The Economics of New eBook Covers

Increasing Costs

This week I started updating my ebook covers to meet the new requirements by buying newer stock graphics at a larger size since the smaller stock graphics don’t scale up well. Since I’m also restructuring my writing business, I’m also thinking about the economics of the new ebook covers in terms of breaking even and making a profit.

With the average price per stock graphic going from $1.67 USD to $8.35 USD for each ebook cover, I’ll need to sell more short story and essay ebooks at $0.99 USD each to offset the increased cost. Unfortunately, I’m not able to raise prices on my ebooks since I specialized in the shorter and less expensive end of the ebook market. If the price per ebook can’t change, I need to change something else to become profitable.

I was recently followed by Bibliocracy on Twitter and invited to submit my ebooks for sale at Bibliocracy. Since I’m already on Amazon and Smashwords, and in the process of abandoning Scribd for nonexistent sales, I’m reluctant to put time and effort into another market with uncertain prospects. But I did check out Bibliocracy and found one unusual requirement. The minimum word count is 2,500 words (ten pages), which disqualified most of my short story ebooks (the average length is over 1,000 words).

The more I thought about this market, the only suitable ebooks I have for Bibliocracy  are the omnibus ebooks (i.e., multiple ebooks collected into a single ebook) at $1.99 USD each. With two omnibus ebooks available, I can try out this market with very little effort. Unlike Amazon and Smashwords with a vast ocean of titles, Bibliocracy is a small pond with a growing list of titles. My omnibus ebooks should sell well here than elsewhere. A new market for higher priced ebooks will help decrease overall costs.

With Bibliocracy’s 2,500-word minimum requirement, and if Bibliocracy becomes a viable market for my titles, can I really afford to publish a short story ebook with less than 2,500 words? Maybe, maybe not. Like my 500-word flash stories, I might be bundling a handful of short stories into an ebook. Perhaps these short story bundles will sell better together than as individual ebooks at $0.99 USD.

Looking at my ebook publishing calendar for the next 18 months, I decided not to publish a new ebook per week. I’m still working at a full-time, non-writing job to pay the everyday bills. With blogging four times a week, building up the ebook buffer, and writing new material in between, I need more slack time in the schedule to keep everything on track. With each ebook cover costing $8.35 USD, I can only afford to do three ebook covers per month. I’m returning to my previous schedule of publishing an essay and short story ebook every month, with a free blog posting ebook tossed in.

Like my early days of being an over-the-transom short story writer, my carefree days of being an ebook publisher are gone.

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