J.A. Konrath Responds to Hachette Document: Advice to Publishers

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By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Yesterday, we published a leaked document from Hachette outlining the company’s position on why publishing companies are relevant. Hachette was addressing an ongoing debate in the publishing world about the value that publishers bring to the industry given the new production and distribution platforms.

The item generated considerable response. Dozens of comments, emails and Tweets debated the points of the document, some criticizing Hachette and others praising Hachette.

One email in particular received by Digital Book World seemed worth publishing. Self-published author J.A. Konrath, who was named as a self-publishing success in the first article, wrote us a point-by-point response to the Hachette document. In addition, he wrote us his advice to publishing companies explaining how they could “start actually being relevant.”

Konrath has been an outspoken member of the self-published author community and has authored and self-published several successful titles; he has also published traditionally with Hachette. His latest title, Stirred, published by Amazon publishing, is out now.

Below is his list of advice. We invite him to publish the rest of his response on his blog to continue the debate.

From J.A. Konrath to publishers:

Publishers should stop trying to convince themselves and others that they’re relevant, and start actually being relevant. Here’s how:

1. Offer much better royalties to authors.

2. Release titles faster. It can take 18 months after a book is turned in to be published. I can do it myself in a week.

3. Use up-to-date accounting methods that are trackable by the author, and pay royalties monthly.

4. Lower e-book prices.

5. Stop futilely fighting piracy.

6. Start marketing effectively. Ads and catalogue copy aren’t enough. Neither is your imprint’s Twitter feed.

Related: Is Seth Godin Right About Publishing?Hachette Document Explains Why Publishers Are Relevant | Exclusive Q&A With Hachette Digital Chief Maja Thomas

Hear more insight about the future of the book business at Digital Book World Conference + Expo 2012, this January 23-25 in New York. More>>>

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42 thoughts on “J.A. Konrath Responds to Hachette Document: Advice to Publishers

  1. All the stuff that Konrath mentions, Grey Gecko Press is already doing. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be very interested to see what else he had in mind.

    Jason Aydelotte
    Managing Editor, Grey Gecko Press

    • Wow, nothing like shameless self-promotion Jason. Here’s my rebuttal to J.A.’s advice, and you don’t need to go to my blog to check it out:

      1. Agreed. Offer better advances as well.

      2. Also agreed, though a week is extreme.

      3. Also agree.

      4. Disagree. With more readers switching over to e-readers why would the prices get lowered? They are just changing how they read a book, so the price should remain steady. The only reason you made this point is for your own self-publishing agenda. Lower e-book prices is the only way SELF-PUBLISHING will stay relevant. Why? Because nobody will buy a self-published e-book for higher than $4.99. Guaranteed. Try selling at $9.99. You can’t because the publishers offer a better product. You want the publishers to drop down to self-published prices, and I don’t see a valid reason for that.

      5. Okay, so what is a better way to stop piracy?

      6. If ads and catalogue aren’t enough then what is? What is your plan?

      I hope you elaborate more in a blog post, particularly about numbers 5 and 6. As far as I can see your rallying cry against publishing basically is your marketing tool. I was just happy to finally see one of the larger publishers respond, even if it was a leaked document.

      • Oh, and as to #4: I would never buy an ebook that costs more than the paperback of the same title, no matter who published it. And certainly not one that was priced over $10. I’ve been talking to a LOT of people about this stuff practically non-stop for nearly a year and I’ve only met a handful who disagree.

        Ebook prices are WAY too high. And when you look at the unbelievable formatting errors coming out of the major houses on some books… well, I can get better formatting, and better books, at a much lower price from independents. THAT is why trad pubs need to lower their prices.

        • @Jason Aydelotte

          Apparently you’ve got a thing about book prices. I’m trying to parse your argument from your various public comments on the issue. Let me know if I’m getting this right:

          1. No ebook may ever cost more than the paperback of the same title, no matter who published it.

          2. “And certainly not one that was priced over $10.” I’m trying to figure out if that’s a general prohibition on ever pricing any ebook above $10 or if that’s just a modification to rule #1.

          3. Ebook prices are [broadly speaking] “WAY too high.”

          4. The insult of these high prices is exacerbated by the “unbelievable formatting errors coming out of the major houses on some books.”

          5. Generally speaking, independent publishers offer “better formatting” and “better books” at “a much lower price” than traditional publishers.

