From The Huffington Post:
Yesterday, I gathered with a group of diverse writers for the Haverhill Public Library Authors Fair. My table was situated between Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, an author who publishes traditionally, and Connie Johnson Hambley, a self-published mystery writer.
This was the perfect place for me: I’m a hybrid author who has jumped from a traditional publisher (Random House) to indie publishing and back to a traditional house again. As I start my fourth novel to be published by New American Library/Penguin Random House, I have no contract for the next one. This means that I’m revisiting the all-important question for many writers: do I want to go solo when I publish my next book, or stay where I am?
. . . .
1. Publishers are Out to Screw Authors
MYTH. Publishing companies are businesses that compete in a global marketplace. Their job is to make money–and, in so doing, they will make money for you.
With a traditional publisher, you will get royalties from your books–typically about 25 percent of ebook sales. This is much less than the percentage of royalties you’ll get if you self publish. Rates vary, but with self publishing, you’ll reap about 65 percent of a book sale as your royalty rate.
However, with a traditional publisher, you receive an advance against royalties–anywhere from $5K to $45K for most first-time novelists, though of course there are some pie-in-the-sky whopper deals. You will also get–for free!–an editor, publicist, marketing team, designers, sales people, etc. Your team at a traditional publisher will help you whip your book into shape and get it into the hands of readers.
People who self publish don’t get advances, obviously. In addition, they must shell out money in advance to designers, editors, copy editors, publicists, advertising venues, reviewers, etc.
Bottom line: Yes, I have friends who self publish and make buckets of money. However, the only self-published authors who really make a solid profit are those who are willing to write several books a year; have deep pockets to get the whole business of branding started; and most likely write romances, mysteries, or fantasy novels in series. Most say it takes them four or five books before they start seeing a solid, reliable annual profit.
. . . .
2. You Have More Control as an Indie Author
SOMEWHAT TRUE. Everything–and I mean everything–is up to you as an indie author: writing, editing (or hiring editors), design, marketing, promotions, etc. You can decide everything from what kind of brand you want to create to how you want to promote that brand. Nobody can tell you, for instance, that you can’t write a paranormal book because your last book was a romance. You call the shots, and it’s a great feeling.
There is also a great deal of transparency. Your sales are visible nearly to the minute, and you can tell with some degree of accuracy whether certain ads or blog posts have caused upward tics in sales. If you’re with a traditional publisher, you probably won’t have any clear idea as to how many books you’ve sold until you get your royalty statement six months after your book is published, because traditional publishers have agreements with bookstores about returns–i.e., the books you “think” you’ve sold might actually be returned, so the publishers don’t want to tell you how many have gone out until they’re sure the books won’t be returned.
. . . .
As you’re polishing up that manuscript, consider these two key questions: Do you want to invest money up front and build your brand as an indie author, basically running your own business as you go? Or would you rather take more time and try the traditional route first?
For me, traditional publishing is still the place I want to be. But your situation is unique. Weigh your pro’s and con’s carefully, and don’t rush into anything. This is your book–you want it to be the best one possible.
Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Toby for the tip.
While it’s up to each author to determine whether he/she prefers self-publishing to tradpub, PG believes every author should understand the royalty math of each option. It appears the HuffPo author doesn’t understand how the math works.
The standard tradpub deal pays the author 25% of the amount the publisher receives for ebook sales, not 25% of the retail price of ebooks. Amazon pays 70% of the retail price of ebooks if a KDP author prices between $2.99 and $9.99.
Here’s how the math works out:
|Retail Sales Price
|Publisher receives 70%
|Author receives 25% of
|what Publisher receives
||of sales price
|Less Agent’s Commission
|Author’s Net Income
||of sales price
|Author receives 70%
||of the amount the tradpub author receives
So, the rule of thumb is that an indie author earns almost five times as much as a traditional author from each ebook sold.
Or, to flip things around, if a tradpub author sells four times as many ebooks as an indie author does, the indie author still makes more money.