Striking a Delicate Balance

In the publishing industry, balance matters. Whether you are a writer, an author, a self-publisher, an independent publisher, a small publisher or a major publisher, the industry requires that you understand the delicate balance between various partnerships. And while many of us do what we do based on a genuine desire to share passionate stories, transform attitudes and inspire thought, we cannot escape financial realities.

Unfortunately, publishers today are forced to assess the financial viability of a work before ever considering its relevance and overall beauty, or genius. In that way, many incredible works by dedicated, talented authors fust unknown, unappreciated, while less talented authors and their work are celebrated and rewarded. We know this to be true.

Fortunately, changes in the publishing industry, brought on by digital technology and other advances, have shifted the balance. Because the production costs of publishing books have significantly declined due to Print-on-Demand and Digital Publishing, many gifted authors who have been slighted, over-looked or locked-out in the past now have opportunities they could have never imagined before. Many voices that were not financially viable can finally be heard.

As opportunities open industry-wide, we must all consider each other as stakeholders. On the one hand, authors spend countless hours writing and perfecting manuscripts, haggling with editors (professional or otherwise), and the expense of money and time to create a viable book with wonderful potential. On the other hand, the traditional publisher is required to assume the market risk, which includes production resources and costs associated with bringing the book to market.

And let us remember the caveats imposed book distributors, in case some do not know. In order for a book to be benefit from global distribution, meaning that its availability includes the 40,000 or so bookstores, retailers and libraries that are included in the premium title distribution network, publishers are required to provide a 55% discount to retailers.

This means that the wholesale price for a book priced at $10.00 amounts to $4.50, and the wholesale price for a book that retails for $20.00 is calculated at $9.00. From the wholesale price, publishers must subtract the actual cost for printing the book, production costs, distribution costs and the author’s royalty in order to determine actual compensation per unit. In addition, distribution agreements require that publishers buy back any unused retailer inventory (great for retailers—bad for publishers and authors). It is a factor we have zero control over, a demand we are forced to accept.

So when we, as publishers, price a book for retail, we do so while considering all these factors. While we want book buyers to get our products at a great value, we also want our authors to make a profit on their hard work, yet uncompensated. And while we want to publish many of the unique, nontraditional and niche manuscripts that come to us (because many of these are well written), we have to determine viability.

This means, in short, that we cannot afford to actually lose money on any particular title, regardless of how passionate we are about the work. Too many losses, and we are out of business. Because we intentionally keep operational and production costs to a minimum, we can afford to take chances where most publishers cannot, while providing first-class quality and services.

Uniquely, we tailor the publishing experience not only to the needs of the author, but also to the needs of the particular book. While we do not want you to spend a single penny you do not have to spend, we cannot afford to take on projects that do not involve ardent author involvement. As stated earlier, it is a delicate balancing act, but we are in it together, as publishing partners.

If it is convenient for you now or at some later occasion, please take the time and opportunity to consider the video above, which demonstrates the aspect of balance. For the woman in the video, the delicate balance for the entire physical equation (work of genius) that she constructs rests on the weight of a single feather, a beginning, which we, as publishers and authors would do well to appreciate. It is a truly incredible feat of balance, coordination and concentration!

Enjoy the video above, and please share your comments, suggestions and insights. Better yet, use the box below to create your own post, describing how balance plays a part in your own work and schedule.

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