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About Writing Right: The Blog


A novice author asked a forum question the other day about why a publisher should object to his making 100 copies of his book to give to his relatives. Here's how I responded.

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I see that one respondent, Andrew, gave you sound advice. Several other respondents should learn not to speak without thinking things through or knowing what they're talking about. Not the first time by far, and knowing at least one of them and her propensity for her shoot-from-the-lip, misleading replies, it won't be the last.


The bottom line has nothing to do with who copyrights the book in your name—you or a publisher. You already own copyright; who registers that copyright for you is a moot point. Nor has the bottom line anything to do with making a publisher's job "more complicated and difficult for them to deal with." It does have to do with sales. Whether or not you already have a publishing contract or hope to land one down the line, when you cut into the marketing gene pool, you deprive a publisher of that many potential sales. That's true whether we're talking about 100 or 100,000 copies and whether it's an existing or a potential publisher.


Most publishers today work on a paper-thin profit margin. Depriving a publisher of sales is a no-no from a marketing point-of-view, particularly in an industry where only a few hundred copies can mark the difference between a company's profit and loss.


As Andrew advised, buy the books at the publisher's special author's discounted price to re-sell or give away. If you're self-published, buy them at your special price and do the same. It's a non-issue once you stop to consider the logistics involved—not to mention the potential legal entanglements if you're already under contract.


And, by the way, who has 100 family members all lined up and waiting to receive a copy of your book, complimentary or otherwise? Extraordinary. You must have a lot of brothers and sisters!

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D. J. Herda is author of the new ebook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere.

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