All you voracious readers out there, will you pay a fair price for a book? All you professional writers out there, will you accept a fair return on your labour, say $50, 000 and upwards a year?
Yes from both. Alright, we have solved the publishing crisis.
Amazon says between $3 and $10 is a fair price for an ebook. It pays authors a generous 70% royalty if their book falls within that price range. Now, what Amazon is not saying, but most of us have guessed, is its fancy algorithms have declared those spots are sweet because they maximise the Big A’s profits. What’s good for Amazon is good for America – er, sorry, that should be good for readers and writers.
Professional writers do not produce ebooks only, but I predict that will soon come to pass for many, with a boutique print run for nostalgia. To make $50,000 a year, a professional would need to produce one ebook a year and sell about 20,000 copies at a price of $7. That is an estimate, taking into account taxation and costs such as production, design, editing, marketing.
A student of self-publishing such as Joe Konrath could present less rubbery figures than I have, but I am presenting them to make a point. It ain’t easy to sell 20,000 copies of a book, year in year out. It ain’t easy to produce a pristine book each year, either.
It is up to the reader to pay upwards of $7 for an ebook or condemn their favourite mid-list author to giving up in favour of stacking shelves at Walmart. I am not kidding here. A lot of writers have narrow skill sets, not to mention ingrained unsociable habits, though the latter is often exaggerated. One newspaper editor who tired of the pressure and long hours now drives a cab. Another mows lawns. A third went back to uni to become a teacher.
I priced my humour book 7 Shouts at 8.06. The explanation which follows is why I put the book graphic at the top of this piece (that and the forlorn hope you might buy a copy and post a generous review).
Smashwords’ Mark Coker has sold a lot more books than I have and he says the sweet spot is between $3-5. But I am pricing for the future when we have solved the publishing crisis and avid readers pay a price which can sustain the livelihood of a mid-lister.
My publishing hut Bent Banana Books priced Jane Sharp’s book of five short stories at $3.22. (The .22 is because I read somewhere double digits are attractive to consumers) Friends of mine, unfamiliar with the ebook price wars, said it was cheap. But plenty of novels are selling cheaper than that.
Tom Keneally, the author of Schindler’s List, once said he did not regard himself as a great writer. He described himself as a journeyman, cutting a path for the greats to walk on. Keneally was unduly modest but he was making an analogy pertinent to the mid-lister, creating the climate for the greats. In the past, some publishing houses recognised this and gave mid-listers advances which would never be recovered in sales. Those days are gone, all gone: the advances and the mid-listers themselves banished to self-publication or career change.
That is the challenge: whether you will pay $8.06 for my book. (I am thinking of dropping the price – to $8.05 – to see if that increases sales.
Buy My Shout at Amazon or Google.
I’ll introduce today’s video with a quote from Gore Vidal
American writers want to be not good but great; and so are neither.