So… I was on Google last night, wondering how I would publish Dragon Tail if it ever got to that point. Which it probably will. In the millions of search results about publishing books, I became SO LOST it nearly sent me insane. I went into Google, asking "How hard can it be?"
Well… FUCK hard, that’s all I can say. I don’t even UNDERSTAND! First you’ve gotta get an agent or some sort who is interested in your book, then you’ve gotta make some sort of letter saying why yours is best and how it compares to others and why you are the best person to write it.
IMMEDIATELY, there’s a problem. I don’t think mine is the best, I’m a first time frickin’ writer! I can’t just say I’m the best at writing! Secondly, It CAN’T compare to others, because… there is no other story like this! Have you EVER read a story where the dragons are good and the humans are… well, humans? Of course not, in normal stories, ALL the dragons are horribly evil and ALL the humans are unrealistically good. In stories where the dragons ARE good, the humans are the ones who take 98% of the credit, just for sitting on the dragon’s back! (That’s why I hate dragonriders.) My story is nothing like that. If you find one that IS like mine, give me the name, and I WILL love you eternally for finding someone who isn’t so generic. And why am I the best person to write it? Well… I’ve ALREADY written it. And I’m probably the ONLY person who will write it, until other authors are inspired.
Which, at THIS rate, will NEVER happen.
After this letter, if they like he idea, they will want a sample of your story, or "manuscript" as everyone seems to call it. Then they’ll decide if it’s for them. If yes, then they have to approach a publisher for you, and show them the work. Then THEY have to like it. When they like it… you’re halfway there. You then need editors to help you pick out things you don’t want, and just go over it again, and again. And again. And once more. And maybe one final check. Until it’s flawless. Then you need an artist to help with a front cover, and any artwork inside the book. Then it needs to be mass-printed and stored and then shipped off, and then when it sells, you get your cut, which is like… 20% of the whole thing. Cuz it splits along the chain, the bookstore gets some, the publishers get a lot, the agent wants 15%, and all sorts of shit.
EVERYTHING is a problem for me, and I just don’t understand how you GET all this stuff. You need to phone an agent, but where the hell do you get them? How do I meet up with them? What the hell do I write in my report thingy that they want? It’s so F’ing confusing. And JK Rowling and all those other authors can just… DO it. Just like that, no question, no hesitation. And then there’s the costs, which I imagine to be stupidly high.
Then, I found a second option, which sounds WAY too good to be true, but the thing is… it IS true.
A site called Lulu does book publishing, but in a special way. They do POD, Print On Demand, which is exactly that. When they get an order for a book, their printers just print it off, do a bit of binding, and they ship it off very quickly. That’s great, because it has next to no risks, they only print when there’s an order, so no need to worry about storage space or books that haven’t sold, and that earns them money. And 80%… EIGHTY, gets sent to you. That’s… VERY VERY good. Nearly TOO good. Incredibly, they do all this for free, so you upload your work, and you do it all yourself, formatting, editing, front cover, the lot. You even decide whether it’ll be paperback or hardback, and what kind of binding it uses. And then… for £80, they can register it with an ISBN, and have it posted on Amazon and all sorts of online book stores. If I decide to do THAT though, and I’ll be getting, say… £4 a book (cuz £1 will go to Lulu), I’ll have to sell 25 books to break even. And that doesn’t feel likely, at all. Come on, a random new author on a website like that? It’s not… really PROFESSIONAL, is it? Professional authors appear in bookstores, some even have their own friggin’ shelves.
When I didn’t believe all this was true, I kept searching, but found an article about how hard publishing was. The comments were actually praising how great Lulu was, and told everyone that that was the easiest way. But… one of them said "I have 4 novels published with Lulu, and one is starting to sell." He was meant to be praising Lulu, but that… sounds VERY negative to me. ONE is starting to sell? STARTING to sell? Out of FOUR? Jesus, either he is shitty, or Lulu sucks at this marketing stuff.
Of course, if the online thing doesn’t work, I can order a copy for myself (I KNOW! How fecking cool is that?!) and send it off to a retail store. And if they are impressed, you know, they might put an order in with me. Which they won’t, because hardly anyone stocks POD books, because of their poor quality and the way they are supplied. But if they DO, like one person on the forum managed, then I pay for X amount of books at my author price, I sell them to the store at my total price, and they sell it at apparently double the price! But then… who will buy it if it’s DOUBLE the price?
More confusion comes my way! See? Can SOMEONE PLEASE help me out with explaining this crap? Someone scout out this website and help me understand all this crap? Please?
Wait… wait… I think… after 30 minutes, I understand.
