Last week in the Bookseller in the UK, there was a sponsored post placed there by HP Book as a Service printing solutions. Other print to order vendors are emerging in a variety of markets with a variety of offerings. Ingram is no longer the only game in town for on-demand publishing on a global scale, and publishers large and small are taking notice.
For those who have self-published or for true micro-presses, Print on Demand, or as we like to put it, print to order has long been a solution, with two major players in the game: Amazon, and Ingram.
Each has different rules, drawbacks, and issues. But the fact that Draft2Digital (although really they are working with Ingram) and others like HP are looking at printing books on demand for both publishers and authors is both a bonus and an indicator. The bonus is that we are beginning to see broader choices, and that competition can only be good for both pricing and quality.
But more importantly, it’s an indicator. The post even offers a free eBook download from HP called “Think Globally, Print Locally.” It’s an interesting read, because it states things we already talk about at Mooney and Lambert.
Print to Oder is Environmentally Responsible
This is for more than one reason. First, we don’t waste energy and resources printing books we do not need. Print runs by large publishers have a huge impact on the environment. They also result in books being returned by bookstores and others, when they are most often pulped, or destroyed. This takes fuel and energy as well.
The second is that we can use Print on Demand vendors around the world to fulfill orders closer to the customer’s actual location. We don’t waste resources (and money) sending books around the world from a single location.
Finally, we can ensure print quality around the world, regardless of where the customer orders the book from by using a consistent network.
Developing Local Connections is Challenging
It is possible to publish globally by establishing relationships with local publishers in a variety of locations. However, this is a challenge for small and micro-presses, as such relationships can take time to develop. The challenge of a global pandemic meant shutdowns for a number of those partners, and even in some of them disappearing altogether.
For a global solution to work, a print on demand network is absolutely essential, and places like Ingram (and now HP and others) are developing such networks. This aligns with HP’s new model, “everything as a service” which offers cloud printing and even new, more agile printing press solutions for both large and small presses.
This Model is for Everyone
Look, lower costs equal greater profits for authors, agents, and everyone involved in the process. It’s better for our planet. And it means books that will sell in smaller projected numbers are still viable for publishers to take on, because production costs are reduced.
The old way of publishing is simply irrelevant to the modern way of distributing and printing books. Indie bookstores, small presses, and authors all come out ahead in the long run.
We don’t want to claim to be the first. But Mooney and Lambert has taken a unique position in the market, working with Agent Fox Media in the UK to form a new kind of publishing partnership, a post-Brexit, transatlantic agreement with historic implications.
And it’s Working
Authors who normally would have held out for deals with High Street and New York publishing houses are seeing the benefits of a more agile approach, one enabled by print to order publishing.
They’re books get to market faster, can potentially sell more copies, and the authors get a better contract to start with. This is the publishing model of tomorrow, and we’re pioneering it today.
We’re open to talking to agents and authors, and we’ll be opening for submissions coming in June. Watch this space for more exciting news!
Just over a year ago now, perhaps a little longer, my friend Jerry Mooney and I sat down to talk about the ghost of an idea that had been chasing around in my head. I wanted to take our talents and those of the people around us and harness them. I wanted to start a publishing company.
But not just any publishing company. The publishing industry has a problem, especially big, traditional publishers. Well, they have several and I’ll talk about a few here briefly because they are the “why” behind what we do. Since I already had the name “Unbound Northwest” and my own company, Unbound Media, we decided to go with Unbound Publishing, not for lack of other ideas, but because of the meaning of the name.
We wanted publishing to be Unbound. Open. We wanted to be transparent, and to help authors understand how publishing works. We also wanted to go on the beach of traditional publishing and kick some sand in the face of those big bullies. We’ve written about that a little bit before, here, and I’ll talk about it a bit more in a second.
Why the Name Change?
