One of the biggest struggles I’ve had as an indie author is switching caps between my Writer Self and my Business Self.
For me, my Writer Self is the one who loves writing, creating, imagining, and dreaming. I’d rather focus on the fun stuff – the craft of writing, if you will. It’s why I do this in the first place.
However, my Business Self is what needs to kick in when it comes time to actually sell books. “Sales” can seem like a bit of a curse word to people who are focused on their craft, but it’s something we all need to learn if we’re to achieve that ever-distant dream of supporting ourselves with our craft.
Making Good Art should definitely be a focus. You won’t feel proud selling it if it isn’t good. But, if you have generated a quality piece of work, applying some business sense to the mix will do wonders for you. And some of that business sense means knowing your value, i.e. knowing what to charge.
One of the top mantras you’ll hear in most business models is as follows: Don’t Compete On Price. What does that mean? Don’t try to always have the cheapest product. Cheap products attract bargain shoppers. While we can all understand shopping on a budget, luxury and entertainment purveyors (which includes authors) don’t make a living by marketing to people who claim they can’t afford certain products.
The problem with offering the cheapest product is that it’s possible to eventually get priced out of the market. If your goal is to actually make some money, it’s a lot harder on 99 cent eBooks at a 35% royalty rate than on something more reasonable, and more reflective of your time, effort, and talent.
My Writer Self balks at that lesson. I want to share my craft, and be accessible, and frankly, I feel very hurt when critics suggest my price is too high. I struggle between wanting to be an artist and wanting to support myself doing what I love.
Here’s the thing: you can experiment with pricing. You can have promotions to offer people more opportunities to buy your book, and you can optimize your pricing to find the best range for your target readership. But, don’t feel like you must impoverish yourself for the sake of your art. You have a dream, and your dream is valid.
You may get the occasional nay-sayer, who leaves you a bad review without ever even reading your book, merely to complain, “This isn’t worth the $2.99 price tag! You should price your book at 99 cents!” This type of review says more about the bitter, haughty reviewer than it does about you. Other, more reasonable people recognize that. Don’t get sucked into the price wars that do a disservice to you, your readers, and your fellow authors.
And, really, here’s what’s at issue: is a 2 dollar price difference really that substantial when it comes to buying a book? The effect of 2 dollars on a single reader’s pocket book isn’t huge; but the cumulative effect it has for you as an author who wants to be in the business of writing is game-changing. On Amazon, it’s the difference between 35% and 70%, and being that much closer to your dream of supporting yourself with your writing.
You work hard to turn your dreams into reality, and it takes strength to share your writing with the world and to be vulnerable to other people’s comments and criticisms. When you deliver a quality product, you deserve to have it recognized, and to have pricing that reflects that. For the readers who love you, it isn’t about price, but about delivering the best work you possibly can to them.
My new dystopian young adult book, Remnants, is available on Amazon Kindle for the reasonable price of $2.99. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think!