Friday, May 23, 2014

I Can Get it For You Wholesale


I was trying to figure out the pricing for Everything I Know last week.

 

Mindful of my duty to keep up with trends and directions in my industry, I considered starting at a lower price point. It’s 28K novella and usually I would price that at $4.99, but I’ve been reading a lot about the magical $3.99 price point, so I thought…okay. Maybe. I’m dubious, but I’ll give it a try.

 

My personal experience has been that dropping my stories a dollar or two makes ZERO difference in sales. And I’ve had a lot of time and a lot of books with which to experiment and compare. Basically when I charge less, I make less. It’s that simple. It probably has to do with the fact that M/M is still -- you may or may not struggle with this concept -- a niche sub-genre of romance. So the hundreds of thousands of sales that a mainstream writer of romantic fiction might -- might -- get lucky and generate, won’t happen here. I dropped the first two Adrien books in price last month and they are selling EXACTLY what they sold before. I’m just earning less. I dropped some of my earlier titles last year. Same deal. They sell no better and they sell no worse. I am simply earning less. I plan to raise the price on all of them at the start of next month.

 

But I don’t like to go only by my own experiences. I do sincerely want to keep up with what’s happening in the rest of the publishing world. So I did some browsing around various romance reading sites and skimmed the usual debates. Although all the sales data indicates lower pricing isn’t working like it did, the people who comment on these sites are almost always the I WON’T PAY MORE THAN X $$$ AS A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE!!

 

Which…sure. Call it principle -- although I’ve yet to hear a coherent explanation of what that principle actually is. We’re all working within our budgets. I don’t want to gouge readers, but I feel I should be fairly recompensed for my work. Can any of us can claim a moral high ground based on a dollar value?

 

I tend to price my short stories a bit higher than a lot of writers. $2.99 is my starting point. A lot of writers give short stories away. This has created the notion that short fiction is a throwaway. And, in all honesty, a lot of short fiction IS throwaway. A lot of what writers now call “a short story” is actually flash fiction or vignettes or codas. Not really a short story at all. A short story actually demands quite a bit of skill and discipline. I'm not saying I'm O. Henry, I'm just saying I know what a short story is -- and that's what I try to write.

 

But just as we’re dealing with writers who don’t know what a short story is, we’re also dealing with readers who don’t know -- and don’t care -- what a short story is. Fair enough. We all like what we like.



The idea of charging based simply on word count -- stories by the pound! -- is an odd one for a number of reasons. But I’m not going to get into that. I can’t imagine by now we haven’t all heard these tiresome arguments. My feeling is…buy my book or don’t buy my book. I don’t think you should feel guilty for paying what you think the work is worth, and I don’t think I should feel guilty for charging what I think the work is worth. Fair?

 

But here’s why I charge what some consider a premium price for a short story. Those first five to ten thousand words are probably the hardest work an author puts into any story. All the characterization, all the setting, the conflict, the interpersonal dynamics…it all happens in those first few thousand words. However long the story may end up being, the first few thousand words generally determine whether it succeeds or not. This is why publishers and agents evaluate manuscripts based on the first few thousand words. The first few thousand words are the test of skill, of craft, of experience.

 

If you understand anything about the process of writing fiction, you understand this.

 

Now plenty of readers just prefer a longer, more complex story. A lot of readers don’t like short stories. Who doesn’t understand that? I certainly do. But that’s a different argument than trying to pretend it is a “matter of principle” to never pay more than a dollar per ten thousand words or whatever the equation is supposed to be.

 

From my perspective it makes a lot more sense to charge less for a larger work than to discount how much effort goes into those first few pages. I don’t dash off ten thousand words and then settle down to write the real story. The first ten thousand words are probably the most reworked and rewritten in the manuscript. And if the manuscript is only about ten thousand words, it’s all the more difficult because I've got to condense and cut and yet somehow tell a complete story in miniature.

 

See, a writer’s goal is actually to tell the story effectively in the fewest words possible. It isn’t the number of words that determines the value of a literary work. Any more than the number of brushstrokes determines the value of a painting.
 

 Anyway, Everything I Know will be $3.99 for the first week, but then, unless some amazing insight convinces me otherwise, I plan to kick it up to the normal $4.99 price point.

Oh! Lest that seems not nearly enough time to get around to buying a book, you can preorder through All Romance Ebooks or Smashwords.

    

 

118 comments:

  1. (I so want to respond to this and hopefully try number three will not be eaten by the www.)

    I think all readers should be "supportive" of their fav authors. And hopefully they recognize quality when they see it. God forbid prices should be set by the misers, just because they have "principles". Let them be stuck with badly written free on-line fiction then. Set the prices just as you want them ,Lanyon. I don't think you should be selling yourself short. You have a well known name and a small army of fans willing to promote your work and pay for it, too. Just keep it coming.

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    1. Thank you, Oceankitty. I think the basic price guideline originally set by Amazon made sense. $2.99 for short fiction and no fiction over $9.99. Their royalty structure is based on that, so you know a lot of market research and thought went into those price points.

      The blame for weakening them actually falls on self-pubbed authors and digital first publishers who accidentally turned promo pricing into a two-edged sword.

      You can manipulate prices only so far before readers begin to believe dirt cheap IS the normal and reasonable price.

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    2. By the way, I admire your persistence! THREE TIMES? I'd have given up. Thanks for posting that third time. ;-)

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  2. Hola, Josh:
    I do not think your books are expensive, in contrast, compared with the publishers who publish books in Spanish, I think they are very affordable. There are amateur writers who sell their books for 6 euros and certainly does not have the literary quality of yours.

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    1. Thank you, Minu. That's very kind. I'm actually on the low end of the pricing scale for longer works. I don't think I have anything out there more than $6.99.

      But knowing the time and effort that goes into a short story or the initial pages of anything else, I just can't see throwing that away like it's without value.

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  3. I think the "introductory offer" price is a good way to reward your fans and readers who are, sort of, waiting for the book's release. It's perfectly right to trust your own experiences - if there's no jump in sale, there's no point to lower the price.

    To be honest, I've never got "price shock" from your books, but I've noticed a few publishing houses (in the m/m genre) have higher price points for their books. I don't know their cost structure (maybe they spend more on cover design, editing, marketing?), I could only judge by how interested I am in reading that book. Or if I can wait for a sale to get books that I can take it or leave it. There is, of course, breaking price point that many readers simply won't accept. So ultimately, different situation for different authors (established or newbies) and publishers, as well as the work itself - a 8k word missing scenes - surely that is not the same as a new short story?

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    1. Okay, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who does this. Some writers are almost on auto-buy when I know a new title is coming out (at least they go to the top of my 'buy' list). I usually print out a title page of a book I'm uncertain about and then wait until I have points or something for a free read or it goes on sale. Gotta stick to that budget somehow.

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    2. Yes! I am all for rewarding loyal readers, which is why I give away so many books and so many audio books. It is my pleasure to treat the loyal reader. And I have always done short term promotions on various titles.