Well, this is where things get a bit complicated, but stick with me. When we went to get the domain name unboundpublishing.com it was already taken. By whom? Well, a pharmaceutical company somewhere in the Midwest who have some kind of app, and own the domain, even though that is not the name of their app.
No problem. We grabbed unbound.pub, unboundpublish.com, and a handful of others. No big deal, right? We figured eventually the pharma company would give up their name, and we could scoop it up then.
Then we were approached by an agent in the UK and formed our partnership with Agent Fox Media and Rick and Beverly Mayston. Rick mentioned our name, and that there was another Unbound in the UK, but a company who focused on crowdsourcing as a way to publish books. That was not their legal name, and in fact, they operate under a different business entirely. So there is not a legal issue with the name.
However, as we released our first couple of titles under the partnership and a couple of US titles, some confusion arose, because both crowdsourcing and our own model don’t follow the traditional model. So on Twitter of all places, there was some confusion regarding who was who.
Rather than fight the confusion and fight over who the real “Unbound” was, we decided to change our name. Although Lambert and Mooney was tossed around, it was too close to a cigarette brand in the UK, so we reversed the names, and ta-da! Mooney and Lambert.
What Else is Changing?
Well, not much and everything at the same time. We’re growing up because we’re growing. Also, 2020 has been interesting to say the least. The publishing industry, including us, has been tipped upside down and forced to look at the way we do business in a different way. Here are the details you need to know.
- We’re staying in the Print to Order model. We won’t do print runs generally speaking, and not just because of cost, but because we want to minimize our environmental impact.
- We’re author-centric. Our contracts are designed to reward authors, to increase royalties based on sales, and to cap out with a healthy return for authors and their agents.
- We’re exploring new tech that lets us control printing and printing costs more directly.
- We’re working to change the pricing model Ingram and other distributors use when selling to bookstores to make sure the indie shops who carry our books have the greatest chances of success too.
- We will continue to be nimble. Big publishers take a long time to bring books to market. We want to be faster but without sacrificing quality.
- We want to give stories a chance. Large publishing houses are resistant to newcomers or some niche topics. We want to embrace those.
- We are about equality and diversity. Everyone deserves a voice, and their voices should be heard. A story should be evaluated based on merit, not on race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors.
- We’ll use AI and the latest technology to make publishing affordable and accessible for as many people as possible.
- We will build networks and creative ways to assist authors even if they want to self-publish or just need an “assist” from a professional partner.
Our goal is to change publishing and the way we think about it one book, one partnership at a time. Our name change will simply help us stand out from the “unbound” crowd to enter a new space we can call our own.
We have an exciting lineup of books for next year and beyond. And we are not done yet. We are looking for strategic partnerships with agents, editors, other publishers, bookstores, and authors.
Stay tuned for book announcements, new partnerships, exciting developments even for you indie authors and self-publishers. We’re looking to change the future and even the conversations we have about publishing.
Are you ready?
The news is full of the idea that we should break up big tech. They have a monopoly, after all. They control advertising (Google), shopping (Amazon), information (Facebook), apps, and software (Apple and Microsoft). While there is some debate over whether a breakup is even possible, there is another monopoly that is largely ignored except ty those in the publishing industry: book distribution.
First, let me be clear in saying we are not providing breaking news or amazing information that has come to light, man. We are just stating facts that have already been reported, but hopefully, in a fresh way that lets you, the reader, understand the publishing industry in a new, and hopefully transparent light.
Here’s the thing, and one of the reasons we started Unbound Publishing in the first place: publishers are rarely transparent about how narrow margins are and the obstacles we fact to being profitable. But we think the more that authors, bookstores, and others see these truths and issues, the better we can all work together to solve them. As a result, we want to make a better future for publishing in general.
When it comes to book pricing and distribution, there is a lot that is shrouded in mystery. Here is the low down:
Ingram, Amazon, and Getting a Book in Bookstores
So we have talked before on this blog about print on demand, and how it is the way of the future, but we need to talk about the system currently in place. Because if you think it is easy to navigate and at all fair to authors, publishers, and bookstores, you’ll want to read further.
