There are times when I wonder if I have what it takes to be an author. Those times are usually when I’m waiting on a reply to a query or submission. It feels like half of being an author is writing queries and waiting for replies or deadlines to expire.
I try my best to push the idea to the back of my head and work on the next project. (I’m currently working on 3 short stories, one which might turn into a book in the New Year.) I still feel terribly anxious.
I love the act of writing, and I’m even getting warmed up to the idea of editing, but the waiting is hard. Like harder than waiting for the next Jim Butcher or Tamora Pierce book hard.
Thinking of Self-Publishing
Last night I was thinking of the differences between a small press and a self-published author. I came up with three major differences; Contacts, Experience, and Cash flow.
According to Ray Higdon marketing tactics, the most important seems to be Contacts. Finding a printer, editor, graphic artist, etc isn’t easy but once you have a good one life becomes simpler. Not only that but having the right contacts means that you know who to talk to for the distribution and marketing of the books. Experience adds the right way of doing things and how to do them in a cost effective way.
As for cash flow, it’s the least important. Book publishing isn’t easy or ridiculously profitable. Let’s say you have the greatest printing press deal and your book cost $6 per book to publish but you need to buy 500. That’s just paper add in editing (story and copy), cover design, layout, employees, shipping, etc. You’re talking roughly 4000-5000 for the first print run of a small book. That doesn’t count storage, advertising, or business costs.
I only know what I’ve researched so I could be wrong, but it looks to me like the first print run of a book is lucky to make 10%-20% profit. We’re talking $1-$3 per book or $500-$1500 profit. Not counting the damaged books, free copies, discounts, etc. The next print run will make significantly more but you have to sell at least 500 books for that.
You have to love books in order to want to publish.
An Idea so Stupid, it Might Work
This has me thinking. Is there such a thing as a book cooperative? The idea would be to get a group of authors, who would have self-published anyway, banding together and pooling their contacts, experience, and money. All to make the whole printing process easier and more cost effective.
It would be a profit and cost sharing partnership. Each author would be an equal partner and they would each get a vote on the books that are published.
In order to make it profitable, we’d have to make a distribution deal, and maybe apply for grants.
Most importantly each author would have to produce a book every year or two to keep the production regular and dependable.
Maybe I’m Crazy
I desperately wish I had better knowledge of publishing, business, law, and funding.
This could be a terrible idea or a great one. I firmly believe that it would succeed or fail depending on the quality of the work. I’m fairly confident in my own writing (most of the time) and I know there are some fantastic authors out there that would be great.
I’ll have to think about it and do more research, maybe talk to someone who knows more than I do. (So anyone really.)
What do you think? Does it make sense? Is it crazy?