Chapter 5: Treating Your Book Like a Business

In Chapter 4 we reviewed some practical tips on both traditional and self-publishing. If you decide to take the self-publishing route, you’ll need to pay to have your book published. You can choose to pay in dollars, time or a combination of both. The goal is to sell enough copies of your book to recoup your costs. If the stars align, you may actually profit from publishing your book.

Are we running a business here?

Yes, it helps to think of publishing your book like running a business. Income – expenses = profit. It’s that simple.

Let’s start with income:

Income is generated by selling your books. Each sales channel will have a specific income. You may find that selling “author copies” of your book yields the most income per book sold. Selling on (in print and e-book format), and selling through an independent book store will also have a specific income per book sold. Has your self-publishing company provided the math on each sales channel?

Income per book is one thing, but number of books sold is another. Your task will be to estimate how many books you plan on selling through each sales channel, and then calculate you total income estimate.

For example:

Are you a speaker who does monthly talks with 50 new people in the room each time? Can you sell 10 books per talk? Do you own a yoga studio with 300 clients? Do you have 485 facebook friends that are interested in your book’s topic? Just sit down and think about how you plan on selling your book, and how many copies you estimate selling in the first year. If you sell 200 books at $4.00 profit per book, your net income will be $800.00.

Now for expenses:

It helps to look at income first, and that will tell you how much you can spend on publishing. If you only plan on making $800.00 net income, you might not want to spend $2,000.00 publishing your book.

Calculating total expenses is simply done by asking how much everything costs before you commit to anything. How much is editing? Do you need illustrations, a cover, formatting? Are you doing your own marketing? Many self-publishing companies show a nice detailed breakdown of what you get and how much it costs.

Profit anyone?

Knowing your “break even” point will help you decide what publishing company to use. If you never put yourself in a position where you need to sell 1,000 books just to break even, you might enjoy the experience a bit more. If your goal is to deliver a message to the world, you should find a way to do that while breaking even financially. Delivering your message and helping others might just be your form of profit.