So let’s look at the options at our disposal. You can print directly through Ingram and offer print on demand. There are some clear advantages, distribution, and promotion being just two of those. There are also a lot of options you can’t get from other print on demand services: interior options for color, hardcover printing, and more.
You can also print through Amazon through a service once called Create Space that has now been migrated to their KDP Print program, although it remains essentially the same. The cost of printing was often lower, but the quality was inferior. There are also fewer options: if you want a cover interior, a premium option is the only one available, and it increased the cost of printing your book significantly.
The kicker of the Amazon printing method is that most indie bookstores understandably won’t order from Amazon. The two are, if you are not aware, pretty much enemies. In fact, it can be argued that Amazon is no author or bookstore’s friend, but when you don’t like the largest bookseller in the world right now, you work with them anyway if that’s where revenue comes from.
But if you want to get in bookstores and libraries, publishing through Amazon, especially using one of their “free” ISBN numbers won’t get you there.
The solution is that many publishers create two paperback editions when possible: one for Amazon and one for Ingram. On Ingram, they just make sure that distribution to Amazon is not checked, and on Amazon, they make sure they don’t opt for the expanded distribution options. That way, you have print books available in both places.
It’s impractical, it’s cumbersome, but it’s the easiest way to make both of the distribution monopolies happy.
The Retail Discount
In order for bookstores to carry your book, you have to offer them a discount from retail. Ingram recommends anywhere from 30-55%. The ideal for any bookstore is a 55% discount and books must be returnable. So many authors and publishers select that option. Because you want bookstores to carry your books, and you want to make it easy for them.
And you think that is what you are doing until you go to your local indie bookstore and ask a few questions. Truth? They don’t get that entire discount. It’s been written about before here and here, but Ingram uses a US-based company called Ingram Content Group to distribute books to bookstores.
They determine the discount a bookstore gets, and guess what happens to that other revenue you offered with the discount? It rarely comes back to the author. Ingram Books keeps it. That’s how they make money. So your local indie bookstore could be getting a 5% discount on your book when they order rather than the 55% you opted for.
How do they get away with it? Simple. Authors don’t really have a choice. Most bookstores order through Ingram and Bowker because books are returnable and they get a discount, and it’s just less cumbersome than ordering direct from each author and publisher (unless the publisher has a huge catalog).
What Do We Do About It?
First, we offer books directly to bookstores and others at wholesale rates, so if you are a bookstore or someone in the industry, and you want to carry our books and get a more significant discount (if you feel you are getting a poor deal from Ingram) please contact us. We really do want to help any way we can.
Second, there are some new players emerging in the print-on-demand space. Draft2Digital and other eBook distributors are experimenting with print and audiobook distribution. This means there could be viable options to both Ingram and Amazon in the near future, ones that would work well with Indie booksellers, libraries, and others.
Third, publicity and a certain amount of backlash on Ingram and others have created pressure to work better with Indie bookstores and others to make policies more transparent, and discounts more viable.
The Pandemic Effect
Lastly, an effect that cannot be ignored is the pandemic effect post-COIVID. Bookstores are slowly reopening, but some have closed for good, unable to weather closures and restrictions, and also either unable or unwilling to look at online operations and digital sales as a solution.
This means that in some areas especially, there are libraries and bookstores that remain closed and may never reopen. Does that mean authors and publishers should be discouraged? Not at all. It means there must be a shift in mentality and creativity to other ways to get books in the hands of bookstores and retailers. Online stores, direct to consumer (DTC) sales from the author and publisher site and more must be considered.
And events will happen again. Bookstores and libraries will open. Readers hungry for content will return in large numbers.
How do we make print profitable and viable for everyone? The move to print on demand and the embracing of modern technology is one answer. So is working with authors, bookstores, and publishers to solve the distribution monopoly problem. We can’t count on government regulation, so we in the market must be the ones to drive change.
