The Secret Life Of An Indie Publisher – The Cost Of Publishing

The Alt World Studios Publishing Engine

The Alt World Studios Publishing Engine

Welcome to my second installment of the Secret Life Of An Indie Publisher, where I take you into the murky waters that we Indie Creators inhabit and peek behind the scenes of what a very (very) small press gets up too. As I write stories, create characters, pull together publications, work with artists and from time to time illustrate my own work.

In our last installment I talked about Why I Create, in this installment I take a look at the Cost Of Publishing – inspired by a Facebook post I saw last night complaining about the price of Indie books. After all we are a total unknown, we are selling a property that isn’t mainstream, has no brand history and most likely doesn’t even tell a story with Superheroes in it. Just why are we more expensive than mainstream books?

Out Of The Attic Comic BooksQuantity

One of the biggest reasons most Indie Publishers cannot compete on price is because of cost per unit, we simply do not have the demand to make large print runs a practical application (and in my case the storage either). You see, Printers work on a simple equation, the more you print, the more you save per unit. It costs the Printer just the same amount to produce one printed book as it does to print 1000. This is why the more you print, the more you save, which in turn drives down the price per book.

Without the advent of digital printing and Print-On-Demand services like CreateSpace most of my books would not even be produced in print, because I could not afford the upfront fees for a traditional print run of say 2000 books, (the wife would kill me).

Tristan the Teddy Bear and the Cuddly Defenders Comic: Out Of The Attic 2The Hidden Cost

At this point I am talking from my own experience, which may not be typical to other Indie Creators that I know. I am primarily a writer, than illustrator (although I can draw) and many other Indie Creators write and draw their own work – so their costs may be different. Over the last four years I have published just under a dozen books, of which three were just prose and the rest were illustrated, or comic books. During this time I’ve worked with series of Artists all of which I take great pride in paying, (exposure doesn’t pay the bills.) So the first hurdle for any publisher is the production costs of their work.

Here is a ballpark breakdown costs of my latest comic: Tristan & the Cuddly Defenders: Out Of The Attic Two

Artists = $1800
Writers=$150
Production=$1000 (basically free because it was me, but we needed to put monetary costs here)
Printing=$357
Total=$3307

Now I ran a Kickstarter to fund this comic book, but I was not kidding when I said in the campaign details every cent went to pay the creative talent. I’m not going to make production costs a huge issue because it is still tiny compared to say how much a Big Two (Marvel or DC) production team would get. However, it is a factor when deciding the price.

Big Time Heroes: Forrest & Scout - Art By Keir Knikia LylesThis Is How It Is

There you go, that is Cost Of Publishing for an Indie Creator like me. My books and my comics are not cheap to make, I can’t bury costs and all my projects work like an interlinked chain, each one paying for the next book in line, So please support your local Indie!

Paying $5 – $6 for an Indie Comic or Book is probably the greatest thing you can do, you may not realize it, but as an Indie Creator I can never express my gratitude sincerely enough in your supporting of our stories and our art. It really does make our day to see some one show faith in our stories that they want to part with their hard-earned money to read them.

After all that $5 (with me) gets you a full-color 28 or 32 page adventure comic, packed full of story and no adverts for Snickers, Cars, Games etc… The Big Two, Image, IDW or Dark Horse cannot match price that content wise.

So make an Indie Creators day, buy their book, tell them you loved it, tell your friends and family that you loved it and encourage them to pick up a copy, and then come back for our next issue.

Only you can keep the creative spirit alive and for that I thank you all.

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About Nick

Just an Englishman lost in the USA who happens to write now and again... Anyone got a cup of tea?

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