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I agree to a point. I'm not writing just for the hell of it. That's one reason I don't price my books "free" or .99 except for a short promo (and perhaps once a series is done I will discount the first book).  I charge $4.99 for a 100,000 + word novel because I do want to make some money for my effort.

However, I will never write things in genres that are popular just to try to make money, if the genre bores me. I just said about 30 minutes ago on another thread here in the forum that if I wanted to be bored I would go back into advertising and make a whole lot of money again.  I tell stories that are begging me to tell them. It is art to me. Some people see it only as a business and that is fine. I see my writing as art. My preparation of the final product, and the publishing and marketing of it is a business. The writing itself will never be a business for me. When it stops being a passion I'm outta here. I've already worked at things that bored me silly. Never, ever again.

That said, I put out the best product I can from the stories I write. I feel they are done well, have great covers, descriptions and are well proofed/edited. THOSE things I do to make money. I hope to make enough that we don't lose our house. I believe in my books so much that we are taking that chance.
 

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I want to be rich. I definitely do. :)

I don't think that's the primary reason I write, considering I tend to do it even when there's no money coming in, but I want it to make me money.
 

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Caddy said:
However, I will never write things in genres that are popular just to try to make money, if the genre bores me. I just said about 30 minutes ago on another thread here in the forum that if I wanted to be bored I would go back into advertising and make a whole lot of money again. I tell stories that are begging me to tell them. It is art to me. Some people see it only as a business and that is fine. I see my writing as art. My preparation of the final product, and the publishing and marketing of it is a business. The writing itself will never be a business for me. When it stops being a passion I'm outta here. I've already worked at things that bored me silly. Never, ever again.

That said, I put out the best product I can from the stories I write. I feel they are done well, have great covers, descriptions and are well proofed/edited. THOSE things I do to make money. I hope to make enough that we don't lose our house. I believe in my books so much that we are taking that chance.
This!

As I go on in indie writing and publishing, the two aspects (writing vs. publishing) are becoming even more distinct in my mind. First, I create the art. Then, I figure out how to sell/market it. It do this partly because exactly what Caddy says above: "When it stops being a passion I'm outta here" - I have lots of ways to make money with my time, and writing is probably the least among them. But once I do the passionate art-making part, then I put on my publishing/marketing hat and say "how can we get this out to the most people and make some money at it, so we can justify doing more art?"
 

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I have been often critized for charging so much for my ebooks and paperbacks. I've heard it all - you would sell more if you lowered your price...you give indie authors a bad name...etc..etc.

I write because I like to help people - its always my primary motiviation.

That being said, I also believe I can do a bettter job of research, development, editing and produce a higher overall quality of product if I'm not worried about how to pay the electric bill.

Finally, there's the factor of doing something right and receiving a fair day's wage for a fair day's work.

If I don't value my work, how can anyone else?
 

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Finally, there's the factor of doing something right and receiving a fair day's wage for a fair day's work.

If I don't value my work, how can anyone else?
Exactly. And until more indies understand this and follow through, we will be seen as "less than" to many. But then again, I don't want to see indie work that is poorly edited and proofed with higher prices. That would just hurt those who put out decent product. Those who put out a decent product are selling themselves short if they don't charge a fair price that pays them some money. (Again, I can see a loss leader in a series)
 

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Before I quit my day job, I had to attend a corporate leadership seminar weekend bladdity blah where the folks in charge were using words like "synergy" and "an institution for the 21st century". I went in ready to be bored out of my skull.

Instead, they introduced this Venn diagram that kind of changed my perspective on life. Yes, three little circles. New order to the world. In one circle: "Thing you do better than anyone else". The second: "Thing you like to do". The third: "Thing that will pay you". Where all those circles overlap, you'll find career satisfaction and happiness.


(here's one I pulled from online with slightly different words)

And I realized that writing was the first thing I had ever done that gave me all three. Acting gave me the thing I like to do and the thing I do better than anyone else, but no one was willing to pay me for it. Working in an office was a thing I did better than anyone else and thing that people will pay me for, but boy I hated it. But writing? There it was.

No one says, "That star quarterback needs to sacrifice his athleticism if he wants to make any money." I'd say it is the same for us.
 

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We don't set the price for our books: The market does it for us.

