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When I retired from teaching in 2010, investigating possibilities for another maze book was one of the things on my to-do list. It took a year and a half to work through other, higher-priority items on that list before I returned to mazes in late 2011. In the fifteen plus years since I had worked with Dover, the Internet and Amazon had drastically changed the world of book publishing.
From past success and failure I knew I could do a quality maze book and was pretty sure that self-publishing would be the least frustrating option, but did not know the best way to get a product into the market place. Amazon had two programs for self-publishing, Advantage and Create Space. For some reason I assumed that Create Space would not work for me and decided to use the Advantage program
An author using the Advantage program must print copies of the book. When Amazon orders them, it pays 45% of the retail price. Printing costs become central. I originally planned to do a 56-page book with an alphabet theme for young children. (Looking through the maze books on Amazon suggested that maze books for children sold better than maze books for adults, so aiming at a young audience seemed a good move.) The printing quotes I obtained made the book uneconomic. I reconfigured the book, reducing the size of half the mazes so it would fit into 36 pages and got a printing quote that would not lose me much money if the book did not sell, and might let me do a bit better than break even if it did. The book was waiting to be printed--I had submitted the pdf files to the printer--when I took a closer look at Create Space and was astounded by what they are doing.
In normal printing the cost per copy goes down as you print more, and printing just a few copies is prohibitively expensive. Create Space has constant per-copy costs--the same per-unit cost for one or a thousand--and that cost is relatively low. With Create Space printing the book, there is no inventory or shipping cost to worry about. In addition, Amazon has designed a pricing scheme that favors books from Create Space. I canceled my order with the printer and set out to redesign my books for Create Space.
The lowest cost to an author for a book printed by Create Space is $2.15, and that is for a book with a color cover and a black-and-white interior less than 109 pages. If you want to sell on Amazon, and you must to get any audience at all, Amazon will take 40% of list price plus the $2.15. Thus the lowest price Amazon allows for a Create Space book is $3.59, and at that price you get no royalties--Amazon gets everything.
The cost to an author is $2.15 if the book is 30 pages, 50 pages, or 108 pages. After 108 pages cost per book rises by about two cents a page. (Everything is different for books with color interiors.) I had originally designed based on my Dover experience, but now my goal became to design books exactly 108 pages long. A book shorter than that would not give a customer all that I could give, and the more I can give the buyer, the easier it is to justify the price, a price that I cannot set as low as I would like it.
When an author sells directly from the Create Space store, Amazon takes only 20% of the list prices as their share. However, the only way anyone will find the book is if the author gives them the link--Create Space has no way for buyers to search their offerings.
Here are the links for my recent books:
If you have read all this, you deserve a break. If you use the discount code QW8A7UDR on some of these books at CreateSpace, the price will be reduced by $3.00 and the cost of the book will be only $3.95, which is about the same as the shipping charge. (This only works at CreateSpace, not Amazon.) Alas, there is no way to get rid of the shipping charge with Create Space.
PS: I have used the tessellation patterns that I designed to make mazes in another form, to make a coloring book of tessellations and of tessellating letters.
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