Thursday, July 2, 2009

Don't get ripped off when you buy copies
of your own book

Every author needs to have copies of her own book, to distribute to potential reviewers, to give to family and friends, to keep around the house, or maybe even to sell. This is one area where you can really get hurt if you are not a REAL self publisher.

The website of vanity press Wheatmark said, “You may purchase additional books at 40% off the retail price.”

That’s an unconscionable rip-off. Your discount should be based on the production cost. The retail price is irrelevant.

Xlibris has another strange pricing policy for authors’ copies of their own books. They offer discounts ranging from 30% to 60%, depending on the quantity ordered (not unusual), but the discount also varies with what seems to be a FIXED retail price based on the number of pages in a book. The author’s cost for a book with 108 pages can be $2.80 more than the cost of a book with 107 pages.

That makes absolutely no sense. The difference in the manufacturing cost is about a penny.

Outskirts Press, my traditional least-favorite of the vanity publishers, has its own strange system for pricing author copies. Like some of the others, the discount comes off the retail list price — which has nothing to do with the manufacturing cost and is largely a marketing decision — and the discount varies with which “publishing plan” you have chosen.

For a 300-page $14.95 book, the discounts range from 34% to 48% off the cover price. You get a bigger discount with the “diamond” package than with the “sapphire” package. However, since you’ll pay $300 more for the diamond deal, with Outskirts, you have to pay more in order to pay less.

In REAL self publishing, the price the author pays for books has NOTHING TO DO with the cover price. It just has to do with manufacturing and shipping costs.

If my POD printer charges about $5 to print and ship a 300-page book, I pay $5 whether the cover price is $8, $10, $14, $20 or $129. That's how it should be.

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