Now that Drinking Cafe Latte at 1pm is becoming more of a general purpose website than simply a blog, I think it’s appropriate to share some of my policies regarding my books, present and future.
As of now (October 18, 2015), I’m converting the stories I’ve written in the ’90s and ’00s (and a few early ’10s) into longer-form, better polished versions of themselves, and releasing them as e-books on Smashwords. This is part of my campaign to build a growing readership that will make my future work more enticing to agents and traditional publishers in the future. I recognize many of the stories I’m releasing in this format are non-standard for traditional publishing, and thus I feel this is the best way to get them into your hands, the reader. This does not mean that I plan to release everything in my library, nor does it mean that all future works will be written with independent publishing in mind. But this is a way for me to relieve some of the tension I have about keeping 95% of my library hidden from the public.
Because Amazon and Smashwords are separate entities that utilize separate ISBN assignments, I do not yet have a presence on Amazon (maybe by the end of November I’ll port everything in the current library over there). However, when I do finally submit there, I will list each book’s link to its store page accordingly, so keep an eye out for it. Please note that I will not enroll in the KDP Select program, so there’s no need to worry about exclusivity with my books. I will do my best to provide them wherever readers may search for them.
EDIT: I’m on Amazon now. Happy hunting.
EDIT 2020: Some of my e-books can also be found on Draft2Digital partner stores and Google Play Books. I’ll add more as I update them.
Print Books (General):
With the exception of three print collections that I uploaded to Cafepress in 2004, 2005, and 2006 respectively, all of which are no longer available due to Cafepress exiting the print-on-demand book business some time ago, I do not have any print books currently available. Once I upload my current e-books to Amazon, I will also make print versions available on CreateSpace (hopefully sometime in December). This is assuming that I like it more than Lulu. Again, links will be provided when relevant.
EDIT: I’ve also got print books now. You can find them on Amazon also.
E-books (Standard Pricing):
Regarding pricing and availability for my e-books, I charge as follows:
- Books under 25,000 words – Free*
- Books over 25,000 words and under 40,000 words – $0.99 (or regional equivalent)
- Books over 40,000 words and under 70,000 words – $0.99 – $2.99**
- Books over 70,000 words and under 120,000 words – $2.99 – $4.99***
- Books over 120,000 words and under 150,000 words – $3.99 – $5.99
- Books over 150,000 words – $5.99 and up
*This applies to fiction only. Non-fiction and poetry collections will be priced by different standards. I may also choose to charge for fiction under 25,000 words if I feel it’s something that should be bought and not just shared, but this will be a rare case, and probably not for anything under 20,000 words. As a buyer, I wouldn’t have much incentive to buy a story that’s fewer than 20,000 words, so I price according to how I would buy. I allow for an extra 5,000 words because I’m generous.
**Books between 40,000 and 70,000 words provide a gray area for me. I feel certain types of works deserve a higher premium than others, so I may price a 40,000-word story at $2.99 if I feel it’s deep and life-changing, or a 70,000-word story at $0.99 if it’s breezy and fun. I think all of my stories are worth reading, so I do not price according to quality, but this is one of those cases where I might price according to the potential impact it can leave on the reader. That said, my goal is to entertain, not to make you question your life’s decisions, so most everything I write under 70,000 words will probably cost you $0.99 to read, at least during the initial promotional period.
***Books over 70,000 words may get a temporary reduction of price during launch weeks and promotional periods (whenever I decide to have one, which is a fickle decision and not entirely reliable, so you shouldn’t wait for a price drop to buy the book because that book may never get one). Typically, this price reduction will be as low as $0.99 or perhaps even free if I think it’ll help get more reviews early on. Otherwise, expect a minimum $2.99 for these books, with $3.99 being the likeliest price.
Note: I can’t price books for free on Amazon without submitting a price-matching request. Books that are free at most retailers will likely start at $0.99 on Amazon. This doesn’t mean you should bypass Amazon, though. Even though it’s free everywhere else, it’s still just a dollar on Amazon, and every penny supports my work. You probably found that much during an average trip through a mall parking lot or by checking phone booth coin returns circa 1993. You could probably still find that kind of money in the coin return for a vending machine today. Don’t be shy. You’ve bought far worse for much more, I’m sure. How much do you spend on coffee a day? Yeah, it’s just a dollar. Buy five books. Then I can buy a coffee! Just kidding. Based on my royalty structure for $0.99 books, I’d actually need you to buy ten books for that.
Every so often I’ll release a story that breaks the conventional model as listed above. These exceptions are decided on a case-by-case basis, but they may have to do with the following reasons:
- I’m starting a series and want to make the first book more attractive by lowering the standard price or making it free.
- I want to get a boost in recognition, or encourage reviews, so I may price below standard or make it free to gain more readers.
- I set a presale price with the expectation of making a certain word count and somehow undercut that expectation or exceeded it.
- The book is something other than straightforward fiction and thus needs a different pricing model to justify it.
- I’d forgotten my own policies when I set the price.
Please note that I do not price according to perceived quality. I think all of my works should be bought and read. If I price for cheap or free, it’s because I really want you to read it, and I don’t want to make it harder on you to acquire it (or because it’s too short to justify a higher price).
