Thursday, 23 May 2013


Here it is... can you smell it? Can you feel the crinkle of that special kind of silky paper beneath your fingertips? 'Course you can. I'm salivating right now just looking at that giant pile of the green stuff (although it would be shiny gold stuff for me in the shape of the great pound coin *sigh* how I miss the pound note. When you had one of those in your purse you actually felt like you had money, not loose change - anyhoo, I digress)

December 2011, Rebel Ink released my Too Much Christmas Spirit short of almost 4,000 words (told you it was short) for $2.99 and it flew off the shelves, sold really well, which surprised me. When I saw how much it was up for my immediate thought was "That's way too expensive, no one's going to buy it." So when it did I kind of thanked my lucky stars and did my Snoopy dance.

December 2012, I self-published 'Tis the Season, another Christmas short of just under 4,000 words - I think there may have been like three hundred words difference between the two stories - at the gigantic price of 99c American which is 66p British. The only thing that amazed me about this short, although it did sell very well, were the comments made on both Amazon and Goodreads about how it wasn't worth 99c. Well maybe those people didn't like the actual story you might say. Actually no, they said it was a good story, just not long enough for the 99c they paid out.

I was so upset by this that I posted on my blog about the actual monetary cost a lot of self-publishers face in producing a story - whether it be 4,000 words or 70,000 words. 'Tis the Season cost nearly $300 to produce and publish, so I kind of thought 99c was a pretty good deal and with the commission only 35% on books at Amazon priced less than $2.99, I didn't break even.

I also had the same thing happen with the Monty Series, where someone complained about paying 66p for the first one and so on. The whole idea behind Monty was that while I was working on meatier, longer stuff, I could release a little bit of cheap fluff (again, cheap to purchase, but not cheap for me to produce) for my readers enjoyment and didn't have to wait months and months for a new release. It certainly wasn't intended to rip anyone off.

Anyhoo... now that's the background out of the way, let's get to the reason for my rambling. I released Monty #3 today, but before I did, I had a discussion with a reviewer friend of mine as I have to admit I am slightly paranoid about pricing now, so needed a second opinion.

Monty #3 is longer than the others, coming in at just over 16,000 words, and I asked her whether she would be happy to pay $2.99 for a story that length. I was half expecting her response to be God that's way too much, sending me to run off with my tail between my legs. However, she actually said that she'd be more than happy to pay that. She indicated that in her opinion GLBTQ authors price their books way too low, and that mainstream authors charge a lot more for a lot less.

This got me thinking...

Have we been pricing too low? Are we thinking, deep down, that because we write in a specific genre, people won't buy our stuff unless we practically give it away? Why? Aren't we just as good as mainstream? Isn't there just as much call for our genre as there is for fluffy white picket fences and 2.4 children? Should we be relegated to the bargain bin because of our genre, not the quality of our work?

There is also the inimitable question... why are publishers able to price some of our books at such a high price and they still sell? Try and put up 4,000 words for less than a dollar/pound as a self-pub and you're a money-grabbing sleaze-bag. Does a story have more weight because it is released through a publisher? I don't see how. It's the same story you would submit to your publisher, you're just cutting out the middle man, not cutting any of the quality. As a self-pub author, I still have to pay for an editor, a cover artist, a proof reader and a formatter. The only thing different is that its my company name on the bottom left hand corner, no one else's.

I may be opening up a whole can of worms here... but what's your opinion... as author, as reader, as reviewer... lay it on me.

Lisa xx


  1. Great post Lisa. I find that 99 cent books just do better. Like you said, it doesn't mean we don't spend the money needed to edit, to get covers, etc but from my end it just looks like people are more apt to buy a book at that price. All of my 99 cent books have done exceptionally well, het and m/m. My books priced higher, sell but not gangbusters like the 99 cent ones.

    I kind of think of the 99 cent books as a promo, to show off your work, especially if you're new to a particular reader.

    I think it works across the board, mainstream and m/m. I'd be interested in what others have to say.

    1. I agree with some of what you're saying, honey.
      But for someone who writing is their only means of income, pricing every book at 99c wouldn't be financially viable.

  2. I don’t know anything about the publishing world and how it works and how the pricing is determined, I’m just a reader, but for me, I find it hard to spend more than $10 for an ebook. I’ve also noticed that most mainstream-story ebooks now cost the same as the paperback. What gives?

    As for self-published vs a publishing company…doesn’t matter to me.

    1. $10 for an ebook? Wow that's steep. I wouldn't pay that either - and I certainly wouldn't charge it!

  3. I think $2.99 is a fair price for 15/20 thousand words, with perhaps $1.99 for 10/15 and 99cdnts for less. Then going up say a dollar for every 8/10 thousand words. I also do expect publishers to charge more than an author, not because I think the author needs to charge less, I don't, I just feel there's a perception that a self publish should cost less, I know its unfair but its there. I also think some publishers are far too expensive and that does make me think twice about buying books I think won't be worth the cost, and I do include word count in my decision.

  4. Why is there the perception that if you self pub it doesn't cost as much to create? I don't understand that. For example. If I wrote a manuscript of 50,000 words and submitted it to a publisher who then priced it at, say $5.99, does that mean if I published the same book for $3.99 that people would be more inclined to pay the publishers price without complaint - but think twice about paying the lower price for the cheaper version? Even though it cost me the same amount to produce as it would a publisher?