The True Cost Of Today’s Price?

Cash and Bullets

To catch you up, earlier this week Adamant Entertainment (shepherded forth by the mighty Gareth-Michael Skarka) made an announcement: all their digital RPG products will now be subject to an “app-pricing model,” which is to say that they will cost you, the consumer, $1.99 a pop.

Then I caught sight of DriveThruRPG’s take on app-pricing, which you can find on Fred Hicks’ Tumblr (in short, it becomes a race to the bottom).

Obviously, given the name of the Adamant pricing initiative it highlights the current disparity between games you’d buy for your iPad ($1 to $10) and games you’d buy for your Xbox 360 ($40 -60).

I’m not knocking Gareth or his approach here: I hope it works for him. He’s done the math, he’s the publisher, and he sees this as the right move. And it may very well be. I am not a publisher — I’m just a wee little writer, belly so low I’m like a snake in a wheel rut. I just write stories. (This is a lie, of course. The writer is always more than just the writer. Or, he damn well better be. The ecosystem is changing, peeps.)

Except, of course, next week — provided that Kindle formatting does not destroy my brain and Space Jesus and Doom Buddha don’t decide to add “humans” to the list of mass animal deaths going on — I’m going to be releasing my short story collection, IRREGULAR CREATURES, to the Kindle store for $2.99. What we’re looking at right now is that while we have to make some bold moves and set competitive prices it remains unseen what the true cost of that price-setting may be. I don’t have any huge feelings on game pricing particularly, but I damn sure have feelings about fiction pricing.

So, this is just a random coagulation of thoughts about price (and cost).

These thoughts are not from an expert. They are from my addlepated monkey’s brain.

They make no conclusions. I’m just as confused as the next chimp down the line.

Here goes.

How I Pay For My Yacht Made Of Human Infants

I’m a freelancer, and I do so full-time, which means I have to make enough annual money to put food in my mouth (and soon, a baby’s mouth) and keep a roof over our head. And to support my “tentacle porn” habit.

If I were to release a product myself — like, I write it, I release it, I sell it — I’d need to make something close to my freelance rate to survive. So, if I released a product that were, say, 70,000 words, at the end of the day I need to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $3500-4000 just to not feel ashamed of myself. (And, really, let’s be honest, I should make more. Because in my mind, I’m worth it. In my mind, I’m also a ninja. Just so you have that as a point of reference.)

Selling at a buck a pop, I need to sell 3500 copies. That’s me selling it directly. Selling it through another venue, I’d need to sell somewhere around twice that, right? Seven thousand copies or so.

Doubling the rate changes things. Obviously it halves what we’re looking at for sales. And forgive me if this is dull as paint: I’m just babbling out loud, like that guy from A Beautiful Mind. Except, uhhh, I’m not a math genius. Tentacle porn-addicted ninja, yes. Math genius, not so much.

Going to three bucks gives me a little more breathing room. I’d get 60-70% most places out of that that three buck price, which means I’m getting roughly two bucks for each e-book sold. Means that I only have to sell like, 1750 copies to not feel like an asshole.

That’s about what I’d be worth to a smaller client. (Bigger clients pay more — uhh, or rather, they do in a perfect world.) The question is, is it fair to equate what a client pays me with what an aggregate audience pays? A client pays work-for-hire and it’s one and done. An audience pays me, and I have the potential to make fifteen bucks or fifteen-thousand bucks.

Is three bucks the sweet spot for something like that?

Or is that just a price too low?

None of this figures in the reality of paying a cover artist or an editor or what it costs me in time (and time is money) to market it. Freelancing doesn’t require me to do any of that. Publishing does. Nothing in a freelance contract says it’s my job to get artwork or find reviewers. (Novelists have it a little differently — technically they’re not responsible, but they earn out per sale so it behooves them to put time, effort, and maybe even a little money into pimping the book.)

