How Much Do You Sell For?

This article in The New York Times bemoans the issues of being a writer; namely, not being paid. The author, Tim Kreider, addresses the frequency of people asking him to write for free. Sickening, isn’t it?

Kreider ends his tirade by pleading with all writers to never, ever, ever give out their writing for free. He says, “Do it for your colleagues, your fellow artists, because if we all consistently say no they might, eventually, take the hint.”

But if you’re a self-publisher, or a self-marketer of any kind, maybe you should not heed his advice.

I want to point to this post from The Creative Penn.

It’s an interview with  full-time, independent author Lindsay Buroker. Buroker gives away the first book in The Emperor’s Edge series for free, and sells the rest for $4.95.

You know what? It’s working for her. And she isn’t the only one who advocates this type of marketing. According to this interview (Thanks Lindsey!), Neil Gaiman experimented with giving away one of his books free for a month, and his sales went up by 300% the following month.

So I wanted to ask you, dear writers: Do you sell your work? How much do you sell for? Do you know how other authors do it?

Post your thoughts in the comments below! Don’t forget to like or follow.

Photo Credit: TaxCredits.net

18 thoughts on “How Much Do You Sell For?

  1. Based on a similar article I came across several years ago, by an author who hit it big by publishing cheap, I published my first fiction novel in 2012 (eBook) and priced it at $.99 to give people a chance to become familiar with my work. I haven’t sold many copies of it; it could be due to the fact that it’s not necessarily a popular genre (adventure novel/Native American mythology). It’s not a bad story and it has gotten good reviews. But I honestly struggle with whether charging so little (or nothing at all) is a form of devaluing me and my book that I worked on for two years. If I ever finish the sequel (just one, no series here), I will not charge so low a price. I like to believe that my work has some value in the marketplace.

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  2. To be honest, yesterday I was asked to write for a magazine for free. The magazine professed to be a launching pad and an opportunity for non-experienced new writers. Well I’m not new at writing and I’m not inexperienced. I have a full time job and write free-lance for two editors periodically, and have a very busy life. I told this editor thanks but no thanks. It’s not fair for me or for the other editors who pay me for me to detract time and energy from their projects, to give them free to someone else. You know what happened? He offered to pay me after all…. so beware, some people only want to find naive writers to wring out, and not ‘give new opportunities’ at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Right now, I have a “slush price” in my first book of $.99, but when I send the second in the series out for preorder/publication, the first book price will be cut to free. However, the rest of the series (4 more books) will be priced around the $2-3 range.

    I wanted a chance to get a bit of material written for any potential fans to work on while I compiled the next installment, which is why I charged at first on the first book. I think I will keep up this practice once I get into the second series as well.

    As a reader, when I encounter a new author, it is nice having a “free” book to evaluate their work. If I like it, I would have no problems paying for anything else under their name. This goes for well established writers and debut authors. If I haven’t read their style of writing before, it is hard to guess if I will personally connect and like it.

    And, a loss leader (aka “bait”) is a perfectly valid marketing technique, after all. What do you think the grocery stores or clothing retailers are doing when they have “early bird specials”?

    Just my two cents worth of ramblings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely worth more than two cents.

      Do you think pricing your first book (which you eventually plan to put out for free) is hurting your readership at all?

      Or, in different words, would you buy a book you knew might go free?

      Actually, now that we’re on the subject, would you ever buy a book from someone you’d never heard of, just based off the cover/description? HOW DO PEOPLE SELL BOOKS WITHOUT REVIEWS?

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      1. I actually found Jordan’s Wheel of Time without knowing who he was. Granted, this was before the electronic revolution in publications. Because of that, I’d be willing to try a new author in the fantasy realm IF they had the right elements in the cover art, and the book looked long enough.

        Usually, when I’m shopping for a new author, I’m looking for book length. I’m still having difficulty adapting to the concept of word count vs page count. But, if the book looks “thick” enough – then I’ll scan the blurb and/or read the sample provided.

