Saturday, August 29, 2015
From the Publisher's Point of View
Publishers, small and large, find making a profit almost a losing proposition, but we keep trying because we like books, no, we love books -- most of us love GOOD books. However, that doesn't mean we don't like to see book sell. Many times authors have no idea what publishers face to keep their doors open; they don't know or understand the publishing side of their business (yes, being an author is a business).
Publisher Amanda Thrasher posted a message on Facebook she said I could share: "Sitting on this side of the fence, a publisher as well as an author, I now have an appreciation and understanding of the decisions publishers make regarding the things that they typically do. Content is critical, quality mandatory, and author platform crucial. Little or no ROI (return on investment) due to slim profit margins, practically impossible unless you have a proven author. Now, try telling that to a green author. In our environment, a small independent press, teamwork is imperative. It is the only way to stick to our goal. Most new authors, if you ask them, have no idea what real distribution is. Our business model changes according to the industry that we are in, but the plan never does."
4RV Publishing has gotten a return on its investment on only two titles released since 2007, and that was barely a bit of investment return, a few dollars. Yet, we have authors who never try to sell or promote their books. We have a few that believe that we somehow cheat them because so few copies sell. IF each author paid for the services he or she receives, the price would be between $4,000 - 5,000 per title. Our staff gives much time and effort to release the best books possible, and that work takes time, can't be done in a short period. Major publishing houses take up to seven years to release a book after a contract is signed, and they have more staff and options than small presses do. However, new authors, and some not so new, don't understand why their books aren't released within a shorter time than the "big" guys take.
Let's look at the process from submission to release. The author submits a manuscript. The editor-in-chief has an acquisition editor evaluate the submission. Based on that evaluation, a request for the full manuscript is sent, the submission is rejected, a revision is requested, or a contract is offered. IF a contract is offered, accepted, and signed, then when an editor is available, the editing process begins. Editing may take months or longer. A cover has to be designed and art work created for non-illustrated books. Illustrated books wait until an artist is available. After all editing and art work is finished, the manuscript has to be formatted into the right size, fonts, and arrangement -- which also takes time. The designer/formatter sends PDF proofs to the author and all editors (also to the artist if an illustrated book). Corrections are made, often resulting in three or more proofs sent until the author approves of a final proof. The designer/formatter then prepares files to be uploaded at the printers. Finally, the book can be ordered.
We pay Ingram to distribute our books. Each year we pay a fee for each title to be available for bookstores, online businesses, schools, and libraries to order copies of our books from Ingram and for Ingram to ship those books. Ingram takes 50% off the top of the retail price for their services (besides what we pay each year) and to give a discount to those ordering. From what is left, printing and other fees are deducted before any money is sent to the company. The author (and illustrators) receives more profit by buying copies from the publisher at discount prices and selling the books direct. More royalty is made when customers order books from the 4RV website bookstore.
Amazon orders from Ingram, and 4RV has no control over what Amazon does or doesn't do. Also, what Amazon receives per book is not the amount to base royalty. Remember, Ingram takes 50% off the top of retail prices. We never see the full retail price.
So, why do we keep working, struggling, and releasing books? Because we love books, and want good books available for people to read.