The difference between making a book and selling a book

Nature, Solitude, and MemoryLet me begin by saying two things: a) I made a book because it was something I wanted to do and b) There is a huge difference between making a book and selling a book.

Having said that, let me introduce myself. I am sin (prefer small ‘s’ to capital ‘S”), I consider myself an artist and I have been drawing for many years.

I have always wanted to publish a collection of my own drawings, so one day I brought my entire folio and went to approach a publisher of local art books if I could get my book published. However, they wanted me to produce a long list of things (a proposal, a CV, a foreword amongst other things like digital copies of my drawings). I wouldn’t say they were unreasonable, but two things I did not want in my book were my CV and a foreword by some credible authority. As a result, I decided to use my own money to print my book.

The processes are fairly simple. Firstly, I selected what I considered to be drawings which represent my artistic development over the years and of course these are what I consider the best selection from my folio as well. After that, I sat down at a café and asked myself what these drawings are really about, before I came up with the title ‘Nature, Solitude, and Memory’. Once the drawings and title had been decided, I arranged the drawings in a different file according to the page numbers I want them to appear. Then, I started looking online for various printers. I went down to talk to two printers I considered, and eventually settled on Eventus. We talked about costs, design, and choice of papers. At the same time that I was still negotiating with the printers, I emailed NLB for an ISBN. Once these were settled, I told the printer to start printing.

Okay – so after two weeks or thereabouts I had 1000 copies of my very own book, for $5350. I started looking for distributors, but the only one I could find was Asia Book Distributors. Although they did not agree to help me sell my book, they were very nice people. I had to start distributing my books myself and I approached various bookstores. The VivoCity Page One manager also turned down my book, but he was very nice as well. Eventually, I got about seven places to help me sell my book. Among these are Select Books and Cats Socrates. Others include Books Actually, Casual Poet, La Libreria, Black Market, and Post Museum.

Now let’s do a bit of maths.

If you are using your own money to produce your own book, the cost of production is usually quite high, and all bookstores usually ask for at least 35% of your selling price. So suppose my selling price is $10, my cost price is already $5.35 and the bookstores are getting $4, so I earn only $0.65 for every copy sold even though I am selling at 200% of the cost price. Eventually, I priced my book at $16. Yes, it’s a bit high, I know.

So far, I’m sad to confess that not a single stranger has bought my book yet, but from people that I know, I have recouped about $600 back out of the $5350 that I spent. (One was a lecturer who paid $500 for 25 copies of them; I gave him 28 copies if I remember correctly.)

And the difference between making a book and selling a book is this:

Making a book is about doing what you want, not what bookstore owners or consumers want. You would usually lose money rather than make a profit. Selling a book is about what will sell, including everything down to choice of paper, cover, content, thickness etc.

So you decide.


moon’s note: So what are you guys waiting for? Go check out sin’s book! =3