The concern comes into play when a publisher — not the writer-as-publisher — begins to lower those costs. Because that means they’re not going to be able to pay someone like me, Mister Freelance Ninja Motherfucker, what I need to make to survive. Uh-oh.

Price Perceptions Of The Devil We Know

Three bucks doesn’t seem like an awful price for a digital novel, but is it too low? You’d pay more than twice that in the store for a hardcopy — and, for established authors, you’ll pay a lot more ($10-15 for an e-book).

For an established author I love, I’m totally on board with that price. That’s the tricky part about determining the value of intellectual property — this isn’t a widget that has clear supply and demand. This is a limitless ebook written with the candyfloss and unicorn dreams of one’s imagination (and yes, time). For an author I’d love, I’ll pay the full price on the book. Hell, you could tell me that prices are going up, and I’ll pay it. You hand me a new Joe Lansdale or Robert McCammon novel and tell me it’s $40, fuck it, here’s my money. And you want me to stick my dick in this mysterious hole? I’ll do that, too.

For things we love, we’ll pay a lot.

I don’t know what that means, but it’s worth noting.

Once You Go Low, You Can’t Go High

It’s like doing the limbo — you go too low, you might wrench your back in that position. Forever.

The pricing of apps — hell, the pricing of everything digital — has started to erode my sense of value, and I don’t really like it. I will no longer take easy risks on (bare with this next phrase) high-priced low-priced items. What is a “high-priced low-priced” item? A CD ten years ago in a store cost $16.99, which was bullshit. Digital costs have dropped those CDs down to $7.99 – 9.99.

Which is, by the way, a very nice price. Generally comes out at less than a buck a song.

And I’m now reticent to pay that price. Why? Because a company like Amazon offers a lot of sales. Because I used to get MP3s for free. Because I can buy Angry Birds for two bucks and get a billion (estimated) hours of play. No, I know that app isn’t a CD, but when it comes down to time spent on the entertainment I procure for myself, it still matters how much mileage I get out of a product. I will no longer take a risk on an artist for like, less than five bucks.

That’s insane. I feel like a total asshole. I have to consciously push past that inclination.

Price erosion in the marketplace has eroded my concept of value for — well, most types of entertainment. I think prices used to be too high, no doubt. But now I’m worrying that prices are going too low. The combination of the “culture of free” and plummeting prices has rewired my brain chemistry to make “pssh!” or “pfeh!” noises when a product goes above $4.99.

But again, that’s only for unknown quantities. For known quantities — a band I love, an author I dig, a game sequel I know is going to be rock solid — that’s not at all a problem.

It does make me less likely to take risks and buy unknown (to me) material.

That is not a good thing.

Word Of (Foot In) Mouth

Word of mouth helps that though, doesn’t it? A book, film, band, whatever feels like it becomes “known” to me when someone I trust tells me that it’s awesome. And then it moves from that nebulous “Ehh, if it’s not five bucks I’m not buying it” zone to the more robust, “Well, I’ll pay what I need because I want this thing.”

I don’t know how you can really make that work for you outside of writing the best damn book you can write and just hoping that it gets people crazy gonzo geeked about it.

It comes back to this: what we really want, I think we’ll pay for.

But are we pricing low to sell to people who don’t necessarily want what we’re selling?

Are We Undervaluing The Creative Sauce?

Are there dangerous, long-term costs to such price-slashing? Maybe.

We live in a world where art and creative craft is already suffering in terms of value: can’t get funding for arts, libraries are closing, more and more you see pleas for free writing, free artwork, free this, free that. By pricing low, are we just keeping up with the realities (maybe), or are we contributing to the long-term erosion of what creative stuff is worth? Again, you price low, you have to stay low. Do we set a new low watermark for What The Written Word Is Worth?

Hell, maybe we’re just over-entertained. Maybe we have too easy access to entertainment — so much is available to us now that the competition is at an all-time-high for our (increasingly unstable) attention spans. Low price combats that and keeps smaller authors competitive, which is a good thing (in theory). And it makes it likelier that someone will take a risk on you — also not a bad thing.

