Archive | For writers

The What and Why of Pricing

In the process of releasing Barry Dean's latest book In L.I.E.U. (due out 2 April 2019), Barry asked the excellent question as to how we set the price of the ebook against its paperback companion. While a simple question the answer is more than a little complicated.

Ebook pricing

Hague Publishing initially started as an exclusively ebook publisher and set the price of its books on what I believed an ebook should sell for, which was $5.00 Australian. This was at a time (way back in in 2011) when the Australian dollar enjoyed relative price parity with the US dollar. Basically I set a price which I believed set sufficient value on the author's time and effort in writing the book. This was also in the early days of ebook publishing when those releasing the ebook (e.g. publishers and self-published authors) were still experimenting in price.

When the Australian dollar fell we were able to drop the price to $3.99 US without affecting our author's earnings (as $3.99 US equated to $5 AU and most of our ebook sales come from the US). More recently we have continued the trend and dropped the price to $3.50US. This is slightly higher than the $3-a-book price point independent publishers appear to have settled on (Forbes), but in my view is within shooting distance. The $3 price point is actually a result of Amazon, and Barnes and Noble adopting $2.99 as the point where the royalties paid increase from 35% to 70% for Amazon, and 40% to 65% for B&N. Adopting a general rule of $3.99 also allows us to lower the price we sell the first book in series at while retaining access to the higher royalty rate.

Others have pointed out to me that many ebooks are selling for $8 US or more. However, Adam Rowe (writing for Forbes) pointed out in December 2018 that this pricing was the result of the Big Five publishing houses raising their prices and as a result suffering a 10% drop in epub sale in 2017 (i.e. pricing themselves out of the market).

Paperback pricing (print on demand)

Paperback pricing is a little more difficult as instead of just the 'fair' value to recompense an author you need to consider :

  • the cost of printing, packaging, and postage, and boy is this a killer! Bottom line is that while POD is a wonderful thing you don't really start turning a reasonable profit on anything less than an order of ten books.
  • the cost of the bookseller's discount (somewhere between 45% and 55%)
  • the cost of holding stock, and
  • the cost of posting books to purchasers ($5 for postage within Australia if you can meet the printed matter criteria)

One thing that is worth pointing out is the advice that I received from one bookseller which was: that if no-one wants to buy your book you won't be able to sell it regardless of price. Against that is anecdotal feedback that pricing a book at more than $30 is going to reduce the number of people interested in buying it.

Until recently Hague Publishing has been selling its paperback at between $18 and $21. After reviewing our pricing structure we will be moving to setting an initial list price of around $25. This will permit us to increase the standard booksellers discount from 45% to 55%. It won't affect the price books are provided to our authors (which is set at cost plus 20%), and will allow them more flexibility in what they set their own sale price at.

Profit margins compared

Before finishing a quick aside. Our royalty rates are generally:

  • 45% on ebook net sales
  • 15% on paperback net sales

So for 10 ebooks, selling on Amazon.com at $5AU the author might expect to receive $15.75.

For the same 10 paperbacks, selling at $25 each the author might only receive $11.50.

Based on the above you can see why I prefer ebooks!

Ingram Spark's calculators

For those of you interested you can then use this link to IngramSpark's website to calculate:

  • The amount of compensation from sales to booksellers (you will want to set the wholesale discount level at between 45 and 55% if you actually want a bookseller to stock your book.
  • The cost of actually printing and shipping books.
  • The weight and spine width. To be able to post a book at the letter rate of $5 it must weight less than 500 gm and be thinner (including the packaging) than 20mm.
  • To create a cover template.

I hope this has proved helpful.

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7 steps to easier editing revisions

Person editing paper manuscriptYou've just got your Word file back from the editor. You open the file and blanch at the number of changes they've recommended. Certainly you can just accept them all - but don't. It's your book and we editors don't always get it right.

Based on Lisa Poisso's much more detailed post, however, the following 7 steps will speed up the process of moving to the final version.

Before you begin, remember that you really can’t go wrong if you save early and often. Keep saving regularly as you go so that if you make a big mistake (easy to do in the era of global search and replace), you can step back to a recent version.

