Unless you’ve spent your entire life on another planet, you can’t fail to be aware of the digital explosion that rocked the publishing world. Readers are now snowed under with choice, from free books to cheap books, and our ebooks have given readers the upper hand.
Everyone who wants to, can publish a book now, and with so many doing it, competition is fierce. In order to get sales, authors must think carefully when pricing their ebooks, and many resort to giving them away for free, or pricing them at 99 cents. If you price them too much higher, you won’t make sales unless you’re already very famous. There is much debate about pricing among authors, with some feeling that if you price them too low, readers will think your work is no good. The general consensus among authors is that the ‘magic price’ is between $1.99 and $3.00. This is of course, just the opinion of authors, based on sales.
I think that readers know full well that authors want to get noticed, and if they hold out long enough, you will eventually give your books away free, or set the price at the minimum 99 cents. They aren’t stupid, and they want things as cheap as possible (who doesn’t), so they just won’t buy if they’re higher than a dollar or so. I had one gal message me on facebook to tell me “let me know when you’re giving it away free and I’ll download it.”
This is soul destroying, for me anyway. It seems that whichever way I go, I’m fucked. If I give them away free, I make no money, but if I set them for actual money, I make no money either. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
This is one of the many downsides of the digital publishing revolution, and one that I can’t fathom how to change. The only way out of this dark hole, is to have a lot of money to pay a PR company to market your work for you and get you quality visibility and make you into a celebrity. I don’t have the money, hell I don’t have any money so that’s out of the question.
One of the other problems resulting from the digital publishing explosion, is the quality of work being put out. I personally choose to hope that within a few years, the bubble will burst and the majority of those self publishing what is quite frankly, crap, will decide to get a different hobby, allowing the rest of us to get some sunshine at last. All we have to do is hold out until that happens, and then breathe a sigh of relief.
The traditional publishing houses are struggling. This has become clear by the number of big publishing houses making the jump into vanity publishing to try to attract more customers. The problem with traditional publishing houses, is that they haven’t changed the way they operate. They still make it almost impossible for authors to even get their manuscripts read, let alone accepted. Most are just thrown on the slush pile unread. They still refuse to accept sci fi/fantasy or horror, despite sci fi/fantasy being the most popular genre, and they’re still trying to maintain the charade that being traditionally published is the only way to be a ‘proper’ author.
I still see authors who openly believe this to be true, and those folks are the trad houses’ unpaid PR guys. Readers don’t care who published the book they’re reading, and most probably don’t even know anyway. All readers care about is getting the book preferably for free, or at the most, $1 or so. The readers have the upper hand now, and they know it. They are using their power to get what they want, for as little as possible, and killing us in the process.
I hope that they bring about the bubble burst that I still hope to see in a few year’s time.