Writing in Public: Month 12, Day 15

Month 12, Day 15 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day six of writing the novel Avalanche Creek: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Novel finally got going today. Wow, that felt good. No idea where it is headed, but the structure helped me gain speed.

Rolled out around 2 p.m and did the standard e-mail and then to the snail mail by 4:30 p.m. Then to WMG Publishing where I worked on getting another short story ready to go up. Left at 5:45 to head to the store to get a couple of lights, then home.

Nap with the white cat, dinner, news, and dishes. Done with that about 9 p.m. and into this office to work on finishing up the online workshop stuff. I got that mostly done by 10:30 p.m. and Kris and I headed up to the WMG offices.

She walked and I climbed on ladders and hung lights and sorted books. We got home around midnight and went to watch some television.

Back into my office around 1:15 a.m. and I finished up a little bit left of the workshops and moved over to the writing chair.

I managed 1,200 words before 2 a.m. and went out into the living room to take a 15 minute nap.

Then back in here around 2:30 a.m. and I did another 1,050 word session by 3:15 a.m. which is typing about as fast as i can type, then took a five minute break.

By 4 a.m. I had managed another 1,250 words.

I wrote another 1,100 words by 4:40, took a very short break, and did another 850 words by 5:10 a.m.

Wow, that was moving for me. 5,450 words in five sessions in about 4 hours of writing. Damn I wish I could do that speed every day. Don’t we all? (grin)

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Writing of AVALANCHE CREEK: A THUNDER MOUNTAIN NOVEL

Day 1… 900 words. Total words to date……900
Day 2… 1,750 words. Total words to date……2,650
Day 3… 1,200 words. Total words to date……3,850
Day 4… 1,150 words. Total words to date……5,000
Day 5… 2,800 words. Total words to date……7,800
Day 6… 5,450 words. Total words to date……13,250

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Totals For Month 12, Day 14

– Daily Fiction: 5,450 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 22,950 words

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,150 words

– Blog Posts: 450 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,100 words

– E-mail: 31 e-mails. Approx. 1,200 original words. E-mails month-to date: 415 e-mails. Approx. 12,650 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers

 

For projects finished in the first nine months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

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Writing in Public: Month 12, Day 14

Month 12, Day 14 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day five of writing the novel Avalanche Creek: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Novel gained a little speed today and I got it past a stumbling area.

Again, I have no idea where this book is going, but for this novel I’ve set up a very set structure for the book itself. This may be one of the more whacked-out time travel novels ever written. We shall see.

Anyhow, managed to roll out around 2 p.m. like normal and do e-mail and get to snail mail by 4 p.m. Then off to the banks for standard Monday stuff, then back to WMG Publishing office. I worked there on getting books on shelves and making a couple of phone calls.

Kris showed up at 5:45 and we walked to a more distant restaurant to have a birthday dinner with some writer friends. Then walked back. I did about 3.5 miles of walking today, so good with that.

I locked up WMG at around 8:15 p.m. and was home and taking a nap with my white cat shortly after.

I got into this office doing workshop stuff around 9:30 p.m.

I did that until around 11 p.m. and then went and watched some television, including the news. I got back up to this office around 12:30 a.m. and did about 800 words on the novel, then went to take yet another nap.

I rolled into this office again around 2 a.m. and dinged around finishing up some stuff, including some workshop stuff. Then around 3:15 a.m. I moved the white cat from my writing chair and did another 1,050 words in about an hour.

Took a short break. Then back for another 950 words in an hour.

So a total of 2,800 words today on the book, a fun dinner, a bunch of banking chores done, two naps, 3.5  miles of walking, and online workshop homework done. So a decent day.

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Writing of AVALANCHE CREEK: A THUNDER MOUNTAIN NOVEL

Day 1… 900 words. Total words to date……900
Day 2… 1,750 words. Total words to date……2,650
Day 3… 1,200 words. Total words to date……3,850
Day 4… 1,150 words. Total words to date……5,000
Day 5… 2,800 words. Total words to date……7,800

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Totals For Month 12, Day 14

– Daily Fiction: 2,800 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 17,400 words

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,150 words

– Blog Posts: 450 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 7,650 words

– E-mail: 37 e-mails. Approx. 1,300 original words. E-mails month-to date: 384 e-mails. Approx. 11,450 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers

 

For projects finished in the first nine months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

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Writing in Public: Month 12, Day 13

Month 12, Day 13 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day four of writing the novel Avalanche Creek: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Novel is just sort of dripping along. It should pick up speed as I get a few more things figured out. No clue where it’s going, but I’m having fun figuring out the time travel stuff as I go.

