I’ve been writing seriously less than three years, but in that time, I’ve seen e-publishing and self-publishing boom. Along with that, I’ve seen the number of people who give away their writing—both literally and figurative—increase.
I’ve seen many tweet and such about people selling their short stories for 99 cents on Amazon, or they post free stories on their blogs. I can see where this is an effective marketing strategy: give the reader a small taste, get them hooked, and make them buy more. (Incidentally, I think this is how drug dealers work.) What I don’t understand, though, is when people do this repeatedly. They sell multiple stories for low prices, or they give away whole books.
One could argue that this is no different from the times I submitted stories to publications that offered either no payment or toke payment. My only argument is that mostly did that when I was starting out so I could get some publishing credits under my belt. (I’ve done it a few times recently, but I usually really wanted to be a part of the publication.) My goal now is to make at least some money off my writing. Shouldn’t I be paid a decent wage?
I guess my main concern is that writers are selling themselves short. I think that $3.00 for a novel is too low, even for an eBook. Novel writing is hard; that’s why I haven’t finished one yet. I know there’s a lot of competition out there, and authors have to do a lot to get their work read, but is it worth lowering our standards? If writers keep selling their stories for less than they’re worth, will the readers start to expect less. For example, say I finish a novel and decide to self-publish. I decide to set the eBook price a little higher, maybe $5.00, because I put a lot of work into my book. Will John Q. Public pass on my (hopefully) awesome book just because the price is too high compared to everyone else?
I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s actions, because Lord knows I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m sure other writers spend more time looking into their markets than I have. I just don’t understand modern publishing, I guess.