I ranted Saturday. It happens. Usually I am just getting something off my chest and not too concerned with the ultimate outcome. You know, that “hey, if I reach a few readers and help one or two find their way or feel better that they aren’t alone in how they feel, I’ve succeeded” kind of blog.
But not Saturday. Saturday I really spoke my mind. It was all from the heart and I really cared about the subject matter and most importantly I had been holding this in for a long time. Believe it or not I really don’t like to blog about touchstone issues. Sacred cows are best left to their own grazing is my opinion. You get yourself into hot mustard too quickly on the Internet when you speak your mind. About anything.
But I was AMAZED at the Indie response. It honestly warmed my heart. I’ve been a bit despondent lately and feeling as if we Indies as a collective have lost our way (and each other, in some respects). But I heard from a ton of fellow writers, through myriad social networks. I got emails. I was tweeted. In fact I even heard from writer-pal Edward Owen both here AND on Facebook.
He mentioned a revolution at hand. Many mentioned the good old bandwagon. I say it’s time. We Indies need to start acting (and pricing) our books like we’re serious. Stop watching the Amazon “leader-board” like we’re at the Kentucky Derby hiding beneath some behemoth monstrosity of (what could hardly be called) a hat. We need to be the ones at the front of the mob, pitchforks, muskets, swords, torches, AK-47s, anti-tank artillery, and whatever else it takes to storm the damn castle gates.
John Belushi (as Bluto Blutarsky) my have thought the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor but he still said it best:
WHO’S WITH ME?
Seriously. I heard from a lot of great Indie authors. But I didn’t necessarily hear from YOU. Or YOU. You know who you are. I should have heard from 1,000 of you. 10,000. Where are you? Still at 99 cents and bad-mouthin’ your country, I’ll bet (Officer and a Gentleman for those of you who think I am actually questioning your patriotism). What I AM questioning is any of you who really believe you have a great book, are not on some type of official promotion, and are still charging the price of a large Snickers bar for your novel. Sorry, a large Snickers bar costs more. If you’re at 99 cents, you’re saying your book is worth a two-pack of Skittles.
I heard a lot of people this weekend say “the consumers/readers will set the prices”. That’s true. Eventually, they will. But right now that’s like saying a running back will have as many yards as his talent, dedication, hard work, intelligence, instincts, eyesight, and athleticism will get him—and then sending him out into a muddy cornfield with a blindfold on. The consumers in this market have been misled. They are in NO SHAPE to decide what an eBook is worth because for the past two years, like Pavlovian dogs they’ve been conditioned to believe that in the eBook market they are entitled to be entertained for free.
One commenter put it this way (paraphrasing; I’m too bushed to go find the actual quote): “Imagine walking into a concert or a movie theater and saying ‘No, I’m not paying, you should entertain me for free today.’”
But that is what our industry has come to. Writers (including me) have been schlepping their novels for 99 cents for so long that THEY have set the market price, not the reader. The good news is if we set the price in the first place we can set it back!!! It isn’t going to happen overnight. Even if every author on the planet raised their prices from 99 cents to $2.99 overnight, there might still be a market backlash. Sales would probably slow. But they would pick up again and I think they’d pick up damn quick. Because the book-reader would ask themselves “Wait a minute, since when should I have been expecting an entire NOVEL for less than a buck? An Egg McMuffin costs more than that and I also buy a coffee with that!”
If you price it, they will come.
I want to hear from more of you. I am going to blog and blog and tweet and tweet and, well, I’ll think of some other way to get the word out.
And authors, do your readers a solid. Show them how much you appreciate them. DO run 99 cent promotions once in a while (and freebies) and advertise them well. There really are avid readers (and fans of yours) who have a hard time spending $5 on anything right now when it means not buying something more important to sustaining their lives and putting food on the table.
I’m telling my readers this right now: if you are strapped and can’t afford $3.99 or $4.99 (or even $0.99) right now, give me a shout. Let me know. I will give you a copy of my eBook, and I always will. And if you are a con artist and you bilk me out of my $3.99 then I’m okay with that, too, because you are one hell of a shitty crook if a $4 book is your target and need all the assistance you can get, my friend.
All kidding aside, let me know. You don’t have to do it publicly. Click here and tell me which book you want (I originally set up this email address for Black Beast, but let me know in the email which of my books you don’t have and what format you need).
I’ll leave you with a great quote:
If we behave like those on the other side, then we are the other side. Instead of changing the world, all we’ll achieve is a reflection of the one we want to destroy.
JEAN GENET, The Balcony
The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.