The day I published my first novel was the most exciting day of my career. The worst day was the next. I sold three books – one to my neighbour, another my barber, and the third a waitress where I get my coffee. And I had to tip her the $3.00.
Six months of blood and sweat went into that beautiful novel. The cover is a killer, the reviews fantastic. What was wrong? I listed it for free on several promotional sites and had an encouraging number of downloads. But when the price went back to “normal” the interest dropped. I have since met few authors who have actually succeeded chasing the cheap books/explosive revenue myth.
I have a master’s degree in business and more years in sales, marketing, and technology than I care to admit. I know a thing or two about product differentiation. So I experimented – more outlets, more formats, more promos. Facebook (got kicked off a few groups …), Twitter, Linked-In, Goodreads. Next came the audio versions and print-on-demand. Sales increased, but hardly to the levels I imagined. And that elusive call – “We want to do the movie … ” – never came.
Ironically, I generated more revenue from my audio and print books than cheap ebooks. Why would someone pay a premium price for the same story they could download for $.99? Was price really the motivating factor? Can you make it all up in volume as so many authors hope?
Or should I focus on quality?
I have written in my blog and author forums that the ebook format is sub-standard, the product juvenile. For eBooks I prefer the Apple iBooksAuthor version where I can create what Apple calls a “multi-touch” book that looks like a real book – a piece of art, not just a cascade of raw text. However, that requires a compromise – the books can only be read on the iBook platform. I needed more exposure.
Most eBook sales come from Amazon and Smashwords. So despite my self-righteous indignation, I had to resign myself to producing an ePub and Kindle version. I worked hard to format as good a product as I could for the low-end eBook devices. It is no small task.
It takes me three to four months to write, edit, and publish a book under the best of circumstances. I spend hard-earned money for a professional cover, and ensure that each book is a unique work of art. What value do I then ascribe to it if I price it at $.99.
I am worth more than that. I price my work to express what I feel is the value inherent in a good story and a quality product.
I paid $10 for a bag of popcorn at the movies last week – I would like to think my books are worth at least a bag of popcorn.
Centralia, WA USA
Letters discovered in a tin box hidden in the foundation of a small cottage in Normandy reveal a terrible secret … From The Juno Letters
You open a letter hidden away for seventy years, written but never mailed. You know the date, and you know the place. What you don’t know is the story.
The Juno Letters is set amidst the chaos and catastrophe of World War II. They are not war stories – you will not read of epic battles, movement of armies, or the sacrifices of millions of men and women at arms. You will read their stories – small stories, of people who struggle to survive, who struggle to love, to protect their families and their friends.
They are stories of triumph and tragedy. Of greatness and greed. These stories played out a thousand times … a million times … in occupied Europe in the face of the greatest evil ever unleashed on earth.
History is made of small stories – the stories of your family, and friends you never knew.
The Juno Letters, by L.W. Hewitt
THE JUNO LETTERS SERIES TITLES