Author Topic: Indie Authors Wanted  (Read 4649 times)  

Offline Lorri Moulton

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2017, 10:08:56 AM »
I think this might be something that could work for local authors.  No shipping costs to pay and the author would have the ability to be in the store, meeting customers.  I'd still want more than three books on the shelf, but it's could be a nice way to showcase local authors. 

For myself, I don't see any real benefit...but I do like that you're thinking outside the box!  :)

I've heard of authors in the Seattle area, who have their books alongside paintings, photographs, etc. by locals artists and they're all in one shop.  I believe they do take turns having events and meeting customers.

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Offline MClayton

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2017, 10:16:10 AM »


I am confused about what I actually get for "shelf space." For $75, I only get to place three books? That makes NO financial sense for an author. None. There is no way for an author to recover their expenses. And you can't compare this to renting table space at a convention for one day, because at a convention I have an entire table to myself and can actually recover my expenses. Plus, I get the benefit of interacting directly with potential readers, so I can get them signed up for my mailing list.



If I'm reading her post right, it's a minimum of 12 books, but there must be at least three different titles within the group of 12.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2017, 01:08:48 PM »
@Julie-Considering we are paying for the wholesale price, shipping it, paying the shelf fee, and the commission how many copies on average do we need to turn around in that time span to break even?

YOU are not paying wholesale. Wholesale is the term used when selling a product for resale to a retailer. You have a manufacturing cost, which is not the same thing as wholesale. I'm a stickler for using the correct terms precisely because using the wrong terms leads to confusion (and is how scammers are able to get over on people who don't understand basic business terms...not saying the OP is scamming. Just saying that it is easy to make bad business decisions when you are using the wrong vocabulary.)

Most indies CAN'T effectively break even on consignment because they are notorious for setting their list prices far too low. See my previous blog post on proper wholesale pricing to avoid sidetracking this discussion.

I can use one of my products as an example. One copy of our magazine costs me $2.15 to print. It is priced for retail at $10.49 an issue. MY cost is $2.15. The wholesale cost at a 40% discount would be $6.29.

In normal retail, the retailer purchases the book for $6.29 and sells it for whatever price they want. They can sell it at $10.49 or less if they want to. I don't care. I still make $4.14 per sale regardless of what they sell it for. Retailer pays shipping fees.

In consignment, my cost is still $2.15, but I am shipping the books. Shipping one book is prohibitively expensive ($3-$5 depending on location.) But if I drop ship in bulk, the cost per book comes down. If I ship books in bulk via ground service, I'm paying around $20 shipping. So add on average $2 to my costs, so I am looking at a cost of $4.15 per book.

Under consignment. I dictate what they sell the book for. So I want them to sell at list ($10.49). If they take a 12% commission, they are earning $1.26 per sale and owe me the different of $9.23. $9.23-$4.14=$5.09 per sale.

At $75 shelf space, I have to sell 15 books to break even. So if I sent the store 15 books and they sold all 15 over three months...I make no money.

Now if I can move 15 books a month at $5.09 a sale, and if I can keep the shop in inventory as they sell the books, then I've paid the shelf space fee the first month and the second and third months are all profit.

But the thing with consignment is you really need to go all-in, work in bulk, and have your list price set correctly. Otherwise, it isn't cost-effective.

With the hobby shops, I net about $10 a sale (because RPG books have higher margins). I only need to sell three books a month to cover the cost of the shelf space. And I have really good partnerships with the shops so we work together to coordinate with their store-wide sales and such.

Consignment CAN work, but you need to have a firm understanding of your costs, potential revenue, and a realistic estimated sales goal.




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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2017, 02:05:41 PM »
I think this might be something that could work for local authors.  No shipping costs to pay and the author would have the ability to be in the store, meeting customers.

Even if you're local, you've got shipping costs to get the books from Amazon to you so you can hand-deliver them to the bookshop.

Let's do some math:

I've got a 220-page print book.
Cost for 36 print books from Amazon: $119.59
Shipping: $21.00
Tax: 11.52
Shelf fee: $75
Total up front cash outlay: $227.11
Production + shipping cost per book: $6.31
Retail price: $9.99
Net Return per Book: 8.80

I have to sell 26 books to break even. (Even if I got free shipping, I'd have to sell 24 books to break even.)

Let's imagine that I sold 10,000 print books this month on Amazon. If it took 244 million customers to net 10,000 sales,  I would need 634,400 bookshop customers to sell 26 books.

