When you use print-on-demand publishers, there's three prices they set.
- The "public" price: THIS is the price that third-party resellers have (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, places like that). Expect books to run at least $5-$15 more than the cover price before shipping - the publisher wants full cover price for this book, after all, and the third-party resellers want their cut too. For retail purchases, I make $2.14 The publisher has no idea where the book is after it leaves their warehouse and I doubt the resellers do either (though some may). Shipping generally takes over month or so, if not more. By far the stupidest of the three options.
- The "private" price: Literally, the "cover price" of the novel plus shipping bought directly from the publisher. The publisher knows where the book is and can generally tell you. It's delivered depending on what you decide to pay for ($4 for 5-15 days, $9 for 3-5 days, both of those don't include printing times). I have no idea where the book is. I don't know where it is or where it's going and for everything I've written, I think I may a solid $6.54. It's all good but this still isn't the best price for both the author nor the reader.
- Third is the "author" price. I pay them directly the cost of printing, shipping and their fee. All in all, for a book the size of Unda Vosari: Legends, it comes out to $8.82 before shipping to me, before discounts for bulk orders.
Now, if somebody mails me $16.99 plus the cost of shipping, I go throw that in a bank account and pay the publisher. I get the book a couple of weeks later and I start a-mailin' copies out.
Why is this all better? Why do I prefer the last method, which takes more work and more effort on my part? Isn't it enough I've written the damn book? No, it isn't enough.
One, it's more reliable for me. I know where the books are coming from, I know where the books are going, I know I can track them. If things get lost, I can raise holy hell. All you have to do is sit back and poke me every couple of days to find out how things are going.
Two, I get a bigger profit. I get my copies of the book in a few weeks (between 5 and 15 business days) and then turn around and ship it out at whatever speed you want it (general, ground, air, express, whatever you send me money for). I can make STUPID amounts of money bulk-ordering and doing the shipping myself. It's FANTASTIC how many numbers are on the left side of that decimal point. If I place an order of 575 copies, there's even a comma! That's profit! I get to keep that much money!
Three, if there's an issue, if it's damaged, if it's on fire when it's put in your mailbox, you only have to deal with me. This is the important one to me. I've often said (and will continue to say) if you don't like the book, don't buy it. I have said many, many times that I would rather give the book away to people who enjoy it and get paid after the fact but that isn't financially an option (well, paper-form anyway, I can email everyone and their dog whatever electronic version they prefer). If you get a copy of the book and hate it, and you've slathered it in barbecue sauce and tried to feed it to your dog and that didn't work so you've shredded it into confetti and your cat won't shit on it so you've mailed it to Rip Taylor and he refuses to even throw it on the ground as confetti, you can mail it back to me and, if I have the money, I will gladly refund it to you. At the very least, I will gladly accept whatever criticism you have to shovel down my throat as I weep mournfully over the barbecue-covered shredded copy of my book.
That's why I prefer to handle everything myself.