Friday, December 30, 2011

How Much Should an Author Make?


My last post discussed eBooks vs. the real thing. With eBooks being the latest rage, people constantly debate how much an author should charge for their eBooks.

In a Facebook conversation I was reading the other day on this very subject, a person commented that no eBook should ever be priced over $1.99. They argued that because there were no production costs, an author should be more fair to readers. This surprised me because I know Amazon and other book sellers charge anywhere between 60-80% just to sell an eBook on their website.

I can understand a low price if it is temporary and just for promotional purposes, but long term? Personally I think a fair price is between $4.00 - $8.00.  I know how much time and effort authors put into their work, and I think they should be paid a fair and reasonable price just like any other profession.

Am I off base here? What is a fair price? And how much do you think an author should make per book?

12 comments:

Leigh Covington said...

I wish I could answer this more honestly. I don't even have an e-reader yet and I have YET to be published - (although hopefully that isn't too far off)... but author's put a lot of work into their books, and while I think they should be reasonably priced, the author should still make a profit. I think the price range you listed sounds reasonable. :)

Kelley said...

Oh man. I don't know how to answer this one. But to sell a book long term for that low seems a little unfair.

Crystal Licata said...

Completely agree with you. I don't know who thinks $1.99 is fair because there are no production costs...what about the time and energy the author put in the book. All writers knows how "costly" that is.

Judaloo said...

I pay anywhere from 6.99-14.00 for a book. Frankly, I have no issues paying $15 a book because the content and work going into it didn't change, just the format I read it in. I think a regular price for a book is fair, even if it is an ebook. I have gotten some for free, but I always secretly hope the author is getting compensated some how!

J. A. Bennett said...

Today's consumers want to buy books in large quantities for a low price. If the book is more than $.99 amazon only charges 30% but if it is $.99 then it's 70%. I honestly agree that authors deserve to charge more becasue of the work they put into it, but the economic fact is that people won't buy untested books that are too expensive. This article - http://www.thedominoproject.com/2011/12/how-much-should-an-ebook-cost.html is an economic perspective and frankly, I agree with it. Start low then as your book gains popularity you can charge more. It's simple supply and demand. Man, I hate to be the devil on this one becasue I know how much work goes into it, but this is just reality.

Lorelei said...

My publisher sells my e-books for $6.95. I get--depending upon how/where it is sold--15%-30% of the sale. I may only make $20 in a window of 5 months, unless I've sold paperbacks as well.

I'm not sure if I would go with charging nothing, unless it was promotional--and that would not be for very long, even if were I to self-publish an ebook. And then I'd up it gradually to at least $4.99.

Consumers should respect that writers spend hours upon hours writing a book. Some invest in editors before it goes to print (or whatever). We may advertize at some point, there's other things like Internet costs, maybe print ink as well. These services ARE NOT FREE to us.

When you go to the store, you're expected to pay for the goods you buy. I wouldn't think of leaving a book out there on the market for free or even for .99. I'd like to make a living for crying out loud! I don't think the buyer realizes these things when they go to Amazon and find books for little or no money. This whole ebook thing is a double-edged sword, if you ask me. I like that people can down-load a copy and begin reading it right away, but if they expect to pay nothing, or very little, then they shouldn't be surprised that that book may not be as good as one they might have spent money on.

E. M. LaBonte said...

The issue is, even with all the work an author does and how much they put in, the average reader has no clue. I have to agree with J.A.Bennett on this one, if its a new book, you are in a sea with others. If a reader doesn't know the book or the author, they wont buy the book unless it's below a certain price. Such as $1.99 or less.

Rachel McClellan said...

I agree. I think new authors who ePublish should sell their book at a low price until they get a reputation. After that, they can jack the price up so they can get compensated for their work.

Julius Cicero said...

I agree wholeheartedly. If you're just going to charge a low price forever then you may as well publish traditionally and let everyone else take that money from you. All the work the author does should be fairly compensated. I like the short-term promotional thing because you don't want to stunt your own growth in the industry before you become established.

Lisa L. Regan said...

Obviously I love it when books are cheap but I have always felt $10 is fair. Given the long, arduous process writers go through to put something out there in the world. For me, $6-10 is a good range. And yeah, I don't think people understand that even if authors self e-pub, they don't get the full price that they charge, only a percentage.

Cindy C Bennett said...

I'll be a bit of the Devil's Advocate here. As someone who has both self-pubbed and trad-pubbed, here are my thoughts.

Self-pubbed authors GET 70% on ebooks priced $2.99 or higher, and 35% on books priced lower (this can vary a little depending on where you have it distributed, but this is pretty average). My books are priced at $3.96 and $4.99. I make far more on each of those than I do on the paper versions of those same books that are priced at $12.99 and $13.99 respectively. That's just the truth. On paper versions you aren't ever going to make much because of all the costs inherent in printing and shipping them, so there isn't much room for profit by the author.

Trad-pubbed authors generally get the same percentage for an ebook that they do for a paper book. So, for example, if you get 15% then on a book priced at $13.99 you're going to get approx $2.10 and on the ebook version priced at, say, $4.99 you're only getting 75¢. Big difference, right? So who is getting all the rest of the profit included in the ebook?

I don't know for certain, because I don't know how the pay scale is set up between a publisher and Amazon or B&N. Maybe they don't make the 70% a self-pubbed author would. So it would make more sense for a publisher to price their ebooks somewhere around $10. However, you're probably going to sell more at the $4.99 mark. So when it comes to ebooks put out by trad publishers, it seems to still be a gray area.

All I know is that there are a lot of people making money off books - both paper and ebook - and the authors are getting only a small percentage. Good thing we love to write!(And don't expect to get rich off writing :o))

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I have a few Kindle books out. I am an unknown. So I try to make my books affordable to tempt a reader to take a chance on me. Sometimes the formatting fee and the fee for the book trailer caused me to raise my price to a dizzying $2.99.

But readers are more likely to take a chance on a 99 cent book, aren't they? I have side-stepped the issue a bit since September by giving 100% of the royalties from all my books to The Salvation Army. That way, even if you hate my book, you have helped feed the hungry. And if on top of that, you did enjoy my tale, you're a double winner! LOL. I love the design of your blog, Roland