Some friends and I have been discussing the possibility of producing a fantasy anthology. Creating a quality anthology requires a business-like approach, since there are real costs that have to be accommodated. I did some preliminary figures on doing the anthology in both print and ebook (Kindle). I’m assuming some sort of IndieGoGo campaign to fund the anthology.
Consider an anthology in trade paperback (like the ones I’ve seen people selling at Capclave). Figure 250 pages at 250 words per page for 62,500 words. At 2 cents a word, the writers would get $1250. At the standard pro rate of 6 cents per word, writers would get $3750. Now figure on getting a real cover for $250. And some professional graphic design work (interior and cover) for a $100. And professional editing for $800.
The minimum figure to create the anthology is $2400, paying all involved parties at least something, and paying the authors an initial 2 cents a word. But that’s not quite the end of the expenses. (The fully price to pay the standard pro rate of 6 cents a word would take us to $4900.)
There’s a cost associated with producing the books, and it’s a little hard to calculate because it’s different for print vs. ebooks. Let’s assume that the IndieGoGo campaign sells books/ebooks at a 1/3 ratio. Ebooks cost nothing to produce. Let’s assume that they can be sold for $4.99. Amazon will take it’s 30%, or basically $1.50, leaving $3.49 profit per ebook.
Printed books, on the other hand, require some fixed costs to produce. For a $14.99 book, you’re looking at about $6 to produce the book. Amazon will take 30% of the sale price, or about $5 (rounding up). So that leaves $3.99. However, the books need to be shipped, which is an additional cost. So, the IndieGoGo campaign would need to add about $3 per printed book for shipping.
Getting back to our projected ratio of one print book for every three ebooks, the numbers look like this for the minimum funding level:
161 print books
This can be ameliorated a bit by adding an option so that anybody that buys a print edition can get the ebook for just a dollar more. If we assume that half of the buyers of the print edition buy also opt to buy the ebook, then the numbers look like:
78 print book only
78 print book + ebook
This can be adjusted even more by emailing the ebooks rather than sending them via Amazon. The buyers would also have to get instructions on how to get the ebook to their Kindle readers (a solvable problem). That increases the margin on ebooks from $3.49 to $4.99, and on the dollar-extra-special from 70 cents to the whole dollar. Our numbers then become:
61 print book only
61 print book + ebook
So, these numbers assume that we’ve priced everything as shown below:
$14.99 Trade Paperback (signed)
$15.99 Trade Paperback (signed) + Ebook
I’ll have to think about other levels we might offer prospective supporters. This will require more research to see what other IndieGoGo or KickStarter campaigns have done in the past.
Bear in mind that some of these figures need a good bit more work, but they’re in the ballpark. There are still things that can potentially be done, such as:
Higher prices for “more stuff”…e.g. – the extra levels that any good campaign should have. Getting mentioned in the book as a supporter, a major supporter, etc. Any extra levels that get bought can reduce the effort necessary to crack the nut (as long as the costs for extra levels are controlled).
Reduce production costs. If the cover, graphic services or editing can be done for less, then that helps. Except that a certain level of quality is mandated in order to attract buyers.
Pay less for stories. The downside is that this reduces the level of story submissions (and our minimum level is 2 cents a word, which is also going to hurt).
Offer zero pay for key authors in return for an unlimited upside, i.e. – the selected authors become “partners” in the anthology and reap any long-term gains from the anthology. Basically, trading short-term reduction in cost for potential long-term gain. Problematic, since most writers want to get paid.
Anyway, these are some of my thoughts, based on preliminary numbers.