Publishing Puts Prices in a Peculiar Perspective

You just published you first book. You’ve sold a few copies. You earn a royalty of $3 per sale.

Now you’re celebrating by shopping for a new toaster. The one you like costs $18.

But you don’t see an $18 price tag. No. You’re thinking: “I’d have to sell 6 books to pay for that toaster.”

So you get out your cell phone, go online, and check your royalty report. You’ve only sold 3 books all day. Wow. At this rate, it will take two whole days of sales to pay for that toaster.

Next you’re in the mood for a cup of coffee. You head over to the coffee shop. It costs $3 for the coffee you want.

They make the cup of coffee in a few seconds. What does it have? Beans, water, sugar, caffeine? You slaved over a book for months, and much more work and time getting it published. Yet one book equates to one cup of coffee. That hardly seems fair!

When you get home, you see that you just sold 5 books. You’re so excited! With the 3 you’d already sold, that covers the toaster and the coffee, with a little change to spare.

That’s when you discover the flat tire. The nail went through the side, so it has to be replaced. How much will that cost? 40 books. There goes a week’s worth of sales.

Fortunately, sales pick up. You sell a few hundred books that month.

Then your washing machine goes out. It costs 20 books just to get a repairman down to your house, then another 80 books to get it fixed.

Your wife wants a new necklace. Rack up another 150 books.

Car payment: 125 books per month.

Mortgage: 700 books per month.

Take the family out to dinner: 20 books. Another 4 books just for the tip! And 2 more books for tax!

So you dig 26 books out of your trunk and bring them to the waitress. Call it even? What if I sign them?

— Chris McMullen

9 comments on “Publishing Puts Prices in a Peculiar Perspective

  1. I loved it…so true…even in a good month, you’re not paying the mortgage unless you have a lifetime’s worth of writing or a bestseller or three. If it weren’t for my rocket scientist husband, I wouldn’t even be able to write 🙂 I do think my book is worth to the average reader at least what they pay the pizza delivery guy or the guy who valet parks their car…come on!

  2. Great article Chris. Being retired, and therefore on a (very) fixed income, anything I get in the form of royalties from sales of my books really helps. I’m indeed fortunate in that my usual monthly royalty payments never dip below US$200.

  3. Reblogged this on The Wandering Barefoot Editor and commented:
    This article, written by Chris McMullen, certainly puts royalties into perspective. I like his take on putting the cost of his bills in the amount of books he needs to sell. My husband and I do something similar and once we figure it out sometimes we decide what we were going to do isn’t worth the money. Thank you for making me literally laugh out loud while hitting the nail squarely on the head!

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