The Publishing Project, Group 5: Finances
By uczccgl, on 17 February 2016
The thing you have to remember about publishing is that it is a business based largely on gambling. Publishers take on projects, pay author advances, and determine prices for retailers based on the profit they think a book will generate. Every project is a risk that is, truthfully, more likely to cost you than not. Everything from production to marketing is going to affect your margins, and the trick is to cost your project realistically. In other words: make a budget and stick to it! Even then, you are not guaranteed a profit. The harsh truth is that 80% of a publisher’s yearly revenue will come from only 20% of all projects: the bestsellers. 60% of projects will not make a profit in the first year of publication, and 20% will never make a profit at all.
So what does this mean for students’ publishing projects at UCL?
It means that if their project is going to cost them more than the £220 every group is allotted by the university, they have to find alternate ways to fund the rest of that cost. In terms of salaries for contributors, my group has been lucky. Our project, Works in Progress, is a collection of short stories that features music and illustrations. We have about fifteen authors involved in the project, and will have around the same number of artists, plus a number of musicians. Their payment will be a copy of the physical book when it is finished, and none of them will receive any royalties should there be any profits at the end of the project. This means we save money by not having to account for this expense, but we still need enough funds to cover the production and distribution costs.
There are several ways to fund a project. There is the option of sponsorship if you can find someone interested in the project, or you could put up the funds yourself. Our group’s project, neither having the funds ourselves or the option of relying on sponsorship, is depending on crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is all about presenting a product or project in such a way that people unrelated to your group would want to be a part of the project and, most importantly, contribute funds. To this end, we created a video to function as a trailer and introduction to our project, and set up an account with Indiegogo that we could market and promote throughout various social media platforms. Kickstarter is another crowdfunding site and perhaps a more well-known alternative to Indiegogo. We chose to go with Indiegogo as they allow for flexible funding, which means that if we don’t meet our intended goal of £3,500 we get to keep the funds we raise at the end of the deadline — an absolute must if we are to publish the book.
At present, we have reached 41% of our goal!
Additionally, while crowdfunding is our main source of funds, we are making an attempt to gain corporate sponsorship by writing up a press release to explain the purpose of Works in Progress and submitting examples of our work. Such examples include quotes from a few of our stories: