done, and we hear about it. There’s Harry Potter, just as a for instance. And there are recognizable names, like John Gray of Men Are From Mars fame and Wayne Dyer and …name whomever you like. Don’t forget the major names in fiction, either.
But how many books do most best sellers actually sell? . Or even a best seller. According to an article from the Washington Post published in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2007 called So many realty titles. What’s a reader to do?, best sellers don’t, on the whole, sell that many copies. That year’s top selling real estate book (Find It, Fix It, Flip It!: Make Millions in Real Estate–One House at a Time by Michael Corbett) has sold only about 31,000 copies since January of that year.
Do the math. The book retails for around $15. It’s probably generous to say that roughly half have sold at full retail, and the rest at some sort of discount. But let’s use $15 for our purposes.
Of course, I have no real idea what Corbett’s contract is, but if it’s typical, he’s probably making around 7.5% on the net sales or something around $1 to $1.25 per book. (Actually, it’s much more likely to be a buck or less when all the returns and other elements of the contract are figured out.)
Being generous, he netted less than $40,000 that year, and that doesn’t include payment to his agent. If he’s lucky, he’ll probably get something like $3,000 a month for the first year, before taxes. That’s far from a fortune and it’s unlikely he got that much the second year unless he did a whole bunch of promotion on his own, including lectures and back-of-the-room sales.
Self-publishing offers some other possibilities
What if your book could also serve as the textbook for a class of some sort? Or a lecture series? Or as more detailed information to sell to newsletter subscribers?
In other words, what if your book could be sold directly to your niche market?
The chances are you would be able to sell your book for a much higher price if you publish it yourself. Maybe much more.
Mark Silver has a 300 page book called Unveiling the Heart of Your Business. The ebook version costs $65 and the paperback one sells for $85 plus shipping and handling. He offers a selection of bonuses, all of which he’s developed himself. He sells a surprising number of these books as a stand-alone product. And if you work the numbers, he only has to sell about 504 of these books a year to equal the gross income of Corbett’s ‘best selling’ book.
But he sells this book, and others, as a required add-on to his classes. Not only that, his clients, like me, are raving fans and feel every penny spent is worthwhile, and he does it all without hype.
He’s not alone! Take a look at Clickbank.com. If you search in the business to business category, the first 5 books there sell for $97, $176, $47, $97 and $67 – an average of just under $100 each. If you look at the sales pages, you’ll see a ton of hype, and I have no idea about the value of any of these books. But they are selling. What if you could do something similar, honestly?
What if you broke your book into 12 chapters and sold it on a subscription basis? If your price was $9.95 per chapter, at the end of a year you would have collected $119.40 per book.
Okay, it’s not THAT simple
Obviously, it’s not just a matter of publishing your book yourself and setting a high price on it. Sales aren’t automatic. There’s a ton of thought, planning and marketing that needs to be done to make a profit with a book this way.
But given the realities of trade publishing, alternatives are certainly worth considering.
And that’s the point.
What’s your thinking about self-publishing?
Write well and often!by