Joe can sell his books for $9.95 because his niche is willing to pay that.  I'm sure he's tested his price points and knows that he makes more profit selling at $9.95 than selling at $2.99, even if he sold slightly more in volume at the $2.99 price point.  But that's only up to a point.  I'll be that he'd price his books at $2.99 if he sold 1000X more books than at the $9.95 price point thought, right?

Or maybe he needs to experiment with pricing his book at $14.95.  Or $19.95.

My point?  The market determines what price we can sell our books for.  We do not.  We just test price points and figure out where we can make the most profit.
 

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I love that diagram Kate! I feel that way about writing too.

Now to show it to my partner. If only he could come up with some profitable way of combining drawing, playing video games and kickboxing...

 

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My point? The market determines what price we can sell our books for. We do not. We just test price points and figure out where we can make the most profit.
Only to a degree. Many here find people willing pay more than "free" or .99 for their books. Too many indies assume that's not true. By the way, if no one priced a book at .99 the market would buy books at a higher price. Maybe not as much as a known author, but if there are no .99 all of a sudden a different price is the new bargain. We would still be below know authors at anything under $5. The market didn't start pricing our books at .99. Indies did. The market just took advantage of indie insecurity. Your argument only promotes fear.
 

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Adam G. Katz said:
Or maybe he needs to experiment with pricing his book at $14.95. Or $19.95.
Anything above $9.99 would actually *cut* his profit. Book at $9.99 x .7 = $7. Book at $14.95 x .35 (because 70% is only available between $2.99 and $9.99) = $5.23. He'd make just as much at $19.99 as $9.99.

Caddy said:
Only to a degree. Many here find people willing pay more than "free" or .99 for their books. Too many indies assume that's not true. By the way, if no one priced a book at .99 the market would buy books at a higher price. Maybe not as much as a known author, but if there are no .99 all of a sudden a different price is the new bargain. We would still be below know authors at anything under $5. The market didn't start pricing our books at .99. Indies did. The market just took advantage of indie insecurity. Your argument only promotes fear.
A lot of them priced at $0.99 for visibility. Others thought they had to compete with them, so they started pricing at $0.99. It's all fairly irrelevant what other people price their books at, IMO. If you can get your book visible and in front of fans, you don't have to worry about how anyone else is pricing their books, you only have to worry about what your fans will pay for them. Don't worry about competing with others, because I promise you that your readers aren't thinking about it in those terms. They're just looking for a good read within their budget.
 

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Does ninety-nine cents still make your book more visible?  IMO it gets lost in the masses at that price point.
 

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Sapphire said:
Does ninety-nine cents still make your book more visible? IMO it gets lost in the masses at that price point.
It can if done properly, and I saw an example of it this last month. There's more that goes into than just pricing at 99 cents and expecting it to sell a billion copies, though.
 

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Agree 100%.

I'd wager 95% of the people here are writing in the hopes of being able to support themselves. If not, why bother? If money isn't the end goal (or fame, as it were), then go to some fanfiction site and write your heart out. There are tons of them doing it for the love of the craft. That is not why we're here however.

True, money isn't everything, but when it is lacking...it is.
 

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Sapphire said:
Does ninety-nine cents still make your book more visible? IMO it gets lost in the masses at that price point.
I've been running 99 cent sales on books in conjunction with free days on my other titles with good success (which means better rankings). My income suffers when I do it, but it's made up for by a continued bump in sales when the books go back to the regular price.
 

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I subscribe to the theory, "Do what you love and the money will follow". I'm doing what I love and the money is following. But this is a business and I treat it as such. I wasn't satisfied to just get by in my previous business. I always looked at ways to increase my client base and expand my business. Writing is no different. I'm always thinking about ways to attract more readers so I can... make more money!  It just so happens that writing is my passion, so it doesn't even feel like I'm working anymore.  :)
 

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Soothesayer said:
Agree 100%.

I'd wager 95% of the people here are writing in the hopes of being able to support themselves. If not, why bother? If money isn't the end goal (or fame, as it were), then go to some fanfiction site and write your heart out. There are tons of them doing it for the love of the craft. That is not why we're here however.

True, money isn't everything, but when it is lacking...it is.
Agree 100%. I don't need to edit a hundred times with my fanfiction, looking out for places I need to show-not-tell. I'm a lot stricter with myself when I put out a product and charge for it.
 

