Is dealing with a publisher worth it?
February 12, 2007 6:26 PM Subscribe
Should I bother with a publisher? How much do nonfiction authors make off a book deal these days?
posted by antipasta_explosion to media & arts (8 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
For about five years I have been self-publishing my own nonfiction books (let's just say they would be filed in the 500s in the Dewey Decimal System). I have about 5 titles, which altogether have sold over 10,000 copies over a 5-year period through my website (70%), through Amazon Advantage (20%), and to universities (10%) for their course fulfillment. My name is well-known; I have a national magazine column in this field.
I have thought about turning over one of my titles to a publishing house. The title I have in mind is not one of my fast movers, but it's sold 1250 copies over 5 years. The overall cost of this was $9000 in printing, leaving me with about $28,000 in profit on a $30 price tag.
The problem is I can't picture any publisher cutting me a $28,000 check for 1250 copies. Maybe I'm wrong. My impression has always been that a typical non-bestseller trade book earns about $5000-9000 for an author. Plus I'm not even sure if a publisher is capable of reaching a bigger market than I already have. My only problem is that I don't have enough cash lying around to bankroll a giant offset print run. I'm working within the constraints of typical DocuTech short-run print quality.
My main question is to other authors and any publishing types is this:
A. How do my sales figures and quantities sound? Am I small peanuts, or am I doing pretty well? What are typical sales figures for a run-of-the-mill nonfiction book not targeted at bestseller lists?
B. How much does a typical nonfiction book author earn for a title, in cold hard numbers, not percentages? What is a typical or sample take-home earning for X number of books?
C. Do you feel it's smart for me to keep what I'm doing rather than deal with a publisher or agent? I suspect that if I'm small peanuts then I should start looking at publishers.
I'm hoping someone outside the box can illuminate this situation for me.