A little over a year ago I signed a contract to have my novel An Odyssey of Illusions published by Black Rose Writers. I had great expectations but never for its being on anyone’s best seller list. I believed that the cover alone would attract readers at any bookstore.
I need to say that I do not intend this post to be a negative statement about Black Rose Writers. BRW is in business to make a profit and I find nothing wrong with that. My having been naïve about publishing is the real focus.
On demand printing and conversion to e-formats were arranged by BRW but two experiences led me to believe that the book fell into the self-published category. Several bookstores I contacted told me that they did not purchase and shelve self-published books unless there was a real potential for resale my beliefs were confirmed. They may have sold the gift copies I sent but I have no confirmation of that.
I also contacted some reviewers but found that they would only review self-published work for a fee; thus, I had a second confirmation.
Real statistics on self-published novels are difficult to analyze and even more difficult to find. One alleged statistic caught my attention a number of years ago. It would be easier to remember the exact data if I could remember by whom it was said or in what it was written.
What I read or heard went something like this: Statistically, self-published authors sell eight more copies than they self-purchase to give to friends and family.
I beat that statistic; to date, fourteen paperbacks and eight e-versions of the book were sold and I had one direct sale.
Oh, I bought 60 copies directly from the publisher (AKA printing facilitator). Six copies were donated and sold at charity auction and I gave copies to friends and family. The balance of my collection is my ‘free from the publisher’ copy and two others.
I have earned a whopping $46.70 in royalties and my total cost, including shipping, was $1,270.49. Thus, I am published at the cost of $1,223.79. BRW got that amount plus $252.57 for the sales ($1,476.36 total). Well, the publisher did pay something to have the book printed and converted to e-book so its profit was not very much either.
Would I do this again? No!
This process has been a good learning experience. I assumed that someone in the publishing house had already read the entire novel and deemed it worthy of being on the market. After all, publishers are in the business of making a profit on the books they sell – nothing wrong with that. I now know that a book being accepted for publication does not mean someone at a publishing house read the book at the editing level. To BRW’s credit, I was given several chances to do self-editing before the final printing and it did recommend a for-fee editor. I took to the for-fee editing offer like a pop-up on a web site.
I know that returning an error free bookblock (galley proof) to the printer/publisher is the full responsibility of the author but I assumed BRW’s formatting of headings and pagination would not impact the original text. Being naïve, I was in the mind set of publisher knows best and would never put an errorless product on the market.
If my readers were just following the story, they probably would not have paused at some of the errors in the text. If they had any editing instincts, oversights like of instead off, a missing end quote or a missing it or and would be glaring and distracting to the flow of the story. When a careful and trusted reader discovered these and other errors after the book went to print, and my finding that having them corrected would be for-fee, I decided to not promote the book.
The price for the gifts and donations is not out of line in the great scheme of things. And, there have been times when I learned a lot less at a much greater cost.
Yes, I reported the $43.10 I earned as an author last year to the IRS.