How much does it cost me to publish a paperback or an eBook? $300-$500. And if you factor in the value of my time writing, revising, cover designing, photoshopping, and promoting it costs me close to $50,000 a title.
But I don’t pay myself for labor.
I’ll let you in on a couple of facts. Most of the paperbacks I published have not broken even yet.
Isis after 11 years has barely made back its $200 investment.
The Cassandra Cookbook never made a profit. I lost over $1000 on that book.
The Paperback edition of All About Marilyn only made 25 percent of the money I invested in it.
The Paperback edition of the Temptation of John Haynes barely made 33 percent of the money I invested in it.
Most of the newer Isis series books while selling as eBooks are still waiting for their first paperback sale.
The Paperback edition of All About Nikki never sold a single copy. I lost over $300 in ISBN and print fees along with on that title. I was forced to take it out of print due to absolutely no sales on it. I put in over three months designing the page layouts for that book and no one outside of two book clubs saw the work I put into it.
The truth of the matter is it costs a lot of money and even more time to produce the over 30 titles you see in my catalog on amazon. Over the last five years I’ve been up till 2AM some days writing some books, then I get back up at 7AM to start work on promoting older titles along with the blog.
And after writing comes revising. Page layouts in Acrobat. Finding typos in the PDF. Revising. Creating another PDF. Coming up with a cover concept. Drawing inking and coloring. Then cover design in Photoshop. Uploading the paperback to Amazon. Ordering a proof. Checking for typos. Revising. Creating another PDF. Then Uploading to Kindle and Smashwords. Finding more typos. Uploading again to Kindle and Smashwords.
Before any of my books shows up on Amazon or Smashwords for sale, it’s been scrutinized for about 200-300 hours. Again, if I had to put a value on that time It’d be worth about $50,000 for the $15 paperback that winds up on Amazon.
On eBooks I’m forced to charge 99 cents because that’s what most will pay. And some people are too stingy to even pay that these days.
I’ve lost a lot of money over the last few years on some books like All About Nikki, and trade shows like the Harlem Book fair. But I’m still trying to hang in there. I’m still trying to keep going like God told me to.
The publishing business is a marathon, not a sprint. I knew walking in I might take a loss on a title or two. But back in 2007, before I got the job I lost, my goal was getting my box of manuscripts to publication. I didn’t come into this looking to get rich. I came into publishing because I love writing and I’m looking to share my work with readers. The financial cost is minimal compared to what I’ve gained reaching an audience of new readers.
Writing and Publishing was my second job while I held down a job. When I’d get back home from work when I had a job, I’d go right to the computer and start working on editing scripts. There’s not a day that I don’t sit in front of a keyboard and write 1000-2000 words a day.
Writing and Publishing became my job when I lost my job in 2008 and while I looked for other jobs since October of 2008. I’m trying to make a living at writing until I find that day job.
The truth is it takes money to make money. And each step I take is one step further away from the place I was back in 2007 when I was living on $2 a day. Looking back at being that broke, I appreciate the opportunity God has given me to get my work to the marketplace.
I’m working hard to get to the next level where I can hire out artists, and refresh covers. Trying to get SJS DIRECT to profitability.
But I can’t do that without readers. I have to see a return on the investment in order to produce new products. That’s business 101.
People come to me talking about covers, the content of my stories like the Isis series and the success of other authors. And while I listen to people’s complaints, they need to understand again that it takes money to make money. And it’s not where you start, but where you finish. The SJS DIRECT book with the hand drawn cover people scorn now might become a collector’s item one day.