£10,000? £9.99? Incalculable? What is the formula?
Like most endeavours that involve the investment of money and time and result in mixed returns, there will always be talk of cost. Publishing is no exception.
In a cash-strapped, post-truth, housing slump coupled with higher than expected inflation perfect storm, the focus on cost pinches ever sharper.
But cost is about perspective. Any talk should be about value.
As a younger man, I would hate falling asleep at the cinema; the embarrassment, the waste of time and effort, the lost opportunity, the cost to pride and pocket. Now, I skip to the cinema in the knowledge that either the film is going to be an absolute snorter or I will get a decent kip. In twenty years, nothing has changed apart from my perspective. Going to the cinema is still expensive and Star Wars is still showing.
It is perception that moves the conversation to value – and the real value is about the content.
Technology has disrupted the cost question in publishing – suddenly everyone can publish, immediately and (if they are lucky enough to have a front room or a garage) print off a few copies the next day. And sod that, let’s not even bother with the book – let’s just deliver some content to the cloud in a multi-platform format.
I think of a multi-platform format as being like the diving boards at my local swimming baths – the springboard gets plenty of traffic but you barely make a splash, whereas the 10m board is only used by young people and show-offs and often ends with a painful flop.
Multi-platforms and choice are great, but you are still diving into the deep end when you decide to publish.
Investing in the content, the style and (if you really want to do things properly) the technical merit may have a cost, but it will create the value.
At SRA Books, our principle is ‘write the right book, publish the right way and reach the right reader’ – and it’s as difficult to argue against, as it is to say.
In my local swimming baths, it was shortened to ‘No bombing!’
The best formula I can express is:
Money spent + Time invested – Perspective = Cost
Money spent + Time invested + Perspective = Value
This blog post was brought to you by Ian Hunter, SRA’s Commercial Director.