One of the interesting things about insomnia is that you have all sorts of extra time to do things that you would never imagine doing in your entire life, like adding up all the costs of your novels against all the costs of your graphic novels.
But, that is the world I live in many nights, so that’s just what I did.
As of this moment, I have written 18 novels and two non-fiction books, for a total of 20 prose books, and of those 19 have gone completely through production. These are the costs for those novels, as best as I can find.
Cover design – $6,250
I have 16 covers for upcoming titles included in this, so the actual cost of books through production is considerably less than the total cover design. On the other side, while I have the covers, I don’t have wraps for most of the books through production, so for finalized books, I have $900 in additional expenses that aren’t accounted for here as well. So it basically evens out as far as outlaid expenses for books, with a remainder of $700 or so. I have covers for 2-4 years depending on how fast I write.
Editing – $13,633
This is inclusive of editing and proofing for all 17 novels through production along with the two non-fiction books.
Total – $19,883
This makes my cost per book $1046.47, though there are more cover expenses than I have finished books, which slightly skews the numbers, but not by much. I think when all is said and done my costs per book are right around $1,000.
This might be high for some authors or low for other authors, but I’m comfortable with roughly $1,000 per book. That’s my sweet spot with novels.
The entirety of this spend is roughly the cost of 2.5 volumes of a comic book. However, the ROI on comics dwarfs my ROI on novels. Any single graphic novel has returned $50,000+, while I have not yet broken $20,000 in sales on novels during my career.
Now, GRAPHIC novels and comics are a whole different matter. It was very hard to track down all my numbers from 2010-2015 as I wasn’t as good at keeping track, and since two of my books were made during that time, these are estimates based on contracts and wire transfer receipts matched up together.
Katrina Hates the Dead/Katrina Hates Dead Shit (118 pages of art) – $11,220
This was for a long time my single most expensive book title, and as you can see it cost me ELEVEN TIMES more than making a novel. However, it’s also my best selling title of all time, as far as graphic novels.
The entirety of And Death Followed Behind Her, which includes three shorter Katrina novels, cost $2,400, which is 21% of producing the graphic novel.
Pixie Dust (88 pages of art) – $8,400
Pixie Dust was my most reasonable graphic novel to produce, and it still cost me over EIGHT times more than a novel to produce. The entirety of And Hell Followed Behind Her, which includes three shorter Akta novels, was about $1,700, which is 22% of the cost of producing the graphic novel.
Ichabod #1-9.5 (issue #10 is still in production) – $19,452
Since we’re doing more Ichabod, and are currently in production on the third volume, it has easily become my most expensive book to produce, with over $5,000 left to pay before this volume is done, and at least one more volume to produce before the series concludes I am spending about $1,000 a month every month for 10 Ichabod pages.
Paradise #1 (22 pages of art) – $1,580
I only ever produced one issue of Paradise, as it wasn’t very popular, so I didn’t finish producing the full arc.
Gherkin Boy – $30
I drew this book myself, and only hired a colorist for the cover, which is why it was so cheap compared to all my other books. However, if you looked at the art inside you would understand why I won’t be drawing another book in the near or long term future. This book, even with its horrible art, has sold no less than 300 copies, making me $1,500, and EASILY being my highest ROI percentage of any comic property, which tickles me to no end.
Anthologies – $3,800
This does not include any royalty payments to creators, just expenses for covers and editorial, which means each anthology book costs about as much to produce, minus royalties, as a novel. with royalty payment, they are more expensive than any other book.
Total – $42,002
Many people have asked me why I write more novels than comics, and hopefully this sheds some light on it, and why I’m able to write almost 8 novels for every graphic novel/anthology I create.
The economics just work out that way.
However, since my comics return way more revenue per project, and novels are barely breaking even at this moment, I end up getting 2.5:1 value for my money in comics and only 1:1 value in novels, which is why I’m still doing so many comics, even though they are costlier than novels by a considerable margin. If I can ever get my novels to ROI like my comics, though, I’m going to be dangerous.
I write cool things, filled with monsters, humor, action, adventure, and generally awesomeness. Then, I sell those things to humans. I am pretty good at it.