Self-publishing as a business, we are figuring out how to independently publish our book in our country. Russia has not been considered the most reading country in the world for a long time – the first place, according to the NOP World Culture Score statistics, is taken by India. And although the Russian Federation is only in 7th place in the rating of the most reading nations, the Russian publishing business still generates income.
What books are profitable to publish
Eksmo-AST notes that Russians still prefer traditional paper books – they account for 90% of sales. At the same time, sales of electronic publications and audiobooks are also growing – by 35% per year. About 24% of all books are sold online. The most popular publications in Russia are textbooks, non-fiction literature (self-development, medicine) and books for children.
According to VTsIOM, 88% of Russians regularly buy books, but only 53% consider themselves to be enthusiastic readers. In the category of fiction, regularly reading citizens prefer: 30% – historical novels; 22% are detectives and thrillers; 21% – science fiction and fantasy; 20% – foreign and Russian classics.
Textbooks and manuals must undergo special expertise and peer review. It is much easier to publish a non-fiction work or a children’s book. Consider how much it costs and how much profit it brings.
Publishing and promoting your own book
The book can be written independently or ordered by a ghostwriter (politically correct version of the “literary negro”). There are two ways to publish a book – through a regular publisher, and with the help of a self-publishing company.
In the first case, the publication will cost the author free of charge (or partially free of charge), a fee will be paid. In the second case, cooperation is built on a 100% commercial basis, no fee is provided, and the promotion and sale of the book will have to be handled independently.
How to publish a book through a regular publisher
The finished manuscript is sent to publishers – a list of Russian companies is available on the Prodalit portal. If the material interests the publisher, the book will be printed for free. The size of the royalties in publishers is 3-10% of the retail price of the book.
Significantly increases the chances of a publication having:
• electronic publication with readers’ reviews;
• popular author’s blog, website, YouTube channel;
• promoted personal brand;
• author’s courses and webinars on topics similar to the book.
Most often, the author is offered a publication on a partially or fully commercial basis. In this case, the writer will have to pay 40-100% of the costs of preparing and publishing the book. Taking into account the size of the average circulation (1000 copies), the author’s contribution will be estimated at 40-100 thousand rubles: the final amount depends on the desired print quality. The publishing house will be engaged in the promotion and sale of the book.
There is an opportunity to finance the publication through a sponsor or crowdfunding. The most popular Russian crowdfunding platforms are Boomstarter and Planeta; many novice authors managed to publish their books with their help. Another option is to participate in a literary competition, information about them can be found on the Vsekonkursy.ru portal.
Independent publication of the book on Russian sites
There are already several companies in Russia offering samizdat services. As in the case of traditional publishing, funds for publication can be raised through crowdfunding – this will also almost completely solve the issue of promoting and selling the book.
The most popular samizdat service among novice authors is Ridero. Books are published here in electronic form, but printing on demand is also provided. In parallel, publications are posted on Ozone, Liters and other platforms. The amount of royalties (deductions to the author) is 50% if the book was bought in the own Ridero store, and 15-25% if purchased on other sites. Practice shows that the Russian reader is not yet comfortable paying more than 100-150 rubles for an e-book.
All samizdat sites take a commission for services, you will also have to pay tax – 13% for residents, 30% – for non-residents. The amount of royalties depends on whether the author places his book only on this site (exclusive license), or also on others (non-exclusive license). Some sites pay more if regular readers subscribe.
Here are the popular self-publishing services and the amount of royalties established on them:
1. “Liters: Samizdat” – 25% for a non-exclusive license, 35% for an exclusive, 70% for a subscription.
2. “Ridero” – from 15 to 50%, and the amount of remuneration can be set in rubles: from 1.5 to 122.5.
3. Booknet – 50% for a non-exclusive license, 70% for an exclusive license.
4. “Author.Today” – royalties from 70 to 85%.
5. “Sell” – 60% plus possible donations from readers.
6. “Litmarket” – from 70 to 85%. There are well-known authors on the site – for example, science fiction writers Sergey Lukyanenko and Nick Perumov.
Samizdat systems make up books automatically, and the authors pay for the design of illustrations, drawings and cover design separately. They also offer the services of a designer, proofreader and editor – it is not necessary to use them, the work can be done independently or with the help of freelancers. Some publishers – Ridero, for example – give the book an ISBN identifier for free. If you issue the ISBN yourself, the service will cost 3960 rubles.
The popularity of samizdat services is constantly growing: sites publish books in electronic, paper and audio formats, and pay impressive fees. For example, last year the total income of authors on Ridero was 24,707,900 rubles (before taxes).
