Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why You Should Pay for Books

Writer Wordart
Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

This morning, I read a blog post by my friend, Alan Jobe, regarding the trend toward pricing e-books at “free.” Alan has been reviewing books for a number of years and worked in a library, so I know the man has a strong appreciation for the written word. His thoughts on the subject were enlightening. This post is written in response.

As someone who has been a full-time novelist for nearly three years (thanks mostly to the faith and patience of my hard-working husband), I can tell you that being a writer is no way to make a living.

The truth is that, while publishing has gotten easier, finding an audience has become increasingly difficult. I am thankful to have a fair number of vocal readers, most of whom have paid for every book I've written. With each book I write, I hope to pick up more of these readers. Progress is slow, though. And my dream has a deadline. Without a larger audience, I will be forced to return to editing full time in the near future, which means I will likely stop writing entirely.

So, how do you build an audience in today's publishing market? With a glut of terribly written novels competing against others of higher quality, it is no surprise that "free" is often the only way to get a "new-to-you" writer onto the average e-reader. After that, the quality of the work is the only tool the writer has in getting readers to buy another of his or her books.

Alan argues that he has no reason to buy a book when he can get so many for free. If you agree with his argument, please keep this in mind: if writing becomes a “non-profit” industry – so to speak – readers will soon find themselves in a barren literary wasteland. That’s not to say there won’t be books – there will be millions of them! But none of them will be fresh and new, because no one will be writing anymore.

My plea is this: if you read a free book and enjoy it, buy one of the author’s other books. Most e-books cost about what you would pay for a cup of coffee or maybe a fast-food hamburger. If you read a new author and love their work, tell your friends! There is no shortage of e-books, so there’s no reason to horde all the good writers for yourself.

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  1. I had been so excited about the eBook revolution and the prospects for #indie authors. But I do believe that if all of those authors let themselves be Amazoned and give their books away for free it's not going to be a win for anyone buy Jeff Bezos and company.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I believe that writers need to be smarter about how they use the tools that are available to them. I think one 90-day term within the KDP program per book could be a good thing. The mistake that is being made by some writers is that they leave all of their books in the program indefinitely. If the reader knows that they will have another chance to pick up the book for free, what is the reader's incentive for buying the book when it is at full price?


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