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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


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.



Filed under economics, publishing, Writing

The arrogance and the ignorance


Yeah well. Not my fave cover, although to be fair I was asked for a description of the Aliens and their space suits by the artist (it’s supposed to be a hi-viz suit for a species that is red-green colourblind).  It’s not quite what I envisaged which was purple and dayglo lime greeny yellow/ 🙂 It’s a fair comment, and goes with the turf, and the luck of the draw.

Rant alert: It was however the guy who decided to have go at it because it was a Baen book who really got up my nose and itched. He/she plainly has no idea what the book is about, or who the authors are. However: We must be some kind of far right nutters to be abused.  This is on a charming par with deciding someone’s skin colour means they’re stupid or dishonest. Baen, to their credit, are possibly the ONLY major house who can fairly be said have a tolerant open policy to who and what they publish. Yes, they’ve published the far right… and the far left. Find another major sf/fantasy publisher who can honestly say that. So: for the only publisher doing the right and honorable thing… the arrogant and ignorant get a free pass to have a go at the authors and their books. Heck, it’s easy enough to shred my work, and that is fair enough.  But have the grace not come come up with the equivalent of ‘all blacks are stupid’ when you do it. At least read some of it. This on the other hand was a fine parallel to the guys who had never read Harry Potter but tried to get it banned because they’d heard it was Satanist.

Baen’s attitude is something anyone who believes in free speech should praise and respect them for -regardless of which party they support.  But to the type who feel that free speech and tolerance are only important when it applies to them (and you get them on the left and right – on the left they produce Pol Pot and the right Adolf Hitler) they’re bad because they didn’t take the ‘right’ side and discriminate against.   That’s neither liberal, tolerant, nor a belief in free speech.  Tolerance is and always will be: when it something you do not approve of, and is not said by someone you like or approve of, and you still support their right to say it.   ‘I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’  This, and not blinkered narrow bigotry (no matter if that bigotry is in favor of NeoNazis or Gay Liberation) is intrinsic to Western Liberal Philosophy. Without we’re just a shade of totalitarian intolerance. And it doesn’t matter who you are being intolerant of.

rant endeth

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Filed under books, publishing, Writing