      But in all fairness, although I am price-wary on many things, books have never been one of them. I have two modes for buying the books I want: I am paying for it or I am saving up for it.

      I think western culture does increasingly discount and dismiss books as a thing of value. And maybe this makes sense when it seems like anyone can -- and does -- write a book.

      Maybe it has to do with the genre -- with romance itself. Do many readers secretly believe a romance novel is not worth much? I suspect there is something of that in there. It is certainly the view of society as a whole.

      I agree that an 8K missing scene is not the same as a short story -- and should be priced (or not priced) accordingly. The holiday codas for example. That's collection is over 100K of scenes and recipes for $4.99. And though I plan to add to the codas each year, I do not plan to raise the price on it. Because those are NOT actual short stories.

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    3. Christie, I am in complete agreement with the idea of a personal price line. This far and no further. Because you can only afford what you can afford to splurge on entertainment. That I get.

      I am the same.

      There are many things in this world I long for but cannot afford. It has nothing to do with the value of the object. I can't afford it.

      Heck, I can't afford to go to Costco right now! :-D

      My objection is to the sanctimonious opinions based on some as to an ether-set price point for what a book should cost.

      Give me a fucking break.

      It's one thing to say, I can't afford to spend more than X. It's entirely another to say NO BOOK SHOULD EVER COST MORE THAN X.

      Really?

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  4. When I consider the price of a book, I take several factors into consideration. I admit one is the length, but more importantly, I consider the author and how much I have been anticipating a book. If it is an author I really enjoy, and I have been waiting for a book, price is not a consideration. I do flinch sometimes when I push the button, but I know it is something I will enjoy and probably many times. If you don't have more sales by lowering a price, it is crazy to do it. It should indicate that price isn't a consideration when it comes to your work. Lowering your price for a few whiny people, won't change their opinions. It will just make them few justified. Screw 'em. They don't deserve to read you. You've mentioned many times the price of books is about the same as one of those fancy coffees people love to get. I will gladly forgo a coffee for one of your stories. It will last longer. Frankly, I was pissed on your behalf that Stranger on a Shore was so cheap. I've paid twice as much or more for a book I didn't enjoy near as well. I think you should charge a fair price that allows you to enjoy the life you've built. I love that you are able to write full time. It means more quality reading for me :)

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    1. No one should ever -- ever -- feel guilty for being careful and conscious about spending what he or she can afford to spend on entertainment.

      Fiction is not a necessity. It may feel like a necessity. I may wish it was a necessity. But it's not.

      The money we all spend on books (music, movies, video games, restaurants, etc..) is discretionary income. And fair enough if someone chooses not to spend more than X amount of dollars on a story.

      But please don't pretend that this is a decision driven by concepts of literary criticism or anything other than personal budget. Because I am calling bullshit. Anyone who knows anything about writing and literature and publishing is calling bullshit.

      Spend what you can afford or what you wish to spend. Do not pretend it is anything other than that.

      You are only fooling yourself.

      When I say "you," I don't mean YOU, Lori. I mean the readers who pretend to support a genre that in their heart of hearts they think is not worth the tissue paper it is not written on.

      I honestly have no problem with Carina's pricing because I use Carina (and Samhain and a couple of others) as discoverability tools. Carina will find me readers I don't currently have -- and they will do this through their pricing and marketing strategies. I can safely leave this to Carina.

      But I could not make a living if I was only publishing through digital first publishers (or, frankly, mainstream publishers). I can make a living because I control a healthy backlist. Without that, without this healthy and personally controlled backlist, I would still be working at my day job and putting out two or three stories a year.

      That's the brutal truth of publishing.

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  6. Wonderful comments, Josh, on the short story, and ANY story's first few thousand words. I've never balked at your pricing structure. It's always quality I'm paying for, and you never disappoint.

    What has stunned me, though, from the day of its release, is the ridiculously low price Amazon is selling Stranger on the Shore. And then they even lowered that! Unbelievable!

    Anyway, I absolutely agree, when you are in control of the pricing you must set it where it reflects what you think the work is worth.

    And as for you vs. O Henry, I'm pretty sure you could give him a run for his money. I know, I'm biased, so don't say it, but really, your short stories are brilliant, and worth every penny of their 2.99. :)

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    1. :-) Thank you, Susan.

      But you know, I signed with Carina understanding and being okay with whatever pricing and publishing decisions Carina decided on.

      Is an 81K novel priced at $4.99 realistic? Hm. Probably not. I sure as heck wouldn't have priced it so. But that pricing will introduce my work to many new readers, and some (a fraction) will go on to try my regular-priced work. So it's okay. It all works out. I am genuinely happy about it.

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  7. You made me laugh with "stories by the pound". Quite frankly, I understand your point of view and I pay for your work because I know it will deliver a good story. I am grateful you're considering an introductory price but as others have commented, I have never thought your books are over priced (there are a few fantasy authors that make me want to go knock on their doors and demand my $12 or $14 dollars back, but that's another story).

    When I first started reading ebooks I used to think that the 99 cent price was a great deal and I have a dozen or so of books that I bought at that price, but eventually I stopped buying them because they irritated me (they were poorly edited, they had bad grammar, they were awful, etc, etc). After doing the math, I figured out that I was wasting money with these cheap books that I'd never read pass the first page instead of buying good books at a higher price that I knew I would enjoy. Granted, there have been a few instances where great authors have made some codas or novellas free for a limited period of time as a hook for a series but I don't find that "free" is the norm for the authors I read.

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    1. Readers are not to blame for the current dilemma. It's natural that they should want to take advantage of a dynamic authors and publishers created, and it's natural that they would start to think this kind of rock bottom pricing would be a constant. Having conditioned readers to believe fiction is not worth the paper it is not printed on, it's understandable that there would then be a fight to convince them that fiction actually IS worth something.

      The readers who honestly believe that free fan fiction is as good as anything published are a lost cause. But most readers are a little more discerning. Those are the readers to reach out to, to remind that good fiction doesn't just happen. It takes time and effort and expense. Editing, cover art, formatting. Those things cost money. But so does my time. If I am not earning a living in a corporate office somewhere, then I have to earn it through my work writing books.

      And if writing books is not worth anything, then I can't afford to do it as anything but an occasional hobby.

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    2. I believe the self-published authors and some publishing houses have educated the public to the detriment of other authors. Like I said, I started thinking it was all great and sort of expected professional authors to compete with those prices until I realized that the self-publishing authors and the publishing houses that used them had foregone all those things you listed out and that really they were offering an inferior product. I realized that, but many other readers haven't yet.

      I think the reason why your sales are not affected when you offer a lower price points has to do with the relative inelasticity of the demand for your books. You have readers that will buy your books even if they have a change in price. As long as you don't go over their maximum price, your books will sell. My guess is that you've become the quality standard by what other books in the genre are measured, thus your books will sell. Your works is to the M/M genre what in economics we would call a "necessity". :D :D

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  8. I will gladly pay the higher prices for your stories, Josh, because I know you are a skilled writer and it will be a quality story.