Over a decade ago now, a revolution started. We all thought it would be the eBook revolution, and a ton of fiction authors bet their living and livelihood on it. But we were wrong. The eBook revolution never came, not the way we expected. Instead, it became a hybrid of multi-media, print on demand, and digital marketing.
But it did open up options for authors, including me. No longer were we tied to the “get lucky” or “get noticed” system of traditional publishing. Gone were the days of huge advances, and authors slinging books from their ivory towers to the masses unless you already had a big name. But you could build a pretty solid following for your books and your author brand, and actually make a living writing.
Beyond just author opportunities, the “self-publishing revolution” opened the door for other opportunities as well. Editors, cover designers, formatters, marketing, and PR professionals, and more of these professionals began freelance careers. Instead of sitting in an office in New York reading through the slush pile, an editor could be sitting on the beach editing a story they really loved.
With that came Print on Demand. As readers still wanted physical books, Indie authors and small presses needed to provide them for them. But doing print runs of thousands of books was not only not economically feasible, but it was also wasteful. So some companies jumped into the industry, including Amazon and Lightning Source (now Ingram Spark).
Soon small and medium-sized presses latched on to this model too. Why? Well, the answers are simple, and they matter to authors and publishers everywhere.
Print on Demand is More Profitable
One of our goals here at Unbound Publishing is to be absolutely transparent about our process and our profits, and here are the simple facts: we can’t operate as a company for long unless we are profitable. That means that printing books must come with enough of a margin that we can cover our salaries and operating expenses.
This is a part of why print on demand is essential to both paths to publication that we offer: we don’t want to pay for a warehouse to store hundreds or thousands of books that may or may not sell. We don’t want authors to have to order literally hundreds of books to get a discount so they can sell them to friends or family, give them away, or just have some copies for events of their own.
All those things cost money that diminishes the profitability of the company overall, and in today’s world is completely unnecessary. Here’s how it breaks down:
- We can do print runs for bookstores, events, pre-orders, and conferences of any size. We can drop ship orders direct from the printers, and never even touch the books.
- We can larger print runs as needed, or smaller ones. We can avoid doing print runs at all. Either way, we eliminate the structure necessary for distribution, making our company leaner and able to offer authors more royalties and vendors larger discounts.
- We’re not storing returns or bulk numbers of books. We don’t need a large storage area, just a small one to meet immediate demand. Our supply can be replenished quickly and as needed.
That’s how Print on Demand benefits us as a company, but what does that mean to those we do business with?
Print on Demand Gives Indie Bookstores Better Options
Yes, our books are available through standard channels like Ingram, Bowker, and in most cases the gorilla in the room, Amazon. But we, and bookstores, are not tied to them. Bookstores and others can order directly from us, get better discounts in some cases, and have the same benefits of ordering directly from Ingram.
However, we also understand how bookstores, libraries, and others might rather order through standard channels. It makes their accounting and invoicing simpler, and we respect that. Bookstores and publishers alike operate on slim margins, and we want to help our partners. We want the industry to be successful.
Print on Demand lets us offer bookstores and other partners more options when it comes to ordering and stocking books.
Print on Demand is Better for the Environment
So for some of you not in the publishing business, let me share something sad with you: do you know what happens to returned books? Well, if they are returned to the publisher, most of them are simply pulped and recycled. Good news? Sure, at least they are recycled, but all the shipping back and forth and even the pulping process take energy, fuel, and result in greenhouse emissions.
The solution? Don’t print books unless you need them. Fewer returns, less pulping, less waste, all things that are better for our planet. And if we do get books returned from bookstores?
Well, you could call those slightly used books. Then you can sell them for a small discount on Amazon, eBay, or other places, and someone still gets to read them. Other people will sell your books used too, so why wouldn’t you or your publisher?
Print on demand gives publishers and authors the ability to do what is best for the planet, offering products with less environmental impact. That’s good for everyone.