Not gonna happen. Plug in your own numbers. Can anyone make this look profitable? Anyone?

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #29 on: December 27, 2017, 05:00:33 PM »
Can anyone make this look profitable? Anyone?

See my post just above yours.

The first problem is that your print retail price is too low for a 220 page book. It should be at least $11.99.
The second problem is that you shouldn't be paying sales tax on books purchased for resale. Get a resale certificate from your state and send it to Amazon.

At $119.59 for 36 books, that is $3.32 per book. At $21 to ship, that is only $1.71 per book. Your cost should be $5.03 ($3.32 + $1.71). At $11.99, if the consigner takes 12% that leaves you with $10.55 per sale.  Subtract your costs and your gross profit is $5.52 per sale. You need to sell 14 copies to recover the $75 shelf fee. If you can sell that in one month, then you have two more months to sell the balance of those 36 books (assuming, of course, you sent all 36 to the consignor).

I personally think the consignment deal here, as presented, is too one sided. But consignment can work if your book is priced correctly to start with.

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #30 on: December 27, 2017, 05:17:21 PM »
See my post just above yours.

The first problem is that your print retail price is too low for a 220 page book. It should be at least $11.99.
The second problem is that you shouldn't be paying sales tax on books purchased for resale. Get a resale certificate from your state and send it to Amazon.

At $119.59 for 36 books, that is $3.32 per book. At $21 to ship, that is only $1.71 per book. Your cost should be $5.03 ($3.32 + $1.71). At $11.99, if the consigner takes 12% that leaves you with $10.55 per sale.  Subtract your costs and your gross profit is $5.52 per sale. You need to sell 14 copies to recover the $75 shelf fee. If you can sell that in one month, then you have two more months to sell the balance of those 36 books (assuming, of course, you sent all 36 to the consignor).

I personally think the consignment deal here, as presented, is too one sided. But consignment can work if your book is priced correctly to start with.
Forgive me if this is a basic question but how would selling books this way even be profitable for an Indie author? How do readers find our books in such a shop? Marketing? How would this even work if we don't know the type of audience this shop caters to? Like, for example, would an Indie's horror books sell in this particular shop? It seems that selling a variety of work might be difficult in a small store like this.

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Offline RH Tucker

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #31 on: December 27, 2017, 05:31:34 PM »
You may not be aware of it, but in the US, at least, all grocery stores charge for shelf space as well as requiring a profit on the sale of the product sold. So, yes, this is how some retail works and has for a very long time.

Next, there is a store in Ft. Myers, FL called PJ Boox that charges $100 for about the same amount of shelf space for four months. They take a smaller percentage on each book than I am, but costs in Miami for retail space are high. Also, quite a bit of that percentage goes to the store clerk as a commission since salespeople do work harder at selling when they get a base pay and a commission. PJ Boox has 500 Indie authors renting shelves in their stores. PJ Boox started by renting some space in a gift shop; then opened their own shop; and now have added a second store. They seem to be doing very well with growth like that.

If you consider that some of the more famous book advertising venues charge $70  and up (into the hundreds) for a single day of advertising, $75 for three months of visibility with events, advertising, and salespeople to champion your books in an area that has several well-to-do neighborhoods within a mile and no other non-religious bookstore for ten miles or more, then which makes more sense, one day to advertise your book on sale for $0 or three months with your book pushed at full price? Look up realtor.com housing prices of Miami Shores, Belle Harbor, Aventura, and Sans Souci in Miami-Dade County of Florida.

And that's really what this is, I think, is paying for advertising. Trying to get eyes on physical books. I'm not knocking it, but I think that's what it boils down to. If I was local, I'd think about doing it, because I don't factor in PoD as part of it. I bite the bullet on that, because as a business, at least to me, I expect that is part of my cost.

Not sure about Florida, but there are a number of places here in California that work with authors on consignment deals. I've been publishing comic books for the last few years and have done this with shop owners, both comic book shops and indie book stores that do the consignment deals or will buy your books from you wholesale. Again, either way, I'm DEFINITELy not make tons of money, even if I sell out of my books at those shops, which has never happened. Sell some? yes. Sell out? No. And really, who really makes a profits from selling in physical bookstores? Usually only top Big 5 authors.

Yes, I'm aware grocery stores do charge for shelf space, but I'd contend that's a different market. But hey, if it works for the business (as you've said it does with the other shop near you, so be it).

Best of luck to you, hopefully you can reach out to local author who might look in to this.

