Ground on which we cannot stand

In doing some research on the conceptual and postmodern I came a cross a useful and honest site that offers information up for the serious artist and writer. Here is an example of the kind of thing you will find under marketing research. Not sure where it leaves our/your perception of Deerbrook but we don’t really have any illusions about what we are doing as publishers, what to expect, and how imagination and work does or does not correlate with business these days. This sites author is experienced an informed. The link is provided at the end.




The first thing to establish is the market. How many people are likely to be interested in your book, and how could you convince them to buy?
Take the first. Who actually wants to buy a new collection of poems, or yet another first novel? You can make some rough guesses by:
1. Talking to booksellers or publishers about sales figures.
2. Placing an advert on eBay or in a specialist magazine. Or by using pay-by-click promotion on a website specially created to sell your work. You don’t have to deliver a yet-to-be-written book, but you can note the interest. No inquiries, no interest.
3. Reading the trade news.

Having now guess-estimated likely sales, and an acceptable price for the book, you now have a notional sum to accommodate all the other items that have to be paid for, i.e:
1. Your time in writing (and marketing) the work.
2. Photocopying and postage of the MS.
3. Page layout, proof-reading and editing.
4. Design of book cover.
5. Printing costs.
6. Delivery and warehousing charges.
7. Costs of press releases, trade adverts, publishing launches, travel to bookshops and talk centres.
Next comes your time. You’ll probably have a day job: how many of your evenings and weekends can you reasonably devote to the project, and when would it be sensible to hand over to professionals with skills you can’t match or acquire?
Publishing is no different from any other business, and projects fail for the same reasons: under-funding, over-optimistic hopes, insufficiently researched markets, poor implementation and/or financial control. But many companies that are now household names began with a plan that was presented not dozens but hundreds of times to skeptical businessmen and funding institutions. Persistence does pay off, and what was difficult at first becomes second nature.

book buyers percents
You’ll appreciate the difficulties if you look at matters from the publisher’s perspective.
Dan Poynter {1} quotes a publisher’s survey of 1988, where the average fiction book took 475 hours to write, publisher’s average annual sales were $420,000, and staff worked 50 hours a week. Putting that together, we find the average small publisher produced 4.7 books/year, for an average revenue per book of $89,400. Even if royalties were 10% and there were no book returns, and rewriting was only done once— all rather unlikely— the author would have written at 295 words an hour to turn out two books yearly and earn royalties of $18,000 a year. Such examples come from popular or mass-market fiction, which accounts for 53.3% of book sales. Literary fiction, together with poetry and art books, accounts for only 3.3% of book sales. {2} Given that the average first novel, favourably reviewed in leading newspapers, will sell a few thousand copies over its total shelf life, {3} it is obvious why publishers don’t rush to fill their lists with new names, and indeed look after only that small percentage of writers that pay their salaries. {4} Much more dismal are the earnings from poetry publishing. A few specialist publishers (e.g. Anvil, Carcanet, Bloodaxe) do turn in respectable figures, but in general poetry is not handled at all (the great majority, e.g. Corgi, Harper Collins, Hodder and Stoughton), is subsidized by sales elsewhere (e.g. Faber and Faber, Peter Owen, OUP) or supported by regional grants (e.g. Peterloo). {5} But what about academia, where talent is rewarded and protected? Here is a breakdown of sales by Cambridge University Press in 1998: {6}
Number of titles offered: 13,500.
Annual Revenues: $60 million.
Titles selling less than 100 copies/year: 8,000.
Titles selling less than 10 copies/year: 2,000.
Average number of copies sold/title: 32.
Number of new titles: 1,500
Number of titles discontinued: 1,300
When you’re considering writing up that specialist interest, you might remember these figures, do some research on Amazon, and recall that academic books are often subsidized anyway-a subject of anguished debate in academic sites and blogs.

I think that the advice and recommendations for writers, and for other artists, is realistic and eventually shall offer links on our site under submission guidelines.

Thanks for stopping by. We may or may not sprinkle in the expected images just to make it pretty.

Books 4 sale at Deerbrook.


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