Kate and I both have been really positive about how awesome it is to start your own business, even when it’s a little scary. We’ve told you about setting things up, and finding time for the things you love around the things you suddenly need to do. We’ve told you about our utter, wanton disregard for the avoidance of snowballs. But little of that’s been business stuff.

There’s nothing like designing your own spread-sheet to remind you why economists say the book business is failing.

From the author side ten percent royalties sound like a jip. What does a publisher even do, to deserve that? You wrote the thing, slaved over your own little monkey brain for months/years/eons. Missed movies and dinners and sleep creating a whole universe to pour onto paper, and you’re only supposed to get ten-percent of that? And that’s ten percent of net. Clearly the book-business is failing because big publishing is greedy.

Yeah. I could line all the numbers out here and defend them, to a point. I’ve never been anti-‘big six’ the way a lot of people in the independent book industry are. They’re slow, and committed to convincing the rest of us the business model needs to look the way they say it needs to look, but that’s not necessarily the same thing as greedy. Someone reminded me recently–which I didn’t need–that when you own your own business you’re the last person to get paid. Ten percent royalty to authors might net us enough to pay general ‘over-head’ personnel (Kate, Minion, and myself) minimum wage–sometime next year or the year after. And that’s assuming all our sales are better than average.

And those are our numbers. Small distribution, small market, homespun numbers with the smallest amount of over-head you can legitimately get away with.

Of course we’re not paying 10% royalty. I wouldn’t sign that, and I damn skippy wouldn’t expect you to. And we’re not any of us in this for a paycheck–even a minimum wage one–but it’s a sobering understanding to have. It’s been my experience authors don’t consider enough what has to happen once their part is done, and I could go into how that shapes my opinion on self-publishing, but that’s a topic for another day.

Mostly I’ve just been trying to avoid Excel and another column of numbers.

The blog title is there for a reason.

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One thought on “

  1. Kate says:

    This has been a labour of love since the beginning, and I’m convinced it will continue to be for the next four or five years.

    That’s with working our tails off. (Originally, I typed tales and almost left it, but…)

    Let’s not leave out marketing costs. And the ISBN’s and the registering of copyright, etc. etc. etc.

    T’would be nice to be paid one of these days. Maybe the business can feed us dinner once or twice. That seems reasonable. (At the hot dog cart at least.)

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