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E-book pricing

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Spears II
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Location: Portland Oregon
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Postby Spears II » Mon June 6th, 2011, 4:40 pm

Wow, I have not been on this forum in forever and I guess I have been missing out. What a great discussion! Gortner, I would love to understand your side of the debate more and maybe you can help me out. I was too shy to ask on FB but since you brought up this discussion here I would love to learn more about your point of view.

Ok, my wife is an indie author, and that is my perspective. It is not an understatement to say E-book pricing has changed our lives. I know it can be seen as a little crass to speak of money matters sometimes but in this case it is the heart of the matter. At 2.99 our royalties at 70% has completely changed our budget. I am going to school full time now (with the help of V.A) and we are buying a house. The $1,000-$1,800 a month we earn from her first novel puts us over the hump, budget wise, and we don't live paycheck to paycheck. If her next three planed books find the same moderate success then she will earn more than I ever have in a year.

We have managed to climb out of that proverbial slush pile of self-published dross and have made a tiny name for ourselves but Gortner, you have a fan base we can only dream of right now. So my question to you is this: why would you not self publish on Kindle and make 70% of your book? Think about it for a moment. You could sell a book for $4.99. Your fans would love you for providing a new book that would makes their wages go further while still providing you with a living wage. I don't know your contract but I would wager that 70% of 4.99 might be more than your current royalties. I could be wrong, of course, but you could find your own price point as needed to save money for your fans while still making enough to continue to live as a writer. You are established, so why not turn to the best savings for the reader and the most profit for you. With all due respect to your agent, whose readers wouldn’t want to pay less for a book?

Of course indies can never compete with the in store sales your publisher gains you, so I guess the best case would be if you could keep your contract to your publisher while producing some of your other work for self-publishing. Do you have an old manuscript that was never published but that your fans would enjoy reading? I bet you could make more money--not less--with a lower price. You don’t even have to become a 99 cent zealot. It is hard for us because we are working our way up from the bottom, but you have already done the hard work to be able to really capitalize on this E-book price thing. If I may be so bold, why not make 70% of $3-7 per ebook? You could sell more and make more. I think that is the real push behind the lower prices.

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LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Postby LoveHistory » Mon June 6th, 2011, 5:31 pm

SpearsII, most authors would probably love to do just that but in this day and age I imagine traditional publishers make sure that digital rights are included in the contracts, which takes the issue out of the author's hands (and effectively ties those hands).

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon June 6th, 2011, 6:33 pm

Actually, this whole issue has me worried. On the one hand, I want the stamp of approval from a big six publisher to start building a fan base. On the other, I don't really need anything else they offer. I can do the book set-up, these are skills I learned in the eighties setting up annual reports in book form for nonprofits. And I have plenty of contacts for covers, which I believe are going to be less important in the future-- what with the internet giving so many more ways to judge the book before you buy it.

The publishers see it too, and their new 'non-competition clause' in the contract is what bothers me. I hear it now extends to anything else a writer might publish that features any of the same characters. I have six finished novels in the drawer, all of which have overlapping characters, although they are stand-alones. I'm shopping the best (well, the most recent, anyway) at the HFO conference, and if I do get a solid bite, and out comes that contract saying "no self-pubbing anything with the same characters" I'm going to have to turn it down. Isn't the sequel to Master of Verona hung up in this exact limbo?
my facebook posts https://www.facebook.com/emilylaurencotton are public, generally things I find amusing.
my passions: fair trade, ending slavery, and justice.
"Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." Will Rogers
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fljustice
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Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Postby fljustice » Tue June 7th, 2011, 2:48 pm

"MLE" wrote:Actually, this whole issue has me worried. On the one hand, I want the stamp of approval from a big six publisher to start building a fan base. On the other, I don't really need anything else they offer. I can do the book set-up, these are skills I learned in the eighties setting up annual reports in book form for nonprofits. And I have plenty of contacts for covers, which I believe are going to be less important in the future-- what with the internet giving so many more ways to judge the book before you buy it.

The publishers see it too, and their new 'non-competition clause' in the contract is what bothers me. I hear it now extends to anything else a writer might publish that features any of the same characters. I have six finished novels in the drawer, all of which have overlapping characters, although they are stand-alones. I'm shopping the best (well, the most recent, anyway) at the HFO conference, and if I do get a solid bite, and out comes that contract saying "no self-pubbing anything with the same characters" I'm going to have to turn it down. Isn't the sequel to Master of Verona hung up in this exact limbo?


