Book Publishing Operations: Budgets & Profit-Sharing

22 Jun

This week we’ve been finalizing our budget for next the upcoming fiscal year in addition to doing the paperwork necessary for yearly profit-sharing checks to be sent out to authors, departments, and TSTC colleges.

Putting our budget for the next fiscal year (FY 2007-08 runs from September 1, 2007, through August 31, 2008) was something, at best, of an educated guess. We have certain fixed costs that we can calculate to a pretty fair degree—salaries and benefits, travel, office supplies, and so on—but our biggest expense after salaries each year is printing, which is a little harder to predict. That’s because up to this point we’ve doing three big print runs each year—one each for our fall, spring, and summer semester book orders—so exact printing costs depend on those sales. In general, we do half our total yearly sales in the fall with the rest being divided between the following spring and summer. At the same time, however, as we keep publishing new titles—five for this fall and three to five each next spring and summer—there is a fair amount of flexibility in what printing costs may be. Plus, we’d like to do some bigger offset press print runs which will be a big chunk of money each, although that should be more than made up for by lower per copy price, assuming we can sell enough of those titles.

The other big expense for next year we’re budgeting for is to allow for a lot more travel. To make the next big leap forward in revenue—we went from $15K in FY 2005-06 to $115K for FY 2006-07—means that we need to 1) sell more copies of the books we already have in print and 2) find/acquire the most lucrative projects possible. There’s a lot you can do via the Internet and so on but, in reality, it’s going to mean a lot of old fashion legwork: going to colleges, visiting with faculty, handing out desk copies, and talking about the advantages of working with TSTC Publishing. I figure that once the fall semester is under way I’ll have a couple of months—mid-September through mid-November—where I’ll be spending at least 2-3 days a week making day trips around Texas to different schools in addition to one or two longer trips to adjacent states.

On a different note, however, as I mentioned above, we’ve submitted all the paperwork for profit-sharing payments—a total of about $20,000 in comparison to last year when it was less than $1,000—to be made based on a sales this year. Although there are a few books where we pay a traditional straight royalty on the net price we sell the book for, most of our contracts are profit-sharing agreements where all parties receive a percentage of net profits. In addition, when we set all of us this up in the beginning we stipulated that on any given book project that, amongst other folks, the instructional departments that adopt our textbooks receive a percentage of sales along with the authors. (This does not reduce an author’s share; instead, the department’s cut comes out of our end.) The rationale for giving departments a share of money generated was so that they would have a financial benefit for using our books instead of a department using books solely to the advantage of the author. Also, money we pay to the departments are called local funds which means, as opposed to State-appropriated funds that have very stringent guidelines for us, can be spent on a wider variety of things. With the ongoing budget woes in terms of money given to schools by the State, this has the potential to be a very useful to departments.

So, this week it was greatly satisfying to go around TSTC Waco in addition to emailing and calling people to tell them checks were in the works. We had two departments—Dental Assisting and Supplemental Education Services—that made about $3,000 each and one faculty member who made a skosh less than $6,000. Of course, it’s always a sliding scale based on sales . . . most authors and departments made less than this but these days any money you can earn—and, with ongoing books sales, keep earning—is way better than nothing (or even a sharp stick in the eye).

Mark

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