You Don’t Have to Follow the Crowd

Pricing: from high to low. There are thousands of discussions on the web about pricing your book to sell. And most of them say pretty much the same things. I won’t repeat. I tend to notice the anomalies as well as the patterns. So, on Smashwords, I’ve noticed two extremes, both interesting, neither to be recommended, necessarily.

1. A writer who churns out short stories (very short, some of them just over 1,000 words) which, based on the descriptions, are very nearly illiterate, and written to a formula meant to titillate. The writer has dozens of these stories, mostly sold for a dollar. And has been favorited by several people. Most readers don’t bother to leave reviews or to favorite authors, so the half dozen or so are probably the tip of an iceberg. My guess is that the writer is making a respectable amount of money for the effort involved.

2. A writer who charges around $15.00 for non-fiction books of no more than 30 or 40,000 words. The subject is “spiritual truths” that have been conveyed to the writer by holy beings. Lest you think this person is a nutcase suffering from delusions of grandeur (and I do), consider this. There are hundreds of thousands of people who believe in this stuff and will pay for it. They used to be called New Agers, but they’ve existed in all times and places. This writer is probably doing well because the kind of person who wants to read this stuff isn’t going to get high marks for critical thinking.

It takes all kinds.


6 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to Follow the Crowd

  1. I am one of the ones who posts short stories for free but may now reconsider. It’s usually something I just had to write and wanted to share. I think of them as tasters. Usually they’re ideas that I felt unable to pursue to full-length novels. The fact that all the shorts differ greatly in style, genre and reading levels probably negates the whole ‘taster’ idea.
    I tend to base the price on other novels in the same genre. It’s no good pricing yourself well above other books, that’s just being greedy.
    I loved what Stephenie Meyer did with her last book – bringing it out to her fans as a free e-book. It didn’t harm her sales, she still managed to sell millions of the paperback version. People just appreciated the sentiment.
    But New Age books – puhleease! £15 for reassurance…I guess it’s cheaper than a psychiatrist.

    1. A lot of people do well with short stories. A dollar isn’t a big risk, but I think I’d probably offer some for free,also. I’m sure a lot of people click on the “Free” filter, so if they find one of your stories there and like it, they may look for the others. One thing I noticed, is that the shortest ones don’t have any sample, even though the author is supposedly allowing 15%. I haven’t looked at the longer ones to check. There may be a minimum word count necessary, or maybe 15% is too high for such low counts. If you want to take a look at the author’s page, let me know and I’ll email you the name.

  2. $1.00 to read
    ‘a respectable amount of money’

    And my competition is mostly illeterate. Oh, I got to go join right now…. 🙂

    You are correct about the 1,000 word limit. Internet readers favor these kind of stories… I suspect, but have no prove, that most of these readers are office workers, iPOD toters and lunchtime perusers…

    And I agree with Bea; this kind of writing is a ‘taste, and I think of it as a prelude to a novel. Like journalism, it teached the writer how to get to the point.

    Although, I can understand your side of the arguement, too.

    1. I doubt that I could write 1,000 word stories, except as a challenge (‘m working on one now, just for the hell of it, but will probably expand it), but well-written short stories by writers who know what they’re doing, are a legitimate source of income, now that digital publishing allows for variety in length. My ideas mostly demand at least novella length, but I do have a few that I can’t see growing into much of anything. Normally, I’d discard them eventually, but it’s beginning to look as if I should take them more seriously. It takes a long time to write a novel and bring it to publication. If I can write a short story now and then, in the downtime, I’d be developing another skill and building a porfolio a lot faster than if I produce nothing but novels.

      I think of it this way — take an idea that someone’s doing badly, and do it well.

  3. Okay, now I’m intrigued. LOL I had never thought of using Smashwords to publish my short stories. I had no idea it was being done. Honestly, I thought readers would only pay for full-length novels, so I never even looked into it.
    I’m going over there right now to look into the process. THANK YOU!

    1. Some of the online epublishers are putting out short stories and novellas, as well as novels. I think that well-written stories of 3,000 words or more would have a good chance of being purchased if they’re priced around a dollar. If nothing else, they can serve as an introduction to your longer work.

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