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
Original artwork 2K
Advance – new author – anything from 1.5K – 4K
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.