Wednesday, September 14, 2011

money, money, money,!

Much to the chagrin of my manager wife, I do not read that much fiction. Were it not for Carl Hiaasen, all I would read would be news related. I am working on that reading fiction thing but lets face it, most fiction novels out there try to pull a "Law and Order" tv show approach, screaming ripped from today's headlines.
So, as a writer who reads the news, I think I have been studying quite nicely, thank you. After all, Carl Hiaasen refers to growing up in Florida and reading the National Enquirer as having a big impact on his novels. Did I mention, he started his career as a newspaper reporter?

So what of reading more fiction. Is it to better my writing, my creativity, or is it to make my work sound more like other works already out there as a means to make it more sell-able? As an author embarking on my writing career, I am going through a learning curve. I am learning to see the creative process of writing turned into the comercial process of selling. Watch out, here comes the synergy in this blog as I put my news reading together with creative writing.

In the September 12, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal, on the front of the Marketplace section, was an article about e-book sales propping up losses in print sales for publishers, and how retailers have adopted a business model where they act as an agent for each individual sale, keeping 30% of the sale revenue and returning the remaining 70% to the publisher. This allows virtual stores like Amazon to undercut other sellers, virtual and real, and still make money on each sale. Fascinating, right? Honestly it took a few read-throughs for me to get it too. Luckily there is a simple breakdown in chart form with the article. I did not reproduce it here as I did not want to get in Dutch with the WSJ but here is a breakdown.

When you pay $12.99 for the e-book. $3.90 goes to the retailer, $2.27 is the royalty to the author, $0.90 is the digital rights management fee, leaving $5.92 for the publisher.

When you pay $26.00 for the print version, $13.00 goes to the retailer, $3.90 is the royalty to the author, $3.25 is the production/storage/shipping fee, leaving $5.85 for the publisher. Keep in mind, this $5.85 publisher profit may be less if the book doesn't sell well and needs to be returned and re-inventoried.

With an e-book sale, the author and the retailer make less money and the publisher gets more money, than with the print version. (Borders, I'm looking at you!) It is this stoic business mumbo jumbo that deflates the creative art aspect of writing for me. Depression is too strong a word, but the unwanted competition of fretting over finding an agent and fine tuning the query letter so it is a guaranteed sell reminds me too much of my time in radio, sending audition tapes out all over the country just to be crestfallen when job offers didn't come.

Being a print book fan, I am pleased to say that 2010 net sales revenue for e-books was $878 million and print books $27.9 billion. Yea Paper! You win! Yea old technology! Of course I am old enough to remember going to the record store, buying an album, and sitting in bed listening to it, admiring the cover art, and reading the liner notes on the back. That was really hard to do with CD's, even when they made removable liner notes. Now I don't even care about the cover art when I download a song from a website in Russia that probably pirated the song anyway.

Thank you God, for sending me a manager wife who will look after the business aspect of my writing career. In return I will make dinner most every night and even rub her feet at least once a week, more if I am trying to get lucky.