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Sunday, March 11, 2012

More about Self-Publishing

The other day, I wrote a blog about Smashwords, and self-publishing in general. I wrote of the speed of delivery, the frustrations of formatting, and the challenge of self-marketing that comes with the decision to bypass the establishment of editors and agents. One of the most difficult facets of self-publishing is knowing how to price your work. Assessing the current market and going with the flow is the most popular method in E-book marketing. Genre is necessarily involved in this decision. Sometimes, mistakes are made because genre was left out of the equation.

English: Bongkoch Publishing booth Ver.2                  Is my book in there?Many authors have begun listing books for free, or for a low ninety-nine cent price. The rationale for doing so is based on competition, and supply and demand. An author writing a murder mystery is one among thousands of authors doing so. An author writing a series of murder mysteries, featuring a character that readers become attached to and want to follow, has the best options available with today's technology. For a prolific writer, the first installment of books will be offered at a low price, and the later books telling, as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story" can be priced higher, and then higher still. The number of books is increasing exponentially each month.

So, totally captivated by the stories of authors earning five figures in a week, selling thousands of books within hours of time, I decided to jump on the ninety-nine cent bandwagon, and lowered the price of my two Kindle books. And then I watched and waited, anticipating and willing the numbers to rise, and rise again. I forgot to consider the genre aspect of selling. But I decided to widen my books' audience, selecting with a single click "worldwide" for my market. I watched as the various prices instantly appeared on the seller's page, listed in pounds, in euros, in American dollars and in Canadian dollars, and in other currencies across Asia and  Europe.

But again, I'd forgotten to consider the genre. And, as a watched pot never boils, the sales numbers for my two books didn't rise to the occasion. I waited, but stopped watching. I checked in again several days later ... but found nothing to celebrate. And then it finally registered with me: books about American Public Schools, their changes over decades past, and their stories of sentiment and humor, were not going to attract the readers who were busily capturing the free and ninety-nine cent murder mysteries. They, it seemed, were the  prominent buyers.

It didn't feel good initially, lowering the price on work that I had spent years of my life completing and composing the reflections of change over time. And it didn't feel good seeing that low price next to the work, and next to my name. It diminished me, and the work. I finally realized that the books were not wrong, but the audience was different than the people my work might appeal to. Like a salt water fish dropped into a fresh water aquarium, my work could go nowhere in that price range.

It did feel good today when I entered higher, more relevant prices for my books, reflecting the quality I believe is held within their covers. I don't know that it will catch the eye of discerning readers, but it satisfies me to believe that, in a smaller pond with books of similar genre, my work stands a chance with discriminating buyers. And if they continue to sit with no notice, at least they are sitting in a dignified setting, collecting virtual dust beside other worthwhile books left unsought in the frenzy of free books.

As a reader, I too check the book's price right after the title and author's name. And I do collect the free titles, believing that one day I will have nothing new to read, and open my Kindle and pull out from the virtual storage cloud one of these bargains that had something of value that caught my wandering eye. When some of my books sell, perhaps I'll have discretionary funds to spend  on the books that wait on the shelf, patiently, with mine.

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  1. Great post! The reason I priced my first ebook at 99 cents had a bit more to do with length than it did about anything else. I did the free thing too, and it amounted to over 200 badly edited copies. I was given some help since and it's up to shape, but it will always bother me. My next book won't be priced that low. I'm amazed at how versatile you are my dear. You are the type of writer and person we can all learn from.

    1. Thanks, Madison! A teacher always, but a wanna-be-successful writer, too!


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