Publishing Math

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This is an excerpt from Your Book, Your Way: How to Choose the Best Publishing Option for Your Book, Your Wallet and Yourself. You can purchase a copy of this book through

Circulate among the guests at any writers conclave and you’re sure to hear some variation on the following:

The only books publishers are interested in any more are blockbusters.

All publishers care about is the bottom line.

There used to be publishers who cared about literature, and would take a chance on a book.

They never marketed my book!

All true statements, every single one of them. Of all the arguments that members of the writing tribe have with members of the publishing tribe, the most acrimonious are about money and marketing.

Here’s a statement about publishing that you should hear but never do:

You don’t get to publish book B if you don’t sell enough of book A.

In traditional publishing, writers have to root for the success of every book put out by their publisher because the money earned from those books pays for the production costs of the books that follow. Think about this set of numbers for a moment:

  • Out of every ten titles published in the U.S. by a traditional company, six will lose money, two will break even, one will earn a little money, and if the publisher is very fortunate, one book will make a lot of money.

But you know what’s interesting about this scenario if you’re talking about writers who independently publish their own work? Many of those “losers” become “winners.”

This isn’t magic. It’s all about who sets the book sales goals and who gets to keep most of the money from book sales, pure and simple.

In order to make sense out of this discussion of publishing math, I need to take the time to explain three concepts: setup costs, print runs, and something called the standard trade discount.

Download the entire Publishing Math chapter  from Your Book, Your Way.

Write, Publish, and Market Your Book Your Way with Professional Guidance from Full Circle Press

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