Are Book Club Thieves in the Author’s Midst?

Are Book Club Thieves In the Author’s Midst?

Are you in a book club? That might be a YES.

Do you members understand how authors get paid? That would most likely be a NO.

Does your book practice Book Club thievery? Could be.

We authors love the idea of having a book as the flavor of the month in a book club. We offer to attend in person if local. We offer to do a Zoom call with the club. We offer to be available to support the club.

Should we? Maybe … Maybe Not.

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a longtime friend about book clubs. She’s in three and loves them. The books they read. The books they talk about. The social time they spend together. All ingredients for the typical book club.

And then her reveal … one of the members recommends a book. Gets the book. Then passes it to each member. Members take turns reading. Within a certain time allotted, all have read and they gather.

Sounds good, yes? The is a HUGE NO after I spent a few minutes with her.

Me: “You are telling me that you get just one book for the 15 of you to share?”
Her: “Yes. From Amazon, or the bookstore, or the library.”
Me: “Just one book, did I hear correctly?”
Her: “Yes.”

Silence … that’s from me. And I am pissed.

Me: Do you realize what a disservice and disrespect for the author and his or her work you and your club practice?

Silence … that’s from her.

I continued … “Unless you buy your single copy directly from the author, the author is making about ONE DOLLAR a book, if that. I’ll do the math for you. Let’s say the book retails for $20. The bookstore or library will obtain it in a discount range of 40 to 60 % … that is 40 to 60% off the retail $20 price. In my example, the cost to the reseller bookstore or the library will be from $8-$12 with the retail at $20. In the royalty game, authors typically earn from 6 to 15% of the NET amount the publisher receives—that’s after the discount.

“Let’s go in the middle. The book is discounted by the publisher by 50% or $10—the NET number the author will earn a royalty on. Now, bring in the percentage of 6 to 15%, and let’s go in between at 10%. Ten percent of $10 is one dollar.

“A myth has been floating for countless years that authors make oodles of money. Few do. You and your book club members truly do not place a value on the author’s work—research, solutions, awesome storytelling—if you are telling me that each member is not buying her own copy of the book.

“There are 15 of you in your club. Surely, the author you are reading this month deserves at least $15. Buy her book … that means everyone in the club. In print, digital, or audio. JUST BUY THE BOOK … And post reviews.”

My final thoughts. If you are aware that your book is being considered for a book club, put some strings on it. All members buy the book in the available format. Offer to engage with them with a Zoom chat if they do. And add this info to your Book tab or Speaking tab on your website.s

My two bits.




Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. Often, she must roll up her writing sleeves and become a Book Doctor, juicing up storylines and author words. She empowers authors and works directly with authors who want to be seriously successful and has been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 44 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book PlatformsSnappy Sassy Salty: Success for Authors and Writers, and How to Create a Million Dollar Speech. Her personal memoir When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a #1 bestseller on Amazon and her historical fiction debut Secret Journey. Collectively, her books have earned over 45 book awards. Judith speaks throughout the year at publishing conferences. 

Throughout the year, she holds Judith Briles Book Unplugged in-person and online experiences: Publishing, Speaking, Marketing, and Social Media. All are two-day intensives limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Join Judith live for the “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” podcast on the Toginet Radio Network HERE

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