Print on Demand is Better for Authors
What about the authors of the books? Well, first of all, they have more ordering options, and can therefore save money when they order copies for themselves and events they might hold on their own.
Second, when publishers are more profitable, they can pass along those profits to authors in the form of royalties. This is what enables us to offer a graduated royalty system to authors: the more books they sell, the greater percentage of royalties they earn. Everyone can still make a profit, because we’ve eliminated the bloat of infrastructure related to legacy publishing and large print runs.
True, not all publishers pass along profits to the authors who are the backbone of their business, but that’s what sets us apart. We’re transparent about what it costs us to produce a book, the pay now or pay later nature of publishing, and the fact that for any kind of publishing to have a viable future, we need to lean into modern technology like print on demand to make sure it’s profitable for everyone.
Have questions? Have a story you are ready to publish or need help with ghostwriting services? Contact us using the form below. We’d love to chat about what’s next for you and your story, and how print on demand can be a part of your plan.
Unbound Publishing has launched a new partnership with Agent Fox Media based in the UK, and that is great news for many authors. Read the press release below:
The Partnership Press Release
Good News for Authors as POD Publisher Strikes Agreement with Agent
Unbound Publishing LLC (Idaho, USA) is excited to announce it has forged an international deal with Agent Fox Media Literary and Media (London)to publish, promote, and distribute literature from their clients. This relationship capitalizes on the strengths of the two companies to provide opportunities for authors who want the flexibility of Print on Demand instead of the rigid requirements of publishing houses tied to large print runs and bloated infrastructure.
“The mission of Unbound Publishing LLC is to turn storytellers into authors,” co-founder Troy Lambert says. “By being nimble and forging an international, post-Brexit, COVID-era partnership with Agent Fox Literary and Media, we can assist even more potential authors achieve their publishing dreams.
Unbound Publishing LLC provides authors two distinct paths to success. Working with Rick and Beverly Mayston and Agent Fox Media capitalizes on the best path for authors who have an established audience through social media, fan clubs, or simply who the author is. The Print on Demand (POD) path gives the authors more power to make their books viable in today’s market without the demands and financial pressures of conventional publishing paths. Authors receive better compensation without burdening the agency and publishing company with risk, helping ensure the success of everyone involved.
Co-founder of Unbound Publishing LLC Jerry Mooney says, “It’s exciting to bring aboard these new authors. We are the right company to get them the quality of publishing and distribution they need. And working with Rick Mayston, their CEO, has been professional and effective. Our partnership will lead to optimal benefits for all participants: author, agent, and publisher.” Jerry continued, “We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we are also evolving from old models which no longer serve the modern trends of the industry. We are constantly working to improve our methods to deliver success.”
The relationship with Agent Fox Media is a natural partnership because we both believe that we succeed if our authors succeed. This creates energy where everyone involved is working together towards the same goals. Using modern techniques, including social media, marketing tools, and relationship building, this joint venture maximizes the resources available to maximize profits and opportunity for authors, agents, and the publisher by harnessing the power of Print on Demand.
Unbound Publishing LLC is able to produce the highest quality products without the bloated overhead of conventional publishing. This model works best when everyone works together to modernize and streamline the publishing model.
To kickoff the partnership, Unbound Publishing LLC will be releasing two memoirs this October, both written by the children of notable British fathers. First, My Dad Was The King Of Clubs, is written by Scott Stringfellow, son of the renowned Peter Stringfellow, international club owner and London legend who worked with and signed acts like the Beatles and Culture Club. This book sizzles with accounts of rock stars and celebrities, but at its core is a heartwarming tale of a father and son.
Scott’s book is due to be made available for pre-order on October 17th, which would have been his father’s 80th birthday, and will release for sale on October 29th.
