Questions from authors about publishing their book
I received this email a couple days ago. It is typical of the type of questions I get from every author for whom I either publish their book or produce the digital artwork for their book so they can publish it. The only proviso is that I only publish books for authors I know, for books that I like. I’m a fairly radical Christian, so I expect any books I publish will promote the Gospel, be a good witness, and be edifying to the readership.
I have some questions for you.
When you have a book on your Website , in what form(s) is it available? Only electronic or is there a way to have them published in book paper form?
Your books will be listed on my Website; but that is the least important point of sales.
Publishing has changed a lot. Prior to 2005, all publishing was traditional. If a publisher liked you book, they would get you to sign a contract. Then they would start working it over to make it fit within their standardized style [this is often a very radical rewrite]. You would have an acquisitions editor, a copy editor, a technical editor (to make sure references and examples were accurate), a book designer, a cover designer, a proofer, and then it would go to production. The publisher’s costs were:
- an acquisitions editor for style and concept $1,500
- a copy editor $1,000
- a technical editor (to make sure references and examples were accurate) $1,000
- a book designer $500 to $2000 (that was my job when I worked for printers)
- a cover designer $300 to $1000 (that depended on how much they valued your book)
- a proofer $500
- production $4,000 to $6,000 for the first 2000 books printed
- An ISBN# $125
- A barcode for the printed versions $25
TOTAL COST TO PUBLISHER: $10,000 to $25,000
Everything was sold through book stores. There were no digital books back then.
This is called vanity publishing. The publisher accepts your writings. You pay for all the production costs [$10-$25 thousand dollars, or more]. You buy the books from them and sell them anyway you want to sell them. Their cost per book is higher than the wholesale price.
If you want an ebook, you pay them to convert it. Cost: $1,000 to $2500
ISBNs used to be the dividing line
To be a traditional publisher, you must be recognized as one. This requires the purchase of ISBNs for your books. These numbers used to be free, but now they cost $125 per book, 10 for $250, 100 for $575, or 1000 for $1000. Then you can register your company with Bowker. You’ll need a business bank account, a legal address, and whatever else they feel like adding these days.
Supposedly, this is the only way you can get your book into bookstores, Christian bookstores, and companies like CBD. To a large extent this is true. However, what is not said is that you cannot get your book into these places easily if you go with a traditional publisher either [see next paragraph].
Now everything has changed
Most of the book stores have gone out of business. Over 50% of all books sold are sold online. Out of that about half of the books sold online are ebooks. Traditional bookstores increasingly only sell mass-market bestsellers. Christian bookstores are the same, as is CBD. It is true that these retailers only service traditional publishers, but a new, unknown author cannot get into those stores regardless. In fact, increasingly, a traditional publisher will not even look at you until you make a name for yourself and demonstrate a large following. An agent has the same requirements. Regardless, you will earn virtually nothing this way unless you are writing to a popular mass market.
The new self-publishers get free ISBNs and distribute online almost exclusively. They may sell less, but they get 40% to 70% royalties instead of the 10% offered by the traditional publishers. Let’s look at the online booksellers.
Amazon is the 500# gorilla now. They also own Kindle.
They sell over a third of all books sold and nearly 70% of those sold online (both in print and ebooks). They sell printed books they print through Createspace and ebooks through Kindle. The Kindle is the Amazon ereader. They sell world-wide, but they are not dominant outside of the USA.
Barnes & Noble. They also own the Nook ereader.
Second for print sales online is Barnes and Noble, but they are increasingly interested only in mass market books promoted by the big publishers out of New York. It is difficult and expensive to get them to carry your printed books [although Createspace books from Amazon can be listed with them]. Their ebook reader is the Nook, but it’s an inferior machine and is a poor fourth in ebook sales. They sell world-wide, but they are not a major factor outside of the USA. They are selling a bit in England, but nowhere else around the world.
The iBookstore from Apple
They only sell ebooks [no print] through the iBookstore [only available for Macs, iPhones, and iPads]
Second in sales for ebooks is the iBookstore from Apple. It’s available on all iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers— iPhones & iPads are the most popular ereaders. They do very well around the world.
Kobo ereaders and its online bookstore [ebooks only]
Third in sales for ebooks is Kobo. They are a company out of Canada, owned by a company in Japan. Their ereader is called Kobo. They are first in sales in Canada, and do very well around the world.
