So I Bought My First eBook

I’ve written before about the plethora of free eBooks I have found on Amazon since getting my tablet,  and about my concerns that free is not a viable price point for writers.    So I thought I would mention that I actually gave into the temptation the other day and bought an eBook for $2.99.     I had downloaded and read a free copy of Rebecca Forster’s legal thriller Hostile Witness.    It was a good book.   Forster writes well and succeeds in drawing complex characters with rich and believable back stories and does an excellent job of plotting  a suspenseful novel full of twists and turns right up to the very last page.    I enjoyed the story so much that after reading the sample of the next volume in the series,  Silent Witness,   I clicked and bought it from Amazon.

My friend Susan Wells Bennett,  an #indie novelist,  whose latest release Night Life is a Kindle exclusive right now,  has suggested that authors may be well served by having a new book in the KDP exclusive program for a single ninety day period.    Though Susan definitely feels that it would be a mistake to keep all of one’s books permanently in KDP.   Savvy readers will know that more free days will be coming and many may opt to wait rather than pay for the book.   The abundance of free books is what makes me worry that readers will become so accustomed to the price point free that they will simply completely stop buying books.      I will certainly be interested to ask Susan and other authors about their experience with KDP and whether or not they believe giving the book away free for five days out of ninety is helpful in driving paid sales.

I am convinced that big publishing is making a huge mistake in pricing back list fiction in eBook format at $9.99 or more.    I continue to believe that three to five dollars is a sweet spot price where authors can drum up real sales and build a paying audience.    I hope that more authors will be savvy and not release more than a sample or a single volume at the free price point.    I also hope that authors will continue to use Smashwords to make their books available from a number of different vendors and not let Amazon become a monopoly in the eBook market.    AND I’m pleased to say that I am starting work today on a new fiction project.    Here’s hoping it’s a great day in your world, too.

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10 comments on “So I Bought My First eBook

  1. With the lawsuit currently pending against Apple and the big 5 publishers, I think it is going to get interesting to say the very least! I have bought a dozen or so ebooks, and have read many free ones, some good, some not so good. A lot of times, I will get a review copy from an author, and go out and buy the rest of their books if I have the funds to do so.

    • Lisa, what the current news suggests to me is that at this point it is merely viewed as a clash between two monopolists. As a writer I can’t begin to say which might be just slightly less awful than the other enough to choose. My only solution, which seems to me at this point inadequate, is to promote SmashWords, which is I believe the best eBook self-publishing solution available for #indie authors. It really is as easy as upload a word processor file and they smash into about 20 different formats and sell it on several major retailers including Amazon, Nook, Kobo etc. In my heart I am absolutely certain that people who write and want to sell their work and make money from their writing are best served by smashwords which can serve as fantastic infrastructure to keep the eBook market out of the hands of monopolists, who STILL don’t seem to grasp that 3 dollars is the sweet spot for eBooks, not 10 or 15.

      • I absolutely and 100% agree with that. I am working on a few projects of my own, a novel, a novella, and a few shorts. I 100% intend to use Smashwords myself. I also avidly promote Smashwords works wherever possible, and though I have a Nook Tablet, if it is cheaper through Smashwords or even the same price as through BN.com, I will go with the Smashwords version and sideload it. Smashwords also allows more of the money to stay in the hands of the author, and allows the author complete control over the work. To me, it is a win-win.

  2. Alan, after Circle City Blues has its free Amazon days next week, I’ll be happy to let you know if I think the marketing ploy is working for me. Unfortunately, I don’t think it did a lot for Night Life — though, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much since it is the third book in a series.

    I believe my name is becoming better known, though the progress is sometimes depressingly slow. I don’t regret opting to go the indie route (especially in the face of the current Goliath v. Goliath showdown), but I do wish I had better options for getting my work out there. While Smashwords is a fantastic platform, the average reader still has no idea it even exists. If I didn’t have a terrific support system of friends and readers, I might have already abandoned my dream. I feel a little like Tinkerbell — clap if you believe in me! LOL

    • Susan, it is unquestionably a struggle. I find myself wanting to be sure you do realize that if you select the options, publishing your book on Smashwords makes it available through Amazon’s Kindle Store, B & N’s Nook Store, Kobo–where I sometimes get books for my tablet, Apple’s store for the iPad market. And perhaps one or two others. With one upload to Smashwords your eBook becomes available on 5 of the top sites for eBook browsing and buying. You could yourself or your publisher (is your publisher another actual entity or is it a company you control?). If you are determined and have time, there are certainly other markets besides these big five, and it is possible that some books might do better in some specialty retailer that catered to a niche your book is targeted to. (I know, I know. You want to just write and let other people figure out marketing. The big down side to big publishing’s fall is that writers more often than not have to do work that big publishers once had huge sophisticated departments to handle 🙂

  3. Don’t worry, Alan! 🙂 I’m aware of the channels Smashwords provides, and I do take advantage of them (or, rather, my publisher does — Inknbeans Press is a separate entity). If you search my name, you will find my books on all of the sites you named above.

    Still, I can’t help feeling like the other channels have no interest in promoting books that don’t come out of the publishing machine. On the other hand, Amazon has sent emails to my readers suggesting my other books! That kind of free, automated publicity is much appreciated by struggling writers, which is why so many indies are (sometimes blindly) devoted to them.

    As for seeking out my niche, I’d love to know what that is! Since I write what is frequently termed “mainstream literature,” I find myself somewhat out of the loop on niche marketing. If only I wrote zombie or vampire lit, I’d have a built-in audience. But I believe in writing what I find interesting, so you won’t find any vampires or zombies in my books. The occasional ghost? Yes.

    On a side note, I’m glad you seem to be back on track. I hope things are good with you today.

    • Susan, I am definitely in a manic phase these days, though after sleeping about 12 hours last night I am tired and groggy today. Never know quite how it’s going to go for me.

      That you feel all of those eBook stores have no interest in promoting your work, is I believe an accurate perception of today’s realities. In my experience, want to be writers tend to have vastly under-rated the value that copy editors and proof readers bring to any work of writing that is to be read by many people. Some of the very worst independently published books I have reviewed, had clearly never been proofread before publication. The fact that a minimum of two sets of eyes need to examine copy before it can be considered ready for publication is simply a result of the way we humans are.

      If you read a mistake and don’t notice it– depending on how fast you are able to read, and more importantly I believe how fast you are able to think, I believe that many times your brain scans the data and communicates it to your consciousness and the brain may “overlook” what it obviously sees as an error and “transmit” what you meant to type back to your consciousness. And if you overlook an error twice, there is a huge probability that on the third pass you will overlook the mistake again and then even if you re-read the manuscript a zillion times (which certainly happens if you are the publisher of the book). Two sets of eyes are much better than one and four or five sets may be better still.

      From what I’ve read of your books so far, you seem to be writing light, comic fiction. It’s not quite romance. It’s not Young Adult. In the library, your work would be shelved in general fiction, I’m sure. I agree with you that it is best to write whatever you feel passionate about writing. If you were a client, I would tell you that it would be somewhat easier to build an audience and earn more from your books. But if earning income is not your be all and end all goal….I’d hate to be the one who told a writer who has a serendipitous novel somewhere in her, that she would be better off cranking out hacks 🙂

      • edit to insert the words “if you narrow your focus to appeal to a genre or a niche” after ” it would be somewhat easier to build an audience and earn more from your books”

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