How Big Should My First Printing Be? Advice for Self-Publishing Start-ups

February 2007
by Ron Pramschufer

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Sure, sounds good to me

How Big Should My First
Printing Be? Advice for Self-Publishing Start-ups


by Ron Pramschufer


To pick a first printing
number intelligently, you need information about unit costs, and you also need
to take a good look in the mirror and have an honest talk with the person you
see there.


A standard 256-page book costs
about $6 per copy with an order of 100 copies, printed digitally. For 500
copies of the same book, the unit cost would be about $5.50, and the printing
process would be offset. Then the pricing starts to get interesting. At 750
copies, the unit cost drops to $3.91; at 1,000 copies it’s $3.15; at 1,500
copies it’s $2.38; at 2,000 copies it’s $2; and at 3,000 copies—the industry
average—it’s $1.39. The beat goes on: $1.27 per copy if the print order is for
5,000; $1.05 per copy if it’s for 10,000. A first printing on the industry
average of 3,000 with a cover price of $14.95 allows for virtually every
wholesale discount plan.


But you have to be realistic with
yourself. People whose main goal is simply “being published” should order 100
to 200 copies—enough for family and friends, and—with an additional expenditure
of slightly less than $70—enough to get a book listed on major Web sites such
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