October 03, 2007
POD SECRETS REVEALED - How Many Books Sales Needed to Recoup Your Investment? By Angela Hoy, Co-owner of BookLocker.com | printable version
Sometimes, starry-eyed authors look at the loud bells and silver whistles on some POD publishing company websites and get caught up in the hype. Spending up to $1,000 or more is never a good idea when you can get the same book for much less. Saving money up front means you'll recoup the money you've invested in your book much faster!
How many books do you need to sell to recoup the money you've paid to self-publish your POD Book with the most popular POD publishers?
Prices below are based on the least expensive package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors. Fees include setup, original cover design, print proof, ebook creation, up to 25 interior photos/graphics, an ISBN, barcode, a listing on the publisher's website and distribution by Ingram (listing on Amazon, etc.), all within 6 weeks. Sales for figures below are assumed to be coming from the publisher's website (royalties are usually lower for sales through retailers/wholesalers).
NOTE: Many companies offer perks that others don't, some try to upsell authors on extraneous services, and a few even claim ownership of files the author has paid them to create! Study each publisher and contract carefully before making your choice.
For a 248-page, 6 x 9, full-color cover, black-and-white interior paperback book:
$492 Setup (deduct $175 if submitting your own cover)
NOTE: Booklocker.com is owned by the author of this article.
Royalties: 35% or $5.23 (always based on the list price; never on net profit)
94 - copies need to be sold to break even. (Only 60 copies need to be sold to break even if you submit your own cover.)
List: $13.67 (Assuming 20% royalties)
Royalties- 20% or $2.73 (Assuming royalties comparable to other POD companies since authors choose their own)
217 - copies need to be sold to break even at Lulu. (If you assume 35% royalties, which are comparable to Booklocker.com's, the author would need to sell 132 copies to break even.)
Lulu claims to be "free." However, formatting, cover design, graphics, barcode, etc. are offered through a variety of third party services providers who run ads on their site. Lulu profits from these services by getting referral fees from these companies. Lulu sells their ISBN/Distribution service directly to authors.
iUniverse - $599
List: $17.25 - $21.95
Royalties: $3.45 - $4.39 ("20% of the payment the publisher actually receives" for sales through publisher's website)
136 - 173 - copies need to be sold to break even with iUniverse.
Xlibris - $1383
Royalties: $5.50 (25% of list price for books sold through the publisher's website)
251 - copies need to be sold to break even with Xlibris.
AuthorHouse - $1567
List: $10-$18 (AuthorHouse prices books much higher on Amazon and through other bookstores!)
Royalties: The AuthorHouse rep did not provide their royalty/list price chart on request so we're going to assume the average of the list prices they did provide. For more info. on how hard it is to get numbers from this company, click HERE. We're using $4.70 as the royalty payment, which is the average of their stated royalties of $0.70-$8.69 per book, depending on what program the author chooses.
333 - copies need to be sold to break even with AuthorHouse.
Authors need to keep in mind that high minimum list prices forced on authors by some POD publishers can send potential buyers running! When comparing royalties, you should look at royalty percentages, not flat dollar amounts, when shopping for a POD publisher because most allow you to price your book higher than the minimum list price anyway. And, you should demand to know what that royalty is based on. Some POD publisher appear to pay a high royalty, but only pay it based on their net profit, not on the list price.
And, while a high dollar royalty figure might look impressive, pricing a book higher than the market will bear means you may never recoup your losses because nobody will want to pay too much for your book.
To read more about list prices, royalties, and author discounts at these companies, click HERE.
Links to the entire series of POD Secrets Revealed articles are here: