Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The finance of self-publishing.

It may be possible that some folks might want to know if self-publishing can be turned into a profit generating enterprise. Here's some numbers to show you that it's not a viable source of income. Writing is a great way to crystallize your thoughts and commit yourself to a regime. It also gives you some credibility that can reinforce your resume.

In summary, benefits are largely indirect unless you can parley your fame into a seminar or some training courses, then books can be a source of income from back room sales and training fees.

My first book, "Growing your Tree of Prosperity" ( Still available at Borders Wheelock place and Kinokuniya at Bugis ) is priced at about $18. My cost price is about $6200. Author's margins are low at about 40%. So my profit per book is $1. I used a publisher to do the rest of my work and although they did an admirable job, my book had no editing and my distributor then did not formalize a distribution contract. These were learning experiences for me. Despite the bad grammar, my first books sold well and people still write to me to talk about it.

My Second book, "Harvesting the Fruits of Prosperity" ( All Kino and Borders outlets ) has to be priced higher at about $24 as it was a bigger book. My cost was lower about $5,000 because this time I hired my own cover layout and editing so margins were higher. The book was a lot more abstract with more powerful investment ideas and had professional editing. But this book has yet to break even. Perhaps the cover looked too much like a cookbook or people actually wanted to read "Singaporean English".

My third book, "Sowing the Seeds of Prosperity" ( Available almost everywhere ) is priced at about $21 and this time, I did my own cover design and layout. As I only paid for editing and printing, I was able to reduce my costs to about $3,800. This time, I wrote an entry level book with the readers in mind and kept financial intelligence to a unique framework. This time, I think I got the margins right.

All in all, its hard to predict how my books will fare over the next few weeks. Hopefully the added exposure in the media will help spur sales and I see Popular bookstore starting to give my books better shelf space.

You guys can do the maths, most local authors should not print too many copies as it would be hard to sell them all off and the margins are razor thin with $5 being the best case scenario.

Book royalties will generally not make you rich. You are far better off trying to invest your money in the markets for better returns.


  1. Hi Christopher,

    Thanks for sharing on publishing and margins. Very enlightening indeed!

    I guess unless you are Adam Khoo, it's probably very hard to sell many copies of your book as they have to compete with other authors (local and international) as well.


  2. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Although self-publishing didn't triple the figures of your bank account, i'm sure the risk was worth the experience--priceless.

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