I've had a few jobs working on Children's Books for various publishers.
Many people ask me why I don't get my books published by a "real publishing company". This question actually has several answers. First of all, publishers are in the business of making money, just like everyone else. A publisher is responsible for many things including; getting the book printed, distribution (getting it to the people who sell them), advertising, and in most cases editing. This is just a short list of some of the main things.
Each of these things cost money to do. Printing for example can cost anywhere from 5% - 50% of the actual cover price of the book depending on how complex the book is, if it's in colour or black and white, if there are special pages, such as a fold out pages, if the book is soft cover or hard cover. Another major factor is the quantity that are printed. The more you print up at one time, the lower the cost per book. You find the same thing is true when you get some photocopying done.
Most publishers try to print their books at 25% or less of the cover price. If a book sells for $10.00, it probably was printed for less than $2.50.
Retailers, the people who sell the books in a bookstore do not pay the cover price. Their price is usually between 50% - 60% the cover price. So, that same $10.00 book will cost the store between $5.00 - $6.00.
This means that at each stage, the person selling the product close to doubles their costs.
Now don't forget that the publisher has other things to pay for as well and this money comes out of the amount that the retailer pays them for the book. One of the other things the publisher has to pay for is the writer and artist. Without one or both of them, you don't have a book. Some publishers pay a flat fee for the art and writing but another option is to pay a royalty fee which usually comes with a small flat fee and then a yearly amount which is based on the sales of the book. This is more of a gamble. If the book does really well, you could stand to make a lot of money which is good for both you and the publisher. However, if the book doesn't sell well, you don't get paid much of a royalty.
I did one book early in my freelance career and took the royalty option and it didn't pay off. I could have taken a lump sum of $1500.00 and walked away or $800.00 and 8% of the profits. The first year I got a cheque for $300.00. The second year it was $120.00. The third year it was $28.00 and the fourth year it was something measily like $9.00. I stopped getting cheques after that. All totaled I made $1257.00 so I got burned $243.00 on the deal. There is always the possibility of things going the opposite way though.
I now publish my own books so that I don't have to pay someone else all the sundry fees of doing the stuff I'm perfectly capable of doing myself.
Anyway, here's a couple of samples of some children's books that I've worked on.
|View the "Skunk" pages|
|View more Harland pages|