Author Alert: Don’t Become a Cash Cow!


Starting down the publishing path takes money—don’t let anyone … anyone … tell you that it doesn’t. Sure, there are ways to create a book and publish it for minimal dollars. And, it usually looks like it. And there are multiple ways you can create a Cadillac version—yet do you need to?

The lease expensive way to get into the publishing game is via the eBook route or the minimalist version that IngramSpark or Create Space offer via the POD route. It’s getting your toe in the water and a way to start learning the ropes. And, in my opinion, the savvy author rolls out both a print version and an eBook version. Start giving your buyers an option. With the significant growth in audiobooks, add this to your mix. Even if you don’t plan on having it for later in the year—or next year—you can create an audiobook for little bucks or big bucks. Just plan to do it

There are hybrid publishers, there are pay-to-publish publishers (all vanity presses go in this category), there are traditional publishers, small/indie press publishers and there are self-publishers who could be indie publishers.

You think it … it’s there. What you don’t want to get caught up in is the “pay me once and pay me again, and again and again” publisher and publishing service provider. You become the cash cow. Good for them … not for you.

Author Beware: Do not pay more later … determine costs now.

With most authors-to-be, the up-front costs are the primary concern. Don’t stop there—what you should also focus on is the back-end costs. The true cost of a book to you—be it a copy at a time or hundreds/thousands of them.

  • What’s a reprint going to run you?
  • How about corrections?
  • Or a revised edition—do you have to pay up-front fees as if you had a new book production?
  • If you are with any type of publisher besides YOU, just what are the royalties to you—are they net or gross (bet they are net!)
  • What about special sales—are royalties reduced?
  • When will you get paid?
  • If you have illustrations, are there recurring fees for reprints or use in other formats, such as speaking presentations?
  • Ditto with any special quotes you use, do you need permission again (or a payment) for reprints or other formats?
  • If you have photography or any art, is there a cost? Do you have to pay additional money for reprints or using in other formats?

It’s not uncommon for publishers to low-ball up-front fees in exchange for very high back-end costs (we will publish you for $297 ….) down the road (think expensive author copies like $8-10 or very low royalties—less than $1 on a $15 retail book …).  It’s also not uncommon for you to be baited with a promise of library and major retail exposure and the probability is equivalent to winning the lottery.

Author Beware means you don’t go through this alone. Ever.

One of the traits of successful authors and indie publishers is that they’ve learned that they don’t, and can’t, do it alone. Determine who you need on your team—book designer, cover designer, printer, editor, book coach … who else. What do they cost? Determine your book creation cost—whether you elect to publish yourself or contract with a publisher … know from the get-go your FULL COST PER BOOK. Then you know how many you have to sell to recoup. And you can put together a Book Spending Plan to market and move your baby forward.




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Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing signature-full TRNabout and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 35 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord IndieFab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences. Book #35 was published this summer: The How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos. Get your copy now.

Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged, a three day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2017, the dates are June 22-24th.  Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for “AuthorU – Your Guide to Book Publishing” on the Toginet Network at .

Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at


header-logo1.pngAuthor U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Monthly education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps and the annual Author U Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre, during and post publishing of their books. Join today.

 If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday. The number is 218-632-9854; Access Code 1239874444 … have your questions ready–there’s a full hour to ask and listen