Author Topic: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!  (Read 4127 times)  

Offline lostones

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When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« on: May 14, 2013, 06:32:05 AM »
Please understand... we love to get paid as authors

But there almost seems to be a frenzy among self-published authors to get as many books out there to the extent that the writing can suffer and so does the reviews

Today I saw an author on Amazon. They had basically taken what really may have been good as one novel and split it into 4 books which were only 49 pages long and then tacked $2.99 on to each

Result? They had some good reviews but a vast majority of the folks said the same thing. It was too short and from what I can tell most grabbed it when it was FREE anyway

So the question is...

Should you just write a good novel. That is 250 or 300+ pages long

Or chase the money and who gives a rats ass about the reader, let's just give them 50 pages of drivel and hope we can snag a few $2.99 sales?

Again, I'm all for making money but I still think that

.. the story and the reader should come first

... not the money

And if that means taking 3 even 6 months to write 1 book, so be it.

What are your thoughts?

Also there is no right or wrong in this. I'm just throwing it out there to see what people's thoughts on it?

Do you like reading 49 page books?
Are you willing to pay $2.99 for a 49 page book? or 0.99?

Or do you prefer to read books over 250 pages long?

Offline Quiss

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2013, 06:52:50 AM »
I'd never read a book that was cut in pieces unless it was clearly stated that it's a serial. Well, and even then I'm not sure I'd be interested. Given the current eBook market $2.99 for 49 pages isn't acceptable.
I would feel cheated if this ended on a cliffhanger, forcing me to keep buying more pieces. To me, it borders on the unethical (again, unless something is marked as a serial)

While there are some writers who can churn out quality in very short time, I'm sure they're in the minority.
I worry that the "write more books!" mantra is leading some to believe they just have to publish something, anything, and the dollars will come.
The mantra should be "write more good books!" 
Unfortunately, the slush is piling up and the readers are taking notice. I think this is the reason that some 'gatekeepers' like Bookbub are doing so well. With an overwhelming choice of titles, a lot of readers want someone to vet their material for them.
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Offline MegHarris

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2013, 07:06:51 AM »
Quote
Today I saw an author on Amazon. They had basically taken what really may have been good as one novel and split it into 4 books which were only 49 pages long and then tacked $2.99 on to each

I don't know the books you're referring to, so I have no idea if they "split" a novel, or if they actually wrote it as a serial, which is really not constructed the same as a novel. But there's nothing wrong with serials-- they've been around for ages. Some people happen to like serials. I like writing them, and I like reading them. I object to the notion that they're just a split-up novel, even though some readers will perceive them as such. There are some readers out there that don't like serials and will leave comments along those lines. It doesn't mean they're right, or that everyone hates serials. Sales numbers indicate that some serials are wildly popular.

Quote
Should you just write a good novel. That is 250 or 300+ pages long

Or chase the money and who gives a rats *ss about the reader, let's just give them 50 pages of drivel and hope we can snag a few $2.99 sales?

I also object, very strenuously, to the idea that short works are necessarily drivel. This is insulting to a lot of writers here, frankly. Plenty of readers and writers like shorts. They are particularly popular in certain genres, such as romance and erotica. Novels are not the only quality writing out there. Isaac Asimov wrote wonderful short stories. So did Daphne du Maurier, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury... the list goes on and on. "Short" does not equate to "drivel."

Quote
Given the current eBook market $2.99 for 49 pages isn't acceptable.

I think this is high myself, but for erotic romances, it seems to work for some authors.

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2013, 07:09:59 AM »
My thoughts are:

- a story should be as long or short as it needs to be.
- too many self-pubbers are concentrating on the short term at the expense of the long term.
- Everyone has their own thoughts on pricing, but personally I feel that there is a certain point where XX pages for $X.XX dollars is just gouging people.


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Offline Duane Gundrum

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2013, 07:20:10 AM »
I'm kind of torn on this one, but not for reasons that might seem readily apparent. First off, all of my books are full length books. I do have a couple of novellas I've published, but I've never actually split a book like you described.

Until now. Well, not exactly, so let me explain. I wrote a novel some years back that started a series I'll be writing for the rest of my life. It covers 3000 years of history, and each book is about 250 years of time. The first book was called The Tales of Reagul, and it ran about 500 pages. It was told in "books" which were separated into chapters. But it was still on "book". Not too long ago, I realized that the novel needed some fleshing out, so I reexamined it and realized that it could become multiple novels, although it would need a lot more writing. The three novels I split it into aren't just 1/3 of the 500 pages. I've been going through and developing each third into  full length novels that will probably hit the 400-500 page range. So, each book will still be rull length novels.

