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  1. #1
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Costs, Rights, and Average Books Sold

    Here's some information from some of the prominent equity/vanity/subsidy publishers. These comments are based on the information on their respective sites and the sales figures are based on the figures quoted in these companies' news releases (total sales divided by total number of titles).

    PublishAmerica
    Pays: 8% royalty on cover price (on first 2,000 copies)
    License to publish for seven years, author retains copyright and non-book rights
    Average number of copies of each title sold: about 71.

    Xlibris
    Pays: After $500+ setup cost, pays 25% royalty on cover price, 10% royalty on wholesale price
    Nonexclusive license to publish, author retains rights
    Average number of copies of each title sold: about 125.

    iUniverse
    Pays: After $460+ setup cost, pays 20% of net (actual receipts), royalty paid quarterly
    Nonexclusive license to publish for three years, author retains rights
    Average number of copies of each title sold: about 70.

    AuthorHouse
    Pays: Royalties of 5-15% on suggested retail, depending on cover price, paid quarterly
    Nonexclusive license to publish, author retains rights
    Average number of copies of each title sold: about 100.

    Thus, depending upon royalty rates and cover prices, most authors can expect average revenues of about $70 to $320 minus any:

    1. setup costs
    2. extra editing, photography, or design costs (if applicable)
    3. marketing costs (postcards, travel, long-distance calls, flyers, book tours, etc.)
    4. time it took to write the book

    I hope this information is helpful to those researching subsidy presses.



  2. #2
    Ralph Daugherty
    Guest

    Re: Costs, Rights, and Average Books Sold


    How do you get sales from iUniverse to get average sales? 10-K? How do you match active titles with sales to get an average per title?

    rd

  3. #3
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: Costs, Rights, and Average Books Sold

    How do you get sales from iUniverse to get average sales? 10-K? How do you match active titles with sales to get an average per title?

    Ralph, if you look at their press releases, you'll see that their sales ratios have been pretty consistent over the last three years.

    For example, in June 2001, they reported they had sold 500,000 books comprised of a little less than 10,000 titles (let's say 9600 for the sake of doing calculations). Thus, by June 2001, they had sold an average of 52 copies of each title. Whether all the titles are active or not doesn't change the average. Obviously some people sold more and some sold less.

    By Nov. 2001, they had sold 750,000 books comprised of more than 10,000 titles (let's say 11,000 for calculations). That works out to an average of 68 copies of each title. By Oct. 2003, they announced more than 12,000 titles printed (and that they were printing over 5,000 titles per year). An article on eMedia announces over 750,000 books sold by 2004. That sounds like an out-of-date figure to me and wasn't straight from the horse's mouth, so I didn't use it.

    Note that I tried to find the total number of titles, not the total number of authors. Some authors have had more than one book published, so titles is a more accurate indicator of sales.

    Thus, iUniverse is pretty much in line with the other prominent subsidy publishers in terms of average sales per title.

  4. #4
    Ralph Daugherty
    Guest

    Re: Costs, Rights, and Average Books Sold


    Ok, thanks for the info, Mya. Out of curiosity I went to their site to see if I could get updated sales figures. I was disgruntled to find they do not have any information at all on sales, including no press releases on it in the last two years. They have possibly quit releasing those numbers because of what they show.

    I did a search and got 17,038 titles available but could not locate any sales figures of copies anywhere.

    I came across this paraphrased data in the economist blog Marginal Revolution from a NY Times article I read not long ago:

    Forty percent of all self-published books are sold
    to the authors, and most of the other sixty percent
    are sold on-line. One company, iUniverse, has 17,000
    published titles. 84 have sold more than 500 copies,
    and a half dozen have made it to Barnes and Noble
    shelves.

    I also see from Google archives that the 150 to 175 copies per POD are self reported by POD companies without corroborating data. You show that what data was released is actually more like 70. Thanks for shining a light on what the POD companies were saying, Mya.

    My own experience with online sales is that it even with a decently active web site promoting the book (which I cite occasionally in posts here) it is exceedingly difficult to generate even 70 sales. I am lucky if I see sales rank change indications of a couple of sales a day, and that's a big improvement. It probably took two months to surpass 70, my second month sales figures will be out soon.

    It is a slog, and that's as a niche true crime non-fiction. There is no way I could have sold 7 fictions without blackmailing immediate and extended family members.

    rd

  5. #5
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: Costs, Rights, and Average Books Sold

    Ralph,

    Now that POD equipment is relatively inexpensive (compared to the old half-million-dollar traditional presses and typesetting machines) and there are so many more, I suspect there's a great deal of competition between the different subsidy presses to attract writers. It may also account for the lack of recent sales figure announcements by some of the companies.

    You've added some useful information, both from the Web and from your personal experience.

    I think it's important for authors to have as much information as possible about the different publishing options available, so they can make informed decisions as to where to place their books.

    --- Mya Bell

  6. #6
    Robert Stephenson
    Guest

    Re: Costs, Rights, and Average Books Sold

    I did a POD ( well I am now running an imprint based around POD technology) study before launching by imprint.
    Provided I supply print ready documents - which I can because I have the printers software. The whole set up will cost me $38.50 and depending on the book a production per books cost of $12.00

    Real figures/. Now seeing as I don't charge to publish but publish in the tradition form I have to factor in my running costs. Editing. covers, layouts, advertising, review copies and flyers. The first two books I have released cost me about $400 all up. I figure that's pretty cheap compared to offset and stock carrying.

    Robert Stephenson
    www.altair-australia.com/altairbooks.htm

  7. #7
    Christi Anne
    Guest

    Re: Costs, Rights, and Average Books Sold

    If you go through one of those, what if you want to try getting the book published with a traditional publisher? Have you shot yourself in the foot? How do traditional publishers feel about a "license" given to places like iUniverse? Will they sign you if you have license to the book given to someone else? I would think if the traditional publisher put money into the same book, they would be pretty ticked if that money helped iUniverse make money.

    What is the difference between a "license" and a "right"? I thought a license was where you had a right (albeit temporary) to sell the book but the author kept the copyright?

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