Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why Books Are Worth Paying For (And How Authors Should Respond to Critics)

The first print copy of Bravo!
I'm just going to say it: sometimes it's hard to be an author. Like any career that takes a lot of creative involvement, there's always someone who thinks they can do it better than you, and is more than happy to tell you so! 

My response is usually something like, "Well, do I come into your auto shop and tell you how to fix cars? Of course not. So why do you tell me how to write my books or run my business?" The answer, readers, is simple: when it comes to a creation that is built on imaginative whimsy or fiction, most people are happy to offer their opinions. 

Most of the time, I love hearing everyone's ideas! It means that readers are engaged with my stories and that's GREAT! After all, writing is MEANT to inspire the mind and encourage fresh ideas! 

But sometimes there are people who aren't so nice. People whose words of "advice" are really a thinly veiled insult, criticism or shade. Those are the ones who you have to watch out for, because the internet has given people like that instant and immediate access to any public figure - be it an author or an actor. 

My 13th novel, State of Fear.
I received a letter a short time ago from a fan who loves my books, but asked that I lower the price of my paperback editions. Right now, the average price of my softbound copies are around $10-$12, which is below the average price of a brand new bestseller at Barnes & Noble. (Books that are selling well and brand new are usually between 17.99-25.99). 
"It would be nice if you put a little more into each book to make it worth spending that kind of money on each one," said the letter writer.  

My books are all of average page-count and word count. My novels clock in somewhere between 250-350 pages in softbound. That's a lot of pages, a lot of words, and a LOT of work, let me tell you. The only books I have that are considered "shorter," are my novellas, which are specifically designed to be shorter than the average book. Still...a ton of work!

Imagine this: you spend two years working around the clock on a project, full-time, without pay. You then release it for below average price, where you then work your proverbial butt off to sell your story to the general public, and compete with monstrous bestsellers like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. For a lifetime of unpaid suffering and soul-pouring into a novel, you ask only $10 for your labor of love, of which you keep an even smaller percentage. 

I'm not saying that this is my story, but it's the story of most authors out there. Most writers work all of their lives without pay before they finally get some substantial amount of income. By paying for a book, not only are you supporting imaginative creation, you're also supporting an author's career and helping them continue to do what they love.  

Imagination is timeless!
In this day and age, it's so easy to want something either dirt cheap or completely free. Understandable - the cost of living is crazy! Guess what? It is for authors, too. We like to get paid for our work just like everybody else. You wouldn't expect someone to work a thirteen hour shift at Starbucks for free, would you? Of course not! Yet it is not uncommon for people to complain to authors (and I have encountered this with readers, too) that 99 cents is too expensive for a book, and it's "only fair" to allow them to download the book for "free." 

That's not how it works, unfortunately! Writing is a job just like anything else, and demanding this from an author is just wrong! It's one thing for an author to offer a book for free to their readers, but to demand free products is another one altogether. 

Be mindful of the fact that book creation is incredibly hard work, and that if it were easy, everybody would do it, and everybody would be successful. It's not easy. It's not simple. It's not a walk in the park. Support authors - both independent and traditionally published - by purchasing their paperbacks, hardbacks and digital books. 

Authors LOVE readers - you allow us to share our stories with the world and you support our careers by purchasing our stories. I adore my readers with all of my heart and their steadfast readership is a blessing! I hope that this article helps you to embrace supporting your local, state, national and international authors like never before. We need creativity in this world - it's a wonderful escape from the stress of everyday living and the seeming veil of discontent growing around the world. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post! I find it's likened to be in theatre, or radio, virtually any type of creative venture. The general populace somehow has it in their head, that because we chose the arts for a career, we are somehow cheating the system by doing what we love vs doing a punch a clock 9-5 job. Self employment is just that, If I don't work, I don't get paid. No, sick leave, no paid vacations, no medical benefits, no groceries. So the next time someone says 0.99 cents is too much for my book, I'll remind them, for that large Starbucks they've just had, would have gotten them at least 3 of my books. Great post Summer!


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