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Book Plug Friday: It's All About the Benjamins

Is it just vanity to self-publish an e-book? Not any more -- you control your own work and you can make more money than traditional publishing.

by
Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

Bio

September 6, 2013 - 11:00 am

picturesmile

Have you ever wondered why people are beginning to self publish in e-books?

After all, not too many years ago, self-publishing was often called “vanity publishing”. It was considered a little declassé, somewhat dishonorable, perhaps a little desperate. Oh, and dumb. This perception, especially the last part, was encouraged by some really outrageous scams in the world of “vanity presses”. At the same time, traditional publishing was doing some fairly outrageous things as well.

Amazon, with their Kindle model, changed the whole picture. Consider a normal pulp-brick publisher. Let’s ignore, for the moment the various difficulties in just getting in the door with a traditional print publisher, and let’s also ignore for the moment the problems you can have actually getting paid, and just think about the actual publishing business. I looked at the Amazon lists for a mainstream big-press novel, and found The Longest Ride, by Nicholas Sparks. Now, Sparks has been a spectacular success as a novelist, so he wouldn’t be a great example for a lot of other purposes, but it’s a good example of a blockbuster mainstream literary novel. List price is $27.00.

Since Sparks is spectacularly successful, he probably does a little bit better, but a reasonable royalty for a hardback novel is 10 percent of the cover price, and we’ll assume that. So, for every copy sold, Sparks gets $2.70. Because he’s a big-name mainstream sort of author, he gets heavily promoted. Other, midlist, authors, not so much, and it’s become increasingly difficult for a midlist author to make a good deal or sell well — just like in Hollywood, the business has begun to concentrate on “blockbusters” with immense sales.

From the publishers’ point of view, here’s how it goes: they typeset, print, bind, and ship the books. Basically, the books are sold at a discount to booksellers, from your local mom-and-pop to Amazon itself, and the discount is 40 to 60 percent. Call it 50 percent; the book is being sold, net, for $13.50, and they have to pay Sparks his $2.70, leaving them $10.80 for themselves. Doesn’t sound too bad, except traditional publishing requires a massive up-front investment in designing, typesetting, printing, binding and so forth; so they may put $100,000 into producing the big print runs for a book like this. Add in shipping, promotion, book tours, and so forth, and a book like this may need to sell 50,000 copies to pay back the up-front costs. (Oh, and Sparks gets million dollar advances, so they my have to sell 150,000 before they make a profit.)

A little midlist author might get a $5,000 advance, no promotion, and have their book effectively go out of print in a month (Sarah will write more about that another time I’m sure.) With a paperback, even if they get a 10 percent royalty, its on the paperback cover price — they may make 75 cents a copy.

Now, imagine you’re a small-scale author publishing on Kindle. You do the typesetting and production yourself (we’ll be explaining that in the future as well) starting with a Microsoft Word file, or with Markdown plain text. You send it to Amazon electronically, and in hours or days, you’re up and for sale.

Now, as long as you meet Amazon’s terms — basically pricing it between $2.99 and $9.99, and making sure Amazon’s price is a discount from anywhere else the book might be for sale — you get a 70 percent royalty. Sell a copy of your book for $2.99 and you get $2.09 in royalties. Sell your book for $3.85714285714286, er, for $3.86 or more and you get more per copy that Sparks’ $2.70.

Now, you don’t get the massive promotion and the million dollar advances — but sell more that 2500 copies and you’ll beat that $5,000 advance. And it’s a lot easier to sell a $2.99 book than a $27.00 book.

Now, you might ask, why does Amazon do it? Easy: see, all those copies of all those Kindle books are just bits on a disk drive. Warehousing costs them roughly one-tenth of a cent per copy. Delivery costs more — on a Kindle book, about 15 cents per megabyte, perhaps 30 cents for a novel. Except they charge that against your price. So it costs them nothing at all. Net margin: essentially 30 percent of the sales price.

So everyone wins — except traditional publishing houses.

Screw them.

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Once again, to submit, send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com and please include the AUTHOR’S NAME, the BOOK TITLE, A SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK.


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Anarchy Zone Time Yarns
By Erin Lale, Editor

Time Yarns is an independent press that publishes the shared world Time Yarns Universe, which includes novels, collections of short stories, transmedia books, and had produced a film trailer and live performance art at conventions.

Anarchy Zone Time Yarns is a multi-author short story collection with a theme of libertarian utopias and dystopias.


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A Storm in Tormay
By Christopher Bunn

The Epic Adventure Begins…
In the land of Tormay, a young thief named Jute robs the house of a wizard one night. Soon, he finds himself running for his life as he seeks to understand what he stole and why so many people suddenly want him dead.

