Author Topic: How can you do it on $3 profit?  (Read 1086 times)

okey dokey

How can you do it on $3 profit?
« on: January 03, 2019, 03:26:53 AM »
That's the question that really floors me.
I run across authors listing their sales records.
But in the nitty-gritty, some mention that on their paperbacks that sell for $14.95, they make a $3 profit (or less).
And they don't complain about it.
How can that be?
They can turn around and have another paperback printed for that $3?
If so, please pass on the name of your printer.
My overhead includes paper supplies, trips to the post office, mailing cost, software, printer ink, etc. And my printer wants more than $3 to print my book.

I went down this road for a couple of years. I was selling a lot of books. But why was I slowly going broke?
Well, a $3 take on a paperback just wasn't cutting it.
Everyone was making money - the printer who was paid up front, the distributor who held on to the sales money for 60 90 days. Ditto the retail store.
So I was slowly going broke and they weren't.

I finally solved my problem by becoming the distributor. Now I get paid about 70% of the book price, which includes my mailing cost.

And best of all, I get paid in 14 days after the sell.

So if you're getting about $3 profit per paperback, how do you survive?
And please name the printer that will print a book for $3

 

angelapepper

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2019, 03:30:26 AM »
Many authors use print-on-demand services, such as Createspace, which is now KDP Print.

That's what I use, and it's pretty common these days.

I don't pay a cent to invest in printing books ahead of time. The customer orders it online, through Amazon, and Amazon then prints a copy and sends it to the customer. They send me my portion as a royalty. My only up-front investment is producing the content of the book.

I'm in Canada, so it would be absurd for me to print books and ship from my house, because the postage costs would be so high. Customers would be unlikely to pay enough to cover my hard costs, let alone my time schlepping it around to the post office.
 

okey dokey

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2019, 03:37:40 AM »
Thanks for your response.
So who is your POD printer who will print your book for $3 or less?
 

okey dokey

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2019, 03:39:52 AM »
Sorry Angelia
I missed your mention that Amazon does the POD.
May I ask the cost?
 

VanessaC

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2019, 03:43:59 AM »
I haven't ventured into print yet, but my understanding is that there is zero cost for the author in terms of the physical paper, etc.

Clearly you have the cost of your cover design, editing, etc, in the same way as for an e-book, and possibly additional formatting costs if you don't do that yourself.

Of the $14.95 cost mentioned in the first post, Amazon keeps $11.95 - this covers its costs for the POD service, plus some profit for Amazon, and you, the author, get $3. 

So $3 isn't "profit" as such, it's our royalty as authors in the same way as we get 35% or 70% on e-books.

 

Genre: Fantasy
 

okey dokey

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2019, 04:09:43 AM »
Thanks Vanessa
So for your $3 royalty, you can buy a new book cover?
Well, you can after you stack up some more $3 royalties.

Here's my math (figures are rounded off):

My book (288 pages) is printed for $5 and priced at $19.95 (non-fiction)
Amazon sells the book and sends me the customer's mailing address (since I'm the distributor)
I ship the book.
Amazon deposits $17 in my bank in 14 days.

I subtract my print cost ($5) and my shipping cost ($3)

That leaves me with $9 profit.

If I priced the book at $14.95, my profit would be $7


And I get my money in 14 days

 

LilyBLily

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2019, 04:16:40 AM »
Amazonís cost to the author for a POD title varies with the page size, paper choice, and page count. If you are yourself in a mail order business, you should be buying printing that is very inexpensive. Get a half dozen printer estimates. Thereís a very good chance your current printer is soaking you. Thatís their traditional way of doing business.

Also, a trad pub royalty might be a mere 8%. Call it 10% for easy calculating. That royalty would be a mere $1.49.

Edited: I didn't see your prior post. Many authors do not wish to be distributors. We create print books mostly to give away and for the ego boost of seeing them on our shelf and coffee table. Many if not most fiction books from authors without a big following do not sell in quantity in print. They just don't. My best-selling print title is nonfiction. My next best is a beach read, and apparently people really do want these as print books. My additional cost is usually around $100 to the cover designer to do the print cover. After that, since I don't advertise the print editions separately, my ad costs are bundled with the ad costs for the ebook, and selling a print book costs me zero in time or effort.

