Sunday, February 5, 2012

What Do Readers Expect for a Buck?

I was going over my blueprint again for my future publishing plans with regards to what the Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook are doing to the book market. I thought about what a short story should cost and realized that 99 cents is really not all that much to pay for a short story. And I know--you can purchase entire novels for 99 cents, right? Allow me to explain my point.

eBooks have taken over for print in many ways and sort of fits with the whole economy at this point In that many people do not have the expendable income they once had. That being said, books that sold for $7.00 to $25.00 are now selling for…99 cents to $2.99? What does this mean for the artist who churns out the work…or the editors and artists who supported these authors for a living? What about the people who complain about books not being available in print form, but are not spending the money to BUY them in print form and instead, are downloading eBooks? I am not saying any of this is wrong, merely examining opinions and putting them on the table for all to see: consumer and seller. There is a difference in cost to the author for print vs. eBooks.

I know what my costs are for putting out a book and they are not cheap. If you are lucky enough or talented enough to do everything yourself, than you may have a leg up on the rest of us! I know that if I plan to charge someone for my work, then I had better be proud of it! I remembered seeing a post form literary marvel Derek Haines on the Vandal and dug it up—it was an excellent read and really bears in mind my whole point here, too. (Derek’s Post)

Anyway, if you are going to charge money for a product, it needs to be—in my opinion—as professional as you can make it. Right? So, I need to find a cover artist and an editor, minimally. That right there is not cheap and in this 'Amazonian' marketplace, where there is soooo much to sift through, how much will I make back at 35 cents a copy? I go into it figuring at some point, maybe my work will be noticed and appreciated by many, but I still feel that whatever fans I have and those who pay for my work will get the very best that I can give them. If you put the garbage in, you get the garbage out, right? I am in it for the long haul and do not plan on running for the hills anytime soon. I will be publishing books, no matter my profit, for as long as I am able. But, with those I have spoken with about the topic, the frustration level is high.

The point of the whole discussion and what I am asking my followers and peers:

How much do you expect for 99 cents?

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

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  1. Maybe readers are unsure on the length of the stories, so are reluctant to pay for it? On Amazon, it displays the file size, but there is no such thing as page count. I wonder if this is a factor in the reader's decision? Perhaps they are wondering how short is this short story and worried that they'll get only 20 pages of reading material?

    1. Yeah, I think Amazon should have some kind of page count so you can tell what you are getting. The Kindle doesn't handle page numbers well unfortunately.

      I'd expect 99p for short stories, and I'd be happy to pay £2.99 upwards for novels. I think a lot of "professional" ebooks are more expensive than that though. Sometimes they are way overpriced (£7.99 upwards) and I shudder every time I see a hard copy available for cheaper than the electronic version. Ebooks should be cheaper without exception, because it is obvious there less production costs involved.

      There are ebook novels out there for just 99p but I don't like this price point as it just seems too cheap and it sends the wrong message to a potential buyer. I've priced my book at £1.99, but to be honest I think I should have gone with £2.99. I certainly will start at that price point when I finish the sequel.

  2. Well, I understand that unless you break down the file size, it may be hard to determine exactly what you are buying. I tend to agree with you, Craig. I feel that short stories should sell for the bear minimum and maybe novellas could sell for under $2.99 as well. But, I also feel that there is no reason why authors should have to sell entire novels for 99 cents to 2.99 unless they really want to.

    While I agree that it is completely up to the author (usually), I think that 3.99 to 7.99 is a fair price for a novel. I also tend to agree that if you are placing your novel in the 99 cent range from the start, it may be because you either A) want the publicity and are not doing it for the profit (which is absolutely fine) or B)you do not feel you can charge more than that for whatever reason. I don't pretend to understand the market, I just have to play in it!

    My whole motivation right now is to get my work out there and I felt that doing short stories could get me there. Amazon will not let you charge less than 99 cents for anything so I have no choice but to put my work out there for that (even if I wanted to give one away fro free but cannot now!) and let the chips fall where they may. I can offer the book free on my website I suppose, but I wont give away more than a couple without the exposure that Amazon gives.

    These are just my opinions, I'm not forcing them on anyone, just kind of adding to the discussion. Any other thoughts?

  3. I agree that 99 cents for a novel is too cheap but many readers are reluctant to pay more, sadly. And even though they won't pay much, they want top quality in both content and quality.
    However, I'm sure that the current trend of very cheap and even free ebooks isn't sustainable and readers will start being prepared to pay realistic prices. Ebooks are still relatively new and there aren't any hard and fast rules regarding their value yet, other than that they should be cheaper than printed books. But try telling that to French publishers!

  4. Hi, Steph and thanks for chiming in! I couldn't agree more with you on every point, though I don't pretend to know about the French publishing. I believe at some point in the near future, the market will correct itself and the eBook will level off in a price slightly higher. 99 cents is way too little to charge for a full length novella except for maybe a discounted 'sale' or promotional type situation. Thanks for the comments!