I took a snapshot of this graphic by Alan Grundy while perusing Delta’s inflight magazine over the weekend. You know, during that time where they make you turn off all your electronic devices for take off and landing.

iPad off. Delta magazine open. Ironic that I was reading an ebook.

Let’s address a few of it’s points today.

Aside from the personal investment of time, MS Word, and Adobe InDesign, my hard costs have been paying for a good editor ($400 per title, á la Sue Kenney), and CreateSpace’s Premium service (as opposed to their regular free service, which nets better royalties) at around $39 per title. Granted, this is for physical copies (CreateSpace), not ebooks. Spearhead absorbed my cover design costs by my team, but that would have been another $400 roughly (had I not done it myself) and hired it out. But again, that’s for a full print cover, not the smaller single page needed for ebooks; average cost for a good design is now under $150. And finally a conversion service (unless you want to deal with the headaches of doing it yourself). I’m using streetlightgraphics.com (who also do covers) for under $80/title for a package of Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords formats.

So I’m well under half the cost of the statistical average.

From all my study I have to say the price points listed above are not only correct, but where a self-published author (of any breed) should list. Remember, ebooks are forever, and that’s a very long time to sell on a global market. We’re trading price point for sheer volume to a world that will soon have a billion e-readers in their hands (Amazon’s Kindle is about to hit India).

As for the number of authors hitting the NYTBS list? Let me just say, who cares! The industry model has changed. The selling power of a legacy published book is usually 6 months with its peak lasting for less than 2. Recently I spoke with a friend who had his book hit #1. It lasted for a few weeks. Then it was gone. How many royalty checks did it earn? Yes, a nice big one. And then what? Nothing. The publisher has kept the rights, and it’s overpriced as an ebook, selling only a few copies a month (of which he sees next to nothing).

Much like Dave Ramsey’s “status symbol of choice” being the paid off mortgage, authors are finding keeping their world-wide rights at 70% forever is the highest status symbol they can get. Already my CreateSpace sales of The White Lion Chronicles are earning an extra $75/week for my family; I’m expecting the ebook sales, due out next month, to exceed that.

When my most recent royalty check came in from my legacy publisher my dad happened to be with me. It was a $700 check. He was really happy for me. Then I told him what it would have been had I sold the same number of books through CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing (numbers I’ve sold on your at my own merch table).


And the crazy part is, it wasn’t name recognition that sold those numbers with my publisher. It was me and my hard work (et all, Wayne). I should know. They had no budget for 4th quarter marketing and made me submit a list of what I was going to do. (Actually they only ever had $500 for first quarter marketing).

Time to feed my family, not a pig. Of course, I’m about to eat the pig anyways. ch:


gabe · 25 Jan ’12 at 2:02 pm

first comment!

great article, sir Hopper.
very interesting to see how the self-publishing industry is trouncing the traditional publishing industry. (i totally agree about the over-priced ebooks sold by regular publishers. it drives me nuts.)

    Christopher Hopper · 25 Jan ’12 at 2:23 pm

    Yes! Drives authors AND readers nuts! It’s the same overpriced practices that birthed the digital music revolution when fans stopped buying $21.99 CDs at stores.

David Seaman · 25 Jan ’12 at 2:13 pm

As much as I detest not owning a physical book (Wish there was a way to get the books you already own gratis on your e-reader so you don’t have to buy twice), I gotta admit I’m now a believer in e-books now that I have a nook. Can’t wait to get your’s and Wayne’s books on my nook!

    Christopher Hopper · 25 Jan ’12 at 2:20 pm

    Honest assessment and admission. Thanks for the comment. And for the interest.

    gabe · 29 Jan ’12 at 3:42 pm

    yeah, i wish i could do that too (get the books you already own free on your e-reader). that would be awesome

      Christopher Hopper · 29 Jan ’12 at 11:19 pm

      That is probably somewhere in the future and needs to be considered in this next post-publishing era. But I still spend money on both formats that needs to be recouped.

mooney · 29 Jan ’12 at 3:24 pm


Peter · 10 May ’12 at 9:57 pm

Hey Chris,

thank you so much for all your posts in regards to the self-publishing process…it’s really helping me out a lot because I have been exploring all the options because I am almost done with my first book. I was seriously considering going through a normal publisher, but when I saw the price tag I was like EEEK!!!!!! But then I saw this, I was like, hey I could do this. I love looking at the numbers…I definitely would rather make the most of my money and it’s extremely possible I will be going the self publishing route. Thanks again for your posts and your encouragement.

    Christopher Hopper · 11 May ’12 at 6:27 am

    Peter: glad to be of assistance. When you’re book comes out stop back and let us know by posting a link!

    Peter · 11 May ’12 at 11:16 pm

    Sure thing sir.

Comments are closed.