    For a newer author or one I'm not familiar with? I need a lower price (or a REALLY good rec from a friend) to get started with them. If I like them, yes, I'll pay more for them. But (I hate to say this...) especially in this genre and especially with certain publishers, it seems like the quality of the story/writing can be a crap shoot.

    It doesn't really surprise me that you didn't see much difference when you lowered your prices. You have a fan base who will buy anything you put out, and even new-to-you readers, if they've been reading in the genre for any amount of time, have probably gotten a rec from a friend to read your books.

    But for newer authors, a lower price can help get that foot in the door. And it doesn't have to be ALL their books at a lower price. One or two, so readers can get a taste, you know?

    With other genres, I will go to the library to try out new authors. If I like them, I'll buy them. I can sometimes get lucky with the Kindle Lending Library, but for the most part, I can't find M/M via the library.

    Just my experience.

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    1. I do absolutely understand this.

      Publishing is in flux, and the democratization of publishing has resulted in a flash flood of embarrassing crap.

      I understand that a reader might require introductory pricing before they sample an unknown writer. I understand that there is so much to choose from that premium pricing for romance fiction has become a joke. I understand that an alluring price on the first book in a series could pay off big time.

      I understand that in this economic climate people simply don't have a lot of disposable income.

      I really do sympathize with and try to accommodate -- or at least account for -- all of that.

      The only thing that actually pisses me off is when people who should know better try and pretend that there is some ethical or moral high ground in undervaluing the work of professional writers.

      Or when people try to draw this ludicrous correlation between word count and quality.

      Seriously?

      I have a mainstream writer friend who was telling me about the book-buying habits of her daughters, and I think this is quite an insight -- though depressing -- of the reality of book buying these days. Her daughters are both in their early to mid-thirties. They read romance and mystery and they buy books constantly. But what they buy is indeed based on a dirt cheap price point and quantity.

      "Something to read" is the refrain my friend hears from them.

      They simply require "something to read" all the time. When they are eating alone in restaurants, when they are traveling on trains, etc. They read, but they are not looking for anything but something to fill the being alone time.

      They buy lots of stuff at .99 and they never go on to buy anything else. That's a new and not encouraging dynamic for those of us who hope to build readership.

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    2. Josh wrote: "They simply require "something to read" all the time. When they are eating alone in restaurants, when they are traveling on trains, etc. They read, but they are not looking for anything but something to fill the being alone time.
      "


      That's an interesting observation (although a depressing one). It sounds like they're not reading for a story to stimulate their mind but to alleviate stress (from whatever source that may come, like being alone or in an uncomfortable surounding). It looks like something you might once have used a newspaper for when you had some time to pass? E-book-readers are very convenient in that regard. You have a constant supply of reading material that isn't taxing in any way at your fingertips.

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    3. Yes. And if that is the case, it makes perfect sense that the cheaper, the better. That is indeed completely disposable fiction.

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  9. Oh, and I really liked what you said about the first ten thousand words, etc. I hadn't thought about it that way before.

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    1. It makes WAY more sense to draw the line at the maximum a reader will pay than the minimum. The first few thousand words are the most difficult to write!

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  10. A really thought-provoking post--thank you.

    Regarding putting a price--putting a value--on books, I think in our society we've become accustomed to low-priced...everything. We expect mass produced goods at discounted prices. I'm thinking of Wal-Mart and factory farmed food and Ikea furniture, as well as Amazon with its slashed prices and its book-and-audio-book bundles. Before I jump onto a soapbox and launch into a long lamentation of our culture's loss of its ability to truly value and appreciate...well, anything...I'll just say that you have a fanbase that really *does* appreciate and value your work, and is willing to pay every dollar. For me, the money I exchange for one of your stories is not the price I pay for a commodity, but my gratitude for your time and commitment. Gratitude, um, in a more useful form to you. ^.^

    For a lot of people, though, a book is just a product like any other. Smaller books take less time to read, so they should cost less--this is the thinking. My writing partner, a voracious reader, won't generally pay more than $4 for a book, and generally won't buy anything shorter than a novel. She's also almost flat broke--and has no scruples against reading some really, really (er, really) poorly written stories.

    If I tell her I pay $5 for a novella by you, she thinks I'm nuts. But I understand and appreciate the work that goes into well-written short fiction. It's much easier to add words than to skillfully prune them. I'm also thinking about poetry here. To distill so much meaning into so few words--that takes the most time and thought. That takes the most work.

    That said, I'd like to defend the merits of well-written long novels. There are plenty of books where, yes, that long middle and end are just a fallout of the explosion that happens at the beginning, just a playing-out of all the characterization and conflict that was set up in the first few thousand words. But then there are the novels in which the intense level of characterization and conflict keeps up--books that aren't long because they are wordy, but because they are full of lean, toned story. I do think those books deserve every dollar more than shorter works, because they're so complicated and take so darned long to produce.

    Mind you, I'm speaking here about quality, and quantity of quality work. There are *plenty* of novels that I'd gladly pay the author more to cut down...and plenty of short stories I'd also pay authors more to build up.

    Long or short, I am willing to pay for quality--because I value it. :P

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    1. I'm not saying a full-length novel is easy. It's just that the hardest part of any work is in the set up. If you do your job in those first few chapters, the rest of it will fall into place. Meaning, it will be hard as hell, but it not as hard as the hell of the opening chapters.

      If you're the kind of writer who starts out with twenty pages of backstory and scenery, well that's different. :-)
      But if you know your craft then those first twenty pages are going to be an excruciating effort of making a fast and absorbing start while subtly weaving in all the backstory and all the coming conflict. It's not easy. In fact, it's brutal.

      But, as you say, there are plenty of readers and writers who are simply about the price point. And that is okay. It really is!

      It's just that a lot of people not caring about the quality of what they read is not really promising for the long term future of writing and publishing.

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    2. "...the money I exchange for one of your stories is not the price I pay for a commodity, but my gratitude for your time and commitment." Beautifully said, Christine. I couldn't agree more.

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    3. Thank you. That is lovely to hear. Always.

      But of course the product of that time and commitment didn't just happen. :-) God knows there are lots of hardworking authors out there putting in plenty of time and commitment and they can't write their way out of a paper bag.

      I'm not sure what the takeaway is. I know we are all supposed to work for the sheer love of the work -- like Van Gogh. We should be grateful just to work, and delighted if someone somewhere buys our work for a few pennies.

      But then again Van Gogh was out of his mind. :-D

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    4. I understand what you mean, and agree.

      And--as a terribly picky reader--I hope that enough people caring about quality will mean that writers of quality fiction will continue to make enough to keep writing it... ::puts hands together in prayer::

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  11. I think also there is a certain amount of disingenuousness -- or maybe just sheer ignorance -- in that often the people complaining about pricing are also complaining about the quality of the work.

    It's one thing to embrace the "good enough" philosophy whether you are a reader or a writer. But you can't pride yourself on having discerning tastes in litrachure and yet demand crap pricing on everything. Those two things don't go together. Not in any industry or any art on the planet.

