Please note: In the event of any conflict between the below and your traditional publishing agreement, whatever is included in your agreement will prevail. Therefore, it will be to your advantage to consult your agreement first to see if the answer you are seeking is in there. Also, due to a lot of overlap of questions I get, if you do not find the answer you're looking for here, please consult the other FAQ sections before asking me your question(s).

How can I add the reviews I’ve collected to my Amazon listing?

If you claim your Author Central page on Amazon, you can add editorial reviews. You will likely have to wait to claim it until the book is available for purchase on Amazon and then wait for them to send me an email to approve it, which of course I will.

How do bookstores order my book?

The book should be available for order from Ingram’s Books in Print, which is the typical wholesale distributor for book/retail stores, within a couple of weeks of but no later than the publication date.

Does the charity I chose receive 10% of the amount I pay for any author copies?

The 10% to the charity is based on royalties, so it’s not included when you order author copies. Only 10% of the royalties received when a bookstore (or anyone else) buys it online or via wholesale is retained and sent to your chosen charity.

If a bookstore buys my book at a 55% discount, does that mean they pay $6.75 for a $15 book? Then do I make royalties as 30% (the royalty rate statement in the agreement) of that $6.75, or a portion of the bookstore's sales, or is it just based on whatever agreement I make with an individual store?

It depends on whether you are supplying books to the store or if the store is ordering them wholesale. If you’re supplying them, then it would be whatever agreement you make with the store, and you would keep all proceeds from any of those sales. Most bookstores require 55% discounts in order to carry books if they order them wholesale from Ingram, which would be $7.20 for a book priced at $15.99, but unfortunately, your royalty isn’t 30% of $7.20 because the production costs (including Ingram’s cut) get taken out of that, so the total royalty varies but usually ends up being around $3 per book, of which you receive 30%. So, you can see, you would be much better off if you could get the bookstore to purchase your books directly from you on consignment or otherwise or allow you to sell them yourself. In the latter scenario, you could offer your book for a “special” price of $10, including sales tax, so you only need $10 bills for change for cash sales, and you would make much more, probably around $3 or $4 per book after you pay me for printing (plus shipping and taxes) and your percentage for author copies.

How many review copies can I send out?

You are authorized to provide as many of the PDFs for review purposes as you want. You may also order any number of print ARCs/Galleys you would like to send to reviewers.

Where should reviewers post their reviews?

To be safe, I recommend that reviewers post their reviews on their own online or print publications or put them on Goodreads because Amazon may reject reviews that are not verified purchases. If they do post them on Amazon, make sure they include a statement like "I received a free copy of [book title] in order to provide this voluntary and honest review." You can also add them to your Author Central listing as editorial reviews (see above), and if you send them to me, I will most likely add them to the book’s page on my website and/or share them via LBP social media.

I received my royalty statement and am confused as to why I have a negative balance. Do I have to pay the negative amount back to you? Does this mean my book is bad?

Unfortunately, this is the typical way book sales go. Negative figures in your royalty account are usually due to returns. You do not have to pay the negative balance back to me; future royalty receipts will be posted against the negative amount, and you won't be paid any royalties until the figure exceeds zero. I appreciate your feelings of regret for any low sales, but that's kind of the name of the game—publishing books is a tough, tough industry, and I never hold a lack of sales against anyone. I know that authors can do everything right in terms of promotion and marketing and still not sell many books; it's not necessarily a comment on the book itself—the market is just that fickle

I expected to sell a lot more copies of my book; why haven’t I sold more?

I have always striven to be transparent with everyone. I am a tiny, one-person traditional publishing company with two independent contractors—my designer, who happens to be my college-degreed graphic designer daughter, and a friend from her college days with a writing-related degree from the University of Iowa who does my evaluations and helps with marketing. I have always been very careful to not make any promises about the level of sales authors can expect, and in fact, have cautioned anyone who has asked or mentioned sales that publishing is an unpredictable, very difficult industry where it is very difficult to find significant financial success. However, as I say to people, there is almost 0% chance any one person will win the lottery, but 100% that, at some point, someone is going to win the lottery. My traditional publishing business model is based on the fact that the more books an author releases, the better the author’s chance at a good income; I cannot write enough books myself, so my idea is to traditionally publish others’ books to create that momentum-building.

What happens when/if I want to order more copies? Would I go through you again? Also, what about copies for potential reviewers? Would I have to pay for them?

You can order more copies through me at any time, with the understanding that I might not be able to order them immediately and can’t control the printing and shipping times, though if you plan on ordering any books at least five weeks before you need them, that should be sufficient. At and post-publication, you would pay the same price for any books you order for any purpose.

How do I pay for the author copies that you order for me?

There will be instructions on how to pay on the invoice I will send you for your copies—currently, it’s by PayPal, credit card, ACH, or check. If you need another way to pay, I’m happy to work with you on that, just let me know.

Do I send reviewers a hard copy, an electronic copy, or both?

I will send you a PDF with the front and back covers included around the same time I order the printed proofs that you can use as ARCs/Galleys, and I can provide you with the final PDF when I order your author copies that you can use for post-publication reviews upon your request. Whether you send reviewers a hard copy or a PDF would be up to you and the reviewer, i.e., you have every right to tell reviewers you can only send them a PDF, and reviewers have a right to decline that and insist on getting a hard copy, at which point, you would decide if you wanted to do that or not. If a reviewer requires that the submission come from the publisher, please let me know and I will send it for you provided you reimburse me for any out-of-pocket expenses, allow me enough time, and give me all the information and any needed accompanying items the reviewer requires. (It is the same for any contests you might enter that require the submission to come from the publisher.)

