c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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I think people who go out and buy a ton of 99 cent ebooks aren't reading all of them; they're hoarding them. I know I do. I haven't read half of my 99c purchases.

Every book I buy over $3? I read, because it's not an impulse purchase, it's a considered purchase. I bought it because I really wanted to read it, right then.

Also, I don't see any reason why every author should consider the entire reading public to be the target audience. If I can make a decent living selling to people who want to read MY work at a fair price and I don't have to surround myself with bad cover art and poorly edited books as my neighbors on Amazon, why the heck would I want to try and sustain 6 times the amount of sales at 99c?

Finally, I fundamentally object to the 'value' of a book to me as a writer being tied solely to the money. I'm familiar with J. A. Konrath's recent and older pricing experiments. He makes more money off his 2.99 books than his .99 cent ones usually. Loss leaders are okay, but what happens when there are 5 million books priced at 99 cents? There's nowhere to discount from there.

We're in a period of massive ebook adoption, and it may last for a while yet. But I'm not going to price a year of my sweat and blood cheaper than a Frosty to gain readers who don't think books are worth more than fast food. As Zoe Winters said, it's invariably the people who are willing to pay the least who complain the most.

Those aren't the readers I want. It's precisely because I believe art is important and hard to put a monetary value on that it should be valued enough for artists to make a living wage.

I realize that sounds strange, but I am much more willing to give my art away to people who can't afford to pay than I am to discount new work to bargain bin prices. If I can't make a living at 4.99, 5.99, or 6.99 books once I'm well established, then I will find a new freelancing job and write part-time, if my health will allow me to do so. Right now I'm averaging six hours a day of productive time. That's my daily allotment of spoons.

Right now, we don't live in utopian societies that allow us to barter and give at will. I can't opt out of capitalism and expect for someone to pay my health care tab or my rent or to put food on my table.

It's a lot safer, in my mind, to rely on a niche demographic who reads the kind of stories I write who are willing to pay a reasonable sum for them than it is to rely on droves of bargain bin shoppers and early adopters to snatch up cheap books in handfuls month after month, year after year.

Just to clarify: Are you concerned that selling your work cheaply will hurt you financially in the long run even if there is a short-term advatnage, or are you concerned that seeking a mass audience will interfere with your artistic development, or do you just not want to be cheap, period?

Hubby got a new Kindle for Christmas and has been experimenting with it. He's in a phase right now where he's looking at ebooks and reading samples and deciding what to buy and for how much.

He stumbled onto an author whose name I really will not repeat here but who is an aggressive marketer. SOmewhere int his preambles and advertisements etc it says that one of his books is downloaded somewhere every ten seconds (or something like that). He quotes SHITLOADS of five-star reviews for those books. He has at least a dozen of them up, many of them at 99c.

Well, he downloaded a sample of one of the 99c books just to get a sense of the style and substance of this writer.

His reaction? "I wouldn't read this if he GAVE it away. Those five-star reviews must have been written by his mother."

In other words, it isn't the amount, it's the VALUE. Really. Some books are just worth $2 or $3 in ebook format. Some - well - I don't know if he's telling porkies and he really IS selling these things by the metric ton but I don't know that I want the kind of reader who would buy a book which got THAT reaction from my husband (and who would then GO BACK AFTER THAT EXPERIENCE to buy a second book from that same author). Surely at some point what kicks in is the fact that yes, you might have paid less 99c for a novel - but it is A BAD NOVEL. Are there no readers out there who have any discernment at all any more or do we all just write drivel, price it at less than a dollar, and watch the money rolling in?

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