Thinking you need $250,000 to launch a book - aka Brandon Sanderson's Crowdfunder

Montero

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Yup, know there is a thread under Brandon Sanders from 2022 with everyone going "whoa" on the sums involved that he raised and a link over to John Scalzi's blog. This is less about the Crowdfunder, and more about being just fascinated by the concept of thinking you need $250,000 per book to do the editing, covers and presumably audiobook and the marketing of said book

a) At all - as in "how much per book??"
b) And that he thought he needed that much when he was already a big name
 
Maybe he intends to launch it into space?

For someone of his reputation doing his own books, he's going to want several levels or professional editing, and that can eat up cash. Covers could be several grand. Professionally producing an audiobook of a really long volume with someone good reading it would also take a lot of money. Plus (I presume) physical printing costs. $250k still seems a lot, though, and as you suggest, you wonder how much he would benefit from marketing, given his name.
 
Yup, know there is a thread under Brandon Sanders from 2022 with everyone going "whoa" on the sums involved that he raised and a link over to John Scalzi's blog. This is less about the Crowdfunder, and more about being just fascinated by the concept of thinking you need $250,000 per book to do the editing, covers and presumably audiobook and the marketing of said book

a) At all - as in "how much per book??"
b) And that he thought he needed that much when he was already a big name
When you're a big name, you only pay other big names, who charge obscene amounts of money. That's about the only justification I can see, given the plethora of relatively successful self-published authors who had no where near that amount of capital to launch their first, maybe any, of their books. Also, gatekeeping aka " If the traditionally published author self-publishes and even for them its so expensive, what hope does that give the little guy? ".

There's also the idea of relative success here. If Brandon Sanderson didn't spend 250k on his book, he'd see less of a return, even if the profit margin remained the same. Since he already makes alot, he needs to make alot on each book. For new authors, you could spend a small percentage of what he suggests and possibly get a higher margin of return, even if a lesser dollar value. Does that make sense??
 
With regards to the original Sanderson thread, I was under the impression that a lot of the money involved was required to print a catalogue of hardback editions, ready to ship out.
 
Presumably this is a figure that has been worked out in business terms, rather than something Brandon just thought up whilst soaking in the hot tub.
 
I dread to think of the logistics involved in something like these Kickstarters. It's not just the hardcover printing and postage (never underestimate the cost of postage!), but also the distribution the ebooks and making sure the emails arrive, plus other products/etc involved. Truly a business venture, not just a book launch.
 
In that blog by John Scalzi there are bits on the logistics in the comments section.
In the Wizard's Guide there are all sorts of people he thanks, most of whom seem to be employees.

I'm curious to know what the trad publisher's budgets might be for launching a newbie's novel, a midlist (if any still exist) and a big name one.
 
I dread to think of the logistics involved in something like these Kickstarters.

I feel for the authors or designers who use Kickstarter and fund a successful product, only for the costs to blow out once they go to production. I've had my fair share of Kickstarter disasters, and although all the backers and fans will cry "scammer", I do think most people go into crowdfunding with good intentions and just didn't expect costs to increase so dramatically, especially over the last few years.
 
I think that most self-published authors who have achieved a great success have had the disposable income (likely from a lucrative day job) to invest in producing and promoting their works in a way that isn't available to the average aspiring self-published writer. I am not talking about anything like hundreds of thousands of dollars or pounds, as with Sanderson's crowdfunder but enough to be out of reach for most of us.

We hear about someone who came out of nowhere as a self-published writer and quickly established a successful career. But what we don't usually hear about is the money they poured into establishing that career. I'm not saying that there wasn't talent or hard work involved as well, but that talent and hard work usually count for a lot more if backed up by sufficient financial resources. A new writer hears about these people and and thinks,"If they can do it why can't I?" (And the answer is maybe it's possible, but only with sufficient money and a gift for self-promotion. Without either of those things, it's highly, highly unlikely.)

A kickstarter of one kind or another is one way to get around the money problem, but surely that will only be successful for those who already have a following—either from previous books published, or as a popular blogger, or whatever. For newcomers, the most likely result is disappointment all around.
 
I think its being run like a show, not just a simple book release. This isn't something that starts out slow but arrives full blown with parades and first day (anticipated) big sales numbers. At least 1 writer, many editors of various fields, technicians, actors for the audio book, publicity services, assorted workers. Printing the book is probably the easiest part of the whole operation. Besides that, 250,000 isn't that much anymore.
 
Having launched 0 books, i'll do a lot of heavy quoting and cribbing.

If you're interested in publishing and not listening to Publishing Rodeo, do yourself a favor and get on that. (Publishing Rodeo Podcast) Doesn't matter if it's trad or self, it's worthwhile and they've had everyone from Michael J Sullivan to Kameron Hurley on. Really good listen.

For costs purposes, let's say the book is 150,000 words and he plans to print 100k copies.

Editing, copy-editing and the rest will run high -- .3-.4/ word, all in. That's a serious number at a Sanderson level except that he has full time, in-house editors on his staff. How that aligns, i have no clue.

One time cost. $60k at the high end for a 150k book
Adds $1.6 per unit cost

Ebook cost is negligible outside of readying a book for physical publication (formats are largely duplicative). One time cost. Custom formatting and QC, $5,000

Adds $0.50 per unit cost

Audiobook can be $500-$2000/hr for the narrator (RC Bray, Ray Porter, etc, are going to be on the high end) (Per, Publishing Rodeo, the success of Craig Alanson's Expeditionary Force books let RC Bray triple his /hour cost). Assumes 9300 words/hour, so 16 hours for a 150,000 word book = $8k - $32k. One time cost.

Adds various amount to launch and I don't see easy data on his reader format breakouts.

Marketing -- Black hole! ARC's and other items are helpful for less well known authors. For someone of Sanderson's level... ??

Physical cost of publishing & Shipping
Per the two major articles on Sanderson, he has an entire crew working for him and they're shipping items, but printing is variable and commodity price driven (what's the price of paper?) If we estimate 300 words/page, that's a 500 page book. Going for the high end of costs, I'm using GateKeeperPress.com rates for 100k printings, and find the cost is .039/page or about $20/unit for a hardcover printing, and $22/unit after shipping.

Total per unit cost
Editing: 1.6
ebook: .50
Physical: 22
Total: $24.1/unit exclusive of marketing and audio format.

Cost for 100,000 physical copies at launch: $240,000


The physical publishing and shipping costs are ~90% of the total costs (anyone looking at Trad Publishing and wondering why word count is such a big deal, here you go). To be clear, i think these costs are very high for someone of Sanderson's level--he's not publishing 100k copies and having an in-house editor and publishing multiple books a year means he can spread the cost of a salary out across multiple projects. But also, it means he's launching with 100k copies! That feels like a problem ("problem") he shares with Scalzi, Stephen King and a few other authors!

On the negative side, in house, full time employees means he has hard costs and there's overhead whether the book sells or not.

TLDR: i get where he came up with the 250k price tag for a launch.
 

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