Yes. I’m climbing back on the horse. Sorry for the long delay in posting. Even the podcast fell off the cliff for the month of July.
Medically, I had a problem with one of my meds that crippled me – physically and emotionally. I’ve got that sorted out and I’m back on the road again. I’ve managed to get my walk in for the last few days, which means I’ve also gotten my podcast recorded and posted over on Talking On My Morning Walk. We’re counting down to Day 1000 which will represent 2,000 miles walking. I’ve already walked the equivalent distance from here in Greeley to BaltiCon at Hunt Valley, MD. I’m not sure where I’m walking now, but you know what? The trip is it’s own reward.
I’m writing again. While I’m sure you’re all pleased to hear that, you cannot imagine how much it means to me. Short version: I’m 11,000 words into the next Ishmael Wang book. I have no idea how long it’ll be, when it’ll be done, or when you can get it. It’ll all depend on things I have little control over so I’m not promising anything. Just that I’ll get it out as soon as I can.
For details on what else I’ve been writing, you can check out today’s post over on nathanlowell.com. I’m not going to repost all that here.
Today I got a message from a reader who believes my books cost too much. I wanted to address that for those who might not follow the market, or my marketing, closely enough to understand.
Here’s the message (with names redacted to protect the innocent):
Kindle e-book pricing
Leave Your Message Here:
For the length of your books (the Trader’s Tale series) I believe your Amazon Kindle e-book pricing is way too high. I bought 1/2 share and was disappointed at how fast a read it was compared to the quarter-share books included in an anthology I’d bought before. My honest opinion is that these should be $199 or $2.99 books, not your current $4.95 price on Amazon. Either that or 1/2 share, full share and double share should be combined at the $4.95 price. You’re good – but not THAT good. Many other Kindle authors are quite happy with the lower prices which they make up for in higher volume. I don’t think I’ll be purchasing the rest of the series – it’s just not a good value in my opinion. I have endless choices and they’re all cheaper than yours.
Please don’t dogpile on this person. In the first place, he or she doesn’t read this blog so it won’t matter. In the second place, I’ve already sent a reply via email.
But here’s the thing I wanted to share.
This is really high praise for me. Quarter Share is barely 80,000 words long. Half Share comes in at nearly 90,000. Given that it’s 10% longer, this reader found the story to be so engaging that it felt shorter. So much shorter that the price point became problematic. Wow. That’s pretty cool and I’ve already thanked the reader for that. I can understand that getting Quarter Share as part of a ten book bundle for 99-cents might have made the $4.95 price point seem high by comparison, but that bundle isn’t going to last forever (or much longer) so that’s a factor.
I’ve pointed this reader to the free audio and to BookBub and BookGorilla for other books with promotional pricing. There are some excellent values to be had there.
But I want to go back to the $4.95 price point.
I didn’t pick that price because I thought it was what my work is worth. While there’s a rationale behind it, I picked it for completely emotional reasons.
I’ve been a sf/f reader for decades. I lived for mass market paperbacks and devoured them by the hundreds over my life so far. I see ebooks as the new mass market. But a funny thing happened in mass market publishing. They used to be really cheap. Even a guy who had trouble buying groceries could scrape up a few coins at the end of the month to buy a book. I still have my 95 cent edition of Dune. But sometime in the 90s, publishers pushed the prices of mass market paperbacks into $6.99 and then up to $8.99 and even higher. The last price point I remember saying “Okay. I can buy this” without feeling guilty was at $4.95. While I remember the 95 cent days, I’m also aware that I could have bought a gallon of gas for that then, too. Times change.
So $4.95 represents a kind of “golden age” of science fiction for me. Maybe even a golden age of reading because that’s when I read a lot of different books, too. Yeah, it’s more than a gallon of gas right now, but not by much. When I started back with Ridan, $4.95 was on the high end of the scale. Now Amazon data indicates that I’m actually leaving money on the table by not moving up to $6.99.
I don’t care. It’s not about pennies per word here. If it were, then the ebook of Owner’s would be three times the ebook of Quarter. It’s also not about selling the most books possible. While I love having my readership grow, the reality is that my stories don’t appeal to everybody. The one-star reviews are proof enough of that. I don’t really want people to pick up my books because they show up on a “bargain books under $3″ list (although they will occasionally). I want people to grab a sample of my books because folks like you, dear readers, have recommended it. You know what the stories are and what your friends like. That’s the important part for me.
So thanks for hanging in with me. There are new books in the pipeline.
It will just take a while for them to dribble out the other end.