I thought I would take a break from all the “dark” blog entries I’ve been writing about lately and lighten up the mood (well, maybe). I thought we’d forget about the supernatural for a short while and talk about a subject that is a hot topic of conversation- the price of e-books. First off, let me say that I hope this doesn’t come across as me complaining, rambling or sounding awful, because I am really not trying to be that way- honest!!
As an author, I am not in this for the money. That is obvious by the price of my books. If you don’t know, my e-books are just 99 cents. I write for the love of writing, and because that is what I believe the good Lord put me here to do, although it took me many, many years to finally go public with it. (There’s a story to that as well, it will appear on my “Paranormal stories/Testimonials” page in the near future). I am in this for the long haul.
As authors, 99 cents is not a good price point, as far as profitability. After Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. get their share of the 99 cents, an author is left with about 35 cents per book. Definitely not earth-shattering. You’d need to sell a WHOLE lot of books to be able to quit your full-time job and write full-time, which is what I am sure all of us authors are striving for. Take into account those who buy your book and then send it back for a refund probably after reading it (why someone does that I have no clue, especially at the 99 cent price point or lower- I myself wouldn’t dream of sending it back for a refund, no matter what the price- I have always read them through and then gave them away if I didn’t want them, and that is at a whole lot more than 99 cents- OK, enough of the self-justification), and you end up with even less of a royalty check, if you get one at all. Also, there are the many hours spent writing the book, (and hiding out from the world while you pour your heart and soul into it), hiring a graphic artist, either hiring a marketer or doing that part yourself, creating book trailer(s), etc. etc. etc. and an author is extremely- let me stress this- extremely- fortunate to break even or come close. Not for the faint-hearted or those with little patience. As for the royalties I’ve received thus far? I finally got checks from Lulu and Amazon. The grand total? Almost a whopping $30. Yes, less than $30. As of this date, I have spent well over $2000 (not that I had room in my budget to do so, but hey, sometimes you have to invest in yourself) and that was just on my first book, Diary of a Demonologist.
As far as the paperback versions go, the profit is about the same, depending on which price you’ve set your book. For my paperback, I’ve kept the price as low as possible (it costs my print company over $7.00 to print the book, plus their cut, and after that, I am left with about 35 cents profit per book as well). Hardbacks don’t fare much better, depending on what the cost to print is.
Then, there’s the stigma of the 99 cent price. Readers, we can’t judge a book by the price. I myself look at books in that price point as well as others. I can buy more books though, if they are priced cheaply. Sure, there are some bad covers out there (as well as bad titles), and also books filled with grammar and spelling errors as well as just plain bad writing and that is where I feel the 99 cent price is justified, but there are a whole lot of good books out there at 99 cents too. Just because a book is priced at 99 cents does not mean that it is junk! To date, I have supported almost 100 Indie authors, and not all of those books I have bought have been at 99 cents. Being on a budget, however, I find that I can buy more and not feel bad if I never read them if I only spend 99 cents. Which brings me to another thing.
Looking at discussions out there (I like to read them, but I do not participate) I notice that a lot of readers balk at spending 99 cents on an e-book and some will even send it back for a refund! (Yes, I said it- I am not guilty of this nor do I ever plan on being guilty of it.) I don’t care if I never read the books that are currently on my electronic shelves- I will NEVER send them back for a refund. Why? Well, first of all, I can lend them to friends and family if they want something to read. Secondly, I know that the author does not get credit for the book if I send it back. That’s why. Hey, I’ve even downloaded plenty of songs and decided almost immediately that I didn’t like them anymore. I still have them on my iPod, however. FYI- I have recently broken out of my shell and started taking things back to the store that broke, etc., and I HATED taking things back. But then again, those things cost a whole lot more than 99 cents and it was getting expensive…
And yes, I’ve seen readers balk at paying 99 cents for a book. Really?? We need to get our priorities straight. We spend all this outlandish money for professional sports gear, movie tickets, etc. to support and advertise our favorite teams, celebrities, etc., all the while adding to their multi-million dollar a year salaries. Why should we complain about supporting Indie authors who are only asking a paltry sum for a book? At least we are all helping each other out. By the way, it usually costs at least .99 to 1.29 for just ONE song on iTunes…
OK, before I start sounding like “Ms. Perfect”, let me get to: So why price your book at 99 cents?
Well, for me, I decided to price mine because of two main things: 1. The economy. As a reader, books are a luxury for me. So many bills of mine have went up in price lately, so I don’t really have a ton of money to spend on books. One of the things I like to do whenever I have spare time is read. I have proof of that all over the house as well as on my Kindle app, Nook app, and iPod. So, I try not to spend too much money on books if at all possible, as I like to try to support as many authors as possible, and yes, I do read many different genres even though I love horror the most. I also do look at books which are over 99 cents. If I decide I want to read it, I’ll buy it. I will not and have not, however, paid more than $5.00 for an e-book. I don’t care if it’s by my favorite author in the whole wide world. I’ve seen plenty of e-books out there for $10 and up, and I know it’s set by their publishers, but I just won’t spend it. I like to hold books, and if I am going to pay that much, I will get a paperback or shell out more cash and get my favorites- hardbacks. As far as the books I have authored and will author, I don’t ever plan on having the e-books cost more than $5, as long as I am publishing myself. You can take that to the bank.
2. The competition. We all know that the competition in the writing world is more fierce these days than ever. It seems like everyone has a story to tell and a book to publish about it. Most are very good. Some probably should not see the light of day. All are subjective, as everyone’s tastes are different. Which is why I never go by the ratings. With all the readers out there with many different tastes, all authors can and should get a piece of the pie and be on the bestseller list at one point in time. That is what I believe. Pricing my book at 99 cents gives me a chance for someone to check me out. I’ve bought plenty of books at that price of which some I may never read. However, I don’t feel like I’ve lost that much because hey, it was only 99 cents. I mean, I spend more than that on a soda that I drink in about an hour. I also pay that much or more on just ONE song from iTunes. So really, I don’t give it much thought about downloading a 99 cent e-book which allows me to escape to another world for a while. As I’ve said before, I can also lend it to a friend if I don’t want to read it and let them enjoy it.
Which brings me to how I pick a book. I know that there are lots of discussions out there about ratings: bought ratings, bad ratings for other authors, whatever. I myself do not participate in any of that, but we can leave that for our next post. Personally, I don’t pay much attention to a book’s rating. The only ratings I do pay a lot of attention to are those for products, especially expensive ones, and then I look for a pattern in those ratings (something breaking, etc.). I know that everyone has different tastes and is not going to like all the same things. I only read the ratings out of interest; I do not let them dictate what book I buy. They are very nice to have from an author’s standpoint, but as a reader, I don’t give them much weight.
The first thing that attracts me to a book is the cover. If I like that, I will look at the title. Then, I look at the synopsis. A lot of times, I’ve just bought a book based on the cover and title and that’s all.
Well, all, I think I’ve covered enough in this post for now. What are your thoughts as an author or reader or both? I am very interested in hearing your opinions, your experiences and what has worked (or hasn’t) for you!
In two weeks: Bad Behavior by Authors... and Readers??
Darla Broadwater. We will of course discuss the supernatural but also other subjects of interest from time to time- nature, gardening, even cars!