Oh, Hai.

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):
Email Subject:
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. 🙂

About The Captain

The Captain is Nathan Lowell -- Author and narrator of these Tales from the Golden Age. You can find out more about him at his main website.
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33 Responses to Oh, Hai.

  1. David says:

    That person’s a dope. The $1.99 books are CRAP. Yours are GREAT (and edited).

    Illegitimi non carborundum

  2. Sprocket says:

    OMG! So happy to hear you’re back writing about Ishmael’s world. Have just re-read all the Solar Clipper books for the third time and thought there was certainly room left for another book or two.

    Personally, I care little about what I pay for books. What price the universe? What price a world of intrigue and wonder, far beyond what the mundane world provides… Excitement, emotion, imagination – a bundle of wonder wrapped up in little symbols we translate in our heads to shape a vivid response. Magic.

    So thank you for what you do. The world is a far, far better place for the rest of us by grace of authors and their support teams. Thank you for the wonder of it all.

  3. Sprocket says:

    PS: Could there be a cat? ^^

  4. The Captain says:

    There might be a cat.

  5. Trish Henry says:

    Yay! I recall reading about enjoying the journey. Smart words from a smart man. Excited about Ishmael, but even more excited and glad for you. Take care!

  6. Thank you sprocket!!! So well said. And thank you Nathan Lowell for many hours of reading pleasure and distraction. Love your characters and your stories.

  7. It is praise that the reader thought Half Share was shorter. Personally, I am more than happy with your pricing and I am looking forward to the new Ish novel and Cape Grace when they come out.

  8. WBEST says:

    You book pricing is well within the bounds given the quality of your writing and story concepts. I wouldn’t worry 1 bit about it. Get back to work writing that book!

    And glad to hear you’re feeling better too……but really….get back to work on that book!

  9. The Captain says:

    15K words in as of now. I may add a few more before the day’s out. 🙂

    And thanks.

  10. Davetheloud says:

    I price things for a living in the construction industry trying to ride the intersecting curves of, well a lot of factors to maximize returns. In the end it comes down to a guess. I like your system.

  11. The Captain says:

    I’m trained in enough economics and marketing to know about price elasticity of demand and the incremental revenues and costs associated with various price points. I know how to find them and how to use them.

    I choose to price my books at a place that means something beyond “that’s how much I’m worth.” It’s high enough that I can keep writing and low enough that I don’t feel guilty when a fan wants to buy me a beer at a con.

  12. Davetheloud says:

    More satisfying and rational than what I do.

  13. Maggie Leber says:

    It’s great to hear you’ve got your meds squared away and there may be another book in the series someday; I’ve been re-reading the Clipper books (again) and some what sad to wonder if we’d ever hear more of the tale.

    I even dragged out my Lois McKendrick SketchUp model again (which has lain fallow while I study for a real-life rating: instrument pilot), and reflected that modelling such a big ship in the detail I want (complete interior and systems, so that I can walk her decks in SecondLife, HighFidelity or OpenWonderland someday) is a huge job, and perhaps it’s be smarter to do the Iris or Agamemnon first. Working out the details of engines, fusactors and environmental and galley systems could be shared across them all to some extent.

  14. Ryan G says:

    Mr. Lowell –

    I have an autographed copy of Quarter Share on my bookshelf. It is one of my favorite books in my collection. I have listened to your stories on podcast, and even have the Lois McKendrick screen saver on my phone and computer. I have shared your stories with my son’s, who have also devoured them. 4.95 is nothing compared to the enjoyment your stories have brought.

  15. I.S. says:

    I think 4.95 is in the category of cheap books I buy without knowing if they are good or not. 9.95 would be a bargain and I would only start to hesitate if you went up in the 15 something range. Mind you, I would still buy your books, but I would probably grumble a bit.

  16. Adam W says:

    Books priced 1.99 or 2.99 give me pause and I hesitate to buy them for fear of poor quality. ON the other end books $7 and up give me pause not on quality but because it would be a dent to the pocket book and I tend to scrutinize the reviews looking for the excuse not to buy. Personally as a reader anything in the $4-6 that has a decent cover a cool idea and a sample that seems well written is a shoe in for purchase.
    I am a believe also that a good cover tells the reader that the (indy) author cares about their work and most likely polished and edited the prose. Its a yardstick to the works quality and while not always accurate is a good indicator. I’ve read good books with horrid covers but I almost didn’t buy them due to it and I know I’m not alone.
    Can’t wait for more Ish! Glad you’re back Cap’n!

  17. Geoff says:

    personally i have no problems with the pricing of your books. I’m addicted to your works so I’d probably pay more myself 🙂 Can’t wait to see the new work thats coming along.

  18. Charlie G says:

    It’s all about perceived value, isn’t it? I consider it this way: You can’t but a fast food combo meal for less than $5. A movie matinee is $10.

