So the questions have been pouring in to my Agony Aunt mailbox since my last post. People just can’t get enough of my helpful advice, can they? So in the spirit of spreading the love and knowledge, here are some more tidbits for your delectation.
Dear Aunty Debbie: Why are some ebooks so expensive? So many people give them away for free, so why doesn’t everybody? Why should I pay for something that isn’t even physical? It’s not like there’s a printing cost, is it? A Broke Reader
Dear Broke Reader: You and me both. Broke, that is. But we both have to eat and pay our bills, don’t we? I’m assuming you have some kind of a job to pay yours? And as a writer, my job is – well – writing! So I need to be able to pay my bills too, and it takes an awful lot of book sales at FREE to pay any bills at all, if you get my drift? And while an ebook may incur no print or storage charges, it still requires the same bum-on-seat writing time, the same editing costs and the same design costs. So please stop expecting to pay less for a whole book than you’d pay for a drink in your favourite coffee-shop!
But if I wait long enough, you’ll make your books free anyway, won’t you?
Er, no. Not me. Maybe the first in the series occasionally, but never the rest of them. Guess you’ll just have to give up the coffee.
Dear Aunty Debbie: All these places are selling my book without my permission! They’re all pirates, aren’t they? Help – what do I do? A Panicked Writer
Dear Panicked Writer: Stop panicking. The truth is there aren’t many genuine pirates out there – and you can’t do much about the real thing. People who download from real pirate sites are never going to pay for your books anyway, so you haven’t actually lost much. You can try a DMCA takedown notice, but even if you are successful, it’s like playing whack-a-mole. It isn’t worth the energy you could be putting into writing your next book.
And the fake pirates? They’re the ones playing at dress-up – the ones who clothe their site with pretty pictures of your books and information scraped off Amazon and elsewhere – in reality, they don’t have your book at all and are simply phishing for your personal information. Chances are you’ll have to “register” to get a free download and somewhere along the way they’ll steal your identity and/or credit card details …
But what about the online bookshops that are selling my print books at £500? How can they do that? I didn’t authorise them to sell my books!
What makes you think you have to authorise every reseller? Does WH Smith ask every author if it can sell their books? These booksellers don’t actually have any stock of your book at all – they simply “list” it with hundreds of others – if anybody is stupid enough to order one at £500, the bookseller will have to buy it from you first before they can sell it on, so you’ll still get your sale. And as for second-hand book sales – welcome to real life. Even Stephen King doesn’t get money from second-hand sales of his books.
Dear Aunty Debbie: Why should I bother editing my book at all? It’s the story that counts. And everybody has typos – even the books published by the big guys. A Lazy Author.
Dear Lazy Author: Really? Of course it’s the story that counts – but how are you going to entice your readers to buy your book if your blurb rambles on endlessly and is full of errors? Yes, there are books out there that are full of mistakes, but why does that mean you can be sloppy too? Don’t you owe it to your readers, your characters and most importantly yourself to put out the best possible product that you can? You’re expecting people to pay for it, after all.