“A Publisher’s Perspective on Publishing”

 

 

“A Publisher’s Perspective on Publishing”

 

What is your experience as a publisher? My partner and I published the Civil War magazine called “The Kepi,” which had the largest subscription after the mainstream publication, “Civil War Times, Illustrated,” and I am currently publisher of “Ahead of the Press,” which handles both e-books and paperback books through Amazon.

 

What is the difference between magazine and e-book publishing? A magazine is published on a very tight schedule (for example, weekly or monthly) and space requirements (fitting articles, advertisements and filler) on a page take on significant importance. The timetable for an e-book is somewhat looser.

 

What time considerations are there with an e-book? Every publisher establishes goals at the start of the fiscal year. This includes the number of books they intend to publish, the number of submissions they can review, accept and begin on the path to publication. All of these pieces must mesh together or the system breaks down and that leads to disappointment, both for the publisher and the authors.

 

Is it really all about money? The harsh answer is yes. It is. No one can afford to operate at a loss. That’s pure and simple business. Make no mistake: altruism only carries a publisher so far. After that, you have to face the wolf at the door. This explains the high percent of small publishers which fail. Many try to do more than they’re capable of and when their gambles don’t pay off, the business has to shut down. In that case, no one wins.

 

What costs are there for the publisher? That’s a fair question and I’ll turn it into several parts. The first has to do with time and energy. Assuming you’re speaking about small, privately-owned publishing companies, you start with the realization that the number of people involved is very limited and everyone plays dual roles. The publisher is probably a writer as well as an owner, and there’s only so many hours in a day to divide between business (publishing) and pleasure (writing). The publisher is also likely involved in all aspects of the business: finances, advertising and selection of the material the company accepts and communicating with the authors on a regular basis.

 

Most small publishers don’t keep a paid staff. Instead, they contract work out for a percent of the earnings. There may be several editors associated with a certain company but for the most part they work on speculation: the hope (and expectation) that the book they edit will be properly promoted and make money. That’s how they get reimbursed for their efforts.

 

That wouldn’t seem to affect the publisher’s bottom line. You have to look at the whole picture. Each e-book and paperback sells for a set price. Out of that come the author’s percentage, the editor’s percentage, the cost of the cover, and all the incidentals that go into the company. What’s left (if any) is what the publisher earns for the business.

 

What about the cover? I won’t go into arguing the merits of a professionally designed cover because that should be common knowledge, if not common sense. Covers done by professional artists are expensive. Period, end of story. Most work freelance and their work is as important to them as the writing is to the author. Just as you desire to be paid, so do they. If the publisher carries the cost of the cover, consider yourself fortunate.

 

What does a professionally designed cover cost? If you’re contracting your own, expect to pay somewhere between $100-$250 per cover. Don’t go cheap. It simple isn’t worth it.

 

What other costs does a publisher have? If you’re going to publish on Amazon (and you basically have to because it is the prime e-book seller), there are requirements for submission that must be followed. You probably assume the books are submitted in Microsoft Word in the same format you sent to the publisher but that’s not the case. Amazon demands all submissions use In-Design. Many small publishers opt to rent rather than purchase the software outright. That’s either an ongoing expense or a very expensive start-up cost. And while we’re speaking of costs, the publisher has to keep on staff or hire a software expert familiar with In-Design to prepare every book for submission. Another “invisible cost” is the company’s web site. Prospective clients, readers and advertisers tend to judge a business by its web site. That means someone has to design and maintain it, as well as pay the server for hosting it. All that costs money, too.

 

Do ISBN numbers figure into the cost? ISBN numbers are not legally required for an e-book but they are for a paperback. So, if the book is published first as an e-book and then it’s decided to bring it out in paperback, at that point the ISBN number must be purchased and added to the publisher’s page. If you do add them to an e-book you must have separate ISBN numbers for every modality: Kindle, Nook or other form.

 

What does an ISBN number cost? That depends on how many the publisher buys at a single time. If 100 are purchased, they are significantly less expensive than if you purchase just one. Typically, for a small publisher they cost $25 each. And remember, if you publish a book in Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, paperback and audio versions, you need a separate ISBN number for each one. That significantly adds to the expense of publishing a book.

 

If my book is published only as an e-book, what is the benefit of an ISBN number? Giving a book an ISBN number registers it with the US Library of Congress. The Library of Congress publishes a document listing all new books with ISBN numbers and sends it out in electronic form to registered libraries across the country. This not only creates tremendous exposure, many libraries now make e-books available for rent, providing readers a further opportunity to discover your work. Because of this exposure, my company issues ISBN numbers to every book we publish. Should you seek a publisher who does the same? My answer is an unequivocal yes.