In the short term, the low prices seem like a good thing. I just don’t know if we’re playing the short game without thinking of the long con. I genuinely don’t know — I’m pondering. Asking, but not answering.

Curious to get your thoughts. I recognize that this post is a muddy, mumbly “me talking out loud” post, but hopefully it spurs a little thought in that direction.

What is creative material worth to you?

What is it worth if you know and love the author (or band, or filmmaker, or game designer)?

What is it worth if it’s an unknown quantity?

23 responses to “The True Cost Of Today’s Price?”

  1. I don’t know. My fear is that you’ve hit it on the head with over-entertainment. Between the speed of modern life and the total prevalence of time-sucking joys ranging from Twitter and Terrible Minds through to Angry Birds and Warcraft, it seems to me that every entertainment medium is crashing. Except the Internet.

    Times are tough financially too, with no visible blue sky in the medium term. It agonises me to say it… but I’m scared that we’ve been out-competed.

    Maybe writing is going to go join poetry, role-playing games and chess as another old-school entertainment source that’s available at artisan levels, for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts. There may not _be_ a long game any more.

    I know, I know, Harry Potter, Twilight, Dan Brown, gazillions of eBook authors. But when civilisations (and sections thereof) collapse, they don’t go from the top or the bottom. They go rotten in the middle until they’re so weak that the whole thing implodes. The heart of the writing industry, the mid-list, barely exists any more. Every agent and publisher I know — that’s lots, by the way — is running around like a headless chicken, desperately clinging to the most pathetic celebrity skirts they can find to try to add some theoretical “sales power”.

    From the inside, it looks like our industry is dying.

    So perhaps the question ought to be about what can we turn our hands to that isn’t about to die under our feet. Man. I’m cheery today.

    • @Tim:

      I think you might be right, or at least half-right. I think books will remain great R&D for Hollywood, and I think the culture of blockbuster that dominates film will further dominate books — so, we will forever have a “winner’s circle” of Big Entertainment, and a whole lotta bottom-feeders.

      Then again, maybe instead we can see that through an optimistic lens: maybe e-books and cheaper books will let more people become authors — and, more importantly, survivable authors (in terms of finances).

      I will say, I don’t think the celebrity trend (in books) is

      a) bad
      b) new

      But, that may be chaff for another post. 🙂

      — c.

  2. This is a tricky one, as you already know. I am part of that generation where everything I wanted online was for free. I have yet to pay for an App or an MP3 and the idea of doing so makes me uncomfortable, even if it’s just for .99 cents.

    Funny thing is, I have spend money on music CDs simply because I wanted it in my hands at that moment and be able to play it in my car. I haven’t caught on the e-books madness yet, and still buy them hard copy. But I would think twice for buying an audio book when I can most likely find the download online for free.

    I’d pay ridiculous prices to see a movie in the movie theater, but if it’s not playing in my town or I want to see it NOW, I will download it for free.

    So I think I all comes down with the DESIRE. If I really want something and I’m pushed into a corner, I may go either way in buying or stealing. That desire and the knowledge of how and what price it costs to obtain what you desire is key. If I saw a book I really wanted, but not so much, only on hardcover, I’d wait till it comes out in paperback. If it was something I KNOW I’d love, I’d pre-order the hardcover regardless of price.

    I think it comes down to the artist creating that desire in the audience. That OR limiting the access of the product. If you can only get something from one format, at one price, I’m forced to open my checkbook.

    I think we give too much for free, and at the same time I think we need to promise and show the high quality of our product. Somehow, someway, artists need to convince the audience that it’s worth the price. But I also agree that the worth is in the price.

    If it’s too low, people will see it as the value as low (but true the risk is less). If it the cost is high and the reputation is there, then the value is high.

    I think the creator needs to decide what is the worth of their creation, put their price, and then fight as hell to convince others that it’s worth that price and that they NEED to buy it. NOW.

