Tuesday, June 14, 2016

9 Things Authors CAN Do to Restore Value to Writing Books

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted
In this day of brick and mortar bookstores dropping like flies I realize the price of a book can be $12-$15. By the time the publisher takes their cut, the distributor takes their chunk, and agents get their share, book dealers can barely butter their bread and authors are left crumbs. When you factor in book returns to the publisher and those monies being taken away from the author - you can see why people tell writers to keep their day job.
Then when I see people look at a $13 book and say, "The price is too high." It makes me sad. A book is something that can be kept, read over and over, yet folks think nothing about paying $15 plus, to see a movie. (A one shot deal).

If you love to read, be kind to the authors. Purchase their books and think of them as gems on your shelves rather than a fleeting thought.

I recently wrote this Facebook post because I continually saw readers making comments about a book being pricey. Waiting for the price to go down. Holding out for the freebie in a contest or .99 day on Amazon. Some even responded they didn’t have time to purchase a book from their favorite author, yet. . .they hold out for the free day. 

It breaks my heart to think that readers do not
value the hard work of authors.
It breaks my heart to think that readers do not value the hard work of authors. Worse yet, authors do not value their work either. Sadly, it tends to fall back on a society of entitlement. I’ve often wondered just how long of a line a car dealership would have if just ONCE they sold cars for .99. And after that date, how many consumers would not purchase a new car until the dealership offered them for .99 again?

In order to sell books we are slashing the price and grooming the reader into expecting a .99 book or a free book. We are then being held hostage by consumers who refuse to purchase a book at retail. It’s a lose – lose.

I’m not blind to marketing. I understand you have to spend a great deal of money to make money, and for every .99 ebook sold, it generates new full retail sales, but if we as authors step up and do our part faithfully, the value of our craft would expand.

The consumer assumes when an author sells a book to a publisher, that suddenly the author is financially set for life. It is an assumption and not a fact.

Authors joyfully write, attend conferences, and expect their book will be sucked up by every publisher in sight. There’s nothing wrong with following your dream, but blindly following and placing expectations on an industry that cannot always deliver success – only sets up an author for great disappointment.

Before you throw stones at a publisher, book retailer, or agent – take note of these sample numbers.

A book retails at $14.00.
$2.25 goes to the book distributor.
$6.00 goes to the book store.
$2.00 goes to the printer.
$1.50 goes to the author (on a 10% royalty - less after the author pays the agent).
$2.25 is left for the publisher to pay the editorial team, marketing team, and keep the lights turned on.

Of course numbers vary from book to book, publisher and author, but this gives you a loose example of the breakdown. Unless you’re skirting a million book seller, this is the average life of a writer.

For a publisher to break even on the initial cost of producing a book, they need to sell a minimum of 2500 of those books (numbers vary). When you factor in the harsh reality of book returns, and that those returns generate into a financial loss for the publisher and the author, then an author who might get $50 in royalties, can easily end up with a zero check.

What can an author do to help stop this vicious cycle and restore value to the craft of writing:
  • 1. Write good material – Don’t slack on the mechanics. Learn the craft. Write a book that people MUST read.
  • 2. Build your platform – Look for the groups of people who will benefit from reading your book and become a part of them. Guide them to your book.
  • 3. Listen to your publisher when they offer you opportunities to market your book. When they offer opportunities, say yes. And do it.
  • 4. Build your speaking platform – The more you speak, the more you sell.
  • 5. Work to sell your book – It’s not an easy job. But necessary.
  • 6. Be joyful in your attitude – Lose the “all about me” attitude and become grateful for the gift of your book. Give of yourself and you will be rewarded. Be gracious, personable, and determined to be a servant.
  • 7. Commit your work to the Father – Proverbs 16:3 says, Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (NIV)
  • 8. Build your tribe – Gather those around you who are committed to help you introduce your book and make its launch a success.
  • 9. Work with local private book retailers – These folks are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. When you work with them . . .they work with you and books will sell.

Selling books is difficult at best, but when you become pro-active in the work, then everyone wins. Make your work a success by being active in its sales.

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Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.us and www.inspireafire.com. She teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

21 comments:

  1. Cindy, I did not realize the money distribution of a book. Thank you for the information. God's richest blessings to you and yours.

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    1. Many don't. That's why your efforts and platform are so important.

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  2. Cindy, thanks so much for this important post for all of us ... writers and readers.

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    1. Hope it helps folks see the things that we need to work on.

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  3. Excellent article, Cindy! Thank you for reality check and encouragement to do what we need to do--with the help of the Lord.

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    1. It's important to look at Publishing with eyes wide open. We get so wrapped up in getting the book that we often forget the work really begins after publication.

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  4. Excellent! It's very helpful to see it all written out. Thank you!

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  5. Great post, Cindy. Thanks for reminding readers and authors/readers that we need to be willing to pay more for books if we want writers to keep writing them! I've been so disappointed lately to, as you said, hear people talk about only buying books for free or 99 cents. I try to remind them that if everyone does that, no writer will be able to afford to write books anymore!

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    1. True. There will always be those of us who write for the love of writing, but when folks hold out it hurts the entire process.

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  6. This is great information, Cindy! I am amazed at the distribution of the money from the sale of a book. It sounds like everyone in the process is just squeaking by. I need to be more diligent about doing my part.

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    1. It's important to make great efforts to market and sell your book. This is not just the publishers responsibility...it's ours too.

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  7. Wonderful post, Cindy! Pinned & shared.

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  8. Great information. Everyone needs to know what goes into publishing a book. Some of those things I didn't know, but I'm glad I do now.

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  9. Cindy, this is great. When I announced my contract, I had so many friends ask me how much money I had received.... I finally starting saying, none until you buy it!

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  10. I wrote a pretty long response to this, hit preview, and my whole comment disappeared. :) Problem?

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