Self Publishing: Book Size and Prices

I’m still examining the option of Self Publishing. It looks more and more feasible.

Today, I’m thinking about book size and price.

A Path of Stones is 160,000 words. That’s slim for a fantasy novel these days. In fact, keeping it short was one of my primary goals. There are two major complaints among us fantasy fans: the books are too fat, and the story is all about saving the world. Not mine!

Still, 160,000 words equals 500 pages. Certainly, that is 12 point, double spaced, 8×11 paper. Standard draft format. I reformatted it for a 6×9 book (when I was an editor, I always loved formatting), 11 point type, 1.5 line spacing, standard commercial margins of .75 inches top and outside, with .85 at the bottom and 1 for the gutter. Tonight, I will sit down with several commercially published novels and measure the margins and type size, so this is just an estimate. Even with the reformatting, the book comes out to 500 pages.

500 pages isn’t that fat, compared to something like George R. R. Margin’s A Dance with Dragons, but it’s overweight compared to anything in Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, or Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, and the Aura Lockhaven Chronicles more parallels the last two than any epic fantasy.

I thought about splitting A Path of Stones in half, to make the book slimmer and more affordable. There is an excellent place to do so right around page 245. Perfect. So, how would two books stack up compared to one, in terms of price per unit?

Lulu has a pricing calculator. I can’t find CreateSpace’s, but if I Self Publish, Lulu will handle the hardback option as CreateSpace doesn’t offer one. So, this is a far calculation.

A 500 page 6×9 hardback published on Lulu is $ 22.65, cost. The paperback version is $ 8.00. I’m thinking of sticking with a low royalty rate, to keep the price lower and move books. So, that would be a hardback of $ 27 and a paperback of $ 12. I could round it up to $ 30 and $ 15 respectively and still not be a greedy little hermit.

That isn’t bad, really. But what if I cut A Path of Stones in half?

The hardback would be $ 17.95, while the paperback would be $ 6.25. With my royalties, that is $ 21 and $ 9 respectively.

I don’t know about you, but a 250 page hardback at $ 21 seems like a rip off compared to a 500 page hardback at $ 27, or even $ 30. That paperback however, takes me back to the early 1990s.

The lower prices would move more books. Also, by splitting the book in half, I would double my royalties because I’d be selling two instead of just one. In other words, I’d make $ 6 for the same story instead of a mere $ 3. And at the lower prices, I’m likely to attract more readers and buyers. There is some good business sense in this idea.

I don’t know about ebooks. Those tend to be almost giveaways, even with steep royalties added on.

There is another consideration. The spine. I am concerned that at 500 pages, the paperback would split anyway — literally. Even the best paperback spines are not as invulnerable as their hardback counterparts. At 250 pages, the book is likely to last more than one reading.

Of course, this would mean I freak out my poor artist. “Dude, I need four covers instead of two.” If I split the first book, then I definitely split the second, thicker, book. And I have to buy twelve ISBNs total (it seems better for me to buy my own and be listed as the publisher, than take the free options offered by Lulu and CreateSpace and have them listed as the publishers).

Just more things to think about.

 

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