Sunday, December 11, 2011
Liz’s Lair: Undervaluing Your Writing
In today’s world of self publication, we are entering new territory, and no one really knows what to charge for the stories we put up. We’re all learning, and sometimes it takes making a mistake to set us on the right track.
That’s the thing that is keeping me awake at night right now. Before I get into that, I want to take a look at what we know about self publishing. First off, let’s define it.
Self-publishing is putting your novel, short story, etc. available as a download and/or Print On Demand trade paperback without the involvement or vetting of an established publisher through a publishing system such as Lulu, Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble's PubIt! The author pays to have it copy edited, pays for a cover, and either formats it herself or pays to have it done. All the catchy blurbs on the cover and on the websites are done by the author. The payout is usually 35 % for anything under $2.99. A $2.99 price tag earns the author 70%. Here are some facts.
1.There are a lot of people doing it! It no longer carries the same stigma as it used to. I was always told self publishing was the kiss of death for a writer…that no reputable publisher would touch you if you did. I believe Amanda Hocking’s story along with J A Konrath’s success tells a whole different story. Amanda, if you’ll remember, self pubbed a YA Paranormal series. When her sales skyrocketed (well over 450,000) she began getting noticed. Recently she signed a 4 book deal with St. Martin’s Press for two million dollars.
2. Because there are a lot of people doing it, there are a lot of books out there with great titles, great covers, etc. that really are not ready for prime time for one reason or another. It’s difficult for readers to know if they are wasting their money on something that should have stayed under the author’s bed.
3. The popular thing to do right now is to put up short stories and price them at $.99. I see authors talking about how fast they write them and get them up there. After all, more books mean more sales, and even at $.99, their take is $.35. That’s about half of what a debut author gets for an $8 mass market paper back. So, IMO, that’s pretty good.
4. A recent survey shows 20 million people read e-books last year, and more self-published authors are taking advantage of the trend.
So, here’s my dilemma. I have my full length stand alone mystery up on Amazon with the introductory price of $.99. It’s been reviewed by a seasoned reviewer who fell in love with it. Three other readers (not related to me!!) also loved it. I know it’s a good book. Anyway, this weekend I was advised by two industry professionals to raise the price. These are people whose business opinions I value. To a man they said I was undervaluing my work.
How’s a girl to know?
Recently Elle Lohlorien posted on J A Conrath’s blog about this very thing. The entire blog is worth a read, but for the sake of arguing my case, I will try to break it down. Basically, she published her book on Amazon and slapped a $2.99 price tag on it. Sales were not anything to write home about. Then she ran across a thread where a reader said “she never bought a book that was $2.99 or less because it was sure to be self-published “indie crap” riddled with typos.” And one reviewer who gave her a 5 star review said she would have paid full price for her book.
That got her thinking about how pricing books compared to Starbucks coffee (you have to read the blog to get this.) so, she raised the price to $3.99 and guess what? Sales increased. When she jacked up the price another dollar, they sold even more.
What? This goes against all the advice I got before I self published…all the people who told me to price it at $.99 to get people to try me.
Elle went on to say that she questions the fact that pricing the book at $.99 may indicate to some people that your work had no value. On the flip side, one could argue that more people will download your book at the lower price, and then you can charge more for your next book.
Can you see my problem?
But I have to go with my gut and the advice of people who know what they’re talking about. For that reason, MORTAL DECEPTION will remain at $.99 until Wednesday when the price will go up. So if you’re seriously thinking about giving it a try, you’d better hurry.
Now I’d like to hear your opinions about ebook pricing. Are you more inclined to jump on the $.99 cent bandwagon or does it make you pause and wonder if the book is any good? Give it to me—the good, bad, and the ugly. And some lucky commenter will win a free download of MD...worth $.99 until Wednesday!!