Print on demand? Man plans, God laughs—so the saying goes, and I imagine the divine one had a good old chuckle about me. I had my PDFs (with the type spaced as best as I could make it); I had my covers made (for the second time). All I had to do was upload them and set the pricing, right? I’d chosen to have colour interiors—not that there’s a lot of colour apart from the small bright red logo of the imprint at the front, a tattered, yellowed recipe book cover in the back matter, and a tastefully-washed out photo of yours truly. Then why bother? Because I was mistakenly under the impression that the printing costs for both were the same. The fixed charge for both full-colour and B&W books is $0.85c, if they’re between 42 and 500 pages. I’d done the math, and figured I could still charge $2.99 per book. So imagine my surprise at my first attempt.
I now know that the printing cost is NOT the fixed charge. The printing cost is a separate issue, and I believe the fixed charge is one of the factors in the 60% royalty calculation. With a printing cost of $25.63, the cheapest a book can sell for (if you peer closely at the tiny writing in the right-hand box) is $42.72, and that’s only if I’m prepared to make no profit whatsoever. Quite how this is computed I have no idea, but figuring that B&W must be cheaper I went back to the drawing board—almost literally, since once again I was obliged to remake the covers with thinner spines (as the paper used in B&W printing is thinner). While I was at it I reformatted those few colour images into B&W in order to get the best results when they’re printed. Different colour images require different kinds of filtering to retain the greatest amount of detail when they’re converted into B&W. With that achieved, I tried again.
Oh, the sigh of relief when I saw the revised printing costs. This time the book in question—The Bridge of Dead Things—could sell for $8.50…if I was prepared to take nothing for all my efforts. I wasn’t. I priced it at $8.99, and you can see the actual royalty that will come to me with each sale. The majority of the books are somewhat shorter and are priced at $8.50 or less (with each earning me roughly the same profit margin), but I try to console myself with the fact that I have at least brought them in at under $10 a pop (a far cry from the $2.99 I was hoping to charge, however).
I now begin to understand why the template I downloaded was set at 11pt Garamond type and not 12pt. The smaller the font and the absence of any extra leading (rhymes with “wedding”), the fewer the number of pages there’ll be and the lower the printing cost. But 12pt is much easier on the eyes and, as a reader, I know how my heart sinks every time I open a book with small, cramped text. I don’t want that to be the reaction when someone opens one of my novels.
BTW, for those of you who helped me choose between sound tracks for the promo video, the overwhelming winner is…ta da! The Vivaldi. Thank you to everyone who responded and made the decision so much easier. It has now replaced the former videos on this website, on Amazon’s Author Central, at Smashwords, and, fingers crossed, at Goodreads (I always need the librarians’ help with that).
I don’t know if you’ve noticed the festive season creeping up on us yet, but from the very first “brummm” nothing gets me in the spirit more than this. Wishing you all very happy holidays and a wonderful new year.
Finally, as a small token of my thanks for taking the trouble to find this page, I’d like to offer you a download of Octopus (Send for Octavius Guy #2) for free. Purchase it at Smashwords.com and, when it comes time to pay, use coupon code: HS37L. This offer is available until December 31st, 2017.