Her true crime, Written in Blood, was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe award and she was featured on 20/20 and 48 Hours. She still writes true crime, but is also now writing multiple mystery series. You can find her on her website, where you can also see a video of her on CBSNewsOnline talking about her work on Mommy’s Little Girl. Or look for her on the blog, Women In Crime Ink, and follow Diane on Twitter.
No Apologies Needed
I often receive apologies from readers for purchasing one of my books at a marked down price. Typically, these messages concern a paperback bought at WalMart at a markdown or a hardcover book pre-ordered on line. They want my forgiveness for diminishing my royalty payment because it was bought on impulse, without thinking or because they simply couldn’t find the book elsewhere.
But, apologies are not needed. I’m delighted they got a bargain. I’m pleased that they saved money. It something I like to do and more power to them all. To prove I mean what I’m saying, I’ll let all of you in on a money-saver.
Right now, if you pre-order a copy of my third Lucinda Pierce book, MISTAKEN IDENTITY, from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble on line, you’ll save more than $9 off the cover price. The book is scheduled for release in February in the UK and in May here in the states. If the past is any indication, the price will probably go up after the UK release. Or in that trite old phrase: “Buy now and save.”
Why am I so cavalier about readers paying less for my books? For one simple reason, with both my true crime with St. Martin’s Press and my fiction with Severn House, my publishers pay me royalties based on a percentage of the cover price. This practice is an industry standard—not universal but very typical.
Who, then, loses money on this deal? It’s not the author or the publisher. It is the bookseller. Although there are exceptions, booksellers typically pay the publisher 60% of the cover price. If they decide that they can sell more books by cutting the price, they are cutting into their profits for each individual book, with the hope that the volume of sales will make up for that shortfall.
There are times, however, where I do not receive a percentage of the cover price and my cut is based on the publisher’s actual sales price. That situation has arisen for me several times with St. Martin’s Press. However, in order to make that deal, St. Martin’s needs to have my authorization. And I have granted permission, every time.
I am certain my approval sounds counter-intuitive. Why would possess an author to willingly accept lower royalties? For me, it was international sales. In order to gain readership of my true crime books in foreign countries, I have to get them on the shelves. No books equals no sales equals no royalties. As Billy Preston sang, “Nothing from nothing is nothing.”
I and the publisher make this decision to compensate for the money spent to send the books overseas. Paper is a heavy commodity, making shipping costs high. For books by an author who is not well known in a particular country, the added expense forces sellers to mark-up the book to a price that would scare away most potential purchasers.
To make it possible and profitable to these book dealers, St. Martin’s Press agrees to sell at a price that is less than 45% of what is printed on the cover. I agree to accept a royalty percentage of that lower purchase price and the foreign seller agrees to pay in advance and not make any returns. As a result, I get some money that I wouldn’t have otherwise and, in addition, I get paid for that sale in my next royalty check with nothing held back for possible returns in the future—as is common practice with most sales. As a direct result, I have built up a reader base in South Africa, Australia, the UK and elsewhere.
So don’t worry about taking advantage of bargains on my account. Just go out and buy books—the more the better. Read more. Build your library quicker. Give gifts to family and friends. Just buy books wherever you find them.
I and my fellow authors thank you from the tips of our busy fingers to the bottoms of our hearts!
Thank you, Diane!
Diane’s a prolific writer. You may wonder what someone who investigates murders and crimes, interviews serial killers, and publishes about two books each year is like. I can tell you firsthand she’s open-hearted and a good friend.
Diane will be dropping by today, so leave her a “howdy” or a question.