Thursday, 15 December 2011


You learn strange things about people on the Internet. For instance, I was on the Kindleboards forum a few hours ago, came across a discussion of free and 99c ebooks, and hit on this comment: "I think a low price says the writer didn't have a lot of confidence in it, or didn't care too much how it did. Rightly or wrongly. If it's not worth much to him or her, why should it matter much to me, as the reader?"

And since all of my self-published books on Kindle are 99c, I wasn't exactly pleased. I mean, I've had novels published by four major publishers. My stories have appeared in most of the better magazines in the genre I work in. And most of what I've put out electronically has been published in hard print at some time in the past. The quote above just didn't make the slightest bit of sense to me, and so I tried to put the guy with that opinion right. Only to be rebutted by an American living in the UK, who told me she and plenty of people that she knew regarded 99c ebooks as potentially inferior, and $2.99 to be the proper starting rate. Bizarre! I don't buy cheaper tickets at the cinema on an Orange Wednesday and expect the movie I'm about to see to be inferior. If someone wants to put their work out at a very accessible price, why not? And does the extra two bucks make the ebook that they're buying suddenly -- magically -- better?

So why do I price my ebooks thusly in the first place?

One -- I'm trying to reach a brand-new market, and this seems like the best way to do it. Someone unfamiliar with my work, who buys one of my Kindles for less than the price of a cup of coffee in a diner, might like it enough to either buy some more 99 centers, which is fine. Or they might take enough of an interest to buy one of my novels or conventionally published collections. And that is what is happening. I know this because some of those people write and tell me so. In fact, one guy brought everything that I have out there electronically.

Two -- I'm not inclined at this stage of the game to shell out on having my ebooks formatted professionally. Don't get me wrong, I put a lot of effort into getting them in as good a shape as I can manage, which means spending hours checking through and taking all of the tab indents out. So once I have download them to Amazon, they're mostly good, but you come across the occasional page where a couple of paragraphs have too much indenting in them. And the fact is, I am pretty conscientious when it comes to my work, and since these ebooks are a slightly imperfect product it seems only fair to charge the minimum price for them, rather the same way you would charge a lot less for a second-hand book.

You know what? I'm half tempted to try a small experiment -- reprice all my Kindles at £2.99 and see if they sell better or attract a more discerning audience. But I doubt they will. I'll let you know.

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