Forgive me if this is a basic question but how would selling books this way even be profitable for an Indie author? How do readers find our books in such a shop? Marketing? How would this even work if we don't know the type of audience this shop caters to? Like, for example, would an Indie's horror books sell in this particular shop? It seems that selling a variety of work might be difficult in a small store like this.

This!

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2017, 05:57:04 AM »
Forgive me if this is a basic question but how would selling books this way even be profitable for an Indie author?

The first thing you need to do is stop thinking in terms of ebook sales to end readers. Bookstores do NOT function the same way as online retailers. Online retailers are all about algorithms and search functions and publishers driving direct traffic to a link. That is not how bookstores work. People who shop in bookstores, particularly boutique bookstores, rarely walk in with a specific book in mind. They browse the shelves. Don't tell me I am the only person here on Kboards who still goes to bookstores and just walks the shelves until I see something that grabs my attention?

This is why large publishers spend the bulk of their marketing dollars trying to secure shelf space in stores INSTEAD of direct marketing to consumers. Because bookstore shoppers are generally there to DISCOVER a book. Particularly with the internet. When a person KNOWS what book they already want, they will tend to order it online. But when they just want to discover new books, they go to the bookstore.

The big question becomes where in the store your shelf is. With the deals I have, one shelf is near the register and another is near the gaming tables area where the in-store events take place. Both locations are very good and have high visibility. I don't HAVE to do anything. People are going to see my books without me doing anything. If the shelf has good placement, you just need enough foot traffic in the store to get enough eyeballs on it.

You can also use in-store marketing. Send the store a stack of bookmarks to place in each customer's bag. Most stores will do that for nothing. See if the store will hang a poster of your book cover. You can make a custom poster with places like Cafepress and Zazzle. If the store has a closed newsletter, you can get a placement in that.

Yes, the type of store is important. From what the OP describes, this sounds like an arts-centric store so you are going to attract more literary, non-genre readers. This would not be a good place for horror or romances. But women's fiction? Poetry? Memoir? All of those genres that are hard to get visibility on Amazon? Consignment can work extremely well.

But, again, you have to go all in AND in this particular case, the consignment agreement would need to be negotiated to not be so one-sided. Believe it or not, people still buy print. In fact, sales of both paperbacks and hardcovers were up last year and there is a movement back to print...not because, as some indies love to believe, trade publishers overprice their ebooks in an attempt to kill ebooks, but because lots of adults are attempting to "detox" and reduce their screen time. As more and more research comes out about the actual health dangers of spending too much time staring at a screen, people are looking for ways to turn off their devices.

Even among young people who are glued to their phones, most don't want to read books on them. As one of my co-workers noted in conversation, "I can't read on my phone 'cause all the notifications keep going off and it distracts me."

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Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2017, 03:24:30 PM »
Bookstores do NOT function the same way as online retailers. This is why large publishers spend the bulk of their marketing dollars trying to secure shelf space in stores INSTEAD of direct marketing to consumers. Because bookstore shoppers are generally there to DISCOVER a book. The big question becomes where in the store your shelf is. With the deals I have, one shelf is near the register and another is near the gaming tables area where the in-store events take place. Both locations are very good and have high visibility. People are going to see my books without me doing anything. If the shelf has good placement, you just need enough foot traffic in the store to get enough eyeballs on it.

Yes, the type of store is important. From what the OP describes, this sounds like an arts-centric store so you are going to attract more literary, non-genre readers.  But women's fiction? Poetry? Memoir? All of those genres that are hard to get visibility on Amazon? Consignment can work extremely well.

Thanks for your observations. I posted to my local neighborhood news, asking what sort of books my neighbors are interested in, and they did indeed list the types you mention, including science books, biographies, and science fiction. Many just answered that they are thrilled there is going to be a bookstore opening in walking distance to them.

And yes, we have a newsletter for the boutique, and one author is sending bookmarks. Then there will be our events, so we hope to build up very good foot traffic. The street we are on is a major artery to one of Miami's most famous beaches as well as a state park, so our visibility is high.

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #34 on: December 28, 2017, 03:31:04 PM »
[quote ]
If I'm reading her post right, it's a minimum of 12 books, but there must be at least three different titles within the group of 12.
[/quote]

Minimum of 12 books, 1 to 3 titles at the author's discretion. With 3 titles it would be 13  books so that there is display copy for each title.

