I’ve just spent ten minutes browsing Amazon looking to load up my Kindle before I go to France for a two week break next weekend, and I found myself skipping over the cheap books – those under £1 – and I started to wonder: Why? I do buy £1 books for my Kindle. I buy them because they spark my curiosity and interest, and what the hell, it’s only £1 (or less!). I’ve read some really good books at this price point, but I still ignored all the sub £1 titles!
So why, when I started browsing for holiday reading, was I looking at £3.99 and upward? I realized after a couple of minutes what I was doing, sat back and looked at my partner and said what was going on. I surprised myself, and I’m still trying to work out what is going on here.
I’m still averse to paying the £9.99 being asked for the latest Michael Connolly and Stephen King, even though I do want to read both, but £3.99 seems a fair price. I’m even happy to go to £4.99 but to be honest that’s about my limit. So why not 99p? Because I guess I’m looking for something meaty, something satisfying, and although I have read that kind of book at under £1, they are pretty rare. I just have this feeling, this instinct, that after paying £111 for a Kindle I expect the “software” to be less than a hardback or paperback. Being self-published I know how much it costs to get a book onto the Kindle – nothing. Sure, you can pay thousands to someone else to format and edit and everything else, but with perseverance and care you can do it all yourself. And yes, I know that costs money – time is money after all – but it’s my time, and I’d rather be doing this than watching the box.
I publish my own short work at 99c (about 57p in the UK), but my novel length book is $2.99 – £2.08 in the UK. I think what I’m trying to say is sub £1 is okay for a quick read, but I’m expecting to pay more for book length, and expecting that the extra amount is going to give me a better read. I know, that’s not always the case, but I was still looking at that price range and skipping over the cheaper books because I want something I’m really going to enjoy while lying on the beach.
I’ve been reading some posts about how writers who sell too cheap are doing neither themselves or – and I think this is the main point – other authors any favours. Okay, I can follow that. But I cannot follow charging over £10 for some Kindle titles. Like I’ve already said, £3.99 to £4.99 seems a good price point. If you publish through a traditional publisher you’re going to struggle at that level, because there are so many layers between you and the selling price. But for independent authors are we really pulling down everyone else by pricing ourselves too cheap? And are we putting a stamp on our work that says “it’s cheap, so what did you expect, perfection?”
I’m arrogant. I admit to it, without embarrassment. If I can’t be arrogant about my own abilities as a writer how can I expect to produce work I expect others to enjoy? Should that arrogance translate into pricing as well? At the moment, I don’t think so. I currently price at two levels. Works shorter than 40,000 words go out at 99c. Novel length (60,000 words and up) go out at $2.99. I’m questioning whether, at novel length, I am placing a judgement on my work that is saying it’s not as good as that of other authors. And as I said, I’m arrogant. I don’t just think I’m as good, I know I’m as good!
I’m not sure there is any punch line here. I’m still looking for three or four or more “good reads”. I write erotica, but enjoy reading thrillers, crime, science fiction and pretty much any category that lights my fire, hence the Connelly, Stephen King, CJ Sansom, all of them good writers. But I’m thinking, by pricing my own works at 99c, am I actually reducing my readership?
Am I the only person that thinks this way?
Let me know, I’d be interested in finding out what your opinion is. I’ve put a survey over on the right hand side. Click on it and let me know what you believe is a fair price for a 60,000+ word novel.