I used the covers as shown, so I’m not going to re-post them here. I worked hard, I found a lot of errors, I made a lot of small changes and tweaks and improvements, and I got 6 books ready for print publication last month. (The official release date isn’t until 4/1/2011.) I didn’t quite reach all my over-the-top goals; I didn’t finish recording & editing the Book Six audiobook in time to listen to it while doing a very-close-read through the text to find even more errors. Though I did use that technique with books one through five, and I did record 40% of Book Six. Plus, I got the books done in time to make the LSI deal for free setup and justified (in my mind) the cost of ordering 50 copies of each of the two trilogies.
Ignore the following paragraph if you are allergic to details about money:
With shipping, all 100 books cost me $719.52, or $7.20/book. The printing cost when they’re ordered wholesale is $5.56, and the discount on both books (for now) is 50% which, with a $24.99 cover price for each trilogy, means I’d earn $6.94 if you bought one through, say, Amazon. That’s about $2.31 for each of the three books included in each trilogy. To earn at that rate per title, if released as individual paperbacks, they’d have to be priced at $11.99 each (because of rounding up to the nearest $.99, it actually goes up to a net return of ~$2.62 each, so a little more), or $35.97 for 3 (That’s $71.94 for the full series, vs. $49.98 for the two trilogies at list price, and while you’d pay $21.96 more for the 6 individual books, I’d only net $1.84 more.), which seems a bit steep. On the other hand, if you ordered straight from me, say, in person at Phoenix Comicon 2011, (presuming you don’t take one of the deals I’ll certainly have, some of which I’ll discuss below) paying a full $25 (I don’t usually screw with pennies or charging sales tax; I pay your sales tax for in-person book sales), then after I cover sales tax ($2.32), printing and shipping ($7.20), I net $15.47, which is a much better return on writing three books than $6.94 is. That’s almost $5.16 per title. (Which is, admittedly, a couple of dollars less than I’d earn hand-selling the individual books, if priced as above.) Anyway, although it seems like $15.47 is the lionshare of $24.99 at a glance, I have to sell 47 of the 100 books I just ordered, at full price, to just cover the cost of ordering the paper books; that doesn’t cover any other expenses involved in writing the books (paper, ink, computers, typewriters, time, et cetera) or marketing the books (web hosting, space rental at Comicon, business cards, et cetera), just the printing & shipping & the convenience of not asking people for $27.31 (or $54.63 for both trilogies) when I can ask for $25 (or $50). I’m reconsidering the tax thing, with sales tax nearly at ten cents on the dollar, but I know it’s my preference as a consumer to pay round-numbered amounts. Your feelings are welcomed.
So, less detailed here, though still about money, I want to write out some thoughts on various pricing options. Right now at modernevil.com, you can order any of my books at a flat rate of $25 each, and I’ll personally sign it and ship it to you. Except for the First Edition First Untrue Trilogy, which is $50 (since the cover price is already $25). The idea in those prices was that, if you wanted to get the books for less, they’re available at Amazon (Audible, et cetera) for their cover price or less ($10-$14, or $25), as eBooks for half that or less (currently $3-$5 each, no combined editions available), and for free as downloads (eBooks, audiobooks). If you wanted to support me, my writing, my publishing company, and the idea of independent creators succeeding as much as possible, then you order directly from me at the higher prices. $25 isn’t that much more for a reader to pay, but it means $15-$20 in my pocket, vs. $2-$3 when you order any other way. And I do really believe in “pay what you can” – that people who can afford to pay more should pay more and people who can’t afford to pay more still deserve access to great content. So I want to offer as many viable options as possible for the Untrue Tales… series, but I don’t want to over-complicate things, either. So I’ll probably over-simplify them, instead.
I think the numbers support, for the 14 people who purchased the existing paperback version of The First Untrue Trilogy (when it was all that was available of that series), offering the option of buying both of the new books (so they’d have a matching set; the new ones aren’t even the same size as the old one) for just $25. In fact, that’s still (slightly) profitable. Almost as profitable as selling just one of the trilogies at wholesale. I know for certain who 4 of the 14 buyers are, and would gladly accept visual proof of ownership (bring it with you to the con, post a photo of you holding it to Twitter/facebook/blog) for the other 10. But how to communicate that? Well, I’ve just said it, here. Maybe, if I can get my nerve up (I’ve been building toward it for a year, I hope I can), I’ll send out a sort-of-a newsletter to my mailing list between now and Memorial Day, and hope most of them are on it.
For everyone else, I’ll probably offer two options for ordering from me: $50 each for signed copies, or $40 (maybe $50 and no add’l shipping charge) for both books together, unsigned. Plus, if you pay the $100 for the signed pair, I’ll throw in something extra. Does that sound fair?
Then there’s the question of eBooks and audiobooks. First, eBooks: I’ve been contemplating whether I ought to continue to offer the series only as individual eBooks, or add the combined trilogies to the mix, or offer only the trilogies and pull the individual eBooks, or somehow put together all six books in one eBook with an unreadable cover…? I think I’ve decided to offer only the trilogies and pull the individual eBooks. (and that the covers with 14 titles each are complex enough, trying to fit 26 titles on one cover would be overkill) Covers is taken care of for that, since I would have parity between the new paper books and the new eBooks. Pricing is a concern, though eBooks pricing deserves its own long post, soon. (My eBooks pricing experiment is going exactly as expected; sales dropped off with the lower prices.) Probably I’ll try to keep some sort of parity with the relative prices of my other paperbacks and eBooks, so if (for some crazy reason) I keep individual eBook prices in the $3-$5 range, the trilogies will be $9.99 each or if I raise individual eBook prices up to the $8-$10 range, the trilogies will be roughly $16.99 each. And, yes, still also available for free.