Also bear in mind that I’m more likely to raise my prices over time rather than lower them. The best time to buy my books is when they’re still new. Cannonball City: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year One, for example, was free for almost a year. Now it’s $7.99. If you want a book, don’t wait to get it. Now’s the best time to add it to your library.
Here I’ll explain the reasons behind my pricing for books that break the above paradigm. This section will update as exceptions are made.
Shell Out: Even though the book description says it has over 25,000 words, it is actually closer to 12,000 words. Most of the bulk word count is due to previews for other books I’ll be dropping in the next couple of years. Also, this was my first publicly released e-book, and I think the introductory book to a writer’s catalog should always be free.
The Computer Nerd: This was originally going to be a free short story based on the version I had written in 2007, but a second look at the story convinced me that it needed more content before I could deem it finished. I set the presale price at $0.99, thinking it was going to become a 40,000-word novella. It became an 80,000-word novel, but by then I’d already set the price, so I decided to keep it there. It should be a $2.99 novel, though. If I had known what it would become, I would’ve charged more for it. Call this one a lucky break for readers.
Lightstorm: I had to seriously debate this one. It’s just under the 25,000-word limit for free books, but it certainly has the quality of a $0.99 book, so it would’ve been easy to add a price tag to it. I ultimately left it free because I’m still in the introductory phase of my e-book presence, and I’m more interested in gaining long-term readers than I am in sales, so I thought it was better just to keep to the 2015 trend and make it free.
EDIT 2020: Lightstorm is no longer free.
I’ll update this segment as more books apply to it.
E-books (Getting Priced Books for Free):
This segment is mainly for the reviewers, but also for the avid readers who don’t have much in their book budgets but still want a good read.
Even though I would love a solid supplemental income to pad my already meager annual earnings, I care more about readership than I do accounted sales per download. I am also a naturally generous person. So, I have no problem giving away free copies of my charged books if you want to read them but can’t afford the extra expense. I am also wide open to giving potential reviewers a free copy. If you are someone who wants to post a review of something I’ve written on your website or blog page, don’t be afraid to ask for a freebie. In the latter case, all I’d ask is that you provide me a link to the review when it’s posted. Please be aware that any link I receive will get posted on the respective book’s dedicated page.
If you want a free copy of any of my charged books, send me an e-mail (listed in my Contacts page) with the subject line, “Requesting Free Copy of E-book,” or some iteration appropriate to your style, and let me know in the body which book(s) you are requesting, and if it’s for a review, let me know the address to your blog or website where you plan to post the review. I will offer you a coupon that will discount the book at 100%. Note also that requesting a free book does not obligate you to a review (we can have the best of intentions right until life gets in the way), but I certainly hope you will review it, as I am grateful for anything you can say about it. Writers like to know where they can improve, and I’m no exception.
Keep in mind that all coupons for free e-books must be redeemed at Smashwords. I do not have the ability to give away discounts or freebies at the other retailers.
Print Books (Pricing):
This section is pending. As of now, I don’t have enough research on the topic to know how to approach it. Generally, though, I aim for $14.99 paperbacks.
As of now, I’m doing my own book covers. If you are an artist and you know you can do better, I’m open to hearing your opinions on how to improve interest or visibility. If you’re offering to create a book cover for one of my future books, or to update a cover for an existing book, I’ll certainly hear you out, but please be aware that I do not have much disposable income for such a thing at the moment, hence why I do my own covers. That will change at some point, hopefully, but I’m not there yet.
Editing and Book Updates:
For the same cost-related reasons listed above, I do my own editing. Yes, it’s a no-no. Yes, I’m fine with that for now. I’ll purchase editing services when I start earning a better income. A much better income.
However, because editing is important, and because I often learn of new ways to accomplish that goal successfully, I update my books from time to time. Sometimes I fix a typo I catch. Sometimes I rewrite an entire scene when the current version doesn’t work as well as I’d originally thought. In some cases I’ll revisit the story’s tone. In rare cases I may even re-release the book under a new title and genre description if such a move is justified. Generally it won’t come to that, but it could happen.
I bring this up because I do announce major changes to books, and I typically replace older versions with those newer updates. Most, if not all, retailers allow you to re-download a book when updates are published, so please be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive notifications about any major update.
Eventually, I hope to have something listed here. Even though I have submitted to agents a few times, I’ve never been happy with the drafts that I’ve sent out. They’ve either been too long or too underdeveloped, but never satisfactory to me. Much of that comes down to the psychological war I have over submitting what I believe in versus submitting what feels safest to the agents and/or publisher. I still haven’t found that happy medium, but I’m working on it. Again, part of my independent e-book journey is to gain the readership necessary to make a transition into the traditional print world a little smoother.
That said, I do have a few titles that I’m saving up for the traditional publishers. I may release them as an indie e-book if they’re looking like they’ll never fit comfortably within their secure little paradigms, or if my platform never grows in spite of my best efforts, but it’s still my goal to try. I’ll talk about them in my regular posts whenever they become relevant.
If you have additional questions or comments, feel free to contact me.