Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ebook Armagedden

Well, I’m glad that all that writing advice has been purged from my system. Good riddance. I do highly recommend everyone run out and listen to episode 177 of the Dead Robot Society podcast now – where they interview someone who has some really interesting things to say about the publishing industry – and by interesting I mean dead on scary. Seriously, I was unfamiliar with the person being interviewed, but I found some of the most chilling information I’ve ever heard being presented about agents and publishers.

So, I’m again evaluating how much effort I should be putting into being traditionally published. I think I’m going to take a manuscript from the closet and spend a month or two revising and editing to get it as publishable as I can and throw it out there and see how it goes. I have a decision to make as to what I want to put out there. I can maybe put out a couple of short stories, a novelette, a novella, or a choice of several novels in varying degrees of readiness.

I was thinking of putting together a few of my shorter works into a single volume and using that as a way to learn some of the nuts and bolts of putting something out there in the various e-formats for cheap while I see which novel I want to spend some time on before self-pubbing. I might still change my mind again about it all later, but for now I think that’s the path I’m going to try.

So as I peruse self-published novels on the Kindle, I can’t help but notice a pretty big disparity in pricing. I’ve seen the range from $14.99 for a beautifully crafted, yet homemade, e-book, all the way down to .99. Most in the $3 – $5 range. I’ve paid for, and read, self-published novels that were an editor’s worst nightmare and some that were brilliant – but those aren’t necessarily reflected by the price being charged.


If you have self-published, or are considering it, how do you decide the price point for an e-book?


Rogue Mutt said...

If you're self-published and you want people to buy it (maybe even read it) then you pretty much have to charge $2.99 or less. Most people aren't going to throw money at a book that isn't a big name or published by a "real" publisher if it's too expensive. Of course as I've had happen, a lot of people might buy the 99-cent book but few seem to review it anywhere, so you wonder if they bothered to actually read it. But hey, I like getting that royalty check deposited into my account even if it is just $10. Makes me feel like a big man!

I think though that a book of short stories is actually the wrong way to go for your first attempt. Things like tables of contents don't turn out all that well when you run them through Kindle or Smashwords or something like that. So a novel or novella that's more straightforward might be better to get your feet wet on the process.

Laila Knight said...

I read somewhere that $2.99 is the ideal price to place on your books, but like you I've noticed how they all vary in price.

KarenG said...

I am really curious about this podcast, hope I can hear it on my laptop. Will go listen. At the least, it should give me ideas for blog posts. What concerns me about information like this being disseminated about publishers is that they lump things all together. There are so many kinds of publishers and they differ in many many ways. Well, enough, I'll go take a listen.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm going to listen to that podcast tonight.
When buying eBooks, I won't go over $7.99 no matter who wrote the book. (I'm stingy that way.)
Don't give up hope on that last manuscript though - it's brilliant!

Rusty Webb said...

Rogue - sage advice. No short story collections to start then. And my plan for $100 collectors editions probably won't fly either.

Lalia - $2.99. I think that's the magic mark where Amazon's better royalty rates start to kick in.

Karen - don't fret too much. All that vitriol is directed at the 'big 6' and not the smaller publishers. In fact, they interviewed Karen Sullivan, a small publisher dealing almost exclusively with ebooks, recently, and it sounds like the sort of thing I'd love to be a part of.

Laila Knight said...

Rusty, I'm sorry. I got bumped off before I was able to finish my comment. I was going to say that I follow Roland Yeoman. He has e-pubbed a whole lot. I've actually been reading one of his books. You might be interested in emailing him about the e-pubbing issue...prices, etc. Just a thought. :)

Rusty Webb said...

Alex - thanks for the encouragement. When I first started reading ebooks I did spend 12.99 a couple of times, but have since placed a limit myself. Especially since you aren't actually purchasing the book, but a license to read it. If I can't stick it on my shelf, I have a hard time spending more than $8 or so myself.

Laila - I'll look him up, thanks for the recommendation.

Rogue Mutt said...

Yes, $2.99 is the minimum price for 70% royalties from Amazon. Anything lower and the maximum you get is 35%. Though my book's price is $2.99 yet Amazon discounts it to 99 cents (I even tried changing it to $9.99 and they still kept it at 99 cents) so I'm not sure what it's doing.

Rusty Webb said...

Rogue - wow. I heard a podcast recently where they were talking about that same thing. I think Amazon says they'll price match any other sites that sale your book, so if you lower your price elsewhere they will match. The folks who told the story said that Amazon doesn't check very often, so if you raise your price elsewhere it might take a while before they'll raise yours back.

Weird though.

Deborah Walker said...

Yikes! I listened to the podcast. Those contracts . . .

I'm so naive, I just think that there must be some decent contracts out there. Who would sign something like that? But what do I know?

I did some put up some of my reprint stories. It was cool. But I didn't sell many so I took then down again (I shifted around 500 copies of my free story, though). hee hee. Note this is not the route to sucess. At the moment I'm happy subbing stories to the tradional magazine.

I should really put up an collection of my short stories. I'd price it at $2.99-$3.99. The main thing that is stopping me is the art.

Rusty Webb said...

Deborah - It is scary to hear about how some publishers are strong arming folks who just want to be published into signing away their life.

If you have art/cover needs, I'm more than happy to help.