Friday, January 13, 2012

Let’s discuss 99 cent e-books!

Recently there have been a lot of murmurs and even some direct criticism of those of us in the industry that sell our e-books for 99 cents. The most vocal critics are those with high overheads; traditional publishers and authors that are MADE, ie; well established with a broad fan base.

For those of us who aren’t MADE, we are required to use whatever method we can to establish a reader base. For me that’s price. Pure and simple. There’s a world recession happening. I want to offer my hard earned work to someone OUT-OF-WORK for the price of a candy bar. A reader will take a chance for 99 cents. For three bucks ($2.99)? There’s hesitation. A great deal of this hesitation comes from being stung. I know I’ve been disappointed several times. I paid $2.99 for a novel and discovered that I actually bought a novella (stories that are less than 40,000 words). I’ve also paid for work that was done by author’s no longer living and their public domain work has been repackaged by some pseudo writer. I have difficulty with that kind of poaching. The writings of ROBERT HATTING is original work. All of my work I’m selling is either a full length novels – 65,000 words or more or screenplays that will run 2 hours if made into a movie. I’ve never been accused of cheating my readers. ALASKA BE DAMNED is my best seller and it is 140,000 words in length.

Currently, I am writing two novels a whimsical book of short stories and a non-fiction book. By the time I finish, I’ll have around a thousand dollars of hard currency into each one plus the thousands of hours of writing, researching, and editing. After that comes the time and expense of publishing and promotion. Here’s the arithmetic. I receive 34 cents in royalties for each 99 cent e-book I sell -- (this calculation uses the Amazon royalty percent. Amazon sells 60:1 over B&N who pays 3 cents more in royalty.)

It doesn’t take an MBA or math major to determine that this is a horrible business model. However, a few pennies that come from the sale of my books are far better than having the manuscripts languish in the bowels of my hard drive.

I look at it this way. I’m an entertainer of sorts. If you like my work for 99 cents you’ll buy more. If you don’t, next time you’ll buy a candy bar.