Every title an investment

This article is an excerpt from the MAI webinar by Yna Reyes on “Publishing Program Planning: The hows, whys and whos of what books to publish.”

Every book that your publishing house decides to develop will require publishing funds. Every title is an investment. Especially for those of us with limited publishing funds, every publishing venture presents a challenge and a risk. Therefore, as much as possible, we need to make sure that every new book project is financially viable.

However, if it is intentional on your part to publish a book that will not sell as fast as your other titles, but which you believe addresses a pressing need of a particular market segment in your country, you should be able to justify the decision to publish; and be prepared for just a breakeven, or even a loss.

Tips on how to manage your publishing funds:

  • Work within your publishing budget for the fiscal year.budget expenses
  • Based on your publishing budget, determine the number of titles you can afford to publish for the year. Be realistic.
  • Set a budget for every title in your publishing plan. Your budget will determine the specifications of the book (book size; number of pages, paper stock; binding; quantity to print)
  • Set a 1-year target sales for every new book in your list. How many copies do you expect to sell? How much are the equivalent total sales?
  • Determine a retail price for the book that will cover author’s royalties, production expenses, marketing expense, discounts for booksellers, and still allow for a modest profit margin.

As most of us work with limited publishing funds, we need to carefully select which titles to prioritize.

Questions to help us prioritize:

  • What are the gaps in our present publishing list?
  • What market segments have been underserved in previous years?
  • What new titles did well in previous years and created a demand for similar titles? Perhaps you can develop a line for these books.
  • What will surely sell? You will need sure sellers not just for one year, but for many years – to serve as your “bread and butter” titles that will generate the income you can use to develop more books. For example, The Purpose Driven Life has remained the No. 1 bestseller for us for many years, and has generated huge income that allowed us to not just publish more books but open our own retail stores.

As publishers, we need to be faithful stewards of the resources available to us. Therefore we do not engage in vanity publishing, but in intentional and transformational publishing. Each title we publish should be carefully selected, prayed about, and wisely budgeted.

Yna Reyes is a children’s author and the editorial director of OMF Literature, the largest Christian publishing house in the Philippines. She has led training for editors in multiple countries. Yna is also a Trustee of MAI-Asia.

Photo above courtesy Stuart Miles, Freedigitalphotos

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