I know everyone gets annoyed by these newbie questions, so I have to apologize in advance.
I just put two stories up on Kindle, and it was only after reading through the forums a few times that I see the stigma associated with .99 pricing, and how it seems to create this concept of a poor quality piece of work in the readers mind. Sort of an ouch. I had thought a short story would be too pricey at 2.00 or higher, but maybe I was wrong?
Someone in the Mioves thread had also been complaining about word counts posted in the description, and for me I only put it in there because I had seen a forum thread once upon a time complaining that far too many stories were shorter than they had expected, and had a person known how short it was, they wouldn't have paid that price for the story.
So I guess the question is - should I raise the price of my short stories to something that would make them "more respectable" in the eyes of readers? Or drop one of them down to free in order to get at least one or two people interested?
It's an odd thing to say but - the money isn't really the issue. I know this is an industry and so on and so forth, but I've never made money at it, so I have had to come to accept the fact that I probably won't. It has more to do with finding a way into a reader's head as being something they may enjoy.
If you take the time to respond, thank you. It is very much appreciated.
I think people have widely varying and deeply held opinions about the question you're asking, so this is just my take on it:
I think the first thing is to figure out for yourself whether you want to approach pricing as a moral ("my book is intrinsically worth X") or a marketing ("X price seems most likely to get me to Y goal") issue.
Personally, I approach pricing as a marketing question. I started my novel (99K words) at the $.99 price point b/c I was a completely unknown writer with no existing platform. I wanted to keep my turn to fiction sort of quiet, so I used a pen name and couldn't call on friends and family to make those first purchases. Once I got a few reviews, I started bumping up the price (spent about 3 weeks at $.99). Now my book's been out a little more than 2 months, and it's priced at $3.99. A couple free promos have been mixed in there as well.
My personal take is that, yes, there is a stigma against $.99 books but that it's far from universally held and that the low price point will tempt some people to take a chance. If some of them review the book positive, then you're getting a terrific pay-off.
A short story for $2.99 and up seems ill-advised to me unless you've already established a name for yourself. Yes, there are plenty of authors out there with big fan bases who can sell $2.99 short stories in reams, but is that the case for the average indie writer? I doubt it, but maybe someone with personal experience with chime in.
I don't see any problem with putting a word count in your description. It's a way of providing potential readers with the info they would automatically have if they were standing in a bookstore and eyeing a paperback, just by seeing how thick it is. Then again, I didn't read the complaint about stating word counts in the Mioves thread; there might well be a problem with it that I'm just not thinking of.
Thank-you Becca for the reply!
I suppose I'll need to stay the course, being extremely unknown writer myself, and I agree - 2.99 seems far to pricey for a short story.
Also thank you for the word-count re-assurance. I could see if I could find the thread post regarding it, but it essentially boiled down to the appearance of a lack of professionalism, that a story looked more like a handed-in assignment than a polished work.
So yes, I suppose the only thing for me to do is, well keep writing. And try not to be so needy and come and look at my sales every damn day. Maybe only once a month.
Also thank you for the word-count re-assurance. I
could see if I could find the thread post regarding
it, but it essentially boiled down to the appearance
of a lack of professionalism, that a story looked
more like a handed-in assignment than a polished
Ah, I see. I think it's just a characteristic of a new medium (the ebook). Sometimes the new strikes people as odd at first, but in time it becomes normal.
Thank you Golem! I sort of took the middle ground here, and raised the price to 1.29. Why? I umm...I like things ending in 9. It sounds nice and...well store bought. I wish I could do a time count, and it's odd, because I'm so used to play format, in which you can estimate about a minute or so per page of a script. Here it's a little bit trickier. I'll definitely think about that for later works.
And thanks for the good wishes. I'll need them I'm sure. Best of luck with all your works too.
Personally, I think there's nothing wrong with short stories at .99 but its the people that put full novels at that price which are the problem.
I'm an English teacher in Japan. I have a full time job, but I also do private classes. There is a kind of unwritten rule for the amount you should charge per hour - in my town 3000yen (about 25 UK pounds) is pretty much the minimum. I also used to work in Italy, and we had the same thing there - it was about 25 Euros or something.
Everything works fine at first because customers hear through the grapevine what the accepted price is. Everyone gets paid well, no one complains. Then you get some idiot who comes along and starts charging 1500 yen an hour (or worse, offers free classes - man, I hate those teachers!). For a while he/she does great while everyone else suffers, then perhaps he moves on or changes job and disappears, but the damage has been done. No one wants to pay 3000 yen anymore, and customers act like offering you 2000yen a class is doing you a favor. This actually happens in English teaching (there are a couple of people known for it in my town and all the other teachers are pissed about it).
If everyone charged a minimum of 2.99 for a novel then customers would soon get it in their heads that 2.99 or above was an appropriate price, and that .99 was for a short story. People trying to get ahead of the pack price their novels at .99 and suddenly customers associate that value with junk (because most .99 novels are) and complain when they pay that for a short story because they can usually get a novel for the same amount. Unfortunately, there is only so far down you can go and afford to keep on writing.
Anyway, sorry if that was a bit of a tangent - just come out of class and am feeling in a bit of a philosophical mood!
