The process of selling e-books on the web has been one big experiment, for the industry in general, and for the SJB. With the introduction of a new medium has come innumerable questions about, among other things, the value and worth of books when they are in digital formats. And I, like my compatriot authors and publishers, and like consumers, have struggled to find the proper price for our wares.
The past few years have seen a great deal of debate on the subject, and price suggestions that have run the gamut, from equal to hardback prices, to essentially free, and everything in-between. And during these debates, I have set my e-book prices at a level that I considered fair to both parties, and hoped for the best. Over the years I have adjusted these prices, to match what I saw as the worth of my books, and the price that I thought was reasonable to ask for them.
But in studying the market, and my product, I have made yet another adjustment, based on a reality that I have not really addressed before: The reality of my relative anonymity in digital publishing.
To put it in plain English, in the literary world, I am nobody. I am an unknown writer, an author without fame or critical accolades. No one from the various literary award offices is asking why my books aren't being nominated. I cannot commercially stand toe-to-toe with King or Baldacci or Brown. Such is the fate of the hobbyist author.
In the commercial world, no one expects a product made by an unknown to sell for as much as the work of a known producer. It does not (unfortunately) relate to the quality of the work, but the value placed on fame... the assumption that the famous artist must produce a better-quality product, else, they wouldn't be famous. Fickle though this logic may be, it is the reality of the market, and one that must be acknowledged if one expects to make sales.
This means that, yes, I can sell my novels online... but as a relative nobody, I should not expect there to be a great demand on my novels. In the selling world, when demand is low, prices should be low to entice buying. And although I priced my novels at what I considered a low price, I have come to realize that, in this reality, they should be priced lower.
And so I have lowered all of my novel prices to $1.99, effective 3/14/2010. I believe that this price is equitable to my talent, my efforts, and my relative obscurity in the market, as well as the reality of existing e-book pricing conventions. Hopefully, the public will respond to this price lowering with the agreement that the work of a relatively unknown writer is well worth the amount asked, whereupon they will buy books, and tell their friends.
I won't speculate on whether or not my status as an author may change, nor whether or not that will impact my work, and my pricing. For now, I will only say that the new prices may or may not change in the future, so... get 'em while they're hot.