Making Books Isn't Rocket Science, But It Might As Well Be For All I Know About Publishing Math
November 20, 2008 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Publishing filter: Where are some good resources (books or online) to learn about book publishing math, both the way budgets are put together for individual books (and how those budgets actually shake out once a book is in stores) and how budgets work across a whole company?

I work at a medium-sized publishing house in New York (but have no ability to publish your manuscripts, before you ask). Since publishing basically works on an apprenticeship system, I'm having to learn things as I go along. Folks above my station have been able to explain to me the basics of how this stuff works, but I haven't been able to find anything that'll give me a detailed understanding of how this stuff—Profit & Loss statements, writeoffs, royalty accounting, how production costs are factored into profits that come months after a book was produced—all works. I understand that every company works differently, but much of this must be the same across companies. Do you know of any places I can go to learn more?

(And yes, hive mind, it is faintly ridiculous that I'm asking you rather than marching up to the office of my company's CFO, but he's a little intimidating, so I'm hoping you can help me first.)
posted by ocherdraco to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't vouch for this book, but it looks interesting: This Business of Books. There is also Book Business magazine. From a historical perspective, you might find these two books interesting: Jason Epstein's Book Business and Andre Schiffrin's The Business of Books.
posted by mattbucher at 11:25 AM on November 20, 2008

Thanks, Matt. Those all look interesting, but none seem to address the nuts and bolts of money in publishing (except, perhaps, for the chapter called "Fixing the Bottom Line" in The Business of Books).

But I am always looking for more good books on publishing and editing, so I'll add them to that pile.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:32 AM on November 20, 2008

I work at a large trade publisher, and have found classes in the Publishing program at Pace University IMMENSELy helpful--I was actually able to explain some things to my boss, who has been in the business 20+ years and sets our department's budget. I'd rather not put my company's specifics out there for the world to see, but feel free to MeMail me.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:32 AM on November 20, 2008

Read ALG's live journal. She is an editor at Tor.

Her P&L page:
posted by eatdonuts at 2:06 PM on November 20, 2008

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