Credit crunch • 8 December 2008 • The SnowBlog
I wonder if someone launched a piece of confectionary called Credit Crunch whether it would be successful? Delicious golden honeycomb representing the gold that you no longer have, wrapped in a silky jacket of dark chocolate to reflect your mood? No, maybe not. Perhaps I shouldn't be thinking of new products to see us through the recession. Actually, the point of this post is to let you know how Snowbooks has been affected so far. The answer is, not at all. Now that's not fancy bravado or immodest boasting - that's because of the nature of independent publishing - at least, our version of it. We operate on a different scale to the large houses. It means that if we have one book that does modestly well in the scheme of things, that's actually brilliant. We don't need a few-hundred-thousand-unit breakaway seller because our overheads are so low. Here are our monthly overheads, as averaged over the last 12 months:
Payroll and drawings: 3050 a month (we're very cheap)
General expenses, including commissions, overseas shipping, post, phones, professional services, PR and so forth: 2030 a month
Print bills: 4500 a month
Marketing (promotional bungs): 750 a month
So we 'only' need just over 10k a month coming in to tick over. It's enough to keep us rather busy, but it's not an impossible amount to magic up every month. It doesn't require a flukey bestseller, is my point - a mix of solid backlist, a couple of promotions and the onix and cover design work that I do keep us ticking over nicely. (Plus I do like to have twenty grand or so in the bank at any one time in case of emergencies.)
And given that the worries in the industry are about overall volumes crashing down, you can see how we would slip under the radar there. We don't really care about the top 100 or even 1000 books (except for our books in it - hello The Affinity Bridge!) - we care about the handful we have which perform rather nicely, thank you, without the boom and bust of mega-bestsellers.
We have had far tougher times when the overall industry was doing just fine. Xmas 06 was our disaster, when post-Xmas returns nearly brought us down. Thankfully we emerged from that wiser and stronger.
So my point is that smaller companies can innoculate themselves from the peaks and troughs of the market by publishing good, solid books that do just nicely. And hopefully that's what we'll continue to do for the next few years whilst the world melts down. Who knows, though...