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Money, Musings, News - General

How do people pay to read?


There’s lots of research on who pays to read what. Some of it is even reliable and doesn’t push the agenda of whoever wrote it. I’ve seen a lot of papers out there from all sorts of sources, some of which I may well quote here

However, we’re starting a new press and we’re determined to make money.

We want to pay our authors – preferably as part of the revenue from the point we put the book on the market – but at the beginning we want to make back our costs and then put the profit we make (after distributing the authors their share) back into the business so we have enough of a buffer to adopt the more industry standard model above.

We’ve had a couple of people comment that they would rather we started that way – but we don’t have the capital to do that – which is why we offered contributor’s copies and a proper payment upfront – we’ll take that hit because it’s the investment you make when starting a new business.

Having said that, we’ve got such an amazing line up of initial talent that I think we’ll make a profit on these first two books. It’s not just wishful thinking along the lines of ‘oh I do hope it works out’. We’re going to work our hardest to get those books out there and make money – because we want to publish more!

So we’re really focussed on how to charge, what to charge and when to charge it.

Do we start with a teaser and then raise prices? Or do we fluctuate depending on whether people are buying at all? If sales slow do we drop the price then?

We’re looking at whether we can create voucher codes for people who sign up to the newsletter – so that they get 20% off any of our books at their next purchase.

 There are a lot of factors to consider but in the end it appears to come down to these salient points:

  1. What’s the best price over the long term? We think it’s somewhere between 1.99-2.99 for ebooks and 4.99-6.99 for print copies
  2. When do we make special offers? It’s likely to be at the beginning but what’s an offer? Free or 99p for the ebook?
  3. We think we should make the book available on lending schemes – but we haven’t yet done the math on whether that improves our lot or damages sales volumes. (We think the former – but until you’ve done it how do you quantify the impact?)
  4. We want to pay our authors and sell lots of books

The last point is a key focus – the first three are driven because of the fourth. We’re not vanity. We won’t ever ask our authors to pay for anything. We want them to succeed, we want them to go on and write books that are read by everyone – that they become too big for us! Part of that is being professional towards them and part of that (aside from honest editing and creating the best books we can) is being transparent about how we’re going to pay at the beginning, what our aims are and putting definite goals in for where we want to get to.

We’ve not solved the above yet to our satisfaction. I imagine that Matt and I will be sitting down a couple more times to figure out how we do this and how we get the book out there so there’s enough people who see it that it was worth setting a price in the first place.

We’re open to your ideas to – be you reader, writer or fellow publisher.

I’ve not quoted from those papers after all – what’s more important is how we think through what we’re offering. There will be other posts on creating our books, cover reveals, discussions with authors etc. But at the beginning we talk about the economics and then we talk about sales. This post was just one on economics – there’ll be another, because we need to talk about the cost of putting books together – if only so we here can remind ourselves what we’re trying to achieve.

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