Thursday, 25 October 2012

So long, farewell...

As I've already mentioned, today is the last post on this blog. I'll leave the blog exactly as it is, but from now on I'd like to direct your attention to my new site, This is where all the new posts will be happening.

I think I might also have said something about a giveaway too? (“YES,” you're shouting at your screen, “only a bazillion times!”) Well, the new site is where it's happening, and you have from today (Thursday 25th October) until Tuesday 30th October to get involved. All the details are here.

As Tigger would say, TTFN!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Is There an Ideal Price for an Ebook?

This is my last real post on this blog. On Thursday I'm moving across to my new site on Wordpress... and hopefully taking you all with me! As I've mentioned, I'll be running a giveaway on my new blog, to celebrate its new-ness AND *whispers* my birthday. More details to come on Thursday!

Today, though, I want to talk a bit about ebook pricing, and get some opinions from you guys. What price is too expensive, and what is too cheap? 

Too expensive?

JK Rowling's new book, The Casual Vacancy, caused a huge stir on Amazon when the Kindle version was priced higher than the hardback version. I'm not sure that I can ever think of a situation where the Kindle version of a book should be more expensive than any paper version (although in this case, it has been put down to Amazon discounting the hardback), but I also don't think people should expect ebooks to be so cheap.

If done properly, a self-published book will have production costs -- and a traditionally published one certainly will. Many people seem to think that because an ebook isn't made of paper, there are no other costs involved.
Source: goXunuReviews, Flickr
In my opinion it's not good for self-publishers to aim too high when pricing their ebook -- why would people bother buying an over-priced book when there are other (cheaper) alternatives available? Be honest now -- if you were torn between buying two books, and couldn't decide between them any other way, wouldn't you pick the cheapest?

Sensible pricing is especially important for new authors. Although self publishing has less of a stigma than it used to, there is still a little negativity surrounding it, not least because people don't always take proper care over publishing the best book they can.

(If a traditional publisher just got his mother to read your manuscript through before publishing it and didn't once put it in front of an actual editor, would you be happy with that? No? So why do self-publishers think it is okay for them to do this? No disrespect to anyone's mother, but you know what I mean!)

I have to say, I've seen self-published novels for sale on Amazon, with a terrible cover and a badly written blurb -- and all for $9.99. I have no idea why authors do this. If the blurb is bad, what chance is there that the writing inside the novel is any better? This author clearly hasn't paid a cover designer or an editor, so it's not like they're trying to break even on their costs. So why do they feel the need to charge so much? Is it greed?

Too cheap?

On the other hand, what is too cheap? Self-publishing a book and making it free? Or maybe selling it for 99 cents (or the equivalent in your currency)? Some people swear by a low price to entice more people to buy their books. Others state that selling a book for 99 cents devalues it. Still more people maintain they aren't doing it for the money, and in that case they are obviously entitled to give their work away for free.

I don't mind admitting that for me, writing is both a creative outlet and a business, and I don't think I would feel great about giving away an entire novel for free. If an author is writing a series, they might think about writing something less time-intensive to offer for free, such as a novella or a novelette. (This is something I am considering doing.) Either would work as a taster for the series, but require less of the author's valuable time to get ready for publication.

So what is the ideal price? 

Thinking in terms of Amazon KDP for a moment, there is a point where the percentage royalties a writer receives increases dramatically. Any price lower than $2.99 pays a 35% royalty. From $2.99-$9.99, the royalty rate is 70%. Is $2.99 a more preferable price for an ebook? It is for me...

I think at this price, everyone wins; it's not so cheap that the author gains nothing for their hard work, but it's not so expensive that a reader wouldn't take a risk on an author they didn't know, or be out of pocket after buying the book.

So that's my opinion -- now I want to hear from you. What do you think is the ideal price for the average novel ebook? What do you think is too expensive, and is there such a thing as too cheap? Should we expect a difference in price between traditionally published and self-published ebooks?