The Cost of Books To The Author



I recently had an opportunity to participate in a guest author event, things did not work out, which is probably for the best. I had no books to give away and I have no money to order them until I get paid again. I do not have swag yet, because it is expensive. I do not even have a business card, yet.

I did have someone mention to me about keeping those sorts of things on hand. Well, as a new indie author who has given away, as in free, thousands of copies of her book and still has not sold ten, money is tight. What little there is, often goes to paying for sites that will help with marketing.

My current royalty on a hardcopy of Mystery’s Choice is $3.83 USD. To order a copy for a giveaway it costs me $13.88 USD per copy. Then if I give them away, I have to pay to send them to the winner of the giveaway which can cost a bit of money as well. It costs me $10 more to buy my book than I receive when someone buys it. This is the life of an indie author. Unless, you are one of the lucky few whose books take off like wildfire, you are not doing this to get rich.

I cannot speak for other indie authors, but I am doing this because I have a need to tell stories and share the characters who live in my imagination with others, even if it is only one other. If my story can take their mind of the troubles of their everyday life and take them some place magical then I am happy.

Someday, I might actually be an author who everyone has heard of, and I will still be doing this because I have a need to tell a story. And then I will not have to worry about being able to afford to offer a giveaway or paying for marketing help or having swag printed, someone else will worry about it.

The Big Five publishing companies decided to only let those who have played before play again and made it impossible for newbies to join the club. Most stopped taking unsolicited manuscripts several years ago and I believe all require that they only be approached by a writer’s agent. Agents will only take what is currently selling in the market, which right now in the horror field means if it is not about vampires, were-somethings or a zombies it will not be paid attention to.

There are smaller publishing houses that are trying to survive in the industry and they will take manuscripts, but they usually can only afford to publish at most five books a year and unfortunately, they too are having to go with what they think they can sell a lot of copies of.

So, that leaves us with the self-publishing companies. Most are rip-offs charging hundreds of dollars and offering limited marketing and tiny royalties. They buy your baby and then you have to settle for what they paid you or they offer pennies on the dollar and you are locked into lengthy contracts. There are a few that do not ask for any money, but the cover styles are limited, they do no proofing at all and you are on your own for marketing your novel.

I used one of the last ones. They treat me decent enough, they require that if you wish to have giveaways of your digital edition of your book, you agree to sell it exclusively through them. The hardcopy is yours to do with as you please, but they will not ship to anyone except a  purchaser or a bookstore. And you have to purchase your novel if you wish to have copies on hand.

I love the creative freedom of self-publsihing. I hate the cost, the having to market, and the expense.

I am not complaining, I just thought a glimpse into the world of the indie author would be helpful. If you are thinking of going this route to publish, well be wary, there are plenty of sharks in the waters. If you are a reader of indie authors’ books please understand why some of us cannot offer more giveaways and pester anyone who will listen about buying, mentioning, listing, telling someone about our books.

This is dedicated to every author out there who writes because they cannot imagine doing anything else, because it is as necessary as air and though a pleasurable torment, it is the only game in town.


Splatters and Screams,



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