Can you send me a link to give to bookstores to buy my book wholesale from Ingram?

Other than it being available from Ingram’s Books in Print/wholesale store, I won’t have any additional information on ordering since I don’t have access to it because my understanding is it’s only available to booksellers by subscription. I’m guessing those interested in ordering from there can search by ISBN or title. At any rate, booksellers should be familiar with the process for ordering books wholesale from Ingram. If they aren’t, you might consider selling the books directly to the retailer to resell or offering them for sale at the retailer on consignment.

Do I need to collect sales tax on books I sell?

I'm not a tax accountant or attorney so I cannot provide this advice, and it varies by state. However, in my experience, yes, you will need to collect sales tax for books you sell directly, with the amount varying by state and local statutes. You can either add this to the price at which you sell the book (just like when you buy something taxable at a store) or include it in the sale price, calculating the portion of that which represents the sales tax. You will also need to refer to federal, state, and local tax laws regarding where and how to file and pay the sales tax.

Can I get my sales figures? or When can I see how many of my books have sold?

Your agreement contains a provision saying you will receive sales figures by September 15th for sales from January through June if the amount of royalties due to you is more than $50. It also says that regardless of how many royalties you are owed, you will receive figures and your royalty for either July through December if you received a royalty payment mid-year or January through December if you didn't, by February 15th (March 15th in more recent agreements). I have published numerous books so far and will only add titles to that roster, so it is impractical and would cost too much for me to send sales figures more frequently or upon request. The only exception I may make to this is if you are running a structured advertising or other marketing campaign and would like sales figures to determine its effectiveness.

I noticed my book is selling for a cut-rate at (insert website). Do you know anything about that? I’ll tell my friends to go there instead of Amazon if it’s a better deal for them.

I don’t know anything about that, but having books show up on various sites is very common. Other sites just link to the book; they haven’t actually purchased books yet or have any in hand. If someone buys off their site, then they just get it printed and send it to their customer, at which time it would show up as a sale in royalty statements. I’m not exactly sure about the technical stuff, but it’s like they are just curating books or are an affiliate. I also have no control over the price those other sites charge. It’s also possible that it is a secondhand copy. You can tell your friends to buy books wherever they like, but personally, I’d be leery buying anything from any entity I didn’t personally know to be reputable.

There is a section on the Amazon page called “from the publisher.” If I send you the artwork, can you post some reviews? I’m waiting for a few more to come in from magazines, etc.

Yes, I can definitely do that if you provide the images; just give me a bit of time to do it. Authors can also add editorial reviews through their Author Central page, but I think it is just text, and the images with the reviews are definitely more eye-catching. Love the idea!!

Please tell me exactly how much I would get from the sale of a $16.99 book. What would you take, what would the seller—Amazon, etc—take, and what would that leave me?

Unfortunately, the exact amount that Amazon or other distributors take out is something I don’t know and changes slightly each time due to fluctuating printing prices. In addition, some distributors offer the book at a discount, and unfortunately, I can’t opt out of that. For Kindle e-books, we are receiving a total royalty of 70% of the e-book price sold, which may or may not be the retail price of $5.99, for example. Amazon makes its own rules and has its own algorithms, and by publishing books through there, I have to agree to abide by them because they are not going to care if I don’t publish books through them. This is not pleasing, of course, but most books are sold on Amazon, so in the long run, even with all of Amazon’s rules, more books are going to be sold if I use them versus if I don’t.

Hopefully, this example will help explain the numbers in your royalty statement:

The “Total” column is the amount of royalties I received after the distributors take out printing costs and their cut, which they don’t tell me and is not precise, though I do my best to price the books so that they receive at least $3 royalty - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The numbers in the “Author Portion” column represent your 30% of each amount of total royalties I received, and then the last column is the running total of your royalty.

So, let’s take the first royalty figure.

  • Let’s say the print book is sold for $16.99 and the Kindle e-book for $5.99 (which may or may not be the case, but we can say it is for the example).
  • One e-book and 13 paperbacks were sold on Amazon, which would’ve been $16.99 x 13 and $5.99 x 1 = $220.87 + $5.99 = $226.86
  • Since I received $78 for all those sales, this means the cost of selling the books on Amazon, or Amazon's cut, was $226.86 - $78 = $148.86
  • You receive 30% of the $78, which is $23.40.

Why is the distributor printing the book? Aren't you the publisher? Isn't that why you take 70% of the royalty, to cover the cost of publishing the book?

The distributor prints the book because it is “print on demand,” so when someone orders a book, they print it and send it out. I am the traditional publisher. I take 70% of the royalty to compensate me for my other expenses like paying my designer and all of my time invested in publishing the book. I’ve heard the myth that the only people who make money from traditionally published books are the traditional publishers, and I can assure you that in my case at least, so far that has definitely NOT been the case. If your book ends up being a best-seller or even sells enough to net a few thousand dollars in total royalties, I would consider changing to a 50/50 royalty split.