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POD Math


coins-72714_1280A 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)


Do You Have a Book Distributor? Are You Sure?


I had so much fun talking with the authors and indy publishers at AuthorU earlier this month.  Here is a snippet that explains in detail the difference between Wholesalers, Distributors and Fulfillment Houses.

Too often I get calls from authors/small press owners who tell me that they “have a distributor”… then they mention Ingram or Baker & Taylor.  CLOSE!  But no…. check out this 2 minute video to see why:

Book Distribution vs. Book Wholesalers





Your First Day as a Publisher.


The book is done. Congratulations! You have put your whole back into the huge task of writing, editing, polishing and finishing the book that has been your life’s work for ages.

Send the manuscript to the designer and pour yourself a well-deserved glass of ginger-ale.


Now, welcome to your new job as Publisher. (You may have the nagging feeling that you should have started this job months ago, but better late than never! Let’s get started!)

Now that you are no longer a writer, you can dedicate yourself fulltime as a publisher, marketer, sales rep, publicist and social media specialist. These jobs with all of their various elements and duties will take up the next year or more of your life.

So, how do you get started? What do you do first?

Here is a partial list of essential-do-not-skip job duties that every Publisher has:

1. Choose a Publisher name. Don’t make it anything that connects to your name or the title of the book. The publishing house name/imprint should be independent and professional sounding (example: Democracy Publications). There are many reasons to publish under your own imprint name:

 a. Your book will be taken more seriously than if it is listed in all the databases as published by a vanity press or CreateSpace.
b. Bookstores will be much more likely to consider stocking your book if they do not have to purchase it from their biggest competitor, Amazon/CreateSpace.
c. You can control the costs and pricing and save money.
d. Reviewers will give your book a more serious consideration.

2. Sign your publisher name up with Bowker at Name, address, phone, email, website (if you have one)

3. Buy set of ISBNs (Don’t buy one. You will need more than one soon and they are inexpensive in groups of 10) from

4. Pull all of your book data into the ISBN management section: title, subtitle, price, ISBN, eBook ISBN, eBook price, trim size, page count, word count, category, age group– into book ISBN fields at (this will start the process of getting your book’s data out to the world and make it easier for the sales to be tracked.) Do not skip this!

5. Find at least 5 books that compete for your same readers and learn why your book is similar to them and why your book is better. You will need this when you are selling your book to stores or doing research or writing a cover letter to a reviewer. These 5 books will help you in numerous ways. Take your time with it and ask for help if needed.

6. Decide if you want to be in bookstores and libraries. (REALLY research what it takes to be in those venues… it is not as easy an answer as you would think) Do the math… how much money will you make per book after printing, distribution and shipping costs?

7. Decide how you are going to print and distribute your book. Should you use a Print on Demand service such as Lightning Source or CreateSpace? (there is nothing wrong with USING CreateSpace, I just recommend not putting their name all over your book.) So… POD or would it be better to print a few thousand copies and sell through a distributor? Look at the numbers, ask your local bookstore, find out everything you can.

8. However you decide to proceed , sign up with the POD company, distribution, or fulfillment company and provide them with your book data.

9. Get endorsements and marketing plan and executable PR program together.

10. Spend as much time in bookstores and online learning everything you can about your market and your book category.

This is by no means a complete list, but these are some ESSENTIAL items that should be completed as soon as you decide to take on the job of publisher.

All of these items should be completed before you are done writing the book.



What Are Book Store Buyers LOOKING For?


A client recently asked me.  What the %$#@! are book buyers looking for? He went on to say “My book is priced right, well-designed and exactly what older American’s are needing… what more can I do?”

I thought I would share my answer in the hopes that it might answer other questions out there.

If the book is well written, has a topic and message that will appeal to their customers, and is well designed, it has a good shot of getting a test order from a bookstore book buyer.

Keep in mind, there are more books published each year than could fit in 7 totally empty bookstores.  (And as you know, bookstores are not empty!)  Because of this, the buyers can only take a teeny fraction of what is presented to them.  Also, the buyers are judged (read: get to keep their jobs) by how many times their section “turns” a year.  The sales rate of their choices is closely monitored.  So they will pick books that they feel have the best chance to selling off the shelf several times a year.

That is where demand and platform comes in. If an author has a good platform, is reaching out to thousands, or tens of thousands of readers, is showing sales online (seen in Nielsen Bookscan reports) and has a strong PR plan with potential for a lot of media – the buyer will be far more likely to take the book in.

If the book does NOT have all of those things, then the buyer needs to see some other proof that the well-designed, beautifully-edited, fantastically-written, much-needed book won’t just sit on their shelves. There is a chance that someone will see your title on the spine on a crowded bookshelf and pick it up.  If they pick it up, there is a good chance that they might buy it. (If they need or want a book like yours). But a book buyer would much rather sweeten the chances of a “turn” by stocking books that will have browse-friendly qualities AND great press.  There are enough books out there that have great demand AND are great books to choose from.

