A publisher’s journey – Part 2

The final goal on my list of 100 was to secure a book deal for the whole eBay sale/goal achieving adventure, and I came pretty close to achieving that. I had a literary agent in London, and another person in LA interested in representing me. However, by the time the book was almost complete, I still didn’t have any firm offers.

I began to look at alternative options, as I was still keen to get the book into print, and complete Goal #100 from my original list.

I read a lot of information on the publishing industry, and on self-publishing options, and was intrigued and encouraged by some of the discoveries I made. Publishing seems to be very much like the movie industry, with much of the mainstream business being controlled by a few very big players.

These large international publishing houses are really only interested in guaranteed sellers, and are more than happy to take on and promote well-established authors. But they are very reluctant to take a gamble on unproven writers. Even when they do take on a new author they are unlikely to offer much more than printing and distribution, and the author is expected to do the bulk of their own publicity and marketing.

And by publishing through the traditional publishing houses, only a very small fraction of any sales ever makes it back to the author. After the bookshop takes their 55% of the book’s retail price, the print and profit costs are taken by the publisher, and the agent takes his 15% there is very little left for the creator of the book. A typical royalty, or profit per book, might be around $1 for a book priced at $15.

However, I discovered that as in the movie business, where small, independently produced movies can compete, and often succeed, a similar opportunity exists in the literary world. “Print On Demand” is now becoming very common. As an independent author, or small publishing house, it is now possible to create a book, and store the files for the book with a Print On Demand (POD) print and distribution company.

Typically there are two files needed to produce the book – the cover, and the content. With these two files the POD printer can create copies of the book one at a time, as needed, and some will also distribute direct to the customer too.

This offers a huge advantage for an independent author or publisher. There is no longer any need to print large runs of a book, as a single copy can be created and despatched whenever one is needed. The initial cost to set up a new publication is no longer prohibitive. There is no longer need to store boxes and boxes of book in the garage or spare bedroom.

A second advantage is that a good POD company provides details of all books it has available for print, to a whole host of online and offline suppliers, so a book listed can be offered for sale by many retailers all around the world.

The third major advantage is that retailers tap directly into the POD supplier system, and as orders come in, the POD company prints and despatches the books. The independent author or publisher does not have to do any form of order fulfillment if they do not wish to.

I eventually decided that I would publish the book independently. I was very lucky, in that I had the luxury of time, as I could put in a full-time effort into searching out the information I needed.

It is quite a minefield out there, and the options for authors wishing to publish a book independently are varied and confusing. However, I bought a few books, and studied hard.

There are a few relatively simple options available, and Amazon’s own POD offshoot, CreateSpace, at first seemed to offer the best potential.

While the CreateSpace program is very accessible and easy to use, Amazon take a hefty mark-up. On any CreateSpace-published book sold on Amazon they take 40% of the cover price. If you opt to enroll for their expanded distribution program, and sell through other retailers too, they hit you for a whopping 60% of the cover price as their sales commission. After Amazon get their cut, CreateSpace deduct printing costs, and the remainder goes to the author, either directly, or via his/her publisher. Once more this leaves a very small profit margin.

But the more I read about the publishing industry, and the more I learned, the more I began to discover that there were even greater possibilities on offer. I finally discovered one of the world’s largest POD companies. As part of the Ingram Group, they feed their huge catalogue of books into Amazon’s system, as well as to many other big name retailers.

A book printed and distributed through them is automatically listed with hundreds of retail outlets around the world. Their service, in terms of distribution, far exceeds anything else I could find anywhere else.

There was another huge advantage too. Unlike Amazon’s CreateSpace, instead of taking 40%, or even 60%, it is possible to choose for yourself the percentage of the cover price that is given to the retailer – and you can set this as low as 20%.

In financial terms, this means that per book sold, at a cover price of $15, you, as an independent author earn an extra $3 for every book sold, when compared to CreatSpace’s 40% cut given to Amazon. When compared to their “Expanded Distribution Channel”, which takes 60%, each sale nets a whopping $6 more! Three to six dollars of extra profit per sale – that’s fantastic.

Publishing my book independently had suddenly become very appealing.

However, there was a small problem. unlike CreateSpace, who are only happy too deal directly with authors (and also very happy to take a huge percentage of the proits too), this POD company will only deal directly with publishers. They simply don’t want the hassle of dealing with individual authors.

The answer appeared to be obvious – I needed to find out how to become a publisher!

To be continued…

As a footnote, my book now appears on book retail websites all over the world. I have no idea how many suppliers now offer my book, but here are a few random examples of international outlets carrying “A LIFE SOLD – What ever happened to that guy who sold his whole life on eBay?”

USA (Amazon)
Canada (Amazon)
UK (Amazon)
South Africa (Loot)
Estonia (!!!)

To see for yourself, just type the book’s 13 digit ISBN (International Standard Book Number), or the shorter 10 digit ISBN, into a Google search:

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Ian Usher - A LIFE SOLD - January 9, 2011 Reply

Hi there,
I have published the book in eBook form for the Kindle on Amazon. This too can be read on the iPad, I believe.Thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous - June 23, 2012 Reply

Hi Ian,
I have bought your book and read it in few days, it is very inspiring and positive. thank you so much !
an italian living in manchester (uk) x

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