How Not to Get Duped When Negotiating Bulk Book Sales: Tips for Self-Published Authors

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It can be a struggle to get your books on shelves as a self-published author. Usually, self-published authors are limited to the digital realm unless they pay for printing on demand, but even then, they won’t get their books displayed in brick-and-mortar bookstores. Landing a big purchase order from an organization or a business can be a major boon. However, negotiating sales contracts is foreign territory for most writers. Unfortunately, it’s easy for an author to get roped into a deal that’s not beneficial to them, especially if they let the excitement of the sales prospect blind them.

To help you navigate the challenges of selling your books to bulk buyers, we’ve highlighted some warning signs in this post.  Watch out for them so you don’t fall victim to a bad business deal. Need a hand promoting your book? Our marketing packages are crafted for this purpose. Learn how we can help sell your book.

Book buyer red flags

1.  They don’t respect your time

Look out for organizations that schedule too many meetings, constantly reschedule meetings, or schedule meetings with no regard for your engagements and convenience. While multiple meetings are often necessary when negotiating book-buying deals, you’ll quickly get a sense of whether a business takes you for someone who can drop everything at its behest. If its representatives don’t respect your time, then they don’t respect you and are unlikely to offer a fair deal. They’ll probably try to take advantage of you in other ways as well, preying on your lack of familiarity with the industry.

2. They communicate poorly

Communication is key to any business relationship, so pay attention to how a book buyer communicates (or doesn’t communicate) with you. Significant delays in responding are annoying at the negotiation stage, but after you have a sales contract, they can mean missed details and deadlines. If the buyer is taking a long time to return your calls or emails, this shows they don’t prioritize you. Of course, you shouldn’t get upset if they don’t respond to an email within the hour, but if they take several days between emails, they may not be very reliable.

Also, watch out for buyers evading your questions or offering vague answers. You’ll need to ask a lot of questions as you negotiate a book sale. Does the buyer answer you directly? Do they give precise numbers and examples? If not, think hard about working with them. You never want to do business with non-transparent companies, in any industry.

3. They present only one offer

If a business is only willing to put forward one offer, with no room for negotiation, then proceed with caution. This doesn’t always indicate a bad business deal, but it can be a tactic to make you rush into one you may not be happy with. If they give you no wiggle room and no time to think about the decision, look elsewhere. Even if there’s nothing wrong with the contract, this lack of flexibility is a warning sign, and you may come into various other conflicts with the company.

4. You have a bad gut feeling

Don’t discount your own intuition. If you’re picking up a negative vibe from a potential buyer, this is a sign of a bad business relationship. Maybe they interrupt a lot during meetings or don’t seem that excited about the deal. Maybe you can’t even put a finger on what gives you that iffy feeling. Regardless, trust your instinct. If you have a queasy feeling about a potential buyer, even without an apparent reason, your best bet may be to run.

Never rush into a sale

Negotiating your own book sales is a necessity for self-published authors, so take the warnings above to heart. Don’t rush the negotiations, work with a company that respects you, and always trust your gut. It’s exciting to receive a big order, but don’t let the excitement blind you to any potential red flags. Stay prudent and protect yourself, and if you have to reject an offer, it’s okay—more will come.


Also, consider joining a writers’ group for support in matters related to publishing and selling books. Listen to authors who have gone through the process—they’re a gold mine of information!

For help promoting your book, check out our marketing package—it’s perfect for authors in need of book blurbs, author bios, social media posts, and everything else they need to succeed at this stage of their journey. 

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