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A number of you have asked me about how the math works when you go to IngramSpark for POD. Here is an example:
A 204 page POD paperback book costs $4.98 to print. (.02 a page plus .90 for the cover)
The book is priced retail at 16.99
Ingram will purchase the book from Ingram Spark at 55% discount off of the retail price. That will leave you $7.65
Ingram Spark will take the $4.98 out of that total due for the printing and send you $2.67.
Ingram will then take the book that they bought from you (through Ingram Spark) and sell it to bookstores and libraries at a discount of anywhere from 20% – 42%.
You make $7.65 but have to pay for printing out of that.
Ingram Spark makes $4.98 for printing
Ingram Wholesalers make $2.21 – 5.95 but they have to pay for shipping and handling out of that. (FYI-If you choose the short discount and only let Ingram offer a 20% discount, you are severely limiting the number of places that will take your book….)
The bookstores and libraries make between $3.40 – $7.13 but they have to pay for employees, rent, lights and the rest out of that.
Does that make more sense?
A number of authors have questioned why they only get to “net” $2 or less in some cases. I would argue that once the stores and wholesalers pay THEIR expenses, they make a LOT LESS than that!
As long as you are making 11% of the retail price as a net before taxes, you are in good shape! (most established publishers would be thrilled with that)
Here’s one of the dirty little secrets in book publishing. Publishers spend countless hours and dollars working on their covers, but they often miss the point. With the exception of online retailers, your book spine is your cover.
Brick and mortar stores are packed with books. New releases. Backlist books. Series. Gift books.
Walk to any category (perhaps your own) and take a look at how many books are crammed on to the shelves.
What do you see? The spine, if you’re lucky.
All to often publishers make the mistake of not focusing at all on the spine of their book, not realizing that this is their number one marketing tool in brick and mortar stores.
What does this mean for you?
Spend some time on your spine.
Think about bulking your page count to make sure that your spine has presence. We’re not recommending that you fluff your book with overblown margins or blank pages. But we are recommending that you don’t cram in your text so tight to save a few cents on your printing prices.
Push it out a signature or two. It might make all the difference between getting lost on the shelf and standing out because you’re 1/8 of an inch bigger. Choose paper that bulks. You might be surprised at how easy it is to snag an extra 1/16 of an inch through paper weight alone.
Spend some time analyzing what the spine colors are in your category. This is extremely important. If every spine in your category is white, choose a vibrant color. Choose something that stands out. Choose something that practically leaps of the shelf and screams “pick me!” This is the time to buck the trends and be a little different. If you’re not sure what will work, grab some books that have different spine colors and stick them on the shelf where your book will go. Which colors pop to you? What do you see first?
Make it readable! Make it bold! Make it big! Make sure that the reader sees your spine and your text right away. If you’re standing 3 feet away from your spine, you need to be able to read what it says (see above about spine width – the bigger the spine the more room for bold text).
Take it to the Bookstore
Let’s keep this next bit between us…
The best way to really know if your spine works is to print out several versions, colors and copies true to size. Cut the spine out, getting rid of excess paper so you’re literally holding your book spine in your hands. Put a tiny piece of tape on the end of each option. Take your spine options to the bookstore and visit your category. Stick the various spines on the books that will sit next to you (usually alphabetical by author’s last name within category or subcategory). Which one works? Do any? What do you see? Can you read your title? Do you get lost on the shelf because you’re too tiny or you blend in too much?
Lack of attention to your spine can kill your book in the marketplace. Once you get in to stores, your spine really is your cover. When you consider the time, money and energy that you spend getting your cover right, promise us, do the same with your book spine.
P.S. Remember, be polite during any bookstore research. Bring your spines with you when you go and don’t interfere with bookstore customers!
Just recently, we blogged about the importance of category research when choosing the right cover for your book.
Just yesterday, someone posted an interesting question to one of the discussion groups that we follow.
Basically, the question was “Does anyone have any idea what the “ideal color” for a business book should be?”
I was surprised by the number of responses that actually suggested a color! Blue, it seems, is the color people associate with business books. Apparently, content and subcategory doesn’t matter. It should just be blue.
To me, responses such as these are dangerously irresponsible. How can a group of people suggest a “sellable” color without doing the extensive research needed to choose a book’s packaging?
How can something as vitally important as a book’s cover be reduced to the simple question of: “What color should a [insert your own category here] book be?”
Below are some highlights from my response to the “color” discussion. I hope you find them useful:
1. Research the subcategory – leadership, time management, ethics, human resources, business management, management, how-to business, marketing, etc.
2. Purchase (or at least go to the bookstore and look at) the top sellers in your subcategory. Identify the colors, fonts and images used.
3. Find out what’s working and why. Are they all the same color, same title treatment, same image pattern? I’m guessing not. Why not? Which of the books “popped” off the shelf most. Why? (the color could be why)
4. Pull out books in colors that you and your client like that are in your cover design. Put them in the shelf within your category. Can you see them? Why? Why not? Which colors will stand out on the shelf.
It’s important to keep in mind that cover design is ultimately driven by the consumer. We teach people what to expect when they go in to the business category in terms of look, feel, trim size and even price. So, you want to be sure that you’re what they expect. At the same time, it’s important to stand out. If every book in your subcategory is blue, you might want to try red, or green or muted purple. You might want to try something very bright that practically leaps off the shelf.
Most importantly, there is no set formula for choosing “a color” for any category of books. you need to thoroughly research the subcategory and find out how you can match up against the competition and get noticed on the shelf.