A “Traditional Publisher” Says I Must Purchase 3,000 Copies Of My Book!

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Hi Angela,

My friend, who is a writer, suggested I contact you about a contract I was offered. I am a first-time author and a bit green when it comes to the business. Within the contact it is required that I purchase 3,000 books when it is printed. I have to buy them at 65% off the retail price. My friend said she has never had to do this before. Is this something new that publishers are doing to make up for the recession? Any advice would be appreciated.

Let’s assume your book’s list price is $12.00. 65% off the list price would be $4.20 each. $4.20 x 3,000 = $12,600. Most authors never even earn that much money from their books – including traditionally published authors.

If you publish your book yourself using a Print on Demand (POD) publisher, you don’t have to buy any copies at all and you can publish your book for just a few hundred dollars. Your book would be listed on Amazon and other online bookstores and you would retain full control of your book – and earn significantly higher royalties.

If this outfit is claiming to be a traditional publisher, they’re ripping off authors. No legitimate traditional publisher forces authors to buy copies of their books. It appears they’re funding their production expenses (and lining their pockets with profits) with their authors’ money. In fact, they’re making so much on authors’ books through this method that they probably don’t need to, or have any incentive to, sell any books to the public to turn a profit. They’re marketing blurbage makes it look like your book will be stocked by that list of stores but they aren’t guaranteeing it will. It could simply be a ploy by them to lure you in. Let’s face it, if their distribution/sales were guaranteed, they wouldn’t need to make money from authors up front like they’re doing.

I have never seen a traditional contract that required an author to purchase copies and 3,000 is absolutely beyond ridiculous. However, I have seen companies **pretending** to be traditional publishers while demanding payment from authors in the form of “discounted book copies.”

I found another problem in the contract you forwarded to me as well. If they feel your book may contain libel, you have to pay their attorney to read your book. I hate to say it but they could be profiting from that as well.

My opinion? This is a fee-based publisher pretending to be a traditional publisher. Run away – as fast as you can.