          6. “THAT is why trad pubs need to lower their prices.”

          7. J.A. Sanderlin’s “Europa” which you bought from Amazon for $15.59 and reviewed on the site, was priced too high for a “not even 400 pages [368 pages], in paperback.” You feel that “the price on this needs to be adjusted significantly downward, especially for the [$9.99] Kindle version.” I’m not certain whether you noticed that the book is published by Tate, “a Christian-based, family-owned, mainline publishing organization with a mission to discover and market unknown authors.” Writer Beware gives Tate, a vanity publisher, “two big ‘thumbs down’.” (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2007/02/happy-valentines-day-from-writer-beware.html)

          Your own The Dying of the Light: End (Volume 1) retails for the curious price of $11.24, but you charge $5 for shipping, a total $16.24, but then your book has 406 pages, hence a cost $0.002/page less than “Europa”.

          Your book has been well received on Amazon. Congratulations. One reviewer declares that it’s “Not Your Average Zombie Novel.” However your average review is 4.5, while “Europa” averages 4.6 (and would average higher if you hadn’t trashed it).

          I’m beginning to sort of understand what you think the problem is. But I think I could use a few more pointers.

      • You write: “With more readers switching over to e-readers why would the prices get lowered? They are just changing how they read a book, so the price should remain steady.”

        The difficulty is that for nearly a generation now publishers have acculturated consumers to getting books for 30 percent off at B&N, forty percent off on Amazon, and paying $13.49 for a first printing hardcover at Costco. They let Bezos set the price of e-books on Amazon for too long, people are used to paying $5 a book now, if not 99 cents, and outraged when someone tries to charge $15. Ask Michael Connelly what happens then.

      • PJ said: 5. Okay, so what is a better way to stop piracy?

        Um, you don’t! Why are people so scared about piracy anyways?

        It’s gonna happen no matter how much you encrypt files. There’s something much worse
        than piracy. Maybe you’ve heard of it:

        OBSCURITY.

        People won’t even steal (let alone buy) something they don’t even know about!

        And those who do pirate would do it because they’re never willing to pay for it, and that’s
        not your audience. You’re trying to reach the people who want to pay for what you’re writing. Besides, if some high profile thief gets ahold of your book or someone shares it on a big sharing
        site, then enjoy the free publicity when others hear of that and go buy it to see what all the hype
        is about!

  2. I agree that over $10 is too high for an e-book – look at the Steve Jobs biography, for example. However, I’m looking at it from a publisher’s point of view – Steve Jobs has been selling at $14.99 and it is ranked #14 in the Kindle store. There are numerous other books selling at that same price which are ranked high. If the book is selling at that price, why should they lower it? If one of your books was selling at $14.99, would you lower the price?

  3. 4. Disagree. With more readers switching over to e-readers why would the prices get lowered? They are just changing how they read a book, so the price should remain steady. The only reason you made this point is for your own self-publishing agenda. Lower e-book prices is the only way SELF-PUBLISHING will stay relevant. Why? Because nobody will buy a self-published e-book for higher than $4.99. Guaranteed. Try selling at $9.99. You can’t because the publishers offer a better product. You want the publishers to drop down to self-published prices, and I don’t see a valid reason for that.

    With ebooks, there is zero cost for printing and shipping, and there is no tangible object (re: paper books). There is no cut to give the distributor. They should be less expensive than paper.

    If you regularly read my blog, you know I post my numbers. Lesser priced books can sell up to 10x as many copies as those priced just a few dollars more.

    If publishers wanted to make more money, they’d lower ebook prices. But instead they want to protect paper sales. So the ebooks I have that my publishers control don’t make nearly as much as they could, for either of us.

    5. Okay, so what is a better way to stop piracy?

    Why should we stop piracy? It doesn’t hurt sales. There has never been a single, unbiased study that proves it does.

    6. If ads and catalogue aren’t enough then what is? What is your plan?

    My plan is to keep all of my royalties, and not piss them away on ads or by working with a publisher.

    Selling is all about building a fanbase, which you do one person at a time. That’s not marketing. It’s informing people who want to buy what you’re selling.

    Publishers don’t do this. When I have more Twitter followers than my publisher does, something is very wrong.

  4. Thanks for replying, you have cleared up some things. The only thing is with the pricing: if there is no cut to give to the distributor and the price stays the way it is, couldn’t that cut go to the author instead? This would go along with your first point of better royalties for authors.

