This month I am working with several extremely talented and dedicated artists to produce the audio book of The Call to Shakabaz. They keep telling me I can do this or that using the profits from the book sales. I finally found myself sending them an email about the realities of independent publishing. And I decided to put the gist of the email into a blog entry. Here it is.
I love to dream big, I believe that I must vision success to manifest success. But the reality of indie publishing is that one does it for love, not money. I have spent at least $40,000 to date producing, publishing, and marketing my book. Marketing has been the greatest expense. That figure does not include my time. I have sold about 1,200 books (gave away a lot). Only 7% of books printed in the U.S. sell more than 1,000 copies in their lifetime, so I’m very proud of that figure. To date I have received about $7,000 in income from books sold and If I were to sell all the books I have left from the first printing (as opposed to giving any of them away) I would make about $5,000 (once I subtract the cost of printing the books). And I would have to pay to ship most of them because Baker & Taylor (primary distributor) does not pay for shipping. Profit? There is none.
I have learned so much in my first effort at publication that next time around (and there will be a next time in 2009, I promise you), I will be able to produce and market a book at a much lower cost. I started Woza and published The Call to Shakabaz with insurance money left to me when Mom passed. My efforts are a tribute to her and the faith she always had in my talent. But every penny I spend on Woza now is hard-earned. The truth is that it is all a labor of love. I doubt I will ever make money as a publisher or author. The question will probably always be “how much can I afford to sink into this project?” The answer will always be “my heart and soul.”