We will also be releasing No More Kisses For Me by Gayle Hiller. Gayle is the daughter of famous songwriter Tony Hiller. Through letters written to her father after his passing, she shares her story of the complicated relationship between her successful father and his daughter. This story is beautifully written and touches anyone who can relate to a parent chasing success at the expense of their family.
Gayle’s book will be available for pre-order on October 29th and will release for general sale on November 12th. More information about pre-orders can be found on our website here:
We have started with these two books because the contrasting natures of how these two people have grown up because of their paternal relationships is fascinating. We are all shaped by our childhoods, and both books will have instantly recognisable personal issues and experiences that the reader can identify with. Thankfully both Gayle and Scott have turned out to be very well rounded individuals in their own right.
“Agent Fox Media and Unbound Publishing LLC are thrilled to be working together in this way, and it is hoped that POD can continue to be a much more popular proposition for authors worldwide – long after Lockdown has ended,” says Mayston.
“It’s our goal at Unbound Publishing LLC to revolutionize POD publishing to an author-centric small press model that transcends national borders and embraces emerging publishing trends,” Lambert says. “The goal is to establish a sustainable, replicable model that is profitable for both agents, authors, and editors as a ‘new normal’ emerges for publishing.”
Jerry Mooney adds, “Our years of experience have shown us that there is a real need for our approach. Authors put their heart and souls into their creations. Writing a book is like giving birth. A book isn’t merely a commodity, rather it is an expression of one’s self, revealing our innermost thoughts and experiences, rendering authors vulnerable. It can be personal and emotional. We work with our authors from this understanding.”
Unbound Publishing LLC is excited about this relationship with Agent Fox Media and its authors as we continue to develop this model partnership to foster author, agency, and publishing company success.
In the Fox’s Den
A vital part of our partnership is to promote authors and provide them with a tangible video asset to share on social media and elsewhere that will help them sell books. Rick Mayston makes a great host, every episode is fun and entertaining.
You can see past episodes here, and new editing and a new engineer means the program will only be getting better as time goes along. Interested in appearing on the program? Unbound Publishing authors get a special rate, and we can offer the option to others who have an interest as well. Contact us today at info [at] unboundpublish.com.
How does this affect your path to publication?
What does this mean to you? This means that the Print on Demand Path to publication is even more available and viable for a greater number of authors. Frequently asked questions:
- Do I have to apply for the print on demand option? Yes. We are looking for specific types of authors and books to bring into this program.
- Do I have to live in the United States? No, we are interested in ideas from authors everywhere.
- What are you looking for? We are currently looking for compelling non-fiction. That is everything from great business ideas; health, and fitness; stories from the entertainment industry; fascinating stories and in-depth historical research; sports teams and sports figures; and more. Do you have a story or a topic with a social media or club following? We’re interested in talking to you.
Do you have any questions? Do you already have a story to tell? Do you need help with ghostwriting, screenwriting, or are you in need of other author services? Contact us today! We’re here to help you.
It’s time for a bit of honesty and hard truth in the writing and publishing world. One of the things I hear when I talk to new authors is the simple lament: “writing a book is harder than I thought.” Then we start talking about the real cost of self-publishing, and publishing in general, and all the work that goes into it.
Suddenly this individual, who just wanted to write their story and sell a few books, is overwhelmed. I’ll let you in on a secret. No matter how many times you do this (I’m somewhere over two dozen novels of my own, several short stories just this year, and have helped countless authors through this process) you will feel like there’s more to do than you can handle. There is so much to do, and so little time.
It’s one of the reasons Unbound Publishing came about at all. One of my primary aims was to help writers feel less overwhelmed by taking a little of the pain out of the process.
That “pain removal” comes at a cost, and that’s another thing I hear often. “Why is this so expensive?” So let me explain, with a transparency that few publishers will give you, the reality of the business, and some more about our two paths to publication and why we have them.
Time and Skills vs. Money
Just like nearly everything else, publishing is about time and skills vs. money. The first book I edited and even the first book I published was not as good as what I can do now. It isn’t that I lacked skill, but I lacked experience, and tools have evolved and improved over the years.