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My goal is to be able to write full time without needing an outside job that will suck the life out of me. To accomplish that, I have to be a capitalist. Unless I win the lottery, I need to make enough money to support myself and live that lifestyle.

I also secretly hope that beautiful women will fall in love with my work, and want to date me as a result.  ;)
 

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That was a nice article, and I really agree on the whole "no one becomes a writer to get rich" thing.
Pretty much anyone in any job wants to be more successful at it. Just because the average income for a professional writer is seen as being low (though I have only anecdotes to back that up!), it doesn't mean the majority don't want to get rich doing it.
The reason I started out my writing career focusing on easily marketable erotic shorts is because it's an incredibly lucrative niche to work in. Obviously, I enjoy writing sexy smut a heck of a lot as well, but if it hadn't been for the financial pull erotica offers I almost certainly wouldn't have gotten started in this genre.

Once I'm making a modest living, then perhaps I'll start getting out those novels I always dreamed about writing in college. But those novels aren't going to write themselves very well if I'm living in a cardboard box scrawling them on the back of a candy wrapper. :)
Until my income starts to compare with what I could be earning working at a grocery store, I'll happily remain a shameless peddler of overpriced smut.
 

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Thanks for creating this thread.

I read John Scalzi's piece and all the subsequent comments. Before I launch into my two cents, since I'm new here, I'll very briefly mention where I'm at in my writing and life to give my comments a little context. Here's the opening line from my website bio:

I was born and raised in the D.C. where tourists don't go, a land of soul food and Scrapple.

I took an early retirement several years ago to see if I can have a second career as a novelist. I self-published my first novel as a Kindle book (the link is below, if you're curious). So while I'm new to the e-book world and this forum, I'm not new to life. Let's put it this way: I'm old enough to remember when Stevie Wonder was Little Stevie Wonder.

I think the question Mr. Scalzi poses is not phrased as well as it could have been. The word "rich" is an emotionally-charged one that conjures up, in some, the image of someone who will greedily accumulate as much money as possible to indulge in an absurdly lavish lifestyle, blithely turning a blind eye to helping others.

Not necessarily. My experience with human nature tells me that, after our needs were taken care of (like, say, putting the first million into an account for health care, which still not might not be enough), most of us would find places to send some money where it could help.

So there's that.

And surely all of us know that writing books, or writing anything, for a living is not a path to riches. Except for a tiny percentage of writers, everything we've learned about publishing tells us that it is not. Any professional writer you meet-at a conference, a signing, a workshop, wherever-will tell you that. Knowing this, anybody who actually sat down to write with the foremost thought of getting rich would be delusional.

To get down to cases, I don't EXPECT to, but I certainly HOPE to, make a lot of money from my writing. 'Cause, at the very least, mama needs a new kitchen and daddy needs a new career.

So I'd go with "hoping that my writing will make a lot of money" rather than saying I'm "writing to get rich." Put another way, I'd like to see a lot of zeroes on any checks that come my way.

I'd also take issue with calling this being a hack, as is done numerous times in the comments on Scalzi's piece. Hack has the very negative connotation of someone who has sold out for money. Calling oneself a hack, to me, makes it that much more difficult for a writer to defeat the neurotic fears and self-loathing that seem to come with the territory. I know the term is used humorously to convey the idea of not getting caught up in what-I believe it was John D. MacDonald-called the "Gee, ma, ain't I writing nice" syndrome.

I'm very much down with that. I'm a storyteller. An entertainer. And I say, utterly without shame, one who is hoping to be a successful commercial novelist, who will give you a good story for your money. But don't call me a hack. I'm not. I'm putting a Herculean amount of effort in to writing the absolute best book I can to make it worth plunking down your hard-earned cash.

The bottom line, and it's far from original for me to say, is that our primary goal should be to write whatever kind of book you are driven to write from the heart. I believe that if you sit down with the primary goal of making money, it'll always show in slavishly formulaic writing that no one's buying, because we readers are intelligent people, and we know crap when we see it. Once it's out there, the chips will have to fall where they may.

Thanks for letting me have my say. I'll close with the writing mantra I've created for myself:

When I write something irresistible they will be unable to resist it.

 
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