Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday Morning Updates: Alpha Men Gone Awry, Shopping In The Bargain Basement, and Zombies In Love

Happy Tuesday Morning!

Here are updates....

1.) I decided to start a "bearded hero" shelf at Goodreads! As I compiled my list, I realized that Lora Leigh's classic book Wild Card has a bearded hero. (The heroine keeps getting tell-tale beard burn! hee hee). Lora Leigh is a master at creating alpha heroes gone awry. And the women they love. And call "Baby".....way too many times. And then insist that the path to true love is "through the back door." I am laughing my way through the book! Baby!

2.) There is an interesting post and discussion going on at Bob Mayer's blog about pricing e-books. As I watch the pricing for books fall...from $18? for hard-covers, to $5-$8 for paperbacks, to under $5 for e-books, to $3, then $2, then $1, then .99, I wonder......how low will we go? .25? a nickel? a penny? There is no going backwards now. Readers will not accept $10 for a book price. We have created "monsters" of our own making....readers with the expectations that books aren't worth a buck.

I find this depressing as hell. Is there any other artist/inventor/film-maker, etc, who toils away for years and years, puts blood, sweat and tears into creating something, and the final product is worth....

99 freakin' cents. Not even a buck.

I don't think so.

Yeah, I know, if you sell a million copies (who's selling a million copies?), then suddenly your life's work has more value. But still.

For self-pubbers, this whole thing may be a gold-mine. But for those who choose traditional publishing paths, it's going to become a nightmare. There is simply no way the traditional publishing industry can support agents, editors, publishers, booksellers, and authors, with books that cost .99.

Good luck with that.

ETA: Gotta love Twitter. I just found my long-lost-twin-on-the-same-page-as-I-am-about-this-stuff...Andrew Shaffer. Here is a link to his blog post.... How Much Is Your Time Worth?

3.) I am fervently hoping and praying that the zombie/romance thing goes away soon. I cannot imagine a less complementary pairing of genres. For God's sake, there is nothing remotely romantic about body parts falling off and consuming human flesh. Who came up with this lam-o idea? Zombie romance, be gone!

Hope everyone is having a good start to the week. Happy March 1st! I am about to dive into another ARC by Meg Maguire. Yee haw!

Love yinz,


KT Grant said...

It seems the best selling self-pubbed or epubbed books at Amazone are between. 99 cents- $2.99. Perhaps anyone is willing to read anything for under a $1?

I believe if you price your book at 99 cents for a few months and then increase it to $2.99, you can sell well.

I'm willing to buy an ebook for under $5. I think that's pretty reasonable and the traditional published need to realize this and stop pricing their ebooks at $10 and up. Readers just won't pay that much and they'll lose sells.

Penny Watson said...

Hi KB! It seems like readers are getting in a bargain-basement shopping frenzy. They will buy anything for under a dollar, even books that aren't great. They feel like they are getting such a good deal, it doesn't matter if the quality of the book is sub-par. That's depressing, too.

The flip side (as you mentioned) is equally bizarre. The publishers pricing books way above normal paperback prices. $12-$14 for an ebook is excessive. I guess they all want their "cut" but readers are not going to purchase these books. It's almost like the publishers are pushing the readers to pirate sites. Why spend 20 bucks, when you can get it for free?

Sigh. I need some chocolate.

KT Grant said...

As long as authors are making money, what does it matter if their books maybe lacking? Especially priced at 99 cents?

I'm thinking of self-publishing by the end of the year and the whole pricing thing is one I'm thinking about a lot.

Penny Watson said...

I am a big supporter of self-publishing. I am also a big supporter of the romance industry as a whole. My concern is that I see a new trend where readers are more concerned about "getting a deal" than reading great stories. In fact, I have seen authors get bad ratings at Amazon, because their books were priced too high! Readers pissed off because of the price of the book, which has nothing to do with the quality of the author's work (which is obviously what the rating should be about).

I think this trend in setting a book price at under a buck is going to bite us all in the arse. I hope I'm wrong. But I've got a bad, bad feeling about it....

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Oh Penny my love, Zombie romance. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Zombies are for killin' - that's all they're good for!
I'm going to check out your twin. See how much he looks like you. Does he have a beard?
Agency pricing is going up - get ready, but self-pubbed authors are raking it in, regardless of quality, because people don't care what they do with a buck, at least not yet.
LL does do that - she has a legion of fans who love it, baby!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Julia! Yes, the zombie thing has got to go. Ugh. And yes, LL has big time fans. I get a kick out of her stuff...but mostly for laughs. They are way too over the top for me.

As to the publishing dilemma....here is my analogy for the whole thing. Folks used to get a $10 meal and the food was good quality. They were fine with it. Then, some folks started offering .99 "happy meals"....fast food that was cheap and crappy. Folks loved that they were getting a "deal" so they started eating fast food all the time. Now, getting a $10 high quality meal is only for special occasions. No one is willing to dish out the bucks for that on a consistent basis, because they are all addicted to junk food.


Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Penelope, after what I've read on that Amazon top 100 list - I don't know how anyone could get addicted. Heroine, yeah, I could see that, but this is more like ingesting rat poison.

JenM said...

Here's a reader's perspective for you on the pricing. I have no objection to paying more for a book, the problem is that when the author is unknown, and hasn't gone through the "gatekeepers", ie, publishing houses, I'm really taking a chance when I buy a book from them, therefore, it's got to be cheap (my limit is $3.99). I've read numerous Indie books that were crying out for an editor, full of typos, etc. and I've learned not to spend much money on them.

On the other hand, if I know the author, I'm much more willing to pay more. Tina Folsom is a perfect example of this. I bought her first Scanguards vampire book solely because the blurb intrigued me and I figured that since it was only a buck, it didn't matter if it was bad. The book was much better than I expected and I've since read three others by her, all of them good. I'm perfectly willing now to spend $5 or $6 on her books, even though she's an Indie author.

I guess my point is that I think the best pricing strategy, especially if you are relatively unknown, is to price one of your books (either your best one, or the one with the widest appeal) at $0.99. Once you hook readers with it, they will buy your others at a higher price. It's the loss leader theory in action.

JenM said...

Oh, and zombies? Not happening for this reader. They are just gross. I did just read Married With Zombies and it was quite entertaining, but the zombies were there to be killed, not as a love interest.

Lindsay said...

Zombie love? Wow even my husband hasn't recommended going that far.

Pricing. Ugg and Eek all rolled up into one ball. I've been following JA Konrath's blog for awhile. Don't agree with all of it but most of it, yes. $2.99 isn't under-valuing your book but it is also something that people can afford.

We've had to get so thrifty that to purchase a new paper back book is a big discussion and only a few prized authors slip in as auto-buys. Instead we go to libraries and used book stores where my $7-$10 goes much further. It also makes it easier to try new authors if at least one of their e-books is priced below $3.

An example of how the lower pricing helps is the art that my husband sells on etsy. The pieces that he makes are worth $60 once time and materials are added in but he wasn't selling any. I told him to try making difference sizes and cutting the price in half. He's now sold over $300 worth of items and he doesn't care that they were sold at half the price that he wanted them to be. He is just happy to be making money off of something that he loves to do. It is all about perspective and deciding that is important to each individual.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Jen! Would you pay $18 for an ebook? I just saw one priced that high. Even for a well-beloved author? I wouldn't. Over $10 is too freakin' much money....most people are reluctant to buy the hardcovers of their fav authors, for God's sake. What the hades are these publishers thinking???? I personally think .99 is too low, $15+ is way too high.

And I understand where you are coming from about newbie authors. For most of them, folks are spending the .99, not impressed with the book, and won't buy their stuff again.

Penny Watson said...

Lindsay...your husband has a good attitude! I think you are right that everyone has his/her own comfort zone about this pricing thing. I am comfortable up to $7....I think $3 seems like a great deal. I also think shorter books should be priced less. I saw one recently that was $8 and I didn't think a "novella" length ebook should be that high.

Lindsay said...

Penny-I agree about the novella problem that seems to be out there. I'm not against short books but I hate it when they don't tell you. I'm fine with $3-$5 but when I get it and find out that it is only half the length that I was expecting it doesn't sit well with me. Just tell me what I'm buying before you've got my money, right?

JenM said...

I won't pay $18 for any book, let alone an ebook unless it's some kind of specialized textbook or something. I have a hard time even going up to $10. Unfortunately, I think I'm about to break my budget for River Marked by Patricia Briggs. I just can't wait. The ebook is $12.99 but I want it so badly that I'm going to get it anyway.

I agree though, that $0.99 is too low for the most part, except as a loss leader. I think between $3-$6 for ebooks is just about right. As for novellas, nothing irritates me more than the pricing on them. After being burned a few times, I learned to check the file length - that Amazon posts on the book's Kindle listing. There are exceptions, but basically anything under 200 Kb is what I would consider novella length and I judge the price accordingly.

Amber said...

The whole reason the mass market paperback was invented was to get the books into the hands of the masses at a cheaper price than hardcovers.

I see ebooks as the new mass market. But, unlike the print books, the format comes with some serious problems that reduce its value for consumers (DRM, lack of resale, lack of returns).

I think the online book community may be more price sensitive than those just now getting into digital reading. Mass markets haven't been discounted outside of Walmart, Target or Costco in years. My mom (to use an example) paid Agency prices to get the old Carpathians by Feehan on her Kindle. She didn't bat an eye. People like bargains, but I don't think the "majority" of readers have any real expectation of rock bottom book prices.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Amber! The thing is, when you pay a lot more for a hard-cover, you feel like you're getting a lot more...a bigger, better quality book. An ebook is an ebook is an ebook. There is no way to defend pricing an ebook at $18....Time will tell as far as sales go. My prediction is that the publishers charging outrageous prices for digital books are going to have a big dip in sales. Let's see what happens!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

We love yinz too!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Nancy! I miss Pittsburgh! No one says yinz here. :(