This is the only way I would ever split a book, and I think the series will be that much richer for it. The additions I made weren't just page fillers, but entire adventures and further fleshing out of some very significant characters.

At least that's my take on the subject.

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Offline Susan Kaye Quinn

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2013, 07:28:27 AM »
Splitting up a book is not the same as writing a serial. I've written several books and I'm near the end of my first serial, and believe me, they are quite different creatures.

At my price of $0.99 for 40-60 pages per episode, readers seems willing to buy and I don't get complaints about the price.

Some people love serials:
Quote
You need to imagine a serial is like a television series. Where every episode you've got a mini plot going on whilst still drawing on the overall story line of the series. That's just what serial's are about. And Delirium delivered exactly like I had an episode of a brand new series play in my head.
--NetGalley review of my Debt Collector serial

But it's still a difficult sell to get people to buy the individual episodes - many people have told me they love the concept, but they'll wait until the serial is done and then buy the collections. *shrugs* I don't care what format they buy it in, as long as they're interested!
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Offline wilsonharp

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2013, 07:30:32 AM »

Unfortunately, the slush is piling up and the readers are taking notice. I think this is the reason that some 'gatekeepers' like Bookbub are doing so well. With an overwhelming choice of titles, a lot of readers want someone to vet their material for them.

I'd like to derail this thread for just a second to comment on what was said here.
 
We complain about the old system of gatekeepers, but those gatekeepers were set up by readers in the first place. They knew that if XXXX publishing house put out a book, that it would be a good book. They knew that if XXXX bookstore carried the book, it would be a good book. They knew that if XXXX reviewer liked the book, that it was a book worth reading.

Authors had to deal with those gatekeepers on a daily basis, but readers started putting them out of their minds. To a reader, it all blurred into "if a book is published, it must be good." Because the gatekeepers kept bad books from getting to readers.

Now, we live in a different world. And while many readers are excited that they can dig through the slush pile and find a gem, the vast majority will stick to their tried and true authors and occasionally pick up a book a friend recommends. Most fear (yes fear!) the idea of reading a "self-published" book UNLESS they can be assured that it is of quality before they pick it up.

Who assures quality? (i.e. acts as a gatekeeper). It looks like Bookbub and the like are being set up by readers as the new gatekeepers. It used to be "if I can get a publishing contract, I have a shot" or "if I can make it to the NYT Best Sellers list, I have a career", but now it is "if I can just get Bookbub to pick up my book..."

What we are doing is seeing the building of new gatekeepers before our eyes. We, as authors, see the tearing down of walls which keep us from connecting directly with readers as a good thing. Many readers, however, see the swarming hordes of barbarian writers coming at them through the crumbled walls and desperately want some gates and protectors to keep them safe.
     

Offline Jash

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2013, 07:36:53 AM »
Serialised fiction has been extremely popular in the past. People like ongoing stories featuring the same characters set in a persistant world. The Kindle, and other ereaders, are a nice distribution platform for this kind of work. Check out the Perry Rhodan series for something that takes it to the extreme... well over 2000 novellas published weekly. A lot of vintage science fiction was serialised in magazines before being released as novels and many classic victorian novels were first published as serials. There is precedent for this kind of thing.  

I quite like serials in some genres. For science fiction there is an element of nostalgia. I bought Wool (some people may have heard of it  :P ) as a collected volume after the fact but I would have loved to have been buying each volume as it was released. For an author who is engaged with their fans I think the shorter release cycles can be fairly exciting and fun and lead to a more intimate dialogue between author and reader.

If each volume has some substance and a narrative arc and isn't just the equivilent of some chapter pulled at random from a larger work. I don't find the $2.99 (2 for me) price point objectionable. I read for an hour a day over a coffee that costs me 2.20 and takes me half an hour to drink. On Fridays I get a cake as as well, that costs around 2.50, that takes me about 5 seconds to eat  :D . If a short part of a larger work can engross me for two or three of those lunch breaks 2 doesn't seem like an unfair price.

