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Old 03-14-2012, 06:25 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by DrNefario View Post
I can buy a movie that a few hundred people spent millions of dollars making over more than a year for about the price of a paperback. Pretending that there is some intrinsic worth of a thing - that the price you charge is related to its inherent artistic merit - is a total fallacy. Stop worrying about it.
Sorry Doc, but if someone has spent millions of dollars making a movie, it's a pretty sure bet that the company that made the movie is confident in getting a healthy profit back. There are very few movies like King's Speech or Slumdog Millionaire around which started out as unknown and untried and turned into a success. If it hadn't been for people giving the movie a chance and spreading the word about it, the chances are it would not have been. But, at no time did those movies sell cheap tickets.
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:05 PM   #62
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So, yes, $2.99 is a fair price for an author I am familiar with; not with an author with whom I am unfamiliar and thus have no certainty that they know how to construct a sentence, let alone a paragraph and a book.
Is that not what the samples are for? Mind you, thinking about it all the writers that I would rush out and buy on release day got there through a free read too (or a virtually free paperback in ye olden days). But if something looks interesting by someone I've never heard of before the sample is usually enough to make a decision from.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:08 PM   #63
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I have no problem paying 2.99 for an unknown if the cover is pretty (OMG, ANA LIKES SHINIES), but I know that's a privileged position to take. For me, it was basically an "eh, I'll give up fancy coffee" but without actually giving up fancy coffee. I'm going to give up SOMETHING, I'm just not sure what yet. Oh, crap, I forgot to buy an indie today. Hang on.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:42 AM   #64
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I'm going to give up SOMETHING, I'm just not sure what yet. Oh, crap, I forgot to buy an indie today. Hang on.
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:40 AM   #65
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How often are we truly unfamiliar with an author though? Everything we need to get familiar is right there for the taking. Amazon reviews and customer ratings, sales ranks, writer blogs, forums, and--most importantly--the ability to preview a good chunk of whatever book you are thinking about buying.

It's only really a shot in the dark if you don't make use of these resources. The instant we see that a book has 100 reviews and a four star average, though, we can't claim to be unfamiliar anymore.
For me, there are several problems with your suggestions.

First, one has to trust Amazon reviews. (I guess even before that, one has to go to Amazon, which is something I do not do.) But I see no reason to trust anonymous reviews. Besides, I have, in the past, bought ebooks with 4- and 5-star reviews only to wonder what idiots gave the books so many stars. The books were riddled with errors and clearly unedited. All it proves is that the reviewers are no more knowledgeable than many of the writers about grammar and language.

One hundred reviews or even 1000 reviews doesn't make a book good for you or me. At best it indicates that the reviewers liked it, but they may well like, for example, sexually explicit prose whereas you and I might not. In addition, reviews that read "great", "good", "best book ever" are not particularly meaningful, just as 1-star reviews that are really complaints about pricing rather than content but not disclosed as such are meaningless.

Sales ranks are meaningless. Because a book is highly ranked doesn't mean it is anything more than appealing to popular culture. Have we so suddenly forgotten how highly ranked in sales the book was that had all blank pages?

None of the suggested avenues really familiarize a buyer with an author except at the surface level. Because someone can write a pithy twit within the 140-character limit does not mean they can write a 100,000 word novel that is readable.

The other thing is that not everyone writes a review. I rarely write a review for a book. For me to write a review, the book has to be either exceptionally well done or exceptionally poorly done. I have neither the time nor the inclination to write a review for all the books I either read or start and then discard. And even if I did write a review, what would it really mean to you? You have no idea of my competency to review or rate a book. What are my standards? How do I decide that a book should be 3 stars or 4 stars?