 

Is an ISBN number the same thing as a copyright? No, they are two different things. Merely by publishing a book, you have legal, “defacto” copyright, but an official copyright is obtained from the US Copyright Office. It provides stronger protection from plagiarism. The publisher would be the one to do this.

 

I understand finances but I’m the author. It all starts with me. Why don’t I make more money from the sale of my books? This is everyone’s favorite question. Let me try and expose the nuts and bolts of e-publishing and see if I can make this lament any softer. (In the following example, numbers are approximate but very close to actuality.) Let’s say for example, your e-book sells on Amazon for $3.99. Out of every sale, Amazon takes approximately $1.42 (the percent is based on the cost of the book) off the top. That leaves $2.57 for the publisher to divide.

 

Let’s do a little math, starting with the cover. If the cover cost $150 and the publisher kept every penny of the $2.57, it would take a little more than 58 books sold just to cover the cost of the cover. Then, calculate the ISBN number ($25 for each one used) and add another 10-58 books to the total. These are hard numbers that can’t be changed. Taking 100% of the money received from Amazon for the sale of an e-book at $3.99, it would take 116 books for the publisher just to break even.

 

And remember, in this example, the publisher kept everything. Of course, they don’t. They have their own expenses to pay and in order to stay in business, they also need a profit. So, when you consider the author who rightfully started it all, I think you now have a better idea where the money goes.

 

The author receives a percent of books sold which is predetermined and written as a legal and binding contract. It varies from publisher to publisher. If you’re not satisfied with the terms, don’t agree to the contract. If you do and complain later, you’ll greatly decrease your chances of ever working with that publisher again.

 

The math is grim. How does it all work out? Successful e-publishing is predicated on volume. The more books that sell, the more money is generated and that means a higher percent for everyone. It means the author is rewarded for their creativity, the publisher for taking a chance and financing the project and the peripheral artists can receive a fair and proper remuneration. One additional point to consider is that if a book is well-received and sells well, you, as author, begin to develop a following. People tend to buy books written by authors they like. Once you develop a following your “market value” goes up.

 

How do I get my book on the New York Times best-seller list?  You write a good book, you promote it and reach out to local newspaper, radio and TV reporters to review it. Remember: you’re your own best salesman! (As you’ve probably already found out, your friends will faithfully promise to buy, read and review your book and won’t. Don’t let this ruin a good friendship or family relationship. It happens to everyone.) You never give up the faith and you keep writing. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A Publisher’s Perspective on Publishing”

 

What is your experience as a publisher? My partner and I published the Civil War magazine called “The Kepi,” which had the largest subscription after the mainstream publication, “Civil War Times, Illustrated,” and I am currently publisher of “Ahead of the Press,” which handles both e-books and paperback books through Amazon.

 

What is the difference between magazine and e-book publishing? A magazine is published on a very tight schedule (for example, weekly or monthly) and space requirements (fitting articles, advertisements and filler) on a page take on significant importance. The timetable for an e-book is somewhat looser.

 

What time considerations are there with an e-book? Every publisher establishes goals at the start of the fiscal year. This includes the number of books they intend to publish, the number of submissions they can review, accept and begin on the path to publication. All of these pieces must mesh together or the system breaks down and that leads to disappointment, both for the publisher and the authors.

 

Is it really all about money? The harsh answer is yes. It is. No one can afford to operate at a loss. That’s pure and simple business. Make no mistake: altruism only carries a publisher so far. After that, you have to face the wolf at the door. This explains the high percent of small publishers which fail. Many try to do more than they’re capable of and when their gambles don’t pay off, the business has to shut down. In that case, no one wins.

 

What costs are there for the publisher? That’s a fair question and I’ll turn it into several parts. The first has to do with time and energy. Assuming you’re speaking about small, privately-owned publishing companies, you start with the realization that the number of people involved is very limited and everyone plays dual roles. The publisher is probably a writer as well as an owner, and there’s only so many hours in a day to divide between business (publishing) and pleasure (writing). The publisher is also likely involved in all aspects of the business: finances, advertising and selection of the material the company accepts and communicating with the authors on a regular basis.

 

Most small publishers don’t keep a paid staff. Instead, they contract work out for a percent of the earnings. There may be several editors associated with a certain company but for the most part they work on speculation: the hope (and expectation) that the book they edit will be properly promoted and make money. That’s how they get reimbursed for their efforts.

 

That wouldn’t seem to affect the publisher’s bottom line. You have to look at the whole picture. Each e-book and paperback sells for a set price. Out of that come the author’s percentage, the editor’s percentage, the cost of the cover, and all the incidentals that go into the company. What’s left (if any) is what the publisher earns for the business.