Rolled out today early at 1 p.m. to get to the writer’s lunch. Fun conversation. Then back to WMG Publishing where I worked on some formatting and unpacking some books.

Home by 6:30 for a nap with the white cat, dinner and news. I cooked most of dinner, so Kris did the dishes. I managed to get into this office here at home around 9 p.m. and worked on online workshops until around 11 p.m. Standard Sunday night stuff.

Kris and I then went back up to WMG Publishing and I worked on packing books for an hour while she exercised. Then home to watch some television.

I’m moving slowly, so I didn’t really make it back into this office until around 2:30 a.m. And didn’t really start writing until around 3:30 a.m. because I worked on more workshop stuff.

I only did about an hour of writing and got about 1,150 words done. So now off to bed. Night.

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Writing of AVALANCHE CREEK: A THUNDER MOUNTAIN NOVEL

Day 1… 900 words. Total words to date……900
Day 2… 1,750 words. Total words to date……2,650
Day 3… 1,200 words. Total words to date……3,850
Day 3… 1,150 words. Total words to date……5,000

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Totals For Month 12, Day 13

– Daily Fiction: 1,150 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 14,600 words

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,150 words

– Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 7,200 words

– E-mail: 43 e-mails. Approx. 1,600 original words. E-mails month-to date: 347 e-mails. Approx. 10,150 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers

 

For projects finished in the first nine months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

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Think Like a Publisher: 2015… Projected Income

Chapter Three

Projected Income

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.

This is the last of the basic three set-up chapters. After this one, we start getting into more detail on specific areas.

Caution!!

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 profit is not your intent, fine. Different strokes for different folks.

Pricing

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 over the years. 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 Incorporated 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.

(Ignore for the moment promotion discounts. I will cover that in a later chapter.)

The values we set for WMG Publishing changed over time, which is also natural, especially in a growing and changing market like this one.  But the values I will be using for this discussion on setting income are as follows:

Electronic Publication (2015)

Short story: $2.99.

Gross Income Expected: $1.80 to $2.00 per sale. Use $2.00 for rough calculations.

(Note: If you don’t feel right about pricing a short story at this level, especially the shorter ones, that is your decision. No one is forcing you to value your work at any level.)

Short Novels, Short Collections: $4.99.

Gross Income Expected: $3.25 to $3.50 per sale domestic. Use $3.25 for calculations.

Regular Novels (over 50,000 words), Long collections: $5.99 to $7.99

Gross Income Expected: $4.20 to $5.60 per sale domestic. (Use 70% of the retail price for calculations.)

(In the above calculations, Gross Income is after the fees and costs taken out by the bookstores and providers of electronic sales.)

POD Publication (2014).

Short Collections, Short Novels: $9.99- $12.99 trade paperback.

Novels, Long Collections: $15.99 to $17.99 trade paperback. (Might vary upward with extra long books.)

Gross Profits on both are in the range of $2.00 to $4.00 per sale, depending on where sold. Use $3.00 for calculations.

Note:

Also, I am not counting Audio editions at all. But that is a vast source of income coming into 2015. Do them yourself or use ACX, either way, audio is worth the effort, but calculate the costs just as with others forms.

Why Pick These Prices?

These electronic prices are under traditional publishing ranges, yet not too far under to seem to be a discounted price. Trade paperback prices are normal traditional publication prices for trade paperbacks in the size range indicated.

For the trade paperbacks, the price range also allows WMG Publishing to do catalogs and give 40-50% discounts to bookstores and sell to distributors as well.  (More on that in later chapters in Think like a Publisher.)

As I mentioned in the first post, there are three types of publishers. Discount publishers, high-end publishers, and middle ground publishers. We wanted WMG Publishing to be in the middle ground with the mass of most traditional publishers. To do that, the prices had to be in that range as well.

Also the price range we picked allows for promotional pricing at times when needed. A huge factor.

Again, all pricing decisions are based on the early mission statement and the hope for the future for WMG Publishing. With your own press, think about what kind of publisher you want to be, then figure your prices to fit in the range of that decision.

Also, keep some basic math in mind. If your motives are profit, you must sell ten books at 99 cents to make the same amount that you would make when you sell one book at $4.99. And since almost no traditional publishers do 99 cent novel pricing except rarely as a short-term promotion, a 99 cent price for a novel will label you as a discount or hobby publisher.

Also, during the last two years, the 99 cent price range developed a reputation for low quality among regular readers overall. So caution there unless you are using that price as a discount short-term price. Readers love short-term discounts.

Calculating A Project’s Projected Income

Now comes the fun part. Hang onto your math brains. And let me stress again that not even traditional publishers know this number for a fact. If they did, publishing would be a very simple business without risk.

