Tuesday, February 3, 2015

BOOK RELEASE and the Economics of Indie Publishing

Woo Hoo! It's been a loooong road, but I'm happy to announce book 2 in my Phasms series was released today!

Aint' she a pretty one? You can pick up a copy HERE.
It's exciting to see my work out there on the market, but I had to think long and hard about publication of this and future works. I had to decide WHY I was publishing, and the Hubs and I had a long, hard discussion before I finally went forward.
You see, for most Indie authors, publishing is a losing proposition. Oh, sure, you hear about the ones who become overnight best sellers, racking up sales and dollar signs left and right. The thing is - there aren't that many of them. And with the changing market of the book industry, there are fewer every day.
Let me explain - and before you ask, yes I did minor in Economics and no, this won't require a calculator.
I'll use book 1, Infinite Potential, for an example.
I was lucky with this book - the editing was completed when my publisher went out of business, so I didn't have to pay that expense. I did pay for two covers: the print rights for the publisher approved cover, and then the cost to design a new cover when my rights were returned and I pursued Indie publishing. For this example, I'll just estimated costs for the Indie version, since I'm too lazy to look up the actuals at this point (my tax guy has all the paperwork as I'm writing this).
  • So, cover design around $200.
  • Marketing costs: I printed book marks and postcards and other swag, gave away paperback and ebook copies. All told, around $450.
  • I paid for a cover reveal and release blitz/blog tour and advertising, so around another $300 - $400.
  • Then there are the conferences and conventions. I went to So. Cal Writers Conference in February, and RTCON in New Orleans this year. I figure only part of both can be charged to Book 1, so let's say 10% of my travel and registration - which is MORE than generous and less than the actual, attributable costs and would probably come in around $400.
So, right now I'm into Book 1 for about $1,350. And remember, this is without paying for editing!
Then, I ordered 40 copies of the book to sell, total $440 with shipping.
I'm up to $1,790.
Not too bad, right?
Now, let's look at the other side of the equation.
  • I sold (cash) 35 copies of book 1 at $10 each, so $350
  • I sold 1 copy each on ARe, Barnes & Noble and Nook $8.70
  • My 1099's from Amazon total $118.64
My total income to date for Book 1 is $477.04
Less expenses, Infinite Potential cost me $1,312.96 to publish.
That's $1,300 out of my pocket. That doesn't count my time in writing, editing, working on layout, cover, promotions. My day job billing rate is (when I do consulting work) is $135.00 per hour. How many hours do you think it takes to write and publish a book? Don't answer that - the truth is too many.
So, why do I do it? Why do I publish when it costs ME money?
The answer is really quite simple: I'm a storyteller, and every storyteller needs an audience. My audience may be small, but I have one. They may not love all of my stories. They may not be willing to pay for all of my stories, but they still want to hear my stores, and I want to share them.
I've had incredible feedback from readers who finished Infinite Potential and found it helped them deal with tragedy in their own lives. I've heard from readers who were so touched by Kelsi's struggle, they had to reach out to me, thinking it was my own. I've had readers touch my heart with words, gifts, kindness and eager anticipation of the next book in the series, and the next. And the next story I have to tell.
I had so many readers download a free copy of Infinite Potential these past 4 days, it made it to #6 in Paranormal/Urban Fantasy best sellers and #27 in College/New Adult best sellers on Amazon.
And in all that time, I've only had 2 readers say they didn't care for the story - found it clich├ęd or otherwise a "bad read." 
You know what - I'm okay with that. I'm okay with their opinion, and with not making money on this grand adventure. Sure, Hubs and I would like to cover expenses. Fortunately, we can keep going for a little while without earning what the books cost. Not forever, but a little while.
Because it's all about you - the reader. It's about the audience awaiting the story. And it's about all the stories I have yet to tell.
So - there it is. The Economics of Indie Publishing. And that's the funny thing about economics: it doesn't always make sense, the way accounting does. But it always makes for an interesting discussion.
I hope you'll read book 2 - I hope you enjoy the story, and drop me a line, telling me what you liked, what you had for dinner, or even just "hello"!

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