Author Copies of Your Book

What Are Author Copies and Why You Should Order Them

Whether you’re an indie-published author or have gone the traditional route, ordering author copies is part of the publishing process. But not everyone takes advantage of these books and what they can do for marketing. The bottom line is they can be worth quite a bit to the right audience.

And I’m not just talking about the people who follow your social accounts or subscribe to your website’s newsletter.

There is a lot that can be derived from these books, and you might want to consider purchasing as many as you can.

What Are Author Copies?

Author copies are printed versions of your book as it would be seen in the retail market space. Some authors will order a single copy to make sure the printed version is of high quality and then make changes to the layout if needed.

These copies of the book are sold to the author at printing cost, in most cases. This means you will not receive royalties or credits from a publishing platform for buying these types of books.

However, the printing costs are usually significantly lower than the sale price. Essentially, you’re getting a great discount on your book should you buy these copies.

For instance, I am selling A Freelancer’s Tale for $7.99. The author copies currently cost me roughly $2.61 each. And before you assume the markup, realize that Amazon KDP authors have to share a lot of that “income” with Amazon itself.

Also, keep in mind that Amazon increased prices in June of 2023. That means each book will roughly have a $0.15 fee.

The bottom line is that I only make a couple of bucks per book.

What Can You Do with Author Copies?

While ads and social media can work wonders for marketing, author copies can contribute greatly with a bit of imagination. Not to mention that it’s kind of fun to open a massive box full of your recently published book.

I know I gave out around 20 within the first couple of weeks just to those close to me.

Outside of giving them to your friends and family as gifts, what else can you do with author copies?

Sell Them On Your Website

Probably one of the more lucrative ways to use your book is to sell them directly from your website. Of course, this also depends on any contractual obligations you might have with your publisher.

If you self-publish through Amazon, though, you can sell author copies from your site as you could any other book.

If you use WordPress, there are plenty of plugins specifically for selling books as well as WooCommerce. This is the most popular eCommerce platform in the world and is free to use.

The nice thing about selling author copies from your website is that it takes out the middleman. All of the royalties go to you instead of sharing with a third-party retail platform.

The downside is that you still need to market your website something fierce in order to generate a lot of readership.

Sell Autographed Copies at Events

There are all kinds of events that you could attend as an author or speaker where you could sell copies or even autographed copies of your book.

For example, a lot of authors will use their copies when attending book signings at the library. If I was a more popular author, I would donate autographed copies for charity drives.

Events are a great way to get noticed as an author. You just need to find the right fit and decide whether setting up a booth is ideal or not.

In any case, you never know how much people are willing to toss at an autographed copy of your book in the right setting.

Giveaways On Your Website or Social Accounts

I used several author copies as a giveaway as soon as it was published. It’s the only reason I paid for the Rafflepress license in 2022.

The giveaway was quite fun, and I wound up getting a few followers and fans from the process.

Some people might not want to do giveaways because it’ll cost you upfront money. You’ll have to buy the author copies and then give them away.

However, I view it more as a marketing expense. As I said, I generated a great deal of interest and accumulated quite a few fans and followers. So, for me, the $2.61 per book is always worth the cost.

Send to Reviewers for Free

Getting reviews online is a badge of honor for many. And I’ve actually heard of people not buying books simply because there weren’t enough reviews.

You might be able to tempt reviewers with a free copy of your book. Though, some might want something extra on top. Nonetheless, there are some out there who’ll give an honest review in exchange for just a free copy.

It’s a small price to pay to have someone deliver an honest rating. That is as long as you find an honest person to read and review the book.

The downside, though, is that you might not get the glowing review you’d like from your story. Be prepared for anything that might come from a review.

Hand Them Out to Development Helpers

Do you have people helping you edit the manuscript? Perhaps you have several beta readers helping you fine-tune the story.

All of the people who are helping you get the book out deserve a copy when it’s published. This is especially true for those of you who are self-publishing.

Even if you wind up paying these people, it’s still a nice gesture to offer one of your author copies. After all, they’re sacrificing their time to help you along the way. It’s a small token compared to what they might provide.

You may even find that most of your “helpers” will still buy a copy despite giving them an autographed book. That’s because they want to support you and what you create.

Membership Rewards for Supporters

I often use my book as a membership reward for Buy Me a Coffee supporters. But you can do this regardless of the membership platform you choose.

My monthly members not only have access to beta-read the book, but they’ll also get a signed copy once it’s published.

Of course, this is on top of everything else I provide. Such as writing tips, behind-the-scenes stuff, and the image gallery that I’ll be adding soon.

The point is that you can sweeten the pot for memberships by offering your author copies. Especially if you establish yourself as a good writer.

Use as a Promotional Material to an Influencer?

One suggestion I’ve seen from a couple of authors is to use copies of your book as promotional material for influencers. This is when you send the influencer a free copy of your book so they can promote it to their audience.

Though, I have yet to meet an “influencer” who didn’t also charge an arm and a leg to have access to their following. What’s worse is that some of these people charge outrageous prices even though they have fewer than 10,000 followers.

Anyway, I’ve never done this myself, so I can’t attest to whether it’s worthwhile or not. Some people are just too expensive for my budget. But if it worked out for you, I’d love to know.

How to Order Author Copies from KDP

When you self-publish with KDP, you’re able to order up to 999 author copies at a time. If you need more, you’ll have to create separate orders.

Ordering author copies from Amazon is wicked easy, nonetheless. First, log into your KDP account.

Scroll down to a book that has printed copies available and click the “Order author copies” button.

Order Author Copies KDP

Input the number of copies you want. Remember, you can only order up to 999 copies at a time.

Number of Copies

Select the Amazon marketplace to use for your order. This will depend on what region you’re from. This is so Amazon can calculate currency, taxes, and other fees depending on the area.

Select Amazon Marketplace

Afterward, click the “Submit Order” button and you’ll be taken to the Amazon checkout screen. That’s when you’ll see the taxes and shipping costs (if any.)

NOTE: It takes quite a long time to get author copies from Amazon. So, if these copies are for an event, make sure to plan ahead.

What Would You Do with Author Copies of Your Book?

There are quite a few things you can do with author copies that can help market yourself. It really comes down to imagination and what your contracts allow.

Still, most of us can utilize these copies to self-promote in a variety of ways. Or, perhaps to make a few extra dollars per copy sold from a website.

It adds up after a while.

What creative ways have you used your author copies?

Michael Brockbank
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