I started this blog to talk about my experience writing my first book. However, I am first and foremost a reader, so this post is a little reminder about the price of apples…keep reading, it’ll make sense.
Recently I read some discussions on social media about the pricing of ebooks and then something happened in my personal life that was such a great example of people’s attitude towards this issue that I felt I had to write about it.
So, I am going to tell a little story. Bear with me, it might not be short, but I promise I have a point. This is a real story so to protect people’s identities I have changed their names/gender.
Friend number 1, let’s call her Mary, asked me to bake her a cake for a celebration. For those who don’t know me, I can make some good stuff, even if I say so myself. So Mary asks me to make this cake but wants it to be so unique that it goes beyond my skill. Mary suggests I ask Friend number 2; we’ll call her Martha if she can help with the part I can’t do.
Now, Martha is incredible at this stuff; she’s so good that she even has a business making cakes.
As you might imagine, everybody that has a business has to protect themselves against those who might want to take advantage.
These sometimes are friends and family, who might unknowingly take advantage. Questions like “Could you just do this for me just this once? It’s for your cousin/sister/best friend/aunt…”, are real and happen too often. Real clients usually sign contracts, so it’s an entirely different relationship.
On this occasion, Martha made an exception and agreed to help out so we would share the making of this cake for our friend Mary. Out of the kindness of our hearts, we were only charging Mary for the cost of anything we had to buy, such as ingredients to bake the cake, boxes to carry the cake, etc.
The things we weren’t charging for were:
-petrol to go to the various shops to purchase what we needed
-electricity to bake the cake
-water to wash up
(you get the picture)
Being sensible and organized, I estimated the cost for Mary. This was to indicate the likely cost of the cake. The actual payment would be made upon presenting the receipts. This was my condition, not what had been asked by Mary.
So here’s what happened when Mary received the estimate. Mary was nice about it but said she was going to buy a cake in the shop instead. We had a chat about it, and Mary told me she thought the cake was too expensive and she could buy a cheaper one in a shop. That is fair enough; Mary should only buy things she can afford. We are all still the best of friends.
People, this is a happy story for friendships worldwide. If you can discuss money and still be friends at the end, it’s a happy story.
While chatting to Mary and Martha, we came to this conclusion:
-Shop bought cakes are cheaper because they are mass made, often with sub-par ingredients. Taste is relative because, well, each to their own, but shop bought cakes won’t be as heavy or go as far as a homemade cake.
-Unless I am buying eggs, flour, butter, and other stuff in bulk, then my homemade cake is going to cost a lot more to produce because I am paying for the supermarket’s profit.
-It’s ok to buy a cake in a supermarket if that’s all you can afford.
-It’s not ok to ask or expect someone doing a homemade cake to match the price of the supermarket. (Let me be clear – Mary did not ask us to do this!)
-Let’s not even account for the time and money that was spent learning the skills to make the cake. In Martha’s case, she’s a professional, and she has laid out a lot of money on her education, particularly on cake decorating. My skills come from practice and a lot of willing taste testers at home.
Can you see the similarities with the book world?
Well, I could, which is why I’m writing about it.
See, I think both readers and writers have a responsibility when it comes to book pricing. When I read some discussions on social media, I wonder how many writers see their books as stock to sell in a shop and how many readers consider the same.
There are lots of variables that go into book pricing. I’m not an expert so these are just my observations. I work in retail, so I know a thing or two about the business:
-There’s the stuff you can measure such as length of the book
-There’s the stuff you can’t measure such as the quality of the writing
So this is how I see the separate responsibilities – please forgive me for laying it a bit thicker on the readers here, but I see them as the driving force behind pricing.
-Don’t underprice your books to match someone else. Look at the variables and take into account your sweat, blood, and tears. If once you looked at the variables you have decided what you’re charging is fair then you are not under pricing or over pricing. You are selling your book for what you think it is worth.
-You wouldn’t go to a shop and ask them to sell you apples for half the price, or even for free, would you? So don’t expect an author to do the same.
-There are plenty of freebies, promotions, and KU to allow you to keep your pennies where they need to be.
-Ultimately, if you can’t afford a book then save until you can afford it. Wait for a promotion or a freebie.
-Join an ARC group or see where there are opportunities to receive ARCs.
DO NOT forget to write those important reviews. Be the reliable reader. Authors aren’t asking for five stars, they are asking for visibility. A few sentences and an honest star rating is all that is needed.
These are thoughts that pop into my mind whenever I read discussions on social media, but I wanted to get all my thoughts in line before I shared them. Besides, cake more or less fuels my life so why wouldn’t it be the catalyst to this post?
Cake is awesome!
I hope you enjoyed reading the post and if this creates a discussion then let’s make it one where views can be shared without judgment. As with everything in life, people will differ in opinion because everybody’s life story is different. That’s ok. There’s plenty of nastiness in the world, let’s leave it out there.
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