Sunday, 30 December 2012

SELF-PUBLISHING: COST VS PRICE


I wasn't sure whether or not to write this post, but in all good conscience, I couldn't not.

As writers we are told to have a thick skin, never respond to a negative review and hide our upset behind a cheery smile, a wave and a thank you very much. 99.9% of the time, that's relatively easy to do. After all, just as the saying goes... you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.

Having said that, however, that .1% of the time a few choice remarks can make you curl up into a ball with a large bar of chocolate for a good sob.

Self-publishing is a murky water to swim in. Let's face it, any Tom, Dick or Harry can write a book and upload it nowadays, so it's a cut throat business. Unfortunately, perhaps, for me, I write for the sheer joy of it as I know the majority of authors out there do but, like in any business, there are those that enter into it to make money. Doesn't always work, of course, but that's by the by.

The main problem with self-publishing is pricing the story. How much do you charge? When your story is released through a publisher, you have no say in the matter so the price is not something you worry about. The publisher sets it and that's that. Not so for self-publishing. That responsibility lies on your own shoulders. So what is a fair price?

Last Christmas, I released a short story through a well known publisher and they priced it at $2.99. To be honest, at the time I thought that was a little steep as the length of the short was below 4,000 words and I felt it wouldn't really sell. I was, however, pleasantly surprised that it did sell extremely well and all the reviews were positive and encouraging, with no mention of length or price ever mentioned.

However, this year I released another short story through my own company name, White Stiletto Press. The short was a fluffy little thing in time for the silly season and came in at 3,079 words, 899 words less than last year's story. I priced it at 99c and I inserted the basic reviews and information about myself that is in the back of every one of my books released through my publishers. I also thought it would be a nice opportunity for a few other authors to get in a bit of promo and so I added three covers and three blurbs at the end of the fic.

For this I was accused of being a rip off artist. Of having the nerve to charge 99c for a story that was less than 4,000 words and had advertising in it for other authors. I hasten to add that this was only by some readers - the majority took it for what it was - a cheap short read designed to fill you with the warm and fuzzies just before the silly season started. As I said, if you didn't like the story, that's a reader's opinion. But the thing I really object to is the assertion that I tried to rip anyone off. 

I think the main problem with self-publishing is that most readers aren't actually aware of the cost involved when publishing your own stuff. So if anyone thought 99c was a rip off for a fluffy Christmas read, please continue on and I hope you'll change your mind.

Cost of producing 'Tis the Season...

1.  Pictures for cover                                               £ 26.00
2.  Cover itself                                                         £ 75.00
3.  Editor                                                                 £ 50.00
4.  Proofer                                                               £ 25.00
5.  Formatter                                                            £ 15.47
                                                                                ______
                                                           TOTAL        £191.47  which is  $309.29    PRICE OF FIC  99c

So you can see that when I'm told I'm ripping someone off... I think 99c for a story that cost me over $300 to write is not that bad.

19 comments:

  1. dont forget your copyright fees {if you have that in the UK - I'm unsure of that} and if you had to purchase an ISBN number.

    And these are all things just to get the book out.

    Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thank you - I'd forgotten about the ISBN :)

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  2. Thank you for writing this. I would never complain about the length of a book - the quality maybe, but length no way. But I had no idea how much it would cost to get the book out there.
    Very interesting post.
    ps don't let the idiots get to you, some people are just a holes!

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  3. So true Lisa... and I am sorry people are being so rough... :(

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    1. I don't mind someone telling me they didn't like the story because it was rubbish - I just object to being told that I charged too much for it.

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  4. First off I have not read this book, but I'm going to go look for it. I too had no idea how much it would cost

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    1. To be honest, once I broke it all down, I didn't realise how much it cost either.

      If you read it, I hope you enjoy it.

      x

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  5. I'm glad that you decided to post this. Well said.

    Hugs,
    Sharrrrrrron
    xo

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  6. I've had a reader or two complain that a free story had a bunch of stuff in the back about my other works. And the free story was put out by my publisher who is the one who decided to add the other stuff in the back. There will always be a complainer. Even when they get something for free. And it's honestly not 1%, but more like 10% because some people don't publish their complaints. They just tell other people who may or may not agree with them.

    When I self-pubbed my Christmas story this month I looked at what my publisher had charged for the same length (25K) and I priced it the same. It appears to be selling quite well thus far. My costs aren't as much as they would be for most authors. I do my own artwork, so there's no fee to an artist. I have a subscription for images that is basically a monthly fee for specific number of downloads per month. I would buy this anyway because I do quite a few covers a month for self-pubbed authors as well as publishers. I did my own formatting too. My daughter proofs for me and my editor charges a seriously reasonable amount of money by the page. So my costs are way, way, way less than yours. (I do have to say that at the exchange rate of pounds to US dollars, paying $121 plus the cost of images for a cover seems high to me. The average cost of a cover for a self-pubbed author by Winterheart Design is $65, which is less than half what you paid.)

    I don't put much in the back of a freebie or a self-pubbed book. An author bio, link information to latest releases I've had with my publishers, links to my social media. What I didn't do, and will do in the future is put a link to my downloadable book list. If people like what they read enough, they'll get that list (which has links) and check out my other books. This way, when they see 84 pages listed for the length of the book, they know they are getting almost 84 pages of story. Because honestly, I think that's where the problem lies. People see the length in pages and think they are getting more story than they are, even if you have it labeled as a short story.

    Good luck with your sales. I'll have to check out your Christmas story. Loved Unshakeable Faith.

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    1. I guess it depends on who you've found to do your covers.
      I'm so glad you liked Unshakeable.
      Happy New Year to you.

      x

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    2. Winterheart Design, winterheart.com. Base price is on the website $50. Plus cost of images, average image cost $5. Makes the average cost of a cover, $65. And the work is good enough to have earned an EPIC ARIANA Award.

      And yeah, that book is on my phone so I can re-read anytime I want, anywhere.

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  7. Hon, all I can say is that I REALLY loved this story and that some people LIVE to complain!! =[

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    1. Very true.
      I'm so glad you liked it :)

      x

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  8. Having self-published a few books, I've learned that the more you can do yourself, such as cover and editing and formatting, the less you need to spend. I've had 4k stories that went for 99 cents and was never accused like that (and that was with a publisher). To those people who complained about it, I'd have to wonder why they bought it then, since you can see how long something is before you buy it.

    What it comes down to, I think, is that no matter what you do or how well you do it, someone is going to whine about it just because they can, rate it low, or talk it down. The nice thing about that, though, is that it gets other people to wondering about it, and they often decide to see for themselves what the hoopla is about. So, don't fret it. Just know you're better than the whiners :)

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  9. It just seems to me that some people just like to complain because it gives them some satisfaction :( Maybe they have issues with jealousy...

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  10. Heck, people will always find something to complain about. I've had people who received free food, gifts, and other items come up and complain about them, even though it cost them absolutely nothing money and timewise. Some people just live to make others miserable. Thank you for sharing and posting this, I never realized just how much goes into publishing a book. I'll definitely have to go check out your Christmas story now, it sounds good.

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