The finances of self-publishing

books-in-shopping-trolleyI’m excited because I’ve purchased ISBN numbers for my novels. I feel like a bona fide publisher. I agonised for some time over whether to make up a different publisher name or simply list myself as the publisher of my books. I’ve noticed many Indie Authors create a separate publishing identity, partly to make their book look less ‘self-published.’ But I decided not to do this. Becoming an Indie Author is a considerable amount of work – I had no idea how much when I started this process – and I’m feeling damn pleased with myself to have got this far with it. Sod it, I thought, the listed publisher of my books will be Fiona MacBain. Loud and proud!

This led me onto thinking about pricing and distribution – another minefield. I won’t be booking any cruises on income from paperbacks, that’s for sure.

Taking the worst-case scenario, if I sell a paperback in a bookstore via print-on-demand  provider Ingram Sparks for £7.99, I’ll make 11p per book. Yes, eleven pence. For £8.99, I’ll make 56p, and for £9.99 I’ll make £1.01 per book. Pretty grim, n’est-ce pas?

I could order 100 printed books at a unit cost of £3.20, then sell them myself for, say £6 each. I could order 1,000 books at an even lower unit cost and drive them about the country to ask shops to take them on a sale or return basis. But I don’t have the time, petrol money or inclination to do that.

Salvation for the Indie Author is the ebook. If I sell that for £3.99, a much better deal for the reader, I will get around £2.79 per book. Now you’re talking.

I took a deep breath and added up the money I’ve spent or will spend on my first novel, Daughter, Disappeared (editing, proof-reading, cover design, ISBN numbers and marketing). I worked out that, ignoring the paperback income, I need to sell 748 ebooks to reach break-even point.

Book sale no. 749 will bring me a £2.79 profit. I’m going to buy a large mocha with it.

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If you’d like to read either of my books, here are the links:




Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “The finances of self-publishing

    • Thanks Meg and apologies, I only just noticed your comment. The finances are a bit grim, really, but I’m trying to take a long term view. Since writing this, I discovered to my surprise that I’ve sold about 50:50 ebooks:paperbacks and I hadn’t expected to sell many paperbacks. I was with INgram Sparks only making 35p per book but recently moved to Createspace and am getting £1.53 per paperback now.


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