    • @Amber:

      I think the creator needs to decide what is the worth of their creation, put their price, and then fight as hell to convince others that it’s worth that price and that they NEED to buy it. NOW.

      I do like this attitude in theory. Not sure how it works in practice, but it is a nice call for the author to value and respect her worth enough to put a real price tag on it come hell or high water.

      — c.

  3. I have often said that when given a choice, I will go the cheapskate route: buy books and CDs used, use a library, that sort of thing.

    That said, I will pay for the good stuff. I will pay for a hardcover Stross, Vinge, Rankin and what have you. I will collect a comic book series I like. And despite my best efforts, despite getting constantly burned on it, I will walk into a high street bookstore every month or so and drop top dollar (well, zloty) for something unknown, be it a book or CD.

    And yes, I do think they’re charging us too little on the e-book front. I mean, I do not read e-books, but I think anybody who drops n-hundred dollars on a shiny piece of plastic and then complains about how he would have to buy n-tens of e-book to break even when compared to buying real books should really not be in this game for frugality.

    I will continue to buy, rent and re-buy books, films and music. It will be fit to my budget. The pricing on the new stuff will only affect how big of a percentage my purchases will be new and I hope that publishers just find that sweet spot.

    And regarding the mid-list (@Tim): maybe publishers need to focus on their own brand recognition and not the author’s ? Here in Poland, there are book series (imprints? I dunno) which I will check out whenever I have the opportunity, as they have a high chance of being good despite me never having heard of the author.

    • @Marek:

      Agreed to a point about brand recognition. A good thing to have. (Though, as an author, my preference is that the recognition lives with the author — authors, after all, switch publishers sometimes, or write for multiple pubs.)

      That said, you look at a publisher like ANGRY ROBOT, they’re carving out a niche where I see one of their books, I have trust in the brand even if I haven’t heard of the author. So too with TYRUS BOOKS.

      — c.

  4. OT: On the downside, if you stick your dick in a mysterious hole it might get ripped off by rabid weasels. On the bright side, there’s always the glorious possibility it will get sucked.

  5. Hmmm.

    Readers will pay me $40 or so a pop if they love my work.

    Before readers love my work, they need to read it (as I am not of the Kardashisnooki tribe).

    I have to make taking a chance on my work an easy decision for readers.

    On the ‘first taste is (almost) free’ principle, this would suggest pricing my work low (and hoping like hell my stuff is as cracktastic as my mommy says it is).


    If I price my work too high, readers will ask who I think I am (as I am not of the McCammondale tribe, either) and give it a pass for an established author they know they like.

    If I price my work too low, readers might question its quality.

    This is the point where I go grab the Tylenol. If I’d known writing had a math requirement . . . nah, I’m hooked anyway.

  6. @Chuck: I’m also thinking about your comment on how e-books may let more people become authors and how it relates to… I don’t think I can put it any better… language economy.

    Some time ago, I was looking into finding webcomics in German. I like webcomics and I had trouble keeping up with my German, so I thought one would help me preserve the language.

    I found most German webcomics have a dedicated English translation.

    German has 101 million native speakers. Plus 80 second language speakers. In Internet terms, that market is too small. The webcomic artists felt that to break even, they needed English.

    I’m in a similar situation. The webcomic I translate, Tineya, is available only in English. The whole website is in English. It’s written by Poles only, yet the only material that makes it outside is the one that Karol sends me to translate. Because Karol ran the math and decided that hosting two versions would be over budget and chose to host the one with more potential clients.

    I am afraid this will happen with e-books: only English-speaking authors will be able to make it.

    As for the translation route: forget it. Quality translation will probably be too costly for “app-pricing” as good translators will get much better rates for technical translations.

  7. I generally won’t pay more than $5 for anything. In fact, last year, I only found the best book I read–Richard Kadrey’s “Sandman Slim”–because his publisher released it for free for about a month. And it was awesome.