In traditional publishing, publishers have some tools to use in this area. For example, they can look at a book and then (like shopping in real estate) they compare to other books of the same length in the same genre with the same basic author recognition. So if a similar book sold 20,000 copies, then it is pretty safe to use that sales number in the current books calculation.

This, as the world shifts, had become a deadly tool. It has missed so far lately that even though traditional publishers have used it over the last few years, they have become cautious of it and are offering advances far under what their “best-guess” for sales might be.

They also use an author’s track record. If the author’s last book sold 50,000 copies, then it USED TO BE pretty safe to do a profit-and-loss calculation with that as the sales range. (And that projection then sets the author’s advance.) But again, with sales changing so quickly, traditional publishers are having a huge problem with this.

But as an indie publisher, with no real track record yet, (and a world that is expanding into electronic publishing faster than most people can keep up with) how is it possible to make any real projections of sales?

Bottom line: It’s not.

Traditional publishers have functioned under the idea that a book is only active and available new to readers for a short time. Just like fruit in a grocery story. But unlike the produce model of traditional publishing of paper books, where books spoil and get pulled from limited shelving, electronic publishing doesn’t have that issue.

And neither does the new world of Print on Demand trade paper.

Our books don’t spoil. And we have unlimited shelf space to display our books until readers find them or we push the book to customers with promotions. And in this area, that makes all the difference. And we don’t print paper books ahead of time, but only to order, so we are not trapped into warehousing and shipping costs.

Traditional publishers had to hit their projections within a certain selling time frame before the book was pulled and another book took its place on the shelf.

Indie publishers have no real time restriction at all. So instead of trying to guess at a total sales in a set time to determine the amount of money that can be spent on a project so that the project makes a 4% profit, indie publishers can calculate a different number entirely.

The Break Even Number

(Or… At what number of sales does a book starts earning a profit?)

Actually, traditional publishers have that “break even” number sort of in their calculations as well, but pay little attention to it.

Indie Profit-And-Loss-Calculation

For traditional publishers in the produce model, this profit-and-loss calculation is done on computers and has many varied factors. And actually, you also can set up this sort of program on a computer to plug in all your factors on every book as well if you have that bent. Art costs, layout costs, overhead in your office, time it took to write the book, and so on.

I don’t care to do that much work, to be honest. But I do want to know at how many copies sold will the book or story start earning a profit for WMG Publishing.

And I want to know that number BEFORE I start into producing a project.

If the projected expenses are such that a book would need to sell 100,000 copies to start earning a penny, I’m going to back away from that project quickly. Too many things could go wrong and I sure don’t want to be like traditional publishing where a book that sold 50,000 copies could be considered a failure. (It happens more than you can ever imagine.)

So an “Indie Profit-And-Loss Calculation” would run simply like this:

All Actual Costs + Time Costs + Overhead Costs divided by Gross Income Per Book = NUMBER OF SOLD BOOKS NEEDED TO BREAK EVEN.

A Sample: A 5,000 word short story.

Your only actual cost is $10.00 for some art. Your time to write and launch the story is ten hours at a rate of $20.00 per hour. Your overhead costs for that ten hours are less than $20.00 so use $20.00.  You get $2.00 per sale. (You have no paper edition.)

$10.00 (art) + $200.00 (time) + $20.00 (overhead) = $230.00 divided by $2.00 = 115 books sold to break even.

If you average about 5 sales over all the sites over all the world per story per month, it will take you 23 months, or just about two years to break even on the short story and be into pure profit.

If you book only sells one copy per month somewhere, it will take 115 months to break even. But it will still break even and keep going. That’s the key to remember.

Of course, I am NOT COUNTING any income from a collection the story might be in. That would bring the break-even point in even closer.

A side note for short story writers. You can often get 6 cents per word and up for a short story to a good market. A sale to a good market also helps you advertise your other work and most short fiction markets return rights within a year. Worth considering for any short story. Do the math and add in ad value minus the lost income for the time spent marketing. Selling a story to a major magazine is worth the time, folks.

Example: 5,000 words x 6 cents = $300.00.  $800 value of 1/2 page ad in Asimov’s = $1,100 value.

Cost of doing the story is $220 (no art) plus two years lost sales time. (5 sales per month = $10.00 x 24 months = $240.00.   Cost out is $460.00.  Value in is $1,100.00.  See why I say it has value to sell short stories to top magazines? That advertising value makes all the difference.

What happens next with the novel or story?

In traditional publishing, after 3 years you would have been paid your novel advance, the novel would have been published and vanished except maybe trickling along at 25% of net income for you from a few electronic sites.  And years and years would go by before you could even think of getting your rights back. Even if you signed a great contract. And that is very, very, very, very, very, very, very rare these days.

