As a writer, I spend a lot of time reading through and participating in forums on various sites, not just to connect with other writers but also to keep up with readers who are, of course, the backbone of a writer's career.
I was somewhat disturbed recently when I was reading through a readers' forum on Amazon's KDP to find that someone had written something along the lines of "if a Kindle book is priced at 0.99 cents then the chances are it's going to be really bad." The reader went on to state that she would rather pay more money and increase the chances of getting a higher quality book than pay 0.99 cents and get a badly written book by someone who has no real interest or skill when it comes to writing.
The reason I was concerned about this is because, as an indie author, I have priced some of my children's fantasy Kindle books at 99 cents, not because they are of low quality but because I am a relatively unknown author and pricing low is my way of giving readers the opportunity to read my books and get to know my writing without having to shell out loads of money. This is particularly important to me as a children's author, as I'm well aware that most parents love to be able to provide their children with reading material, but can't afford to pay big money for the privilege, particularly in the current financial climate.
As an avid reader myself, I would expect to have to pay a fair amount of money for books by an established author. However, if I was considering trying out a new author, I wouldn't want to pay out significant money to start off with. This is precisely why I price some of my books at 99 cents -- I want readers to be able to afford to try out my books and test the waters with a new author.
Writing is not just my hobby, but also my full-time profession, as I work as a freelance copywriter. I am therefore well aware of the consequences of churning out low quality content and books just for monetary gain. This is not the way for any true writer to enjoy a sustainable career and is therefore not something that any bona fide writer will engage in if they are in it for the long haul.
At the end of the day, if writers offer poor quality books then readers will quickly realize this and getting sales will become impossible. Of course, there are some books that have been self published by those who are in it purely to make a quick buck rather than to introduce high quality literature to the world -- but in my opinion, these are precisely the authors who are most likely to overprice their books because they know that they are on borrowed time before readers realize that the books are of low quality and start to leave bad reviews.
New authors who are serious about their work and want to make it more accessible to readers will have no problem putting a low price on at least one of their books. Bear in mind, KDP pays a 70 percent royalty on books priced $2.99 and over but only a 35 percent royalty on books that are priced under this amount. Authors would therefore have little to gain in monetary terms from pricing their books at 99 cents unless they were going to get hundreds of thousands of downloads.
Also, let's not forget that Amazon offers readers the chance to "Look Inside," which means that readers can easily look at the first few chapters of a book to assess the quality for themselves. Many of my readers have been very pleasantly surprised to find that after paying between $0.99 cents and $2.99 for a book, they have been able to enjoy well written stories that their children have enjoyed and many have gone on to purchase the sequel. The reviews, some of which come from Amazon Top 50 Reviewers, also speak for themselves. Yet, I still don't feel the need to slap a higher price tag on because my aim is to gain fans and readers rather than to reap in as much cash as I can as quickly as I can. The maximum I would be comfortable charging for one of my books, as a newer author, would be $2.99 but this is to ensure a fair price for my readers not because I feel that my books aren't worth any more than that.
My point is that nobody should ever assume that just because a book is priced low that it will be of low quality, as this simply isn't the case, particularly amongst self published authors who are more interested in building a readership than they are in trying to make a fast buck. Of course, there will be some low priced books that will be of questionable quality -- there will also be some high priced books that are equally as questionable. Likewise, there are many low priced books that are of as high a quality as some of their higher priced counterparts.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover -- it is also important to never judge a book by its price. As a reader, I embrace the opportunity to discover new writing talent at a really low price and I have no problem paying a dollar, two dollars, even three or four dollars to try out a new author. One thing that I would never do as a reader is pass up books based solely on the low price, particularly given that I can get a good idea of the quality of writing from looking at the book description and the sample chapters. As a writer, I welcome the chance to build a readership by being able to offer my books at low prices and would hate to feel pressured into increasing my prices just in case readers assumed that the lower price meant lower quality.
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