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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #35 on: December 28, 2017, 03:35:39 PM »
I just saw that after the three months, if the author doesn't renew, the books go to a discount shelf and get discounted by ten percent per week for the next four weeks, and then if the author opts not to pay shipping to have the books returned to them, they go to a freebie shelf.

"After your three-month term, you can either renew, or we can put the books on our sale shelves for one month. Each week on the sale shelf the book goes down in price 10%; thus, the second week would be 20% off, the third 30% off, the fourth 40% off. After this you can either pay for shipping for them to be returned to you or donate them to our freebie shelf."

Have you been running this business a while? Sounds like you're new, at least for the books. I'm just wondering, because if there were a store like that near me, and I frequented it, and I noticed after a while (or just read on your website) that you really don't need to wait long to get a book for a discount or possibly even free, I'm not sure I'd be as eager to pay full cover price. I'd just wait it out. I'd imagine it won't take long for your regulars to catch on to this as well. And if there are enough books on the freebie shelf, then eventually having books up for sale becomes a formality.

So ... that's another mark off, from the author's perspective. By having a freebie shelf, you're giving even less incentive for people to buy the books. I find it odd that you give away free books in your store and don't tell us anything about this "freebie shelf" that is competing with the full-priced books of the authors you're trying to attract.

I really hope you check back here after several months to share the data about how much money authors who take you up on this are making in profit from this venture.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 03:40:17 PM by Puddleduck »

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2017, 03:59:49 PM »
"After your three-month term, you can either renew, or we can put the books on our sale shelves for one month. Each week on the sale shelf the book goes down in price 10%; thus, the second week would be 20% off, the third 30% off, the fourth 40% off. After this you can either pay for shipping for them to be returned to you or donate them to our freebie shelf."

I'm not sure I'd be as eager to pay full cover price. I'd just wait it out. I'd imagine it won't take long for your regulars to catch on to this as well. And if there are enough books on the freebie shelf, then eventually having books up for sale becomes a formality.


Thanks for pointing this out.

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #37 on: December 28, 2017, 04:01:23 PM »
Thanks for pointing this out.

Maybe you could donate them to a local library (or, as appropriate, school library) instead?

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #38 on: December 28, 2017, 06:06:40 PM »
Let's see, with my author discount, I pay $3.34 per book plus shipping, which is $3.59 and tax $.34. So it costs me $7.27 for one book. My list price is $10.95, and you get 20% of the list price, which is $2.19. Therefore, my cost is $9.46.
Must be doing something wrong. Amazon marketplace has a 40/60 split, which is why Indies can't afford that program without making their prices too high.

I've never understood the unsustainable expectations pricewise of the US market for paperbacks. In Australian bookstores today, even $30 is competitive. $20 is considered cheap. When I sell for $15, I get asked what I am doing dodgy to make them so cheap. I get the market forces thing, but you have to eat. I had a bookstore (a large chain) at one point here selling my paperbacks for $75! I found out because of an angry reader emailing to call me greedy. The RRP was $19.95. And they were still selling, go figure. You can't control the prices retailers set, but you can control the royalty you receive. Set decent prices. Don't undervalue yourself. Most of my sales of paperbacks are ED, so setting a price where it is worth my time to make the books available only makes sense. I would consider this offer in the same bracket as ED, which makes it more generous. Just ensure you tell the vendor the correct price to make it worth your time.
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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #39 on: December 28, 2017, 09:54:16 PM »
I would think as an indie author the OP wouldnt be trying to make such a one sided deal. It seems 100% of all costs and risks are on the authors here and the business model has zero chance of being profitable for the author.
Im very sad to see this in our community.
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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #40 on: December 28, 2017, 11:14:31 PM »
I would think as an indie author the OP wouldnt be trying to make such a one sided deal. It seems 100% of all costs and risks are on the authors here and the business model has zero chance of being profitable for the author.
Im very sad to see this in our community.
Not the first time and I doubt it will be the last, unfortunately. :(


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Offline M R Mortimer

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #41 on: December 29, 2017, 03:56:01 AM »
I just saw that after the three months, if the author doesn't renew, the books go to a discount shelf and get discounted by ten percent per week for the next four weeks, and then if the author opts not to pay shipping to have the books returned to them, they go to a freebie shelf.

"After your three-month term, you can either renew, or we can put the books on our sale shelves for one month. Each week on the sale shelf the book goes down in price 10%; thus, the second week would be 20% off, the third 30% off, the fourth 40% off. After this you can either pay for shipping for them to be returned to you or donate them to our freebie shelf."