    It would be nice if we could all get handmade real leather shoes for the price of plastic fall-apart-knockoffs, but it just doesn't work that way. Or if it does, it's because little slave labor children are working to put the shoes together for us in some third world country.

    Every short cut has a price.

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  12. I will wait the 2nd week to buy your new short story at its normal price, then. Oh well, even at a double price I would still buy it! I'm a fan of your work and as an author, I think you have all the rights to fix your own pricing according to what you think your work deserves. As a reader, I don't care about paying more if the book is good, whatever its length.

    Candice (from France)

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    1. Thank you, Candice. That is very kind of you.

      This is the heart of it. I think a reader has every right to pay what she or he feels is fair for a book. But I think the writer has an equal right to charge what he or she feels is fair.

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  13. Can I just say "all of the above"? (Not being a terribly eloquent response type of person).

    I love the coffee analogy. It irks me that somebody who would pay $5 for their favorite cup of joe at the boutique coffeehouse, which by the way took a couple of minutes to make, would complain at paying that price for a high quality book that took probably weeks to complete.

    Especially for a writer of your caliber. I would pay much more than what you charge. I know you won't hike your prices that high due to your point of writing in a niche market, but I paid $12.99 for an ebook from an author I follow about three weeks ago and I would have gladly paid that for "Stranger on the Shore." Just so you know. ;)

    You are always an auto buy. Charge what you know you are worth. We fans know it's worth every single penny.

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    1. Assuming we have any discretionary income at all -- which in these economic times can't be taken for granted -- value becomes subjective. There are people who place more value on their morning coffee than "just something to read" at lunch.

      And that is okay.

      But -- as should be clear by now -- I do very much resent the notion that I am "gouging" anyone by charging $2.99 for a short story.

      Probably what offends me so much is that I do try and price my work affordably, fairly. I do keep in mind that many of my readers have to be frugal. It isn't an option, it's survival.

      But I too have to survive. Which is why I'm taking the time to explain why $2.99 seems reasonable to me.

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  14. I'm of several minds on the topic... For me, it all comes down to the author. For your books, I'll pay whatever. If i'm "auditioning" a new author, i will shop around and find a couple of books at the lower prices, and maybe check through the different sites to see if there are any freebies (as a total addict, freebies keep me afloat). I rarely flinch at the difference between 3.99 and 4.99; i have laughed out loud at some of the 8-12.99's, however. I think a price-point that high is just begging to be pirated, personally.
    i DO agree with the comment right above this little box i am typing into: "You are always an auto buy. Charge what you know you are worth. We fans know it's worth every single penny."

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    1. Thank you, Whyte Rabbit.

      And that makes perfect sense. I have my autobuys too, and I don't even look at the price (which has sometimes come back to bite me!). But when I am trying to make up my mind about an unknown quantity, then yes. An alluring price point can tip the scales.

      I also agree that as pricing draws near the $10.00 mark it becomes an invitation to pirate.

      Although come to think of it, I saw Stranger on the Shore being pirated, so I don't know if there's much logical rationale for pirates.

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  15. My only rule of thumb when buying books is always buy at a discount. I won't pay more than $8 for an ebook and $20 for a hardback. I had to create this rule last year when I decided to aggressively pay off debt.

    For my favorite authors (like you!), I am more flexible price-wise. I also think your books are often underpriced so I am more than willing to pay full price. Since I know it's quality work that I will LOVE, it's an easy choice.

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    1. I have complete respect for readers working within their budget. It's hard to be solvent if you buy everything you want every time you want it. I think waiting for promotions and sales, and borrowing books makes perfect sense.

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    2. I can't wait for the moment when I can buy books at full price...this will be around the time student loans are paid off. So, about 20 years lol!

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    3. Well, let me just say been there and done that! It's a great feeling. ;-)

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  16. I'll pay what it costs for authors I like. It really is that simple for me. My complaint is, it takes forever for my favorite authors to get their stuff out on Audio books. You created this issue for me (thank you most sincerely for that) when I won a free audio download from one of your contests. I pay the price for Anne and Chris Rice and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child as well. But buying books means i have to be selective. I will buy things on the cheap for my Kindle to read, but to listen to, I never mind paying the price. Whatever you charge, I'm going to pay it. Is it OK if I whine for more audio stuff more frequently though?

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    1. I've created a monster!! :-D

      Seriously, I'm glad you are loving the audio books.

      And yes, more books are coming. I should have another out in just a few weeks. This Rough Magic is next.

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    2. I love the audio books, the readers on your books are all top quality. I know production takes time (oy do I know it). Because I love your style, and because my late husband was a cop, and since so much of your stories involve police and or mysteries, I find I hate it when your books end. So honestly, under $8-10 for a Kindle book, and under $15 for an audio is not too much for me. I have many friends who put their things out on Amazon so I know cutting your price cuts your take. It isn't fair to expect an artist to discount their work or give it away for free. Its nice if they can, Doug and Lincoln do it once every other month or so to their blog readers with a short-short between the books episode. (about 500 to 1000 words). I would never ask an artist for a free canvas of their work, so I never ask an author for free things. You give us a gift every time you write something new.

      Is there an Audible Anonymous group for people who can't pas up the daily deals?

      Delete
    3. By the way, I own all of the books available in the audio format as well as in the plain Kindle format too. I tend to be a hoarder of certain authors, you happen to be one of them.

      Delete
    4. There should be an Audible Anonymous group! :-D

      Thanks, Mike. I'm pleased you get pleasure from the stories. It's nice to know my work makes the "hoarding" cut. ;-)

      Delete
  17. I buy your books for my Kindle and have never considered them over priced. I paid $3.99 for the first book I read (Fatal Shadows) and after that price wasn't really an issue. Let's put it this way: You buy a book from an unknown author. It's the first in a series. You really enjoy it and when you finish you wanna see what happens next. All I have to do is download the book and start reading. No waiting. No taking time to go to the bookstore. Immediate satisfaction all for the very low price of $3.99. Some of your books are more expensive but the price difference is negligible when you add in the ease factor. Why do I get the feeling I am talking you into raising your prices? Like some others are said though I would buy your books anyway although if it were to get to be in line with a hard/paperback edition I would probably balk.

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    1. The incredible convenience of ebooks can't be discounted. It's why Amazon continues to keep that stranglehold on the market. Nothing is as fast and easy as Amazon.

      In fact, I was just reading that now you can link your Twitter account and buy without ever leaving Twitter.

      Delete
  18. I love books, then I pay for them , that's for me the way to obtain the diversity. I was long ago a teacher, but now I'm a businesswoman and with that come the knowledge, that you can underprice goods. Your prices are always on the lower end of the scale. In Germany the prices for your books so low, that I 'm offended about them. Example: Stranger in the Shore converted to $ 1,56 - Ball and Chain converted to $ 8,06. For me that's not okay. For a Georgette Heyer you pay converted to $ 9,53. And I don't think Ball and Chain needed a reduced price. I think you are a very nice human being, but you can by ny opinion rise your prices. For a Josh Lanyon Short Story is for me a price about 4,99 really okay.