At the same time, the maximum income of one writer increased to 1,906,197 rubles, and the maximum number of copies sold by one author was 25,623. Even taking into account all commissions and taxes, this is much more profitable than cooperation with traditional publishers, which on average pay 25-50 thousand rubles for a circulation of 3-5 thousand copies.
Promotion of self-published books
Advertising and sale of books in samizdat rests with the author himself, in contrast to conventional publishers, which partially or completely take over these tasks. The self-publishing service can also take over the promotion – for an additional fee. On the Ridero platform, the service costs from 8 to 23 thousand rubles.
Service “Liters” will tell you about the book in its mailing list for 250 thousand readers – for 29,990 rubles, a banner on the main page will cost 3850 rubles per day. Promotion on the Internet can be done with your own hand – in a blog, on a website, in thematic communities of social networks.
Other options for self-promotion are participation in literary competitions (free) and book fairs (paid). The size of prizes in Russian literary competitions is from 1-5 thousand to 3 million rubles, in addition, you can get a contract with a publishing house.
Book business on Amazon
Self-publishing e-books on Amazon is so profitable that it has long been considered one of the most promising online businesses. Of course, the book must be in English – the main audience does not need Russian-language editions.
To become a successful author on Amazon, it is enough to be an expert in some interesting area for the public:
1. business trainings;
2. personality development;
4. handicraft and craft;
5. diet and fitness.
These are just a few examples – you can choose your theme from open sales analytics. Of course, both the writing of the text and the translation into English can be entrusted to freelancers. Performers are selected from among native speakers on the Fiverr and Upwork marketplaces – freelancers there are perfectly familiar with the specifics of preparing publications for Amazon.
Initial investment in samizdat on Amazon – $ 4-5 thousand. These funds will make it possible to form a library of more than 100 books. Sales revenue exceeds $ 2,000 per month. You can recoup the costs and reach passive profit in 3-4 months.
Publication of a book by a foreign author
Independent publication in Russia of a book by a foreign writer is a rather expensive idea. In addition to purchasing the rights to publish and paying for translation services, you will need a serious advertising budget. To make a profit, you need to be very careful about your choice – for example, readers will pay more willingly for a useful book on self-development or an interesting biography of a celebrity, even if the publication is expensive, in a gift design.
Acquisition of rights to publish a foreign book
First of all, it is necessary to check whether the rights to the book have been redeemed by any Russian publishing house. To do this, contact the foreign publishing house that published the original. Contacts are usually listed on the book itself or on its Amazon page.
You can purchase rights in two ways: for the entire circulation at once, or pay 8-10% of royalties from each sold copy. The latter option is more profitable, since the cost of rights to a book by a famous author can reach several tens of thousands of dollars. In the case of moderate popularity of the author, the cost of the rights for a circulation of 2,000 copies will cost $ 1000-1500. At the same time, you pay for the text, and you don’t have to pay for design and illustrations if you have plans for your own design.
Preparing a layout for printing
An agreement with a foreign publishing house is concluded by mail. To publish books as an independent publisher in Russia, you need to issue an IP. After signing the agreements, translation and execution are started. Translation of a book takes two to three months and costs 20-30 thousand rubles. Services of an editor, proofreader, designer and layout designer, as well as payment for ISBN will cost 70-100 thousand rubles.
Typographic printing of a circulation of 2,000 copies takes on average 2-3 weeks and costs 180-290 thousand rubles. In addition, you will have to pay for a license for design fonts, if you plan an unusual design – 3-7 thousand rubles. When the books are ready, 16 copies must be provided free of charge to the Russian Book Chamber, which will send the editions to the largest libraries in the country.
Book advertising and sale
The next step is promotion. Pre-ordering is one of the most effective strategies for promoting print media; a campaign can be launched on social media as soon as the cover and first pages are ready. Simultaneously with the opening of the pre-order, they register a domain and create a website, fill the resource with content, connect an email campaign, launch contextual advertising, pay for PR through influential bloggers – it costs from 70 to 100 thousand rubles.
Selling and delivering a purchased book to a buyer is another two tasks for an independent publisher. To expand your sales channel, it is worth contacting major book retailers. Not everyone agrees to work with independent publishers, but if the publication is really interesting, networkers take books for implementation.
How much can you earn
The first Russian edition of Mark Forster’s book about time management “Do it tomorrow” brought the initiator of the project, Elena Derevianko, 350 thousand rubles in net profit. At the same time, the expenses for the first print run amounted to 756 thousand rubles.
The cost of 1 book is 154 rubles, and the retail price is 590-650 rubles. Ms. Derevyanko estimates the profit from the second circulation at 700 thousand rubles, and she is preparing several more translated non-fiction books for publication.