estaratshirai: (writing by selina fenech)
[personal profile] estaratshirai
I mean this question literally.

This book, formatted for the appropriate size, is 600 pages. According to Lulu's estimates, Devourer on the cheap paper would cost $15 per unit to print. (This, friends, is what we get for not buying in bulk.) They recommend a retail price of $30. I myself would be perfectly happy at negligible profit margins, since I am blessed not to be counting on this for food or anything, but that only brings it down to, say, $20. Which still seems like a bit much to ask for a paperback novel, even if it is long, dramatic, and filled with delicious hidden tidbits of witchy wisdom. (See? Starting to get my PR face on.) 

How do people work this? Is there a cheaper POD printer? Or do people actually fork out $20-30 for an indie novel? Or is this why people say paper is dying and I should stick to ebook only?

Opinions not only welcome but actively solicited.

Date: 2012-06-28 06:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lulu does nice stuff, but CreateSpace would be another option, I think. They're the one I use the most (except for printing single hardback copies of things for myself, whereupon I use Lulu), and a 600-pager could probably be done for the neighborhood of $10-15, most likely; it won't save much, but I think it would be less than Lulu.

Date: 2012-06-28 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! I'm not finding where CreateSpace talks about cost estimates; do I have to start an account to get them to that level of detail?

Date: 2012-06-29 12:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think so. That's one of the drawbacks of their service: there's loads of things that aren't as conveniently located (in my opinion) as they ought to be...

Date: 2012-06-28 07:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
600 pages is a big wacking chunk... I don't have a Nook or Kindle... would it be comfortable to read in eBook format?

I (as a consumer) might be willing to shell out that much, but it would have to be Especially captivating or usefull for a single book.

I vaugely recall you mentioning valid and important reasons why it couldn't be broken up into smaller chunks or multiple books, which might lower your fees. But it's been some time ago and I don't remember exactly.

Date: 2012-06-28 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You can read digital books on computer; in fact, you can read things formatted for Kindle without a Kindle, because they've added a "read this on your pc" app that sorts that out for you.

I did look again at the option of splitting it in half, since there is actually a "book one" and "book two" in there. Going from the projected prices, it doesn't save the buyer any money (it comes out to $10-15 twice rather than $20-30 once), although it does spread it out, and gives you a chance to opt out if part one leaves you cold. But if you are engaged by then, you're not left in a place you're really comfortable resting for long, just at a sort of pause.

Date: 2012-06-30 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No splitting!!!!!!

I have no answer for the fee, though, because I don't know squat about usual costs.

Date: 2012-06-30 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
<- My point about a split being suboptimal, let me show you it. XD

Date: 2012-06-28 07:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So, in the wide wide world of PoD, there are basically two tiers of pricing and service:

1) The Fancy: these are houses where you hand them a basic MS Word document and they do everything from there: real editing, proofreading, cover design, serious layout business, etc. They pay for this by selling you a pile of marketing services that will be of variable value. In the case of a fanfic novel, you already know your market and your audience—the value of such marketing services goes from "dubious" to "nil". This is your AuthorHouse, your iUniverse, and so on, and they are spendy. Don't know if they're worth it, but I'm highly skeptical of them.

2) The DIY: these are outfits where the more work you are willing to put into making it look like a pro manuscript, the less it will cost. This is a field of about three people: Lulu, CreateSpace (owned by Amazon), and Virtual Bookworm (the dark horse and distant third). Someone like me, who happens to know a thing or two about desktop publishing, layout, and design, can do pretty well here, or if you're not up to that, they will offer those services for a fee (duh). They don't offer bollocks marketing services, but with, say, translations of obscure Icelandic sagas, we know our niche and our audience and can already market to them tolerably well.

With Lulu, you're obviously in DIY land, and yay that. I don't know if you know your way around InDesign or Quark (do I dimly recall you edited a magazine for FoI or summat once upon a time?), but obviously with the big packages you can look just like the pros, because you're using the same tools they do.

The next things that determine price in a big way are paper size and distribution. Pocket paperback (4.25" x 6.875") is very expensive in PoD; going with the standard US trade paperback size of 6"x9" will save you money and widen your distribution options—check out the pricing on Lulu and you'll see straightaway why most PoD books are 6"x9". The Troth, out of all its books, has only ever done one mass-market paperback, and that's our new military manual—aimed to be worn in the pocket of an active serviceman's uniform, that's the size it has to be.

As for distribution—again, niche market, and with fanfic, unless one has permission from the copyright holder to take such liberties with the sandbox, you want to be very careful about that. Indeed, the fanfic anthologies I've worked on have been run off at local print shops (many of whom can do "perfect bound", aka paperback binding right on site) specifically to avoid Imperial entanglements of this nature. I hear all sorts of craziness goes on nowadays with fanfic novels and PoD, but that's a little higher on the radar than I like to work. My personal feelings aside, though, having an ISBN or being fetchable via Amazon aren't things that are going to matter much to you (assuming ONLY PoD distribution)—so save money and skip that too. The Lulu Marketplace should really be enough to get on with here.

eBook selling is a whole different ballgame that I'm not addressing here.

Make sense?

Date: 2012-06-28 07:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*nods* To be clear, the novel isn't a fanfic. It's all me. (I have written novel-length fanfics, yes, but I just put them on the internets for free, precisely because of that whole Imperial thing.)

