Friday, April 27, 2012

The Worth of Words

Hey, look at this. I'm being somewhat serious. It does happen on occasion. No need to mark the calendar.

Lately, there's been some great conversation about what books are worth, at least as far as e-books, e-publishing and independent publishing is concerned. I'm not sure whether that's because conference season is upon us again, there are interesting things happening with regards to security and format on electronic books, because there have some hugely successful fiction projects on Kickstarter lately, or phases of the moon. Whatever the reason, lots of people are thinking, talking, and discussing it.

And since I'm going down the indie road myself over here, of course I've thought about it too. I have not done a lot of opining on it until, well, today, because there are a lot of things to take in to consideration and a lot of factors to weigh.

For instance: Is it possible to underprice a book in the "new" electronic market?  Yes, I think so. Though there's something to be said for free fiction (if I didn't believe this, I wouldn't be offering it) and for the "introductory" price point of $.99 on some of the big book selling sites -- Amazon and Barnes & Noble at least -- I don't think that it's a good idea, personally. Not for a first-time author. Not for a first independent offering.

The argument is that free and low price points get an author's name out there and help to build a readership. I think that those things might help, certainly, but I can't agree that a low price point alone is going to do the trick. If an author writes a crap book and offers it for $.99, it's really not going to benefit them to have a lot of people read it simply because it's cheap.

(I realize that no one thinks that they're offering a crap book to the reading public, but let's face it. No one writes a book that makes people squeal with delight every time. There are good books, better books, books that pale in comparison to others, and crap books. Sorry, but it's true.)

On the flip side, it's also absolutely possible to overprice your book as well. Having read comments and talked to people both on and offline, it is the rare reader who is enthusiastic about paying full paperback (or hardcover) price for an ebook. Though there are still costs and time involved in writing and preparing an ebook for general consumption, the perception is that they don't take nearly as much money to make so they shouldn't be sold for as much.

Fair enough.

I think the solution lies somewhere in the middle. Where, exactly, I'm not sure. There's still a lot of figuring and hashing and thinking to do.

Which clearly I didn't do enough of before typing out this rambly, point-lacking post. If you have thoughts you'd like to share with me, feel free to comment or question. If you don't have thoughts and you just want to doodle smiley faces on your screen where a comment might go? Well. That's okay too.

Happy weekend!

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