Does your book have everything it needs PLUS good PR?  Is your book “All That” AND a bag of chips?


Math Lessons For Small Presses – Part 3



Bookstores buy books from wholesalers and distributors. The major difference is that a wholesaler is publisher’s customer (wholesalers buy books from a publisher) and a distributor is a publisher’s employee (distributors sell their services to a publisher).

A distributor handles all of the après-production elements of getting a book onto a store’s shelves. Publishers agree to funnel all of their sales, warehousing, shipping, and billing through the distributor. They do this work for a percentage of the billing generated by the sale of the publisher’s books.

Like publishers, distributors sell a book to a wholesaler or bookstore at a discount of the retail price. That discount is usually between 45 and 55 percent.

So, if bookstores get about the same terms and about the same schedule, why do they go to a distributor instead of directly to the publisher? Some bookstores (especially bookstore chains) are not interested in setting up new, small, or regional publishers in their ordering and accounting systems for just a few books. They rightly weigh the benefits of a publisher’s book against the time and trouble necessary to order it, and if the balance does not come out in the book’s favor, they skip it. How do new and small publishers avoid this terrible fate? They sign exclusive agreements with a distributor.

A distributor’s cut varies from 25 to 35 percent of the net billing of each book. Just about every distributor has additional monthly fees, and most require an initial deposit for new clients.

Before you balk, keep in mind that it is very difficult, expensive, and time consuming to handle your own warehousing, purchase shipping materials, and learn how to ship exactly how each store wishes their shipments to arrive … and everyone is different. (It’s a little joke they like to play on publishers. I am convinced that bookstore owners get together every two years to devise slightly altered yet completely incomprehensible trafficking instructions.) Then comes the billing, monthly statements, handling claims for books damaged in transit, taking in returns, and reconciling the amount due with what the bookstore believes is due.

After that, consider the money and time it takes to tell the country’s thousands of buyers about your books. The sales reps working for distributors have long-standing relationships with the book buyers in your hometown, across the country, and in the major chains. You would not be able to start a fledgling relationship on your own with these buyers. What an experienced sales rep can often do with a phone call, you could rarely accomplish with six months and a great deal of research, e-mails, flyers, catalogs, paperwork, and free samples.


Back to the math!

A book priced at retail is $16.95

A distributor sells it to a wholesaler for $7.63 (55% discount)

The distributor will charge the publisher on average $2.15 to handle that order.

Shipping and other fees will cost about $1.30 cents a book (give or take)

The publisher gets $4.18 for the book from the distributor 6 months later when the payment comes in.

After the productions costs of $3.25 are taken into consideration, the end profit is about .93 cents a book.

(AND the distributor does most of the work)


So there you have it.  Math by an English Major for Publishers. Let me know if you have any questions!


Radio Interview with Author U founder Judith Briles


I had a wonderful time speaking with Judith Briles about the state of self publishing and how to market books in the coming year.  Click here to listen:



Summer Reading


Have the perfect beach read? As we head in to the Memorial Day weekend, summer is just around the corner. If you are a publisher or author with a book that’s perfect for summer reading – for adults OR kids – now is the time to make sure that your Amazon page is ready to go and you have a marketing and sales plan to get the word out about your book over the summer.

Here are 5 things you can do to get the word out!

1. Amazon Optimization and Top Review Campaign – Can readers find your book on Amazon? Do you show up in the first several pages? Do you have recent reviews. Now is the time to make sure that your Amazon page is ready to go for the summer. If there hasn’t been any recent activity on your book page, make sure that you are updating your tags and information. New reviews are also important. Don’t let your book page languish during these key summer months.  If you want help setting these up, take a look at The Cadence Group.  They do a terrific job.

2. Get Reviews – If you have the perfect summer read, you want people talking about your book. A great way to do this is to approach book reviewers, book bloggers and category bloggers and ask if they are willing to read and review your book. Always be respectful! If a reviewer or blogger doesn’t have time to read and review your book, offer to write a guest post. Most book people are willing to help get the word out – even if they don’t have the time to do it themselves. The more that people are talking about your book, the more buzz you will create. Get people talking today!

3. Visit your Local Book Store – If you think your book is appropriate for a summer read, visit your local bookstore and ask if they would be willing to stock a couple of copies of your book for the summer. Dress professionally and have a sales pitch. If they say no, thank them for their time and move on to the next store. A lot of local bookstores are willing to support local authors. Don’t be afraid to ask!

4. Launch a Giveaway program – Nothing sells a book better than a book! Spend the summer months doing giveaways. You can do this online as well as offer free copies of your book to local book clubs, libraries and other organizations. Commit to giving away your book to as many potential readers as possible. Just one free book could result in a recommendation that could increase your sales. Don’t discount word of mouth!

5. eBook – Do you have an eBook? Is your ebook available on the eBook sites at, and If not, it’s not too late! You can get an ebook created and uploaded in just 5-10 business days. More and more readers are choosing eBooks – unlimited books at their fingertips and all they have to carry is the eBook reader of their choice