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    © 2014, Joseph B. Wikert
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« Amazon TextBuyIt | Main | Alltop: They've Got Books Covered »

April 03, 2008

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Cecil Vortex

Wow. They must be banking (quite literally) on it selling closer to 250,000 copies.

-Cecil

Morgan Ramsay
That's a pretty healthy sales number but I question whether even 75K copies will earn back the $300K author advance.

What really irks me about all the "we're content businesses" businesses, from books to games, is this approach that presumes only one source of revenue. You see the same thing in the movie and TV businesses where the fates of products are determined by box-office revenues and first-season (or first-week) viewerships.

Great shows, for example, are constantly getting cancelled because they don't "pull in the numbers" during their short runs. Donnie Darko, a great movie, did extremely poorly in the theaters, but performed like a star in DVD sales and such. The ROI metrics in these businesses seem to be unfairly limited, almost prehistoric, in focusing on short-term returns.

I don't think 75K copies would need to earn back the advance, if the publisher found more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak.

Stephen Tiano

Joe, Morgan makes excellent sense. So, taking all he said out of the equations and given your experience in and knowledge about how the business works, what other reasons might there be for taking that $300K gamble?

Joe Wikert

Morgan, I'm simply not seeing any other *significant* viable revenue stream opportunities for this sort of book. There are certainly a few other ways to package a brand or content and make money beyond the book itself. You mention movies, and while they're an excellent example, and probably the most lucrative of all (when they work!), I'm having a hard time seeing this particular blog and its content on the big screen. Could there be other, new models invented today and in the future? Absolutely, but I wouldn't wager a $300K author advance on an unproven platform.

Stephen, hopefully the note to Morgan answers part of your question. I suspect the reason such a large advance is being paid on this is due to irrational exuberance, to quote former Fed chief Alan Greenspan. I think it's the same reason why some people wind up paying more than the going retail price for certain items on eBay. You get caught up in the excitement of winning the bid (or in this case, the book) and you overpay.

At the end of the day, I could be terribly wrong and this book will sell like crazy, more than earning out its advance. But the publishing road is littered with far too many projects that didn't earn out 6- and 7-figure advances. I'd be concerned that this could be the next one on that list.

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