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Monday, Aug. 13, 2007 at 4:31 pm

I’ll Pay for Lunch

By Mike Drew
August 13th, 2007

I recently shared lunch with my good friend and business associate, Ray Bard. Ray is the monumentally successful mastermind behind the Bard Press publishing house where I worked from 1999-2002. We established a great dialog during my stint there and try to get together as often as possible to trade war stories about current projects and the state of affairs in the Big Bad Book Industry.

We spent most of this particular lunch discussing the challenges faced by today’s publishers. (This Brand Autopsy post should shed some light.) Ray used industry averages to illustrate just how it’s become critical for publishers to be extremely selective with the authors they choose to bring on board.

Here’s how those averages break down on a per-book basis, for those with the gag tolerance to stomach the facts:

Retail price = $20

  • Trade discount to bookstores: $ 10
  • Co-op displays at bookstores: $ 2
  • Distributor cut (15%): $ 3
  • Author royalties (15%): $ 3
  • Printing costs: $ 2

Left for publisher = $0

Nice margin, isn’t it? I’m not positive, but I think convicts make more in prison.

So how do publishing houses like Bard Press survive? By holding out for authors who have either the money or the over-the-top marketing platform to make a serious run at the bestseller lists.

I can always tell when Ray finds an author with bestselling potential. At the end of those lunches, he’s a lot quicker to reach for the tab.

[Author's Note: Read more about selecting the right authors in my article, A Few Good Books: Just Say 'No!' to Authors without Healthy Marketing Platforms.”]

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Comments (3)

  1. [...] Crum Phillip’s Ponderings Maybe it needs to stay there. Or maybe you need to self-publish!! This blog post by Mike Drew gives you a really good idea why you have only two real chances to get a book published through [...]

  2. Haha I have been on both sides of that lunch. When you see value you go for it, and when you are valued you can really tell!

  3. Get him to take you out to lunch next time haha!

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Michael R. Drew, a veteran of the book industry, joined Executive Excellence in 1997 as Publicist and Special Sales Coordinator. In 1999, he moved to Bard Press, where he served as Publicity, Special Sales, and Events Coordinator. When Bard Press was sold, he became Marketing Director for Bard Press/Longstreet Press. As Marketing Director, Mike most recently worked for Entrepreneur Press, which is owned by the publisher of Entrepreneur Magazine. Owner of Promote A Book, Inc., Mike is a book marketing and promotion specialist. Mike can tell you just what all the marvelous benefits are that you will get from becoming the author of a bestselling book; selling a lot of books is just the beginning. He can also tell you about the four ways of reaching any of the bestseller lists. Mike has played a key role in creating 36 national bestsellers, including— The Makers Diet by Jordan Rubin (Silaom, 2004); spent 16 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and hit the USA Today best sellers list Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by Harv T. Eker (HarperBusiness, 2005); New York Times #1 Business Bestseller, USA Today Money Bestseller, Wall Street Journal #1 Business Bestseller, The New York Times Advice/How To List, USA Today Top 50 Bestseller List, Wall Street Journal Non-fiction List, and BusinessWeek Magazine Bestseller.) The Little Book that Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt (Wiley, 2005); hit The New York Times Advice/How To List, The New York Times Business List, the USA Today Top 150 Bestseller List, the USA Today Money List, The Wall Street Journal Non-fiction List, and The Wall Street Journal Business List, and BusinessWeek Bestsellers List.) The Millionaire Maker’s Guide to Wealth Cycle Investing by Loral Lengemeier (McGraw-Hill, 2006); hit The New YorkTimes, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists two weeks in a row. The Millionaire Maker by Loral Lengemeier (McGraw-Hill, 2005); hit The New YorkTimes, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists two weeks in a row. Bag the Elephant: How to Win and Keep Big Customers by Steven M. Kaplan (Bard Press, 2005); hit the New York Times Advice/How to list, the New York Times Business list, the USA Today Top 150 bestseller list, the USA Today Money list, the Wall Street Journal Non-fiction and the Wall Street Journal business list, BusinessWeek Bestsellers list. Masters of Networking: Building Relationships for Your Pocketbook and Soul by Ivan R. Misner and Don Morgan (Bard Press, 2000); hit the New York Times and Wall Street Journal business bestseller lists. Mike won the PMA Benjamin Franklin Award for Excellence and Innovation in Marketing with this book, and broke the Guiness World Record for most book signings in more than one city on the same day, 56.

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