I am part of the problem

I had a strange experience today. To understand it, you need to know where my mindset was at the time. I made this image and posted it to Twitter recently.

This is part of my Twitter campaign to drive interest in my Experimental Notebook. As an aside, if you want to feed your imagination hit the linked image on my sidebar.

Today is my flex day off. It was mid-morning, and I decided to shop for a book.

There is a series in bloom that I read the first volume of last Spring. The second volume is available, and #1 was good enough to bring me back. I won't say it was outstanding, but it was fun.

This series is put out via traditional publishing. I still read mainstream books alongside the indie stuff, so no problem. I froze like a deer in the headlights at the $8.99 ebook price.

Book number one isn't any better than my own efforts. I admit a touch of bias, before anyone points it out. Why is this electronic document three times more than one of my own? The paperback was more, and I understand that. Paper, ink, shipping, etc.

In a perfect world, the rest of us would raise our prices into the $9 neighborhood. This is never going to happen though.

The price for this book is fair, I actually believe the rest of us aren't charging enough. I also know that raising my prices to set a beacon for everyone else is suicide. People talked me into lowering my prices by a dollar nearly a year ago. Some suggested 99¢ for all of them, but I couldn't do that.

I opened my kindle app. I have other books I haven't read. I'm just in a certain kind of mood, and this story has what I am looking for. It's a Victorian Steampunkish kind of story.

I opened a different book on my app and started reading. This one is a pulpish noir setting involving superheroes. I have an author friend who might really like it, but I won't say anything until I finish it. (Just in case.)

Now I feel like I have to go back, buy the other book, and have it ready. The author has nothing to do with the pricing. I enjoyed her last book. She might like to write another, but her contract depends upon the sales of this volume.

I don't want to be that guy. The one who only reads a book if he can get it during a free promotion. If this were Cheri Priest or Jim Butcher, I wouldn't think twice about it.

Maybe I should have grabbed something written by a friend. My last three or four reads were by friends, and they all entertained me. I know they would appreciate a sale too. None of them have a steampunk story available though. On the other hand, I didn't start reading a steampunk story either.

What would you have done? The price isn't going to ruin Christmas around here, so why did I waiver? Am I like the guy who bought the Starbucks instead of Experimental Notebook? Let me know in the comments.

I'll probably go back after I finish this other book and buy the one I wanted. I don't have to worry about it right now.

Tonight, I'm going to see if Flash, Green Arrow, and the new Hawkgirl can defeat Stephen Strange. I also want to see Jay Garrick get his speed powers back. It's a two part episode, and I watched part one last night.


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37 responses to “I am part of the problem

  1. Honestly, I think you should charge more. I realize I am unpublished and aspiring and compared to you I know nothing, but still…
    I know it’s competitive, but you are, after all, building a body of work.
    Most of my writer friends write stuff I really don’t want to read. You know me, I don’t dig on scary and gory and horror and crime very often. So I’ll buy a book here and there as a gift for someone who does, or I’ll buy children’s stories and put them on the Kindles, or in worst case scenario, I’ll buy a promotional tee-shirt instead.
    As much as I enjoy your blog, I am always skeptical about reading larger pieces of fiction by anyone I know, and furthermore spending money.(YIKES! $$$!) But once I read The Experimental Notebook, I bought Will O’ The Wisp without batting an eye. I would expect to pay more for your next book, if I’m interested. Without reservation. Because now, I am one of your readers, even though it’s probably not going to be my favorite genre. You follow?
    I’m the worst, because the last writer friend I was going to read? I won her giveaway and got it for free. I am the worst! lol
    But you know, I’m kinda all about the library. I don’t buy nearly as many as I borrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never knew you took a shot on Wisp. My evil plan is working. Word of warning, Playground has some brutal moments in it. (No squid though.) I have no problem with free. I give books to friends without a contest. Thanks for having faith in my projects.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have the same perplexed thoughts about price. I think all authors should charge a fair price. I did a $0.99 Cyber Monday deal and really didn’t want to do it. Was sort of a formula (Promote a month then drop in a good deal) Not sure I want to do that again. Interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The eternal question of pricing. Think it all depends on the route a person wants to take and how they promote things. I still keep ‘Beginning of a Hero’ at 99 cents to tempt people to take a chance on the series. It’s to catch people and the book always sells a few copies. Do I think it’s worth more? Of course, but I consider myself realistic about my position on the publishing totem pole. People still don’t take indies very seriously and gripe when they think a ‘nobody’ prices their books at the level of a traditional publisher. At the same time, an indie who goes too low for every book can be seen as low quality. Kind of a lose/lose situation because everyone has their own opinion on the topic.

    One thing that was pointed out to me about traditional publishers is that they have more hands in the cookie jar. An indie author gets to keep all of their royalty. A trad author gets a cut along with the publisher and maybe an agent. So it isn’t surprising that they price higher because they have to spread it around more. Going $3.99 is a bad move in that situation because they would come out with less than an indie author who has the same price.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m hesitant to pay anything over $6 for an ebook, and then I have to stop and ask myself why. I’ll go to the movie and spend more than that for a ticket. Add in popcorn and a drink, and the cost is ridiculous. For two hours of entertainment. A book provides me with more hours than that. So I try to keep this in mind, and yet I still bristle. But slowly I’m getting there. I can’t keep buying paperbacks. My shelves can’t take it.