    • if there is no cut to give to the distributor and the price stays the way it is, couldn’t that cut go to the author instead?

      Yes, it could. But it isn’t. Publishers are keeping it, and gloating about how much money they’re making.

      But they won’t be gloating when their authors abandon them.

      • Not all of us. :) If anything, I gloat about how much I give to my authors (anywhere from 20 – 50% of list).

        Granted, we’re a (very) small press, but a lot of the way I run things is to help out the authors. I learned some of that from being an author, some of it from reading about the way traditional publishers run things, and quite a bit of it from you, Eisler, Gaughran, and others.

        So thanks!

  5. @Thad:

    1-6 are all correct as you stated.

    7. About Europa… I bought the book from the author for $15 at a convention, not from Amazon. If I had taken the time to research the book properly before buying it – or had the opportunity, as I was busy the whole convention with my own table – I would not have purchased it. As it is, I felt and still feel that I gave the book an honest review. I had no idea who published it at the time and had not interest in learning who it was. Your information is very edifying, and I thank you for it.

    Post-7(?): \The Dying of the Light: End\ does currently retail (in print) for $11.24, which I agree is a curious price… until you find out that I’m currently running a sale for the month of December on both the print and ebook versions of 25% off the normal prices ($15 and $4, respectively). I charge $5 for shipping from my own website because I send all books through USPS Priority Mail, rather than media mail or standard ground shipping. I also include a free copy of the ebook (in Kindle, ePub and PDF formats) with the purchase of any print copy.

    As to the reviews of TDotL, it has also been called \the best zombie book since World War Z\. You’ll notice it has received only 1 review each in the 1-, 2- and 3-star categories. It also has a total of 59 reviews, as opposed to Europa’s 7. Again, I stand behind my review of Europa, regardless of where the book’s rank would be without it.

    I trust that I have provided some clarification.

    My biggest problem with ebook prices now is the lack of justification behind so many of them. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy Stephen King novels, but there’s no way I’d pay $15 for an ebook version of his books. On the other end of the spectrum, another personal favorite of mine, \Seed\ by Ania Ahlborn, is priced at just $0.99 and has been since its release. This is EASILY a $4 or $5 book, and Ania has told me that she intends to raise the price when her upcoming second book \The Neighbors\ is released. I don’t believe full novels should sell for anything less than $3 or more than $5, in ebook form. Maybe $7 or $8 if it’s super-long or is packed with extras. Short stories – like the six I have for sale right now – should be sold at $0.99, with the disclaimer of word counts at the beginning of the description.

    These prices are all over the map; there’s no rhyme or reason. Using Konrath’s numbers, Dave Slusher over at Evil Genius Chronicles through some charts together and analyzed the results (http://bit.ly/vrbYqM). With the caveat that it’s a very limited dataset, he still comes through with some good conclusions. Conclusions that my own numbers – culled from daily sales tracking since May – agree with. There IS a \sweet spot\ for ebook pricing, and it’s $3-4. Obviously that doesn’t hold true in all cases for all books at all times of the year, but it is a general \go-by\.

    Plus, in the end, I think my books are WORTH $4. Even if I sell a few less than I would at $3 – and it really is a very small difference – I’m okay with that, because at the end of the day I believe I sold a distinctly better product for a fair price. And all that from authors who would, very likely, have remained unpublished had they gone the traditional route.

    Feel free to send me an email if you’d like to discuss this more. I’d rather not hijack the comments of the post with a long dissertation. Okay, long-ER. But I’m happy to discuss this or any other publishing/writing matter in a logical and reasoned manner.

    • @Jason Aydelotte

      My main point, obscured in the clutter, is a conviction that writing has become badly debased when a $4.99 e-book is thought overpriced, yet people will line up at six in the morning in front of an Apple store to pay $499 for the skinny tablet to read it on.

      At the same time I’m thrilled that J.A. Konrath and Co. have opened up new vistas for authors by exploring dramatically reduced cover pricing for books.

      Yet I’m also troubled when price becomes the key determinant of a book’s value, when readers start to bray about the difference of a few bucks after a talented authored poured a big slab of their life into the writing.

      When it comes to books the Long Tail crisscrosses the planet a dozen times. Most authors are near the end of the tail, not at the top like Mr. Konrath. $2.99 x 1000 = $2,990 on my calculator. Most of my books have audiences in that range, and if it’s OK with you, Konrath and Bezos, I’d like to hang onto the hope that I can earn as much from writing as I’d earn serving you coffee at Starbucks.

