JanNoWriMo and Pricing Woes
Wow. Talk about a crazy writing schedule. For the last two weeks or so, I’ve been getting up at 4, sometimes 3 in the morning to start writing. I’ve been writing on my lunch breaks, writing when I get home from work, all to get the awesomeness that is WOOL 5 out of my head and onto (metaphorically speaking) paper.
Really, I’m pulling the story out of thin air and putting it into my really thin Air! (Macbook Air) *rimshot*
The result of all this sleep deprivation (besides the horrid sense of humor displayed above) is that I now have 95% of the rough draft for WOOL 5 complete. I’m over 51,000 words! That’s another NaNoWriMo pulled off in less than three weeks. Unreal. It also means WOOL 5 qualifies as a novel, which leads me to my next point: How much should I charge for this bad boy?
During my brief career I’ve tried to be, above all else, completely fair and forthright with you, my handful of readers. Like the 3-part story of my middling success, my openness with sales numbers, detailing my every thrill and heartbreak, even dancing for you with silly a hat on when I reached 100 reviews. I’m as transparent as Wonder Woman’s primary mode of transportation, people.
So here’s the skinny: The first WOOL was around 11,000 words. A short story or a novelette, depending on who you poll. I priced it at the minimum and never figured it would sell more than a few copies. Soon, it was selling thousands. WOOL 2 was 20,000 words or so, and I kept the price the same. WOOL 3 went to 30,000 words. WOOL 4 was 40,000 (coincidence. really). All at less than a buck.
Here’s the issue: I’m making a pittance on each sale. Enough to quit my job so I can write full-time, but not so I don’t worry for how long I’ll be able to (or that this cavity will get worse as soon as my insurance is kaput). The reason for the pittance is this: Amazon has two royalty tiers in order to promote higher prices. They don’t want the downward pressure spiral of us indies devaluing the e-book, which I agree with. It’s painful to see poor little WOOL competing with 200,000 epics that were never edited, just thrown onto the Kindle market. I spend as much time revising and editing these stories as I do writing them. A fair price for WOOL 5 would be in the $4.99 to $5.99 range. Similar works of slightly greater length sell for $9.99 as e-books.
The two tiers, then, go like this: Anything below $2.99 receives a 35% commission. That’s 35 cents that I get when you buy a copy of any of the current WOOL books. Amazon gets the remaining 64 cents. At $2.99, which is where I price the Molly books and Half Way Home (which is almost exactly the same length as WOOL 5), I get a 70% commission. That’s a little over two dollars, or 6 times what I make otherwise! For three times the cost, I get six times the royalty. And the reader gets 4 times as much book!
This is what I would like to do, what I really need to do in order to keep writing full-time, but I worry about reader reaction. I don’t want it to seem like I’ve drawn people in only to gouge them later. In reality, the size of the product (and quality, judging by reviews) has gone up while the price has remained the same.
An informal polling on FB and Twitter received a ton of support for the higher price. I appreciated this, but I would love to hear from more of you. What are your thoughts? Is $2.99 fair? Will you buy me a cup of coffee for my month of sleepless nights? I want to do what’s right for all of us, to keep things fair, and so I want to know.