Coming Soon: Reality Smash Hit, Market Preppers

We’ve all seen or heard about that apocalypse-now show, DoomsDay Preppers, or how to survive MacGyver-style such as Man vs. Wild.  Well I’m here to make a confession, my name is Gail Gentry and I’m….. a Market Prepper.

In preparation for releasing my book in 2012, for the last year I have been building a follower base on Twitter; joined Triberr, LinkedIn, and Goodreads; expanded my FaceBook presence; started a blog and joined Networked Blogs; bought domain names in preparation of building a website; and been tutored by the best authors around on the benefits of KDP Select and Kindle Nation.

I’ve watched the trends and read articles about how new indie authors must price their books at 99 cents.  Get the sales out there – get your name recognized. Great!  I can do that.  Sell 100 books, make a hundred dollars, right, or well, hey, close to it, right?  RIGHT? My bubble is then burst when I’m told the percentage tier for sale prices on Amazon.  For every book you list and sell at 99 cents, you get 35%.  Wait, what? For every book I sell at 99 cents I get 35 cents? So for my brand spanking new book I only get a mere 8 cents more than a book, an old book, a used, worn book, a dated book, that I would sell as a yard sale item for a quarter?

Now, I work a full-time job and in addition I have a part-time job where I freelance as a typist for a small company.  I only have to work about one minute in my part-timer to get paid 35 cents.  I don’t even want to do the math and add up the hours I’m spending writing my book, dreaming about my book, editing and revising; and, this doesn’t even take into account what it’s going to take to have cover art designed, or pay CreateSpace for hardbound copies, in addition to advertising.  How about the countless hours of sleep I’ve lost – some nights I’m lucky to get 3 or 4 hours before I turn around and go to my day job.  I figure, it’s okay.  I love writing.  It’s my passion, my heart.

HOWEVER, it’s not okay to get 35 cents for every book I sell.  Sorry but I’m not going to accept that.  It’s not even okay to sell my book for 99 cents.  I look around and see not only good authors but GREAT authors selling their books for 99 cents.  And, it’s not okay with them to sell their books either for 99 cents but they’re having to do it to stay competitive.

I say BULL….SHIT.  When did it become the norm to throw all the books written by Indie authors into the marked-down bin? Now I know I’ll probably get the comments that “if you’re a true writer, you’re not in it for the money, you’re in it for the passion.”  To that I say DOUBLE BULL….SHIT.  If  I wanted to just plain write, then I wouldn’t revise, I wouldn’t edit, I wouldn’t hire a cover artist, I wouldn’t have hardbound copies made, etc., etc. Anyone who wants to tell me that they would, then go for it.  Prove it.  Send me your book for free, and I hope it’s okay if I in turn send you over a mailing list to all of my friends – I’ll even tweet my 6600 followers on Twitter and let them know you’re giving your books away for free from here to eternity just because it makes you happy to have your writing in someone else’s hands and you’re not looking for anything in return.  No reviews, no “Likes”, no recognition, no money to cover your out-of-pocket costs.

After you send me your book just keep in mind, I didn’t say I would read your book.  Change your mind? Yup, thought so.  If you don’t value your work any more than that, why should I?  Free books are what I get with my library card.  At least I know the authors sitting on the shelves in the library believed in themselves enough to have made an investment in their writing.

My good friend, R. S. Guthrie, has said it and I agree with him 100% that it’s up to authors – both seasoned and green – to move the price market.  I’m an unknown author, I have yet to prove my worth – I might even suck.  Still, when I release my book this year I will be debuting it at $2.99, maybe even $4.99.  I will leave it up to the promotions to reduce the price or do a give-away.  I can tell you there are just as many authors out there selling their books at $2.99 or above that I have not heard of as there are selling them at 99 cents.  So what’s the difference.  On my Amazon site, I plan on having an excerpt from the book or perhaps the first chapter – something for the public to read in order to be able to make an informed choice on whether or not it’s a book they would like to delve into.  I believe it’s not so much the price of the book that will get me my readers but how I market my book and the quality of my book.  Shall I say that again? I believe it’s not so much the price of the book that will get me my readers but how I market my book and the quality of my book. 

The changes to the market are coming and the changes are being made one author at a time.  I mentioned earlier my good friend, R. S. Guthrie.  He posted a blog several days ago that is taking Twitter by storm.  The comments are mounting on the site.  Authors are taking notice and are being fueled by the positive reinforcement that they are not alone in how they feel.  With R. S. Guthrie’s permission I have posted below a portion from his blog post.  To view it in it’s entirety along with the comments, please visit RobOnWriting. The response was so overwhelming he has since posted a follow-up to it.

