Handing Off to the Serendib Press Team

Emmanuel Henderson is here, packing up the books! I could, in theory, pack them all myself, but a) I would cry, and b) I have a lot of e-mail, teaching, grading work that only I can do, so I’m trying to hand off as much as I can to the Serendib Press team.

That does make the economics a little trickier — we’re in a rough stretch right now, where we’ve long ago spent the pre-order and Kickstarter money on staffing (which paid for groceries for recipe research, designing the book, producing it, etc.), and now we’re spending a lot of money on printing and packaging and shipping the book. Kev and I are going to have to invest several thousand dollars in the press to get us through the end of the year.

If I have a staff member working for 20 hours at $25 / hr this week, that’s $500 for packaging alone, for example. And it’ll take a lot more hours than that just getting out the Kickstarter orders alone.

(If you’re shipping out a Kickstarter project, don’t forget that packaging cost, which can be significant. There’s a bit for materials, but I think a lot of people figure the rest is just their own time, but your time is, in fact, worth something. It’s worth everything, in the end.)

Since I wasn’t able to invest $40K in doing a print run for Vegan Serendib (the way we did for Feast, printing 2000 copies), we’re printing Vegan POD, which means the printing cost / book is much higher. (Interestingly, the POD paper is thinner, so although the books have the same number of pages, Vegan is smaller, and that does save a little money on shipping; it can fit into a padded envelope instead of a box).

At the end of all this, I’m going to sit down with Stephanie (my in-house editor / book designer) and Margaret (bookkeeper) and run some numbers. But I think as a very rough estimate, we make about $10 / copy on Feast, and more like $2 – $3 / copy on Vegan. Less if we put it on sale, which means you’re probably not going to see Vegan on sale very often — we’ll actually be losing money if we do a $5 off sale, for example! (Which we might do anyway on occasion for promotion, but we can’t afford to do much of it.)

Anyway, a little nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes look at cookbook production. I think we’re going to take a break from print cookbooks next year, focus on ebooks (cocktail / mocktail cookbook, Serendib tea party ebook, and bringing out some of my backlist of fiction), let the budget recover.

I love making beautiful print books, I really do. But I also hope people buy lots of digital copies, because our margins are SO MUCH BETTER on those. In a real sense, the digital books are likely what will make it possible for me to afford to keep doing print books.

Okay, off to sign a bunch of paperbacks, which arrived yesterday, woot! Another thing that only I can do…

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