Payback: a little self-publishing math
At a wholesale value of $15 a book, that means that the publisher has recouped $10,500 in two months. The total cost of producing the book (except for the author’s time writing it) and printing 1,600 copies was about $11,000. So at this point, my client has 900 books in inventory and has recovered all but about $500 of the original investment. If those 900 books sell in the next six months (as is likely), my client will be $13,000 ahead. That’s still not much compensation for writing the book, but it represents a doubling of the original investment in less than a year. And the client expects to order more printings and continue selling the book for several more years, with no further outlay except manufacturing costs of less than $3.00 a book. In addition, the client reports that the presence of the book on the sales table (where it is the high-price item at $25) has significantly boosted the sales of older items that were already in inventory and that can also be reprinted cheaply.
Is it a living? No. It is rare for a single book to be anyone’s sole source of income. But if a single book can add ten or fifteen or twenty thousand dollars a year to a speaker’s income, don’t you think it’s worth the effort?