        Even if the story isn’t exactly what I’m looking for, if it’s interesting, I’ll buy it then. But, if it’s not well written and properly edited, I won’t buy another from that author… not without some massively good reviews about these elements first!

        So, for a brand new author, I’d take a chance (though, free is always nice for the introduction). And, the other consideration is the price on any follow up books. I choke on hard copy prices now days, and refuse to pay anything NEAR those prices. If I want a paper copy, I’ll either wait until I can get a really good deal, or I can sweet talk someone into getting it as a gift. (If it’s over about $6.00 per book, I won’t touch it, unless there is an exceptional reason – like Jordan’s last 2 or 3 books… those I’ll consider, so long as it’s still under $10 per book.)

        As for getting sales without reviews? Lots of friends/family sales, or you join up with a group of folks who are willing to give reviews in exchange for one from you. At least, that’s the route I’m taking.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, you choose books BECAUSE they’re long? Is it a “more bang for your buck” thing?

        And that last idea was exceptional, reaching out to other new authors, and exchanging reviews is something I’ve never thought of.

        As always, K, THANK YOU for the amazing responses. Seriously, this is great.

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      3. When I’m looking for a new author, yeah, it’s the desire to make sure I’m paying for a good bit off entertainment. I am a fast reader, so the shorter books usually don’t last me that long. (anything around the 100 page mark usually don’t last more than a day with me.) So, the longer books are going to be more attractive. If I can find something up around the 300+ page mark, I know it will take at least a week to chew through it unless I’m distracted by other activities, or unless the story is poorly written/edited. (Satisfaction quotient? Probably.)

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  4. As a reader I can tell you that the whole (first book for free thing) works on me. At least four times now I’ve read a free book by an indie author then paid for three to five more books by them to finish up the series. Off the top of my head there was the Mageborn books by Michael G. Manning and the Bill the Vampire books by Rick Gualtieri in both cases I’ve purchased five books from each of them and I continue to read anything they put out. So I think it’s a sound strategy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have never written professionally and don’t know that I will be ever good enough that I will. But can’t a book author put their book on GoodReads/BookBub/EHabit for free for about a week to get people to read it and make comments and ratings, then put it up for sale. Price depending on the ratings? Just wondered.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If authors aren’t already doing that, they definitely should. I imagine some readers might be turned off by that approach (‘I have to PAY for something that was free a week ago?!’), but it’s a great incentive for readers to keep up with their favorite authors.

      Although, I imagine it would only work for newer authors, as someone who has an established following would bring in more cash on the initial release of a new title.

      Actually, there’s a video of Neil Gaiman discussing the issue of piracy, and how he let one of his books go free for a month. It was pretty interesting, I’ll reply again when I find it.

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  6. I would draw a distinction between working on spec for someone else (a gift to them) & using the first in a series as “bait” for future purchases of subsequent books.

    Writing for someone else – they get the benefit – anything that accrues to the writer is merely supplemental. It may still be worth it (exposure in a noted paper) but never forget they get the principal advantage here.

    If you want to give a gift – great. If you are def getting good exposure/marketing – even better. But you wouldn’t do your day job for free, and I think you should value your writing at least as much.

    Of course I’ve never sold anything, so take anything I say with that in the background 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “If you want to give a gift – great.” – I think one of the issues Kreider had was that people were always asking him to write for free.

      I don’t know about you, but most people I know don’t ask for gifts.

      Sure, they claim it will give him exposure, but is there a limit on how useful exposure is? Especially when it isn’t under your own terms (they’re asking him to write articles on specific subjects, yes?).

      I have to agree with you, KT. Don’t work for free – everybody needs to eat. I am curious, though, what kind of writing do people give away as gifts? This is a strange idea for me.

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      1. Yeah – I can think of limited situations when you might ‘gift’ writing.

        If you give your stuff away for free, then it’s either because you get something of value in return, you value the relationship, or you don’t value the stuff given.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “or you don’t value the stuff given.” – I SEE.

        Although, if I don’t value it, it means I’m never going to let it see daylight. My bad writing stays buried (as much as anything can be, I guess).

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