 

What about the cover? I won’t go into arguing the merits of a professionally designed cover because that should be common knowledge, if not common sense. Covers done by professional artists are expensive. Period, end of story. Most work freelance and their work is as important to them as the writing is to the author. Just as you desire to be paid, so do they. If the publisher carries the cost of the cover, consider yourself fortunate.

 

What does a professionally designed cover cost? If you’re contracting your own, expect to pay somewhere between $100-$250 per cover. Don’t go cheap. It simple isn’t worth it.

 

What other costs does a publisher have? If you’re going to publish on Amazon (and you basically have to because it is the prime e-book seller), there are requirements for submission that must be followed. You probably assume the books are submitted in Microsoft Word in the same format you sent to the publisher but that’s not the case. Amazon demands all submissions use In-Design. Many small publishers opt to rent rather than purchase the software outright. That’s either an ongoing expense or a very expensive start-up cost. And while we’re speaking of costs, the publisher has to keep on staff or hire a software expert familiar with In-Design to prepare every book for submission. Another “invisible cost” is the company’s web site. Prospective clients, readers and advertisers tend to judge a business by its web site. That means someone has to design and maintain it, as well as pay the server for hosting it. All that costs money, too.

 

Do ISBN numbers figure into the cost? ISBN numbers are not legally required for an e-book but they are for a paperback. So, if the book is published first as an e-book and then it’s decided to bring it out in paperback, at that point the ISBN number must be purchased and added to the publisher’s page. If you do add them to an e-book you must have separate ISBN numbers for every modality: Kindle, Nook or other form.

 

What does an ISBN number cost? That depends on how many the publisher buys at a single time. If 100 are purchased, they are significantly less expensive than if you purchase just one. Typically, for a small publisher they cost $25 each. And remember, if you publish a book in Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, paperback and audio versions, you need a separate ISBN number for each one. That significantly adds to the expense of publishing a book.

 

If my book is published only as an e-book, what is the benefit of an ISBN number? Giving a book an ISBN number registers it with the US Library of Congress. The Library of Congress publishes a document listing all new books with ISBN numbers and sends it out in electronic form to registered libraries across the country. This not only creates tremendous exposure, many libraries now make e-books available for rent, providing readers a further opportunity to discover your work. Because of this exposure, my company issues ISBN numbers to every book we publish. Should you seek a publisher who does the same? My answer is an unequivocal yes.

 

Is an ISBN number the same thing as a copyright? No, they are two different things. Merely by publishing a book, you have legal, “defacto” copyright, but an official copyright is obtained from the US Copyright Office. It provides stronger protection from plagiarism. The publisher would be the one to do this.

 

I understand finances but I’m the author. It all starts with me. Why don’t I make more money from the sale of my books? This is everyone’s favorite question. Let me try and expose the nuts and bolts of e-publishing and see if I can make this lament any softer. (In the following example, numbers are approximate but very close to actuality.) Let’s say for example, your e-book sells on Amazon for $3.99. Out of every sale, Amazon takes approximately $1.42 (the percent is based on the cost of the book) off the top. That leaves $2.57 for the publisher to divide.

 

Let’s do a little math, starting with the cover. If the cover cost $150 and the publisher kept every penny of the $2.57, it would take a little more than 58 books sold just to cover the cost of the cover. Then, calculate the ISBN number ($25 for each one used) and add another 10-58 books to the total. These are hard numbers that can’t be changed. Taking 100% of the money received from Amazon for the sale of an e-book at $3.99, it would take 116 books for the publisher just to break even.

 

And remember, in this example, the publisher kept everything. Of course, they don’t. They have their own expenses to pay and in order to stay in business, they also need a profit. So, when you consider the author who rightfully started it all, I think you now have a better idea where the money goes.

 

The author receives a percent of books sold which is predetermined and written as a legal and binding contract. It varies from publisher to publisher. If you’re not satisfied with the terms, don’t agree to the contract. If you do and complain later, you’ll greatly decrease your chances of ever working with that publisher again.

 

The math is grim. How does it all work out? Successful e-publishing is predicated on volume. The more books that sell, the more money is generated and that means a higher percent for everyone. It means the author is rewarded for their creativity, the publisher for taking a chance and financing the project and the peripheral artists can receive a fair and proper remuneration. One additional point to consider is that if a book is well-received and sells well, you, as author, begin to develop a following. People tend to buy books written by authors they like. Once you develop a following your “market value” goes up.

 

How do I get my book on the New York Times best-seller list?  You write a good book, you promote it and reach out to local newspaper, radio and TV reporters to review it. Remember: you’re your own best salesman! (As you’ve probably already found out, your friends will faithfully promise to buy, read and review your book and won’t. Don’t let this ruin a good friendship or family relationship. It happens to everyone.) You never give up the faith and you keep writing. Good luck!