Of course if the complete book is available and works out cheaper I'm going to buy that, but I do quite like (good) serials, especially reading them as they are released and anticipating the next one and I don't object to paying a little more to consume books in this manner.... of course that's only if I enjoy them. Another advantage of serials is that the first part is often cheap or free, so if they're not good no one is going to fork out for the second and subsequent parts!

Offline Quiss

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2013, 07:48:26 AM »
Who assures quality? (i.e. acts as a gatekeeper). It looks like Bookbub and the like are being set up by readers as the new gatekeepers. It used to be "if I can get a publishing contract, I have a shot" or "if I can make it to the NYT Best Sellers list, I have a career", but now it is "if I can just get Bookbub to pick up my book..."

What we are doing is seeing the building of new gatekeepers before our eyes. We, as authors, see the tearing down of walls which keep us from connecting directly with readers as a good thing. Many readers, however, see the swarming hordes of barbarian writers coming at them through the crumbled walls and desperately want some gates and protectors to keep them safe.

Yep, exactly my point. Although I think Bookbub was set up by someone who knew there was money to be made, not to protect the beleaguered readership :)
While the deluge of not-good books continues, readers will continue to look for people to sift through the pile rather than take a chance on someone new. That's sad, and it means the indie-thing might just collapse on itself under the sheer weight of its inventory.

Unfortunately, you can't tell people to not publish something not ready for consumption any more than you can tell readers to be sure to read the preview before purchasing. It's a wild ride :)
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Offline Joe Vasicek

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2013, 07:59:31 AM »
What we are doing is seeing the building of new gatekeepers before our eyes. We, as authors, see the tearing down of walls which keep us from connecting directly with readers as a good thing. Many readers, however, see the swarming hordes of barbarian writers coming at them through the crumbled walls and desperately want some gates and protectors to keep them safe.

Purely as a reader, I disagree.  Most of the self-published books I've picked up are actually books I enjoy.  The ones that are crap, I can pick up a sample first and tell that it's crap within just a few seconds of opening that sample.  I love the variety and originality that self-publishing brings, because now I can read books that surprise and excite me, rather than the cookie-cutter stuff that comes out from New York.

Regarding the OP, in my experience, people who complain that vocally about price were never really interested in picking up the rest of the story.  Taking a novel and splitting it into arbitrary chunks without a distinct beginning, middle, and end, that I can understand (and it's something that NY used to do all the time, especially in Epic Fantasy).  But if you've got a series of shorter works, such as novellas or novelettes, and each one is a self-contained story that takes exactly as long as it needs to tell it--I don't think that that's somehow "drivel" just because of the length.

If you're really trying to judge a book's value by looking at the dollars to word count ratio, sort of like the cents per ounce ratio at a grocery store, you're probably not into the story all that much to begin with anyway.

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2013, 08:25:28 AM »
I hate serials and I'd never buy them because I prefer to have a whole book. I picked up some first parts that were free and none of them felt complete to me. It was just a book butchered into pieces that weren't even interesting. Now I mostly avoid serials. There are thousands of full books out there, so it doesn't matter. Actually, I'd buy one part of the serial if I knew the story was complete somehow and if I didn't have to read the next one just to get the ending for the first. I'm sure some people prefer serials, so I'm glad there's something for them too.

I laugh at the idea of quality, though.  :P Who can define what quality is? Traditional publishers? Maybe, but they accept all sorts of books that they know will sell. Bookbub? Maybe, but they promoted books with homemade covers and without professional editing too. In the end, the only thing that matters is what people want to buy, so if they'll buy each part of a serial for 2.99$, give them serial. Who am I to complain? Can't blame anyone for offering serials. No one is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to purchase them. ;D
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Offline Lizbooks

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2013, 08:31:53 AM »
I like serialized stories as long as I know that's what I'm paying for. 2.99 seems fine to me. I pay more for a cup of coffee from McDonald's.

Offline dalya

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2013, 09:15:00 AM »
I like serialized stories as long as I know that's what I'm paying for. 2.99 seems fine to me. I pay more for a cup of coffee from McDonald's.

Exactly.

I put my word and approximate page count CLEARLY stated on anything that isn't over 50k/full-length novel.

Be less concerned with what other people are doing, and you'll be happier. Unless it looks like an awesome strategy you want to try. I'm doing novels now, but my serials were the first thing I ever put out that actually sold well/i.e. demonstrated that demand for that particular sort of thing exceeded supply.  :)

Offline TattooedWriter

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2013, 09:36:19 AM »
Some readers like series, some don't.

