Last night, I tripped over a blog post by a fellow indie author that really caught my attention. The basic facts are that he has a series of novellas, which he was charging 99c per title for, and they had reached the Top 10/20 in their genre categories.
Something weird then occurred: several reviewers leaving 1 star reviews because they felt they were getting scammed by having to pay 99c per “episode” (novella).
The leader of this trend of reviews has only reviewed 6 books of this series, nothing else, and he copy/pasted the same review to each. A few others followed suit, and sales began dropping.
The author was rather upset readers thought he was scamming them, and pulled the series down for a while.
I can understand that upset. I’d be upset at being told 99c was too much for stories of that length too, considering I price higher than he does.
Novella length is basically 20k to 40k/50k words (roughly 80-200 pages, depending on how it’s broken down and which word count classification source you go by).
At 99c, that’s about a penny or less per page.
Personally, as a reader, I find that an extremely low cost for entertainment, and certainly wouldn’t be accusing an author of “scamming” me for charging so little.
One reviewer stated, “It’s too much for 50-60 pages.” Another said, “Amazon makes enough money without charging over $8 for just one book.”
Are you fucking kidding me?
No, seriously: Are you fucking kidding me?
I don’t think I can even buy a regular-sized candy bar where I live for 99c anymore!
When is the last time one of these readers purchased a new paper or hardback book?
Let’s put aside the fact that 99c times 7 doesn’t result in over $8 (it’s less than $7), $8 for 411 pages of story isn’t super over-priced or anything. I’ve paid $8 for a 300 page paperback, and double that or more for 300-350 page hardback books.
Yes, I know: you have property when you buy a physical book. Property you can do with as you please—which is why the prices tend to be higher than those of ebooks.
But seriously, $6.93 total for 7 novella length titles isn’t over-pricing or some sort of “scam”.
As I mentioned, I price higher than that for my own work. I have only once had someone remark on the pricing vs. the length (last year, after nearly 5 years as an indie). I did quite a bit of pricing research before settling on my pricing schedule. I don’t feel that I’m over-charging or “scamming” readers by pricing the way I do for my work.
The only thing I think I do differently than the author in question: I put the word count and story length classification in the description of my titles. Readers know what they’re paying for, or can choose to pass my books by.
And then there’ s Dean Wesley Smith, who posted about pricing last year, and his recommended pricing for indies, for an 8k-30k word story (32-120 pages), was $3.99.
That’s a pretty big jump from 99c.
Here’s an idea: If you are a reader who feels you’re being scammed by an author asking 99c for his work, vote with your wallet and don’t buy that author’s work. You are under no obligation to purchase a product from anyone.
And product producers are under no obligation to price their products based on a few consumers’ perceptions of “fair”. It’s the overall market that drives the price, along with the expense of getting the product to market.
You can damn sure bet that if it costs me a few to several hundred dollars to get a book out, 99c is the last price I’ll consider selling it at. I won’t be putting a 99c price tag on most of my work, aside from the extremely short ones (actually, my price is $1.49 for those), or for an occasional promotion.
Funny thing, practically every single time I’ve experimented with 99c pricing, my sales tanked. Readers just don’t seem to want to buy my work when it’s rock-bottomed priced.
Anyhoo, moving on again.
- What happened to this author?
- Why did a few readers suddenly take issue with his 99c pricing?
- Why did those same readers copy/paste their reviews onto most or all titles in the series?
- Why have some of them never reviewed anything else?
It’s possible that this was a case of indie authors behaving badly. One indie author saw some success, was selling well, and had books in Top lists.
So here comes another author or three to sabotage him out of…I guess jealousy? What other reason sounds logical?
Which brings me to the final part of my rant today.
There has been a very noticeable trend across the board, that when someone sees a bit of success at something—anything, not just writing—the muttering of discontent begins, only to grow into a “we must tear this person down” movement.
It happens with indies, it happens with artists, it happens with game developers, with popular web sites, and so on.
The only logical reason for it to occur is plain old jealousy.
Are we really devolving into a society of jealous shitheads who must run around tearing down anyone who sees the tiniest bit of success?
Or maybe it’s fear that makes some people respond this way to others’ success? (Don’t miss reading the link at the first of that post!)
The thing about success is that it’s seldom handed to anyone on a silver platter, with no effort to achieve it required on their part.
Maybe, just maybe, we should all start taking real notice of how we behave online. Much like alcohol, the internet tends to lower people’s inhibitions, and free their “true selves” for others to see.
How do you want others to see you?
I tripped over a comment or a blog post the other day lamenting the fact that “shame” no longer seems to be a part of human nature.
If you are never ashamed of yourself, either you have never, ever done anything to be ashamed of (highly unlikely), or you just might be a sociopath, since shame, at its core, is the ability to feel remorse.
Sociopaths don’t feel shame/remorse.
Remember the Golden Rule?
One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
People, karma bites. I’ve seen it in action many, many times throughout my life, and I’ve felt karma’s bite a few times myself.
If you go around, tearing others down, you can damn sure bet your turn will come.
I know, let’s revisit the LendInk controversy.
A site that was online for a while, that simply offered readers a way to meet each other in order to loan their legally purchased ebooks through the appropriate channels, and that promoted purchase links for a lot of authors, was discovered and arbitrarily labeled a “pirate site” by a number of authors (mostly, or all, indies).
How well did that turn out for those authors and their inability, or outright refusal, to believe LendInk’s purpose wasn’t illegal?
The backlash was kind of…huge.
It serves as a perfect illustration of karma in action.