19. Nov, 2018

For the price of a cup of coffee ...

Times are tough for everyone, but they become even tougher when one needs to haggle and try to justify why something is priced the way it is when trying to sell it. From a personal point of view, I try to sell my books – as does every writer/author- yet I am aware that most people think that I charge way too much for them. The perspective buyer sees the paperback version – and sometimes the ebook online - and they shake their head … 'I’m not paying that much; it’s way too expensive.’ Sadly, what folk tend to forget - or are not aware of - is that most authors sometimes spend years writing a book. That amounts to a lot of headaches, research, rewrites just while at the computer trying to get the words in order, and they don’t get paid for the trauma of it … not for one minute … let alone trying to cope with the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.

When complete, the writer may then spend time chasing after a traditional publisher, with letters, phone calls and entreaties, though, if they choose to self-publish, it is slightly less time-consuming. However, one still has to find a site that suits them.

In between waiting for replies from publishers (anywhere between 3 months and 1 year) or researching publishing sites there is the editing, - a must for any self-respecting writer. This is the most expensive step in the process of getting a book out there. The cost of this can be anywhere from AU$200 to AU$2,000-00, depending on the length/type of book/novel/tome … not an amount easily found with day to day living expenses.

Once edited the book needs to be formatted – this is about getting the pages in order, along with the checking of headers, page numbers, titles and chapter sequences.

Then after a good proof read – or three - you sign off … fingers crossed that everything is as it should be.

A cover is now needed, to keep everything together. The cost of a good cover designer ranges from AU$300-00 upwards - unless you’re in the know – or you’re clever enough to design covers.

After … there is printing. If you still have anything left in your bank account you can approach a local printer, but I have found most charge an arm and a leg, even with files that are ready to go. With that in mind you have two options left (if you have not been picked up by a publishing house) and that is to buy in small amounts from places like Amazon or Lulu (I use these examples as they are what I am familiar with) It costs an arm and a leg, especially with postage and handling added to the final amount. But … if you can mortgage the house or raise a substantial loan you can get mass printing done in China. HINT – don’t forget to ask if the quote includes shipping.

Now the author has books. Depending on the size and type the pricing can range from X to Y. This is calculated by adding the sum of the money spent altogether, along with the P and H costs – please remember here that the writer’s time is not considered in this factor. Divide the cost by the number of books on hand, add a dollar or two and there you have it … price per unit. We’re good to go.

But we’re not finished as now there is the business side of things to get your head around. You need to sell these books. You need to market – or get to market - either with online entities or through marketing businesses … again, more money. But if you’re broke by now then sadly, you’re on your own.

Fingers crossed here, with all your Facebook posts and Tweets on your progress over the years you have people who are still interested enough to part with their cash, because by now you have done your dash with giving away the books as gifts to your family and friends. Mind you, there is a saving grace if you could afford to get ebook formatting as well. You can then widen your platform (author talk for your shop) and get your books into a few other places like apple, iTunes, Scrb, mobi or kobo …    but at a profit of AU$ 33c per unit (if you’re lucky) you’ve got to sell a lot of books. At least if you sell face to face at a market, you’ll get the whole profit amount of $1 to $2 to yourself. That’s if punters are not scared away by the fact that you’re sitting all by your lonesome with a pile of books and a money tin … along with a look of sheer desperation on your face.