People have such an unrealistic view of the publishing business. I did a post on the subject a few months back ... http://btripp.livejournal.com/1094502.html
It's hard to believe, but the average
newly-published book in the USA only sells 500 copies
, and only 2% of all books published each year sell as many as 5,000 copies. Considering how little per copy most authors get paid, the top 2% of authors would be lucky
to get a couple of thousand dollars, the rest (unless they got an amazing deal with a big advance) barely make anything.
When I ran Eschaton Books, I strongly encouraged our authors to go out and do readings/signings/events on their own. I'd send them copies, which they'd get at a discount from the wholesalers' price, and they'd be able to sell the books to the bookstore at their regular wholesale discount, and the authors would make the mark-up that the wholesalers would normally get (about 15%) plus the discount I was giving them, meaning they'd be getting about 20% of the cover price. This was a lot better than getting 10% of whatever the wholesalers paid for the book (which would have worked out to under 5% of the cover price).
It's always best, if possible, to buy books and music directly from the author/musician or their web site. Sure, it's easier
to get it from Amazon, but they get the deepest discounts from anybody in the book publishing food chain, something like 66% off of cover, so a book sold via that channel is likely to only net the author 3.4% of cover, meaning for a $25 book, they'd only be making 85¢ ... and quite possibly less. A book that was bought directly from one of our authors (and again, I don't know what sort of discounts other publishers offer, this is the deal we had in place), and not sold via a store, would have given them 60% of cover, making $15.00
on a $25 book!
Needless to say, this is a HUGE difference, so I always recommend getting books/music direct if you can.