[This is a follow-up post to Thursday’s S.O.S. Something unexpected happened following the moment I clicked “publish” on that blog post. A number of kind souls on Twitter vocalized their support, offering kind words, suggestions, and even retweeting links to ALT. Many, many thanks to the following: Mike Cane, Andrew Shaffer, Roy Pickering, Teel McClanahan, Sue London, Eddie Wright, and Cesar Torres. I also want to say thanks to everyone who commented on Thursday’s post: Tracy, Tony, Matthew, Mercedes, and Astrid.]
Right. Let me just get this out of the way: No, I’m not giving up. I’m not quitting. I’ve come too far to do that. Besides, Eddie has threatened me if I do.
So . . . where do we go from here?
No More Freebies.
First and foremost, the free promotions stop. Mike Cane’s suggestion was a good one: stop promoting for free, and start promoting the Lending Library, a feature of the KDP Select program which, in the past, never yielded much results. How’s it work? If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can download my books free of charge, just like going to a library. The difference is, I still get paid for the download based on a monthly stipend which Amazon designates.
Not a Prime member? Sorry. You’ll have to pay full Kindle price. That’s how it’s going to be.
It’s funny. Just before I logged in to write this, my buddy Craig Lancaster shared this NY Times article on Facebook. Even if you’re not a writer, you should read it right now. Stop reading me, and go read that article. Hell, I’ll even quote it for you:
I’ve been trying to understand the mentality that leads people who wouldn’t ask a stranger to give them a keychain or a Twizzler to ask me to write them a thousand words for nothing. I have to admit my empathetic imagination is failing me here. I suppose people who aren’t artists assume that being one must be fun since, after all, we do choose to do it despite the fact that no one pays us. They figure we must be flattered to have someone ask us to do our little thing we already do.
And one more:
Practicalities aside, money is also how our culture defines value, and being told that what you do is of no ($0.00) value to the society you live in is, frankly, demoralizing. Even sort of insulting. And of course when you live in a culture that treats your work as frivolous you can’t help but internalize some of that devaluation and think of yourself as something less than a bona fide grown-up.
“Demoralizing” is an understatement. ALT is $2.99 on Kindle, and I’ve had some people tell me that’s too much. No, it isn’t. It should be $4.99, or maybe even $7.99. It’s a 53k word, 182-page novel with a 4.4 out of 5 average rating on Amazon, priced significantly lower than other books of similar size, length, and rating. $2.99 is too little, but I price it that way because I’d still like to maintain some sort of profit margin while remaining somewhat attractive to the people who are looking to spend the least amount possible. Dropping the price to 99 cents nets about 33 cents per sale–and the sales are so few that the price drop isn’t worth it.
For someone to vote with their wallet and determine that something I’ve spent years perfecting isn’t even worth the cost of a candy bar is more than demoralizing; it’s a slap in the face.
So, after this lengthy digression, my books will not be free anymore. I tried playing that game and have decided the only way to win is not to play at all.
ALT’s Cover Design
Andrew Shaffer offered a suggestion about changing the first book’s cover to be more compliant with its sequel. We initially didn’t do this because of the fees involved with updating the print editions, but Shaffer pointed out that eBooks and print books have different covers all the time. I admit that my slight case of OCD had a twitch, but considering Erica was never really pleased with the second edition’s cover to begin with, I’ve decided it’s a good route to follow. She has an idea for an ALT cover redesign and plans to start working on it tomorrow. I’ll post here once it’s finished.
Tips & Patronage
Another suggestion (thanks, Teel McClanahan) came in regards to a “patronage model” which isn’t too far off the mark from what I was planning to do with ULT’s special addition. In that respect, I was (and still plan on) taking pre-orders for the special edition, which would then be used to pay for the printing & fulfillment, with a small profit margin built into the cost. Maybe this is something I should do going forward for all releases?
Something else I’ve considered is just putting up a PayPal button on the side bar for tips. No, seriously. Did you read my books for free and think they’re worth something? Here’s a way for you to pitch in and help. Every cent would be rolled back into the business. I haven’t made up my mind on that, but I see it as something that would be there for anyone who’s interested in pitching in. A “tip jar” of sorts.
The Start of Something
I don’t know if any of these changes and/or methods will be effective. I won’t know until I try them. All I know is that something has to change from my current course.
For everyone who’s reached out to me over the last couple of days, and for everyone who’s been with me since the beginning of this crazy adventure: thank you.