Pricing ebooks for indie authors is always a hot topic in the Writing Community on Twitter. Some authors believe that lower prices are the way to go–especially if you’re not an established writer–and others feel that artists should be compensated appropriately for their work. The term “appropriately” is what I’m going to write about today.
When I think of my writing career, I think of Beyonce.
No, I don’t think I’m the “Beyonce of the Writing World.” No, I don’t think I’m as talented as her. My singing and dance moves leave a lot to be desired. Nor am I as stylish or cool. Not by a mile. But I think about how Beyonce was not always Beyonce.
When I’m unsure of my trajectory in my writing career, I often fantasize about the time when Beyonce was just some kid in high school telling other kids that she was going to be a superstar one day. Not that I know for a fact she told them that, I just imagine she had the foresight. I mean, she’s Beyonce. I assume she can see the future because she can do everything else.
For a long time, I’m sure she was singing for free at one place or another. Getting paid minor amounts to show off her skills. Even when her father (I think) formed Destiny’s Child, they weren’t playing arenas for a long time. No one gave a crap about Beyonce for many years of her career. She was just another girl with a dream and talent–but no one saw how plausible that dream was or how much talent she had early on.
Beyonce had to pay her dues like everyone else.
Some artists start out traveling a country in a van, playing for peanuts in bars or other small venues, barely scraping by for a really long time before they hit it big. Most never even make it past this stage in their journey. I’ve even heard stories of bands and artists paying people to come watch them perform to help boost their clout in the town they’re playing in that night. They have to struggle at first, find their niche, garner the respect and admiration of their fans, and work like a dog in order to achieve their dreams.
So, when it came to pricing my ebooks early on in my career, I went low. Most of my ebooks were sold for $2.99. I felt this was a fair rate to both myself and the readers. I also enrolled all of my books in Kindle Unlimited so that readers with a very limited budget could still access my stories. I felt that the more hands I could get my books into (or, I guess, the more devices I could get my stories in), the more I could connect with potential readers. The more I connected, the more I had a chance of establishing myself as a reliable storyteller.
Because I knew that no one had a reason yet to believe it.
I knew that I had to prove myself – pay my dues. I couldn’t charge Beyonce prices without having Beyonce clout. Is it fair that I put my heart and soul (and a lot of time and energy) into writing a book and people might not pay $10 for it? Well…that’s not for me to decide. But, if you think about all of the starving artists who have to eat Ramen until they make enough money to dine on lobster, it gives you perspective.
So, before you’re Beyonce charging $500 for front row seats at your arena concert, you’re some kid in high school trying to convince everyone that you’ll be the world’s biggest superstar one day.
Fair, not fair, feelings have to be ignored in this matter. When you’re an artist/creative, you have to prove your worth. Not every singer deserves Beyonce money because not all of them are worth Beyonce money.
To be fair, a lot of factors go into pricing a book–especially for an indie author. Traditionally published authors don’t have much say in the matter. Indie authors have to consider the time it took to write, what their expectations are, how much the publishing platform will take from the sale price, the production cost of hard copies of the books, and so forth. On Amazon for example, an author is also made aware that to participate in some royalty programs, they must sell their book at or above a certain price point. Whether an indie goes high or low on their price, it’s usually not an arbitrary or flippant decision.
Of course, I do not intend to shame any new indie author for pricing their debut book really high. I certainly don’t shame new indie authors for pricing their debut books really low. We all have the right to price our books as we see fit. My intention is to give perspective to writers who feel that this is even a discussion. You can price your books high and struggle with convincing people to buy them, or you can price your books low and struggle with not making much money while you build your reader base. The struggle you choose is up to you. Just keep perspective about what each price point means – and stop shaming each other.
Tremendous Love & Thanks