Why You Should Purchase Copies of Your Poetry Book From Your Publisher

If your book gets published, it is a good idea to purchase copies of your own book. Yes, you will get some free author copies, but those aren’t really enough. Besides, you should also get a generous author’s discount on purchases of your book. So  why you should purchase copies of your poetry book from your publisher? Here’s a short list in no particular order:

  1. You should support your publisher. This is done for a few reasons. One to help them recoup costs so they can print other poets. Besides, they have faith in your book, so give a little back for that faith. Plus, the publisher might remember this when your next book is looking for a publisher. But the reason is more of the former.
  2. You will want to have copies to sell at your readings. This is where you will really make your money. You will get an author discount when you purchase your copies. That discount should be at around 50%. When you sell them at retail price, you will make double your money back, which at the time will be enough to buy a good dinner, a good bottle of wine, or some one else’s collection of poems.
  3. You can sell copies to an independent book store on consignment and make some money. You won’t make as much as at a reading, but you will make some. The general consignment rule is 60/40. If your book is retailed at $10, the bookstore should give you $6 for every sale. (You will have to come back at some later time to collect the money.)
  4. You will want to  have copies to swap with other poets. This will happen a lot, and it’s a good way to start, establish, or continue a friendship with a fellow poet. Giving is always good, and swapping is even better.
  5. You will also want to have copies to give to some one you like or appreciate or to give to a poet you admire. Maybe you will meet someone and have a good time with them. A good end to that good time is to give them a copy of your book, but only if it comes up in conversation that you have a book. (You shouldn’t just randomly give them a book. That’s awkward.) You will also want to give copies to those teachers you admire or who stimulated you or supported you. I do. It feels so good. I think those teachers appreciate it, too, since they get to see something for all the time they put in. They will be happy. And most important, you will want to send copies to those poets who you admire and that shaped and affected your poetry. W. S. Merwin and William Heyen have copies of all my books. (Also, you can give a copy to someone you want to impress. Like someone you are attracted to and want to win over.)
  6. You will want to have copies to give to family members. Sure the family should be supportive and purchase copies, but, hey, it’s your family. They love you. They support your enough already. Give them a copy. (The same holds true for close friends.)
  7. Your publisher may or may not send out review copies of your book. If they do, there may be some places you can think of that they did not. Perhaps there is a journal you frequently appear in. They might want to see a copy of your book. Since they published you a lot, they must like your poetry. Thus, they are a good place to hope for a review. Or maybe you know a reviewer, so you should send them a copy. Really, you just want to get your book out there. You want as many people to read your book as you can. Your poems want to change and/or save lives.
  8. This following reason is probably the most important  reason: You will want to have copies to sell after the publisher is sold out. Most likely there will only be one print run, so get as many copies as you can to last you for the rest of your life because the book will most likely never be printed again. In other words – HOARD. You’ll thank me for this when your seventy and you want to give a copy of your first book to someone who you currently don’t even know exists.

Here’s some additional advice. If you win a contest, use at least half the prize money to purchase copies for all the reasons above. Plus, at this rate, they are free because you’ve got all this new, unexpected money.

Basically, it comes to down to supporting and sharing. And when your older, it will come down to sentimentality. Your children might want copies. And if you are successful, so will some biographer. But, basically, you will want to hold the book in your hands. If you are like me, you will want all of your books on display at your funeral. At my funeral, I’ll have all my books on display and each issue of Redactions on display. It will be my opus. People will be able to see what I created and left behind.

No one is too big for this advice.//

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The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

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February 2012


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