Although for some people what you suggest is sufficient for deciding whether to buy an ebook or not, it is insufficient for me and I suspect it is insufficient for a great number of readers.
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:49 AM   #66
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Is that not what the samples are for? Mind you, thinking about it all the writers that I would rush out and buy on release day got there through a free read too (or a virtually free paperback in ye olden days). But if something looks interesting by someone I've never heard of before the sample is usually enough to make a decision from.
I suppose that reading a sample should be enough but I find that I (personally) can't slog my way through more than a couple of pages of a sample. I have tried downloading samples to my reader and then reading them. When I found one I liked, I also discovered that I wasn't able to immediately download the ebook and continue reading (most of the books I buy I buy at Smashwords). So I'd move on to another book and by the time I could buy and download the sampled book, I was no longer interested. Thus, I have stopped looking at samples. Either I download the book in whole or I move on. But this is my personal reading habit and not really a proper solution.
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:59 AM   #67
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I suppose that reading a sample should be enough but I find that I (personally) can't slog my way through more than a couple of pages of a sample. I have tried downloading samples to my reader and then reading them. When I found one I liked, I also discovered that I wasn't able to immediately download the ebook and continue reading (most of the books I buy I buy at Smashwords). So I'd move on to another book and by the time I could buy and download the sampled book, I was no longer interested. Thus, I have stopped looking at samples. Either I download the book in whole or I move on. But this is my personal reading habit and not really a proper solution.
Like others, I'm probably thinking more Amazon-centric, where being able to buy and carry on reading as soon as you've finished the sample is built into the reader. I'd guess the others that tie you to a particular venue will be the same.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:59 PM   #68
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But I see no reason to trust anonymous reviews. Besides, I have, in the past, bought ebooks with 4- and 5-star reviews only to wonder what idiots gave the books so many stars. The books were riddled with errors and clearly unedited. All it proves is that the reviewers are no more knowledgeable than many of the writers about grammar and language.
While I also tend to be turned off from a book when there are lots of editorial errors, I have also read books that were "rough" but which had great stories and which I greatly enjoyed. Since I've started reading independent books I've taken to using the highlight feature on my Kindle to indicate errors I find as I read; when I'm done I send the text file that result to the author. It takes about 10 minutes of my time and I've always gotten back grateful thanks for the effort.

I'm not trying to apologize for errors or say editing isn't important, just that finding mistakes in a book doesn't and shouldn't automatically disqualify it from high ratings. Of course if there's an error on every page, that should affect the rating, especially if they are signficant and/or obvious enough to hinder the reading experience. Though my experience, at least at Amazon, has been that any indie book that has more than 2-3 reviews will note the presence of editorial mistakes if there are any at all in the book. In fact editing issues seems to be the most common type of comment that I see in book reviews these days.
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:03 PM   #69
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But how many .99-2.99 self-pub eBooks have 100 reviews?
Most seem to have less than 10.
If I'm just cruising Amazon following the 'Customers who bought this also...' links, and I come across an interesting blurb on a 99c book, I'll buy it. I might get around to reading it, I might not. If I do read it, I might like it, I might not, but at 99c that is worth the gamble. At 2.99 it isn't. (For me)
If I like the first book, I'll probably pay 2.99 for the next one. But if the first one is 2.99, chances are I'll never try it, not as long as there is a more-than-sufficient supply of free and 99c books available.
You can use this same mindset regarding free books though. There are enough free books by modern writers to keep you busy for the rest of your life so why bother taking a gamble on $.99 ones when you can just gamble your time reading a few pages of a free one?

Quote:
Ultimately it is a free market, and you are competing with all the other authors for the pool of customers. If they are willing to sell at 99c, you better have something extra to offer to charge significantly more.
Or you could just make your sales to people who don't base their reading queue around being able to get the material for $.99.

As you stated, there is a reasonable chance you won't even read the books you buy for $.99. I know I would prefer to make $4 selling two $2.99 books to people that will read them over making $6.5 selling ten people books they won't read.

There will always be under-cutters and at some point a seller has to draw their own line. Some draw it at $9.99. Some draw it at $0. Personally, I will never draw that line at $.99 for a novel.
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Old 03-15-2012, 04:38 PM   #70
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But then I guess it depends on why you write
... and WHAT you write ... let me explain ...

I barely read fiction, but I read MS-SQL and database books a lot! It is very rare to find such type of books for less than 15 dollars. And some can be as expensive as 40, even more (talking about ebook version, paper version can be as expensive as 100 bucks)

So, on such cases, I find very difficult for an author to go below 10 dollars. At least, I have not seen anything on Amazon on that price. If you find one, is just crap (or too old), bad content or poorly edited. On my experience, very well known writers on that area will never publish anything so cheap.