Ancient secrets and curses come alive around Jute as he journeys to freedom in the north, accompanied by a talking hawk, a guilt-ridden assassin, and a forgetful ghost. But, as they seek to save themselves, the little company realizes that much more is at stake than their own lives.

A storm has come to Tormay, and, in the shadows of the night, the Dark walks. It will do anything to destroy the land. It cares nothing for the armies and might of men. Only one thing stands between the Dark and its wicked dreams: a thief named Jute.


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The Book of Helen
By Sherry G. Antonetti

“Everyone thinks they know what happened in the Trojan War and afterwards, but no one ever bothered to ask me.” –Helen of Troy

At 65, the famous Helen of Troy finds herself in a new role, that of having no title, husband or things to do as she faces exile on the island of Rhodes. Her hoarded wealth, fabulous stories of the past, and a newly acquired servant/scribe named Pythia , should allow Helen to establish her own legacy, but there are some who won’t be courted.

Helen begins to ply her legendary charm, wit and capacity to create beauty and spectacle in her new home to win the hearts of the people with great effect. But Helen rarely recognizes that as she ascends, others might resent her casual winning over of everyone. Queen Polyoxo has granted sanctuary to her childhood friend for reasons other than friendship, leaving Pythia caught in the wake of two very powerful women with very different means of conveying and maintaining authority.

Can Helen with all her treasures and stories and charisma win over everyone? Or will the need for revenge, threaten the life of the most beautiful woman in the world and those who serve her?


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The Suldonon (Western Spheres Trilogy) book one
By Jon Pieter Dow

The Suldonon is a fantasy story about a teenage boy named Oliver Curtain who lives in northern Maine. Seeking geology specimens for a science report, Oliver and his friend, Lillian French, explore a wilderness cave and become lost under the mountain. When they emerge from their subterranean adventure, they find themselves in a world that is outwardly familiar, yet profoundly different than their rural hometown.

As our lost protagonists struggle to survive and to better understand their new found environs, indigenous conflicts over monetary policy cause a continuing cascade of unforeseeable perils. At last, half-ignorant and otherwise instructed only by their scrapes and escapes, both teens must choose sides as two competing ways-of-life hurtle inevitably toward open war.


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A Lost Kitten (Sea-anan Saga)
By Jessica A. Kong

Seacat John McCall labels the attack on the Sea-anan Empire as a nightmare. He escapes the enemy’s invasion, only to find himself stranded on a distant planet called Surreal. Tormented by thoughts of his family being massacred or captured by the enemy, he focuses on returning to aid them until he experiences a mind-boggling kiss that can only come from the one he is meant to share his life with. To ease the terror he feels for his family, John seeks the identity of his secret admirer. He quickly learns the true meaning of nightmare when he discovers his soul mate is of “the mist.”

Jasira Eversole is drawn to the powerfully built outlander sitting at the king’s table. Unable to resist the need to see him again, she enters the warrior’s room while he sleeps. John’s rugged good looks and chiseled body compel Jasira to reach out and touch him. Being of the mist, Jasira knows she will not be able to feel John, but she cannot resist his pull. The richness of John’s hair, the firmness of his muscles, and the clean scent of his skin all take Jasira off guard. She swiftly realizes John is her intended mate. Now, Jasira must somehow convince the young warrior that they are two halves of one soul without chasing him off Surreal, leaving her to a lonely existence as mist.


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A Forgotten Kitten
By Jessica A. Kong

The story revolves around Sev, a young, handsome prince and member of a royal family who rises to become king of the Oceanan race. Sev is raised in the midst of a vicious family feud, but all seems worth it when his adoptive aunt gives birth to a beautiful little girl whom Sev falls instantly and irrevocably in love with. But when Sev’s planet collides with its own sun and collapses, he must bear the loss of his entire family, including his love as well as any memory of her.

Areo, the heroine of the story, is that little girl that Sev fell for during his childhood. She is a human-feline hybrid who has grown to hate the royal family that her soul mate hails from. She undergoes a destructive event and space travel episode similar to Sev’s, and it is not too long before she has settled her new planet and with her fellow half-bloods, created a strong, thriving society. When she is brutally attacked by Daehog, everyone in her empire is scattered throughout the universe. Where does she land but the planet that Sev is currently occupying.


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The Ways of Winter
By Karen Myers

This is a contemporary fantasy, book 2 of The Hounds of Annwn, set in Virginia (more or less). It’s the dead of winter and George Talbot Traherne, the new human huntsman for the Wild Hunt, is in trouble. A dangerous foe has mastered an unstoppable weapon and threatens the fae dominions in both the new and the old worlds. Only George has a chance to reach him in time to prevent the loss of thousands of lives, even if it costs him everything.


