Why Bellica is $4.99, and why my other books will be too

Friends! Romans! Countrymen fellow indie authors!

We are in a crisis. We have been selling ourselves short. Pricing our books at $0.99 just so we can get the impulse buys, driving the market down, forcing our fellow authors to do low prices as well just so they can compete.

This is all wrong.

If you’re publishing your book via Kindle you only get $0.3465 of that $0.99. Yeah. They take $0.6435. Sell a hundred copies and you’ve just made Amazon $64.35 and yourself $34.65 for a book that most likely took you a few years to write and countless sleepless nights.

Price it at $2.99 and your royalty jumps to 70% — $2.09 a book, while Amazon makes $0.90. Sell a hundred copies and suddenly you’ve made 209 dollars, while Amazon has made 90.

Which scenario makes more sense, here? Who should be getting the bulk of the money for your book? Amazon, who, yes, provides a valuable service but hasn’t done as much work on your book as you have and will still not promote it for you, or you, who’s written it, gotten it edited, found a cover design, formatted it, advertised it, sweated over it, lost sleep over it, and obsessed about it from conception to completion?

Bellica took me 13 years to complete. Why would I sell myself short? It’s worth $4.99 — hells, it’s worth more than that, but I had to drop the price to stay competitive.

Writing is now my full time job. This means that Bellica will remain that price for ebook format, and the paperback will remain $26.99. This means that The Jade Star of Athering will be $4.99 after the promo period price of $2.99; as will Dead Transgressions, Islands of Fire and Water, and any other novels I produce. Novellas and poetry collections will be slightly lower, but I will never drop my books below the price of $2.99.

If I drop the price below $2.99, not only am I telling myself that I’m not worth more than that, I’m telling potential readers that I don’t think I’m worth more than that — and if I don’t believe my writing is worth the price of a Starbucks beverage, why should anyone else?

Let me tell you something about $0.99 impulse buys. They don’t get read as much as the $2.99 books, or the $4.99 ones. I have a bunch of impulse buy books on my ebook readers; whether free or $0.99, I haven’t read half as many of them as I have of the $2.99-and-up ones. Because when I spent $2.99 or more on a book, I think I really should read it, because I spent more on it. That’s how the psychology works.

I’d rather have 50 people buy my book and read it than 200 buy it and not read it. Not to mention, if I sell 50 at $4.99 I’ve made over twice as much than if I were to sell 200 at $0.99.

Stop the insanity. Price your books at what they’re worth. Drive the market back up. Just because we’re indie authors doesn’t mean we’re bad writers; many of us are downright excellent. Someday soon people are going to regard our books the same as they regard any other, and if they buy an indie book they dislike they won’t immediately paint all indie authors with the same brush.

If you’re worried that people won’t buy writing from an unknown quantity — an author they haven’t read before — which is a valid fear, because hey, I usually don’t because I’m broke and books are expensive, as they should be — if this is your worry, then start a blog for your writing. Post your poetry, your short fiction, whatever. Or start a blog for the first, say, 10 chapters of your novel (depending on how many chapters your novel has). Tell people these samples are out there, so they can go and read them and then make the decision. And have links to purchase your ebooks right there in plain sight.

Problem solved. You help drive the market back up to where it should be, and you set a price for what your book is worth — not what the masses of other indie authors think you should price it at.

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3 thoughts on “Why Bellica is $4.99, and why my other books will be too

    1. Katje

      That was my fear, until I realized that people who want to plagiarize, will, and there’s not much I can do about that except put my name on everything I write whenever it leaves the safety of my private notebooks and keep an eye out for copied content across the web. Hells, people will plagiarize from printed and well-known work if they think they can get away with it; case in point, Cassandra Clare: http://www.journalfen.net/community/bad_penny/8985.html.

      Sooooo I stopped worrying. Plagiarizers gonna plagiarize, cause they’re scum. I just have to be ready for it if it happens.

  1. monolithbooks

    I find it interesting that I had this almost same discussion. Not with an indie writer but a seamstress at a ren faire. She was complaining about people who under value their own work and drive down the price across the board. One of the first things I was always taught was that people do not always just look at price. People will pay for quality.

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