I consider this an exciting time for me to enter the market as a new author.  My friends who have been publishing the last few years have certainly lived through the devastation of the 99 cent mark-down and it is with them that I  now stand to help make a change.  Are you going to be part of the change or stay behind and let everyone else move the market for you?  The choice is certainly yours to make.  The market will even out.  Let the 99 cent bin stay for short stories, informational pamphlets and promotionals.  It may take some time but eventually the public will get the meaning of that established price.  Amazon will love us for it.  They get more money and so will we.  The public will pay for what they want to read – be that $2.99 or $21.99.  I remember when the Twilight mania hit, there were those that couldn’t wait to hit Barnes and Noble to pick up their copy of the latest release of the series.  Well, I never, I said as I paid $21.99 for a book! Okay, hell, I would have paid $45.99 to get the copy, who am I kidding?  Point is, don’t dumb down or underestimate your readers.  They know what they like, what they want and will pay to get it.

So, let me step down and turn this over to R. S. Guthrie:

MY NOVEL IS WORTH MORE THAN JOHN LOCKE’S COMB

I’ve thought about it a lot, but yes, I am certain of it. I recently took a walk through the Dollar Store and saw a fairly standard, crappy hair pick priced at 99 cents. It’s been years since I had a perm (or hair) so I didn’t want the comb but I thought a lot at that moment about my novels. I thought about the durability of the piece of plastic before me.  I thought about the number of hours I put into writing the (almost) three books I have finished. That comb was pure junk. I thought about the person working on the assembly line in China making ten cents a day that may have assembled it, or at least put it in a package, and I felt for them, too.

Then I went home and read about a new book by A.J. Jacobs (Drop Dead Healthy, Simon & Schuster). The suggested retail price for the new hardcover is $26.99. No one is selling it at that price, of course. Amazon has the hardcover for $15.91 (which is pretty amazing because the KINDLE version is $12.99). I have to admit I did wonder a bit about how cool it would be to have Simon & Schuster after my book title. {Pathetic sigh}

Then I thought about that crappy little comb again, and besides being pretty pissed off by that point, I was also still pretty sure my books are each worth more than that chunk of crap. (The comb, not Jacobs’ book.) I did, however, look at Jacobs’ new book again. I like A.J. He writes a lot of stuff for Esquire and he is funny as hell. But he’s not exactly a household author name, like Stephen “I can type the letter ‘Z’ ten million times in a row and as long as they form paragraphs, my publisher will print it and charge you $20, no questions asked” King.

Yet still I wondered. Is A.J. Jacobs sixteen times the writer I am? (Okay, in Kindle math, thirteen times the writer?)

Value. Worth. It’s gotten all screwed up in the book market somehow. Well, not “somehow”—we’ll look at that in a moment. But first I want you to look at theMcDonald’s Dollar Menu. I am pretty certain my books are each a far better experience (and last a helluva lot longer) than one hash brown, a SMALL McCoffee, a McChicken sandwich, or a side salad.

One. Side. Salad.

At McDonald’s.

Have you written a book? I mean all the way to the end? Edited it, start to finish? Rewritten it? Published it? How much time did it take you? How hard was it? How much marketing does it take you to sell even one copy? Is your book any good? Even halfway decent?

Are you tired of the implication that your product is worth less than a dollar per unit? Well you can start your objections by not elevating John Locke and Amanda Hocking to the level of book market (and, perish the thought, author) deities. They didn’t do anything good for you. In fact, they are the King and Queen of 99-Centville, and it’s a pretty shitty place to live.

Oh, and another thing you can do? You can refuse to buy any more 99 cent books AND refuse to price your hard piece of work at that ridiculous amount just so you can see a few more sales.

A fellow writer said the other day “I want the kind of readers who are willing to pay $3.99 for a book.”

So do I.

Another writer told me her friend said “tell me when your book is either free or 99 cents and I’ll pick up a copy.”

It’s ludicrous, people. I mean stark raving mad running-through-the-streets-in-a-thong-with-a-blood-drenched-meat-cleaver nutzoid.

It’s a tragedy. My books are far better than that. They are not 15, 16, or 17 times less valuable than any other author out there, I can guarantee you that. And yes, raising my book price to that of a latte has cost me sales. But I don’t want readers who only put a value of a book at 99 cents, and neither should you. I’ll wait it out. Keep writing great books. Keep them at fair “Indie” prices. No, I absolutely do not expect a reader who does not know me to pay the same for my book as one by Stephen King. But they can pay 33% the cost. I think a 66% markdown from Stephen King is fair.

So I’m sticking to my guns. I’ll wait it out.

If you brand it well, they will come.

I encourage you to read the post in its entirety.  It will really have an impact on you. Please check it out at RobOnWriting.

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One Response to Coming Soon: Reality Smash Hit, Market Preppers

  1. You are damn right. Your writing is worth more than that, and you deserve it. Way to call it out like it is. Love you even more for it!

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