Authors need to do the Math

Posted by Brittany Lavin
Published On Sep 27, 2014
 By John F. Harnish


describe the imageThere are basically to two kinds of authors, those who are making a profit from their published book, and those who haven't realized a return on the investment in publishing their book. It's almost a certainty the authors realizing a profit have taken the time to do the math to determine their breakeven point. They have figured out how many books need to be sold in order to earn enough in royalties for the author to recoup their publishing costs. Determining the breakeven point is simply taking the total cost of publishing your book, such as $500, and dividing that amount by an approximate average of earned royalties per book, such as $2; this makes the breakeven point in the neighborhood of 250 books. Some people refer to this as the baseline breakeven number-surpass 250 books sold and a profit is being earned by the author.


But hold the phone, author person, such a deal there is especially for you, you aren't going to believe!!! For a mere $1,000 a blizzard of personalized emails will be sent to a million highly qualified individuals who will be interested in knowing about your book and they'll surely order a copy as soon as they read the compelling email presenting the merits of your book. Wow, with a million orders for your book you'll be a millionaire author in just a couple of weeks!!! Ah, but with a bit of a reality check you realize that the entire million folks receiving the email won't order your book-although in your heart you know everyone will want to read your so, so marvelous book. So with a touch of reality applied, you cut the number in half to 500,000 email recipients rushing to order your book. Good golly Miss Molly, making $2 on each book order is still a cool million for the outlay of a mere thousand dollars!!!


Now, you're smarter than the average author; you know how to do the math to figure out the breakeven point. You'd only have to sell 500 books yielding a royalty of $2 each to cover the $1,000 to send out a million emails-after 500 orders, all the rest is pure profit. Mercy sakes, you believe this is too good of a deal to pass up-besides, you've already sold over a hundred books so you're well on the way to covering the publishing cost. This email campaign could put you in the black and on easy street in just a few weeks. You know you have at least $1,000 available between a few different credit cards-worry not, the money from 500,000 orders will come in before the payments fall due.

Ugh, time for another reality check. First of all, those million highly qualified individuals are qualified only by the fact that at some time their email address was harvested and added to the vendor's massive email list. That means at least 500,000 will bounce from here to kingdom come and will never be delivered. At least 250,000 will go into the junk mail file and will be instantly trashed. Of the remaining 250,000, more than 125,000 will be deleted as spam. Rounding down, leaves 100,000 that might actually be opened, and then 90,000 will be promptly deleted because the recipient has zero interest in your offered book. Now you're email effort to highly qualified individuals-who are not even remotely qualified-has quickly gone from 1,000,000 to a mere 10,000 which might yet be optimistically high. Perhaps 9,000 take the time to read your email book pitch and then delete it, because the offer didn't hit their hot button. This drops the total number of folks who still might order your book to 1,000, and 500 invest the effort to give your email a second read-through before deleting the message. Of the remaining 500, maybe 250 will eventually place an order for your book.


The cost of the email campaign was $1,000; eventual profit from 250 books sold is $500. You, the author are out $500-plus the mounting interest if you put the $1,000 on your charge cards. The only one profiting from the ill-fated effort was the vendor selling the campaign for a mere $1,000. Beware of whirlwind email offers-all they'll do is blow your money away.

A much better approach and a more cost-effective investment of your time, is to develop your own list of potential customers for bulk purchases of your book. Non-fiction topics are great to present to corporations to give to their employees-perhaps incorporating your book into a training program. Novels can be pitched to businesses to be given as gifts to their good customers. If they are interested in purchasing 100 books or more, their one page sponsorship letter can be inserted into your book for a one-time charge of $50, paid by the sponsor. However, you need to do the work of determining what types of businesses would most likely be interested in your book. Do a Google search by topics associated with your book and build a list of potential customers to send your email offer to.


You'll need to tailor your email specifically to the potential company, and harvest the names of individuals in the company so you can send your offer directly to them. The more time you invest in researching your target market, the better your results will be. Knowledge about your target audience is omnipotent. Be specific with your offer by connecting the dots to show how your book will be a benefit to the corporation. Be sure to include the URL to your book dedicated website-the more they know about you and your book the better your odds are for making a bulk sale. When they express interest and respond to your email, then offer to mail them a complimentary copy of your book for additional consideration-be sure to include a personal note thanking them for their interest. Set a realistic personal goal to send out at least one email each week to a potential bulk purchaser. These types of individually targeted efforts have a much greater chance for success than the wasteful blasting out of a million emails that will surely be trashed.

Topics: infinity publishing, infinity

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