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.