This is the 8th article in my publishing series. If you aren’t interested in this topic, please check back in February.
To illustrate the points that I made over the last couple of weeks I’m going to give a breakdown of my book, Starsong Chronicles: Exodus and look at how that book would appear if I used 3 different printers for this book. Full disclaimer: I have used all three printers I’m discussing here for this book, so I can directly compare them in real life, not just hypothetically.
There are some static figures that remained constant. The book was printed in a 5×8 format every time. It has 337 pages. And I did file a copyright claim on this book, so $35 will be added to the overhead costs. I made the cover for the book myself, so there’s no cost there. I paid $100 for editing, so we’ll add that cost too. Retail price for these books is $12.99.
Book 1: Starting with Lightning Source- I printed the first version of this book through Lightning Source. LSI requires you to provide your own ISBN, so that’s another $30 (although it would be closer to $6 if I had the almost $600 to buy them 100 at a time, but I digress). I’m at $165 overhead cost so far. Lightning Source also charges a setup fee – $37.50 for the interior text of the book. And, there’s another $37.50 setup fee for the cover of the book. So we can add another $75 to our cost of $165, which brings us to $240. Plus, if we want a physical proof copy of our book, that’s another $30 ($270). Plus the $12 catalog fee to get the book listed in the distribution network, that’s $282, total cost. Our book would retail for $12.99, have a 40% retailer discount, and would cost $5.90 to print. Total Net Profits per book would be $1.89. I’d need to sell 150 copies of this book to break even if I went with Lightning Source.
Let’s take a moment and look at Ingram Spark. I didn’t actually use Ingram Spark, but since they are LSI for small publishers and they print the books in the same LSI facilities, the quality is the same. We’re still starting off with $135 in initial startup costs for Editing and Copyright. Ingram Spark also requires you to provide your own ISBN, so that brings us back up to $165. They’ve combined and reduced their setup fees and dropped them down to $49 for print books. $214 so far. Ingram Spark also requires the $12 catalog fee, so that puts us at $226. Print costs for this book are $5.27. Using the same 40% retailer discount, the Net Profits for a book through Ingram Spark are $2.52. With an overhead cost of $226, I would need to sell 90 copies to break even.
Book 2: For CreateSpace, I’m still coming in with the $135 initial overhead cost. Create Space does not require that I have my own ISBN, they will provide one. I can use my own if I have one, but it’s not required. They also do not require a setup fee. Nor do they require a catalog fee. So far I’m still at $135. I can approve my proof copy digitally (which I wouldn’t recommend if you’re new to setting up books. After you’ve done a couple, digital proofing is fine, but for the first few, get the physical proofs). Create Space requires a minimum list price of $13.50, so that’s what I’m going with here. Net Profit for this book is $2.74. I would have to sell 50 copies in order to break even here.
Book 3: Amazon’s KDP. There’s still the same $135 initial overhead cost. Amazon does not require an ISBN, nor do they charge a setup fee, or a catalog fee. Like CreateSpace you can proof your book digitally. So, we’re still at $135. For Amazon the print cost for this book is $5.25. Amazon gives a 60% Royalty, but they subtract the print costs from that. The Net Profits per book are $2.44. For Amazon I would have to sell 55 copies in order to break even.
Since the print quality between these places is essentially the same, the decision of which printer/distributor to use really just comes down to a numbers game.
Join me next week when I discuss book quality.