Print vs. E-Publishing

Everyone that knows me as a writer knows how much of a proponent I am of e-publishing.  To me, it’s a no-brainer, and I feel like it should be to any starting author.  Let’s look at the numbers:

  • The average advance for a first time author is between $1,000 and $10,000.  Some Googling long ago got me a number of about $2,200.  I don’t know how valid this is, but it seems right.
  • This is an advance, not a payment, and it must therefore be earned out through sales.
  • Most authors make between 6% and 10% royalties on their books.
  • For a $10 book, this is between $.60 and $1.00.  (You probably didn’t meed me to tell you that.)
  • I cannot walk into Barnes & Nobles, hit ctrl-F, and find your book.
  • Nor can I walk into Barnes and Nobles and easily search for “paranormal fantasy fiction” or any such genre.
  • I can do these things on their website, but then I’m stuck paying out $8-$10 dollars for a book that may or may not be good that the author may or may not be making money on that I have to either pick up or wait to receive.

It doesn’t help that publishing companies think they can charge print prices for e-books that cost almost nothing to publish.  Contrast that with self-publishing through a website like Smashwords, or even Kindle Direct Publishing:

  • No advance, so you’re stuck there.
  • Most self publishers make between 35% and 70% royalties on their books.
  • To equal the print earnings above, this would mean charging between $.99 (most sites’ minimum price) and $2.86 for your book.
  • That means you can charge less for your readers and still make more money on each sale.
  • E-books are easily searchable, with a number of sites devoted to helping indie authors.
  • You’re stuck doing all of the editing and marketing…but you were probably doing a large amount of both anyway.
  • People rate things, write reviews, and share things on the internet, so if you’re good, you get attention.

It’s not to say print publishing is entirely without advantages, or that e-publishing is entirely without drawbacks (the marketing one is a biggie, but most print-published authors don’t sell worth a shit either).  But look at what iTunes and iPods have done to how we buy and consume music.  Devices like smartphones, and e-readers are going to do the same thing to how we buy and consume books, and the publishing industry has shown that it just doesn’t get it yet.


About Alex

I am awesome.

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