Friday, 19 September 2014

Book prices?

Recently I've been thinking a lot about writing and book prices. 
All a reader, (myself included) wants is a well written, well edited, well presented, and  fairly priced book.  As an avid reader that's enough for me.
As a self-published author, I view the pricing war that operates within the e-book market as abysmal. Readers are simply not prepared to pay a fair price for a book that may have taken an author two years or more to write. The author will have had the book professionally edited; proofed and possibly critiqued. Now, after spending possibly six months making corrections and giving the book a final read through the author finds that in the main, Kindle readers expect to pay an average price of 99p, or have the book as a freebie.
What brought about a price war? The freebies certainly didn't help. As soon as it started, that IMO was the beginning of the end. I did not participate I could see it would eventually all end in tears. Fair enough, if my fellow authors were prepared to give their books away, I supported them all the way. Each author makes their own decision as to how they will market their books.what will suit them best.
I read that readers were downloading anything and everything, just because it was free. They said (and still do) that they will never pay for a book again, and know they will never read most of the books they have downloaded. 
If they are downloading the first or second in a series, they have been known to say they will wait until the next is available free. I always think that the wrong thing to do is to give the first in a series away if you haven't even written the sequel. The same goes for giving your first book away if a reader enjoys your work they may well come looking for other books. If you haven’t written any, they will go away and forget you. With the amount of free books out there no reader is going to anxiously wait around  for your next book. 
Amazon started to reduce e-books to 50p, and also reduced paperbacks were reduced. Publishers quickly hopped on the book-bandwagon; they started to giving out freebies. There are the loss leaders in supermarkets. Three books for under five pounds, in the main they are recent books by top authors sometimes sell at 50p. I know because I buy them. The strategy works because if I like a book I've read I will buy other books by the author. The trouble is Indie authors find that it is impossible for them to reduce their paperback editions to this level. Hence they cannot compete in this market.
Amazon have started selling three paperbacks for ten pounds. These aren't old books either. I've looked at what's on offer, and some have been published this year. They're excellent bargains, particularly if you're in Prime, no travelling expenses, no struggling home with a heavy bag. Although anything to do with books is never a hardship to me, only a pleasure.
Where does this leave the poor indie authors who try every which way to find new marketing ideas? I must admit they find the situation very difficult at times, after all when major publishing houses are practically giving their books away; hope disappears down the plug-hole fast. Was giving books away free  worth it? Well a few authors would say yes, but the majority would disagree, as after a short spike in sales their sales fell right away. Many say it wasn't worth giving their work away as they hardly gained any reviews from giving the freebies away. A few authors complain that even their freebies get returned! 

When you think of the hours of hard work, and sleepless nights that go into publishing a good book, how awful is it that you are expected to give it away? Or sell it for next to nothing; is this down to our throwaway society, where nothing is considered of value anymore? Or is it because of the pressure publishers or Amazon put on Indie authors, who are only trying to find their place in such a crowded market?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Amazon Discussion Forums - Meet Our Authors

I decided to write this blog because someone mentioned that it's so difficult to find the Discussion threads on Amazon now. She had noticed that they are no longer mentioned in the menu bar at the top of the book pages. I had noticed that Meet Our Authors is no longer mentioned at the bottom of the page - where the most frequently mentioned threads are given a mention. I wonder why? Are Amazon thinking of dropping the Discussions?
The MOA stands for Meet Our Authors on the Amazon Discussion Forums. Should readers see the title and visit the Discussions they would expect to do exactly that, meet authors. Instead, they are greeted with pages filled with promotions and just a couple of chat threads. MTM's thread and this one. Mine is on the UK Discussion Forum of Meet Our Authors,  My Books - Carol Arnall - Continued. Any reader visiting wouldn't bother to come back would they? I have chatted to a few readers, but they say they get fed up of seeing the same books promoted week in and week out. I have pointed out that authors have to promote regularly in case new people happen to find this thread. Many won't bother to look back on the threads to find a book among the thousands advertised.

It's like anything that needs promoting, our books need to be mentioned somewhere on a regular basis or no-one will be aware that they are there. But if readers don't know about the MOA is there any point in promoting? IMO, yes, unless you another way of marketing works for you. But not on every single thread in one day! That's overkill. A bit like some products that you see on the television constantly advertised.
ETA, but unless people start a few interesting chat threads that might catch reader's attention then they certainly won't return.