When someone buys a book off the Lulu website, they pay the manufacturing costs, and Lulu’s commission of 25% of what you set as your creator revenue. So, if I wanted to make… say, £5 on a book, Lulu would add £1.25 to that, to make it £6.25 total profit. Then, Lulu add the manufacturing costs, which depend on the size and style of the book. If I chose a 300 page hardback, it would add… apparently… fuck me… £11.60. So the item would sell for £17.95, which is… ridiculous. Paperback would be £6.40 + £6.25, which is £12.65, which is ALSO ridiculous. Unless that’s… the NORMAL price for a paperback 300 page book, which, IIRC, is NOT.
Excuse me, I have to mess around with this calculator thing to find something reasonable.
Now, upon just poking my nose in Amazon’s book recommendations, I see Bris… however you spell it… Brisingr there, for some reason, in my recommendations, when I’ve never actually been in the books section. That’s the next Eragon series book thing! How the hell does it know this stuff about me?! And don’t tell me that’s the name of the dragon, for the love of God. He must have been high on crack or something, because that sounds like something you’d name a… thing other than a dragon to me. Or whatever the book is named after. These authors make no sense at all.
Anyway, Amazon claims it has an RRP of £16.99?! WHAT THE COCK! People would PAY that for a book?!
OH FUCK NO! I see why. It’s a hardback Epic! 704 pages! Does ANYONE understand that people have attention spans?! How the bloody hell can they sell it at £17… when I do that with Lulu… it throws out, "Invalid page count." So I make it 700 pages… and it throws out £28.90?! WHAT THE FOCK?! That’s with a revenue of just £1! This is impossible! With paperback, it only goes down to £20 with the same settings! How the crap do they do this?! Even with a maxed discount of 10%, it only hits £18.40, and THEN I have to buy 100 of the damned things to get the discount!
Jesus, this is fail. How does it get these figures? When I punch in the stats of my book, 400 pages, £4 revenue, paperback, it spits out £20.50?! That’s stupid! It breaks it down like this:
|Manufacturing cost per unit:||£5.25|
|Total Retail Price:||£20.50|
Now, how the hell? The total retail price is TWICE the markup? It costs £5.25 to produce, and I want to make £4 a book. Lulu adds £1 to that for royalties. That makes £10.25, which is perfect! Why the hell does it DOUBLE it?
Stick in Brisingr’s stats, and it goes stupid!
|Manufacturing cost per unit:||£13.20|
|Total Retail Price:||£36.40|
WHAT THE COCK?! The Retail Markup is fine, it’s £18 for a 700 page, hardcover book! Just take 97p off the Retail Royalty…
|Manufacturing cost per unit:||£13.20|
|Total Retail Price:||£33.98|
And it’s perfect! Just as the RRP says! But then they go double it for some retarded reason! I dunno if that’s a bug in the calculator, or they are actually serious about a 700 page hardcover book being sold for £34. But whatever. I’ll just IGNORE that last number.
Right, so one question for all a y’all out there. How much would you pay for a 400-ish page paperback? Just give me a price, and I’ll see if I’m going in the right direction. Be honest, don’t just make it more cuz it’s me and you know me. Cuz you know… I am the author that doesn’t read.
Okay, I’ve just searched the FAQ and the forums, and they say they double it because that’s how retail stores make their money. I have to set how much I want to earn, and without a distribution package, it can only sell on the Lulu website, because there is no ISBN or anything that retail stores need. When I DO get my ISBN’s, things go crazy, and they double the price of the book to give leeway to retail stores. So retail stores can sell it at between the Retail Markup and the Total Retail Price. So with my book, they could sell it at £10.25 to £20.50! And if the book sells on Lulu at that price, I get a massive revenue increase, because they don’t want the money Amazon wants… OMFG I am seriously confused. I THINK I get it, but… it’s impossible to explain! Why the hell would a retail store want to DOUBLE the price of a book? That just wouldn’t sell! I damn well know I wouldn’t pay £20.50 for a 400 page paperback.
But maybe if I increase the SIZE of the book…? Because they do 6" x 9" books, and 8.25" x 11" books, as well, which will decrease the number of pages, therefore decreasing the price, because they have a fixed rate per page!
So lemme see… if I mess with Dragon Tail and set its size to 8.25" x 11"…
WTF?! That’s A4 sized! I’ve NEVER seen a book THAT big! Okay, let’s get an accurate 6" x 9" page count… I get… 214 pages! With margins that are extremely narrow! With a £3 income, that would be a realistic price, I guess… £13.90 retail? Gah… WHY is this so confusing?!
So, yes. I thought I had it cracked, but I actually need more help. GRR! Why is this so confuzing?!
Hey… wait a second here! If I change the currency to US Dollars, it becomes $19.06 retail… which is about £9.53. THAT’S realistic, but why the crap is it cheaper in US Dollars? And this company is based in the UK!
Oh, screw this for now. My brain is gonna overheat.