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Prototype X - 1.1

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  • #31
    Hey! That figure looks pretty attractive!

    I don't see a problem reformatting from A4 to US Quarto or whatever 8.5 x 11 inch is ( :| ) - should be straightforward. And we could probably even convert colour images from the A4 to monochrome in the new format.

    Nice work, LSN! $10 a copy is bloody good. Five quid, and no adverts! I'd buy it!

    Well, I would, wouldn't I?

    Now we're talking...


    • #32
      They also do color interior illos (a color cover for B&W can be done without extra cost, I think), but the cost per page goes up a fair amount. For a once-per-year all color issue, we should consider it amongst our other parameters.

      It is very possible that we can come close to the cost per copy of someone like Cost per copy isn't really the problem, I think. I believe the problems are:

      - Up-front costs

      With a lot of commercial printers, they require that we order some # of copies (50, 100, 500) and pay the cost of printing up-front. In turn, they send us the copies to be distributed as we wish.

      The cost of 200-300 copies is a BIG up-front cost, even for the pooled resources of Perdix (don't call him "Deep-Pockets"), me, and others who chipped in before (e.g., L'Etranger, mordenkainen, and many others). The problem further is that we cannot predict how many of these we would sell. We have approximate numbers for a low-end, but there is a big sigma in the equation, speaking statistically.

      - Distribution costs (particularly in U.S. & Canada)

      A fair # of those who ordered copies or wanted to order them aren't in the UK. Perdix probably has a rough breakdown of the numbers somewhere. The problem is that printing in the UK and shipping to the U.S. adds a big # to the cost. Perdix shipped 3 copies to me in the U.S. The cost of shipping was آ£ 16,80. That's a lot. I shipped those 3 copies in the U.S. individually to subscribers at a cost of less than 1 pound per book. The envelope was not expensive either.

      It is clear that if we can produce U.S.-targetted copies in the U.S. and ship here using book rate, we'll get a nice drop in expenses, and make the darned book a lot more attractive to potential buyers.

      The set up at (an outfit that Jeff Stadt pointed out to us some time back) is POD + distribution. A buyer orders the copy from (or possibly even; it is printed from the PDF files of the book and cover which we uploaded; the book is perfect-bound, then shipped to the purchaser. If it is bought through, it goes to Amazon first, obviously. The turnaround time is pretty quick.

      This saves us some of the headache of distribution AND printing. We just need to get the PDF files *right*. We keep rights to the book. Perdix could even have a logo for Mustard Lid Press / Ferox put on the spine of the book, if he chooses to remove any possible stigma attached to originating from; it seems important to maintain trademark or "branding" in this enterprise.

      I am open to further discussion on the pros and cons of this approach. There may be negatives that haven't been mentioned so far. This approach does NOT eliminate the value of the Shedworks. The Shedworks are extremely valuable for pilot runs to help get it *right* before we upload to someone like



      • #33
        Hey all. It's nice to see that I wasn't being ignored, since the topic was barely mentioned again until recently. Makes me happy :P

        Anyway, the new POD endeavor is more similiar to Xlibris which costs you tons of money up front. This has been reported on the message boards by folks who took the time to look into it as a possible option away from their current printer (lulu), but in the end, they shot up the red flags.

        As far as the listing goes, you need to buy one (1) of the two distribution services. The first one costs $35 US, and it buys you an ISBN # and 1 year free listing at; this option uses the LULU printer, which has a better cover stock than Lightning Source. You make any corrections at any time at no cost on your books with this option as opposed to option #2. An listing requires you to set the cover price at 25% above cost for thier cut, lowering your royalty.

        Option #2 distribution is $150, and buys you the ISBN and a listing in Books In Print, which atuomatically gets you listed at and most other online retailers. This option utilizes the Lightning Source printer, which is owned by Bowkers, that owns Lightning Source and BIP, and the cover/paper stock is a bit weaker. With this option, you must first buy a copy of the finished product, check it for errors Before sending it off to Books in Print (BIP). If you do not find all the errors and wish to later correct them, you will pay a sizable fee to do so. Almost "written in stone." A BIP listing, Option #2, requires you set the cover price for distribution through Ingram at around 40%, once again lowering your own royalty if book is purchased through the distribution system.

        Later, all online bookstores need you, the publisher (not Lulu, the printer) to upload the cover. You may also open your own Amazon z-shop to sell the book through Lulu.

        Those are the main "rules" as to distribution through

        You could go directly through Lightning Source, but that requires a minimum amount of copies printed.

        I like the quality of the Lulu printer, myself, and have heard that sometimes the big distribution isn't better than just a Lulu storefront, limited presence and lots of Internet Promotion.

        To help with the royalty thing, I just changed the font size for my 2 largest (over 500 page) novels, and this allows me a better margin for distribution. I mean, no one is goignt o spend $25 for a paperback trade from unknowns for anything over normal prices for trades. It was ludicrous.

        Anyway, I hope this extra info helps.

        Since I last posted the original info, Mike Philbin, formerly Hertzan Chimera, began using as well for his own bizarro novels and anthologies that he edits, so more folks, and even "well known underground authors" are starting to take the stigma off POD's.




        • #34
          Originally posted by Lord Doom
          Hey all. It's nice to see that I wasn't being ignored, since the topic was barely mentioned again until recently. Makes me happy :P
          We were paying attention. Perdix was BUSY, and frankly, so was I. When Perdix asked me to become more involved with the project, he and I started looking at a lot of the production factors. We want to make PX-1 and its successors more widely available. Of course!