Some readers like serials, some don't.

Some readers only read novels, some are more eclectic in their taste.

Writers are the same...they like to write different stories of different lengths. Some actually write the type of things they like to read as readers.

But writing shorter works does not equate to "chasing money". Some of us are actually writing shorter works of quality.

As long as the writer is up-front about what the reader is getting, I don't see a problem. There's room for all types and lengths of fiction in this world. After all, part of the advantage of having 'indie' works out there is that readers can get stuff that they wouldn't be able to read otherwise.




Offline swolf

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2013, 09:49:22 AM »
Some thoughts:

Today I saw an author on Amazon. They had basically taken what really may have been good as one novel and split it into 4 books which were only 49 pages long and then tacked $2.99 on to each

Result? They had some good reviews but a vast majority of the folks said the same thing. It was too short and from what I can tell most grabbed it when it was FREE anyway

Reviews can be misleading.  People who are upset are more likely to voice their opinion than those satisfied.  I've seen a serialized novel (not mine) get hammered in the reviews, but it was selling like crazy.

Also, 'most grabbed it when it was free' doesn't really wash.  I've had books permafree for almost two years and they're still downloaded by the thousands per month.  The reader audience is always growing.

Should you just write a good novel. That is 250 or 300+ pages long

Or chase the money and who gives a rats *ss about the reader, let's just give them 50 pages of drivel and hope we can snag a few $2.99 sales?

It's not an either/or situation.

Again, I'm all for making money but I still think that

.. the story and the reader should come first

... not the money

And if that means taking 3 even 6 months to write 1 book, so be it.

I agree with all of that.  But as folks here have pointed out, and I've witnessed personally, some readers enjoy serials and don't mind paying the money.  As long is the author makes it clear what they're buying, there shouldn't be a problem.

And yeah, if someone needs 6 months to write a book, I see no problem with that.  Same thing if it takes someone two weeks.   After all, there's no guarantee that the one that took longer is going to be any better than the one that didn't.

Do you like reading 49 page books?
Are you willing to pay $2.99 for a 49 page book? or 0.99?

Or do you prefer to read books over 250 pages long?

It doesn't matter what we think.   It's the readers out there who ultimately make those decisions.

Offline TattooedWriter

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2013, 09:52:00 AM »
But there almost seems to be a frenzy among self-published authors to get as many books out there to the extent that the writing can suffer and so does the reviews

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,150274.0.html

Check out Elle Casey's thread. Then check out her reviews on Amazon...

http://www.amazon.com/Elle-Casey/e/B006SUPLO6/

Writing fast does not necessarily mean the writing or reviews suffer. You can't pretend there's a correlation between the two. There isn't.

Offline Terrence OBrien

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2013, 10:01:15 AM »
Quote
"Unfortunately, the slush is piling up and the readers are taking notice. I think this is the reason that some 'gatekeepers' like Bookbub are doing so well. With an overwhelming choice of titles, a lot of readers want someone to vet their material for them."

I'd expect services that recommend books to flourish regardless of the slush pile. It's a natural development that parallels the rise of the ebook.  People are reorienting themselves from paper and bookstores to their ereaders and computer search functions. It also parallels the move to using online resources to get information.

Amazon had search features before KDP. People used them to find what they liked. It wasn't because of a slush pile. It was because it was easy and convenient for consumers.

The addition of KDP doesn't change that. Amazon expands their search features, and third parties look for niches they can fill doing the same thing. Third parties are simply making things even easier for a subset of consumers.

« Last Edit: May 14, 2013, 10:51:30 AM by Terrence OBrien »
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Offline Carradee

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2013, 10:58:51 AM »
I like serialized stories as long as I know that's what I'm paying for. 2.99 seems fine to me. I pay more for a cup of coffee from McDonald's.

This.

There are some authors or series for which I would (and do) pay $2.99 for a short story or $11.99 for a novel. There are others whose work I wouldn't even pick up for free.

Also, time ≠ indicative of quality. There was a video on here not long ago covering someone's cover design. If you looked at the time stamp, the artist put that cover together in an amazingly short amount of time, but that's not indicative of the final qualityit's indicative of the artist knowing what they're doing. The same concept applies to writing.

While I agree that authors shouldn't rush in seek of a quick buck, there's nothing innately wrong with serials, or with splitting up a novel, or with posting all but the last three chapters and a blog and making folks have to buy to read the end. If readers dislike it, they'll vote with their pocketbooks.

