One of the most confusing things about being an indie author is pricing your book. Quite honestly, if you price it too high–I probably won’t buy it unless you are my dear friend (don’t worry Tad Williams, I will sell my car to get your next book.)
For me, anything over $4.99 is too high, and $2.99 is the perfect spot. I love those $0.99 books too!
I am sorry, Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory–your publisher has priced you out of the ballpark for me–I read four to six books each week and will not be able to pre-order The House of Four Winds for my Kindle. In fact, at that price, I will have to wait until the paperback turns up at my local second-hand book store.
In a recent post discussing Hugh Howey‘s report, Author Earnings: the Report, on her excellent blog, The Militant Writer, Mary Walters boiled it down to manageable chunks and made a great many good points. One in particular is of great interest to those of us trying to choose a publishing path, and who may be wavering between going indie, or remaining on a traditional path. She writes:
- Readers are not buying traditionally published e-books as frequently as they are indie published e-books, because indie-published books cost less. Therefore, traditionally published authors are getting read less often, and are making less money per book sold than indie authors are.
This is important news for traditionally published authors.
It is also important news for major publishers, who are going to lose their authors if they don’t smarten up.
We won’t go into the impact all this is having on good literature, but Howey believes that the data suggests that “even stellar manuscripts are better off self-published.”
Speaking as an author this is sad, because I am like everyone who writes a book, secretly hoping to get picked up by a big publisher. On so many levels that would be a great honor, to have my work recognized by an industry I have always respected. But when I look at this conundrum as a reasonable human being, no one wants to be tied the wheel and sold into eternal serfdom for the rest of their writing career. No one wants to be forced to write stale sequel after sequel, just because the first book rocked and now the series brand is a guaranteed sale for the publisher. Where is the joy of creativity in that?
This is where each author must make a key decision regarding what we will commit our energy to: Will we court the favor of an industry that has much to offer us, but expects to be paid in more than their pound of flesh? Or will we soldier on, trying to find that sweet-spot that Hugh Howey has found, and perhaps hit the big time through our own efforts?
I choose to follow in Mr. Howey’s footsteps. I haven’t been that successful yet, but what I earn is mine. I am the captain of my ship, and if I fail to navigate the shark-infested waters of publishing, at least I have given it my best effort. I will continue to price my books as reasonably as I can, and hope that with persistent efforts on my part, their sales will gain ground.
The harsh truth is that the big publishers are rushing to publish manuscripts by big name authors that are just as poorly edited and just as abysmally plotted as those in the $0.99 bin at Amazon.com. How many paperbacks have you bought, gotten halfway through them, and said, “This is s**t!”… ?
I would rather pay less than $12.99 for that privilege, thank you.
I find that traditionally published books are fraught with problems just as frequently as not, and it pisses me off, because the big publishers LOUDLY proclaim their quality is superior, when time has proven it is not necessarily so. This is why I go to the secondhand bookstore for the traditionally published books, and haunt the Kindle store, looking for the indies.
There is gold out there in those inexpensive Kindle books, and I am vindicated every time I read a true gem. This is why I blog about the books I love on my Best in Fantasy blog–an attempt to bring attention to the many amazing books that entertain me.