Archive for December, 2010

Good News and Better News for Writers

As 2010 draws to a close, I’m pleased to share some good news and some better news. The good news is there’s a new year on the horizon and that means new hope, new thinking, and new opportunities.

All one has to do is look at the magazine covers or media ads filled with weight loss products, de-clutteriing ideas, and organization tips to see new hope for better living.

Add the promises we make to ourselves to improve or eliminate something in our lives (we call these New Year’s Resolutions), and we experience new thinking (at least for a short while).

And what about new opportunities? We discover opportunities to learn, to share, to work, to play, to entertain, to be entertained, etc. Opportunities are always there–it’s just that we don’t really look for them as earnestly as we do at the beginning of a new year.

That was the good news. Here’s the better news.

The year 2011 can be your best year ever as a writer. And you have more control in making that happen than you think. If you want your writing to stand above the crowd, make sure you’ve mastered the basics–grammar, basic sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, etc. Once those become second nature to you, your creativity can be unleashed as you discover new ways to turn a phrase, write in active voice, and create visuals with your words.

Why wait until 2011 to get started? Today is as good a day as any to affix the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and get writing. No one writes exactly as you write, so stop denying your reader your good stuff and get going!

Happy writing!

Do You Really Want to Sell Your Book in Bookstores?

Ask anyone who’s been in the book publishing business very long that question and you’ll get a “Yes–and–No” answer. The yes because you want your book available to sell in bookstores (whether online or brick and mortar), and no, you don’t really want to sell your book there.

Huh? Some people only buy books from bookstores, so you want to be available for purchase there. But the ugly truth is bookstores are a consignment business. They don’t buy the book from you until the customer buys it from them.

Here’s how it works. Your bookstore shelves your book, but only if the storeĀ  buyer is convinced you’ll drive traffic to that store to buy the book. If you’re an author with a platform (read famous), that’s not a problem. Or, if you’re an author with an established fan base, that’s not a problem. For 98 percent of the authors, however, neither is the case.

If you do convince a store to shelve your book, the book sits there until purchased or returned for full credit (often a book is only given a handful of weeks or it’s returned). If purchased, the bookstore gets the money, cash manages the money for 30 days or so, then pays the distributor. The distributor cash manages the money for 30 days or so, then pays the publisher. Thus, even if a book sells immediately upon hitting the bookstore, it’s entirely possible you’ll wait 90 days or more for your share of the sale.

What is your share of the sale? After the bookseller and the distributor take their cuts, anywhere between 30 and 45 percent is left for the publisher. The publisher pays the cost of publishing, the cost of shipping and handling, and the overhead costs out of those leftovers. Of course, if you’re royalty published, you’re a cost to the publisher too.

Let’s say your royalty is 5 percent of net. If you crunch the numbers above, you’ll see a publisher needs to keep the cost per book at around 40 percent to break even–that’s $4.00 on a $10.00 book. So, your 5 percent is based on $4.00, which is a whopping 20 cents per book sold. However, if you have a literary agent who typically gets 15 percent of your earnings, you don’t get 20 cents per book. You get 20 cents minus 15 percent, or a net 17 cents per book sold. Royalties aren’t figured on review copies, promotional copies given away, etc.

Before you get all excited about selling your book in bookstores, do the math. You may find you do better selling in other types of venues. At least consider your options.

Happy writing!