    I love your image. It makes a great point.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve followed my blog long enough to know how I feel about the ceiling we indies have set for ourselves. My husband was complaining today about an author he was spending $12.00 per book for to read all of a series. It’s an older, more established author. I sent him to the public library, where he found them all for free.

    I still have RC&R at $3.99. I’m not changing it, and it only sells well during promos. It probably would NOT sell more at a lower price. I’m convinced it is more about exposure than pricing. My first ENT promo sold more books than any other and I had accidentally left the price up during the promo. (They check for that now and will drop you if you don’t change it a day in advance.) Amazing…140 copies at $3.99. If we could get smaller reader friendly sites to promote and get out from under the blanket at Amazon. Book Bub has worked wonders for many, but they’ve gotten to large and expensive. The Fussy Librarian isn’t consistent. Online reviewers are the best at encouraging readers to buy. BUT there are zillions of them out there…and zeroing in on the most effective takes work.

    I do believe writing and publishing more and working to build a platform help most.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you. I’ll probably try another paid promo at some time. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep writing and plugging along. I noticed I’m getting a lot more Kindle Unlimited action. Maybe the library idea is growing in popularity.


      • With Naked Alliances, I think I’m going to go Kindle Select. I’ve never had borrows on my book, ever, so I really don’t know how that works. The whole paid by the page thing concerns me too. I’ve bought books to support the author, even though I haven’t gotten around to reading them, I know I will. But I want my authors to get paid on purchase.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It comes to about a half cent per page. No it isn’t great, but that’s not where I am right now. I need fans. If they find me via Kindle Unlimited, I’m okay with that. Fans do things on Goodreads and Twitter. They tell their son-in-law. I’m willing to lose money at this phase.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is interesting Craig. The dollars convert to £6 here in the UK. We pay between £8 and £10 for paperback books. I don’t hesitate at paying £8 for a paperback. I sell mine at £6.99 at craft fairs but I don’t sell any of my e-books for more than £2. People are funny though, they are suspicious of things that are too cheap of too expensive. I wouldn’t part with £6 for a fiction e-book of an author I’m not sure about, or one I am. I’d much rather own the paperback for a few pounds more. In conclusion £3-4 ($4-5) is what I expect to pay for an e-book that I’m frankly probably never going to pick up again, whereas a paperback sits on my bookshelf so I can admire it and go back to it. Entirely psychological I’m sure but that’s how our minds work when we are buying.

    Saying that in free promotions, how many of those that download the book actually read it? s it better to charge more but people are actually reading it?

    Who knows what the right answer is?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ali Isaac

    A very interesting conversation going on over here. I dont believe authors should get paid by page read, and I don’t believe trad publishers are allowing Amazon to do that to them. Also, I believe we do price our indie books too low. We Indies are made to feel like we should be grateful for the scraps we are given. The fact is, we work twice as hard as a regular trad pubbed author to produce our books. If more of us had the marketing power and contacts that trap pubs have, there’D be a lot more best selling authors amongst us! Sue is right, it’s exposure that’s the issue. Amazon has drowned us in a vast sea of millions of Indie authors. Indies have become victims of our own Indie movement’s success. We have dug such a deep hole over pricing that now we can’t get out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I notice more action now that I have more titles. I wonder if readers are feeling burned about poor quality and looking at staying power before they buy. I decided when we have to pay readers to read our work, I’m out of here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac

        Lol! Well that’s pretty much what’s happening when we keep giving away freebies on Amazon. I dont do it anymore. Nor do I drop my prices. They’re low enough already. Freebies should be an added incentive not a free for all. Although I do understand that new authors just want to get read. But what I think happens is that you t snapped up by people who take everything for nothing and probably never bother to read it. Serious readers stay away from those gimmicks. I’ll pay what a book costs if I want to read it. If I don’t want to read it, it doesn’t matter if it’s free, I still don’t want it. And btw, love your twitter ad! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks. It sounds like we’re of the same mindset. I’ll give anything to a friend, but I’m not asking a fortune for my product.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac

        Yes, it has to be realistic.


  8. I don’t think you’re “that” guy. Sometimes I pause before paying for a $9.ebook, but if I want it bad enough, I got for it. So far, none have been disappointments. I might feel differently if they were. Oh, wait. Actually, one was. I probably shouldn’t say which one publicly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s an important business decision, all right. People do have a perception that equal pricing for electronic and printed books is some sort of a scam. They seem not to realise that publishers have the same costs for rent, utilities and payroll for a paper book as electronic.

    For me, the question is, how much do you, the indy writer, invest in your publication, and how many copies will you have to sell to recoup that investment? If you sell for .99 and have to sell 1,000 copies, will you ever break even? I think writers should be able to charge 4 or 5 dollars per copy without taking flak.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I passed on a (non-fiction) book recently because the e-book was priced the same as the physical book. I felt the publisher should have given me a discount after saving on printing, shipping, and inventory risk.

    Liked by 1 person

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