the state of things

 

Economics Can Be Fun...

by Douglas Lindsay - 08:12 on 17 June 2008
Long Midnight Publishing being the multinational publishing giant that it is, I have been able to produce a flyer for Lost in Juarez, at costs of upwards of a hundred and twenty pounds. (Now there's a marketing budget to make HarperCollins and Transworld shake in their boots.) The bulk of the flyers will go to the company I work with on marketing and distribution. They will then send them to bookshops around the country, who will presumably then put them straight in the bin with barely a second glance, but at least I can feel good about the first part of the cycle - the part where I design a flyer and feel positive about the possibilities of curious people picking them up in a bookshop and immediately placing an order.

Waterstones and WH Smiths don't just stick a poster up in a window or on a wall, or leave flyers lying in a neat heap by the checkout for the discerning customer. They stick posters in windows because HarperCollins and Transworld and Bloomsbury pay them to stick the poster in the window. Business is business. Long Midnight Publishing isn't in a position to pay someone to stick a poster in a window. Just as long as I don't have to pay them to stick the posters in the bin.

I'm printing an initial run of the book of 2,000 copies. I like to say initial, as if I might have to reprint at some stage. With the big printers, the mass producers, 2,000 is their minimum run. For Juarez, the cost of printing 2,000 is roughly £1600, so about 80p a copy. It retails at £5.99. The mark-up isn't as positive as it appears. The major wholesalers take between 50-60% of that, so straight away as the publisher you're getting stiffed. Then there's the likes of Amazon who will take a percentage of 55%, but also cut the cover price by twenty percent right from the off, so that's an even smaller amount coming back. And then the money goes through my marketing and distribution partners who take their slice. In the end, including initial print costs, I clear between 60p and £1 a copy, so don't start making profit until I've sold over 1,000 copies. (Then there's the cost of the cover design and the flyers of course, so actually - and I ought to stop thinking about this because it's really quite depressing - I probably need to sell nearly all of them to make any money...) The real money is in bigger print runs, because while the first two thousand will cost 80p a copy, for every 1,000 extra copies of top of the initial run, it costs roughly 23p a copy. So that's when you can start making decent profit. As a business entity, Long Midnight Publishing isn't really there yet.

Here's the flyer. If anyone would like one to stick on a wall somewhere, send your address to longmidnight@douglaslindsay.com and I'll put it in the post. They are A4, so not huge posters or anything. I have rather mundanely termed the book The Most Explosive Thriller Of The Year - I can hear that guy who does movies trailers saying the words in his deepest, gravelliest voice - but you never know, maybe it actually is...




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