This post, by Zoe Winters, originally appeared on her blog on 2/15/12.
So, you guys know I’ve gotten off the publishing talk a lot. But about every six months or so, I’ll feel compelled to talk about something publishing-related.
I want to talk about ebook pricing. That topic that just won’t go away. In light of KDP Select and writers rushing to give their stuff away for the perceived long-term benefit (which may exist, but seems iffy in the current market with so many doing it), I have stuff I really wanted to say… even though I know it just brings me back into the “Publishing talk” realm. Ick.
People have in the past been offended that I don’t want the bargain basement only-willing-to-pay-99cents-for-an-ebook reader. I’m really not sure why that should be offensive. I guess in writing a lot of people still secretly harbor the belief that an author should just be grateful they are being READ and not complain about the money.
But I don’t see it that way. Writing fiction is my living. It’s what puts food on my table and pays my bills. If I ever can’t make a living doing it, I have to STOP doing it, and go do something else. This is not complicated. If we lived in some free hippie love culture where money didn’t exist, sure, I would write for free, just to share my words and be thrilled doing it. I’m not “in it for the money”. I just “need the money” for it to be worth it in the world we live in for me to put so much effort into entertaining you.
But we live in an economy where monetary value is placed on things. Some people can work full time jobs and have the energy to write fiction. I am not one of those people. I can do one or the other. If I need money and want to write fiction then I have to charge an amount for it that allows me to make that money. 99 cents doesn’t do that. It also attracts too many one night stands. People who will drive by, click on the buy button, but won’t respect you enough to tell others about it (for the most part) and maybe not even enough to read it in the first place. Many a 99 cent or free ebook languishes for months on a Kindle unread until a reader loses interest in it altogether. I’ve done this myself.
I charge $2.99 for novellas 20k-35k and I charge $4.95 for longer work (though I don’t really write anything over 75k). Some people think that is too much. They are welcome to think that and read somebody else. I don’t say that to be nasty or a prima donna. I say it because this is my living and I know what I need to charge to make a living. I know how much my production costs are. I know how much my time costs are. And I know the price point that works best for me to maintain a decent living. I also know the price points that attract the type of readers I want… FANS. It’s not that I never want casual readers. If you want a casual fling with me, I’m grateful to have you, but what I really want long term are rabid readers who froth at the mouth waiting for the next book, read it on release day, and then ask me where the next one is. hehe.
Others can charge what they want, that is their business.