State of the publishing nation, pt 4

Following on from my last post, it’s obvious that self-publishers are getting away with murder and the traditional publishers don’t have a clue when it comes to pricing their ebooks (I’m still not going to pay more for an ebook than a hardcover).

Ebook pricing is a bit of an arcane art – but if you do the math, it comes down to two things if you set your own prices:

  • How many do you have to sell to live?
  • How likely are you to sell that many?

Rank hath its privileges

People like Amanda Hocking and John Locke can get away with Selling their books for $0.99 – sell millions of copies and you’re fine – but for mere mortals I’d say it’s undervaluing what we do and sets a bad precedent in some cases. I do know people who ONLY buy books that are less than a pound or a dollar, but I don’t think I’ll get more exposure by selling them at that rate (and I believe you get what you pay for).

This is topical, as recently someone I follow on Twitter posted that his book was available for $0.99. Great! I thought, I’ll go get it!

This is the book: it’s great, go and get it anyway!Wrong. Due to the print publisher’s way of doing things (and most of them, to be honest, I don’t want to single out just one) the publisher responsible for his book in the US doesn’t control the ebook pricing in the UK, as he’s got two publishers, one for US, one for the UK. I have to ask – what?!?

While I appreciate that traditionally, having a separate publisher for each continent/country was a better deal for authors (was it really?), but I have to ask why? Okay, I can think of some benefits for having continent specific publishers, like switching from American to English spellings and making sure your target audience understands what you’re selling. But is this giving the reader credit? I don’t think so.

Indie publishers, on the other hand, who are doing it for themselves can change the price and it goes down ACROSS THE PLANET – and that’s paper as well as ebooks. Personally, I sell copies all over the planet of my various books and I’ve never had anyone complain about the spellings (mostly English). Personally, I’d rather keep more of the pie, rather than pay two publishers for the privilege (and don’t talk to me about them giving it more exposure as I would still have to do all the work!).

Like the regionality of DVDs (archaic), this is an issue publishers are going to have to sort out. It’s a big planet out there, and there’s a lot of us out here that have money burning holes in our pockets and no, we don’t live in the continental U.S. And as a consumer, I frankly DON’T CARE that I live outside the U.S. And if you want my money – and for me to read your book – you shouldn’t either.

AN ASIDE: You do realise there are a number of sites (Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Pottery Barn, to name a few) in the U.S. that haven’t worked out how to send merchandise abroad? It’s just too freaky man! (said in a stoner voice). It’s like the flat Earthers insisting on flatness. “No, there is nothing outside the continental U.S. but freaks and monsters.”

Look, we know it’s possible to release things and control the prices in multiple places at once – all we need now is for the ostriches to pull their heads out of the sand and get things done!