Here we go with Chapter Three, the last of the “Early Decisions” set up chapters.
It’s been some time since I wrote the first version of Think Like a Publisher. Since I wrote those first chapters, Scott William Carter and I have taught three workshops by the same name, plus an advanced workshop helping indie writers make more money from their books. This fall I will be teaching a POD workshop on all the aspects of designing and selling paper books. (Watch for the announcement.)
And during those workshops and from comments and from hundreds of sources I learned a ton more information.
Plus the publishing company I helped start (WMG Publishing) now has a full-time employee and has published over 240 different book titles.
And the overall publishing business has changed as well. Amazing numbers of changes, actually.
As traditional publishers grab for more rights and become even more difficult to work with, more and more writers are moving to indie publishing. As they make the jump, they ask basic questions on how to do it, how to be treated with respect as a publisher, and even how to do simple things like setting up a publishing business.
An indie publisher is still a publisher, the same as any traditional publisher.
Think Like a Publisher 2012 is an updated version of the book from over a year ago, including some of what has changed and what I have learned over the last year or more. I’m sure in another two years I’ll do a third edition. Some things are changing that fast.
Every three or four days I will post a chapter for free here with a link under the tab above. But the entire 2012 edition is now available in both trade paper and electronic editions in all electronic bookstores (Kindle, B&N, Smashwords and so on) if you want to jump ahead of these posts. (B&N link also has the paper version through Barnes & Noble.com) Make sure you get the green cover. The red cover is the first edition.
Comments on each chapter are welcome and help us all learn, but keep the comments focused on the topic of the chapter, please.
I hope these chapters help you get a jump on learning how to be a publisher.
To actually get a profit-and-loss calculation for a book project, you must now make some pricing decisions and projections of income.
Yeah, I know. I know. This is all so new, how can anyone predict how much money they will make on any project? Well, you can’t. Not really. But you can try. And you want to know a dirty little secret. New York traditional publishing can’t predict how much they will make on any book either.
But they try.
And that’s the key. To really act like a publisher, you need to understand what you are trying to gain. You need to know how many sales will get your expenses back. And you need to know at how many sales will you start making a profit.
So this chapter is about why you need to try to determine set income ranges, and how to do that at this moment in 2012.
This is the last of the basic three set-up chapters. After this one, we start getting into more detail on specific areas.
Here we go again, back into pricing. Remember, this discussion is about acting like a real publisher, not a hobby writer. Real publishers are in the business to make a profit. That’s the focus now, so please keep that in mind. If that is not your intent, fine.
To determine any kind of income and sales potential, you must first make some pricing decisions. And you must decide as a publisher what your long-range goals are.
(Holy smokes have we had discussions about this topic here on the blog. Feel free to bring up the old questions again if you feel they have not been answered yet.)
Those of us involved with the starting of WMG Publishing sat down and talked about long-range goals. We all wanted WMG Publishing to become, down the road, a decent mid-sized publisher of fiction of all types from many, many authors. You might decide that your publisher is just to publish your work. That’s normal for indie publishing and nothing wrong with that at all. Or maybe your business mission statement isn’t to make any money, but to have a lot of people read your work. Fine as well, if you are clear for yourself on that.
The choice of mission statement will also determine your standard pricing. And your pricing will determine also how you sell books, both electronically and in paper editions.