    I can read your books over a period of days and get a great deal of entertainment from them. I can come back a year later and read them again and get just as much enjoyment the second (or third) time that I read them.

    My opinion is your work has a very good entertainment to $ ratio. 🙂

    Thanks for your work and I’m glad your are feeling better.

  19. R says:

    Me, I got these stories on the free podcast, and listened several times. I was thrilled when they came out in print, and bought a copy of all of them (and Mr. Lowell’s other series too). If you like a story, you buy it if it’s at all within your means to do so, it’s that simple.
    the Traders tales are unique and very enjoyable to me, and I am very pleased to hear there’s another one coming. Good luck to the author on the medical stuff, and I’ll be waiting to snap up the new book as soon as it’s out.

  20. Ari B. says:

    Glad you’re feeling better, and getting back to your routine. Best wishes for continued good health!

  21. Triss says:

    So glad to hear about the continuation of the Ishmael series. I have read it many times, and just completed listening to podiobook.com series all the way through again.

  22. renmek says:

    I think your book prices are reasonable, don’t sweat what one anonymous complainer say. Now go finish the next book. (I did the Jedi mind trick over my kindle just now so you must obey)

  23. Travis says:

    Nathan – I haven’t physically read any of your books although I plan on it. I’ve listened to the podcasts of the Trader Tales several times however. When your books came out on kindle, I bought them all to support your work and show my appreciation. You deserve that and so much more for the joy your stories bring. Hope you’re feeling better!

  24. Rob says:

    Not all the $1.99 books are crap, but few if any rise to your standard. That said, have you considered putting one or two on the Kindle Unlimited program? The comments I have read from some other authors seem to suggest the return, both monetarily and in terms of visibility are huge.

    Glad to see you are doing better, and writing again. Can hardly wait for that new Ismael story!

  25. Megan Pawlak says:

    I’m an original reader who joined in when you were first releasing full share. You kind of dropped off the map for me because of your ongoing difficulties, but I LOVE your writing and reading. I do recommend your books when I can and I’m SO excited to hear you’re writing in the solar clipper universe again. I need to get back on board with the Lammas wood! I’m sad to hear you’ve had more health problems, and then happy that you’ve gotten back to something you love. I know how that feels and I’m excited for you! Hang in there!

  26. Megan Pawlak says:

    sorry the link to my etsy shop was wrong. it should be fixed in this post!

  27. Joe says:

    I’d be happy paying the 6.99 for your books. They are well written – much better than 99% of ebooks at the bargain end of the price range. Quite frankly, I’m getting tired of the formulaic space opera titles that permeates kindle unlimited.

  28. steve Bradley says:

    I think your prices are phenomenal for the great book and the amount of enjoyment we all get. I would pay more if you asked. Any great kindle book under 9.95 is a good deal. Everyone has to make a living.

    So there is my 2 Cents or 4.95 🙂

  29. Michelle says:

    Your prices are wonderful and I would still happily buy them instantly at twice the price. That you share with us through your talent this wonderful world that you have created and these people who we have come to know and love is a precious gift. SO very thankful that you are feeling better and back at work. Loved the new book and can’t wait for their next adventure!!

  30. I’m going through the Shares again–on Captain’s now, so nearly ready for the new stuffs. I got them from Podiobooks…I can’t remember if I tipped for them way back when or not, but really, I should, even if again. But even this unemployed bum can afford $5 for a cracking good yarn, and so I shall do when I finish again. I’m kind of dreading Owner’s Share, TBH, because I know how it ends, but on the other hand, I’m really looking forward to the new book, even if I have to have it read by iPhone Alex instead of by your fantastic self. I’m sorry I didn’t know you were in poor health, but I’m sure glad you’re on the mend.

  31. Linzi Day says:

    $4.95 works for perfectly for me. Although in fact as a Brit I pay £3.99 (British pounds) which is both more expensive – in terms of pure conversion from USD to GBP and cheaper in terms of the equivalent mass-market paperback.
    My point, I think, is I simply don’t care … Ishamel gives me such pleasure … and a much more long-lasting pleasure than a large glass of wine in a bar – which it is about the exact equivalent of.

    However I really must add my vote … for a cat 🙂

  32. Chad says:

    “Ryan G says:
    August 5, 2015 at 8:01 pm
    Mr. Lowell –

    I have an autographed copy of Quarter Share on my bookshelf. It is one of my favorite books in my collection. I have listened to your stories on podcast, and even have the Lois McKendrick screen saver on my phone and computer.”

    Wait..what…where is this?! Must Google…..BRB

  33. Jesse says:

    I’m late to the party. Again.

    I found Podiobooks after Captain’s Share had been released. I found out about Ashes last week.

    Although I don’t have a Kindle, I wanted the books. I found the Kindle app and purchased all of the Solar Clipper universe novels. Even the novella. Keep it up, Mr Lowell. I’ll keep reading. Hope you get that Amazon bonus.

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