Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Why I Have Yet To Publish The Great American Novel

Someone inside the publishing industry has posted a very detailed look at how books make (or don't make) money.

An interesting read, especially for tidbits like:
The big bookselling outlet corporations have to "buy" the book from us. They get a discount that varies wildly, but the average is about 40% off the cover price, so let's say that the bookselling outlet corporations (aka "the trade", which is also sometimes known in this essay and in casual meetings as "direct" -- any place that specializes in books and also sometimes coffee) "pay" us $4.19 per book.

This is not real money. They don't actually give us money until well after the book is on the shelves. This is common in publishing -- no one pays until they have to! For anything! Ever! Not until we submit an invoice threatening lawsuits, or whatever. Someone else can tell you about that, since I know pretty much nothing.

Also, a small note (jumping ahead a little) -- mass market paperbacks that don't sell used to get stripped and pulped -- their covers torn off and the insides made into goo. Now, or so I am told, the whole book is destroyed. Usually, by the time this happens, the bookseller has already paid for the book. So the bookseller returns an affadavit (formerly known as "the book's cover") to the publisher's warehouse, and receives a credit, good for use on any other books, instead of paying with cash, and the book is counted as a "return" -- even though it doesn't get returned and it can't be shipped out again. This doesn't happen to hardcovers.

Now I can sleep at night.


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