I see one big advantage to your method: Amazon has to give you the customer's address. That is worth gold, because you can then access that customer directly to upsell without significant ad costs. Still, some authors are not cut out to be in the mail order fulfillment business; they just aren't, and it would be a big mistake for them to attempt it. If you pay attention to some of the sheer ignorance people reveal when tax time rolls around, you'd understand why it is saner for many to simply make a print edition available through KDP or Ingram, and call it done.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 12:47:36 PM by LilyBLily »
 

Anarchist

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2019, 05:06:06 AM »
OP, is there any reason you prefer to ship your own books?
I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 

Electric Dan

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2019, 05:26:42 AM »
OP, are your books POD or did you have them printed in bulk?
     
 

ilamont

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2019, 07:35:37 AM »
If you do digital short runs of 100+ or offset runs of 250+, you can get close to POD paperback rates and maybe even exceed them if you do exceptionally large runs, go with lower-quality stock, slower shipping and turnaround times, etc. Basing this on current LSI rates of $2.50-$2.75/book and KDP Print of $2.15/book for 100 page, 6x9 color cover with B&W interior vs. digital and offset jobs I've commissioned from various U.S. based printers. 
 
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 07:37:55 AM by ilamont »
I am the author of Lean Media: How to focus creativity, streamline production, and create media that audiences love. Lean Media website, Lean Media blog.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont.

Disclosure: I am a board member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)
 

Lee

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2019, 10:20:37 AM »
I see one big advantage to your method: Amazon has to give you the customer's address. That is worth gold, because you can then access that customer directly to upsell without significant ad costs.
You can't, not without breaking Amazon's terms. The details can only be used if directly relating to the item sold. You can however add extra stuff in with the package to try to get them to sign up for something else with you, discount codes for your own website etc. 

Quote
Still, some authors are not cut out to be in the mail order fulfillment business; they just aren't, and it would be a big mistake for them to attempt it. If you pay attention to some of the sheer ignorance people reveal when tax time rolls around, you'd understand why it is saner for many to simply make a print edition available through KDP or Ingram, and call it done.

I agree. I'm in the mail order fulfilment business (not books). I'm gradually going the other way. I'd rather have the lower $3 profit and be done. Many people underestimate the amount of cost, work and hassle involved when dealing with everything yourself. Unless your business is hugely profitable, $3 per book is actually not bad at all. All you are left with is mostly marketing and taxes to sort out, which can't be avoided no matter what way you run your business.

$7 profit sounds far better than $3 on the surface. There are many things that will cut into that $7 when doing everything for yourself. A lot of time, effort and money that could be put to better use if you look at the long term. Use that time to write more, market more and let Amazon take care of the rest ... including the legal problems which are becoming expensive and too unmanageable for small businesses to cope with.
 

angelapepper

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2019, 12:58:39 PM »
OP, things are always changing.

Here are all the FAQs about Amazon Print on Demand.

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G202059560
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2019, 01:47:23 AM »
I'm with those who let Amazon do all the heavy lifting.

For me, the extra costs associated with shipping the books myself and other expenses would be hard to recoup. Also, if there's a problem with the shipment, it ends up being my problem.

I will add one other piece of information to the discussion of costs. If you shop around, you can find cover designers whose standard rate includes both print and ebook covers. That tends to be a little cheaper than the rate for those who sell each separately. Alternatively, you can take the ebook cover image and make the paperback cover yourself using templates. It won't look as good as a professionally made cover, but it will be considerably less expensive.

Most indies (children's books and some nonfiction being well-known exceptions) make the bulk of their money from ebooks. People who attend in-person book sales events obviously sell more, but even they still probably get the bulk of their sales from ebooks. For that reason, it makes sense not to incur extra costs for paperback production. Save the labor, save the money, and still have paperbacks for the buyers who really want them.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
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She-la-te-da

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2019, 12:52:40 AM »
Thanks Vanessa
So for your $3 royalty, you can buy a new book cover?
Well, you can after you stack up some more $3 royalties.

Here's my math (figures are rounded off):

My book (288 pages) is printed for $5 and priced at $19.95 (non-fiction)
Amazon sells the book and sends me the customer's mailing address (since I'm the distributor)
I ship the book.
Amazon deposits $17 in my bank in 14 days.

I subtract my print cost ($5) and my shipping cost ($3)

That leaves me with $9 profit.