In other words, you sign a contract for a standard genre book these days, you will never see those rights back again. (35 year rule will be your out, for those of you who understand copyright.)

But for me, with my indie-published book, my novel or story is still just out there in thousands of stores worldwide, in a growing market, still selling. It has been there as inventory while I write and publish more and more and more books and stories to join it on my unlimited shelves.

The book just keeps on earning me money. I will have a passive income every month. For doing nothing. And if I figure out a way to promote it every year or so, or bring out other novels similar to it, that income can go up. For basically doing nothing.

Let me say that again. For doing nothing.

At some point I will have been paid for my time, my expenses, and then the book or story just keeps on earning.

And in this new world, there is no telling how long that passive income could flow. No way of knowing. None.

But the key up front is to try to give yourself some basic income projections when deciding on a project. And if the costs are too high for the project to ever earn back, move on. That’s what any publisher would do and you are now a publisher, remember.

Learn to think like one.

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Copyright © 2014 Dean Wesley Smith

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Writing in Public: Month 12, Day 12

Month 12, Day 12 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day three of writing the novel Avalanche Creek: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Rolled out around the normal time and did some e-mail. Then I headed off to the auction to see what was going on the block tonight and to my old (and soon new) store to talk collectables. Great fun.

Up to WMG Publishing office after getting the snail mail. I stayed there, dinging around and talking on the phone for about an hour before heading back out to the auction at 6 p.m. I did manage to finish getting chapter three of Think Like a Publisher redone and up above this.

I stayed at the auction until around 9:30 p.m. and then headed home for a short nap before heading up to WMG office again. I got there around 10:15 p.m. and worked on some stories before Kris got there at 11 p.m.

I worked unpacking books since I was short of boxes to pack others back up. Kris and I headed home at midnight and went to watch some television for a while.

To this office by 1:30 a.m. but decided I needed another nap, so finished up the e-mail before taking another ten minute nap before coming back to work. (I am getting very rested, that’s for sure.)

I worked on some basic stuff for a time before moving the white cat from my writing chair and going after the novel.

I only wrote about 1,200 words total before 4 a.m. in a couple of sessions because I’m still trying to figure out some really complex alternate universe and time travel issues for the story. I think I almost have them now.

Interestingly enough, both my main characters in this book are mathematicians. So this could get real interesting at times. (grin)

——-

Writing of AVALANCHE CREEK: A THUNDER MOUNTAIN NOVEL

Day 1… 900 words. Total words to date……900
Day 2… 1,750 words. Total words to date……2,650
Day 3… 1,200 words. Total words to date……3,850

——–

Totals For Month 12, Day 12

– Daily Fiction: 1,200 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 13,450 words

– Nonfiction: 100 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,150 words

– Blog Posts: 40 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 6,800 words

– E-mail: 11 e-mails. Approx. 300 original words. E-mails month-to date: 304 e-mails. Approx. 8,550 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers

 

For projects finished in the first nine months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

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Think Like a Publisher 2015: Chapter Two… Expected Costs


Chapter Two:

Expected Costs 

The first chapter was “The Early Decisions” which included picking a business name, setting up checking accounts, and so on. There were no real costs at all in those early steps unless your state had a small fee for registering a business name. Checking accounts are free, so are PayPal accounts, and so on.

So, the question on this second basic business-planning chapter is: “What are your expected costs?”

For those of you with a basic understanding of business, you can now see the structure of how I am setting up these chapters. Before starting into a business, there are certain things that need to be figured. Set-up costs, projected production and business costs, and projected income.  You have no real data on the costs or the income, at least not accurate data, but anyone with a lick of sense who is starting a business will sit down and try to figure these factors out to some degree.

It would seem that expected costs should be tough to figure. But actually, in this business, they are not. At least for most levels. It just will take a little homework is all.

So, let me first divide this discussion into three major areas.

Cost in Money.

Cost in Time.

Set Costs.

All three areas are critical to figuring overall expected costs of producing a product.

In the first two categories I’ll divide the discussion down into three major ways of running your company: 1) Do All Work Yourself. 2) Do Some Work Yourself, and 3) Hire all work done.

And, of course, the categories cross over. If you find your time more valuable than your money, then hiring things done will be more of an option. And so on.

Cost in Money 

1) Do It All Yourself: For Electronic Publishing

No costs. None, zero, zip. No actual costs that I can see at all if you want to do everything yourself, and I do mean everything. You lay out the book in some free program, lay out the cover in some free program, find free art at public domain sites or free photos or take your own electronic photos with a camera given to you as a gift at Christmas on a computer given to you for your birthday.