          I remembered all that you (and others) posted on the subject. I've been doing a bit of investigation on my own.

          Originally posted by Lord Doom
          . . .
          As far as the listing goes, you need to buy one (1) of the two distribution services. The first one costs $35 US, and it buys you an ISBN # and 1 year free listing at; this option uses the LULU printer, which has a better cover stock than Lightning Source. You make any corrections at any time at no cost on your books with this option as opposed to option #2. An listing requires you to set the cover price at 25% above cost for their cut, lowering your royalty.
          Option #1 sounds like the most workable and satisfactory arrangement.

          Let's see if I understand the details by doing a little math. Suppose the book calculator at tells us the book will cost $8 to produce. We want to earn a very small amount of money per sale, so we ask for a $2 royalty for ourselves. Thus, the price is $10. So does want us to set the price at 25% above that ($12.50) so they'll get their own cut of $2.50 ? Is that how it works?

          If so, we can live with that, I suppose. And the $35 payment to be listed for 1 year on Amazon is no big deal. What about being listed on or .de or .fr? Anything special we need to do?



          • #35
            As far as the foreign listings... for the $35 ISBN: no. Since the distribution doesn't extend there; but it WILL show up at and in the US, since Amazon runs those websites as well.

            The $150 ISBN package is International, however.

            And here's the deal about the Amazon listing:

            You will see a line in the calculator called Royalty for Outside Sales. This tells you what your royalty will be for a purchase through the Amazon Marketplace.
            25% of the total price will go to Amazon for royalties and shipping. The remainder is left for production costs, Lulu's commission, and author royalty. To calculate your Amazon royalty, multiply the total price by 75%, subtract production costs, then multiply the remainder by 80%.
            Click on the Enable Distribution button. This will queue up your content for uploading to the Amazon Marketplace. It will take about 24 hours for your content to upload. After it does, your book will be available for purchase on Amazon Marketplace.
            Sales through the Amazon Marketplace will show up on your royalties page, marked as such.

            Math makes my head hurt. So Amazon gets 25% of the total RETAIL PRICE which you set and must be above the Lulu production costs, plus your royalty.

            This will be the set price that appears at both the Lulu storefront you set up, plus Amazon. So if someone buys your book through Lulu, you get a full and heavy royalty (whatever you set), whereas is they buy the same book through your royalty will be miniscule.

            Before I changed my font size, to have an listing I would have had to sell by book for over $25 just to make something around 7 cents, but in the meantime scaring anyone away from the Lulu site with an outrageous cover price, but the royalty would have been around $6 per book. The page count was killing me, basically.

            I'm not a business man, and like I said, math makes my head hurt :x

            But those are the facts.

            I hope it helps.



            • #36
              Oh, I cut and pasted that info from the Faq's btw, and wasn't just throwing numbers around.


              • #37
                Okay, thanks. That makes sense, and is pretty consistent with what I expected.

                I'm not a business person either, but a couple of universities seemed to think I knew something about mathematics.



                • #38

                  If you end up using Lulu, you can still upload color images, as long as you select "Print in B&W" In fact, some experts say that the images are clearer this way, so you don't lose resolution.

                  It makes for a heavy file to upload, but the printing quality is better.




                  • #39
                    They also will print in color, but the cost per page takes a big jump. I'm going to run some book calculations with different assumptions and see what can be done. For example, "Cut PX-1 into two volumes of about 80 pages but keep the color." By changing the parameters, we might be able to give PX-1 to the surging masses of would-be readers who missed out.

                    I'd very much like to make the maiden issue of PX easily available, even if we have to play tricks. Removing the color is a step we shouldn't take lightly. On PX-1.1, it's different. I believe we are planning B&W for this issue, so it should work with someone like without a hitch.

                    Solutions we find for color could have an influence on PX-2, which will be full color, if I recall the plans.



                    • #40
                      Using's book calculator, the base cost for PX-1, which is (I believe) about 160 pages, full color, would be $28.53 per volume. That assumes we could reformat A4 to 8.5 x 11 pretty easily.

                      For the sake of comparison, I asked, What if we broke it into 2 volumes of 80 pages? The resultant cost would be $16.53. That might be a bit more palatable.

                      I don't know. It might be worth proceeding that way with PX-1. I don't want to sacrifice the color interiors. The book can be reformatted or printed in B&W, but it wasn't designed for that sort of printing. (Except for TM's illos, of course.)

                      As Dee & PWV pointed out some time back, many of the illos would continue to work in B&W, but changing the whole thing makes me a bit uneasy.

                      This is not (as I stated earlier) a cause for concern with PX-1.1. But we need to look forward to PX-2 (color again). So let's think about the problem and possible solutions.



                      • #41
                        Well, you could always take the comic book size approach, keep the pages counts in relative size for such (25-35 pages), print in color and keep the costs down, basically releasing it as a series of serial pamphlets ;) Then customers can either buy them separately or under a "subscription" for a single opt in cost that discounts the individual "issues" just a tad, but they would automatically get the whole mosaic.

                        This would keep Prototype X around the same size as #1, and be able to keep the color. Plus the actual shipping costs would be a bit lower for single issues. This way, with an issue sold over a year long period (or however it takes for the amount of material), folks can more easily subscribe to the cost, be it by actual subscription or individually since it wouldn't seem expensive in smaller chunks.

                        Sort of "new wave pulp."

                        Just a suggestion.



                        • #42
                          Interesting idea.

                          With the context and composition of PX-1, I think it would be hard to break it into 45 page chunks; it would seem a bit assymmetric. To some extent, the nature and shape of the contents dictates the size and shape of the publication.