Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meaningless Terms for Self-publishers

There are a number of terms in the publishing industry that have very little meaning when we start talking about self-publishing.

remainered - A book is remaindered if the publisher is overstocked. At some point, the publisher decides that it will cost more to hold on to the books than what he will get from selling them. The books are either sold in bulk at a discount or they are destroyed. Most self-publishers won’t run into this situation if they are using POD to print their books. But if the author has several boxes of books in his garage or living room, the day may come that his wife says, “you are going to have to get rid of those books.” At that point, his book is going through the process of being remaindered.

sell in - This is the number of books that are ordered by retailers. We would like to see this as a large number, but most self-publishers will have a low number. If a book is selling well, you will find that or any other store that is getting a lot of requests for the book will keep a few copies on hand. The better it is selling the more copies they will order.

sell through - This is the number of books actually sold. In a non-returnable situation, sell through and sell in will be very close together.

earn out - This term has absolutely no meaning to the self-publishing author at all. A book earns out when enough copies have been sold that the royalty from those books is greater than the amount of the advance. If the advance was $5000 and the author gets $1 per book, then it will earn out after 5000 books are sold. Up until that point, the author doesn’t receive additional money. After it earns out, the author will start receiving a check every so often. But this means nothing to the self-publishing author. Technically, self-publishing authors don’t receive royalties and they certainly don’t receive an advance. I suppose a self-publisher can declare that he has paid himself and advance and take what subsidy presses all royalties and apply it to that number until it earns out, but other than a little silliness, there is no value in that.

What other publishing terms do you think have little meaning in self-publishing?

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