There is no cost at all to upload a file to Kindle, B&N, Kobo, iBookstore, and Smashwords (which then gets your story out to Sony and others). Use the free ISBN feature on Smashwords and Kobo and use the free tracking numbers (which are like ISBNs) for Kindle and B&N.

So, do all the work yourself and there are no real expense costs per project.

However, most of us buy our own computers, some of us have bought software we use to format books, and so on. There are all kinds of accounting tricks depending on how you set up your business (see Chapter One) to get some of that early expense money back when you start making money. (Talk to an accountant for help with business taxes if you do not understand taxes.) But for this discussion, let’s just assume you had the computer and the software before you formed this business and can use that equipment at no real cost to the business.

So, bottom line, there are basically no direct costs if you do all the work yourself and put everything up electronic and pod for print through CreateSpace. (I am not counting overhead at the moment, so accountants, stop shouting. I’m trying to be real basic here.)

2) Do Some Work Yourself: For Electronic Publishing

A few large warnings in this area that we have talked about in the New World of Publishing series. If you are going to hire help, do it the way you would hire day labor. Simply put, if you want to have a hedge on your property trimmed, but you don’t feel you have the time or the knowledge or the equipment, so you hire a gardener and pay him or her for the job. A one-time fee. That’s day labor.

Never give anyone a percentage of your property for a single task. Your copyright is a property (basically), so giving someone a percentage to do a simple job such as doing a cover would be like giving that gardener part ownership in your home for trimming a hedge one afternoon. When put that way, it sounds too stupid for any writer to do, right? Well, the stupidity of writers never ceases to amaze me when it comes to business, which is why I am saying this bluntly right here.

If you pay for a task to be done, pay a set price. Period. There are lots of new start-up businesses that offer a menu of tasks for set prices.

But let me also say this clearly right now. If you are worried about money, spend the time to learn how to do this yourself and have no real costs. This is not rocket science.

Now that I have been clear, there are some tasks you might not have the equipment to do. For example, I have a bunch of old books and short stories that at some point I will want to republish electronically and/or in POD form. But I do not have a good scanner and software to scan the book. I can clean it up afterward to a degree, but I will pay someone to do the scanning for me on a one-time fee per story or novel. (And don’t offer. Thanks, but I already know whom I will hire.)

So sit down, do the research (the homework I mentioned before), find the people, the businesses who can do what you need for a single fee, then compare prices, shop around, and mark the price down.

3) Hire All Work Done: For Electronic Publishing

In this area you have a lot of work to do to find someone or some other business to do all the work for you. (Giving a percentage of your property is again just silly. It may sound good, but it is too stupid for words.)

But if you do plan on hiring everything, do your homework, find the costs out, and then get the costs totaled and written down for all size projects you might do. You will need that number for the profit-and-loss statement you will be doing later on.

Print On Demand (Trade Paper)

1) Do Everything Yourself: Print on Demand (POD) Publishing

When we get into POD publishing, we start running into some costs and projected project costs. First off, just the POD publishers have some basic per project costs. CreateSpace is by far the cheapest to start and learn. CreateSpace is free to do plus cost of proof and they even give you free online proofs. WMG Publishing usually gets a book done and approved for under $25.00 per book, counting the $10 ISBN and proof costs.

As far as software and computers, you can do it yourself on any number of programs as readers have made clear in the comments sections of The New World of Publishing. WMG Publishing has gone ahead and invested in a top-line Mac computers, InDesign, and Photoshop for everyone. In fact, we have six of them on desks now around the building. Not cheap, but considering we are a full publishing company, a needed expense.

Again, talk to an accountant (which will cost as well) for how to figure in the capital expenditures of buying computers and such. But for per-project figuring of a POD book, the costs can range between basically free at CreateSpace to a lot more.  Estimate and research before you start to know which way you would like to go.

2) Hiring Some Help and 3) Hiring it Done Completely: POD Publishing. Do your homework. Get estimates. Then make sure you have those figures handy for figuring out a profit and loss calculation later on.

Cost in Time

1) Do It All Yourself: Cost of Time For Electronic Publishing

Wow, is this going to be tough for you to figure. Unless you already have book design skills and some cover skills, the learning curve will be painful and frustrating at times.

Again, this is not rocket science, but there is a learning curve, and learning not only takes time, but feels uncomfortable. Just ask anyone who has taken our cover or interior or electronic book design courses.

The early books and stories will take the longest amount of time. And you will make a lot of mistakes. But the book can always be changed later. That’s one of the values of electronic publishing.

As you learn, the time spent on each project will be less and less. Honest, it will. But how do you figure your time? That’s a calculation you will need to figure out.

