Three Tips for Writers
By Steve Gillman - December 28, 2011
Just to get a post up (it's been a while), I'll give a little
bit of "insider information" for writers who have a
book being published, or those who hope to soon. Three items
come to mind as I think through the process of getting my book
"101 Weird Ways to Make Money" published.
It may seem that as a first time author you should just take
the deal given to you, and in general that may be true. But there
is always room for negotiation. When the contract was sent to
me by Wiley and Sons, I had problems with four or five relatively
minor parts of it. They agreed to changes in all of them. The
details are unimportant here, since they will be different in
your case, but I didn't ask for more of an advance or higher
royalties. I suspect that first-time authors would not often
be able to negotiate higher royalties or advances unless they
are famous or in the news.
2. Buy Your Books Online
Should you buy your own copies of your book from the publisher?
Maybe; but check the price that you pay and if it only pennies
more to buy online, get your copies there. Many publisher/author
contracts will require that the author purchase a certain number
of books. This is not so much to boost sales as to ensure the
publisher that the author has enough faith in selling the books
to justify the offering of an advance. This is negotiable, however,
and if you assure the publisher that you'll be buying books as
you need them (especially if you plan to do book signings or
speeches), you can probably limit the required number of books
you will have to buy initially.
The reason to do this is that books purchased directly from
the publisher using your author discount will not be counted
as sales by Bookscan and other sales tracking services. If you
buy them from Amazon or Barnes and Noble online they will be
counted. This may makes sense, because the difference in cost
could be negligible.
For example, if I buy copies of my "101 Weird Ways to
Make Money" from Wiley right now, I pay the same 50% that
bookstores typically pay, which is $9.98 (the retail price is
$19.95). Then I pay for the batch to be shipped, and I get no
royalties on these books. My net cost would be about $10.25 per
book. Meanwhile, at one point early in the book launch, Amazon
was selling the book for $11.76, and with no shipping charge
on orders over $25. Since I get a royalty of $1.50 for these
sales, my net cost was just $10.26--just about the same. But
these sales are counted by Bookscan, pushing the book up the
lists of best selling books. So if I buy 15 or 20 at a time I
can crack into the top ten for the week in some categories like
"business books." That brings more visibility and potentially
It may save you some money to get your books from your publisher,
but at least check the numbers to see if the difference is worth
not having the sales counted.
3. Get Your Affiliate Commission
As soon as my book was available my editor sent me a link
to the Amazon.com sales page. I used this in my newsletters and
on my websites. I noticed that included in the link was the Amazon
affiliate code for Wiley and Sons Publishing. In other words,
they were selling the books to Amazon, but then also earning
an affiliate commission on each sale I made using that link.
I can't have an affiliate account with Amazon (they closed all
affiliate accounts in Colorado to avoid dealing with new laws
that required collection of sales tax), so I leave the Wiley
code there. It costs me nothing to help Wiley make a little more
with my book.
On the other hand, if you have or can have an affiliate account
with Amazon or other online book vendors, why not make more money
on each sale? It isn't a lot, but it adds up. At the moment my
book sells for about $14.50 on Amazon, and if I could get that
4% affiliate commission when I sent buyers there, that would
be an additional 58 cents on each sale. That's 38% more than
the usual royalty of $1.50.