7 steps to easier editing revisions

  1. read your editorial report
  2. get ready for your first read-through
    1. learn how to use Word’s Track Changes. For help on this see  Track Changes video tutorial
    2. save your edited document with a new name. Use a descriptive file name for your new file that includes the title, editing status, revision status, and date: GirlLineEditedRev1_0613
    3. turn off the Revisions Pane.
    4. change the colour of the edits. Set Insertions to Teal and Deletions to Grey – 25%. Then set Moved From to Grey – 25% and Moved To to Teal (this makes the grey deletions fade away and the teal insertions pop out).
  3. deal with your editor’s comments on a first pass through the manuscript
  4. on the second pass
    1. Reject any edits you do not want to keep (i.e. things you want left as you originally wrote them)
    2. revise edits your editor has made that you’d like a different way
    3. skip over the corrections and edits you like and want to keep. Simply pass them by with no action.
  5. accept All on the rest of the edits
  6. check for remaining comments and edits
  7. get a fresh set of eyes on the manuscript to proofread it before you publish.

For more information, with step by step guides, visit at Lisa Poisso's original post.

 

Track Changes Guide: Tips and tricks for handling revisions

 

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Ditmar nominations open for 2015 - we need your support

 3 coversWe published three eBooks last year which are eligible to be considered for the 2015 Australian SF ("Ditmar") awards. We need your support to ensure they are on the ballot paper. The three eligible are:

  • Lights Over Emerald Creek by Shelley Davidow
    eBook, published 28 Feb 2014 by Hague Publishing
  • Isis, Vampires and Ghosts -  Oh My! by Janis Hill
    eBook, published 30 Aug 2014 by Hague Publishing
  • Frontier Resistance by Leonie Rogers
    eBook, published 3 Oct 2014 by Hague Publishing

Please consider nominating any, or all of the above books.

Details on the awards, and on the nomination process follow.

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A chock-a-block future program means we have temporarily suspended submissions

Sorry - temporarily closed for submissionsGiven the number of recent signings, which include

  • Cold Faith by Shaune Lafferty Webb;
  • Foxing the Fandango by Lesley Truffle; and
  • ON by Jon Puckeridge

as well as the remaining program for this year which includes:

  • Isis, Vampires and Ghosts - Oh My by Janis Hill;
  • Frontier Resistance by Leonie Rogers; and
  • Across the Bridges by Ruth Fox

we have regretfully decided to temporarily close for submissions. At this stage we do not anticipate re-opening until June 2015. Please contact me to be informed by email when we  re-open submissions again.

Unfortunately, given that our release schedule is now fully committed to December 2015, not to close for submissions would raise false expectations in those submitting manuscripts. In addition, keeping submissions open would require me to provide valuable time to assess submitted manuscripts, time that could be better spent editing and marketing those we are already contractually committed to.

No longer accepting submissions does leave a sour taste in my mouth, because when I established Hague Publishing one of my aims was to provide a channel for unpublished, or newly established authors to reach an audience. Now it seems I have become one of those many publishing houses (and agents) that seem intent on ignoring those many books deserving publication. Unfortunately both time, and capital prevent me from publishing all the books that do deserve and I am having to learn to say 'no'. On the other hand, having to hang out a sign - 'Temporarily Closed for Submissions' - is a mark of our success in attracting the manuscripts we have.

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Round Four: the fight between Amazon and Hachette spills over and gets bitter

hachette vs amazon image

In a previous post (Round Three - Hachette vs Amazon) I covered the developing stoush between Amazon and Hachette which at that time, although threatening to affect both writers and readers, really seemed only to affect the companies concerned. But as the 'negotiations' continue to drag on the fight is starting to get bitter with writers now taking sides.

The petition

The taking of sides started with “letter to our readers” spearheaded by bestselling writer Douglas Preston and signed by 69 of Hachette's authors.  However the reaction to this 'letter' by many smaller authors can be best characterised by Amy Eyrie's response on the Bookseller's blog: "... the reaction of these rich writers protecting the status quo is deeply disappointing. A little more time acting as mentors to fledgling writers and a little less time guarding their monopoly is what I expect from artists. What I see is a bunch of shallow, cynical business people.

