Tag Archives: publishing

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

Third person?

I’ve been wrestling with the sample chapters for a YA proposal, which in utter rebellion against my agent will be neither Urban Fantasy nor Military sf, nor a mish-mash between. It’s this new subgenre Contemporary remote island Fantasy, with which i hope to at least be one the rare participants in.

The awkward thing is that some (not a lot) of the book calls for points of view which are not that of the lead character. But it feels a lot stronger and more immediate in first person. Now I have written a few stories in first, most of my books in third, and one story (Jack – probably one of my best) in first-and-third. 

I suppose the answer is to write the first 2-3 chapters and see which works best to readers. (I HATE this part of proposals – get started and then leave it, and some editor may decide to CHANGE the original thrust of the book, but this is one I still feel would do better as a book-to-publisher sale and not book-to-kindle sale… those ALSO have to happen in this copious spare time and life I have. )

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