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Old 03-11-2012, 06:18 AM   #1
Justin Nemo
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So what is a fair price for your work?

I've been researching this question for some time now and arrived at the conclusion that I just don't know!

I was following a post on Linkedin recently, most of the unpublished authors were saying that in order to compete with published authors, you had to be competitive and price your work accordingly, some were selling their books for 99 cents!

Isn't that a contradiction in terms? How can you compete with a published author who has a five book deal with a publishing house and all of the support that provides? I don't understand why the word unpublished has this codicil attached to it that says you have to give your work away for nothing. Are unpublished authors really that desperate? Why do we feel that our work is any less valuable than someone who has a contract with a publisher?

I think it's time that authors (published or not) started to value their work a bit more and price accordingly. But then I guess it depends on why you write. Whether it's because you like seeing your name in print and expect to make a living from it, or if you just love to write. Either way, 99 cents won't cut it.

Last edited by Justin Nemo; 03-11-2012 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 03-11-2012, 07:02 AM   #2
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As an experiment, I have just released my first novel, Shadowchaser as a Kindle ebook under Amazon's KDP scheme at $0.99. The reason I've opted for such a low price is that I'm using it primarily as an introduction to both myself as a writer, and to my latest and future books. A way of introducing myself and my work to as wide a potential readership as possible.

The book was well received and sold consistently in its original print incarnation, so I have no problem offering it for such a low price in its new digital format. At least for the moment. I'm viewing it as much as a potential marketing tool as I am a deserving work in its own right.

Is it undervalued? No. It's already proven its worth to my satisfaction. Now it has the opportunity to potentially prove itself valuable in a slightly different, but no less valid way.

Plus, if it ultimately sells at such a low price, at the end of the day a sale is still a sale.
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Old 03-11-2012, 07:26 AM   #3
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This is a different situation altogether. From what you have said, you are selling at that price as a marketing strategy, which is fair enough, it has an endgame.

My question is: When you become an established writer, will you still be content to sell at that price? If not, then why settle for it now, just to be able to compete? “A sale is still a sale” is not really a valid argument.
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:37 AM   #4
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99c promotions probably won't work now that people can have them free for limited periods.

There's 2 trains of thought on this. One is you're competing with other unknown writers so you have to join them in the race to the bottom otherwise you won't sell anything. The other is a lot of people won't even look at the cheap titles because they think they will be amateur crap (sometimes based on a previous purchase, but usually just prejudice).

The ideal price is probably somewhere inbetween. Cheap enough for impulse purchases but expensive enough for it not to be thought of as amateur crap.
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:51 AM   #5
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Three cheers for Mr. Ploppy. That's the sanest comment I've heard in any of the discussions I've seen on this subject. Thank you.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:07 AM   #6
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I, and many other independent authors, weighed the factors above and decided that a higher, but not too high, amount, was a good solution. Many authors go with a price below $5; for me, $2.99 was a good price.

It indicates that, yes, we believe our work is worth a reasonable amount of money; but we are also mindful of the need to be noticed next to the books sold by the major publishers, which tend to start at about $7 and work their way up; and we are mindful of the image a "cheap" book presents.

Unfortunately, if you're trying to sell books, you must look at it as a marketer, and decide which will work best for you. The strategy many independents chose may not be the right one for you, and as has been demonstrated, when it comes to independents and ebooks, there is no sure-fire method of promotion.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:35 AM   #7
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Hi Steve

Thanks for your input.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that unpublished authors should be over charging for their work, they need to be affordable. Although I have seen some charging $20 plus. I also realise that publishers have overheads which inflate book prices.

My point is that 99 cents is a ridiculous amount of money to charge for something that has taken days to produce, or at least should have. Now I don't know if that book is crap or the best literature since Charles Dickens (Yes I know that's another debate!), but as a reader and buyer of books, I wouldn't touch it.

I think we as authors need to find a level of pricing which is fair to everyone. Fair to us for our work and fair to the reader who doesn't probably know us from a whole in the head. If you buy a Wilbur Smith or Lee Childs you know in advance what you can expect.

I have always pitched my books less than £3.00 which is around $4.50. Do I sell many? Compared to who? Probably not enough for the guys that want to charge less than a buck, but when I do sell a book I don't feel cheated and I don't think the buyer does either, well at least they've never told me so.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Nemo View Post
Isn't that a contradiction in terms? How can you compete with a published author who has a five book deal with a publishing house and all of the support that provides? I don't understand why the word unpublished has this codicil attached to it that says you have to give your work away for nothing. Are unpublished authors really that desperate? Why do we feel that our work is any less valuable than someone who has a contract with a publisher?
It often is less valuable in the sense that many self-published authors don't have their work professionally edited. There's an old saying that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client; that's even more applicable to authors: anyone who thinks that they can edit their own work is kidding themselves. Editing is what generally makes a book commercially viable.

Last edited by HarryT; 03-11-2012 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 03-11-2012, 12:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Nemo View Post

My point is that 99 cents is a ridiculous amount of money to charge for something that has taken days to produce,
Days? More like months/years, but if you tried to work out an hourly rate you wouldn't bother getting out of bed.
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Old 03-11-2012, 12:33 PM   #10
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You have to find a way to get people to read your book, pricing it low is a simple way to do it. You are not going to get rich pricing it low but that's not why most writers write. Getting rich is nice thing that happens to some writers.
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Old 03-11-2012, 01:46 PM   #11
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We seem to have lost the gist of my point here guys.

I'm not talking about getting rich, I ditched that one with Santa. All I am saying is don't sell your self short, it doesn't benefit anyone in the long run. Statistically there will always be more unpublished writers than published, so if you flood the market at a ridiculously low price, the stigma will always be that unpublished is cheap and cheerful fiction.

The internet has turned the publishing world on it's head and not before time too. Readers are now for the first time, freed from the constraints of having to get their reading material from a few well known publishing names. As the Kindle takes over the world, so more and more places to buy e-books will appear and people won't make the same mistakes and only buy from one source. So there will be room for more un-convensionaly-published material.

God I'm turning into Martin Luther King. Sorry.
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Old 03-11-2012, 01:58 PM   #12
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But that's the problem, Justin (and I mean no offence by saying this); self-publishing is all well and good, but readers can get a poorer experience as a result. If I were to buy your book, would I find phrases like "turn the world on it's head" in it? That why editors are so important.
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Old 03-11-2012, 02:10 PM   #13
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Harry, Man, you can be so cutting,
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Old 03-11-2012, 02:21 PM   #14
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I meant no offence, Justin, but it's an unfortunate fact that many authors who have a good story to tell are not terribly good at things like grammar and punctuation. That's why (and I'm sorry to sound like a broken record) it's vital to use the services of an editor.
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Old 03-11-2012, 02:57 PM   #15
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I've priced my first release at one dollar and I've enrolled in the library program on Amazon. I want to reach as wide of an readership as possible. I feel that as a hopeful writer it's my job to reach as many people as possible and to woo fans, and that it's more likely for someone to read my novella if they have a slight interest in it if it's priced for a dollar. I went with a dollar over 99 cents because round numbers are more symetical and therefore much more pleasing.
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