Who let the underdogs out?

The first Underdog Anthology is now a real thing. Thirty-two stories by nine authors in 200 pages. It’s available on Amazon as a paperback, also as a Kindle eBook and there is a hardback copy available for those with far too much money.

Hold off on the hardback, it should appear on Amazon in the near future and then you probably won’t have postage on top.

There will be a range of eBook formats available soon. I’ll let you know when they’re ready.

I have cut the price to the bone on all formats. I can do that on anthologies because I pay up front for the use of the stories so there are no royalties. When I put out other people’s novels there will be a royalty factor to include and that will inevitably increase the price. On a hardback that increase could be huge.

For example, a 200 page hardback selling at £16 will get me less than 50p profit on Amazon. The rest is print costs and Amazon’s cut. If it’s a hardback novel and I’m paying 10% of cover price as royalties, the only way I can do it and not go bust is to price the book at £18. If you want 20% royalties the price goes to £20 per book and so on.

The hardback is an extreme example of course but the principle holds true for paperbacks too. The only way to cover author royalties is to increase the price per book.

Take the anthology paperback: 200 pages sells for £4.99 and again I make under 50p per book. To give, say, 20% royalties on a novel that size I would have to price it at at least £6.50, to give £1.30 to the author on each sale, around 60p to me and the rest goes to the printer and sales outlet. Naturally this all increases as the book size increases and if print costs rise in future, so does the price of the book.

Someone willing to shell out £4.99 for a book might think twice at £6.50. So pushing up the royalty per book really only stifles your sales. I might not be doing this to make myself rich but I can’t subsidise it. I can run at break-even or minimal profit but at a loss, I’ll soon have to stop.

The situation with eBooks is a touch more complex because they are subject to VAT. Worse, they are charged VAT at the rate prevalent in the country where they are sold. Fortunately, the sellers take care of all the VAT stuff but it means I’d be offering royalties on the base price (without VAT) not on the actual list price (with VAT). Otherwise, again, I’d be cranking up the price to cover the royalties and VAT and cranking up the price increases the VAT… it gets into a vicious circle.

People expect eBooks to be cheap. Pushing up the price virtually guarantees no sale.

Even so, I can go with about 40% of the before-VAT price as a royalty. That doesn’t leave me much profit but it still leaves me with a positive balance and at this stage that’s all I need. As long as nothing goes into the red in the first year, it’s good.

I’m still figuring out the business. Fortunately I started with a relatively simple project in terms of sales, even if it proved complex in terms of preparation. Novel preparation is much easier – one author, everything already in one format, easy. The complex part of novel publishing is financial.

I’ll get the hang of it. In time…


11 thoughts on “Who let the underdogs out?

    • I think both novels are now out of contract. I’ll be re-releasing them, but with new covers because those covers belong to the publisher’s cover artist.

      That’ll boost the Leg Iron Books catalogue. Norman’s House and the future Romulus Crowe stories will also be published by me.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Congratulations to all involved.

    Free software ‘calibre’ will translate between formats for you. I can do it for you if you want. epub, pdf etc. If it needs tweaking in the new format then you’d be best doing it yourself as I’ve never played with the parameters, but in principle it looks reasonably straightforward. Which is where one should start worrying, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll use the Smashwords converter. It turns a Word file into every format and they check it over before letting it loose on the world. Doesn’t cost a bean either – although naturally, they take a cut of the eBook price.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This was always a problem. I self-published a few bits and pieces about ten years ago. I didn’t bother with royalties because there was no point as the price would be too high. As I was doing it for friends and family only, it wasn’t an issue. I’m not sure what the answer is. Go fully self-publish and arrange one’s own printing, I suppose.


    • The best is to get with a big publisher who can work in large volumes, and who has the marketing machinery to sell it all.

      However, the big ones won’t touch you unless you have an agent – and agents want writers who will produce regularly, not one-trick ponies. They therefore want evidence that you have more than one book in you. So you need to get some published work out there… before getting into the big publishers.

      What you mainly need is bloody-minded persistence and the ability to survive on pasta and own-brand baked beans 😉


  3. Pingback: Underdog Anthology – Longrider

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