For a long time, I wondered why books had to be so expensive. It’s just… paper. With words on them. (Fantastic words with wonderful new worlds opening up and devouring you—ahem, sorry). Right? All right, maybe I wasn’t that ignorant, but paying 20+ bucks for a hardback was still something I hesitated to do.
But now that I’ve published my own books, I have a new appreciation for the costs. The costs for me to create the final version of The Lost Wings break down like this:
Editors (three of them): $1600
I didn’t have to pay $800 for a cover, I could’ve made one myself (but it wouldn’t have looked nearly as good). I could’ve skipped editing, but then the story wouldn’t have been as tight, and there would still be a lot of mistakes in it. And I could’ve skipped the proofs, but then I wouldn’t have known what I was selling, which seemed like a bad idea.
I have done all the formatting myself (though I did buy Atticus, and that’s not part of the above costs because it wasn’t just for this one book, but it’s another $147 + tax). I also haven’t done any marketing (yet).
Seeing the expenses, I would like to have a shot at making at least some of it back by selling my book. If I make $4 on each book sold, I’d have to sell 635 books to cover my costs – only then will I start turning a profit.
My hardcover costs $8.93 per book to print on Amazon.com. For me to make about $4 in the end, with my royalty being 60% on the hardcover, it means the price ends up $21.99 (I get $4.26 per sold book at that price).
For the paperback, printing costs in the US is $4.28 per book, and for a $4.11 royalty I have to price the book at $13.99.
Finally, the ebook doesn’t have a printing cost (only a delivery cost of $0.08) and I get 70% royalty instead, so to get $3.44 per book, my price is $4.99.
(The above are for Amazon.com, and other retailers have other royalty brackets and printing costs.)
Getting 635 copies sold will get me to zero – and that’s not counting a single hour I’ve spent on writing, editing, or anything else to do with the book. If I did count those hours, it would take me sooo many more copies sold before I was back to zero, but luckily, I’m doing this because it makes me happy, not to make a living.
Seeing things from this perspective was an eye-opener for me. Indies (self-publishers) like me do get more in royalties for each book sold, but we also don’t get an advance, not a cent before the book is finished and available. If you have the space in your private finances, consider buying an interesting-looking indie-book. We very much appreciate it.