- Print 5,000 books
- Give those 5,000 books away
- Advertise on the Radio (because he's "got a guy" who can give him a good deal)
It's like, Wait, you're going to GIVE AWAY 5,000 books? Hello, the average mid-list book is lucky to even SELL that many. More to the point, do you have any idea how much printing 5,000 books costs? I didn't so I found a page on CreateSpace with estimates. The guy is under the impression you can still sell those little paperbacks, not the bigger trade paperbacks, so I used just about the smallest size they have and estimated 300 pages.
As you can see with shipping that's $25,000! But hey it's all right, he's not going to use CreateSpace; he's going to use some conventional printer. To which I thought, "You're going to print 5,000 books at Staples?" Probably not, but I can't imagine whoever he has in mind is going to be much better in terms of creating a professional product.
Being condescending and smug he keeps saying, "You're just being negative" and implying he knows so much more about the business. I'm not being negative; I'm being sane. Unless you're independently wealthy, you don't put yourself in the hole $20,000 before you've even got the books in your possession. I know Guy Kawasaki or whatever his name is says to do that, but he's nuts. You can use that old adage "You got to spend money to make money" but that's better applied to factories or restaurants or real businesses. Books don't make money! OK, most of them. The way the Big Four (or Five) operate is pretty much like movie studios: you have your "tentpole" books and authors who generate most of the revenue and then you have a bunch of small fish who if they generate some profit that's great and if they don't, it's not a huge loss. Most publishers won't pay for big book tours and all that because they know the book isn't probably going to make money, so why add to the losses?
And being an old guy, he's probably not even considering ebooks. Which, hello, are FREE to publish! I've maybe given away 5,000 copies of Chance of a Lifetime online and it didn't cost me 25 cents let alone $25,000.
But hey, this guy will defy the odds, right? Because he believes. Ha. When I first published Where You Belong I bought a whole case of them. I'm not sure what I thought I was really going to do with them; maybe sell them out of the trunk of my car. I sold a few on EBay and to people I know, but a lot of them I ended up giving away on Goodreads. That didn't cost me near $25,000 but it was enough to tell me to be like the Big Fish and keep my costs as low as possible and eke out what little profit I can. Reaching for the stars is nice, but the stars are trillions of miles away and even if you could reach one you'd burn up. That's sort of a proverb, I guess.
I keep imagining this guy being like the Dennis Farina character in "Authors Anonymous," selling his badly-printed book in his girlfriend's hardware store. But maybe his goofy plan will pay off; stranger things have happened.