Print versus E-Book Publishing: An Author Crunches the Numbers

Reading an interesting article this morning which you may find useful as well. Here is the link to a guest article about one author’s publishing experience by Carter Phipps on’s website. :

He walks through the history of his first book,including the specifics on advances, royalties and foreign advances, plus info on how the book was marketed, and what role both he and the publisher played in that.

The really striking part is in the middle of the article, where he does the numbers for his first book and comes up with abou $8 per hour for a project that took a year to write, and over three years to get into the market and break even for the publisher. And it wasn’t even a bad run. As he notes, the book didn’t do badly and actually did pretty well.

Depressing, right? Well, read the rest of the article to see how he works out why people are turning to ebooks, and whether that’s working any better in his experience. However, Phipps doesn’t diss the publishing industry, and notes that there is nothing to replace the prestige of a book being published traditionally—which certainly factors into sales.

But he also does some number crunching on a hypothetical book if he had gone through Amazon, which is insightful. Nonetheless, it only looks at possibiities, since his whole scenario using Amazon is merely for curious comparison.

He does add one thing I didn’t know, and I suppose I should verify somewhere else, but I’ll leave that to y’all, since I’m on the clock today.  He says that Fifty Shades of Grey was origionally self-published before going on to be a runaway hit in traditional publishing. He also notes that Romance does fairly well as ebooks, as do some more narrow categories like erotica. Hm. Makes you rethink the focus and genre of your last project or your next one, doesn’t it?

So take a peek at the article, and then, let me know what you think!

© Chanda K. Zimmerman, 2014