    So awesome, I went to find the book’s sequel, “Kill The Dead.” $10.99.

    I balked. I hate that books are ever more than $5, and they want more than $10?

    In the end, I paid it, but only because I realized I could justify it by noting I got the first one for free. So I really only paid $5 per book. And then I found his “Butcher Bird” online for free, so I basically got 3 books for $10. And that’s okay.

    I think the problem with the pricing system is how much the author would get. I can’t imagine an author gets more than a buck or two from a $10 ebook published by a corporate house, and I suspect they receive quite a bit less. Amazon gets 30%, which leaves $7 to the publisher, who appears to be charging readers to keep a gate they let Snooki through.

    For an author I love, I don’t buy ebooks, mostly. I want their signed hardcovers if I can get them.

  8. As a publisher, I’m stuck looking at the market (more or less). DTRPG’s statement was definitely interesting in that regard. Ultimately I want to figure out whe the anchor is, and the price just a little under that, in a game of minmaxing both the customer perception of getting a deal and the valuation of the work at as high of a pricepoint as the market can bear.

  9. It’s balance and it’s risk. For those of us unknowns, throwing it down for cheap and building an audience makes sense. Most of us will not win the bestseller lottery, and we wouldn’t have even before the digital dilemma. I think people putting up retched crap is more likely to devalue creativity than not asking for enough money.

    There was a local band I saw the first time for free. A year later, not only am I more than willing to pay for their shows, I drove 900 miles to see them play in Hamilton, Montana. I’m also more willing to pay to watch other bands.

    We can develop people’s desire for our work and teach them to pay for it.

    Look at how many people got used to buying bottled tap water.

    • It’s tricky. You look at, say, mall Chinese food, it’s $7-10 for a half-an-hour’s worth of mediocre eating. But now people balk at paying an equivalent amount for an e-book, which provides you with far more hours (and probably nutrition, at least if you decided to chow down on your Kindle) than that rancid egg roll you should stuffed into your gluttonous craw.

      We lament that publishers don’t take risks, we mourn the loss of mid-list writers, we wail and gnash our teeth at the fact that good people in the industry just don’t plain have jobs anymore…

      And then we bitch that we don’t want to pay six bucks for a book that cost more ten years ago.

      Are we becoming greedy consumers?

      Or are we just being prudent?

      It’s an issue outside the publisher — the publisher will need to account for the motivations (and even the sins) of the consumer.

      — c.

  10. This is a huge struggle for publishers, and something i’ve been dealing with a lot lately. It ain’t just self-pubs, it’s small presses, too, who are struggling to compete.

    I really believe we’re undervaluing creative work, and the “free is best” culture is gonna destroy creativity. Demanding to get work for free, “because you’ll make it up with events and stuff,” well, that works fine for musicians – SOMETIMES – but it does jack shit for writers. Because unless you’re Stephen King, ain’t nobody gonna pay $20 to hear you talk, dude. So giving away your writing, unless it’s a short story as a promo, will mean you never get paid for your creativity.

    I look at 99c novels the same way. Unless you can bang those suckers out 1-2-3 and don’t give a shit about paying for good editing and covers and layout, you’re never gonna make a buck on it. Well, okay, if you get lucky and sell a million copies at 99c a pop, you will, but how often does that REALLY happen?

    It’s all about finding the sweet spot. I started out pricing my company’s books at $10 – it’s a fairly standard price in the industry, although self-pubs and some indie eBook publishers go much cheaper – figuring that I could break even with fewer sales, send more money to the writer with each sale, and could always lower the price if necessary.

    I’m starting to think it’s necessary. I’m contemplating a permanent move to $4.99 or $5.99 for eBooks, with prices of serial subscriptions to be determined, in the hopes that volume will make up for lost revenue. Again, though, you NEED the volume to pull this off.

    In my personal life, I’m with you – I’ve been dragged down into the mucky depths of devalued creative work, and I’m loathe to take a risk on an eBook that costs more than about $5. But I also know that authors gotta eat. So it’s a tricky balance.