      • Thad, I agree that 5$ is a fair price for an ebook. Still, I think you can see lower priced books as “loss leaders”, bringing attention to an author’s other books. I know for a certainty that while I’m ready to pay 6$ with no problems on ebooks from authors I like / love, I have much more qualms regarding “unknowns”, especially as I buy mostly self-published.

        • As a relative outsider to the industry (I started as editorial director of Digital Book World about 8 weeks ago), I still consider myself an “outsider,” even a “consumer.” As such, I really have no problem paying more than $9.99 for an e-book.

          I don’t really understand the reaction by some that an e-book should never cost more than $x.xx. Why not?

          If someone is willing to pay $25 for my new e-book, why is that wrong? I paid $14.99 for the new Haruki Murakami book on my Kindle. It was 900 pages, sure, but I would have paid that much even if it were 200 pages. Because I wanted it.

          I’m not saying that’s what most people would do. Clearly, the world is very price sensitive — Amazon has built a big business on that principle. But why is it /wrong/ for an e-book to cost more than a certain amount?

          • @Jeremy:

            You’re correct: it’s not *wrong* for them to be that pricey. After all, capitalism teaches us that the price should be whatever the market will bear. So I can see, from their perspective, why publishers are pricing their books at that level.

            I can also see that that pricing structure is short-sighted, at best. It’s not wrong to price them at that level, but it IS silly. They’re effectively accomplishing two things: 1) generating a certain amount of short-term profit (smaller than it could be), and 2) driving customers who are, as you say, price-sensitive, to purchase other books from publishers who don’t charge that much. I’m all for #2 myself, personally. The more they price their customers out of the buying decision, the more I’ll see buy my books.

            IMHO, and my humble opinion only, none of the trad pubs are putting out anything that would convince me to spend more than $5 on an ebook, and certainly not more than $10. The recent exposes about the horrific state of formatting in trad pub books are not isolated incidents. There’s tons of them. That alone makes me leery of buying anything from them.

            Here’s what WOULD justify that sort of price point: extra features. Sample chapters of an upcoming book (or three), links to a downloadable audio version of the book, draft versions of chapters, interviews with the author, etc etc ad nauseum. All these things are possible with the current versions of ereaders. And with the advent of the Kindle Fire and the 8th(?) version of their software, I’m sure there’s TONS more things that could be added.

            So the potential is there for enhancing the value of a book, but it will take time, effort and yes, money, from publishers before that level of book is available on a regular basis. Right now, I’d rather stick to my $4 book.

            If you can sell your book at $10 or $20 or even $30, more power to you. You might sell 100, or 500, or 1,000. I *know* I can sell that many at my $4 price point.

            • All very interesting stuff. Thanks for addressing my question.

              Here are some things to note:

              — Until recently, the New York Times was giving away all its content basically for free (you can still game the system if you know what you’re doing)

              — Juniper Research is selling this new 113 page report on the publishing industry for about $4,000 a piece: http://www.juniperresearch.com/reports/Mobile_Publishing

              — I can stream thousands of TV shows and movies through Netflix for $7.99 a month. “Renting” a streamed movie from TV on demand or other sites costs anywhere from $0.99 to $6.99 each.

              — For under $7/month, I can stream over 10,000 pieces of content over Amazon and borrow 12 books a year from a 5,000 book library (and get discounts on shipping)

              — Media Industry Newsletter, a publication I used to work for, was $995/year for 48 weekly issues of an 8-page print newsletter

              Point is, what content is worth is all over the place right now. It’s a great time to be a journalist covering the industry!

  6. @Thad:

    1,000 copies @ $3 or $4 is imminently doable. Like everything else worth doing, it’s a matter of effort. The more you connect with your readers, the more readers you’ll have. You’re a brand, and should market yourself as such. Whether you buy advertising or not, you can interact with them trough social media, newsletters, what have you.

    I do all of these things (except advertising), and Ive been able to pay my mortgage for six months on the sales of my book. So I’m here to say its possible for guys who aren’t on the top of the heap.

