Why should I pay for stories?
Today, I bring your attention to the tribe called ‘Creators’. They make music, write books, shoot films, do stand-up comedy. These works stimulate you and entertain you.
None of these people earn monthly salary. Authors, in particular, get paid only when her book gets sold. This model is called ‘earning a royalty’.
Let me explain this age-old business model in the simplest possible way:
1. The author grants permission to a publisher to print and distribute her work. In return, the publisher pays a royalty of 10% on every copy sold. So if a book sells at an MRP of Rs 300, the author gets 10% (Rs 30), per copy sold.
2. A few very famous authors get an advance from the publisher (say Rs 10 lakh). This means the publisher is pretty sure of selling 33,000 copies of the book being released. Therefore, an ‘advance payment’ was given even before publication.
This sounds great. But the book may take a year to write and for a year after (or as long as it takes to sell 33,000 copies), the author receives no more payment.
3. In effect, this ‘successful’ author has earned Rs 5 lakh per year (or Rs 40,000 per month) for her efforts. Which is less than the starting salary of an MBA from an average college.
And as I mentioned earlier, most authors do not get an advance in the first place. They’d be lucky to earn a lakh of rupees by publishing a book. It is therefore not a career but a sweet hobby or timepass.
So why does the author get only Rs 30 from the MRP of Rs 300? Because there are many, many costs involved.
Rs 150 per book (50%): This is the ‘trade margin’ – what retailers like Crossword earn for selling the book (of which a small % goes to the distributor).
Rs 120 per book (remaining 40%): this includes the direct cost of printing the book, marketing it (eg events, money paid for display in retail stores).
A profitable book also covers the publisher’s fixed costs eg salaries of editor, marketing team, warehousing, office rent etc etc
The publisher (and the author) make money only if a title sells in LARGE numbers. By which I mean at least 1 lakh copies. Why is this:
- The cost of printing becomes low when distributed over a large no of copies.
- The variable cost like marketing is also distributed over a large no of copies.
- The fixed costs of the publisher are also met to some extent.
The question is: can it be done differently? Can it be done better? As someone who has spent her entire life in the publishing industry, I believe it is time for a new business model for authors. I call it Direct-to-Reader.
When you consume my stories on my digital platform, it saves the following costs:
- No printing
- No physical distribution
- No wasteful marketing
- No unnecessary overheads
- No middle-man.
100% of the money you pay goes to the Author. Incentivising her to write more.
When I publish stories on my digital platform, it has the following benefits:
- A story written yesterday can be released today
- Direct contact and immediate feedback from readers.
- A band of loyal readers
- No time or money wasted on marketing
- An income which allows writing to become my full-time profession
Direct-to-Reader is a new concept, so I have not put my stories behind a paywall. They are free to read and to share. However, if you enjoyed this collection, I urge you to pay Rs 5 per story (link).
This is a new frontier in publishing. Please support it, so that more and more storytellers can emerge.
Creative people contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Happiness.
And we could all do with more happiness, in these trying times.