Entry for October 11, 2006
It's been over a month since I launched the book and just because one's book is finally published, the work is definitely not done.
I immediately began the process of promoting the book... trying to get bookstores and other businesses to either purchase them outright or take them on consignment. The biggest problem for "self-publishers" like me is that we pay all of our expenses "up front" and they can be considerable. (My publishing costs alone for Sawdust exceeded $10,000.) Most of the major, national bookstores and on-line booksellers require a 40% to 50% discount which takes away much if not all of the profit margin for the book. Of course, when determining the price you want to sell your book for, an author could always charge more, but I find that it would put your book out of reach for many of the people who would want to buy it. The profit margin established by the major stores works fine for books that are published and sold by the tens of thousands, but for the self-publisher who only prints 1,000 books at a time, it just does not work. I was finally able to find some local bookstores and one national bookstore that was willing to accept a 30% discount rate for books bought outright. Retail book buyers make $7 per book and those who take them in on consignment, make a $5 profit. Some of the local businesses and societies agreed to take a smaller discount, but I decided from the outset that they would all get the same deal as I give the bookstores, and I have honored that decision.
After just the publishing costs alone, my gross profit margin is $15 per book. That seems pretty high, I know. But, let's compute it. Immediately take off $7 per book for the negotiated 30% discount to retailers. Then, deduct from that the almost 100 books that I have donated to libraries, genealogical and historical societies, major contributors, my 1987 co-authors, etc. and it begins to diminish rapidly. Also, deduct the interest on the loan, all of my expenses for phone calls, gas mileage, toner cartridges, paper, and other supplies for the many printouts I had to do along the way. By the time you are ready to figure the 8-12 hour days (and nights) I put into the book for 9 months, the value of my time is not even a factor.
And, you know what! ?? This is fine with me. I never intended the writing of these books as financial endeavors. I wrote them because I love my community and its history and I love to write. I love the idea that for decades to come, people will read my words and the words of the many many "old timers" who have shared their stories and have since passed on, and remember the "old days"... whether they be good or bad. I love the idea that what is included in the book evokes memories for even those who have no connection with Lorane or the Lane County area.
If any of you reading this is contemplating writing and self-publishing a book, do so for the right reasons. Don't expect to get rich from it; expect to donate the time you put into your writing; don't expect that your books are going to sell like hotcakes after the first flush of publication; expect to feel the pride and accomplishment whenever you are told how much your effort means to the people that it affects. That's much more rewarding than financial gain... to me, anyway.