Author Royalties and Author Copies
By Steve Gillman - August 18, 2011
We learn as we go in writing and publishing, as in life. I
recently discovered some interesting things about author royalties
and buying copies of your own book.
You see, even as the author of 101
Weird Ways to Make Money: Cricket Farming, Repossessing Cars,
and Other Jobs With Big Upside and Not Much Competition I
have to buy my own copies. I needed some for friends, family
and to give to those who let me interview them for the book.
Interestingly, when I mentioned this to my editor, he suggested
that rather than buy from Wiley and Sons through the usual author
channel, I might want to buy directly from Amazon or Barnes and
Noble online. He explained why, and I learned another lesson
about modern publishing.
To start with, I have to buy copies from Wiley at the same
discount they sell to bookstores, so my $19.95 book would cost
me $9.98 per copy, plus I would have to pay a shipping charge.
If I ordered just ten or twenty books at a time then, they might
cost me a total of about $10.75 each. However, I do not get paid
royalties on the books I buy for myself.
Author royalties vary according to the publisher, the type
of book, and how famous an author is. In my case I get 15% of
the receipts that Wiley and Sons takes in (at least on paperbacks
sold in this country). So when they sell to bookstores for $9.98,
I get about $1.49 for each book. Now, since Barnes and Noble
is currently selling my book at the discounted price of $11.74,
and if I order more than two there is no shipping charge, my
net cost after I get my $1.49 royalty is just $10.25.
Now, perhaps I misunderstood the arrangement at Wiley, and
they too would ship the books to me for free. In that case I
am paying about 27-cents more for each copy when buying online
through B&N. But that gets us to the second reason to
get your author copies through retail channels: The sales statistics.
Sales are tracked for all books and reported in industry publications
(online as well i believe). If you want another shot to get published,
it helps to have good sales stats. Sales made from the publisher
directly to the author are not recorded as part of these figures,
but all retail sales are.
So because of author royalties and the discounts offered in
the competitive online market, the net cost of buying author
copies at retail is almost the same as getting them through your
publisher. Add to that the boost to the sales figures seen by
everyone in the industry, and it makes sense to buy your books