Marchbooks' Blog

January 13, 2010

Pricing eBooks

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 11:37 pm
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Recently, the question of eBook pricing came up in a forum that I follow. It was suggested that the publisher should set one price for all ebook formats. I disagree. This is my response.

I have not done it yet, but my understanding is that a Kindle conversion entails more than just throwing my PDF up on Amazon. Such a file, although it could be read on a Kindle would not allow text flow or change of font sizes, etc.

For me, it is very simple – a new file requires a conversion and that requires effort – some conversions require more effort, some require less. I am currently converting my novels to flipbooks. They are not suited to the ereaders. There is no text flow as with the ereaders. Surely I could, and some publishers do, just import their text and throw their books out there. I’m not willing to do that. Whatever format I choose for my books, I want the end products to look as clean and aesthetically pleasing as I can make them. That takes time and effort.

If I chose to make my PDF book files available on Smarshwords, I would not charge the same as I would for a flipbook that required hours of formatting and design, nor would I charge the same as for a proper Kindle or Nook version that I paid a service to convert for me.

Likewise, I think that the venue’s percentage should be a consideration. It is one of the many things about the publishing industry that I think is outdated. Why should the intellectual property holder be the last one to have a say about the end cost to the consumer? Big companies like Amazon and Wal Mart want to have it all. They want to tell you what % they will take up front (LSI exceptions noted), they want to decide how much of that percentage they pass on to the consumer – something that can change on a monthly basis, and they want to dictate what you sell to other vendors for.

The thingamajig maker who needs widgets does not go to the widget maker and tell them what they will pay for their widgets, nor do they dictate who and what price that company can sell widgets to other companies for. As authors, we are the supplier (the widget makers). As publishers, we are the manufacturers (the thingamajig makers), so why are we at the sales venue’s mercy? I am just saying that the author/publisher should not be at the bottom of the food chain.

In the end, it becomes a question of ‘buyer beware’. At any one time, you will find most books available for a wide range of prices on the internet – most often, none of that is the function of what price the author/publisher has set for their book.

I’ll end this little tirade with a personal example of how business is being done these days. I recently bought carpeting for one of my properties. I requested quotes from two nationally recognized chains. Both reps came out to the condo, took their measurements and gave me their quote. Quality of the carpet was comparable for both companies. The first company quoted me a price of almost $7500 – a price that I knew was grossly inflated, but I did not know how much as it had been over 10 years since I had carpeted this property. A week later, a member of their capture team, supposedly a supervisor, called and we talked at length. At the end of the call, this man offered to do the job for $2600. I declined. (I, personally, will not deal with a company that does business this way). The second company’s rep came out and went through the same machinations before tending his quote of $2945. We talked for a while about installation, padding, furniture moving, etc and ultimately settled on a price of $2600 for the job.

The first company is a thriving, although unethical, business so there is no question in my mind that there are customers falling prey to their blatantly userous tactics. The seller does not always do their due diligence, if they don’t they have no one to blame…Had I ignorantly accepted the $7500 quote I would be outraged, but I would have no recourse and no one to blame but myself.

I am not offering this to suggest that two wrongs make a right. What I am saying is that I am not going to undercut my contributions, significant as they are, to my end product when there is so much blantant gluttony both in and out of the industry. I believe that I can comfortably defend any price discrepancy that I might choose to impose.

I sincerely hope that some day we can see all authors elevated above their current position at the bottom of the food chain. Then, perhaps, more than just the top 5% could actually make a living in this business.

Let me know what you think.


January 11, 2010

Life Interrupted by M.J. Claire

Filed under: Comments from our Authors — marchbooks @ 4:13 pm
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Writing, at least for me, requires a tremendous amount of focus. I envy those people who can put a hold on their lives for a few minutes – just enough time to jot down a few lines of their current work in progress. I am not one of those folk. That is not to say that I need a quiet, sterile environment in which to work. In fact, the saying ‘ a cluttered desk is the sign of an organized mind’ could have been written for me. Well, I’m not sure about the organized mind part but I do seem to work best when surrounded by a certain amount of disarray. What I cannot do is spend several hours working in the office (on insurance matters), balance my finances, deal with the occasional personal drama and then sit down to write. At least not on anything of length.

I have those occasional inspirations; driving down the road, eating my lunch or riding my exercise bike when a thought encroaches which keeps banging against my head until I put it on paper. Those light bulbs are almost exclusively limited to poems, titles or ideas for new projects. Rarely, if ever, do they pertain to an ongoing project.

Once I have set the first few chapters of a novel down, the die is cast, that world has been created and my job as a writer becomes tuning into that world and those characters so that I can find out what is going on. I feel like less of a creator than a voyeur. In a way, for me, writing is like being a transciptionist with a radio. I play with the dial until I hit the right frequency, then I just write what I hear – ‘just the facts Ma’ am’ as they say.

If there is too much of my own life going on, there is interference and I won’t get clear reception. If that happens, I may get it wrong. Sometimes, even when my life is calm and I can devote all of my attention to radio surfing, the station in question isn’t broadcasting. That is why I always keep multiple projects going. If I am having difficulty falling into one story, rather than forcing it and putting words into my characters’ mouths, I will move on to another story.

So far, it works. Please feel free to share your own writing process. I am always interested to hear how a writer gets from a blank page to a finished manuscript.

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