My wife belongs to several writing and reading groups on Facebook (as do I, of course) and she engages with many of them. She is constantly sharing with me the idiotic stuff some writers do and say.
Recently, there was a conversation on one group where an author was selling a 90 page book for $18, and my wife, Melissa, pointed out that this was a ridiculous price. The author balked, and said that Melissa cared more about the price per page than the quality of the writing.
My wife responded:
Melissa Walker : here’s what it’s about to me…Let’s say that you are offering your book on (this is only an example) your experiences hiking difficult trails. So I think to myself, that would be an interesting read and I’m going to check it out. So I go to Amazon and your book page and see that it is $15 for 100 pages, you have 5 basic reviews, and it’s ranked around 300 in the category. I click on the category and see the list of the top 100 in that category. The number 10 book is also about trail hiking, and it has 200 hundred decent reviews, is 250 pages and costs $8. Now, I really want to read a book about hiking. Tell me…why would I buy yours instead of the longer, more well reviewed, higher in the charts, less expensive book?
She continued in another comment after an exchange or two:
Melissa: Yes, books slip in ranking over time. It is also common that an author’s previously published works will see an upward swing when a new work is published and well-received. As far as a #1 ranking on Amazon is concerned, there are many factors in play. One thing I do look at is how the ranking corresponds to overall Amazon sales. In some genres and categories, an author can have a #1 ranking, but their overall Amazon “paid in Kindle store” ranking may only be in the 20,000+ zone. Which is still very good, of course, as most authors never reach even that.
In the genre in which my wife writes, hang on, I’ll look now – the #1 ranking book in the category is titled My Sister’s Lies, and is currently ranked at #154 in overall paid sales on Amazon. And that, is quite the feat. So, yes, a #1 spot in a category on Amazon can mean different things, but if someone suggests it means very little, it’s likely because their work hasn’t ever been there.
As someone who spends a crazy amount of time with authors, I will say that writing to a specific audience is fine, but will only get an author so far. Discerning readers can tell when something is written without passion, and the harder a person tries to write to a specific audience, the more their lack of passion will show. So, write what you love, what interests you, what brings your passion forth, and then market to an audience. Don’t market to an audience and then try to fit the story to the marketing. I would like to also point out that this post said to charge more than $10 for your book and people would buy it. I responded that I would not, and my reasoning behind it. I’ve only been in the business of beta reading, proofreading, editing, co-authorship, and being an author for 5 years. I am also married to a successful and prolific author, and know at least a hundred more on a personal basis.
One thing I find so truly uninspiring is the hubris of writers in always thinking their work is the most brilliant and original thing to be published. Which, by the way, is rarely if ever the case. Yes, authors should make more than they do. Most never see more than a few thousand over the sales lifetime of their book. I find that sad, as I know how much time and effort it takes to put work out there. But the fact of the matter is that your work is worth what people will pay for it. Some will pay a lot for their books. I’ve paid an obscene amount of money (according to everyone who knows me) for books and literature over the years, but I am also a conscientious consumer, and I have articulated, quite well I think, my personal reasons for that. I see something that interests me and I look into it.
As with your novella, the topic is of interest to me, but there are literally thousands of books in the same universe as yours that are also of interest to me, and I choose to spend my money on the ones that not only interest me, but give me the most for my money. A book that truly interests me…I read around 85-120 pages per hour. So as interesting as your novella sounds, there are other choices available to me that won’t cost me $17.49 for 45 minutes of my time.
I do wish you the best, and none of my comments have been made to, in any way, put you, your work, or your blood, sweat, and tears down. As a voracious reader and consumer of all things literature, I look for, and find, those works that fit my time and my willingness to pay for them.
I thought my wife made many cogent points, and I wonder why some Indie writers don’t seem to understand this concept. I believe their hubris is in the way of good business decisions. If you just want to write and you want people to read it, make it affordable, cheap, or free, and put it out there.
If you want to get rich as a writer, first, good luck with that, and second, you don’t do that by merely raising your prices and in your own mind, elevating yourself above everyone else, cutting out the majority of readers, and misunderstanding the concept of a ceiling on value.
I can say this as an Indie author, and knowing that Amazon does not pay us a fair amount per page. It’s the nature of the beast, and it seems there’s little we can do about it. Besides, being an Indie Author is not a path to riches. It is something you feel compelled to do, because it’s who you are.
If it’s money you’re after, you should choose a more lucrative vocation. Writers are just not normally held in such high regard that people are willing to (or even able to) shell out that much for books they want to read.
Reading is important, and I want to encourage more of it (I mean, look where we are, on the ignorance and misinformation and reasoning front!) and so I write my books, always try to educate as well as entertain, offer them at a reasonable price, and also for free in Kindle Unlimited, and I give away my books to anyone who asks. I have no illusions about making myself rich at it.
I wish more Indie Authors understood this.