I’m two weeks post-shoulder surgery and happy to report I’m driving! I was cleared for driving at my last medical appointment, and that does make things a bit easier for Dan, my hubby. I’m still wearing the sling, but I’m able to do more myself and I’m celebrating my progress. I was able to drive myself on Saturday to the monthly meeting of the California Writers Club Mt. Diablo branch, where I was part of an author panel discussing the pros and cons of traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing.

The three of us on the panel were very honest and open about what our costs and royalty opportunities have been and what our publishing journey was like. Apparently, this is what the other writers wanted to know, because we received a lot of positive feedback afterward that it was really helpful information. I thought I would recap some of it here for the writers out there.

The author representing traditional publishing whose two books were published with small press publishers said he didn’t have an agent and approached the publishers directly. That’s not as easy to do with the “Big 5” publishers. They usually want submissions from agents. He had some input on the cover design, although it wasn’t exactly what he wanted. After earning his advances with book sales he makes $1 per book in royalties, and he has to buy copies of his book for $12. He didn’t say how much his advances were or whether he has earned them, but I don’t think so, since the books were recently published. Advances from small presses are typically smaller than those from the Big 5 publishers, which average $5,000 to $10,000 for first-time authors who aren’t celebrities. He has no other costs except possibly for doing his own marketing.

The author who chose hybrid publishing (meaning it’s a cross between traditional publishing and self-publishing) gets to keep more of the royalties than traditionally published authors (60% compared to 25%), but has to pay to get the book published. The publisher she used charges $8,500 for their package now, which includes proofreading, cover design, and distribution to bookstores. If the book requires copy editing, that’s extra. She has to do her own marketing, but the publishing company took care of the rest of the work. Her books are nonfiction and she does a lot of corporate speaking events. The speaking fees have allowed her to recoup her publishing costs, because the book sales haven’t done that.

My publishing costs were about $3,300 for my editors, cover designer, book formatter, and purchasing ISBN numbers. I also created my own publishing company, so there were some costs for starting a business, but that’s not required for self-publishing. I pay about $5 in printing and shipping costs for copies of my book, which I can sell directly. I keep 60%–70% of sales in  royalties with Amazon and direct sales, depending on the format, and a little less in bookstores. I’ve made more than $10,000 so far. That got some applause, so I’m guessing it’s not common. I not only have to do my own marketing,  but also do or hire others to do everything else. It’s a lot of work, but I would do it again and plan to, for my book in progress.

2 thoughts on “What Inquiring Author Minds Want To Know About Book Publishing

  1. Hola! I am enjoying your newsletters Heidi. Very impressive that you’ve made 10 K! Ive made about 1k and spent more than double to get it published, using a hybrid. Sales on Amazon have practically died but I haven’t tried any ads yet. Trying a countdown KDP deal in the UK to see if that generates anything. Did you have a mentor or someone to help you along the way? If you’re interested, I have a newsletter also. You can go to my website – theres a sign-up link on the bottom of the homepage. No obligation of course. (You probably get a lot of requests like this.) Congrats on being able to drive again! I’ve been through rotator cuff surgery and know it’s a very long process. Glad you have support. Take care and Merry Christmas! 🎄🤶 Nancy



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nancy, thanks for your comment! My book has a two-year head start on yours for publication, so I’ve had more time to make those sales. I was also lucky to sell the Korean translation rights, and that definitely helped. Amazon ads have a learning curve and you have to watch them carefully and adjust where needed, but they’ve helped me increase sales and reviews. I know they don’t work for everyone. As for a mentor, I joined the Nonfiction Authors Association. Stephanie Chandler has a ton of helpful info on her website and I bought a couple of her books–extremely helpful. I’ll go sign up for your newsletter now. Merry Christmas!


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