Saturday, 1 May 2010

Enforced Weight-Gain / Enforced Price-Hike: Avarice in Publishing and Other Chubby Subjects

Dieting and exercise had been her life - but her stepmother never approved of a career in fashion cat-walk modeling in any case!


A straight-jacket and a box of chocs! An intriguing little pic I stumbled upon recently that reminded me of a certain section of the new volume that I have part-written - albeit in a fragmented form – and that I have neglected of late. Note to self: Get it finished!!!

The point is; the whole thing - the above text and pic – makes for a nice, if a little diffuse, allegory for the behavior of Lulu (the self-publishing bunch through whom my books are currently distributed). For a long while Lulu charged a flat per download for electronic PDF versions of books. The difference between that fee and the price charged to readers – which the author gets to choose – is the amount the writer receives as a royalty or payment. Fine! It was fine as far as I was concerned even when they upped that fee by around ninety – odd percent a while back. All seemed to have been stable in terms of charges for quite some time; i was happy with my share and did not want to charge my readers any more than absolutely necessary to make it worth my while (which strictly speaking, from a purely economic standpoint it isn't) – which is why I always encourage folk to purchase electronic downloads. As you may or may not know, I have been tweaking volume 2 for some time in preparation for assigning it an ISBN so as to distribute it via Amazon, Waterstones and the like and also to make it available to the Google Book-Search engine. To these ends, to make it more visible to the various search engines (volume 1 is near-on invisible to Amazon's search engine, which by default searches book titles for entered key-words) I have gone in for a little bit of 'search engine optimization' by way of including a rich mix of key words in sentence form (so Google doesn't recognize it as what it is – a list of key words) at the top of each chapter heading page. Having completed that task I had then to replace the existing file on Lulu's site – and all went well on that front. But lo and behold! It now turns out the whole pricing structure has changed (if I had known beforehand I wouldn't have bothered). Not content with collecting their flat fee (which is still levied), the folk at Lulu now want to take a proportion of the 'profit' on top of that fee (a proportion, mind you i.e a percentage!). The long-shot of all this is; in order to receive the same amount per download as before (not a fortune - and neither is there the volume of sales through that channel to offset that fact) I have been forced to increase the price. Not merely by the shortfall though – because Lulu takes a percentage of the profit, their chunk goes up along with any increase one instigates. The long and short of this latter point is that the price-hike is substantial – I now have to price INSTITUTIONALISED volume 2 at £4.95 per download or £9.95 per print copy. This goes against all my principles and further more compromises the original intentions I had when I set out writing (largely for my own amusement but also to fill a hole in the genre). INSTITUTIONALISED volume 1 remains the same price (and hopefully always will) and in addition I hope to have some exciting news regarding volume 1 next time (I'd hoped to have space to tell you this time, but I got side-tracked).


summertime75 said...

I can see the problem, but if the majority of people who purchase your books do so by electronic download why not cut out the middle mad and sell the PDF file direct to your reading public?

Toyntanen said...

Yes, perhaps that's the way forward - though I'm not quite sure how to go about it. I'm loath to spend too much time on marketing, publicity and so on, though, as it can quickly begin to erode the time I have available for writing and I am bursting with ideas at the moment which I want to get down, at least in rough, before they go out of my head and / or I lose enthusiasm - as happens from time to time. Besides; I have another card up my sleeve which I am holding back on revealing until all is finalised... quite exciting though!

summertime75 said...

There seems to be plenty of publicity on the blog, I wouldn't have seen either book on Lulu without first seeing it on The Institute and then here. All you need is a Paypal account to receive the payments. Do Lulu actually do any marketing?

Toyntanen said...

Hi Summertime75. Do Lulu actually do any marketing? Hmmmm! Well, not that you'd notice. Actually it's quite interesting what you have to say about having discovered the books through 'The Institute' site (not mine) and the blog. The whole point of the blog, originally - apart from garnering new ideas, inspiration, insight and criticism (all vital) - was to make the work more visible. I have to say that a lot of volume 1, in terms of the writing, originated with my partner (the ideas were all mine) and it was she who made contact with the guy who runs 'The Institute' - without the support of whom the whole project might well have sunk without trace. The 'other half' pulled out way back; thus the pace of writing dropped off but the ideas continue to develop.

Yes I have a PayPal account but I wouldn't know how to automate things. I own both the copyright and the ISBN, so no problems there (though assigning an ISBN to volume 2 - one of a block of ten I purchased from Lulu - has proved problematic). Not the an ISBN is necessarily that important - but it is nice to know a record exists of the work somewhere.

I guess what you are getting at is the idea that readers would send payment to PayPal and in return I would then forward a PDF copy by email.

Orage said...

"I guess what you are getting at is the idea that readers would send payment to PayPal and in return I would then forward a PDF copy by email."
Exactly! I think it would be a good idea.

rex_talbot said...

Selling books & downloads via your site using Paypal is vry easy. There are a number of 'buy now' buttons available to use on Paypal which are very easy to setup.

Emailing the book as a PDF *may* be problematic because many email systems have a limit on the size of incoming emails and a PDF of a book is quite a big file.

Another option is to look at Smashwords which will convert your book into all eBook reader formats and you can sell through there.

If you bought the set of 10 UK ISBNs from Lulu then they are yours to do with as you wish and there should be no problem about using them BUT you will hav eto register the details with Bowker and Gartners for it to get onto the booksellers lists.

Its a problem getting it into Waterstones because of their internal distribution issues which are ongoing. They'll want at least 55% of your cover price and for you to accept sale or return, which means you'll have to have hardcopies available to send to Gartners if they order - factor in postage costs -- contact me for more info rex_talbot @ yahoo dot com