There's Me And Then There's...Everyone Else?

writing
discussion

#1

I’m going to share with you a little story that starts like this:

I am now a published indie author. After 44 years. That’s a long ass time to wait for a book to be published. A long time indeed. And this is the first of many books planned to be released over the next decade (depending on if I still have a job in that time).

So anyways…here’s the thing. People here and everywhere else has complained mightily about e-book pricing. Or to be specific…mine.

See last week–right before Christmas–I had someone on Quotev (of all places) complain that my book prices were simply “too high”. That I should personally lower the prices to about…three dollars for my e-book and nine bucks for my print.

I said, “I can’t do that. The book is 535 pages in length and I cannot see myself going that low.”

As for the print price? That was Amazon’s doing. Not mine. I didn’t say, “Sure. Go ahead and set it to $16.50 and watch people lose themselves over the issue.”

They set the price because 535 pages is a LOT of book!

Lots to read.

This is probably why I haven’t had many sales in the past week since the book went live.

But here’s the thing I’ve noticed: Indie authors like me are expected by and large by the reading public to simply price ourselves under the table (or under market value) or simply give away our books for FREE.

Like forever.

Sounds like a good plan, huh? You toil and suffer in agonizing silence for much of your life and now people want you to give away your hard earned work for free or they want everything on the CHEAP.

Suddenly now…people can’t afford a $5.99 e-book. (Or it will be $6.99 next month after I made an interesting discovery on Amazon over Christmas Day two days ago.)

Cannot AFFORD.

But a $6 coffee at Starbucks? Sure! $10 DVD? No problem. The first season to Star Trek: Discovery on blu-ray? Piece of cake. It’s money well spent.

Except…

That $5.99 e-book sitting on Amazon at the moment.

Now…people’s wallets have suddenly–and mysteriously…shut on that account.

"Can’t afford it. Too expensive." People tell me…time and again.

But…you just spent money on that movie or that coffee at Starbucks.

Why is a $5.99 e-book suddenly so expensive in light of what you and everyone else just pissed away standing in line at either your local Starbucks cafe or Wal-Mart?

Can anyone tell me why? Why a measly $5.99 e-book is now suddenly the most expensive book on Earth to some people?

Um…didn’t you just drop some money on Stephen King’s last book release? You know…those e-books that fetch a price of about $12-14 each? And you have no problem with it?

So why is my book the issue when you guys are doing this and that for other authors but not for me?

Is $5.99 still too much a hassle for you to bear? No? Yes? Maybe? But shelling out $20 for a movie or $6 for coffee isn’t a real problem, or $12 for an e-book from a published author isn’t either, but suddenly an indie author asking for just this much causes you this much financial pain???

Um…when did discrimination against indie authors come into play? Was it right after Amazon launched digital publishing into the world in 2005 and people thought back then that $4.99 for an e-book was too damned much?

Because I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in ten years time, $5.99 or even $6.99 is going to be seen as a bargain for e-books. Because in the future, the mere costs of an e-book is going to continue to climb.

Still don’t think you can afford a movie and my book at the same time? Or how about a copy of The Queen of Air And Darkness and Codename: Velocity?

Still too much for your budgets to handle?

See, the thing is, we always want value for our work. But what is going on lately–and it’s not just me this is happening to–is that people have it in their heads that we have to devalue not only ourselves as writers and authors in the publishing world in order to get ahead, but also our respective works as well.

All that hard work and sacrifice, struggles, and standing out in the dead of winter ringing that bell for the Salvation Army for 4 years so that I could afford the eventual $2500 I sunk into publishing my massive tome means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

You know…some day, I’m going to want that money back. But I can’t do that by under pricing myself on the cheap for other people’s enjoyment or listen to them complain about how my book is so expensive when they just blow a few hundred bucks on movie or book purchases at Wal-Mart.

Or on Black Friday if you want to get technical.

See how the level of hypocrisy and discrimination is so transparent and easy to see against indie authors in this day and age. You’re sitting there and telling me: “Your work is worthless in my eyes. It means nothing to me. So why are you making me pay for it?”

Why? Because I am offering something of value. That’s why I price accordingly. I value what I do as a writer and now as an author and I am expecting the reading public to understand that reasoning without first making a federal case out of it.

Because if money issues are suddenly such a concern for many of you when it comes to my work and only my work, none of you would be where you are today.

So somewhere, somehow…down the line, you had to spend a fortune getting the things you’ve always wanted, dreamed, cherished, or aspired towards.

And you want to know something? I don’t see money in the same context as many of you do. I spend it as I see fit. I don’t haggle over things like I’ve seen online in recent years. The bitching, the bellyaching, the complaining, the “woe is me” routine by so many readers and consumers about e-book pricing.

Particularly from indie authors. Not the mainstream. The mainstream they are fine handing fists of money over as a king’s ransom for one of King’s novels or anyone else’s.

No problem there. But mine and everyone else’s who simply asks for a fair and reasonable price for our hard work? Too much cost. Too much money.

So just remember boys and girls, that same cup of coffee you buy at Starbucks every day is going to cost the same as any one of my future e-books. And that’s not going to change any time soon.


#2

It’s a matter of supply and demand. There’s a glut of self-published books out there now, so indie authors like all of us are a dime a dozen. The massive competition keeps the prices low. If you price yours too high, the readers will simply buy another sci-fi book that costs less. Whatcha gonna do these days? ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯


#3

People know what to expect from Stephen King. You’re a debut author. No one knows what to expect from you, so I don’t see how this comparison makes any sense.

People also know what they’re getting when they order a coffee. And I don’t know where people pay $20 to go to the cinema.