Have you been running this business a while? Sounds like you're new, at least for the books. I'm just wondering, because if there were a store like that near me, and I frequented it, and I noticed after a while (or just read on your website) that you really don't need to wait long to get a book for a discount or possibly even free, I'm not sure I'd be as eager to pay full cover price. I'd just wait it out. I'd imagine it won't take long for your regulars to catch on to this as well. And if there are enough books on the freebie shelf, then eventually having books up for sale becomes a formality.

So ... that's another mark off, from the author's perspective. By having a freebie shelf, you're giving even less incentive for people to buy the books. I find it odd that you give away free books in your store and don't tell us anything about this "freebie shelf" that is competing with the full-priced books of the authors you're trying to attract.

I really hope you check back here after several months to share the data about how much money authors who take you up on this are making in profit from this venture.

OK, that makes it a total no brainer. Bad deal here. No way in hell would you go there. Not even as a marketing exercise. And selling shelf space? I don't think that is even legal here in Australia... Americans confuse me!
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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #42 on: December 29, 2017, 04:30:14 AM »
OK, that makes it a total no brainer. Bad deal here. No way in hell would you go there. Not even as a marketing exercise. And selling shelf space? I don't think that is even legal here in Australia... Americans confuse me!

It has nothing to do with being American. Let's not bash others based on their place of origin.
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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2017, 04:48:30 AM »
Nope!

I feel no words can express this more than what I said earlier.

However, if anyone is any doubt - this lady wants people to pay shelf space to cover the rent on her unit. The picture of the retail layout points clearly to someone who isn't commercially minded and whilst the concepts are there, the knowledge and experience to put them into effect clearly isn't.



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Offline M R Mortimer

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #44 on: December 29, 2017, 04:54:00 AM »
It has nothing to do with being American. Let's not bash others based on their place of origin.

No bashing at all in this. Simply observation of differences. Your rules are confusing to me, as ours can be to you.
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Offline PamelaKelley

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #45 on: December 29, 2017, 05:15:48 AM »
No bashing at all in this. Simply observation of differences. Your rules are confusing to me, as ours can be to you.

I think the point is that this is not typical in America, so your comment felt like an insult.

There is nothing typical about this 'arrangement'.

One-sided is an understatement.

Sending books to a store like this is wasted money and energy. For indie authors with a goal to be in bookstores, the best way to do that is to start local. Visit your local shops and meet the booksellers. Just a few weeks ago, I did that and left several copies at two different shops on a purely consignment basis. I don't expect to move many copies but I bet I'll move more than I would in this arrangement with a store across the country where I'm expected to rent a shelf.
 

Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #46 on: December 29, 2017, 05:16:56 AM »
No bashing at all in this. Simply observation of differences. Your rules are confusing to me, as ours can be to you.

It is, because you are making a blanket statement about us when clearly many other Americans are saying this is a strange situation. It has nothing to do with being American. These aren't "our rules".
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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #47 on: December 29, 2017, 05:19:31 AM »
No bashing at all in this. Simply observation of differences. Your rules are confusing to me, as ours can be to you.
I was confused when in the States, to learn that shop assistants subsist on commission instead of a regular wage. Also, in Florida at least, the shops seem to vanish from one year to another. So I assume there are no leases, just rented shelf space. Not something we would have in England, certainly, although we do have a system of beauticians, nail technicians and the like renting space in an established hairdressing salon. I suppose it is a similar thing.



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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #48 on: December 29, 2017, 05:21:34 AM »
@Cynthia Clay - I'll happily send you some bookmarks if you let me have an address. I had 100 printed for a fete which didn't get many customers.


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Offline PamelaKelley

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Re: Indie Authors Wanted
« Reply #49 on: December 29, 2017, 05:26:53 AM »
I was confused when in the States, to learn that shop assistants subsist on commission instead of a regular wage. Also, in Florida at least, the shops seem to vanish from one year to another. So I assume there are no leases, just rented shelf space. Not something we would have in England, certainly, although we do have a system of beauticians, nail technicians and the like renting space in an established hairdressing salon. I suppose it is a similar thing.



I've never heard of shop assistants being paid solely on commission. They are always paid at least the normal minimum wage. If there is any commission on top of that, I believe it's the exception, not the rule. Stores like Nordstrom's do pay some commission, but I've never heard of it happening in book stores. Doesn't mean that it doesn't, but I don't think it's all that common.