To publish is to make your words open to the general public. In this post, I’m referring to project
books for quilting, but this can also include any craft and DIY project books. Project books include text on education and instructions to make a project.
Most people think of book publishing as a glamorous achievement. Perhaps, a book deal tells people around you that you’re on your way to success. Yet, quilting books for first time authors can be both exciting and daunting.
I’d like to assist you in determining whether a book deal through a publisher is worth your time, money, and loss of control.
For first time authors, let’s assume we’re all in the same boat. Publishers are eager to sign us, in order to see if we are the diamond in the rough that brings profitability to both the publisher and author.
To consider a book deal with a publisher, here’s a list of pro’s and con’s.
- Publisher takes care of editing, photography, book design/layout, printing, and administration/accounting.
- Publisher has established distribution relationships to get your book into bookstores/quilt shops quickly.
- Publisher has an experienced team with years of experience to assist in making your book succeed.
- Publisher has proven credibility.
- Publisher puts in the financial capital to make your book a reality.
- Author has more time to focus on creating and making more quilts.
- While the publisher owns all editing, photography, book design, and printing, you own your text, quilts, and materials provided to the publisher.
- There is loss of control, in particular the vision of your book may change without your buy-in. The Publisher can decide on your content, book title, and design. Although many publishers will work with you, this is the legal line.
- Publisher decides if your book is going to be a seller and thus determines whether the book is printed or e-copy. Further the publisher will determine the print run, how long to keep the book in print, when it’ll go on discount, and when to discontinue the book.
- Publisher may own the first right of refusal for your next book.
- Author must solicit to suppliers for sponsorship to make the projects for the book or take on the costs.
- Publisher takes 10-12 months to print your book once you send in your manuscript, quilts, and materials.
Although the con list may seem daunting, you should consider your financial impact, business acumen in publishing and book distribution, and credibility. These should be weighed heavily as they can impact the success of your book good or bad.
Further, for first time authors you may not get the attention and sponsorship from fabric manufacturers, batting and thread companies to reduce your overall book costs. With a known publisher, companies are more willing to sponsor product for free.
Think of the publisher as a company you choose to outsource the production, administration and accounting processes of your book. An outsourced entity to your growing business. This allows you more time to create more quilts.
However, if giving up control is hard for you, then a publisher may not be the right fit. Plus, a publisher pays you less, takes longer to get the printed book, and offers you nearly no control over the book once the materials, quilts, and manuscript are handed in.
(The flowers my family gave me for Mother's Day. Hope your day was full of pretty flowers.)
Now the money... Generally, the breakdown of the cost for a publisher is:
- 40-45% to retailer- 10% to wholesaler
- 10% to printing
- 7% to marketing
- 12% to pre-production
- 7-10% to the author
- 6-14% to the publisher as profit
The publisher’s profit may seem like a lot, but most published books don’t profit. Yet the publisher hedges its risk by releasing a large number of books per season. Say, they release 10 books a season, they expect at least 1 to be the winner. After 3-6 months, most of the season’s books go on mark down and are then discontinued.
In addition, most of the marketing dollars go toward proven selling authors. As a first time author, the publisher will expect you to do most of the promoting and advertising. Think of this as part of the initiation process. You have to prove yourself before the publisher puts additional capital into you.
Let’s put dollars to numbers... Assume your book is priced at $20 and thus you’ll earn $1.40 to $2 per book sold. If you sold 10,000 books, you’ll make $14K - 20K in revenue. What if you sold 100,000 books, then you’ll make $140 - 200K.
To determine whether a publishing house is the right fit for you really depends on what your goals are as a craft business.
Some numbers for thought before you go... Per the Quilting in America 2014 Survey, there are 16.4 million quilters in the United States. Of those quilters, an average of 3.6 quilting books per person are purchased in a 12 month period. This means 59.04 million quilting books are sold annually. Wow, isn’t that amazing! Think of the possibilities...