Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Price is 'Write'

I bet if you were to look around, you'd find several people with some type of eReader in their hands.  Technology has made life so simple by being able to download your favorite books right to your device, i.e., whether that be your desktop, laptop, iPhone, Smartphone, iPad, Kindle or Nook.  The virtual library is here and most likely here to stay.
Now I know there are many out there who are still old school and want that paper book in their grasp because let's face it, there's nothing like being able to curl up with the weight of a hardback, turning those pages and delving into a world that is not of your own.  Who wouldn't want that feeling?  I suppose those who don't enjoy reading!
I guess there's a battle going on between the electronic book and paper.  Which is better?  Well, that would all depend on the reader you ask.  As for me, the hundreds of books I have on my Kindle Fire, when I think about how much space those paper books would take up in my home, I wouldn't have any spot left to sit.  Although it took me a while to get in to this whole eBook thing, I must say it is definitely the way to go.  It's nice to have your library virtually at your fingertips whenever you want it.
So you're probably wondering what is the problem?  Well, publishers realize that the electronic world has taken over for the reading consumer, and due to that, they are struggling financially to keep their 'spine' in the game.  Why kill a tree, when you can just hit the download button and within a few seconds, your book is ready for the reading.  And the best part of downloading books, it's economically better for us readers too!
Whoa!!  Wait a minute. . .is it cheaper to buy electronic books versus a paper one?  For most of us, hell yeah!  Why else would publishers be scrambling out here for the reading consumer to buy their paper books?  Just like with anything that is invented, you're going to have the good, but you also have to keep in mind, there is going to be a bad side to tango with.
Not only is it easy for anyone, and I do mean anyone to publish a book, the majority of those authors are going to have their books available for download, if they plan on staying around because paper just isn't where it's at anymore.  Our entire world is literally trying to go paperless, and it's working.  So you know if there's money to be made in a business, there are going to be some thieves lurking around, and boy do we have plenty of them!
And by thieves,  I don't just mean the games that publishers play, I'm also talking about authors too.  Get this, did you know there are several big name publishing houses who deliberately hold the release of eBooks just so readers will be forced to buy the paper book so they can get their money's worth from the novel?  Did you also know these same publishers also jack the prices up on those books to break even in profit?  How about the indie author who, to make a name for himself, puts out his first novel for a price of .99 cents, and if that book takes off, eventually charges anywhere from $4.99 and up for his next novels, and many times those next books in the series aren't as well written as the first.  Of course, this isn't always the case, but in my reading experience, that case has been made! 
If that weren't bad enough, you have some indie authors who put out novellas, for those of you not familiar with that term, it's a book that is less than one hundred pages, short stories, if you will, and these authors will charge $1.99 and up for less than fifty pages.  I've even reviewed some eBooks that were twenty pages or less, and some authors have the audacity to think I'd pay $2.99 or more for those very few pages.  Talk about a scam?!  Hmmph!
And my all-time favorite form of thievery is the author who puts out novels in a series, only to write the same stuff in the next books with a few minor twists and turns, and expects the reader to pay anywhere from $3.99 or more for the eBooks.  Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh to call some authors thieves by doing what they do, but I was always taught, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well damn it, it's a duck!
What the hell is going on anymore in the publishing world, and my fans wonder why I'm not in a mad rush to jump back into this bullshit again!  I can't begin to tell you the horrors of my industry and what I endured to produce the two books I did do.  Maybe now some of you can see why I'm not so eager to rush to finish my third novel.  Between fighting with your own publisher on not making the price too unreasonable, to competing with the millions of writers trying to push their books in front of that reader consumer, is it any wonder how anything ever gets done in my business?  The publishing world is a business just like any other kind of business and it's ruthless and cutthroat.
So many people tell me they want to write a book, and why not, it's damn sure easy enough now, but to think you're a new voice in the literary world, charging outrageous prices just so you think you'll make a quick buck is downright absurd and insulting to me.  And some of these authors writing multiple series and charging outrageous fees for these books is highway robbery and crazy mad! 
