Why I Raised the Price of My Indie Novels

When it released, Secrets Don't Keep was only 99c. 

It wasn't going to be forever. It was my promotion for the first few weeks after the book released. I posted about it on my Facebook page, and more than one reader responded with shock. 

"Less than a dollar?! Your books are worth so much more than a dollar!" 

I knew this was true. But I also knew the over-saturation of the industry. I knew that in order for my book to get any traction, it just needed to be read. And in order to be read, at that point, it needed to be almost free.

I also lowered the price of my other two novels — Every Shattered Thing and Somewhere Between Water and Sky. So for a few months, you could go and purchase my entire library, books that covered three years of my career as an author, for under three bucks.

In 2015, I made 800 dollars from royalties from my books. That's an average of 65 dollars a month. Because I know my sales, I also can say that getting a payment from KDP that's more than fifty dollars is rare. So that money? A majority of it comes from a free promotion I had for Every Shattered Thing and the release of Secrets Don't Keep.

Here's the thing — I very much do not expect to get rich off of my novels. This is not why I write. However....I'm beginning to take ownership of what my writing is worth. 

When a creative entrepreneur starts talking about prices for whatever she is wanting to offer, you better believe people will be making sure she charges what she's worth. 

Yet as authors, we're encouraged to give our stuff away for free....to build trust. 

"Take my first book! But give me your email address. I want to bore you with requests for reviews."

I'm just not sure that's how I can navigate this space with authenticity. I'm all for teasers. I'll let anyone read a chapter or two to see if they're interested in my novel. I know not everyone will love it — and that's okay. 

But why give everything you've created away for free? I know why: at least, according to the "professionals" — you're giving it away because you expect something in return (a review). Or you're giving it away so you can grow your email list (ew). Or you're giving it away so you can do all of it at once — as well as drop these souls into a sales funnel where they're receiving about twenty emails a week convincing them to sign up for your latest course on how to sale (x) amount of copies of your book! 

Can I be honest here and say this is bullshit?

It took me three years to get Every Shattered Thing out into the world. Combined, these three books took about four and a half years of my creative life. When I'm writing, I'm spending every waking moment completely overwhelmed by these characters. I live and breathe that shed in Stephanie's backyard. I wrote the poems etched into the foundation of the beach house. I dreamed up #elderwild in between bursts of research and brainstorming. With every ounce of who I am as an artist, I believe in these stories.

I realized a few weeks ago I needed to start acting like it. When more and more people start putting up short stories and novellas for $2.99, and when you can purchase a book that you finish in 30 minutes for less than a dollar, it's time to rethink how I approach my own pricing.

Here's the truth, if you want it: For a long while, one of my core desires was radical generosity. I gave everything away. A lot of it really did light me up and help me see the goodness in holding everything with an open hand.

But then people started expecting me to give stuff away for free. I realized, if I didn't offer something, then no one would want to get anything. They'd become so accustomed to me giving my art away that when I started to charge, they ran.

I didn't price my books at 99 cents because I was being generous and wanted as many people as possible to afford my books. I priced my books at 99 cents because I was too tired to play the game. I was too tired to fight the over-saturation. I was too tired to believe my words meant anything compared to another author on any other day. 

Now I know, deep in my core, these books are worth so much more. 

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Posted on February 13, 2016 and filed under Indie Publishing.