Whenever I give talks about writing – and I’ve spoken in libraries and bookshops, and to book groups, WI meetings and the Rotary Club – people are always fascinated to know about the economics of self-publishing. Telling them how much it costs to self-publish – nothing! – always surprises them. (Of course writing a book costs a great deal in time, and you might well choose to spend money on professional editing services, or a cover designer, or a pretty template for the layout of the interior, but you can actually upload a book to a self-publishing service for no payment at all.) But what really surprises them is how little of the purchase price eventually makes its way back to the author.
If I sell a paperback via Amazon – cover prices are £7.99 and £8.99 for the Sam books – I eventually get about £1.30 of that sale. If I supply bookshops directly – which entails me ordering the books myself and then selling them on to the bookshop – I get about 50p per book in the end (and, in one case, I am actually subsidising a bookshop because I think it’s the right thing to do, and I lose about 20p per copy that they take…). And if I sell an e-book – Amazon lists them for about £3.10 – I eventually get about £1.10. I’m not eyeing up that retirement villa just yet!
And a very interesting article on this subject – where to buy your books in order to best benefit the author – has appeared on the website of the Society of Authors. It’s a very illuminating read and, as you might imagine, flies the flag for independent bookshops and local libraries. If you have any choice at all in how you consume your reading material, it’s well worth having a read – some of the observations will surprise you. (Although much of it is concerned with traditionally published books – they talk of buying in bulk from distributors, which is obviously only a pipe dream for the self-published – it is still useful to have the marketplace dissected in this way.) Click here for the article.