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    1. Thanks, Sabine.

      Yes, I think we are seeing some of that underpricing backlash. For a lot of readers free or a low, low price indicates a lack of quality or simply desperation. That's not necessarily fair, it's just...if you buy ten books you don't enjoy for a dollar each...maybe buying one $9.99 book you really wanted to read would have been the true bargain.

      The fact that the magical $2.99 price point has now moved up to the magical $3.99 price point might be a good sign.




      But it is a hint that Not always, of course, but the

      Delete
  19. Im from the uk so usually pay less than the dollar amount for books. For me it depends on the author and if I have read book by them before. I have read quite a lot of your books and price has never been an issue because I get to read your fantastic work.

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    1. Thank you, Kelly. That's good to hear. :-)

      Delete
  20. You are my auto buy so all this 3,99, 4,99 or whatever is not an issue for me. I love, LOVE your writing. You have every right to value your work. No argument there. Just one question: will the book be on Amazon as well? That would be highly appreciated.

    goge

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    1. Thank you, Goge. Yes, the book will be on Amazon. Amazon, B&N, etc. don't allow indie authors to set up presales, so that's the only reason there's no buy link yet. It'll be there. ;-)

      Delete
    2. Great :) ! Thanks!

      goge

      Delete
  21. I think many of the people who complain about the price of e-books have the mistaken idea that the value of a book is in the paper upon which it is printed, rather than realizing it is the skill with which the words are put together that is the true treasure. I will always gladly pay for the pure joy I find in reading your elegantly crafted stories.

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    1. Thank you very much, Denise.

      Yes, clearly there are costs associated with a print book that don't exist for the ebook.

      And it is certainly true that the lion's share of the price of a mainstream book does not go to the writer.

      But then we also hear readers complaining that they can't get the books they want to read from mainstream/print. And we hear them saying that the price of mainstream/print would be justified if more of the money went to the writer.

      So I puzzle when some of those same people turn around and state they don't to pay more than pennies for the kind of story they want to read from the kind of writer they say they want to support.

      Delete
  22. I recently introduced a friend to the M/M genre and she commented how cheap the books were compared to mainstream fiction. I’d become so used to paying these prices I think I’d got a bit complacent about the great value for money. And it is great value – a book, whether a short story or a full length novel, buys me hours of pleasure from the first time I read it, through the second and third times I enjoy it again and again.
    I hate to think that the authors of books I appreciate are getting such a poor reward for their efforts and, whenever possible, purchase the books direct from the publisher to ensure that the authors’ cut is as high as possible.
    The only time I purchase discounted books is if I’m taking a gamble on an unknown author but want to give them a shot. For authors like yourself, Josh, I would much rather pay a higher price to ensure you are incentivised to carry on writing.
    I pre-purchased Everything I Know recently and didn’t realise until this blog that you had launched it at a discounted price. I don’t think you need to entice people to buy from you with cheaper pricing – just keep writing great books and your readers will keep coming back for more.

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    1. You're very kind, Arminta.

      It's interesting to me that the price of pretty much everything in the world goes up, but ebooks are expected to go down and down and down.

      Pricing really is all over the place in the mainstream. Some of Nora Roberts' titles are about $3.00 and some are $12.00. Lee Child's books range from $2.00 to $12.00.

      At a quick glance, $8.00 looks pretty much like the average price. And yet I've seen $8.00 -- which is I think what many Riptide titles are priced at -- as a breaking point.

      All of which leaves me and a lot of other authors scratching our heads.

      Delete
    2. It’s basically comes down to supply and demand – if one outstrips the other that helps to fix the price. In your case, a loyal readership and great reviews means that you can set your own price (to a certain degree) and can – all be it tentatively – ignore market trends. As you have seen for yourself, knocking $1 off the price of a book makes no difference to how many books you sell and just results in a knock on your profit margins. I don’t think I’m alone in not even thinking about the price of a book if it’s something I really want and you probably don’t want people to buy your book based on price anyway. I would think that if you kept the price below $10 for a full length novel, you would still keep selling the same volume of books because that represents really good value for money when you compare it to what $10 can buy you elsewhere. I’m no expert, and I certainly don’t have money to burn, but I really hope I’m right because my life would be a whole lot emptier without great books from authors like yourself.

      Delete
    3. Well, the thing is, it's not like I plan to jack up my prices in general. Really my line in the sand are the short stories. I feel like if I'm going to make the effort to write them, then they need to pay for themselves. I don't write them in my sleep. They take time. They take effort. They are formatted, they are edited, and they get covers like everything else.

      And the readers who don't like short stories, don't have to buy them. That's okay! But don't be outraged because I think they're worth something, because I dare to charge enough to make them worth doing.

      It's not like if I wasn't wasting my time on short fiction, I would instead be writing a novel. It doesn't work like that. I write the stories I am moved to tell. The story determines the length. I don't write based on how much money I need to earn.

      Maybe I should try that! :-D

      Delete
  23. Interesting discussions going on here. And it is nice that you shared your thoughts.

    For me if the book is good it doesn't matter how much it costs. In fact what matters more is time. And with your books I'm sure I will never waste my time!

    In general I don't feel you should sell your books cheaper, not even in the first week.

    And I found something you said I don't agree with (every couple of years it happens ;-)). You wrote in a comment: ''The readers who honestly believe that free fan fiction is as good as anything published are a lost cause.''. I agree on the fact that fan fiction is often low quality fiction, but there was some free fiction which was IMO better than lots of published fiction.

    Ciao!

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    1. And I found something you said I don't agree with (every couple of years it happens ;-)). You wrote in a comment: ''The readers who honestly believe that free fan fiction is as good as anything published are a lost cause.''. I agree on the fact that fan fiction is often low quality fiction, but there was some free fiction which was IMO better than lots of published fiction.

      Ah! How can this be??? :-D

      I should clarify that point. I agree there is some wonderful fan fiction out there, and some of my all time m/m stories are fan fiction.

      But there is a certain type of reader who proclaims that she will never pay more than X for anything ever because she is just as happy reading fan fiction.

      That's what I really mean, because yes, there is some wonderful fan fiction, but it is even scarcer than wonderful self-published m/m fiction, and anyone who doesn't know the difference probably is not open to a rational discussion on pricing or anything else. :-)

      Delete
    2. And I thought that for once I would disagree with you! ;-). Thank you for clarifying!

      Delete
    3. Well, I am sure we can disagree on something else if we work very hard to find it! ;-D

      White sauce or red????

      White wine or red???

      Delete
  24. Pricing ramble: I remember when I got my first ereader. I scoured the sites that pointed to free and discount reads, I read blogs on where to get books. It did not take me long at all to figure out that most of it was not of the best quality. Even some of the publisher's ebooks at the time were not good quality (mostly formatting errors). So low price pretty quickly had me asking "why?"

