The Questions

Selling Copies of Your Traditionally Published Book

Selling Copies of Your Book

A selling question came up on Quora about traditional publishing. Not all the answers would help, so I piped in.

When someone published a book through a traditional publisher, is he still allowed to sell it separately or does one usually sell the rights for it?

Selling your books

So, you want to sell your book after a publisher has purchased the rights? Depending on what your question is asking, will depend on what answer you are looking. First know where your answers are coming from (know about me)

Let’s start with contracts. You will have either one or two contracts if a publisher picks your manuscript. They will be the one between you and the publisher and the one between you and your agent. Each will spell out what you can and cannot do. Look for a clause concerning copies of your book or non-competing work. The clause concerning copies could be an addendum to the contract so look at what you have signed. If an agent represents you, I suggest talking to them concerning what you are looking at doing.

The Meet of Selling

Your publisher did a lot of work to get your book into the wild, so why would you want to piss them off? Remember that contract thing I mentioned above? They have purchased the rights to produce your book once you sign the contract. You do not have the write to print and sell your book once you have signed the contract. Your publisher will include information on receiving copies of your work in print form. Depending on the reason you want copies will depend on how much your your publisher will charge you. If you want them for your own “book wall” then they may just give you a copy for that. Want to give copies away? Depending on how many, they may give you the copies free and put “Not for resale” on them.

If you have a good publishing house, they will sell you copies of your book to re-sell (see FAQ on our Wicked Tales imprint). The discount is 40% off the retail price less royalty for my publishing company. Depending on the number of books depends if you have to pay for shipping or not. When one of our authors orders a large volume of books, we pick up the shipping as an encouragement.

Let’s say you have a book contract and want to have a signing at a retail outlet. That retail outlet will purchase the books through the distributor and then supply the copies for the signing. Do not take your own copies or tell people you will sell them a copy for less for that will end a lot of signings. But if you attend events like fests, then you can bring your own copies and sell to the crowd (that is expected).

You can claim “fair us” and print portions of the work on t-shirts or signs if you wish, but not the whole manuscript. Dong so will become a violation of the “No Competing Works” clause. Don’t do it, unless you want to end up pissing off your publisher and agent.

Selling – Buyer Beware

Selling copies of your book will depend on where you source them. Get them from your publisher, for that is where the best discount will come from. If your book is selling well, they’ll give a little on the price ito lock you in a little on your next manuscript. Do not use another source.

Mentioned in another answer was to purchase copies from a remainder house, or a steep discount wholesaler. I suggest not to use them, though their price may entice you. Such places are, from research, selling the “destroy” copies of the work. When a bookstore orders books marked as “destroy” if not sold after 90 days (the usual return period for distributors) they should destroy the book. But what has been happening is the bookstore puts a marker line either on the bottom or top of the book, a black line from front to back. They then will sell the books to a closeout company for a few dollars and pocket the funds. This has happened to a number of books my company published until we went to “non-returnable”. Why? Because when the book is marked as destroy, that is what we expected. Yes, there was the issue that we still had to pay for the printing and distribution which sucked, but then copies with the lines started to show up in online sales areas and closeout bookstores. We lost money on over 2000 copies of one book. We paid for the printing and distribution, but the copies were never destroyed (that is why we keep detailed records of sales). Never use them. Shun them. Tell your friends not to do it.

Your Take Away

Remember, your publisher will always try to help you out when your book sells, for they know the more that sell, the more likely the next manuscript will sell as well. And if they are good to you, then they may just get your next work and make a little money as well.

Understand one thing: you want your publisher to make money publishing your book. If your publisher makes money, then you are then a successfully published author, maybe even a best seller. When they make money, you make money, and when you make money you will smile. A manuscript that is a successful publication means less worries about getting published again.

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