I did run the journal for the FoI, and I am doing the formatting myself, along with a friend who knows the relevant programs. Other than my pretty pretty cover, I can keep my cost close to nil. Likewise, because I have a ready market to start from and no particular reason to care if it grows beyond that or not, I doubt I'll spend on marketing. Lulu provides an IBSN for free, so if I offer PoD, I only have to pay if I want Ingram and brick-and-mortar stores to carry it.

So my main concern here is the per-item printing cost, and what that does to unit price. Playing with Lulu's calculator I was able to massage it down from $20 to $15; I was wondering if anyone knew of a cheaper way out that still made for a decent book, or if this is really just the price range everyone doing indie publishing has to deal with.

Date: 2012-06-28 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Everything I do now for my company is digital with the exception of a brochure folder and product data sheets for Trade Shows. Our customers can't stand paper manuals or installation guides so I do everything from interactive PDFs to full digital publishing Magazine styles/eBooks. I can even do books for Kindle and have for work. I use InDesign and love it.

I'd buy the book because it's you, but it'd be hard for me to recommend it to most people since $20 is a lot to pay for a paperback and this economy isn't supporting that kind of luxury for most people. It'd truly be a vanity printing. If you did do it, we could set up a matching eBook that you email to buyers so they get the Printed one and the eBook version. That would probably be a stronger bet for sales as it would cost you nothing to make the eBook (we'd do it with my license) and nothing to email it. Then people will see they're getting two books for the price of one and one is conveniently set up to go everywhere with them.

That's my two cents.

Date: 2012-06-28 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hmm, that's true - it wouldn't cost anything to sell the paper version as paper AND ebook, and "we throw in the digital copy" is a model that's growing for media hard copy sales.

But yeah, see, $20-30 is a lot to ask on a writer one doesn't know, especially when one can buy a book by a known author for half that. I'm mostly considering it just because I think I know several people who still don't read ebooks.

Date: 2012-06-28 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I haven't paid more than ~$10 for paper in years, unless it's a necessary academic text. Paper's only for a handful of authors/series that I still collect in physical. Everything (including any academics it's feasible for) is in E.

Even though I'd like to say I'd get it because it's yours, I probably wouldn't (at least not for a long time). I'm being glad I got the latest Mira Grant before we found out about Robin's job, because now the entertainment and luxury budgets are $0, and likely to stay that way for quite a while.

Date: 2012-06-28 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, I'd rather the honest answer. If people who know me or my work aren't sure they'd pony up $20, the odds of perfect strangers doing it is that much lower, and I'm better off sticking with an ebook at a competitive price. And that's what I wanted to know. :D

Date: 2012-06-29 12:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't read eBooks at this time, and reading on my laptop for long periods gives me headaches. But I like the idea of having an ebook option included with buying the paper version. That would bump up what I was willing to spend a bit.

I just can't let go of paper. i like to feel it, spill things on the pages, leave notes. i like to pet the spines of favorite books.

that and iTunes has eaten too much of my music not to feel deeply suspicious that my books would be gobbled up unexpectedly in a simmilar fashion

Several of my "paperback but worth it" pile (cost over 10 dollars) run in the price ranges you seem to be looking at. If it contained enough tidbits to rationalize it as both entertaining and metaphysically useful that would work for me as a consumer.

Date: 2012-06-29 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hear you on the music-eating. Bastards. (eMusic's been better behaved, fwiw.)

The nice thing about Lulu would be that it wouldn't cost me more to provide an option that not many people used, except for the extra time and effort involved in making a wrap-around version of the cover. I would basically end up handling it as if it were the "deluxe edition" of the ebook.

Date: 2012-06-29 07:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I will fight for paper in my hands until my last breath! Reading for long times on the computer or ereaders kills my eyes and gives me horrible headaches. I also like to be able to go back to something I enjoy later if I want to look up something to refresh my memory, yes..even in fiction books. I have that kind of memory where I can't for the life of me remember the details but I can tell you exactly which book and nearly where it is in that book. I would buy the book, well..when we're not unemployed.

Date: 2012-06-29 05:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'd read it in either format. I'd also loan it out as an e-book if it were Kindle because it's what I have. Though, I do have the B&N e-reader app on a tablet I use as a routing machine so all my email is on it and basic browser stuff, so not much experience with the e-reader on that...

That being said, I think if you offered both paper and ebook that your audience would work well with it.

I would also look at Paxson's stuff and see how that all worked out, she's definitely done stuff along this same vein (fantasy [we'll just agree to call it that, butweknowbetter] with enough practical stuff to be interesting).

If you go ebook format only, email the editor at FF and let them know that I sent ya.

Date: 2012-06-30 12:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would love to have the paper + ebook as a combo. I also am financially able to do so at $30 and think for both the cost is exactly right keeping the current market in mind and the fact that Sel can ebook you up at no charge.

If you decide to go ebook only then offer a .pdf version for people to print from their PC so they can read it on paper if they need that.

Date: 2012-06-30 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, a pdf version is a given - I don't want to trap people into a particular reader. Since there are no-cost-to-me paper routes, I think what I will probably do is set up with the least expensive one that still looks decently like a book, and sell an e-only version and a combo version.
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