    I have also seen the small press publishers slowly raise their prices in the last four years to be more in line with mainstream romance pricing. I have no problem with that. I am one of those "if I want it I get it" readers, and I'm lucky enough to afford as much as I can read, so I don't ever quibble over price. I did wince a bit paying $15.99 for a new JR Ward, but I did buy it, and I'll do it again as long as the series engages me. Plus I am grateful to not have to buy a hard back brick to lug around or take up shelf space. I really avoided hardbacks back in the day. Not because of price, but because I didn't have room for them. That .8K file takes up no space at all. :)

    So price matters only a little bit, and usually only when a sale is on. I watch for sales for old backlist items and classics that I know I want in ebook format, like all Georgette Heyer novels on sale on her birthday (I bought dozens of books that day - dozens).

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    1. That JR Ward book was definitely an ouch! Not least because I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it. And to be perfectly honest, it didn't do much for me. Probably because I hadn't read the rest of the series. But I also didn't regret buying the book. After all, there are no guarantees that we will love every book, song, movie, etc.

      Delete
  25. P.S. How do you pre-order on Smashwords? I didn't see a buy option. I did set a calendar reminder. Not because I want the discount, but because I want the book soon as it comes out.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Uh...good question! I just sent Smashwords Help Desk an email.

      Delete
  26. Josh,
    Quality is the key. Like with any Book, Movie, Music you will pay for what you really want. I would rather have a short story by Josh Lanyon than long drawn out book by any one else. Case in point, I have the 3 I spy books in E format and Audio because I really like these stories. I have even gotten over the fact in my mind that these stories are complete no - to be continued.
    Sorry I did not read all the comments so if I am repeating,

    C

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    1. This is something that really was unexpected -- readers buying audio for books they already own. I didn't anticipate that at all. I'm so glad you're enjoying the books in all formats.

      I LOVE Alexander Masters' reading of the I Spy stories.

      Delete
    2. " I LOVE Alexander Masters' reading of the I Spy stories. "
      These are true words....glad you are satisfied with the outcome. I also really enjoyed The Dickens with Love,


      I always have an audio book playing while I drive, do house work, work in the garden

      Delete
  27. There's a wonderful resource for free reads. The library! Well, not truly free, rather a distributed expense through taxes. If however, you want just the book you want (that may not be available at your local libraries), and just when you want it (too impatient for library wait lists), you'll have to pay the price. I feel like pulling out one of those "in my day, we walked to school five miles, uphill, through the snow" stories. Mine is recalling the times when I could budget maybe one hardcover new release by a favorite author every couple of months. You know,one of those special book you'd been waiting for over the past year or two... :-)

    But seriously, there will always be some people who take on an attitude of moral superiority due to what they're willing to pay for something. What cracks me up is what some of them will spend their money on. And I'm not thinking of lattes. I mean we all enjoy a good sale. But how does moral high ground correlate?

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    1. Absolutely! I am all in favor of libraries. I've opted my work (through Smashwords) into Overdrive and into subscription services like Oyster and Scribd. I do want my work to be affordable.

      Smashwords offers an option where you can allow readers to pay whatever they think the story is worth. It's an interesting idea.

      Delete
    2. Josh wrote: "Smashwords offers an option where you can allow readers to pay whatever they think the story is worth. It's an interesting idea."

      JCP did something like that when she published the Turbulence books in a serialized fashion on her site. I wonder how that worked out for her. I remember that my reaction was a bit ambivalent and made a metamorphosis from "oh!" over "yay!" to "uhm" and "wth?"... ;-)

      Delete
    3. Yes, I wonder how that worked?

      I think the generosity of so many readers would probably make up for the cautious spending habits of others, but I am not quite brave enough to test that theory!

      I don't produce enough fiction to be able to risk insolvency on a project. :-D

      Delete
  28. “It isn’t the number of words that determines the value of a literary work. Any more than the number of brushstrokes determines the value of a painting.”
    This is so true! When the value of a painting is not priced on its number of brushstrokes, why should a story be judged from the word count? If so, a dictionary must be really really expensive!
    I just inadvertently bought two peaches at an equivalent of $9 yesterday. Granted they are from France and saved me the price of an air ticket to get them, but $9? See, your books are seriously underpriced. :D
    That said, as a consumer, a discount is always something to brighten up the day. I’ve happily pre-ordered the book. This is the first time I pre-ordered via allromance. They have two buttons to click – buy now or pre-order. Interesting considering whatever I click, it’s a pre-order. Why the choice?
    Anyway, can’t wait to get it. I’ve enjoyed reading all your short stories. Actually, sometimes I enjoy short stories even more than longer ones since I’m a rather impatient person. But good short stories are hard to come by. That’s why I completely adore your work (and JL Merrow’s when I fancy a lighter mood).

    Savanna

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    1. Well, make sure you eat those peaches before they turn soft and brown!!! :-D

      I love a bargain, I love a sale -- I completely understand readers working within a budget. I have no issue with this. I don't even have an issue with a reader who admits she would rather spend money on something long and stupid than short and smart. Sometimes word count IS the point. We all have a right to spend our money as we wish.

      The only thing I resent is someone trying to take their personal preferences and pretend that they are somehow qualified to make a broader observation on literature and publishing. As in...short stories should be free by proclamation of the emperor!!!

      Huh?

      That's someone talking from a pretty narrow perception of how both literature and publishing works. Because the short story is still a viable artform in mainstream publishing. Except it is published in collections -- often print only -- not released digital piece at a time.

      Somehow I don't think m/m readers would appreciate that. :-D

      Delete
  29. WOW a lot of passion behind those words. I hope this doesn’t come off judgmental but I don’t think you along with the other writers out there should ever compromise to a point when you are not getting paid for your talent. I’m amazed at the ridiculously low prices on Ebooks – they have mistaken the ease of purchasing as a reason to lower prices AND I honestly too cannot understand why a writer would place their work out there for free – charge something! As a reader, I always pre-plan to pay for my purchases– my way of saying “thank you” to the authors I enjoy. I remember you blogged about Audible; pricing, rights etc. way over my head but whoever is in control of your Audible releases isn’t charging enough there either. As a side, I know you must get tired of hearing this but I would pay an obscene price for another AE book☺ just saying.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you, crwzone. :-)

      I think you have to be kind of a dreamer to become a writer, so it's probably natural that so many writers do have fuzzy-vague ideas about how it will all work out in the end. Everything from giving their work away to paying for reviews/sales.

      Authors and digital first publishers created this dynamic. That's the truth. I don't blame readers for embracing the notion that they can get all they can read for next to nothing. We all love a bargain.

      But honestly, we all have to look beyond self-interest to what is best for the genre, for writing and publishing as a whole. If you love reading, if you care about books, you surely care about this.

      Another AE book. :-D

      Hey, did you read the CYOA?


      Delete
  30. Good. It is true that in other countries (such as Spain) books are very expensive (8 euros, the last one I bought) But I do not mind paying that price, if it is a good book. And if it is short or long What does it matter? I usually paint portraits and effort is the same. Quality is the most important

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    1. Thank you! I appreciate your comment and your insight.

