I’ve debated writing about this for awhile. But…well…I’m just going to say it. (Don’t hate me.)
If you don’t know, I write novels and music. I’ve been writing music for quite a bit longer, so I’ve published far more songs than novels. I’m fairly comfortable as a composer. As an author though, even though it’s been two years since I published my first novel, I still feel new to the whole book industry. Crazy industry, btw.
This last year I decided to branch out and try self-publishing with both my music and my latest novel. Self-publishing is really taking off in the world for many reasons:
- It’s easy
- It pays higher royalties
- The author/composer is in control of the content, start to finish
There are also cons to self-publishing. You probably already know these, so I’m not going to delve into them.
Well, I’m going to delve into one.
As I put my latest novel Augustina up on Amazon and B&N, I had this big debate within myself:
What price should I choose for my ebook?
I had a pretty good idea on the paperback price based on the price of my first novel. Plus, CreateSpace had a minimum price I had to charge, so that gave me a good baseline to work from.
But as I researched ebook prices, they seemed to be all over the place. $7.99 to $0.99. Some were FREE (a lot were free), while others were up around $12.99. All for books similar in length.
So…I picked a spot somewhere in between: $2.99. Sounded reasonable. I’d self-published, which for some reason made me feel like the price needed to be lower (even though the work on my part was MUCH higher). But $2.99 it was.
Last week, I finished up some new arrangements of How Great Thou Art, and I went to upload the digital version onto Sheet Music Plus.
As I did, I noticed the minimum price set by Sheet Music Plus is $3.99. They don’t allow me to sell my sheet music for less than that. No discussions. $3.99 is the minimum. That’s fine with me. My songs have been selling well on their site, and I’ve never complained about that price. Four dollars seems fair for a song.
Here’s the thing though.
It takes me a week or two to write a song. Maybe a little more if it’s complicated or has several different parts, like a choral number.
I spent four years working on my novel.
Years. Not weeks. Not months.
And I’m supposed to sell it for less than my songs? I’m sorry, but I just can’t, people. And honestly, I don’t think other authors should have to either.
*still don’t kill me*
I didn’t twiddle my thumbs for four years on Augustina. I edited and edited, and had friends read it, and English grammar people read it, and I edited it more. I had a publisher willing to publish it, but for various reasons, I decided to self-publish. I’m glad I did.
Look, I’m as cheap as the next person. Probably cheaper. I’ve bought plenty of cheap ebooks. I’ve downloaded many FREE ones, too. But looking at the trend happening on Amazon and in the book world in general makes me sick.
What are we doing to authors by cheapening four years of hard work and selling it for $1.99? Are ebooks easier to write than paperbacks? Nope. They take just as much work.
I don’t mind the occasional sale. In fact, I look forward to it. Books go on sale. Food goes on sale. Even sheet music goes on sale. Just last week I offered some of my sheet music for free.
But to set your base price at $1.99 or $0.99 is just so sad to me! I love books too much to cheapen them like that. And yet, in the ridiculously huge world of 8 million books on Amazon alone, authors are forced to do just that to get ahead (or to get more readers).
My husband likes to tease that I’d make more per hour working at McDonald’s than I do as an author. Sadly, that’s true for most authors. Unlike J K Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, the typical author gets paid pennies per hour.
I’m expanding my wallet. If I can pay $10 for a movie ticket that entertains me for 2 hours, I can pay more than $2 for a book that entertains me for 7-8.
I’m willing to invest more in an author’s time so they won’t quit their pathetic-paying writing job and give me more wonderful stories to immerse myself in.
*rant officially over*
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I’m really curious to know what you think on this topic either as a reader or writer (or both).