Are you Self-Published or have you Paid to Publish?
Hi there; I love you guys, independent authors I mean, I really do; well truth be told I love all authors, I would not do what I do if I did not! This article is for independent authors and for any authors considering taking the independent route.
Look, first of all I want to clarify what I mean by the question above; are you self published or have you paid to publish? The difference is massive and is going to cut into your profits drastically as well as the true ownership of your book! Okay so what is the difference already? I will tell you, the main difference lies in the following, in one scenario you are working with a publisher (some are sneaky and do not call themselves that), in the other scenario you are dealing with a printing press! The term self-published is used incorrectly and misleadingly by many “self-publishing” companies eager to take your money! Read this well; A self published author is a publisher! logic would therefore follow that the author is not published by anyone else but himself! Wait, wait a minute there what are you on about? Ok let me clarify a bit more.
If you go out on a whim and walk up to a publishing house and tell the publisher, “hey I want to pay you to publish my book!” well in this case you are not the publisher, he is! If you go to a publisher that claims to offer self-publishing, check the fine print, probability is that you are not self-publishing, you are paying to publish!
On the other hand if you format your book or hire someone to do it for you and head down to a printing press, negotiate a price per book and an agreed print run, as an example 500 books at $4 each, then you are the publisher of your book; luckily even as a true self-publisher you do not need to print a large run you can use large companies like lightning source for example and they will print your book on demand! They have arrangements with companies like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles etc to supply books to them whenever an order comes in! They print it and send it off to them, then Amazon ships it out!
So lets cut to the chase, what is the real difference? Why are you telling me all this? I am telling you this because you need to know; you can then make your own decision based on accurate knowledge!
As an independent author you have the benefit of cutting out the middle men! The chain normally works like this.
Author -> Agent (15%) -> Publisher (25%) ->Printing Press (Fixed Cost)-> Reader
When you Pay-To-Publish(often called self-publish) it works something like this
Author -> Publisher (25%+) ->Printing Press(Fixed Cost) ->Retailer (15%) (eg. Amazon)-> Reader.
(Add to this an initial publishing fee and you are at negative numbers from day one!)
When you truly Self-Publish the process works like this:
Author -> Printing Press (Fixed Cost) ->Retailer (15%) (eg. Amazon) -> Reader
Also when you self publish you can always sell direct thus cutting out the retailer, however in most cases their will always be a retailer especially if your book is a success!
Paid to Publish
This scenario is when you go to a publisher, such as Xlibris, Dog Ear etc, the publisher agrees to publish your book; the publisher also charges you for the formatting of the book, offers other services such as cover art, editing, marketing etc, (stuff publishers normally do for free), then they give you a price per book, normally bundling a number of books with the package so you can feel the real thing! Now when they give you a price per book, they normally arrange with a printing press (some have their own, most use the big ones like lightning source). The printing press quotes them $4 per book as an example, they tell you that the price is $6 dollars per book and they continue to make a profit off each book you sell! Pretty cool huh? You pay for everything, then you continue to pay them a cut for every book you sell; even though you normally are unaware and think that you are retaining all the profit! Ouch!
This puts you at a disadvantage. Let us do some quick maths here.
$1,000 is normally the average self publishing fee. Some put a lower price and charge you a higher price per book to cover the costs over time.
So $1,000 + let us ignore this part for now!
Your retail price will be $20 (for simplicity) Worked on a 400 page book.
$20 less the $5 (paid to the “self publishing house” next we pay the printing press$10 Finally we pay the retailer 15% $3 – Left for the author $2 per book? Ie 10%
(This is accurate – and the following is quoted from the Xlibris site)
What is the royalty that I will receive on sales of my book?
On all sales made directly through Xlibris, you will receive 25% of the retail price as your royalty. If the book is sold through one of the channels like Amazon.com, you will receive a 10% royalty based on the retail price. - http://www.xlibrispublishing.co.uk/faq-pricing-returns-discounts-and-royalties.aspx#sample4
Ok so let us go with the same book!
$20 Retail Price
Author -> Printing Press ($10) ->Retailer (15% = $3) (eg. Amazon) -> Reader Author is now left with $7 per book
Okay so lets recap – Author sells 1 book Real Self-Publishing $7 – Paid to Publish $2
Author Sells 100 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $700 Paid to Publish Author Makes $200
Author sells 1,000 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $7,000 Paid to Publish Author makes $2,000
Author sells 10,000 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $70,000 Paid to Publish Author makes $20,000
Author Sells 100,000 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $700,000 Paid to Publish Author makes $200,000
Author Sells 1,000,000 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $7,000,000 Paid to Publish Author makes $2,000,000
I think you get the point! Do you see the difference now? Now let me show you what the difference looks like on Amazon.
Self-Published and Paid to Publish ISBN Differences
Okay so what is the difference in the ISBN and why does it matter?
I have included a quick image below that basically identifies the different parts of an ISBN.
So quickly translated, EAN = European Article Number (Basically just Identifies that it is a book; not for example a piece of meat); Next comes GROUP = This identifies, country of origin, language etc. Next comes the big one! PUBLISHER – This number basically means that every sale of this book goes through that Publisher! The next number TITLE is basically the identifier for your book – CHECK DIGIT is irrelevant to us, as it is used by the computer to do a cross check.
Well my problem lies with part three, once the publisher has you listed under their publishing house, you are effectively one of their authors and let us say at 1,000 book sales you realise the error of your ways ($5,000 Error) and want your cut to be a reasonable one, unless your publisher has tricked you into somehow signing over your rights, you are able to get up and leave the arrangement you are in and triple your profits immediately; however this is the real downfall, you will have to apply for a new ISBN!
Once you apply for the new ISBN sites like amazon will treat your book as a completely new title; this means no reviews on your book, it also means that your amazon rank starts from the entry point again, you have zero sales as far as Amazon is concerned and you are hidden away in the deep end of amazon.
Other Pitfalls of Paid to Publish
There are a number of other little hidden pitfalls to fake “self-publishing” through a publishing house however the two above are the biggest problems; an important difference I can also see is the difference in marketing budget you as an author can allocate towards marketing your work. If you make 10% of your book when it is sold on Amazon, you simply are not going to have enough left over to re-invest into marketing your book. Working with the 1,000 books we mentioned above if you sold this amount in a month for example, you made $2,000 whilst the other author that is truly self-published made $7,000 this allows the author to put 50% of his earning back into marketing his book. This means $3,500 into his pocket; still $1,500 more than you; and $3,500 into marketing which allows him to sell another couple of thousand books!
Feeling the difference yet?
Don’t read below this line if it will make you hate me for pitching my services
At Author’s Promoter we assist authors with True Self-Publishing
I hope that you find this article useful, if you need any help with True Self Publishing, I am always available to help; it will cost you, but it will save you a lot of money! I hate ending the article like this but really if you need any help feel free to get in touch, via e-mail on cj (@) authorspromoter(dot)com alternatively you can use the form below or call us on one of the following numbers:
Are you Self-Published? or have you Paid to Publish? The difference could cost you 70% of your revenue!authorspromoter.com/author_publish… Retweet IMP
— Charles J Deguara (@AuthorsPromoter) April 22, 2013
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