    I keep in mind Konrath’s Kreedo (heh): Write good books, have good covers, price them well, and keep writing. It’s worked for me so far. :)

  7. Our publishing company is enjoying great sales and we love our terrific authors, showing it with what we believe are the best royalties and workable contracts in the business. Being flexible, optimistic and committed to a team-building approach has made publishing an absolute blast for us and our authors. We recognize that our efforts to craft a positive, opportunity-filled publishing house is helping to create this new market in a way that will honor writers and improve publishing.

  8. Bravo.
    I’d add a few other things publshers should ditch:
    –Huge royalty advances.
    –100% return policy on unsold books
    –limiting their search to what appeals to agents

    None of the above are practiced in any other industry…because they are stupid and self-harming.

    The refutation of Joe’s suggesting of bringing eBooks prices down is peculiar. Books require huge capital investment, expensive production, followed by expensive distribution. eBooks can be actually produced for like, free, and distributed for free. Why should the cost what books do. Whenever anybody whines about the high cost of paper books, publishers talk about all the expense. So if you don’t bear that expense, what’s the excuse for selling an ebook for $15?

    They only sell at that price because they’re cheaper than paper. As that fades away, where will the “perceived value” come from

    This is analogous to the appearance of a new teleportation device that allows people to zap to Europe or Australia for a few pennies–and somebody saying that it should be sold at the same cost as airline tickets because… well, because. That’s the way it was.

    • I disagree that ebooks are free to produce.

      For GGP’s books, there’s a lot involved, just as there is for our print books. Most of it is the time to make sure that the formatting looks good, the book is laid out well, and a whole host of other things. I put roughly 10 – 15 hours into the average e-book construction, building the file from the ground up in HTML, starting with the basic text copied over from Word. I’m a nitpicker – down to make sure that I insert the HTML code for curly quotation marks instead of straight, because I believe that makes a difference in the reader’s experience. And I test, then I test again and test some more. On Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks. The testing loop takes another 3 – 5 hours.

      At a reasonable hourly rate for these services, you’re still looking at hundreds of dollars of real value put into the product. Aside from any marketing that you do, which is also valuable and worthwhile and should be recompensed fairly.

      Ebooks aren’t free to produce, and they shouldn’t be free to read. That said, I don’t believe anyone can come to me with a justifcation for this: http://amzn.to/rNKVOV or even this: http://amzn.to/tZFqSI.

    • @Linton Robinson

      I can’t quite tell from your comment…while clearly the “manufacturing cost” for ebooks is essentially $0, the cost of researching, writing, editing, and cover design is equivalent, and digital production, when done properly (with good quality control), can be costly. Marketing “costs” in terms of the amount of time the author must devote to getting the word out online.

      How is this cost to be recovered if the audience, regardless of price, is only about 1000 readers?

  9. My guess is that the advice provided by Jeremy will fall on deaf ears. The culture within the traditional publishing industry is already behind and showing no signs of catching up. The introduction of the eBook as a viable digital product is the end-around the old world publishing companies fail to recognize as a threat. This format will dominate going forward – eliminating the previous closed-society literary marketplace. The lack of proper reach into the pool of unpublished author’s content will prove to be the downfall. Eventually that distinction will not be relevant, along with the reputation of big publishing house’s ability to control the bulk of cash flow transacted in the literary market.

  10. Hi ALL,
    I agree with Joe pretty much and also have, myself, often wondered why the publishing houses do things the way they do them when it comes to turn-around and royalties and other things Joe and others mention all the time. Yes, many of us would love to have a major pub deal, I would and most writers I know would but having said that it’s also a great thing for authors now to have an outlet, a legitimate one (ebooks and self pub), wherein they can have a shot at feeding their kids without hopelessly grovelling in front of the altar of snobbery so typical in big publishing for new authors.
    Just my two cents….GO JOE!
    And, THANKS for DBW for having a journalists heart in staying on top of the most relevant news in our industry. Rock on!

    Daniel

  11. Mr. Konrath —

    I applaud your success as an author and fully understand your antipathy to publishers. However, in an earlier comment you say \When I have more Twitter followers than my publisher does, something is very wrong.\

    This is a profoundly silly comment — one I can scarcely imagine you believe.

    How many enthusiasts of genre fiction know who publishes their favorite author or authors? How many movie goers know which studio produced George Clooney’s last movie … or Steven Spielberg’s? How many music lovers know which label released Taylor Swift’s last album … or Lady Gaga’s?

    Books, movies, music — they’re all driven by the personalities who make them, not the entities that release them.

