Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Price of Publishing

While at Taylor University I shared some notes that seemed to be revolutionary to the listeners. We talked “money.”

Publishing a book is a partnership between an author and a publishing house. There is a fine line in Christian publishing between business and ministry—in the long run all parties need to make money to keep operating.

The author needs to be fairly paid for the idea and the writing time in their royalty advance, but they also need to understand the investment a publisher is making when they commit to publishing an author’s book.

Before hope of making any money off a book, the publisher has to invest lots of money. Most all houses invest in these areas:
  • Contract advance to author against the anticipated royalty earnings
  • Staff time in handling the manuscript
  • Copy editing
  • Cover photo shoot and design
  • Typesetting
  • Proofreading
  • Marketing and Sales materials (includes signs, displays, catalogs, ads, etc.)
  • Publicity
  • Printing
A rough figure for an average trade fiction title gave me a total between $50,000 and $80,000 spent before any books hit the stores. Take that times 6 trade fiction titles per list and add that to other title investments, and you would get an enormous sum of investments on the publisher’s end. This is just one reason most publishers don’t like to start investing money in a book more than 12 months before it will be in print and able to begin earning money back. What money is made on the current catalog of books goes back into housekeeping costs and funding the next "gamble."

So the next time you are tempted to think the average publishing company has lots of money to throw around, you might want to consider the costs.



The Write Life said...

Thanks, Becky, for sharing all that. This is the type of article that really helps us, as authors, understand the other end of the process! I'm so glad y'all started this blog!


Green Gables Chick said...

Thanks, Becky!
This is some very interesting information from the other side of the desk.

Kristy Dykes said...

Thanks for the info, Becky.

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, 50 - 80,000 dollars?? ON the upside I just LOVE the cover of Petticoat Ranch so you are spending your money in great ways.