      Delete
  31. I've paid anywhere from $18 - to .99 for ebooks. Basically, if I want to read that book enough, I'll pay the price. Though I do get mad when say a main stream author (J.R. Ward releases a book for $16, and my sub-genre authors are charging $5-$8 a book. (Which I consider a reasonable range by the way). To me, I enjoyed my latest Josh Lanyon book much more than the last J. R. Ward BDB book, so why is she able to get so much more? Just because she is Bookstore Mainstream? This new e-market is so very confusing. Marketing/advertising seems crucial to me. I wonder how much of that $16 she actually gets, and how much goes to her publisher? Vs. what percentage of the $6 you charge goes to you.

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    1. It is confusing, isn't it?

      And the very weird thing is that I make more money than most of my NYTB friends. But that really isn't saying a lot because what I "make" mostly goes back into producing more of the same.

      Now I like to think that because I own the rights to most of my stuff, my game plan is the better. No, I am not making money on translations now, but one day...

      But who knows?

      None of us know. And part of what we don't know is what happens with Amazon. As indie writers Amazon controls most of our fates right now, and that is not a comforting thought.

      Unless you are very naïve. Which, let's face it, most writers are. :-)

      Delete
  32. I wouldn't mind paying more for ebooks. And I agree that short stories are worth more. But I read a short story recently and it was only about 35,000 words and it was priced at $4.99 and it was horribly edited and formatted. I actually had a headache when I finally finished. I loved the story and had it been edited better, I wouldn't have minded the price. But the author should have spent some money on an editor, especially after making her own cover. Saying that, I would happily pay more for your stories because I always enjoy them. :)

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    1. I agree! I pay for formatting, cover art, editing -- I acknowledge that I cannot do these things myself. I don't feel bad about that. My talent lies in other directions, and I think it is sensible to admit it. :-)

      But that means I must pay for these things, which means my books must be priced to cover the cost of these things.

      This is possibly off the topic, but I think many people go into this business with unrealistic ideas of how it works, how much money can be made, etc. The news is always about the rare exceptions -- the people who get rich writing.

      That is not most of us. I brought in a lot of money last year, but it all went out again paying for things like editors, audio books, etc. I am not getting rich here.

      Except that I feel blessed to be allowed to do what I love for a living.

      But when I am not sure I can pay my mortgage, it feels less blessed and more self-indulgent.

      Delete
    2. I appreciate those who actually pay for covers, editing and formatting. I would be happy to pay more if I could get books with a nice cover and is well formatted and edited. But if a book is still slightly more expensive than average and it's not properly edited or formatted? I will get annoyed, to put it politely.

      I wouldn't consider it off topic because it's connected, I think. And I agree with you on this. Some people publish because they want the fame and money. They don't actually take the time to think about what that means and so sometimes they publish less than impressive stories.

      Delete
    3. Sometimes we all forget how young the digital industry really is. Remember when publishers were just uploading PDFs to Amazon to make the kindle files? Now there was some crazy formatting!

      Delete
  33. This is a really good discussion, and I've enjoyed reading all the comments. What I taken away:

    -We really, really love you and respect you.
    -You really, really love your readers. You give a way more books and audios than anyone I've seen. You care that your readers can afford your work. I realize some of it is marketing to get new readers, but I think some of it is to reward your existing readers.
    -Your generosity makes us want be sure you get a fair well-deserved price for the quality of your work.
    -If personal budget is a consideration, we are willing to save up until we can afford it.
    -We feel guilty if we aren't allowed to pay what we feel your work is worth.
    -I will never complain about the price of a short story again, because it isn't based on the word count but the quality of the crafting of the story.
    -I will always be waiting for the next one.

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    1. Thank you for saying so, Lori. That made me smile.

      I do love my readers -- and I am very grateful to them. I earn a living writing because my readers will it to be so. I don't ever forget that.

      And it is because I respect my readers that I think we can have this kind of honest discussion.

      Delete
  34. The way I see it, if even one-fifth as many readers buy your shorts at $2.99 as would've bought them at $0.99, you're still ahead. [shrug] Especially on Amazon, where the royalty difference is huge, it's pretty much a no-brainer to have your shorts at $2.99. If people don't want to buy them, that's cool -- it's their money, their choice. But an indie-pubbing writer has the choice of where to set their prices, and a $2.99 minimum makes a LOT of financial sense.

    Angie

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    1. Sadly true.

      If I were writing mainstream fiction with the potential of selling hundreds of thousands of copies, I might take a different approach. But M/M is still a comparatively small genre, and nothing I've experienced or witnessed of other M/M authors has led me to believe it is in my favor to continue to cut prices.

      Delete
  35. I want to read well-written, thought provoking, entertaining books which I can’t put down. Books that I could immediately re-read the minute I reach the end. These books require skill, creativity and effort and it worries me that, if the rewards aren’t commensurate with the hard-work that went into producing them, some of my favourite authors might stop writing in this genre or - heaven forbid - stop writing all together.

    Of course its not all about money and I quickly recognize when authors start to churn out stuff with financial reward as their primary motive – some authors just follow the same successful format again and again and it just gets boring in the end. But with digital book prices so low and the correlation between creativity and reward so out of kilter, I think you are absolutely right to raise the subject.

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    1. This is the reality. A writing friend was recently going through her kindle, and she was startled at how many M/M writers have disappeared over the past few years. A handful were left, but most of the originally M/M crew were long gone.

      Maybe they're writing other things in other genres now?

      Delete
  36. No sure if anyone will see this, as I'm posting so late after the blog post was published, but I can't seem to figure out how to pre-order Everything I know at Smashwords. I really want to get it from there and not AllRomanceBooks. There doesn't seem to be a 'buy
    button such as you'd see when you want to purchase an already released book. I've read through the FAQ but there doesn't seem to be anything directed toward the purchasers for pre-orders. Anyone have any words of wisdom?

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    1. Here is the official word from Smashwords

      Pre-orders are only available for purchase (or pre-order) on Apple, B&N, and Kobo. Once it's release date comes, the book will also be available and shipped throughout the rest of our distribution network. If your readers want to purchase the book at Smashwords, they can temporarily add it to their library (as a reminder they want it), and purchase it come its release date.

      So...you can't really pre-order through smashwords. It only works for their distributors. And I don't use Smashwords to distribute to B&N or Kobo.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  37. I've been 'hiding' for months, but had to comment on this issue. I absolutely flat-out refuse to buy a book at 99 cents. They're either crap, or they're way too short. Even $2.99 for a short story is a little suspect to me.

    I know what it takes to write a short story and how easy it is to fuck it all up. If I like an author I have no problem at all paying $4.99 for a short story.

    If I don't know an author, I'll usually do the 'buy 10 get 1 free' from All Romance... buy 10 books by authors I know and enjoy, and use the freebie to buy a new author to see if I like their writing.

    I don't quibble about how much an m/m romance e-book is costing me if it's good quality. The only time I get cranky is when I pay good money and the book isn't even good for virtual fire fuel.

    I am a voracious reader and no author is ever going to be able to keep up with my demands (so it's just as well I have half a dozen or so on 'buy almost everything' *g*) and I still say, charge $4.99 for a short story. If you (the author) are good enough, I'll pay it every time, and $6.99 or $7.99 for a novel.