It pissed me off when my own publisher demanded what my price of my books would be.  When I told them it was way too high and I wanted my books easily purchased for my readers, they refused to listen.  They wanted to put forth my books in paper versus electronically because they would make more paper (pardon the pun).  Just like the many big name publishers who hold back the eBooks release dates to force you to buy the paper books is wrong, plain and simple.
I'm often asked how do you know what to charge for which types of books, and here's my opinion on that.  To me, if you pay a publisher to assist you in self-publishing, the important word to remember is 'self', then it should be up to the author to set the price on what to charge.  Again, you have to do your homework with the many publishers out here before you put your John Hancock on that dotted line.  Keeping in the realm of things, the amount you charge isn't based on the content of your book.  I read a comment about that on someone's blog and I was a bit taken aback because the content doesn't have anything to do with the price, at least not from my standpoint. 
If you're a new author breaking into this business, to me, you shouldn't charge too high a fee because more often than not, people aren't willing to take a risk on you when they don't know you and not familiar with your work.  I'm not saying you have to charge .99 cents, but you should keep it low and see how well the book does before you start upping the price.  And while we're on that subject, you should gradually up your prices, not go from .99 cents to $8.99.  Just because many readers liked the first book, I don't know if they are so inclined to purchase your next one for that high a price.  Also, please keep in mind that just because a book is .99 cents, doesn't mean it's a bad book.  And also bear in mind, just because a book is $9.99 or more, doesn't mean it's a great book. 
I realize publishers need to make a profit, as well as the author, but there has to be some type of common ground to meet in the middle.  I'm just tired of being played by these publishers and authors to get people to buy their work, and then you do, and many times you're sorry you wasted the few dollars you did.  As I've mentioned before, writing is a very tricky business, but never forget it's a business!  And if there's money to be made, you're going to have some bad people willing to do just about anything to get their cents worth.  Unfortunately, the reading consumer gets caught in the middle.  I should know, I've been had plenty of times.
At the end of the reading day, the bottom line is this, electronic books have taken over the writing industry and publishers know this--trust me they do!  This is why they are pulling little stunts to make their profits.  Luckily, we have the huge conglomerate, Amazon, to pave the way and help make life a little simpler by being fair in their pricing.  Their terms and conditions to publish on their website are pretty straightforward and definitely to the point.  If they get any inkling of a clue that someone is selling books illegally, or trying to up the price where it shouldn't be, oh trust and believe, you will be caught.  And when you do, I hope you're up for what you receive. 
Like it or not, ready or not, electronic books are here to stay folks, so you better get used to it!  For a publisher to hold back the eBooks so it may up the prices of their paper books and get all they can before the eBook comes out, they haven't met me as a consumer.  I can out wait the best of them.  I don't care how long you keep the release of an eBook, I'll just move on to the next book until the one I want comes out electronically.  I refuse to be bullied into buying paper books.  I will not stand for it, and quite frankly, neither should you!
When I like a book, I will buy it regardless of the price--whether it be .99 cents or $12.99, which I pay for most of the books I own.  It doesn't matter to me because I love reading and when I enjoy an author's work, I make sure to give them what they are due, but never mistake my kindness for weakness or being boo-boo-the-damn-fool either.  I see the tricks out there and I'm very aware, and I caution many of you to beware of these things too.  Gone are the days of going to the bookstore to purchase a book, although I know there are people who still do, but for most of us, we are electronic readers and downloading is what we do!  If I don't feel the pricing of your book is fair, I will not buy it--that's real talk!  If you want to keep your readers around, these are the things publishers and authors alike need to remember.
As I've said before and I'll say it again, you may trick me once, but you'll never ever get a second chance to do it to me again!  So I leave you with this question.  How willing are YOU to pay the price to write? 
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
Get It Write!