In response, as Barry Eisler explains (see Barry's blog or his specific post) Hugh Howey created an alternate petition to Hachette's CEO that as at 13 July had obtained 7,110 signatures. The petition reads:  Continue Reading →

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Do NetGalley's reviews provide a return on investment

Cost-Benefit scalesTravis Neighbour Ward posted a question on the Independent Publishers of New England google+ page as to whether anyone who used Netgalley to post books before they're published felt it was worth the money? And how many reviews had it generated per book for you on average? NetGalley provides digital review copies to professional readers, including booksellers, librarians, media, bloggers, reviewers and educators. The cost to list a title with them for 6 months is $400, or $300 if you are a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and do it through them. As others might be interested in my response I thought it would be useful to put an edited version of my reply out to a wider audience.

We're using Netgalley for the third time at the moment for Janis Hills' Isis, Vampires and Ghosts - Oh My!. We used IBPA for our second book Shelley Davidow's Lights Over Emerald Creek. While listing with IBPA is cheaper, and it also gets you a mailout which you would have to pay for separately if you don't list with them, the level of information you get about those downloading the book isn't as useful (although IBPA will provide you with detailed information on request). As I am interested in building up our own email list of past reviewers I've reverted to listing seperately.  Continue Reading →

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Round Three - Hachette vs Amazon

Amazon-HachetteEarlier this month reports started to circulate that Amazon had acted to slow the speed with which it fulfilled orders on Hachette's titles, with delays in some shipments reaching five weeks.

The news was first broken by the New York Times on May 8. However this appears to have only been 'round two' in an extended series of 'negotiations' which may have started back in February when Michael Sullivan first noticed that the discounts for all his Riyria books listed on Amazon.com had vanished, raising the price of  his ebooks from $8.59 – $8.89 to $9.99 and his print books from $11.41 – $13.80 to $16.00 or $17.00. What was even more disturbing, however, was the discounts on most of his fellow Orbit (the fantasy imprint of Hachette) author’s books had disappeared as well.

Michael also started to see stocking issues from March 9 with both Hachette and Amazon blaming each other for the delays (Hachette accusing Amazon of placing small orders, Amazon blaming Hachette for not filling them). However, we are now well and truly into round 3 with Amazon upping the ante by removing the preorder capabilities on many major forthcoming Hachette titles. Continue Reading →

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When submitting to a publisher (2): Keep within the genre

This blog is running a little late due to illness, my apologies. And just a warning that there won't be a blog next week due to my attendance at SwanCon.

Keep within the genre

Marketing 101 image

I'm not sure why a writer would submit a manuscript 'outside of genre' to a publisher, but they do. This is despite our website saying we publish speculative fiction, with a focus on Science Fiction and Fantasy. Case in point - knowing this, and in fact already having had a manuscript rejected by us, why would someone email us a detective story? Even going so far as to say in their covering email - "I know this isn't Science Fiction but Detective stories are similar." Actually they're not, particularly for readers of either genre.

My advice, check a publishers website, read a couple of their books, or at least read the samples provided, and try and find someone who is going to be interested in your work before they open it for that important first read.

Hague Central

In a nod to Jerry Pournell's Chaos Manor articles which he used to write monthly for BYTE (starting in 1979 which is when I must have started reading) I've decided to try and give a more personal view at the end of each blog on what we've been doing during the week. I suspect it may take a couple of weeks before I get into my swing - but here goes...

I've finished the penultimate edit on the sequel to Ruth Fox's sequel to The City of Silver Light. The cover has also been finalised so hopefully we'll be in a position to announce a release date for Across the Bridges in the near future. It just needs one more quick read through and then its off to Coreynn, who's our copy editor, to do the final check on grammar, spelling, and consistency. Its been a long haul, but I still like The City of Silver Light and I think readers of the series will like how Ruth has taken the opportunity to develop some of the character is this sequel.

Still waiting on a response from Overdrive as to whether they will distribute us. I've just send a second query off to Overdrive as to how their QA on the five eBooks I sent them is proceeding. So far its taken two months without any sort of update.

Andrew

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Marketing 101 for authors: Designing a landing page for a book

Graphic of a landing pageOver the last two years I've been constantly working to improve the landing pages we use to try and convert interest in one of our books into a purchase. The latest iteration of the design is now fully responsive, allowing people to read a sample of the first four chapters of 'Lights Over Emerald Creek on their smartphone. That said, I'm not actually sure why someone would want to read a book on their smartphone, but they can. More importantly,  with the addition of the QR code to our book-business cards I thought it important that when someone did scan the code they were provided with a page they could actually read (see Marketing 101 for authors: business cards for books).

But first, back to basics, what is a 'landing page'?

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