As I have said before, I like Mike Resnick’s saying. “If you aren’t earning $500 per day, you are not having a good day.”  Since I work over ten hours per day, I just divide the $500 by 10 and get $50.00 per hour. That’s the number I use in my calculations and on any profit and loss calculation. It works for me. And I can tell you that some of those early stories I put up for WMG PublishingInc. will never earn out my wage because I was in major learning curve mode. Expect that.

However, I have another way of looking at this:

Your early projects are just school.

You don’t expect to get a direct return on an hourly basis from going to class or college to learn a skill. Think of the early books as learning classes and don’t charge your time against them. WMG Publishing had a meeting and decided that we all needed to develop skills, so we only did short stories for the first six months, just practicing, as if we were in school. Now the novels and other real projects are up and thanks to Allyson, they look a ton better. And we are making some money on those practice projects as well, but wow do some of them need to be switched out. We’ve been working on doing just that, but we don’t see the light at the end of that tunnel until late spring of 2015. From there on out, everything we do will be new.

There are workshops you can take at local universities on how to do this, or online. This is something that can be learned.

2) Hiring Partial Help and 3) Hiring it all Done: Cost of Time for POD Publishing.

This is where you as a publisher need to balance your available money with your available time. My suggestion to you is hold off on POD if you don’t have the money to hire help until you have the electronic sales earning money for you. And also, by then, you’ll be more comfortable with book production and can do it yourself.

But if you have enough money, again do your homework. Expect help on POD layout and covers to cost more because it takes longer. Get quotes per job and shop around. And then try to figure out how much time it will take you for each project, even with someone else doing some or all of the work. Each project will be different.

Set Costs

Set costs are expenses set by your work situation. Your computer connection fee, your electric bill, your office rent, and so on.

Best way to figure these costs if you are set up at home is set up a room or area in your home only for publishing. Then figure what percentage square foot of your house your office is. (Example: 1,200 square foot home. 200 square feet of dedicated office space. So 1/6th of all your home expenses are office expenses.)

Do not ignore these set costs. They mount up and should be calculated.

At first, these costs will be tough to figure in a per-project basis. But you need to try. For example how many projects can you get up per month? If your set costs are say $300 per month and you can manage 3 projects per month, than you need to put $100.00 in set costs against each project.

Given time you’ll catch the hang of all this. It doesn’t have to be to the penny, but do count set costs to act like a real publisher. And if you do, you’ll save money in taxes and such.

My Suggestions About Expenses

Back in 1987, Kris and I started Pulphouse Publishing Inc. because it seemed like a good idea at the time. And I was in a hurry, so instead of making sure I had the money first, I went out and borrowed enough money to get the business off the ground. And from that moment forward Pulphouse seemed to always have higher expenses than it had income.

Let me simply say: NEVER AGAIN!

So my suggestions from the school of hard knocks are:

1… Do it yourself.

If you can’t do it yourself, wait and keep learning until you can do it yourself. (I think this is the most important suggestion I will ever give you.)

2… Don’t spend one extra buck you don’t need to spend.

All successful business people are cheap. They spend only for needed expenses or learning.

3… Don’t put money pressures or expectations on the business and the sales of any project.

Sleeping is a lot more fun and you won’t sleep if you are constantly worrying about what you are doing wrong or trying to sell as many copies as some other writer.

4… Do Not borrow money to start this up.

Too much pressure. Let the money build slowly in the business account and only spend what you have available and then only after careful thought. WMG Publishing Inc. now has lots of help in the office. But we waited, even though we needed a ton of help, to hire anyone until we had a full year’s expenses in the bank. I did everything and we did it all from home.

5… Remember, if you do this yourself completely, this is a production business that has no real project costs beyond set costs.

Sure, as a writer, you have time and writing costs and office costs and such, and all that needs to be figured in. But you have no real production costs per book sold through your online stores. And you can make up to 70% of retail. Let the money build. There is no other business I know like this one.

6… Do Not get in a hurry.

Sure, I know this sometimes still feels like a gold rush, but those days are long past. This is the new normal and nothing much is going to change over the next few years besides minor details and problems on the traditional publishing side of things. Books do not spoil and readers do not vanish. You have the time to learn.

7… Think of the early projects as a form of school or class.

They are practice. Figure a profit and loss for them as well as practice, but don’t sweat that they might not make a profit until 2015 or 2020. Call them practice. Remember that copyright is for your life plus 70 years, and books don’t spoil.

8… Keep learning everything you can about publishing and business.

I’m afraid this does not mean listening to the other beginners on the Kindle Boards. It means talking to real business people who are running successful real-world business. Talk to them, ask them questions, ask them about bookkeeping and how they keep track of set costs and so on. Find people, not just publishing people, who run a successful business in your area and pick their brains. You will be stunned at how much you will learn.

