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ROI: Is Writing a Book a Good Investment in Your Business?

selling-sold-sold-paidFiction authors might want to find something else to read. Today we’re all business.

Selling books is no way to make money. But you’re a business person and you know that some things that don’t directly earn money are still vital to the sales process.

Does a book fit into that picture?

Let’s talk numbers.

Other than time, which I won’t try to quantify for you, the cost to publish a book using my services is $3,000. That covers our very complete package. which includes developmental and line editing, cover design, formatting for print and digital. Everything you need to make your finished manuscript into a ready-to-sell book.

Digital copies cost you nothing. Give them away.

Print copies will cost $4-$7 depending on whether you buy a couple dozen to carry with you, or drop ship onesie-twosie from CreateSpace. Let’s all it $5 for a print copy. Let’s further assume that you want every prospect to hold your book in your hand, so all copies from here on are print. Stacking the deck so that if this comes out positive we know we’re looking at a worst-case scenario. Real life should turn out better than our plans, not worse.

Let’s assume we want to earn your money back in a year, not over the lifetime of the book.

Here are some questions I don’t have answers for:

  1. How much does a new client earn you in a year?
  2. How many prospects do you need to engage to convert a single client?

I’ll make some numbers up. Let’s say you make $500 per client. That’s about average for us, between small web jobs and publishing and social media clients.

Let’s say you don’t have our delightful conversion rate of about 50% (by the time people come to us, they’re usually ready to roll, referred by a thrilled client; we rarely have to sell.) We’ll use an imaginary conversion rate of 10% which is a bit high, perhaps. Now I’m cheating the other direction. It’s imaginary, right?

So you need to engage with 10 clients to get that $500 client. Your cost in books. if every one gets a copy, is $50. (I’m making this up as a go along. I actually don’t have any numbers planned in advance. This post is already a day late, so this is me winging it like mad.)

Let’s say having the book gets you one additional client; doubles your conversion rate, because you’re now perceived as an expert. The net effect of the book is plus $450 per month (the $500 from the extra client minus the $50 worth of books you gave away.)

Pull that rabbit out of the hat all year long and the profit is 12 x $450 = $5,400. Subtract the publishing package cost and get $5,400 – $3,000 = $2,400 per year or $200 per month to the bottom line.

Your numbers, obviously, won’t match this made-up example. Maybe you’ll plug the numbers in and realize that you just can’t afford $3,000 for self-publishing services.

Or, maybe, it’s a perfectly sensible investment in your business.

And just imagine next year, when you still have this book, and you’ve written one more.

What are your numbers? Let’s talk.

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