On RNZ podcast “Two Cent’s Worth” Justin Gregory starts with ‘the economic of writing the great New Zealand Novel to find out if anyone’s making any money.

This features Carl Shuker and his fifth novel ‘A Mistake’ that went on sale of March this year and is selling well at Unity books in Wellington. They quickly sold out and it is on the way to being a bestseller. It sells for $30 and sold ‘hundreds’.

The book was published by Victoria University Press (this lists the book at $30 which appears to include postage).

According to the podcast, the economics of publishing are:
$4,000 to publish (1,000 copies?)

40% goes to the retailer
20% Sales & Distribution
30% Publisher
10% to the Author (after the royalty has been paid off)

3,000 copies sold is when a book starts making money.
5,000 is a best seller in NZ

So $90,000 of income with only 10% going to the author. Not much, he should write more !

As Justin explains ‘The problem is the size of the market here’.

Well.. for paper copies distributed in New Zealand that may be correct. But there is an international market of up to 360 million English readers. There must be a way to distribute the book to them…

So I check out the biggest retailer Amazon. The book is listed, but only a hard copy ($25 NZ) and for pre-order !

It won’t be out until Sept 17 2019 – that’s FIVE months away.
And no eBook immediately available – WHY ?

Any business based on advertising and not selling is not going to make a lot of money.

The key may be in the listed publisher, not VUP, but Counterpoint. I’m assuming they have sold international rights to another publisher. Back to VUP and they have a link to meBooks, a New Zealand eBook seller. But no books by Carl Shuker here, not even his backlist.

The point here is that authors who publish through publishers that think small and concentrate in print copies will not be full time writers. They need to take advantage of Amazon’s self publishing and seek an international audience.

There are are full time writers that are not Patterson, Sanderson or Scalzi. And the one New Zealander I know of is Nalini Singh who writes paranormal romance stories, and lots of them.

So Justin, if you want to find a full time New Zealand author, look for someone writing multiple books a year in a popular genre.

But the best news was that a BBC adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s ‘The Luminaries” is on the way.