    When your publisher has more Twitter followers than you do, *then* something is very wrong.

    I happen to know the social media manager at St. Martin’s Press. He doesn’t waste his time trying to get more Twitter followers for his house. Instead he makes sure his authors know how to tweet, because they’re the ones who have fans who buy the books and spread the word about them.

    Only people who work in publishing follow publishing houses. Surely you of all people must know that.

    BTW: if you think that’s wrong — that book buyers *should* follow publishing houses — I’d love to hear your ideas for making that happen. I suspect the major record labels and movie studios would love to hear them, too.

  12. “Konrath has been an outspoken member of the self-published author community and has authored and self-published several successful titles. His latest title, Stirred, published by Amazon publishing, is out now.”

    Doesn’t anyone see the irony?

  13. These are the exact reasons that so many authors are either doing it themselves or are actually setting up companies themselves to help others do it. I know a fellow writer who has done that and I will be one of her authors to have an estory published next year. So well said, JA.

  14. One last forlorn comment, now that everyone’s left and there are empty cups scattered all over the floor.

    Konrath and his acolytes make an assumption: paper books are unimportant. Any author interested in self-publishing can produce paper books and sell those, too, but they’re an added expense and apparently of no consequence.

    But there’s a difference between saying paper books are unimportant because they represent the past and paper books are unimportant because only legacy publishers bother producing them, and legacy publishers are the enemy of informed authors who want to keep more of their books’ sale price. (Or that paper books are bad because legacy publishers use the expense of producing them as an excuse to inflate the price of their ebooks.)

    It’s still the case that in raw dollars most books sold are *not* ebooks. Those who prefer paper books may be viewed as luddites by the pro-Konrath group, but they hardly represent a trivial minority of readers.

    As a genre fiction author — writing for a segment of readers who as a group were early adopters of ereader devices — Konrath likely can afford to be cavalier about paper book readers. (Amazon publishes Konrath’s work in paper, but it’s no secret his paper sales are a fraction of his ebook sales.) As can aspiring genre authors who wish to follow in Konrath’s footsteps.

    But the way I see it, the advocates of self-publishing dismiss paper book readers as if they *were* a trivial minority. Simply because paper books are no longer a growth industry — simply because ebooks are self-publishing’s salvation — those who read paper books need no longer be courted. Or counted.

    For most of my life I assumed authors wished to reach every reader they could. It never occurred to me it could be otherwise. Until now.

    • I don’t know that I’d consider myself an “acolyte” of Konrath, per se, although he has helped me a great deal without directly intending to. I get a lot of usefulness out of his blog, so perhaps that’s what you mean.

      Regardless, I don’t consider paper books unimportant; far from it, actually. I personally prefer paper books to ebooks, but the way in which the industry operates and will continue to operate precludes me from having just paper books available.

      I recently moved all our printing from CreateSpace to Lightning Source. For those who don’t know, LSI is a division of Ingram, one of the two major book distributors in the US. Now, instead of just the paperback being available only on Amazon, the paperbacks AND hardcovers are/will be available throughout the “distribution system”, including Amazon, BN.com, and others. In addition, local bookstores like the one I visited yesterday will be able to order the book directly from Ingram through their normal ordering processes.

      So no, I don’t consider paper unimportant. I simply see the value in the ebooks as well. My main goal is to get as many copies of our books in front of as many people as possible. That’s it. I think we’re going to succeed very well in that. :)

  15. PJ,
    Your remarks about pricing are INSANE….listen to yourself: Why should we lower the prices of Product B when we charge X for Product A? The logic is completely flawed. By your logic pocket calculators should still cost $50 because that’s what they charged for them back in 1975. 16G Computers should still cost $75,000?

    No, wait….you’re not even making that much sense. You’re comparing a tangible physical product which you produce at a cost of X with a digital product which costs ZERO to reproduce! Not only that, it’s being distributed via an electronic means that another company produces! By your logic each time someone watches a movie on Amazon Instant or Netflix, they should pay $300 because that’s what the cost is for a ticket to a Broadway play!

    So ridiculous is your original load of dung that I’ll not even bother to engage in your comments about quality of Indie Published works vs Industry Published works….you’re really claimng that EVERY Industry book has a higher quality than every Indie book? That’s why you can charge more??? Will this be the case with the Indie JK Rowling books coming out? Lemme guess. You’re one of the 8 brainiac publishers who turned down the Harry Potter books because \it wasn’t quite right for you\ at that time?