If I priced the book at $14.95, my profit would be $7


And I get my money in 14 days



But are you including the time spent on running the business? Because I'd bet your profit comes out to about what we'd get from letting Amazon do all the work. Think of the savings from not having to worry about collecting sales taxes alone! Plus, I would have no upfront costs, like having to print and store my books, because that's all done on demand, no storage required, no record keeping for inventory to worry about. I'd say it's a good deal, and $3 profit off a book that required little other work than formatting and making a different kind of cover sounds pretty darn good.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 

Pandorra

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2019, 10:46:09 PM »
I agree ^ it varies... I have one book that is 500 pages and fully illustrated, it lists at 69.97 right now and after amazon's costs, I get 8.81 per paperback sale of that book. For just a reg fiction, I get anywhere from .33 - 4$ on each sale... it's completely dependant on the original price, print cost, royalty rate, etc.. but that final number is all mine after costs.. so it isn't horrible if you're selling in large numbers and I pay nothing up front, it all comes from the sale of the books.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 10:53:34 PM by Pandorra »

Dean Rencraft | Authors in Motion
 

Amanda M. Lee

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2019, 11:53:39 PM »
I would rather gouge out my own eye than handle distribution. I figure that my time is worth about $935 an hour. How much can I legitimately make packing books in boxes and having them sent out? Not even close to that. Admittedly, I only make about 2K a month in paperbacks but it's never going to be a focus for me. Ebooks are my bread and butter. Audiobooks are a distant second. Print books are basically my shoe money. They're never going to be a focus. So, honestly, I'm fine with my $4 profit on a book on Amazon because I don't have to lift a finger to distribute them.
 
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Pandorra

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2019, 02:08:51 AM »
I would rather gouge out my own eye than handle distribution. I figure that my time is worth about $935 an hour. How much can I legitimately make packing books in boxes and having them sent out? Not even close to that. Admittedly, I only make about 2K a month in paperbacks but it's never going to be a focus for me. Ebooks are my bread and butter. Audiobooks are a distant second. Print books are basically my shoe money. They're never going to be a focus. So, honestly, I'm fine with my $4 profit on a book on Amazon because I don't have to lift a finger to distribute them.

Good gods, Amanda! lol :pdt

Dean Rencraft | Authors in Motion
 

David VanDyke

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2019, 11:59:33 AM »
I would rather gouge out my own eye than handle distribution. I figure that my time is worth about $935 an hour. How much can I legitimately make packing books in boxes and having them sent out? Not even close to that. Admittedly, I only make about 2K a month in paperbacks but it's never going to be a focus for me. Ebooks are my bread and butter. Audiobooks are a distant second. Print books are basically my shoe money. They're never going to be a focus. So, honestly, I'm fine with my $4 profit on a book on Amazon because I don't have to lift a finger to distribute them.

Good gods, Amanda! lol :pdt

I have a similar issue, if only about 1/4 that. Once I realized that, it was a lot easier to decide what NOT to do. Many things are much better to outsource.

That can be hard to do when coming from a working-class background where I was the second person in my extended family to ever go to college, and I thought in terms of doing things myself--fix the house, fix the car, do my own everything--to pinch a few pennies.

Now, I try hard to pay someone to do everything, even if I can do it myself.

The one thing nobody else can do is write my stories, so that's what I prioritize. After that, I keep the decisions and the control, and outsource any drudgery or "things others can do better" that I can--covers, proofreading, formatting, web presence management, newsletter management, some ads management, etc--which leaves me time to write and enjoy life.

People can only understand this stuff in the context of a business. If you don't genuinely run your writing as a business, it's very easy to get bogged down in doing the wrong things. But if you consider yourself as the CEO of your own business, and you delegate things to your "employees," even if they're contractors or piece workers or freelancers, it becomes much easier to do so.

Which is why I'm with Amanda--I'd never consider doing my own print books--I'd lose more in lost writing and in quality of life than I'd gain in money.
Never listen to people with no skin in the game.
 
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Pandorra

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2019, 02:28:30 AM »
I hope I can get to that point within the next year or so but for now, it's a DIY! I just try not to think of how much writing I would get done if I was just doing that part and not all the rest.  :doh:

Dean Rencraft | Authors in Motion
 

She-la-te-da

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2019, 12:03:45 AM »
I have to DIY now, but I hope in the future to pay for some things, at least. The main thing is always, what's the ROI between doing it myself and hiring it out.

I also grew up having to do stuff myself because there simply wasn't any money to hire people. Fix house, fix car, mow yard, whatever needed to be done, had to be done ourselves. It's something to be proud of, but also very tiring and it can break the spirit at times.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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David VanDyke

Re: How can you do it on $3 profit?
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2019, 02:24:07 PM »


I also grew up having to do stuff myself because there simply wasn't any money to hire people. Fix house, fix car, mow yard, whatever needed to be done, had to be done ourselves. It's something to be proud of, but also very tiring and it can break the spirit at times.

It is something to be proud of--and I wish you and everyone here could be fortunate enough not to need to.
Never listen to people with no skin in the game.