DIY Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: The Basics

Let’s lay out a few simple differences:

1. In self-publishing, you follow someone else’s business model; in DIY, you set your own.

2. In self-publishing, your finances go through a filter to your detriment; in DIY, you are the filter, which can benefit you.

Read The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine. He evaluates self-publishing companies on a scale. The abridged version = really good companies you’ve never heard of. The bad ones have all the ads.

What makes them bad?

An author friend of mine went with a company that I won’t name. Her fiction novel is 292 pages long and retails online for $18.95 brand new. Most publishing companies use the same place to print their trade paperbacks. That company charges .015 per black and white page and .90 for a cover. So, to produce one copy of her book costs the company $5.28.

So what happens to the leftover $13.67, or 72% of what they charge? Not postage — that’s a separate $3.99 charge, which conservatively adds another $1.40 or so to their profit. And it doesn’t go to her — she gets $2.43 (13%) of that $18.95.

The book is sold to Ingram at a discount. The self-publishing company gets $12.13 of the $18.95 sale. Subtract $5.28 from the $12.13 for production costs. FINAL SCORE: Company: $7.68 ($6.28+$1.40 or so for shipping); Her: $2.43, or more than three times less what they make.

Use the same model for a DIY publishing company. An $18.95 book is overpriced for a fiction book, so we change it to $15.95. $15.95 minus a $5.28 production cost = $10.67. Of course, you may have a transaction fee, which we’ll say is 76 cents ($9.91). But, you charge $3.99 for shipping like Amazon does, and it costs you $2.50 in postage and materials ($11.40). That $11.40 is four-and-a-half times what she makes and you dropped the price by $3, and the printing costs and the transaction fee are tax-deductible to you as a business.

The point here is that you can do more for less. Next time, I’ll show you how. Be blessed.

Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of the Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.

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