Monday, September 8, 2008

Pimpin' Your Book: The Economics of the Galley, or Why You Can't Have a Zillion Copies, Thanks!

Going into a little more depth on galleys/ARCs:
As I mentioned yesterday, most new books will have a galley (or Advanced Reader Copy) created. And as I also mentioned yesterday, not all books are treated equally. The number of galleys will depend upon the distribution of said galleys, how much the publisher is willing to pony up for said galleys, and - ultimately - how much the publisher initially ponied up for your book.

For example, lets say that the sales department wants 450 galleys to mail to independent booksellers, and another 650 to go to a Barnes & Noble Managers meeting. The publicity department would like 250 to send to reviewers, bloggers and long-lead media. The marketing department would like 300 to send to a special book club mailing. The author wants 50 to send to friends for quotes and blurbs and just in general to show off and say "Lookee here, I iz a published author!" An SF/F or romance convention may request 100 to use as door prizes, giveaways or auction items. The agent is going to ask for 20 copies as well. And then a copy of the galley goes to every bleeding person associated with the book, from the publisher to the production manager, which comes to another 50 galleys or so. (By the way, these last 50 copies are the ones that most often end up on the giveaway cart or in the garbage. Sad but true.)

So, right there, you've already got 1420 galleys needed, and that's not even a large galley run. (A large galley run is when you have the great good fortune to have your book picked for distribution at Book Expo; a galley run could then run into as many as 6,000 copies.)

Now let's do the math:

A galley costs roughly $6.75 to $8.00 to create, depending upon page count. For the sake of this post, lets split the difference and say that this galley costs $7.25 to produce. So, 1420 x $7.25 = $10,295 just for galleys. This number is run by the marketing director or associate publisher; he or she balks and cuts are made. Why does the author need so many? You copies are cut in half. Why do the indies need so many? Send to the top 150 stores, not the top 450. Why does publicity need so many? Cut to 125, send only to long lead periodicals and then use finished books for a later mailing to reviewers and bloggers. (FYI, a finished book costs about one-third the price of a galley, so using finished books is a hell of a lot cheaper than using galleys to promote.) Why does the agent need ANY? Cut to zero. Agent throws temper tantrum, raise back to 10 copies.

You see where I'm going with this. It always comes down to the bottom line.

When does a book not get a galley?
  • When the manuscript comes in too late (this has happened and is invariably the author's fault - authors, pay attention to editorial deadlines!)
  • When the book is a mass market original: not all publishers produce galleys for MM originals. As an author, however, you are welcome to request one; often they will oblige you.
  • When a book is a trade paper or mass market reprint.
What do you do if your publisher hasn't produced a galley for your mass market original?
  • Ask your publicist (nicely!) to - at the very least - send bound manuscripts to the trades. They'll review from bound manuscripts as long as the pertinent publication information is included (title, author, publisher, ISBN, pub date, price, contact info of publicist, page count, format, and one paragraph summary).
My publisher will only give me fifteen copies of my galley and I need more for my friends and family!
  • No, you really don't. Galleys serve a very specific purpose in promoting your book and they are extremely expensive to produce, so for that reason alone, authors and agents are limited to only what is absolutely necessary. If for some reason you feel you'll need more than a couple dozen galleys, you'll need to let your editor know well in advance of your publication date and then you should be prepared to pay out-of-pocket for the extra print run.


Anonymous said...

Would it win any brownie points for an author to say, "I really only need 2 galleys"? Or does it send a message of "too meek for author's own good -- walk all over author!"?

Should I get published, I'd rather make my friends and family special-order my book from large book chains, y'see.

Jeff Crook said...

My galleys weren't even galleys, they were unbound printers proofs so I could check for errors.

Personally, I don't want or need galleys. I'd rather have the finished book. I understand their need from a promotional standpoint, but what am I going to do with 50 galleys? Or even 10?

Charity V said...

Wow, very interesting! I've seen them from a booksellers perspective, but never knew the cost analysis before.

Why are galleys so expensive to make? One assumes the actual books (nearly identical in appearance) aren't nearly so expensive, or cover price would have to be well over $8.99 for a mm paperback these days.

clindsay said...

Jeff -

What you'ee talking about is something different; those are called first pass galleys and, yes, they are loose pages of a typeset manuscript sent to an author to check for mistakes. Some publishers also send second and possibly even third pass galleys to the author. A bound galley is something different.


clindsay said...

Rhienelleth -

Galleys are expensive for two reasons: 1.) they need to be created fast and 2.) they are produced in very small quantities compared to the actual print run of a book. The more you you print, the less they cost to produce, but the point at which it becomes economical to print them is a ludicrously high number.



Sushi said...

What would an editor consider a reasonable reason to request extra galleys? I go to SF cons whenever I can afford to, and they're always good place to get publicity. Would publishers have any issue with putting a galley into a charity auction ahead of publication? Since authors aren't supposed to contact reviewers directly, I don't quite know how else to use up n galleys.

Unknown said...