Lulu: both print and ebooks [no ereader]
They are the company who started the new digital self-publishing. They still sell quite a few books in print and ebooks. They distribute ebooks through iBooks and Nook, though they also sell them directly on their own site.
Answering your question: Where will your books be available?
If I am your publisher, I will be selling your book in print through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Lulu. They will also be available at libraries, institutions, and by order through any bookstore which asks. Your book will be listed in the same wholesale catalogs as those used by traditional publishers.
I will be selling your ebooks on Amazon for the Kindle, the iBookstore, Kobo, and Nook. I will also be selling them through Tomely [an Australian ebook store], Scribd [an online seller of PDFs], Lulu [PDFs and ePUBs], and several other vendors who sell through Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Kindle, Sony, Diesel ebookstore, and anyone else I find. There are new online distributors opening all the time.
I will also sell your books directly off my Website [we get a larger percent of the money that way], but sales there are normally much less than Amazon and the rest.
If you are the publisher, I will upload your books to any distributor you choose, including all mentioned above. I will charge you my normal production fees for producing your books.
If I wanted to give copies to my friends and family what forms are available” And if they are available, do you market them to bookstores? I know a lot of the population use electronic devices for just about everything.
I will give you a copy of the digital books. So if you want to give a copy, you can send them an ebook archive [which I also provide for you] attached to an email with a PDF, an ePUB [for everything outside of Kindle] and a Kindle book. They’ll be able to read them on the ereader of their choice. You’ll also be able to buy print copies at cost [below wholesale] to give to them. Because they will be listed in the normal wholesale distribution catalogs, any bookstore can ask for and carry your book.
My next question is how payment is received, both you and your authors.
Some of the royalties are paid direct deposit to a checking account; some are deposited in a PayPal account. If I am the publisher, I receive all the royalties and then pay you using PayPal once a month [if there is any income].
I’m sure you take a fee, depending on what you have to do to get it ready for the media that you use. Also, I would think some authors need editing and probably formatting. What are your requirements of me in that instance? And what are the usual costs to me, as the author? Or do you take your share out of the sales before sending the author’s income to wherever it goes – PayPal or whatever?
If I am the publisher, I get your manuscript, edit it, proof it, format it for print, proof it again, design the cover, and when everything is ready to print: I upload the book in various versions required by the different distributors. I’m a competent editor and proofreader. I will send you an ebook copy to read and proof on your computer. It does not cost you anything. I cover my expenses [several thousand dollars] out of my percentage of the royalties. I get 50% of the royalties.
If you decide to use my publishing house, Radiqx Press, we will have a contract to sign so everything is clear before I start work.
If you are the publisher, I do whatever you need to be done on a fee basis. You receive all the royalties directly.
I suppose I pay the regular tax rate on any income received, if I have that much income.
Yes, it is regular income.
Are there any other costs to me? Each of your services probably has a standard charge for each step you are required to take for “publication”.
If I publish it for you, you have no up front costs. I do it all for a percentage of your royalties.
If you were to pay me up front for the book production, then you would get all the royalties from all the different venues. But, you would have to manage all the accounts with all the different distributors. I would charge $250 to $1500 per book [depending on it’s size and complexity] to simply produce and upload the books to the various suppliers. You would be managing 1-2 dozen different vendors—all with differing requirements, royalties, and so forth.
As you can see, I’m asking about the business side of what I’m facing, and it’s comparison to going with a “traditional” publisher.
I work the same as a traditional publisher, but I am far cheaper.
A traditional publisher would charge you nothing up front and give you royalties of about 10% paid yearly.
A vanity press [traditional publisher] would charge ten to twenty thousand dollars for the book production, plus you would pay for your books. You get a portion of the royalties in most cases. But, you’ve already spent 10,000 dollars to publish.
If I am the publisher, I charge you nothing up front and give you half [50%] of any royalties received.
Thanks for the info in advance.
I usually work in WordPERFECT. If you want it in Microsoft Word, I can do that, as I also have that program. I don’t particularly like it, but have worked in it a lot. Besides, I’ll just have to copy it from WordPerfect into Word. That’s easy.
I can usually use an RTF [Rich Text Format] version saved out of WordPerfect. If that does not work, I can handle a Word document.
Also, any special formatting or do I leave that up to you?
I handle all of that. Book design and formatting is my foremost professional skill. I normally charge $250-$2500 for editing, proofing, formatting, producing, and uploading a book for a client. If I publish your books, there is no cost to you.
Thanks, David, and I’m looking forward to your answers.