26 November 2013
Self-publishing: Return on investment for Authors

Q: How do authors make a return on their investment when self-publishing?

A: In the book industry there would normally be a far greater up front cost than what ebook designers like us charge. This is because publishers have all their expenses to be that type of set-up plus a large portion of funds go towards editing, design, layout, copyright investigation, legal investigation, printing, distribution, marketing etc. I would think most books have a production budget for more like AUD $20,000 or so (unless going down the print on demand route). Although they have decades of experience and highly trained sales and marketing staff, publishers can't be sure what is going to sell and they really do 'live off' their top sellers.

From that point of view the type of cost we are talking about is very small. It is good to do some research into how many copies of your book would have to sell in order to cover the cost. I have heard it said that for an Australian author to claim to have a relatively successful book, they need at least 2,000 sales. Anything less than this would basically be considered "a learning experience".

You would therefore not only budget for the production but also the marketing of the ebook with the goal of selling at least 2,000. If you don't have a clear aim and budget for your sales and marketing, then you probably will not get a return on investment.

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