This whole rights grab by the publishers has me worried as well. Kristin Kathryn Rusch has a couple of good blog posts on the kinds of contract shenanigans she's been running across and the contract terms are atrocious! She has decided that doing a mix of traditional and indie publishing works for her. She's willing to "take a loss" on traditional publishing in order to reach new readers for her indie work, but she also has dozens of books in her backlist. I have two complete and two partial. I'll be shopping my most recent manuscript at the HNS conference as well, and will be cautious.

http://kriswrites.com/2011/05/04/the-business-rusch-advocates-addendums-and-sneaks-oh-my/

http://kriswrites.com/2011/05/25/the-business-rusch-publishers-surviving-the-transition-part-2/
Faith L. Justice, Author Website
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Spears II
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Location: Portland Oregon
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Postby Spears II » Tue June 7th, 2011, 5:19 pm

On the one hand, I want the stamp of approval from a big six publisher to start building a fan base. On the other, I don't really need anything else they offer.


This statement has really fueled my thoughts about all this. There is no doubt about it, starting a fan base outside of the big six is uphill battle which starts an author at a steep disadvantage. People put a lot of stock in, for the lack of a better term, the "gatekeeper" system of agents and major publishing houses. At the same time though, I wonder if this has always been the case? My knowledge of publishing history is tiny but I have a suspicion that a hundred years ago who published you was far less important. I also speculate there was probably not a big six. I have been really thinking about this in economical terms.

Publishers started being publishers because they controlled the means of production (the actual press) and the distribution (the shipping). I think the industry grew around that. Fast forward to today and publishers are quickly losing control of both those advantages. With Amazon and ebooks there is absolutely no difference between my wife's e-book and a big six ebook in terms of production and distribution. Thats why I heart Amazon so much. They gave us the same access to readers as everyone else.

The gate-keeping becomes a large publisher's biggest advantage as they loose production and distribution advantage. They have built a name based on quality and as more and more people publish that quality becomes more valuable. At the same time with the easy of modern publishing anyone can produce a quality book if they really put the effort in. That is why being part of the big six is becoming less and less important. Add in how marketing has changed with blogs and websites and now marketing is also equalizing in favor of smaller publishers. You don't need a NYT add to sell 10,000 copies of your book.

When we cut out the middle men and get 70% of our profit then us indies can price our books lower and still get paid enough to make a living. It is a fun time to an author (or married to one at least :) ) We have more choices. We don't have to choose a crap contract because the big six are the only game in town.

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DeAnnaCameron
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Location: Southern California
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Postby DeAnnaCameron » Thu June 16th, 2011, 12:59 am

What a fascinating thread! I'm definitely in the worried-about-the-price-slide camp. I'm also wondering what, if any, effect the new lower prices on ad-supported Kindles might have on the whole debate. If ereader companies start selling ads, will the publishers be far behind?
(It seems unlikely, I know, especially since that model is dying a slow and painful death in journalism. But I'm an incessant worrier, so I can't help myself.)
DANCING AT THE CHANCE, love and vaudeville in Old New York (Berkley/April)
THE BELLY DANCER, a novel of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (Berkley/out now)
www.deannacameron.com

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Tue June 21st, 2011, 6:17 pm

Just spotted this threadat the Amazon Kindle forum (still reading through it) and thought it might be of interest.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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LoveHistory
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Postby LoveHistory » Wed June 22nd, 2011, 4:12 pm

Seems like they are arguing almost the same side of the issue over there. Basically it boils down to this:

Discussion of price IN a review is fine. Discussion of price AS the review (with nothing else mentioned) is not.

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Wed June 22nd, 2011, 4:39 pm

"LoveHistory" wrote:Seems like they are arguing almost the same side of the issue over there. Basically it boils down to this:

Discussion of price IN a review is fine. Discussion of price AS the review (with nothing else mentioned) is not.


I know, but just try arguing with those who think it is OK to write a review only for price. You will not sway them. We tried on Elizabeth's The Second Duchess and that woman would not budge.
At home with a good book and the cat...

...is the only place I want to be

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LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Postby LoveHistory » Thu June 23rd, 2011, 7:55 pm

"Misfit" wrote:I know, but just try arguing with those who think it is OK to write a review only for price. You will not sway them. We tried on Elizabeth's The Second Duchess and that woman would not budge.


Of course not. You can't sway people who are being irrational. Who was it who said a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject? Or perhaps it was the other way around. :D


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