Dr. David Mertz
mertz at gnosis.cx
Fri Jan 4 03:31:51 CET 2002
> A computer book author typically gets between 10-15% royalties....
> Mark's book says $35 on the back, although this is often
> discounted. So let's say the publisher gets $17.50, then Mark gets
> about $2.00 per book.
"Peter Milliken" <peter.milliken at gtech.com> wrote:
|Even a reasonable income of say $100K per year requires 50,000 books at
Well, US$100k is a bit more "reasonable" than AU$100k. But either way,
most computer book authors have day jobs.
|But surely these figues would argue for a lot of pressure for an author
|to publish electronically and directly - hence getting far more than $2
I happen to be writing a book also, and so spent some time researching
and thinking about this (plug: _Text Processing in Python_ :-)).
Actually, I started writing the thing for Sybex, then they had some
budgetary cutbacks, but decided not to tell me they were cancelling my
book for a six weeks of writing (it took some nasty legal-sounding
letters to wrestle some due monies out of them). Fortunately, after a
delay, I have a new contract to finish it with Addison Wesley, who is
really a much better publisher anyway.
But for my gap time, I thought really seriously about self-publishing.
The electronic vs. paper issue is surprisingly unimportant, actually.
You can get a printer to produce a very nice physical book for just a
few dollars a copy. I looked at some paper stocks and print process
stuff, and for a run of 1000 you can get something just as good looking
as what New Riders of O'Reilly publish for less than $4/book. The
author needs to find an editor; and either find a typesetter and indexer
or do it herself -- but then, I am doing my AW typesetting in exchange
for a bit of extra money from them anyway (I wouldn't dream of trying to
be my own editor or indexer; authors are blind to certain things in
their own books).
The real problem with self-publishing is publicity and distribution.
It's easy to get an ISBN; and not hard to get your book listed on Amazon
and Barnes-and-Noble websites. But to put books on bookstore shelves, a
self-published author has a big challenge. The thumb-through-the-shelf
shoppers are just simply not going to see your self-published book; and
I don't really believe that websites are going to attract all that many
potential buyers. Of course, if you can get three or four times the
per-book profit, you can sell a third or fourth as many books and get
the same income. I don't know how these things balance each other...
maybe someone like Bruce Eckel--with more books out there--has a better
knowledge of the pros and cons.
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