I’ve also worked to hone my skills and get more efficient, as have most editors, writers, and publishers. Just like in sports there is no substitute for time on the field, in publishing there is no substitute for simply doing the work. The same is true of cover design, book formatting, writing marketing copy, and more.
So can you do them yourself? In some cases, the answer is yes. In others, the answer is a resounding “No.” The real question is whether you have or can develop the skills for doing something and if you have the time to do them. Many authors early in their careers are working day jobs, writing in their spare time, and that time can quickly disappear in marketing tasks, trying to create book covers and all the other tasks that go with writing.
Instead of spending time trying to do all that, you can pay someone to do them for you. They probably work faster and more efficiently than you can, and they are likely more skilled as well. And that is what you are paying for. Their time and skills. So if you spend eight hours trying to create a book cover, and it was a mediocre one, what else could you have done with that eight hours? How much money would you have made, or how much writing could you have gotten done?
Also, think of the person you are paying. What do you make per hour? If it takes someone even five hours to make your book cover, you need to pay them reasonably for those five hours. If they are a skilled editor, how much do they deserve for forty hours spent on your manuscript? However, perhaps the most important aspect is the benefit to your mental health. Even paying others to do part of the work you will sometimes feel overcome with things to do, and I suggest you check out Colleen Story’s great book,Overwhelmed Writer Rescue: Boost Productivity, Improve Time Management, and Replenish the Creator Within.
You get the idea. Writing a book is hard enough and you want to get paid for your time. Add in all the other tasks that go with it, and you have a lot of expenses. But let’s look at costs specific to the publishing industry.
Editing Costs and What they Mean
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be diving deeper into each of these topics, but let’s start with the basics. Provided your manuscript is near perfect when you hand it in to a publisher or even to a freelance editor, it will at a minimum need a solid proofreading pass for grammar and punctuation.
Most editors charge by the word, and even if they are charging fractions of a penny per word to edit your manuscript, it is still costly. If they charge half a cent per word and you have a 40,000-word manuscript, that is still a couple of hundred bucks.
But let’s face it. Your manuscript is probably not perfect, so it needs deeper edits than that. If the editor even spends eight hours on your manuscript for a $200 payday, they earned $25 an hour. If they are an independent contractor, they also pay their own taxes, so that is really the equivalent of around $15 an hour, or what an unskilled worker makes in many cases. On top of that, since the average memoir or non-fiction book is closer to 60,000 words—well, you can do the math.
Of course, the deeper the edits your manuscript needs, the more it will cost you per word because the more time it will take. If you are working with a publisher or agent who does not charge you upfront for those costs, that is a part of their cost for creating your book. To keep it simple, someone is paying the editor for their work, whether that is you or the publisher.
The same that is true for editing is the same as covers, but there are other costs as well. For example, if you have a cover that is put together with stock photography of some sort, that photography must be licensed for use on your cover, and someone has to pay for that, either you or the cover designer.
And think about any graphic designer you know. How much to they make an hour? How many hours do you think it takes to create a great cover? Add to that if you need something that is hand-drawn or painted rather than created using stock photography. How much does an artist get for a great painting?
So when you look at the price of a cover, realize there is a lot of art that goes into it combined with time, skill, and often photo licensing as well. It’s not as simple as slapping a photo and some words on a blank cover. And when covers are bad, they can be really bad.
There are two aspects to formatting a book. One is the digital aspect. E-readers allow a reader to change fonts to meet their specific needs and wants, which can move photos, charts, and other items around if your book has them. Special formatting can make sure they “stay in place” but that takes skill and a good formatting program.
The same is true for print formatting. Those photo plates in the center of a book have to be especially designed and making sure text looks just right can be tricky. Getting it right takes time, skill, and the right software. A truly skilled formatter is extremely valuable.
This is another cost that either you are paying, or your publisher is, but either way, it’s part of the cost of producing a book.
Printing and Distribution Costs
Here’s where things can get a little convoluted because this cost bridges two aspects of publishing: actually printing and distributing your book and marketing. Printing costs are the actual amount it takes to physically create your book, either in hardcover, paperback, or the creation of an audiobook.
But there is also the cost of distribution, which is more than just shipping books. It’s making sure your book is in the right catalogs, that bookstores and libraries know about your book so they can choose whether or not to carry it, and the discount those retailers demand to make their own business viable.
Many self-published or even published authors feel they are doing libraries and bookstores a favor by “allowing” them to carry their books, and they approach librarians and others with this “entitled attitude.” But the opposite is true. Libraries and bookstores are doing authors a favor by carrying their books and giving them shelf space, especially if they end up on an endcap or a “front-facing” position.
With print on demand, we try to keep these costs as low as possible, rather than the expenses of doing a giant print run. But it still costs money to execute.
We’ll cover this in more detail on this blog in the future, but you can start by reading this post about dealing with Indie bookstores and libraries as an author.
Keeping Up Appearances
Once your book is out in the world, things like inventory management, revisions to your bio, book descriptions, managing ads and marketing, and offering sale prices all go into keeping your book fresh and interesting. There are also things like website updates and changes and simple maintenance.
If you self-publish, this is your job, and it will take you time and in some cases money. If you are working with a publisher, this is their job and an important one. As we’ll explore in a moment, your publisher and your agent if you have one won’t make any money unless you sell books.
Two Paths of Paying for the Hard Work of a Team
So why do we offer two paths to publication at Unbound Publishing? The reason is simple. We have to make money so we can keep helping storytellers become authors. We can’t do the things we do for free: we have mortgages, rent, and all of the expenses that go with owning and running a company, or in our case, more than one.
If we add up all of the expenses above and we pay ourselves something for the time we put in, it costs somewhere between $4,000 and $10,000 dollars to produce. In some cases, the costs can be even higher.
If you have a really rough manuscript and you need deep edits or even the help of a ghostwriter, we can do that for you, but that adds even more to the overall cost. If you self-publish or go with our author services path, or someone else’s, you need to recoup that money to have what we in the business call a positive return on investment (ROI).
As we have talked about on this blog before, publishing is a pay now or pay later game: you either pay upfront for services, and then as a result you get a higher percentage of your royalties, or an even greater amount if you choose to self-publish. Or you pay later, because your publisher, in this case us, keeps a higher percentage of the royalties you earn until we pay back our expenses.
And that is where the two paths to publication come in. If you are confident you can sell books, and you can prove it to us, you can apply to be a part of our print on demand small press path to publication. In that case, you are choosing to “pay later” in royalties.
Of you can pay for everything upfront. You still have to qualify if you want to publish with us. We’re protective of our brand and the quality it represents. But you are choosing to pay now and keep more of your royalties from future sales. If you have a budget and you like to control all aspects of the publication of your book, you can choose this method or just the author’s services you need, priced a la carte.
Either way, publishing is going to cost you something, and since you’ve already put time into your story, making money from it, at least enough to break even, only makes sense.
The Key to Your Success
What’s the key to success when it comes to writing and publishing? Well, there are actually several ingredients. The primary one is you. You have to have a good story. You have to have the desire to tell it. You have to want to share it, not just with family and friends, but with the world.
Essentially, just like when we look at a criminal act, you need means, motive, and opportunity. You need the means to create your story and get it into a package that you can sell. That often means partnering in one way or another with a company like ours. You need a motive, and a reason to share your story or your idea. Whatever that is, it will have to drive you even when things are tough, and they can be in the book industry.
The opportunity? We’ll take care of that. If you’re ready to tell your story to the world, explore what we have to offer today, and then contact us. We’d love to talk with you about the bridge from being a storyteller to becoming an author, and how we can best help you.