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 The economics of publishing a typical novel

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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyTue Feb 05, 2008 1:32 am

Otto Penzler -- founder of Mysterious Press wrote:
If your publisher's committee decides to publish your book, they hope to make money. But in most cases they will not.
Here are the economics of publishing a typical novel. For the sake of mathematical cleanliness, let's assume a first print run of 10,000 copies, an advance of $10,000, and a price tag of $20.
10,000 x $20 does not add up to $200,000. The average discount to bookstores, libraries, etc is 48%, which means that if the whole run sells out, the publisher gets $104,000. Almost never does the whole run sell out. If the author is lucky, 7500 copies will sell - a "75% sellthrough," a very good percentage. (50% is more typical.) This means that the publisher actually gets 75% of that $104,000, or $78,000.

Otto Penzler -- founder of Mysterious Press wrote:
Some people are a success after all. But no one really knows how or why it happens, and even successful authors never know if it'll happen again. If you need to make a living, reconsider. If you've got the creative urge - for writer and publisher, it's the best badly paid job in the world.

Ever wondered how much it costs to publish a work of fiction? Check out this web site to find out:

Mystery Writers

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The economics of publishing a typical novel 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- İShelagh Watkins 2017
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Abe F. March
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Abe F. March

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PostSubject: Re: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyTue Feb 05, 2008 6:00 am

Shelagh,
I think all writers needs to be aware of those facts. When I hear comments that one expects the book they are writing, or wrote, to be their nest egg, I hope that they have their basic needs covered.
Writing that best seller is a great and lofty ambition, but I don't think one should quite their job until the bank account supports it.
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyTue Feb 05, 2008 6:10 am

Nice figures there Shelagh, thanks for putting things so nicely into perspective.
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyTue Feb 05, 2008 6:47 am

Yes Abe, as Otto says, don't give up the day job!

Thanks George! In Otto's example the net amount of money the publisher receives on a $20 book selling 75% of a 10,000 print run is $78,000. If royalties of 10% were paid, the author would receive $7,800 but the advance was assumed to be $10,000 which gives a shortfall of $2,200.

So, how can publishers afford to take on first-time authors? They have a very thorough risk-asseessment procedure that means no matter how well-written or exciting a book may be, if the projected sales are low, the publisher will not take the risk.

Here's how it works. If a book by a first-time author sells 20,000 copies with the help of marketing and promotion to produce those sales, then the book has an audience of 20,000 + all the readers who don't buy the book -- friends, relatives and library goers. If every book is read by 5 people that gives the book 100,000 readers. Out of those readers, the publisher would expect to sell twice as many books for the second book by the same author: 40,000 copies. Marketing and promotion costs are less because the readership has been established and the publisher recoups the losses made on the first book. If the second book performs badly -- and 30,000 copies would fall into that category -- then there is no way the publishers will take on a third book.

Authors feel let down by their publishers when books that are selling tens of thousands copies are dropped. As far as books are concerned, it isn't the number of books sold that matters. What matters to publishers is making a profit.

Many new authors think that publishers are waiting eagerly for their pride and joy manuscript which they will turn into a bestseller. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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The economics of publishing a typical novel 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- İShelagh Watkins 2017
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyTue Feb 05, 2008 6:50 am

Another excellent article Shelagh. Very informative, and since it was a talk given in 1999, we know that the figures have gotten even higher, cost wise. I am certainly glad I did not consider writing to be my nest egg!! bom
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyTue Feb 05, 2008 7:00 am

I guess if I was a publisher, I'd be cherry picking PoD books too! The economics of publishing a typical novel Rof%28l%29mao
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyWed Feb 06, 2008 2:54 am

The above hypothetical example was based on a print run of 10,000 copies. In reality, the first Potter book had an initial run of 500 hardback copies. These are now collector's items and the latest to go under the hammer sold for £19,700.

http://books.guardian.co.uk/harrypotter/story/0,,2198947,00.html

I'll be adding more about J.K. Rowling later.

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The economics of publishing a typical novel 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- İShelagh Watkins 2017
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyWed Feb 06, 2008 3:37 am

Wooo, the first run of my first novel was only 400 copies and that's sold out now, so once One World becomes an international bestseller, those 400 copies could be worth something. They're already going for £25! (And I've got 3 mint copies stashed)

lol!
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: The economics of publishing a typical novel   The economics of publishing a typical novel EmptyWed Feb 06, 2008 4:19 am

Sounds like you are onto a winner there George! lol!

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The economics of publishing a typical novel 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ The economics of publishing a typical novel 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- İShelagh Watkins 2017
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