I will begin with a disclaimer. This post is not about promoting my book that I self published. I just want to share the mechanics behind it and the economic incentive or the absolute lack of it.
I and four of my friends went on a road trip to Leh and the book was kind of an amateurish photo journal. I did not know why I wrote, but that trip was something I thought I should pen down and I wanted to relieve some kind of nostalgia ,so that when I reach some stage in life and look back, I will be nothing but some total of my experiences and I had wanted to evidence that experience.
The process was something like this
It is really simple and at the end of it, I liked the smell of what I had in my hand.
The content creation or the manuscript was the toughest part. I woke up at 5:00 AM in the morning from July 7th to July 31st 2012 and wrote non-stop for an hour.  After that I established contact with the publisher and this process of getting the book out take longer than expected. For my good fortune, the hard disk in which the publisher had this manuscript had crashed and I had to re-work with the publisher. I had wanted a Diwali release, then I pushed to Christmas release, then I pushed to Pongal/Sankranti release and finally the book came out in sometime in March 2013. By that time I had resigned to the fate of just getting the damned thing out. To be frank, my initial enthusiasm had waned by the time, the book came out. I am kind of summarizing the lessons learnt at the end of this post, but I did maintain a good relation with the publisher and for an amateur, the courtesy extended by the publisher was reasonable. Also, the entire transactions happened over email exchanges, without a single phone call. Oh God, I do love these kinds of transactions.
Here comes the Maths
Cost of Publishing including 35 soft bound and 5 bound hard copies for known circles and preservation for nostalgic purposes. 4 copies of book have to go to authorities for safe keeping so that they can issue an ISBN. Books printed by me on demand come at actual cost
Rs 53786.00
Cost of getting the epub and kindle formats
Rs 31200.00
Google Adwords for two months
Rs 2000.00
Total Cost of Publishing
Rs 86986.00
Next comes the real fun. Below follows the royalty report from the publisher.
Total Units Sold
Total Units Paid for
Total Units not paid for
2 (Publisher has not received the money from online distributor)
Total Author Earnings
Payment Details
To be Issued J
Here comes some background
MRP of the book
Rs 990
Discounted Price from the publisher
Rs 750
Cost to print the book (Owing to the photographs)
Rs 490
Distribution cost for the publisher
Rs 150
Author earning per book
Rs 110
Rs 990 was very expensive was the feedback I got and the author earning per book goes to Rupees 5 when sold through  online book stores. I had two orders from flipkart and no one knows how to transfer rupees 10 to me yet.
I made the ipad and kindle versions of the book and offered it for $2.99 in Amazon. I have had 3 sales till now and this is a scheme in which Amazon takes 70% of the value and some holds back around 30% of the remaining amount as withholding tax under some kind of trade agreements between India and US !!. In net, it amounts to $0.61 and Amazon is having some hard time getting that $0.61 into my account.
Well anyone, who has crossed 2ndstandard maths, can figure out the return on investment on this venture. Since I have not received any cash till now, it tends towards negative infinity which probably is not all that bad 🙂.
How did I feel?
Well first things first. I did not expect to make any money and I do not have any disappointments there.
However, I was not without disappointments. I thought I will be able to reach at-least hundred people and I reached twenty five. The number of hundred came from my calculation of a term that I had discovered called ESN (Effective Social Networth). More about it in a later post.
As far as the quality of the book itself, I did not receive any adverse feedback. Since most of the copies were read by people close to me, I guess they chose not to hurt my efforts or feelings. I understand, respect and appreciate that.
I did receive some hand written and email feedback from people who were completely unrelated to me. They did have some nice things to say or in other words did not have anything bad to say.
In that sense, I just patted my back saying, Well ‘For a first timer, it is just about ok’. If my Appa was around, he would have been delighted and also kind of subtly given some actionable feedback. I was and am unlucky there.
My kind of summarized lessons are as follows
·        If you want to write, go ahead and just do it. Technology has empowered anyone to write. If I can get away with it, you too can and you can be more successful.
·       Do remember this. Take end to end ownership. At some part, I just gave up and wanted the book to come out. At hindsight, it could have been better with one more round of editing. In that sense hold on to the leash tightly and be very focused on the last mile. Focusing on the finishing is as important as the start.
·      The thread from start to finish has to be held together by you. During the iterations, do listen to good feedback, but do not get swayed too much by opinions. You do not want the integrity of your work to be taken away.
·       Find that peaceful hour and set the pace. Once you are in the zone, you would want to be in that zone and once you experience what happens in that zone, you probably want to continue to be in that zone. Looking back, the daily one hour early morning ritual that I had set for myself helped me realize two things. I can experience ‘flow’ states and though I do not do it often now, I can get back into flow states.
·      Failures are a way to keep you going. Empirically my first attempt at writing would be classified as a failure and I accept that , but emotionally it was a success for me.
Stay Tuned.
Have Fun.
Expect my second go at this shortly.
I am in a race against time.