    M/M romance e-books are incredibly cheap (I went looking at mainstream e-books a few months back and nearly had a heart attack! lol). Granted, there are some that aren't worth the money, but there are many too that ARE worth it.

    I feel kind of sorry for the people you mentioned who buy books just to have something to read. I'm very particular about what I'll buy. I'd rather re-read a book I've already read 10 times than read something that's utter crap just because it was cheap.

    Charge what you need to, Josh. My only vice is books and I'm never giving it up. :D

    Sorry if this is a bit disjointed and all over the place, my brain is in fairyland lately.

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    1. Time is more valuable to me than money. I think I have so little time to read, reading has become kind of a luxury, and I would rather pay more and get exactly what I want than waste dollar after dollar hoping to find gold in all the silt and mud. I don't have that kind of time to waste.

      But for people who read several books a week, sure. I can see they might have the luxury of test driving more books and authors. For that kind of reader, quantity IS ideal. It's mental grazing. Nothing wrong with it so long as you have time, money, and patience.

      Delete
  38. For some authors, no amount is too much. For others, any amount is too much. I'm pretty sure you know where you fall, Josh. I think you should charge what you deem is fair. You know your customers and you know the business. Please, don't sell yourself short.

    ReplyDelete
  39. One of the biggest problems I've seen in the industry are these boxed sets for .99 or free books. Now many readeres expect that all books should be that price and balk at the higher priced books. People load up on them because they're free and in my opinion they hurt author's sales.
    I never mind paying what you charge because I know the quality is always there.

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    1. .99 - 2.99 for a box set shrieks desperation. It's like an official announcement that there is no other way to get people to read your work. I mean, I understand that competition is stiff, but that's genuinely pathetic.

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  40. Awesome, I’ve already pre-ordered it at AR. Way simpler than Smashword. I also appreciate the fact that you lower the price to $3.99 for your fans. I’m really looking forward to it. Also, big thanks for the Amazon price for Strangers on the Shore. I thought it was a very reasonable price for almost 300 page story since it was a cross between “Cards on the Table” and “Somebody Killed His Editor.”
    In ebook pricing, I’m also one of those buyers/readers that have price break s for a certain amount of pages and anything over $5.00 I wait for print to come out. I see ebook prices go up and up, and I wonder what has change to cause an increase that makes print books cheaper to buy. I buy ebooks with a print books mentality. Does the cover catch my attention or the synopsis? If it does, then I want to know how long it is. It matters because I am an avid and fast reader so page counts important to me. Then you have to figure out how translate 28K or 150K into pages to see if it is worth the cost because an ebook is a virtual, intangible item. It doesn’t have the same value or worth of a print book. At least not to me. I can’t see myself paying for an ebook that cost $8.99 only to see the print book selling for $12.99. For a few dollars more, I can actually own the book, have it sit on my shelf, enjoy the writer’s work whenever I want, sell it when I get tire of it, or keep and still have it 30 years down the road. To me that has more worth and value than an ebook. You can’t say the same for an ebook. The non-permanence of ebooks you can delete with a click just don’t justify the increasing costs for what is disposable reading since there is no ink, paper, production costs, and shipping fees involved.

    Now, having said that, I don’t envy you your job, Mr. Lanyon. It’s a lot of work to be a self-employed writer especially today when the industry is transitioning from print to digital books. Writing is a business and you need to do whatever you can to keep it solvent. I’ve said it before that you’re an awesome writer, charge what you have to to keep going as a self-publishing writer. People are going to buy what they’re going to buy, and “budget principle” be damned. If even one those people read one of your shorts or novels, they will knuckle under like a two dollar bill. You just do what you got to and keep those stories coming. I also really appreciate your willing to put your ebooks into print because even if I can’t afford the ebook, I can still afford the print book because print is a better value whereas ebooks are just convenient.

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    1. :-D :-D :-D

      Well, that is the truth. We're all going to make the choices that make sense for us personally.

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  41. I'm late to the party here, more than a hundred comments! I wanted to say I agree with you, though - price is a personal transaction between the author and the reader. You are putting a value on your work and your time and the reader can either choose to pay that or not. No fault or criticism on either side.

    Quite a few of my friends work in performance art one way or another. In the UK at the moment there is a great devaluing going on, quite often with young performers being expected to work almost for nothing, 'to build their experience'. I think it's partly to do with the fact that government funding for the arts has been slashed almost to nothing.

    If you don't value your own work, no-one else is going to. Writing, theatre, music, all those artistic outputs, nourish people in the same way that food does. We should take the time to engage properly with those we choose to buy and we should be prepared to pay adequately to do so.

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    1. Yes. And I do only too well understand that with ebooks so cheap and plentiful, fiction is less and less valued by many readers. And that being the case, I have no idea what the future looks like. For all I know, when I'm seventy, I'll be trying to start a second career as a Wal-Mart greeter. :-D

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  42. Just downloaded from Smashwords.

    Now. Don't interrupt. I'm reading!

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  43. I just wanted to say thank you, Josh, for this post--it actually motivated me to reconsider the price on my self-published title. I ended up increasing the price, and even though the title has been out for half a year, the sales in the last week have gone up dramatically across all retail outlets.

    While I can't conclude increasing the price increased sales, I can conclude it hasn't hurt them. You've taught me a valuable lesson about undervaluing my work, and I appreciate it.

    Best of luck with your new release. It's waiting on my kindle for a few quiet hours to come my way, and I can't wait to read it.

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    1. Good! I'm glad you found the post useful.

      Good luck with your sales.

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  44. I'm also late to the party. When I see one of your new works published, I develop tunnel vision and the only thing I see on the screen is "Buy Now with 1-Click". I rarely enjoyed reading outside of my job (I didn't own any fiction at the time!) until I stumbled across Fatal Shadows several years ago. Since then, I'm fairly certain I've covered at least one of your mortgage payments and would gladly do it again. Your high-quality, entertaining books cost the equivalent of a fast-food lunch, a drink at a bar or a Starbucks concoction - all of which people throw down daily without a thought. So, don't feel at all apologetic about the price of your work!!! Now about those sequels... :-)

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    1. I thank you for sharing that, Tamara.

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  45. Thank you, Tamara, for having written what I tried to put into words. I don't think Josh's novels/novellas are overpriced and I will gladly pay the price he charges. There's a lot of work behind every story that comes out although we readers will never get to see it. I expect to be paid well if I do my job well - why should such a crazily talented author not get good money for the excellent work he does? I have downloaded 6 of his novels and 4 of his novellas over the last 4 weeks and I've been sucked into each and everyone of them. He even made me cry in public while reading 'Death of a Pirate King' on the train ride home, and that has NEVER happened before.
    Look, the point I'm trying to get across here is: Josh's works are worth every penny. Period.
    (Silvia, Germany)

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    1. Thank you, Silvia. That is a lot of reading! I think you may have cried just from weariness. ;-)

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