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Publish And Be Damned

Everyone dreams that they can write a novel. However, even when the novel is completed the author then has to face the difficulties of publishing a novel. Most authors will self-publish as 85% of the publishing market is made up of five companies. If your book does not fit with the current reading trends of popular fiction, you are likely to receive a bucket full of rejection letters from publishing agents. The number of publishers may soon go down to four companies as Penguin Random House is trying to buy Simon & Schuster. In a recent anti-trust case, the US Department of Justice has brought proceedings against Penguin Random House, for their attempted buyout and this has raised some interesting issues.

The Squeezing of Independent Publishers

Stephen King gave evidence in the proceedings and described independent publishers becoming increasingly “squeezed” by conglomerates. “The reason they’re being squeezed is because they don’t get the shelf space that they used to because the majors take a lot of that shelf space.” My experience is things are even worse than Mr King thinks. If an independent author publishes their book on a print to order basis, then the amount of profit that the retailer can make is so little that they will refuse to stock the book. My novel is being printed by IngramSpark and distributed by Gardners. However, local bookshops tell me that they cannot stock it because once the fees of IngramSpark and Gardner are taken from the sale price there is only 20% profit that can be made on the book. I thought that printing a certain amount of copies of the novel might overcome that, so I could sell to the bookshops directly. However, bookshops will generally not purchase books from an independent (even when they offer a 50% discount) because of the admin that is needed.

How Many Book Are You Likely to Sell?

One statistic from the Penguin House case is that of the 58,000 trade tiles that are published each each, half of those books sell less than one dozen copies! 90% of these titles sell less than 2,000 units. Here we are talking about books which have been picked up by publishing agents and published through the traditional route; i.e., not self-published.

For someone who has self-published and incurred the costs of employing a developmental editor, copy editor, beta reader and book designer the initial costs of completing the book might range from a few hundred dollars up to US$ 8,000.00 (a good editor who has worked at one of the top 5 publishing houses can charge US$3,000 for a project). Even if the author sells 2,000 copies of their book they may only just break even.

How Much are You Likely to Earn from Being an Author?

The Author's Guild did a survey a few years ago which showed that the median incomes of all published authors who were surveyed—including part-time, full-time, traditionally published, self-published, and hybrid-published authors—for all writing-related activities was US$6,080. This therefore includes writing articles, book reviews etc. The median income for all published authors based solely on book-related activities was US$3,100, while full-time traditionally published authors earned US$12,400. This means that self-published authors are likely to earn less than US$1,000 for their book related activities.

Why Write?

Stories are a way in which we pass down our experiences to generations to come. It is why the Greeks and the Romans were storytellers. The story of Medea resonates today as it did two thousand years ago. A good story well told immerses the reader. It can make the reader laugh or cry.

What can Readers do to help Authors?

The obvious thing is to buy their books. However, if you have enjoyed a book then please give it a review. A good review on Amazon or in Goodreads is worth its weight in gold. So, if you have not yet bought a copy of 'Of All Faiths & None' please do ... and if you have enjoyed reading it then please give it a good review.

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