Here, you are paying for valuable knowledge which is also related to current technology. The capacity to write a good book, quick enough for what you need now, is what dictates the price, in my opinion.

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Old 03-15-2012, 05:39 PM   #71
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So the info that's available is a hint, a small clue but we're still really not "familiar" with that author's work.

Not that I'm arguing for 99c prices. I'm arguing we need better ways to find out about new books than "try it out because it's cheap and got some good reviews"
I think one of the best ways is the ability to preview a portion--sometimes a large portion--of books you may be interested in. While we may not know how the author develops characters and weaves a plot we will definitely be able to tell if we like the writing style and quality.
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:01 PM   #72
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Although for some people what you suggest is sufficient for deciding whether to buy an ebook or not, it is insufficient for me and I suspect it is insufficient for a great number of readers.
I guess I'm not sure what else you would need to determine if an unknown book is worth reading. In my opinion, everything is right there. You have a chunky sample, opinions of the rest of the world, and buying habits of the rest of the world all right there for the taking. Heck, Amazon even has a Netflix-like system in place where buyers can flag every review they found as helpful, not helpful, or inappropriate and you have the ability to look at every other product a reviewer has written about.

A price tag of $.99 is completely arbitrary. Do you feel you could stumble across your new favorite author by randomly buying $.99 novels and then randomly choosing one to read long enough to form an opinion?

As you said, you only review things you love or hate. Isn't it then safe to assume that quite a few other people take the same stance on reviewing? Of course people have differing views on what's good but the reviews I read on Amazon are quite often spot-on and the most "liked" reviews always go into great depth instead of just saying they loved it or hated it.

On Amazon you can't even give a product a star rating without also supplying a review. And you can only give a review using an account that has made a purchase through Amazon. It's not perfect but the systems in place now are infinitely better than standing next to some guy in a book store and having him show you a book he likes or perusing the "manager's choice" section.

It actually takes quite a bit of effort to make poor or uninformed buying decisions with all the tools we have available today.
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:46 PM   #73
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I think most folks shop indy authors differently then most of you do. Many folks will click on Amazon/B&N, go to the free ebook section and then grab what ever looks interesting. Most people that I have spoken with out there in the physical world have LOTS of free unread ebooks sitting on their kindle / nook. At some point they may read those and if the book was good enough, the will then go look for more books by that author. This is why I choose to follow many others in making my first book free, and then charge for others. Its not perfect, but it does seem to work for some. I am not a best seller, but never expected to sell even a 100 books... and so far beyond that now its really encouraging me to keep going.

Not claiming to have done any scientific survey, just stating what I personally observe on a normal biases.
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Old 03-16-2012, 05:50 AM   #74
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A price tag of $.99 is completely arbitrary. Do you feel you could stumble across your new favorite author by randomly buying $.99 novels and then randomly choosing one to read long enough to form an opinion?
I think I have no less chance of doing so this way that by randomly buying $2.99 novels. I don't think the higher price in any way guarantees higher quality.
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Old 03-16-2012, 06:36 AM   #75
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I think I have no less chance of doing so this way that by randomly buying $2.99 novels. I don't think the higher price in any way guarantees higher quality.
I think that is the statement of the problem in a nutshell: the higher price doesn't guarantee higher quality -- it doesn't even guarantee that the book was professionally edited and proofread.

In the not-so-long-ago-days of publishing, buying a book published by a traditional publisher did guarantee that the book was professionally edited and proofread. Today, it is still usually true but not always, especially as the accountants have come to dominate the megacorporations.

But one need go no further afield than to read writer comments here on MR to discover how few indie authors are willing to or capable of spend the money for professional editing and proofreading. Many don't even believe it is necessary. A frequent comment is that the writer is capable of doing it him-/herself, or the writer's wife can do it after working all day at the dry cleaners, or the neighbor can do while killing time waiting for an automobile buyer to come to the shop.
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