The Voyage of Odysseus is now out as an e-book, but I’ve had lots of enquiries about when the print version will be available. Not owning an e-reader myself, I have total sympathy and am just as keen to fill that yawning gap next to The Oracles of Troy on my own bookshelf!
But here’s the problem.
Voyage is about 40,000 words longer than Oracles, which has put the publishing costs up considerably. The print costs I’ve been quoted so far per thousand books vary from between £4,717 and £7,040, or £4.72 to £7.04 per copy. Forgive me for getting technical, but based on the previous cover price of £8.99 for Oracles, the following deductions would apply:
- an average 40% “cut” for the retailer (£3.60), leaving £5.39
- warehouse and distribution costs of 15% net of receipts (81p), leaving £4.58
- sales team costs of 10% net of receipts (46p), leaving £4.12
- print costs of £4.72, leaving -60p.
So you see the problem. Even if I sell all 1,000 copies, I will still lose £600. One solution is to increase the cover price to, say, £10.99, which, going through the same calculation, would produce a profit of 32p per copy. That’s £320 if I sell all 1,000 copies, but I would need to sell at least 930 to break even. And with a higher cover price, fewer people will buy the book. Add to that the fact I don’t have a spare £4,717 sloshing around at the moment, then the prospects for a print version look grim.
But there is a solution. One of the delights of modern technology is that books can now be printed and bound individually to order. It’s called print-on-demand and works like this:
- no books are pre-printed and no stock is held, so the only upfront costs are for cover design (c.£250), typesetting (i.e. laying out the words on the page, c. £300) and a few sundries such as buying an ISBN number (the bar code identifier on the back page, without which you can’t sell the book!)
- a reader orders a book online
- a copy of the book is printed and posted to the reader
There are disadvantages, though. Because no copies are stocked in warehouses, the books aren’t sold in bookshops and are only available online. Sadly for me, and those who came to my local Waterstones back in 2014, it also means no book launch.
So will there be a print version, you might ask. Having decided to use Amazon’s own CreateSpace print-on-demand option, I’m currently having the manuscript typeset by them. This should take three weeks. As the cover has already been designed and simply needs new blurb for the back and an idea of the spine width (decided by the number of pages, which is only clear after the book has been typeset), then the book should be available at the end of February . The cover price will be £10.99 for the reasons mentioned above, and in return for your extra £2.00 you’ll get another 40,000 words (that’s almost half the size of an average novel!)
Hopefully the above insight into the world of self-publishing has been interesting and not too boring. One other point to note. I’m going to order a few copies myself and sign them. If you’re interested in a signed copy and you live in the UK then let me know before the end of February by adding a comment below. No extra cost for my signature, of course, just the postage. I’ll clarify prices beforehand.