Author You … Are You Someone’s Cash Cow?

Are You Someone’s Cash Cow?


Starting down the publishing path takes money—don’t let anyone … anyone … tell you that it doesn’t. Sure, there are ways to create a book and publish it for minimal dollars. And, it usually looks like it.

Cash Cow - starting down the publishing path takes moneyThe lease expensive way to get into the publishing game is via the eBook route or the minimalist version that Amazon’s Create Space offers. It’s getting your toe in the water and a way to start learning the ropes.

There are hybrid publishers, there are pay-to-publish publishers (all vanity presses go in this category), there are traditional publishers, small/indie press publishers and there are self-publishers who could be indie publishers.

You think it … it’s there. What you don’t want to get caught up in is the “pay me once and pay me again, and again” publisher. You become the cash cow. Good for them … not for you.

          Author Beware: Do not pay more later … determine costs now.

With most authors to-be, the up-front costs are the primary concern. Don’t stop there—what you should also focus on is the back-end costs. The true cost of a book to you—be it a copy at a time or hundreds/thousands of them. What’s a reprint going to run you? How about corrections? Or a revised edition—do you have to pay up-front fees as if you had a new book production? If you are with any type of publisher besides YOU, just what are the royalties to you—are they net or gross (bet they are net!)? What about special sales—are royalties reduced? When will you get paid?

It’s not uncommon for publishers to low-ball up-front fees in exchange for very high back-end costs (we will publish you for $297 ….) down the road (think expensive author copies like $8-10 or very low royalties—less than $1 on a $15 retail book …).  It’s also not uncommon for you to be baited with a promise of library and major retail exposure and the probability is equivalent to winning the lottery.

            Author Beware means you don’t go through this alone. Ever.

One of the traits of successful authors and indie publishers is that they’ve learned that they don’t, and can’t, do it alone. Determine who you need on your team—book designer, cover designer, printer, editor, book coach … who else. What do they cost? Determine your book creation cost—whether you elect to publish yourself or contract with a publisher … know from the get-go your FULL COST PER BOOK. Then you know how many you have to sell to recoup. And you can put together a Book Spending Plan to market and move your baby forward.

Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd, a book publishing coach and the Founder of Author U (niversity) a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 30 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Her next audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform will be available in the Summer of 2012. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Your Guide to Book publishing on the Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at

  If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday. The number is 218-632-9854; Access Code 1239874444 … have your questions ready–there’s a full hour to ask and listen.

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2 Comments on Author You … Are You Someone’s Cash Cow?

  1. Patsy Stanley says:

    What are the pros and cons of having your own ISBN’s?

    • Judith Briles says:

      Pros … you control … they are listed on Bowker with your publishing name.
      Cons … NONE

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