One Final Reminder:

Keep having fun. If this isn’t fun, if writing isn’t fun, what is the point? Every time I get a new book in the mail, it’s a thrill. This is fun.

So have fun.

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Copyright © 2014 Dean Wesley Smith

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Writing in Public: Month 12, Day 11

Month 12, Day 11 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day two of writing the novel Avalanche Creek: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Rolled out around the normal time and did some e-mail and got to the snail mail and then up to WMG Publishing to meet with another local professional writer. We’re working on trying to work out some stuff that will fit for us in a few different places of social media. I’ll announce it all here as it happens, if it happens.

Anyhow, off to the store after that and then home to take a nap with the white cat, dinner, news, and dishes. Headed back up to WMG Publishing to work on getting short stories up into print out of Smith’s Monthly.

So I did another cover, this one a Poker Boy story, and got it all up. I’m going to do eight of these to get another batch off to the subscription folks from last year.

I had that done about the time Kris got there around 11 p.m. to walk so I went and worked on getting books up on shelves. Then home by midnight to watch some television.

Back up here by 1:30 a.m. Tired, so I laid down on the couch to take another short nap and slept far too long, so now I’m groggy instead of refreshed. Sigh.

So instead of trying to work on the novel, I redid the second chapter of Think Like a Publisher and it’s above this. Not a lot of changes from the 2014 version. But enough to take me about an hour.

Then I gave up and did a first draft of this and posted it without any writing. And I went to bed, but of course, after a long nap, I was too awake to sleep, so got back up and sat down at my writing computer around 3:30 a.m.

I got 900 words in an hour, took a five minute break, and got another 850 words in another hour.

So I ended up with 1,750 original words after giving up for the night. Go figure.

Here are the two spreads I did for the paper versions of the two short stories. Both of these stories were in Smith’s Monthly #1. And both will eventually be in collections as I get to that part of all this.

Case of the Dog Bit Arm spread

Secrets of Yesterday electronic cover

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Writing of AVALANCHE CREEK: A Thunder Mountain Novel

Day 1… 900 words. Total words to date……900
Day 2… 1,750 words. Total words to date……2,650

 ——-

Totals For Month 12, Day 11

– Daily Fiction: 1,750 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 12,250 words

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,050 words

– Blog Posts: 450 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 6,400 words

– E-mail: 12 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words. E-mails month-to date: 293 e-mails. Approx. 8,250 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 1. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers

 

For projects finished in the first nine months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

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Writing in Public: Month 12, Day 10

Month 12, Day 10 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day one of writing the novel Avalanche Creek: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Rolled out early today to get to lunch with Kris at 1:30 p.m. After lunch I headed to the snail mail, then up to WMG Publishing, then home to do e-mail.

Back to WMG Publishing office around 5 p.m. and I stayed there working on misc. stuff until 6:30 p.m. Then home for the standard nap with the white cat, dinner, news, and dishes.

I got back to my WMG Publishing office by 9 p.m. I secured some new shelves to the walls, then went to work finishing up getting a short story up. It was a story that was in Smith’s Monthly #1. I did the cover and got it loaded to CreateSpace just fine. One down, about forty or more to go just to get caught up with the stories in Smith’s Monthly. Not counting collections.

Anyhow, Kris got there around 10:30 p.m. to walk and I went upstairs to work on packing boxes. Home around midnight to watch some television.

I got back into this writing office around 1 a.m. and set to work on starting some novel. No idea what I really wanted to do. I had a good idea for another Seeders Universe novel, but I didn’t feel excited about doing two in a row. So I started dinging around looking for a title.

I ended up grabbing an Idaho Place Names book and was thumbing through that when I came upon the place Avalanche Ridge. But in the Thunder Mountain area, you are seldom up on ridges, since the mountains are so steep in that area. And the area has tons of landslides and avalanches. In fact, it was a landslide that damned up Monumental Creek and put the mining town of Roosevelt underwater in 1909.

So that fit and I spent the next hour figuring out a time travel question that had been bugging me about the set up in the first two novels. I got it worked out and banged out one character opening of about 900 words.

By this point it was 3:30 a.m. and I wanted to let the entire idea just sort of set. No clue what the book will be about, but I have a nifty time-travel issue that should make for some interesting reading, I hope.

So I went to do some reading until 5:30 a.m.

So started on a new book. Another in the Thunder Mountain series. Bonnie and Duster, here we come. (grin) The first two books are out in the series.