    Mostly, I just worry that this rush to “app pricing” is going to dick over authors and other creative types, and lead to a glut of crappy content – cheap stuff that READS cheap because no one’s spending the money on good editing or good covers or good interior design, but hey, who cares if I can read my trashy shiny-vampire-werewolf-nymphomaniacs novel for 99c, right? It could get to the point where actual quality eBooks can’t compete, because you’ll never make back what you put in, and it’s not worth the author’s time to actually write and rewrite quality work for the measly few cents you get off an “app priced” novel.

  11. I’m going to talk out of my ass here. I paid for the operation, and I’m damn well going to use my new posterior vocalizer as much as possible.

    When it comes to eCommerce, you charge what the market will support. For example, I would spend up to $4.50 for an eBook from an author I didn’t trust. It all comes down to those things you already listed. There’s no paper, no shipping, and I really shouldn’t care about the cover because it’s just another roadblock click between me and my precious word food. (Although, I do understand that the cover is super important important on the marketing end).

    Why $4.50?

    It’s less than $5, which means I wouldn’t miss it. It’s also not that fake $X.95 bullshit that drives me insane. $4.50 is noble, and honest about being $4.50. It doesn’t want to be $5 and I can respect that.

    The other thing that $4.50 allows you to do is lower the price to $3.00 later and call it a “sale.” Sales allow you to reintroduce your material to a market who may not have seen it the first time, and it gives you an excuse to push it again. Eventually, when the market slows, you can settle on $3 as your standard price. At that point, you put it in the retirement home and start living off of its measly social security stipends. By that time though, you’re already in love with another project, so that $3 work horse is just floating out there for beer & pretzel money.

    My point is, start high, be honest, and bring it down later when your marketing needs a boost. Since it’s an eBook, you don’t have to manually change the price-tag stickers on a million copies.

  12. One: I think I need to produce business cards with “The Mighty Gareth-Michael Skarka, Shepherd of Adamant Entertainment.”

    Two: Arguments about devaluation of creative output are all well and good, but for me, they got left dead and broken on the roadside as I drove away in the sleek hot-rod of the following numbers:

    Average digital sales per month, regularly priced: $2660.
    Average digital sales per month, “app-priced” (less than $2/unit): $4733.

    …and those are the averages over the past 6 years of sales data I have. The reason why I’m doing this experiment is to answer my only remaining question: is it sustainable, or are those results temporary sale-based behavior?

  13. Chuck, it’s interesting to me that you write about this topic on the same day I did, but it being fresh news, I’m not really surprised.

    I don’t know if 2.99 really is the sweet spot for fiction on kindle, but I don’t think the prices the big publishers currently want are any closer to right for it. Discussing it with others who aren’t in the business itself, it seems anything up to 4.99 may be viewed as acceptable depending on personal value. My research is by no means rigorous, but the logic behind that potential price anchor is pretty strong, considering five dollars is a ‘throw away’ level of money for most people. I don’t know, until I’ve polished a book or game to publishable quality, all I have is models.

    Gareth: That’s a pretty amazing jump. Not having bought anything from Adamant, what is your ‘regular’ pricing? And the other question is, do you plan on publishing the results of your experiment, or you plan on keeping that a trade secret?

  14. 2.99 seems a good price. Having just got into downloading books to my iPhone, that would make me press the buy button without having to think too much: hell it’s not that much money. Then I was looking at a Peter Straub novel which was going for 9.99, which I thought: I’m not paying that!!! End of the day you should charge as much as you can get away with (you deserve it). Okay so there might be publishers undercutting you but then there’s self-publisher’s giving their stuff away free. I’m not sure it’s worth banging your head against the wall and I think you could probably squeeze it a little bit more and hit 3.99. You can always bring the price down.

    Anyway, another great article.