This isn't galley related (sorry), but on the pimpin' topic-- Steven Hall (Raw Shark Texts) credited his big best selling debut to his publicist (?) setting up some kind of pre-publishing tour where they sent him to have dinner with a bunch of Barnes and Noble exec's etc. Supposedly after meeting him they got more interested in ordering huge.
Did you hear about that? Any thoughts? I know it's not the kind of thing publishers can afford to do much, but if it worked so good...

cindy said...

THANK YOU AGAIN! i had no ideas galleys were so expensive. yikes!

clindsay said...

Pseudosu -

Great question.

Yes, absolutely, for certain authors, a pre-pub bookseller dinner tour can help enormously.

It's not really something the author decides, however. It's usually a publicist's idea or - more often than not - a mutual decision between the marketing and publicity department.

The truth is that these kinds of pre-pub tours are all about the author - making him or her a star - and much less about the book.

The author is usually flown to Ann Arbor to meet with the Border's buyers, and New York to meet with the Barnes & Noble buyers. Then, depending upon the author and budget, they'll usually take the author to several key indie bookstore markets to meet with a group of either buyers or section heads from various indie bookstores. Seattle is almost always included in a pre-pub tour, btw, and - if possible - a meeting with both indie booksellers and Amazon is organized.

There are variations on this: Other places that the publisher may send the author to woo booksellers include Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Wal-Mart headquarter (a frequently heard question at marketing meetings: "Will it fly in Bentonville?"), Books-A-Million in Alabama, or various of the large clubs (Sams, Costco, etc.)

And occasionally an author is invited to attend sales conference to meet the sales force.

A lot factors into the decision to send a relatively new author on a pre-pub tour: Is the author presentable? Erudite? Media savvy? Personable? Charming? Funny? Can the author work a room?

And in order for such a tour to work, the author absolutely has to be able to discuss something OTHER than his or her book.

When I worked at Del Rey, I organized several pre-pub tours for authors that I wanted to break out to a wider audience, most notably China Mieville and Richard K. Morgan. In China's case, I also brought him to meet the sales force at the summer sales conference.

Because my authors were primarily SF/F and pop culture, I also set up large group author dinners for booksellers at book conventions and media cons like Book Expo, Comic-Con, Dragon-Con, Star Wars Celebration and Gen-Con.

All of these things are helpful for the right author.

Hope that answered your question!


Spectre-7 said...

Wow, I never really considered the cost of printing galleys. Thinking back on my old bookselling days, this casts the stacks and stacks of untouched galleys in a new, kind of depressing light.

Jeff Crook said...

Colleen, yes, I realize I never saw an actual honest to goodness galley. That sort of promo didn't happen.

Still, other than galleys to send around to other published authors soliciting blurbage, I don't see as how I would need galleys. Just send me a box of books when it's done. I'm easy.

Unknown said...

Thanks Colleen,
for the very thorough informative response! From my personal perspective I'd prefer to "turn it on" for a finite number of buyers that would actually impact my sales. The energy to results ratio sounds better.

Just read your book tour post too and it confirmed some suspicions.

You are awesome for giving us all what amounts to a course in book pimpin'.

Anonymous said...

Colleen, do any of the trades actually review mass market paperback originals whether from bound galleys, ARC, or finished books? I've always thought mm were very close to the bottom of the reviewer's heap.

(By the by, I was close to the Raw Shark Texts pre-pub tour here in Canada and it made a HUGE difference in building buzz. You're right that not every author makes a difference in meeting with buyers etc but where I worked, an effort was made to bring every author easily available to sales conference and that almost always worked in getting the sales and marketing teams extra excited about the book).

Dustin said...

Of course, correctly targeting your galleys can make a difference, too.

A while back we had one rep at one of the larger houses who somehow put the names of every single bookseller in the store on her galley mailing list. Oh, a copy of your newest schlocky south-asian historical romance with my own little name on it? Thanks, but no thanks. You've just sent me more work, even if it's the effort of finding a trashbin to toss it into. Still, if even one of us read the thing I guess that's a better return than the grab-bag giveaway method. Particularly, but not solely, if that person liked it.
The best galleys in our store will be passed from hand to hand. The copy of Anathem I'm thigh deep in right now has had the CD stripped out by another bookseller. I think I know who actually, and might hit him with the book itself until he coughs it up.
Me, I'm galley gold. I'll hand sell the ones I like AND send out a review of them.

Deborah Brown Smith said...

As an author with several of the big houses I typically had an ARC run of 500 to 1,000 copies, none of which came to me for promotional use. Now, as a small press publisher I typically send out a combination of 100-200 finished books but I also make pre-pub galleys. Authors can easily and affordably make reputable galleys to send to reviewers. Get yourself a commercial-grade hole puncher, a box of comb-binders, print out your book in an 8 X 11 size, create a nice cover page in color with cover art and pub info. Since relatively few books get the big ARC treatment, authors can help themselves by sending galleys to the growing world of bloggers who are doing lots of book reviews and who will give even an unknown author a chance.

Deb Smith