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Offline Terrence OBrien

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2013, 11:09:28 AM »
The only thing that matters is the final product, not the author's production system, schedule, or attitude.
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Offline Soothesayer

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2013, 11:20:29 AM »
Um... three to SIX months to write a book? Are you writing epic fantasy?

There is no reason why it should take that long. It takes me about 3 hours a day to write enough to fill a 60k word novel in six weeks. The writing would be the same quality regardless if it is six months or six weeks. Trust me on this, I speak from experience.

Thus, you should write every single day, and a lot more than just 200-500 words.

Offline Vivi_Anna

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2013, 11:25:35 AM »
The readers are the gatekeepers.

If they want to buy a 40 pg story for 2.99, then they will buy it.  If they don't, they don't.  That's on them.

Why censor ourselves.  I say write what you want, how you want, how long you want, and price it how you want and let the readers decide if they like it or not.

I can write fast and I do.  I put out novels, novellas, and short stories as I see fit.  I'm in this to write what I want, when I want, and make as much money as I can doing it.  And I won't apologize for it either.

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Offline beccaprice

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2013, 11:28:57 AM »
Is $2.99 seen as being a fair price for a 40 page story? (and 40 kindle pages, or Word pages? how long is a page? I used an average 220 word/page count in figuring out how long my story collection was). Because I was told on another forum that $2.99 for 40 pages was outrageous, and it shouldn't cost more than $0.99 - and if Amazon let you charge less than that, it should be less.

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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2013, 11:37:48 AM »
Is $2.99 seen as being a fair price for a 40 page story?

Fair is in the eyes of the beholder.  To some yes, to others no.  Personally I'm in that latter category, but that's just my opinion.  It means about as much as...well, my opinion on anything else. :)

The market will ultimately decide what is and what isn't fair.


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Offline Alan Petersen

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2013, 11:48:38 AM »
I don't know the books you're referring to, so I have no idea if they "split" a novel, or if they actually wrote it as a serial, which is really not constructed the same as a novel. But there's nothing wrong with serials-- they've been around for ages. Some people happen to like serials. I like writing them, and I like reading them. I object to the notion that they're just a split-up novel, even though some readers will perceive them as such. There are some readers out there that don't like serials and will leave comments along those lines. It doesn't mean they're right, or that everyone hates serials. Sales numbers indicate that some serials are wildly popular.

I also object, very strenuously, to the idea that short works are necessarily drivel. This is insulting to a lot of writers here, frankly. Plenty of readers and writers like shorts. They are particularly popular in certain genres, such as romance and erotica. Novels are not the only quality writing out there. Isaac Asimov wrote wonderful short stories. So did Daphne du Maurier, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury... the list goes on and on. "Short" does not equate to "drivel."

I think this is high myself, but for erotic romances, it seems to work for some authors.

Agreed. Does the OP know that the author split a novel in order to cash in or was it written from the start as a serial?

Personally, I don't like serials, especially with cliffhangers. I couldn't even stand watching TV shows like Lost for that reason. So I don't buy short books for that reason. But as a business strategy, I have no problem with it, as long as they're upfront and readers know they're buying chapters as they go along, then everything is clear. I like books so I do pay attention to page count.

Offline CoraBuhlert

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Re: When Chasing Money Might Not Do You Any Favors!
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2013, 04:13:29 PM »
Is $2.99 seen as being a fair price for a 40 page story? (and 40 kindle pages, or Word pages? how long is a page? I used an average 220 word/page count in figuring out how long my story collection was). Because I was told on another forum that $2.99 for 40 pages was outrageous, and it shouldn't cost more than $0.99 - and if Amazon let you charge less than that, it should be less.

Using Amazon's page metric, 40 pages is approx. 13000 to 14000 words, i.e. novelette length. I sell novelettes (i.e. between 7500 and 17500 words) for 2.99 and so do many other authors. And yes, they do sell. In erotica, there even are people charging 2.99 for a 4000 word short story and those sell as well. In my experience, genre is a far better predictor of sales than price.

A lot of people don't like short fiction just as a lot of people don't like serials. However, plenty of people like short stories and plenty like serials and they are willing to pay for it. As long as the author is clear about what the reader is buying (e.g. I always put wordcount and approx. page length in the blurb), there's no problem. 



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