Sunday, March 16, 2014

The World-Wide, Mass-Production Company of You

     I’ve read the discussions about how to price your e-book. Some people are very passionate about this. There are those that are outraged that indie authors are pricing their books for 99 cents or less. “Don’t you think your book is worth more than a cup of coffee?” they ask. 

     The problem with that question, to my way of thinking, is that it asks us to make an emotional decision on what price to ask. Your main premise in a business case shouldn’t be an emotional argument. 

     On the seller’s side, your e-book is a one-of-a-kind specially crafted product. On the buyer’s side, your e-book is the digital equivalent of a mass production product with world-wide distribution. Mass production items are priced low to maximize sales; the margin is low, but the return is good because the sales are high. 

     We may have worked for years on our books, writing and editing and rewriting. We may have paid graphic designers for covers and paid for editing. Maybe you’ve paid for marketing too. But we’re getting an insane margin—the worst I’ve seen is 33%. And the only person in your factory is you! In the mass-production business you’re making out like a bandit.

     I do know that the majority of indie e-book publishers aren’t making much money. Most of us are pretty much invisible to the e-book consumers. But pricing our books at a ‘fair’ value of $9.99 isn’t going to increase the odds of people finding (and buying) our books on the virtual shelves. 

     My opinion on this subject is still developing. I’ll be glad to hear what you think, one way or the other.