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Mitsy and Marty Mouse Visit Grandpa
By Marcella Byers

Mitsy Mouse and her brother Marty are excited to visit their grandfather at his home, but in their hurry to leave they don’t listen to a valuable caution from their father. The adventure they get into at their grandfather’s house catches them by surprise and teaches them a lesson they didn’t expect.

Mitsy and Marty Mouse Visit Grandpa lets children travel along with two adorable mice on a fun adventure while also learning the importance of compassion for others and how to respond when things go wrong. It’s a story they’ll want to hear and read again and again. Be sure and remind them to watch out for the bees!

Marcella Byers grew up hearing stories and poems that taught character and old-fashioned values from her mother, and she passed those down to her children and grandchildren—along with new stories of her own. This tradition of storytelling is gaining new appreciation in our day as we realize some of what has been lost in our fast-paced world. The timeless values are greatly needed, and stories are a powerful way to share them with the future. In addition to numerous articles on parenting and children, Marcella has written four Mitsy Mouse books.


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Mourning Star
By Stryder Dancewolffe

This is a short story collection.

The six short stories included are:
One for the Road : A different take on the garden of Eden
The Tinker: A possible compromise between pro-life and pro-choice
Three Scoop Sunday: The unsung hero, the hard working father
Death’s Ex-Girlfriend: A love story
Alone : The stars are going out
Here’s your Change: Do you fear the shadows, or do you remember their secrets?

Six short stories of space, death and hope.


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Dead Man’s Fugue
By Casey Neumiller

Rake Weston is the Expanse’s most-wanted man…but he doesn’t remember why.

Rake’s day doesn’t start out all that well – waking up to discover that he died three days ago tends to put a damper on things. Finding out that his replacement body is defective manages to make an already ugly day even worse.

Before he can figure out what happened, Rake is forced to flee the revival facility. Skiptracers, law enforcement, military, criminal underworld: everyone is on his tail and eager to claim the price on his head. And yet, for all the hunters seeking the prize, no one can tell him why they want him so badly as he is pursued from the heart of civilization to the lawless frontier.

Unable to find a safe place to hide and with allies nearly as untrustworthy as his enemies, Rake knows there is only one way out: retrace his steps to rediscover the very secrets that already cost him his life once!


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The Pericles Conspiracy
By Michael Kingswood

Josephine Ishikawa changed the course of history, but no one knows it.

She cannot talk about what happened during her last shift as Captain of the starliner Pericles, nor does she care to. She passed the ball to the authorities, like procedure required, and now has her sights set on getting Pericles through a major maintenance overhaul and back out to the stars.

Until she learns of a betrayal so large it defies belief, leaving Jo to decide between the life she loves and her duty to the beings she brought back from outer space. Her decision will affect not just her future, but possibly the futures of everyone on Earth and the other colonized worlds.


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Hunter’s Duty (Book 2 of the Hunter’s Moon Series)
By Ellie Ferguson

Maggie Thrasher is looking for a man, not to love but to kill. Duty to her pride and loyalty to her family demands it.

Joshua Volk has betrayed pride, pack and clan. All he cares about is destroying the old ways and killing anyone, normal or shape-changer, who gets in his way.

Jim Kincade is dedicated to two things: upholding the law and protecting the pride from discovery.

When Jim is called to the scene of a possible murder, the last thing he expects is to discover the alleged killer is a tracker from another pride. Now he’s faced with a woman who is most definitely more than she appears. Complicating matters even more, there’s something about her that calls to him and his leopard is determined to claim her for his own.

Joshua Volk is looking for revenge. Maggie killed one of his own. His vengeance will bring Maggie’s worst nightmares to life. Is the passion between Maggie and Jim enough to defeat Volk’s plans or will Maggie’s determination to fulfill her duty to her pride be the death of them both?


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The Mud Man — A macabre tale of childhood
By William Saunders

Ten year old Brian Thompson has been forced to stay at his Uncle’s house with his mother and little sister. Cut off, deep in the countryside, the three of them live a miserable existence under the hostile eye of Mrs Vixen the housekeeper, while Uncle Julian remains aloof in his laboratory. Strange noises in the night begin to arouse Brian’s curiousity. What he discovers threatens the security of everyone he loves and he must work alone to mend the dreadful aberration Uncle Julian has worked on the Laws of Nature.


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No Will But His
By Sarah A. Hoyt

Kathryn Howard belongs to a wealthy and powerful family, the same family that Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s great love originated from. From a young age, her ambitious relatives maneuver to make her queen. Brought up in a careless manner, ignorant of the ways of the court, Kathryn falls victim to her kind heart, all the while wishing she could be the wife of Thomas Culpepper.

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images courtesy shutterstock / xavier gallego morell /  eranicle

Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin write and blog on science, science fiction, self-improvement, culture, and politics for PJ Lifestyle. Send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines for Book Plug Friday, a weekly listing of independently published e-books.

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