  15. I just got a Kindle, as a Christmas gift. I like it a lot more than I expected I would.

    So, I’m willing to pay up to $10 a book on it. Anything over that (say for a favored author of dick-to-hole quality) I’ll buy in hard copy. My limit is material – I am not spending more than ten dollars for a book I can’t keep and hold and run my fingers down the pages. If they want to charge me more money, I want the benefits of the scent of paper and knowing that it will survive the impending nuclear zombie apocalypse.

    Thing is, when I bought hard copies of books, I’d pay $7-15 for paperbacks. I find it hard to accept that I should pay higher prices for less product, that uses fewer resources on their end.

  16. As long as I have a #stupiddayjob that pays well enough and can afford to, I will continue to do the following in terms of entertainment:

    A) Buy books from authors I like or want to support new (and from independent bookstores when possible, even if I have to wait longer). New might be hardcover, trade paperback, or mass market paperback, but usually either of the first two as I hate holding MMPBs.

    B) Buy books by unknown people and dead people as used books (and will try to get them from local indie used shops when available). If I like the live person’s stuff, he/she might get moved up to category A next time around. Dead people usually get bought used. (Prices can range from $.99 to $35.) I started using Alibris for stuff I can’t find locally because I’m trying to avoid Amazon when possible.

    C) Buy music from artists I like or want to support either as a CD through their independent site or through iTunes. (Local peeps tend to sell their wares at shows or through the local record shop and I pick up their stuff that way.)

    D) Buy music from unknown people either through iTunes (a few songs at a time) or from my favorite local used from the local record shop. If I like it, it gets moved up to category C. (Prices generally range from $3-8.)

    E) I only seem to see movies at work.

    F) Despite paying stupid sums for cable (so Hubby can watch sports), I mostly seem to watch TV online either free though the channel’s website or downloaded (SD) from iTunes.

  17. i’ve been reading your blog for a few months and your writing consistently makes me laugh out loud and provides great insights. Your perjorative imagery is priceless, and like cunt, i don’t throw that word around loosely. I’ve no aspirations to write or publish fiction, but my life has been filled with reading and as an adult, writers, published and un-. I don’t know your writing beyond this blog. Due to budget, I shop thrift stores regularly and feed most media needs cut-rate. Last year I bought a new poetry book by an online acquaintance, and my next budgeted purchase will be by Catherynne M. Valente, because of her fabulous bloggery including descriptions of her works and the lives of her works. Which leads me to my first reaction to your post and the first several comments. What are the “lives” of your works, of the stories in this collection? Literature that becomes known widely, and even canonical, becomes so because enough people involve their minds with the product, allow it to not only flow through but stick some. And some of those people will be other creative people and if your characters and plots and style and particular placement of one comma spark one or some or enough of them, your creation might be the illustrated series in the print newspaper(19th cent), or might be the book made into the movie (20th); or it might be talked about quietly for decades amongst people in the know about ‘real’ literature with nary a slash site. Which leads me (like all good trails) to the booty…If you’re confident your stories have lives and deserve spawnage then use this opportunity to bring out the testtube to speed up the dna…If you’d take 2.99 for your book, consider how much more you’d be willing to charge in exchange for extra content. Do you know someone who could professionally create a video and can you convince a band known by more than 1000 people to let you use their music for the book trailer, maybe even a band you’ve loved and spent money on (way easier than you think in these post-label days)? Is it cheaping out to offer an artist a quarter a copy to page illustrate one of the stories, and how much of this can you offer at 3.99, because adding three or four additional derivations, visual or textual, is worth a dollar to me? Of course, this relies on the quality of your stories to spark interest and involvement, and while providing a small money stream to those making quarters, it also pulls their fans into your wordstrom. I might be off on the economics of this, and don’t know the extent of your current creative network of allies (a writer’s ability to capitalize this way is enhanced by reading your “Why Your Novel Won’t Get Published” post, esp. #5, and applying to other areas o’ life). Good luck with it and I’ll definitely keep reading here and I’ll purchase your book however it may appear. wes

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