But what about the audiobooks? Do I remix/remaster the entire series as two long podcasts/audiobooks? One? If I don’t combine them, covers becomes a question again. Should I go to the trouble of creating a cover for Book Six that matches the 5 old covers’ style, or recreate all six covers in a style which matches the new paper books’ covers? Probably I’ll do the latter, and remix the entire series anyway (to adjust the outros of every episode to correctly refer to the availability of the completed series), all 60 episodes of it. Well, maybe just 50. Book Six doesn’t start podcasting until after everything else will be settled with the new releases; I can just do them the new way the first time. That should be fine.
No, where was I? And where was I headed? Let’s see… finished editing/creating the new print versions of the books… talked about pricing, profits, and plans… talked about eBook and audiobook versions… Did I mention I put the new books up on Goodreads? (The First Untrue Trilogy, The Second Untrue Trilogy) No? Well, I did. In fact, I’ve just (now, in a pause from writing this post) submitted giveaways there for both books. One should start any moment now, with details listed here when the Goodreads staff turns it on. It’s for two copies of the first trilogy and it runs from … whenever they turn it on through March 16th. The other one, which I’ll probably post about on or after the 17th, is for two copies of the second trilogy and it runs from March 17th through March 30th. Except that I’ll actually be sending both trilogies to all four winners, so they can read the entire semi-epic series. Except that what this series of six books really needed was six free sets given away. So in addition to the four copies I’m giving away via Goodreads, I’m also giving away two copies here on my blog. I’ll give away one in this post, and another later.
To whom? To people who read all the way through my 2000+ word posts, of course! Heck, you wouldn’t even be hearing about these free books if you weren’t among that tiny, elite group of people! So, how will we do this? Comments? Some sort of quiz, testing your reading comprehension? (Or is it your comprehension of rambling?) What do the other blogs do for book giveaways? One entry for commenting, another for tweeting about the new books, another couple for blogging about the new books, another for adding the books to your library on Goodreads, another for telling me who your favorite character from any of my books is and why, and one final entry for posting a photo of yourself holding one of my books to twitter/facebook/etc? Then I put all the entries in a hat and pick one, right? Sure, that sounds fun. Do that.
ie: At least comment, if you’d like a shot at $50 in free books. Help spread the word, and you increase your chances… as long as you comment again to let me know you’ve done so. This contest ends … let’s say on March 16th. Then I’ll do another post and another contest for the second half of the month. Then, on April 1st, the books come out.
Oh, that’s another thing I forgot to mention. (Though if you ‘Like’ me or ‘Like’ Modern Evil Press on facebook, you may already have some idea.) In order to get the free setup from LSI, I had to submit by the end of February, so I did. So as of March 2nd, the books were officially approved, ready, and “available for printing” … and ordering … from LSI. Now, it typically takes 1-2 weeks after approval before new titles begin appearing at booksellers’ sites (ie: Amazon, bn.com, et cetera), though bn.com seems to add books based on ISBN data and already has both books listed (for $16.86 apiece, for members!) with incomplete data, but that’s still a couple of weeks before the official publication date. I’ve added both the “publication date” and ‘on sale date’ of 4/1/2011 to both books’ ISBN metadata, and I’m hoping (but not expecting) that some book stores will honor that. Heck, it’d be the first time any of my books was available for an actual Amazon pre-order, if Amazon did. (Signs I’m a nothing-of-a-publisher: I don’t even have sufficient relationship with Amazon to get them to list my upcoming books for pre-sale. They’re either not in the system, or for sale.) When will I personally start selling/shipping the books? Meh. I don’t know. Some time after I receive them. My order will take a few days to print and a business week to ship, so I’ll probably have them by the 15th… Probably I’ll put up the Google Checkout ‘Add To Cart’ buttons as soon as I have the books on hand, and then no one will order them between then and 4/1/2011 so this question will be irrelevant.. Oh, well.
Oh, and on the subject of hand-selling books at Phoenix Comicon – I’ll probably also have mega-combo-deals again, then, like I did last year. Things like all 5 books in the Lost and Not Found universe for $50, or maybe the Starter Kit for $55. And the “all books from Modern Evil Press” option, of course. That’s 11 books (15 titles) whose cover prices total $158, and I’ll probably sell it for $125 or $135. Maybe less. And I’m thinking of running whatever sales/deals I offer at Comicon at modernevil.com for the duration of the con, so people who can’t make it to Phoenix can still get the deal (plus S&H).
I think that’s everything. Did I miss anything?
Update: For the purposes of the contest, if you wanted to blog about the new books coming out, you can link to either the Goodreads pages I linked to mid-post, or to the pages I just created for the books on modernevil.com. The First Untrue Trilogy, The Second Untrue Trilogy. Or both.