Ideas for Improving the Bottom Line

March 2006
by Kent Sturgis

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conservative in your first printing.
Too many of us have our precious cash tied up in the form of books gathering
dust in the garage, or in a distributor’s warehouse, or wherever. Don’t make a
decision about the print quantity for a new release until the last possible
moment, and then base your decision on advance orders and what you have good
reasons to believe you can sell in the first year. Above all, do not base your
decisions on optimism. Optimism will motivate you but does not necessarily
translate into sales.

of reprints. Having made the
crucial decision about print quantity for a new release, beware of reprinting.
A reprint decision is more important than a first printing decision. Too often,
publishers, including me, have sold a first printing quickly, sniffed the aroma
of bestseller in the air, then gotten carried away with the reprint quantity.
And there sits your reprint, tying up sales revenue and possibly profits from
the first printing, as the rate of sale declines and—ouch!—here
come the returns.

My worst reprint decision was made
a decade ago (time heals all) about a title by an author whose first book had
been a bestseller. We printed 10,000 copies of the author’s second book to
begin with, and when they sold out quickly, I ordered a 7,000-copy reprint
without batting an eye. Big mistake. After receiving the reprint, we began

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