Depending on the location of the reading or event, there may be a bookstore hosting or attending which may be willing to order copies of your book from the publisher’s distributor or wholesaler and sell to the attendees. Your publisher’s sales team will advise on the likelihood of this and may help to find a suitable bookseller. This approach relieves the author of the responsibility for selling books at the event and also supports the bookstore.
Publishers will be pleased to support their author at readings or other events, but you should discuss them with your marketing or sales contact as far in advance as possible to ensure there is time to make arrangements. Policies will vary at different presses, but in the UK most will allow authors to buy copies of their books at a discount for their personal use and onward sale at events or via the author’s own network. In most cases, these copies are sold on ‘firm sale’ and are not returnable to the publisher.
Alternatively, in the UK a batch of copies may be supplied to the author specifically for that event on a ‘sale or return’ basis. The decision to do this may depend on the size of the event and the likely number of attendees. If it is agreed, the author will need to ensure that any unsold copies are returned, with the monies taken, to the publisher’s distributor. Specific arrangements for this may differ, so it is best to discuss it in advance with the publisher’s sales team.