    LMAO. You go bye bye.

  16. I am sorry j.a., your reply to the Hachette letter lacks substance in comparance to what you are replying to. You need build your argument. I this is your general style of writing, you definitely need an editor (and probably a publisher) to polish your thoughts into a quality product people are willing to pay an honest amount for.

    To be honest, post like yours, while ranting, actually make me think that publisher are important to make sure we will not become covered with mediocre material.

    Please try again. Thanks.
    (i am not a native speaker)

    • Wow. Well, you’re certainly entitled to your own opinion about my writing, and I would never want anyone to feel like they couldn’t voice said opinion.

      Still, I’m also free to not listen to it. I’ll stick with the 61 4- and 5-star reviews of my work, and you’re free to hang out with the 6 1-, 2- and 3-star reviewers.

      Best of luck to you!

      [Interesting sidenote: the Captcha for this post is "good luck". Ha!]

  17. \I gloat about how much I give to my authors (anywhere from 20 – 50% of list).\

    And Amazon gives 70% if an authors book is $2.99-$9.99

    So you pay 50% on a $9.99 book, author gets $5. Amazon pays 70% on that same $9.99 and the author gets $7.

    Author can drop the price of their book by $2, and make MORE than the amount you give them on the $9.99,($7.99x.7= $5.59) and be more affordable for readers, thus reaching MORE readers.

    I read 250+ books a year, in a family of 5 where we all read 150-250 books a year, if publishing houses want to compete, they MUST lower prices, or see people like me who spend a considerable amount of $ on books go to those who GET IT!

    • Point 1: 20-50% of list price royalties for authors is somewhat unspecific: This percentage is what the author receives after Amazon takes their cut, after shipping & wholesale discounts (for print versions), and GGP’s fee.

      Point 2: None of my ebooks are over $5. The novels are $4 and $5, the short stories are all $1 (the minimum price Amazon allows publishers to set). I will likely never publish an ebook at $10, though I will allow for future changes by saying that it’s highly unlikely, not impossible.

      Point 3: The author would make more going straight to Amazon through KDP, that is true. See Point 4.

      Point 4: The author, without using my services, would be forced to find and hire a reputable freelance editor, rather than use mine. The author would also be forced to hire a professional to lay out the book in both print and ebook forms, or do it themselves. The author would also be forced to buy/learn the software required for doing so, as well as that required to convert the book to e-format. The author would need to hire a professional artist for the cover, rather than choosing from several excellent artists who’ve provided me with samples of their work and agreed to reasonable prices and contract terms. They’d also need to learn marketing, sales, how to track their sales and what trends exist, learn about the publishing industry backwards and forwards, etc etc etc.

      So while it IS true that the author could make more money by going direct to Amazon, what you’re conveniently leaving out of the equation is the staggering amount of work that that involves. I charge a small fee for doing that work for the author, so they can concentrate on their main job: writing. That’s all they have to do. That, and open the monthly account statements I send out detailing all their sales, expenses, etc in the most transparent manner currently existing in the publishing industry to date, at least that I’m aware of.

      Sure, they can make more money. Personally, I’m happy to sacrifice a small amount of sales in exchange for not having to do all that extra stuff. That’s just my $0.02, though.

      • I should also note that Grey Gecko Press’s contract with authors stipulates in writing that GGP will never make more on a per book basis from book sales than the author.

        As an example, if, due to the vagaries of math, GGP would normally earn $3.50 for the sale of a book (print, in this case) while the author would earn $3, then BY CONTRACT GGP would be required to reduce our take to the point where the author was making $0.01 more per sale than GGP.

        At WORST, it’s an slightly-better-than-even split. That’s pretty good, I think.

  18. I think the issue of e-book pricing will vary in the future when considering the recreation habits of Gen Y. They download what they want. They are the future market. $4.99 a book or $9.99 is not based on a better product per se. The content is the factor. Like anything else, many books bore readers to death whether they be $9.99 or .99. I’ve browsed plenty of big publishing house books which lost me after page one. I spent 0.00 on all those. I don’t need twenty book series that read like Twilight. What I see the publishing houses doing is trying to keep a handle on the boombers and some of Gen X. But even X is getting more comfortable with the download method so publishing houses have reason to worry. They don’t rule the roost like the used to.

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