Friday, June 18, 2010

Buying copies of your own book

Every author needs to have copies of her own book, to distribute to potential reviewers, to give to family and friends, to keep around the house, or maybe even to sell. This is one area where you can really get soaked if you use a "self-publishing company" (A.K.A. a vanity publisher), so investigate before you sign a contract.

Xlibris offers discounts ranging from 30% to 60%, depending on the quantity ordered, which makes sense. However, they have an absolutely insane formula for setting the cover prices of books, which in turn establishes authors’ prices. The cover price for a book with 106 pages is $15.99. If you need 108 pages, however, the cover price jumps to $19.99—even though the difference in the manufacturing cost is about three cents and can’t possibly justify a $4.00 difference in cover price. Strangely, the price for a book with 398 pages is also $19.99! But, at 400 pages the retail price jumps four bucks to $23.99, and that price holds all the way to 800 pages. The author’s cost for a book with 108 pages can be $2.80 more than the price of a book with 106 pages; but the costs for books with 108 pages and with 398 pages are the SAME.

Wheatmark says, “You may purchase additional books at 40% off the retail price.”

IUniverse offers its author/customers book discounts ranging from 20% to 65% off the retail price. The discounts depend on the quantity ordered and the company offers an extra discount to authors for special events such as book signings at a “recognized venue,” whatever that is.

Outskirts Press has a strange system of pricing authors’ copies. For a 300-page, $14.95 book, the discounts range from 34% to 48% off the cover price. You get a bigger discount with the “diamond” package than with the “sapphire” package. However, since you’ll pay $300 more for the diamond deal, with Outskirts, if you want to pay less, you’ll have to pay more.

These pricing systems demonstrate incompetence, idiocy, and ignorance.

  •  The retail price of a book—unlike a car or a hammer—is often unrelated to its production cost. One fundamental point that self-publishing companies all seem to ignore is that the retail price of a book is a marketing decision and may have little or nothing to do with its printing cost.
  • It does not cost any more to print a book with a $29.95 price printed on it than a book with a $9.95 printed on it. The self-publishing companies apply author discounts to the WRONG numbers. Even if these publishers don’t want to reveal their production costs, they could come up with discount schedules properly based on page count and trim size, NOT the cover price.
  • If my printer charges $5 to print and ship a 300-page book, and I am the publisher, I pay $5 whether the cover price is one penny, one dollar, $8.95, $10.95, $14.95, $24.95, or $150.

1 comment:

  1. Wow-- so Outskirts is basically selling author copies to the author for MORE than a wholesaler would purchase them for, buying directly from Ingram or LSI?

    That's bullshit.