Sending out a Christian Wave upon a Secular Sea

The Business Side of Writing: Part II by Bryan Powell

dollar sign

Okay, you’re booked in a half dozen locations, that’s great. Congratulations!

If you’ve done your homework and built a platform, you can have a great time talking to your friends and customers.

The question now is, “How do I get compensated? After all, isn’t that the goal (at least somewhere down the list after being a blessing and having fun and getting the word out and creating a wave and all that stuff)?”

Before we discuss the compensation from the retail side, we need to understand the wholesale side. If you are published through a traditional publisher, you need to read and understand the commission split in your contract.

I know it’s hard to read all that fine print, but you need to know it or you’ll end up embarrassing yourself. The one thing you don’t want to do is call your publisher and demand to know why your royalty check didn’t come the day after the end of the first quarter.

Let’s say you completely understand your contract (not). What next?

Negotiation

Know how much you paid for your books on the wholesale side. If you paid 40% of the retail price. That means you make a whopping 60% profit, not bad. It would be better if you could wheedle out of your publisher 35%. That’s the negotiation part of this blog.

I begged my publisher, using all sort of spurious excuses such as: I’m a poor, starving artist, my kids will go hungry if I don’t get a better discount, and I’ll have to put my mother-in-law in a nursing home if you don’t give me a better discount.

To my dismay, he didn’t budge. I was crushed, but he did throw in an extra 25 books. Free I might add. Shew! That was a relief.

Retail Compensation

Some venues will charge a “consignment fee” and others won’t.

  • Let’s start with the coffee shops.
    • They are usually a free event.
    • You make the sale, you keep the money. It’s that simple.
    • Keep a log of your sales and if yours is a sales tax state, be sure to charge the tax and record it in a log book.

If you don’t charge your customers the sales tax, you’ll have to pay it and that comes out of your profit margin.

  • Next, are the independent or new and used book stores.
    • I have been in many and they all do it differently.
    • One store discounts my books 10%, but then pays me 60% of the retail price. They make a 30% profit and I make 20% (if I paid 40% to my publisher).

That’s where profit margins are so important?

  • Next are the Christian bookstores, Barnes and Nobles, Books-a-Million and other big and little box stores.
    • If they try to charge you 50%, walk away. 40% is the best you can hope for, 35% is even better, but that’s a rarity.
    • Some bookstores have a “Local Author” corner. This is great because after a signing event, some people who don’t purchase a book when you are there may come back.
    • Being a good steward is vitally important.
    • Never leave your books without making a record of how many books you’ve left, the price, the percentage split, how long they are to stay on their shelves, and when they send out checks. Be sure to get the manager’s signature and make two copies.
    • Make a follow-up call in three months to see how many books sold.
    • Along with your log of venues, create a file of “Consignment Sheets” and look over it from time to time.

Remember, they are your books. No one cares for them as much as you.

  • The next are Fairs, Festivals and Literary Events.
    • Choose your events wisely.
    • What’s it going to cost to rent a 10×10 booth? If it costs more than $150.00, you are running the risk of losing money.
    • If it’s a large event, you may take a chance on it, but it could be a wash.

So What Have We Learned?

Writing a book is only half the fun. The other half is meeting people and signing (selling) your books to an adoring crowd of happy, smiling, anxious readers. But the other side, the Business Side of Writing, is your profit margin.

Don’t back away from your price unless you have a good reason. A poor economy, they are your friends, and you’ve only sold one book today are not good enough reasons to cut your price.

You wrote it, your publisher set the price, so smile, and quote your price.

Now go sell your books!

 

 

3 Comments

  1. October 18, 2013    

    Bryan,
    What a great article! Writing a book is only about 10% of the work and marketing/selling is 90%. I love how you’ve summarized the different options and how to work the market. You obviously enjoy this aspect of being an author as much as the writing part. I share your enthusiasm. Keep up the good work!

  2. October 18, 2013    

    Great tips for newly published authors.

  3. October 18, 2013    

    Bryan,

    Your message was so timely in that I’ll be a part of a writer’s seminar next weekend and hopefully, I will sell some books (preorders). You provided a lot of good information. Thanks so much!

    Vanessa

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