700 Club

Wow. Just hit the second milestone number for The Stars Came Back, where I’m sure I’ve just recovered my upfront costs of editing, cover art, etc. Still hanging in the charts, bobbling around unsteadily but consistently between the low 20s and the high 30s on the Space Opera and Military Sci Fi charts at Amazon. The charts are recalculated ever hour or so, based on some sort of recent sales formula. So if I never sell another copy, at least I haven’t lost money. [UPDATE: check the whole chart if it’s not there. It wobbled into the #19 spot just now.]

It went live on the 13th of January. It’s now the 2nd of February. Three weeks to hit 700 net copies sold (and a couple dozen borrowed). Guess I must have done something right. *sigh* Time to work on reformatting for getting it in paperback, I suppose.

Another seven million copies and I can retire.

Shamelessly stolen from my other post.

So the question is: PoD (Print On Demand) or print run of X copies?  How many people want dead trees on their shelf?

7 thoughts on “700 Club

  1. Dead trees — my answer is: usually not. The main exception is non-fiction that comes with charts and images that are important, because those come across *very* poorly on a B&N Nook. (Its “ePaper” display does quite badly on halftones unless they are explicitly adjusted for it, and any image with small details is unusable because you can’t zoom/pan.) So, for example, I’ve resisted getting Target Switzerland for that reason.
    For fiction, and for other books that don’t require significant graphics, I like the eBook format. My wife even more so, since she has thumbs that give her trouble and printed books of any kind aggregate that pain.

    1. But print on demand has little upfront cost and overhead, albeit at the downside of being more expensive per copy (meaning slimmer margins or higher cover price). And some people, like myself, still like physical books more than e-books.

      1. Agreed. So my comment really means: I’m not a likely customer for a paper book.
        Print on demand is nice in that you don’t have to do a good demand forecast. I remember the days when self-publishing meant ending up with hundreds of books in boxes in your basement. A friend of mine went through that, and never came any close to recovering his investment. (Then again, he was the kind with a 1 out of 20 track record on his investments, and that one nowhere near good enough to outweigh the 19 failures.)

        1. Not a problem. A sale is a sale, and profits are profits. There are a lot of people that like paper. As I understand it shifting from POD to offset press print run isn’t a big deal if demand turns out to be huge. Of course, I may well understand wrong. But at this point in my writing “career,” in the absence of more data doing anything other than POD is foolish, but I think that NOT doing paper is more so. Even if e-book sales outnumber paper by 5:1, that means I’m potentially leaving a a lot of money on the table for a modest amount of work. Finding a publisher when I have a successful track record in both e-book AND print will be a lot easier. If sales are closer to 1:1, then it really behooves me to get into print sooner rather than later, even if the profit per book is less. Besides, it’d would be cool to be able to sign something and give them as presents :-).

  2. You spoke of formatting for paper. I’ve only done one book, and it was a while ago. But I’m willing to dust off those old memories and offer some suggestions if that will be useful.
    It doesn’t seem like it’s a particularly big deal. Figure out the page size (for paperbacks, there are only two main ones to choose from in the USA: standard and tall). Pick a typeface (Times seems to be the default; occasionally you see something else. Then just let the word processor do the rest.
    I actually did our book with Word, though it’s not the tool I’ll ever use again now that I have Adobe’s vastly superior tools instead. That was a poetry book, private publication (printed at a nearby print shop). Fun. Peg did the editing, I did the design and preparation for printing. (It was an example of “not Times” — Jenson instead, which looks a lot like Garamond. And nice classy off-white paper. )

    1. Part of the problem is that it’s a long book. I’d see what I can do to compress the format a bit, trying to see how playing with the extra spaces around the cuts and dissolves, chapters, headers or footers, margins, fonts, chapters, and all the other minor variables might be able to lower the page number while still having it look “right” and “professional.” Going to very narrow margins might cut paper use, but it wouldn’t look good to most readers. Whacking the extra spaces before and after a cut or dissolve might cut a lot of lines, though, without much negative impact. Going from 11pt to 10pt font, trying a half-point change in line-spacing, etc., etc., can make a huge difference in both page count and appearance. No, it’s not technically difficult, just tedious. But if I could find a minor tweak that saves 20 pages in a 600 page book, that’s roughly $0.30 per book difference in printing cost. Over thousands (I can hope) of books, that’s not nothing.

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