Book clubs

Dear Miss Snark,

I'm kind of a book club junkie. Doubleday, The Literary Guild, etc. I just adore those enrollment packages where I get several books at a buck apiece, purchase a couple more at slightly higher prices and then cancel, and repeat.
But I'm curious about how the authors get paid when I buy their book for $1 from Doubleday?

Is there a set per-unit payment to the author? Should I save my book club selections for authors that I'd like to check out, and purchase the ones I love from my bookstore? Yanno, so more of my money rolls to my favorite authors?

I should add that I'm cheap because I'm a stay at home mom with a zillion kids. And so far my "writing career" has netted less than $200, and has no chance to improve unless I learn to love revision.

Book club rights are part of subsidiary rights and are sold separately from the main North American rights deals. You can buy your books from the book clubs with no fear that your authors aren't getting paid.

However, with a zillion children to feed, clothe and educate let me say two words: public library. If you are far from a big library you can still get wonderful books via inter library loan. AND if you really want to have fun, you can join the Mercantile Library here in New York. I think they mail books to you if you're outside the area.


Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Well, I sell used and antiquarian books. The rare stuff, well there's an art to finding it. (Ha! mostly it walks in the door, or it's a serendipitous find, or I find it with another bookseller who's not got a clue ... But don't tell anyone. Those are trade secrets!)

But for the fun, ‘I just want to buy it and maybe read it myself’ stuff, think thrift stores. I know authors make nothing off the secondary market. Yet, when you have buncha children and in my case kids (of the goat kind) you spend what you can afford on books.

My apologies to all my fellow authors, but your 30 dollar book is at most 1.50 and usually seventy cents at our local goodwill, and that's (ahem) usually unread. Oh, and your nice trade paper edition is fifty cents.

So, dear, if my book ever gets published, I'll understand if you wait and buy it at the Goodwill for what ever they charge. Kids and Children are expensive. I’d rather have a reading mommy than immediate financial returns. Reading keeps mommies sane. Doesn’t it? Humm I’ll have to think about that. I’m not sure I’m too sane, and I read a lot.

aeltmpqs is just excessive as a word verification code.

dink said...

Coming to you from bumpkinland I just have to say,

A membership only library--who knew!

AND you can prove you are a writer by producing a published work, a contract, or lots of rejection slips ;-)and rent yourself a writer's studio space complete with locker

seems like a dream here in my "writer's studio" where the laundry churns and the aroma of detergent wafts.

Greta LaGarbeaux said...

Omidog, the Mercantiles! And the Atheneums! If you are lucky enough to live near one, go there immediately. Usually you can hang out and explore their most excellent, historic, idiosyncratic collections for free. Or for a reasonable fee, you can become a member -- and get privileges at other "membership libraries" around the country. One small example: the one near me has an ongoing "club" dedicated to reading and discussing all of Shakespeare's plays, with occasional forays to local theaters or in-library visits by Shakespearan troupes. Insanely delicious, all of it. They also do tons of read-and-meet events with contemporary writers in what is usually a warm, intimate setting.

These places on the whole predate the public library movement (thanks, Andrew Carnegie!) Wherever you find one, it is about guaranteed to be the most civilized place in town. And run by smashing, witty, book-loving folks.

Here's a list (with year of founding):

Athenæum of Philadelphia 1814
Athenæum Music and Arts Library (La Jolla) 1899
Boston Athenæum 1807
Charleston Library Society 1748
General Society Library (New York City) 1820
Institute Library (New Haven) 1826
Lanier Library (Tryon, North Carolina) 1890
Library Company of Philadelphia 1731
Maine Charitable Mechanic Association Library (Portland) 1820
Mechanics' Institute Library (San Francisco) 1855
Mercantile Library (Cincinnati) 1835
Mercantile Library (New York City) 1820
New York Society Library 1754
Portsmouth Athenæum (New Hampshire) 1817
Providence Athenæum 1836
Redwood Library and Athenæum (Newport) 1747
St. Louis Mercantile Library Association 1846
Salem Athenæum (Massachusetts) 1812

Anonymous said...

In Canada, the Public Lending Right Commission administers a program that remunerates authors whose books are held in public libraries. While not all books are eligible for PLR, at least it is a start.

Beth said...

And so far my "writing career" has netted less than $200, and has no chance to improve unless I learn to love revision.

If you write but don't revise, you've only done half the job. Revision is where the magic happens.


jill mansell said...

As a writer (in the UK) I'm deeply touched that a reader should worry about authors' royalties! We get far less for book club sales but I tend to regard it as a form of fishing - if someone picks up one of my novels and loves it, she'll hopefully go on to order the rest from bookstores. Same with picking up bargains in thrift stores. Many people have written to tell me that this is how they discovered my books. Any way they care to do it is fine by me!

BuffySquirrel said...

We have Public Lending Right in the UK, too. I have heard it doesn't come to much!

Meg said...

Beth, thank you for the link. Interesting read!

Cheryl Mills said...

Thanks for the answer, Miss Snark, (and Jill).

sha'el- When I take my kids into the grocery store (three of them are under four years old), I often feel like I travel with a herd of goats.

Nice list, Greta. The Lanier Library is the one closest to me, but I'm closer to Lake Lanier than Lanier Library. Pooh. But my library is fairly decent, and I'm there about three times a month. I took the goats--er, kids--just yesterday where they did their very best to behave. It was charming.

And Beth, thank you for the link to (I assume) your article. I've been a member of FM since last May. I do revision, it's just not as much fun as those first drafts! I'm working on my first novel revision now, and the concentration level required is what's breaking me. Peace and quiet is not easily had in my household. But I'm trying. Reading keeps mommy sane, and writing keeps mommy full.

Elektra said...

We only have one used bookstore--alas--and they, for some reason or another, like to charge six or seven dollars for dog-eared copies of books from the eighties.
I'd like in on this bookclub thing.

Beth said...

Cheryl, You have my sympathies; I'm a mommy, too. Three teens. :)

I revise as I go, because for me the more creative stuff tends to happen only on the umpteenth pass through a scene. It also takes me awhile to fine-tune the ebb and flow of tension. But I find all that very rewarding; for me, the hard part is filling the empty page.