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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER XXXVI Complimentary Copies of Books

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER XXXVI Complimentary Copies of Books

CUSTOM, entirely without justification, allows the friends of an author to expect complimentary copies.

Comparatively few of these persons realize that the author has to purchase every copy of the book he receives, with the exception of a few, and at the same price which the bookstore has to pay for them.

If the book retails for a dollar net, the author must pay seventy-five cents per copy. If at a dollar gross, the author may purchase them at sixty-six and two-thirds cents per copy.

To present a friend with an autograph copy of the book, the author must pay, out of his own pocket, from two thirds to three quarters of the retail price of the book. There is absolutely no reason why he should present these copies any more than should the publisher or the bookstore keeper, or any more than should the grocer furnish his friends with complimentary cans of tomatoes or free bags of sugar.

Unless the author is wealthy, he should frankly inform the friends who ask for copies of his book, that he has to pay for them in cold cash. Nothing but frankness, and the telling of the truth, will prevent misunderstanding, and sometimes rupture of friendship.

The friend, as a rule, does not intend to put the author to any expense, but he is likely to have the mistaken idea that a complimentary copy of the book costs the author nothing.

Consider your books, then, as merchandise. There is no more reason why you should give away copies of them than should the tradesman furnish his friends with free groceries or free shoes.