Thursday, July 28, 2011
Congratulations, Independent Authors
When indie publishing took off, indie writers took advantage of being able to sell their books for cheap--much cheaper than any traditional publisher can afford. They priced their books at $0.99, or $2.99, or somewhere in-between. They attracted readers that, for the most part, didn't buy books based on quality, but on price.
And some of them became successful. John Locke and Amanda Hocking have sold millions of self published books. However, many other indie writers struggled--and still do--to earn a living. Like the successes, they priced their books at $0.99. (At that rate, you make only $0.35 per sale.) But lacked great marketing expertise or luck to promote their novels. Even by selling a thousand copies a month, they made only $350 dollars.
And now, they are raising their prices. Because they have to, in order to earn a living. Because otherwise, they'd have to stop writing.
There are other reasons as well:
Authors don't want readers to buy their work because it's the cheapest. They want readers who enjoy their work and would pay good money for it.
The $0.99 price doesn't attract the audience they want. Often, it attracts people who take books for granted and believe that every novel should be tailored to their expectations. That equals bad reviews.
And, in many cases, it attracts people who don't even read the books they buy. And above all, writers want their books to be read.
In a traditionally published series, in which most books are priced equally, the sales grow as more books are released. Harry Potter novels constantly outsold each other. The last book sold far more than the first.
Independent authors have not had the same success. Ronnell D. Porter released the first book in his Trinity Saga, "Pocket Watch", for free on kindle. He priced book two, "The Memory Keeper", and book three, "The White Knight", for $2.99. These were his sales (credited to E-book Endeavors) between June 25th and June 30th.
325 sales for THE MEMORY KEEPER
409 sales for THE WHITE KNIGHT
And 32,826 free sales for THE POCKET WATCH.
Mr. Porter's sales went down as the series progressed. Some may think this is because his novels weren't that good. But come on, if 409 people bought book two... he's a great writer. This means, almost certainly, that over 26,000 people didn't read the first book, though they had downloaded it, because they are buying books based on price alone.
That is unfortunate. No, more like tragic. And that is why independent writers are raising their prices. Not all of them. Not yet. But soon enough, self published books will cost just as much as traditionally published ones.
Some may argue that that's unfair. Publisher's have marketing costs. They need to pay editors and artists. They can't afford to sell books for cheap, while independent authors can.
But is that really true? Self published books have covers. They've received edits. Either the author put in time and did all that work him or herself, or they paid someone--just like the publishers.
So how can they afford to sell their books for less? They have expenses. They have families. They need money.
No doubt, many readers will react negatively. They've become accustomed to spending no more than $0.99 per book. They may refuse to buy anything for more.
But then writers will stop writing, and those people will come to their senses. A few dozen best selling authors can't sustain the industry. Books are read much faster than they are written.
So bless you independent authors. I love you. You're the future of writing, and you can make money doing it.
If you have a book out, post a link and some information in the comments. Give readers a chance to buy it :)