some numbers

Running some figures…

A friend told me what editors and copy editors – being contracted to work freelance by publishers her in Oz are earning. He feels they’re exploited. I won’t get onto what authors are then.

So I put this together from various sources – some hearsay, some experience, not to be used as actual, but indicative (and please, if you want to volunteer figures, go ahead) :

for structural edit 3K

copy-edit1.5-2K

Original artwork 2K

Advance – new author – anything from 1.5K – 4K

Proofs 1K

Distribution – obviously based on number of copies and method, but call it 25-50 cents a copy at most.  With bulk shipping with other books to megastore chains, it drops more.

Layout and cover copy – mostly cover copy comes from the writer these days, and layout can be done for e-books very professionally for $300. So call it $500.

Marketing varies vastly, but for newbs and midlisters  it seldom runs beyond cover flats,  probably not more than 500,  produced as an off-shoot of the main print, probably around 20 cents each, + postage and labour. Be generous and call it 1K

Actual printing: The industry having for years dodged answers finally when challenged about e-books and the saving not being passed on say that printing is about 10% (presumably of cover) .

So to run some figures through this.

Say 4K for the advance, 3K for the edit, 1.5K for copy edit, 1K for proofs, 2K for cover art, 0.5 for layout – author provides cover copy (ie publisher contracted everything out) Distribution 1K. Marketing 0.5 (sending cover flats, taking orders – probably less).  Total – 13.5K + cost of printing (at 10% of cover price – what the industry faced with gouging comments e-books claims it is. So assuming 70 cents per book, with +20% for bulk shipping to Australia, and a print run of a whole 7K -$4900 US or 5K Oz – $4200 Australia or a total of 18.4K US and $18420 Aus. Book sold at 45% cover price $.3.15 US, and Aus$9.90.

In the US it has to sell 5842 copies befor any money goes to the NY office and the CEO’s lexus, let alone any other staff (although most of the publishing work, bar accounting is contracted out).

Sell through of 55% was considered reasonable once.

A sell through of the required 83%  is unlikely – although RBV acheived a 90, and several other books 80’s.

In Australia it has to sell 1860 copies to achieve the same.

A sell through of this scale – 37% is not quite such an ask – although the population is much smaller.

Of course the answer has been to cut expenditure on these items, often to the negative impact on quality. But that’s the accounting.

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4 Comments

Filed under economics, publishing, Writing

4 responses to “some numbers

  1. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    A couple of minor quibbles.

    Advance – new author – anything from 1.5K – 4K

    Why are we wasting money paying writers? Writers should pay us for the honor of being published, and being able to associate with important people in the publishing business.

    In the US it has to sell 5842 copies befor any money goes to the NY office and the CEO’s lexus

    The CEO of an important publishing company would never stoop to driving a Lexus. A car like that is beneath his dignity. It has to be a Mercedes, a BMW, or a Porsche.

    Of course the answer has been to cut expenditure on these items, often to the negative impact on quality.

    Everyone who works for our publishing company should pay for the honor of working in the publishing industry. They should be honoured that we are willing to let them associate with important people like writers.

    OK, my sarcasm overfloweth this morning.

    Wayne

    • 🙂 I’m glad you pointed out the sarcasm. I might never have noticed otherwise. The scary part is yes, to some people that isn’t sarcasm. The lowest advance I every accepted – under 800 dollars – yes, the CEO drove a brand new Mercedes.

  2. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    I’m glad you pointed out the sarcasm. I might never have noticed otherwise. The scary part is yes, to some people that isn’t sarcasm. The lowest advance I every accepted – under 800 dollars – yes, the CEO drove a brand new Mercedes.

    And if they’d been driving a more expensive car, your advance would have been lower. It’s something I’d noticed. The more expensive the CEO’s car, the crappier the pay. You really want to check Mrs. CEO’s car as well, just in case.

    Wayne

  3. Pingback: Run Away! We’re all doomed! | madgeniusclub

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