And you’re kind of assuming a lot here. I don’t have that kind of money to throw around on coffee and cinema tickets. I save it for books. I save it for books I really want to read - usually by authors I know will deliver a good product so I won’t feel like I wasted my money.

Source for this claim?

Yes. It’s too much for my budget to handle for something I’m not sure I’ll even enjoy. Because I’m poor. :woman_shrugging: Why do you think I read free books on Wattpad?

It’s not only your work. It’s all debut authors whose work I know nothing about.

Again, you don’t know what our budgets are like. Saying “Oh but you can pay this for Stephen King, one of the most critically acclaimed and probably most successful authors of our time, but not me, a debut author.” doesn’t make any sense.

Does it suck that we as creatives have to price our stuff low? Yes. Yes it does. I do agree with you there - but complaining about people buying coffee or famous authors’ books instead of yours… It’s not gonna do you any favours. You’re not exactly putting your best foot forward right now.

You’ve certainly not done anything to convince me to spend what little money I have on your book right now.


#4

It’s always quality over quantity, you know.

Your books is 535 pages, sure that’s a lot to read, but what about the quality of it? Does it appeal to a lot of people and blow them away?

There’s nothing wrong with people wanting a lower price for a book, I’m sure a lot of purchasers of books have felt like this at some point.


#5

Not at all. I actually know an author who says he upped the price of his books because people assumed books priced at $.99 or $2.99 were priced that way because they were amateurish.

My ebooks are a fraction of the length of yours. My first novel is around $75K words and has been priced at $3.99 from the beginning. It was priced that way because it was my debut novel.

My second ebook is 84K words and published under a different pen name. It’s always been priced at $4.99.

My third ebook (back to my original pen name) is around 75K words and priced at $4.99. That one’s not even in KU so people have to buy it.

I even know an author who prices his books as whole numbers ($5 vs $4.99) because he thinks it makes it look higher quality.

As to pricing your paperback, it costs more to print a 600 page book than a 300 page book. The cost of paper, etc.


#6

Saw the new Mary Poppins movie on Christmas day. Two tickets = $34+. Now I paid extra because it was a Dolby theater with reclining seats and there was a $4.50 “convenience” charge for buying it online and reserving seats. I would guess in NYC the standard price for a ticket must be $20.


#7

I think the last time I went to the cinema I paid… £4-5 per ticket? (Around 6 USD)

$20 per ticket sounds like a rip-off unless you get popcorn, soda and a foot massage in there too.


#8

Ha, the popcorn and soda probably cost more than the ticket. I think that’s where they make their money.


#9

NYC is around $12-16, depending on the borough and when you go. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a $20 theatre somewhere in Manhattan, but it’s not quite that high yet.


#10

Oh Christ yes.

Which is why I buy it in the pound shop for dirt cheap and bring it into the cinema :joy:

How the hell. Copenhagen is super expensive but even here we pay like maybe 10 USD - and maybe 15 USD for a 3D film, since you get the goggles with the ticket.


#11

Honestly part of this I agree with you actually. Its unfair that some people (we must never generalize) may want a book to be very cheap. But that’s not the case for everyone. Some people think cheap books may be indicative of the same quality. You will meet all kinds of people on the market and I think the wise thing you need to do is wait and not let one or two comments on the price rile you into a storm.

This is all part of marketing here. Remember as an author now you have image to uphold and I think its unfair to yourself to taint your image by comparing people spending their hard earned money on things they enjoy (movies, books from proven authors etc). As annoying to you as it may be its their money and they should be free to spend it as they choose.

Once you have proven yourself to be a quality writer to the masses people will pay the price because they know they are getting a good product. Be patient and courteous to potential buyers and please be cautious about shaming potential buyers for their spending. You may never know when you just axed a good sale coming your way.


#12

I always find it interesting when Americans complain for prices. In my neck of the woods it can cost you $90 base price for a ticket without popcorn and i’m not even talking about 3D depending on which cinema you choose. I’d love to spend 20 lol (which is $120+ give or take in my currency when converted.)


#13

American dollars?! Holy shit.


#14

$90 TTD is the going cost but if something cost Americans 20 bucks the exact cost minus taxes would be exactly $135.49. So buying books from a store is extremely expensive. Honestly lots of things here are overpriced. If you want I can try and give some titles and cost here locally.

In fact 90 is a special. Sometimes on tuesdays the price is dropped but only for the ticket. Food is still at a high cost and you are only allowed to purchase food there.


#15

Oooohhhhh, I thought it was American dollars :joy: It’s about the same in Denmark - which I think is the most expensive place to live right now (with living costs, rent prices, food etc. etc. included)


#16

Its still very expensive as 20 US is over 100 here so just think about that lol. And 100 dollars here can’t even full a trolley at the grocery. You may get about 3-5 items depending on what it is and 5 is being generous. The poor man’s Budget for groceries is about maybe $500 if you don’t want to leave behind most essentials. The less you spend you may have to leave some things back.


#17

Yeah, you can’t go out for lunch here for less than 100 DKK, so I get ya.


#18

Oh wait for it. so I pulled up one local bookstore. The Queen of air and Darkness is $260TT here.

The hard cover on Amazon is 15.53(US) which the base conversion comes to 105.21(TT) so taxes added its more than double.


#19

I agree with this. Readers there KNOW what the quality of work is. They trust the author. If you are publishing (and from what I’ve found, especially if your self publishing) then your first one, two, maybe more books are going to be speculated. Many don’t want to trust that the book is going to be worth it, but they’d rather go to their favourite authors knowing what to expect.


#20

I agree. The smart thing to do is link with other prolific indie authors, make real friends and get them to make forewords on your book. Get them to review your work and help you “hype” the book. Even if that first book isnt a success and your 3rd book is really where it kicks up then you never know that might generate sales for your older books too.