September 24, 2012

Why I don't do print

Every now and again I get a request from a reader who asks me why my more recent eBooks are not available in print.  Here's the answer, in a nutshell:

Last week I received payment notification from Amazon, under whose CreateSpace division I published my first two indie releases in print.  While the initial sales numbers for print were pretty good (in 2009 and 2010 there weren't as many eReaders as there are now, and at that time I was offering direct-to-consumer autographed copies), they have dropped off to nearly nothing in recent months. I'm not much to talk publicly about my earnings (which I frankly consider to be nobody's business) and probably will not do so again, but right here, right now, I'm laying it out in order to make my point.

To wit (I always loved that expression):

For the five-month period between April and August of this year, I made a little over $7000 in eBook sales of all my indie titles published under Bunderful Books.  I'm no bestseller, and this is certainly not enough to live on, not even in an off-the-beaten-path place like Guayaquil, Ecuador, but a very nice supplement right here in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

For this same period, for the two books I offer in print, I made $16 and change.  Let me remind you:  This was five months.  They had to wait this long to issue me a check because I hadn't earned the minimum (which I believe is $10).  Again, I only have two titles available in print, but I honestly do not believe my earnings would be much higher even if all my titles were offered in this format.  Now, it just so happens that my books tend to be lengthy, and in print-on-demand the more pages, the the price must be.  My available print books sell for $12.95 and $13.95 in trade size. The ones I wrote after that are longer and would be more like $15.95/$16.95, which I feel is too much for a consumer (they are priced between $3.49 and $4.79 in eBook format).  Add in the time it takes to format, the expense of an ISBN number (every author doesn't feel this way, but I want Bunderful Books, not CreateSpace, to show as the publisher of record, which means I have to have purchase my own ISBN), and I get the makings of a losing proposition.  For other authors it may be different (and probably is; who in their right mind would go through all that to make $16 in five months?), but that is the way it looks for this particular indie author. 

To print or not to print is a personal decision, just like the decision to indie publish and every aspect thereof.  For me it's better not to offer my books in print...because mid-to-upper four figures vs. less than 20 bucks speaks for itself.

I figured I'd put this on the blog, so that I can refer people who ask for print books to it.  Those numbers speak louder than anything I could ever say...


Chicki said...

Now I can refer people to this post when they ask me! LOL! Great explanation, and I agree with everything you said.