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Totals For Month 12, Day 10

– Daily Fiction: 900 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 10,500 words

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,050 words

– Blog Posts: 450 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 5,950 words

– E-mail: 17 e-mails. Approx. 600 original words. E-mails month-to date: 281 e-mails. Approx. 7,850 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 1. Covers finished month-to-date: 1 Covers

 

For projects finished in the first nine months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

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Writing in Public: Month 12, Day 9

Month 12, Day 9 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Same as yesterday starting off. Rolled out at a regular time for me, around 2 p.m. after yet another good night’s sleep. A number in a row now. Go figure.

I managed to get some e-mail done before heading off to WMG Publishing offices for a quick stop, then off to the bank, then the mail, then I headed out to one of the local golf courses.

I decided that after two years, it was time I tried to hit a golf ball again. The head professional was there and we talked and he suggested a few things for me to try and damned if I wasn’t able to make contact just fine. (I lost an eye about two years ago, and since golf is a three-dimensional game, I was worried.)

So I’m going to write up the adventures over the next year or so of an old golfer coming back into the game with one eye and a much better attitude than I used to have. (grin) I’ll put the chapters in Smith’s Monthly as I write them. They should be funny.

Then a stop at Goodwill before heading back to the office. I worked there for an hour or so on various stuff before heading home for a nap with the white cat, dinner, news, and dishes.

Then back up to WMG Publishing around 9:30 p.m.  I worked on all sorts of stuff, including making sure to get completely organized on my desk and get things squared away.

Kris arrived around 10:30 p.m. to walk and I went upstairs with her to load books. Those of you who have been in the WMG offices, the big wall with hardbacks is being moved to a new loft area. That big wall will be really attractive shelves for the WMG brag shelf. It’s going to look really cool. I’ll take a picture of it when it’s done and put it up here.

Then home and off to watch some television. Then, since I have to have Smith’s Monthly #11 turned in tomorrow for proofing, I went to work putting that all together and doing the suggestions Kris had on the novel The High Edge plus all the corrections and changes on the three short stories. (There are five, but three are original and Kris needed to read.)

So for two hours, with a break, I did nothing but that, finally getting Smith’s Monthly #11 all done. That got me exactly 1,050 new words.

I took a break at that point around 3:45 a.m. because I didn’t want to start something new and went to reading.

Stopped reading around 5:30 a.m. to do this.

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Totals For Month 12, Day 8

– Daily Fiction: 1,050 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 9,600 words

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,050 words

– Blog Posts: 450 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 5,500 words

– E-mail: 24 e-mails. Approx. 700 original words. E-mails month-to date: 264 e-mails. Approx. 7,250 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

 

For projects finished in the first nine months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

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Writing in Public: Month 12, Day 8

Month 12, Day 8 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Rolled out at a regular time for me, around 2 p.m. after yet another good night’s sleep. A number in a row now. Go figure.

I managed to get some e-mail done before heading off to the snail mail and then the store for lunch and then to WMG Publishing offices.

After eating lunch and reading about all the stupidity going on in publishing for the day, I worked there on workshop stuff and also on packing up books that are going to be moved in a week or so to another area of the building.

Home at 6:30 p.m. to cut up some strawberries, then take a nap with the white cat. Dinner, news, and dishes and I was back in this office by 9 p.m. working on workshop stuff.

July online workshops are starting up and the June workshops ending. But since I now only work on online workshop stuff three days per week, today is the last big day except for resetting the upcoming workshop schedule tomorrow.

And July will be easy and I’ll be able to give writers signed up a lot of attention because there aren’t that many signed up. The time of forgetting is strong this year. (grin)

Headed to watch television around midnight, then back up here for a short nap in the living room around 1:30 a.m.

Then I wrote the introduction to Smith’s Monthly #11 and got that printed for Kris to read. About 800 words of nonfiction.

Then after a short break around 3:30 a.m. I went to my writing computer and worked on the two serial novels that are running in Smith’s Monthly, getting the new installments ready. That took until 5 a.m. and about 1,200 new words of fiction.

So tomorrow I’ll put in all the corrections Kris found in the stories and novel and introduction and get it ready to go to the proofreader.

So Smith’s Monthly #9 is just out, Smith’s Monthly #10 is on my computer at the office for formatting, back from the proofreader, and Smith’s Monthly #11 is going to the proofreader in a day.

A monthly magazine is a juggling act, that’s for sure. (grin)

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Totals For Month 12, Day 8

– Daily Fiction: 1,200 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 8,550 words

– Nonfiction: 800 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,050 words

– Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 5,050 words

– E-mail: 39 e-mails. Approx. 1,200 original words. E-mails month-to date: 240 e-mails. Approx. 6,550 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

 

For projects finished in the first nine months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

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