No need to apologize, I go on tangents all the time
I sort of come from the other end of the spectrum in this regard, being in the wonderful service industry in my day to day life. It is unbelievably frustrating to work for a set salary of x an hour, only to find that all of a sudden, employers are saying "y an hour is much more affordable to us" and everyone begins to follow suit. The difference of, say 2 or 3 dollars an hour less. You can't complain about it, because their argument (to them, anyway) is iron-clad. The economy, and so on and so forth. But it doesn't change the fact that I have mouths to feed etc. etc., so you end up working 2 full time jobs, and you're still falling behind on bills and such. And you can't turn your nose up at the offer on the table, because everyone is now offering the same pittance. Sorry, but, yeah. My rant in trade for yours I suppose :P
I myself don't understand this undercutting in pricing, even though I did think I should put something up for free. There's a through-line to my thoughts on it, though, a question that goes something like:
Why is the number of sales so important to you? I mean, I understand that everyone likes to do well, but, let's say for example your story (or my story for that matter) IS junk. Is just awful. But it's cheap. Does that make it better, just because more people read it than, say, Gormenghast? Does it make Gormenghast any less wonderful, because your piece has been read by more people?
So...to get even more philosophical as the morning waxes on -
Does mass approval make an untruth true? Or a poor novel (or poor story) a good one by popular vote? And IS popular vote what we should be going for?
I've said before (in this thread and in a roundabout way in other threads) that I've almost come to terms with the fact that my work is not going to bring me the YouTube Moneys. Almost. And yet I find that acceptance a little liberating. I don't need to worry anymore about whether people like me, if they really, really like me. I worry instead whether I've told the truth. Most of the time. I mean, let's be honest, I don't think I'll ever be able to kill the hope that something I've written might take off the way some other writers have. But I need to keep working at that, because that desire for Mass Appeal is...well...wrong to me I suppose. Maybe not to someone else. I can't judge others by my own standards, because I'm not them, and vice versa. But for me...I want to say things about the world, and my experiences of it that are True. And I guess I am hoping not for numbers, but for someone somewhere to say "You know what? I agree. What you said moved me, because I felt it was true too." It's happened once or twice with me after productions of my plays. And I'll be honest, it made losing 4k or making only 1k worthwhile. Dunno.
Wow. That WAS a rant. sorry all. I seem to be raving and ranting this morning.
Thank you Joanna. Congratulations on being accepted into the Awesome Indies website - I hope it translates into more recognition for your work, it seems like that sort of "thumbs up" could do nothing but help. Hopefully, by raising the price of my short stories by a very small amount I'll be able to rid them of the taint of the .99 curse, and if the complaint comes down the pipe of them being too pricey I can always put them down once more. Of course, then again, that would depend on the fact that they were actually being read.
But again thank you for your kind words, and best of luck with Awesome Indies and your own work spreading through the internet.
There have been pages and pages of discussion and debates about pricing.
My own thoughts are that one would quite reasonably charge more for a collection of stories or a full-length novel than a short story. Followed by the thought that as a buyer, I am not likely to part with seven to ten dollars for an unknown author's work unless it looks and sounds [i]really good[/i].
Which is why my short stories are priced at .99 each. I have plans for a couple story collections, which will be priced at 2.99 (and I'll mention if they contain separately available stories). I'm not yet certain what I'll price a full length novel at - I'll set that when the first novel is ready for publication (it still needs another round of revisions).
I am a firm believer in giving an approximate (to the nearest hundred words) word count for my stories, so that each reader can decide for his or her self if this story is worth a dollar (or more) for them. Some will say 'yes', some will say 'no' - but I don't want them to say that the story wasn't the length they were expecting.
There's a whole lot of debate over the idea of setting a story out for free - some say it suggests that you don't value your work, others see it as a free sample to entice people to try your writing and decide that they want more. Make up your own mind for that one - both sides have used sound logic.
... and yes, there can be a substantial difference between a 'good story' meaning a well-written tale and a 'good story' meaning one that sells many, many copies.
I've never bought into the so called "stigma" of .99 cent books. I sold 108,000 copies of my first novel, Big Lake, in a year at .99 cents. I recently raised the price to $2.99, but I'm still not convinced that was a wise move and after giving it a month I may drop it back down.
From a standpoint of value, I value your first book, Big Lake, alongside any mystery I have read at any price. The .99 cent price point was certainly no barrier to me to try your book, or, obviously, any of your other over 108,000 buyers. Only you can determine if you should return it to that lower price. However, the experience that John Locke provides shows the draw of .99 books and he mixes up the strategy with many of his titles at higher prices.
Maybe the right strategy is to feature the first-in-a-series books at .99 and then continue on with $2.99 afterwards. If you drop the first one back to .99, you might consider raising the price on the 2nd one to $3.99 to recoup some of the loss.
I don't even know what to say. 108,000 copies? I. Wow. As I've said before, I can barely even think of numbers in terms of hundreds. Wow. I would say congratulations, or something foolish, but that kind of praise from down here seems sort of senseless. But congratulations, all the same.
For me, it's not so much a question of recouping any losses, or even making the mega-bucks. I'm just trying to find a way to get my foot in the ebook. In other people's ebooks, really. People who aren't friends and family. I don't know whether bouncing the price back down will do it, or putting them down for free would, either. I should just ignore the report section of my dashboard, I guess, and keep going. But man oh man is it hard to not look.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to this thread. At some point soon, you'll have 108,001 copies sold, or, well, probably more than that, but more than that plus one. I love a good mystery novel as much as I love a gin and tonic, a rumpled fedora and white collar folks breaking things that blue collar joes with rough attitudes need to go around and fix.