Ebook Pricing Wars: Episode 1,209,843

Zoe Winters wrote a thoughtful and reasoned post on ebook pricing yesterday that’s worth the read for all you indie publishers struggling with the pricing question. An excerpt:

I am bolding this next part because if you don’t hear any of the rest of this, please hear this:

99 cent and free ebooks are not glutting the ebook market. They are glutting the BARGAIN ebook market.

If you are selling to that market or you are a reader in that market, it’s very easy to imagine it’s the only market and OMG we all have to price at 99 cents because other people are MAKING US with their low-priced ebooks.

Not so.

My own experience corroborates Zoe here. I almost fell into this trap last year when I considered tinkering with the price of my fantasy novel, THE LAST KEY.

Should I go high or should I go low?

If I go high, I thought, why would anyone pay $4.99 for my book with all the 99-cent/free books out there?

But then I wondered, If I go low, how would anyone notice my book with all the 99-cent/free books out there?

I decided to go high and priced THE LAST KEY at $4.99 (a common price-point for novels with 75,000+ words). Since I did that in December, my sales rates have…stayed the same.

And that’s good. It means I’m getting the same number of sales and making more money than when the book was priced lower. I may not be tapping into the BARGAIN market, but I am getting noticed by a different market. I like to think it’s the LOVERS OF HIGH QUALITY FANTASY market…

Love letter to Scrivener

Scrivener, I’d say, “You complete me,” but that’s gross and hackneyed. You do, but, well, still gross and hackneyed. I mean, you’re writing software, I’m human. It could never work, my wife would never understand.

The thing is, I can’t hold back any longer. Yes, you’re an elegant word processor, but it’s your single-source and compile features that give me those butterflies. You see, indie authors like me need to send different file formats of our books to Kindle, Smashwords, PubIt, CreateSpace, etc.

Scrivener, you are quite possibly the greatest tool ever for generating those different formats from one file.

There, I said it. I’ll stop gushing and explain.

One file to rule them all

Before I met you, I used trusty old Word to publish my epic fantasy novel, THE LAST KEY, to Kindle and Smashwords. I had to create separate files since Kindle (at the time) wanted an HTML file, and Smashwords wanted a stripped-down DOC. Quite the hassle to maintain two separate files, especially when I found typos and had to fix them in both.

Then you came along, Scrivener, with your sassy single-source ways.

You let me write my novel/screenplay/article in one place. Now, when I do find those inevitable typos, all I have to do is fix them once, then click ‘Compile’ to generate whichever format I want. Done and done.

Compile feature alone makes me <3 you

Scrivener, so far you’ve helped me compile four novels into MOBI, EPUB, PDF, DOC, HTML, and print-ready versions. You helped me create version-specific presets in which I can define fonts and layouts, file types to compile, and pages to include. Once I saved those presets, I used them over and over again for each compile without recreating all those settings.


And the option to choose which pages/chapters to include in each compile? Dreamy.

For example, in my recent mystery novel, ASPECT OF PALE NIGHT, I have three different “About the Author” pages in my project. One for my Kindle MOBI, with a link to my fantasy novel on Amazon; one for my Smashwords DOC, with a link to my fantasy novel on Smashwords; and one for my print-ready version, with no hyperlinks. I also have three different “Copyright” pages specific to each format.

So when I compile my novel in, say, Kindle MOBI format, I can un-check the Smashwords and print-ready versions of my “About” and “Copyright” pages. Ditto for the other formats.

No need to maintain separate files, copy/paste version-specific content, etc. Before you came along, Scrivener, the word “tedious” does not begin to describe the process when I did this in Word for THE LAST KEY. Scrivener, you let me do it with a few clicks. I weep with joy.

What else is there…? Oh, a LOT!

I’d write poems and books extolling your other features, but that’s already been done. From your word processing functions to your outlining tools to the “snapshots” feature that lets me save multiple versions of my work…well, Scrivener, you’re the best writing tool I’ve found since I learned how to type in the 5th grade.

And you’re available for Mac and Windows. How beautifully open-minded of you.

New Podler Reviews THE LAST KEY

I couldn’t be more thrilled New Podler’s review of THE LAST KEY:

“The Last Key is a great fantasy story. Steiner has crafted a world where politics muddy the boundary between good and evil and forces the characters to find a clear path to solve a world-shattering crisis. His characters rise above stereotypes and engage each other with realistic dialogue that comes naturally to them. And they evolve. Although it is only his first novel, The Last Key clearly exemplifies Steiner’s mastery of writing high fantasy. He is one to watch.”

Read more at The New Podler Review of Books.

Story Behind THE LAST KEY

I finished THE LAST KEY in 2003 and found an agent for it in 2005 (Dr. Uwe Stender). Over the next five years my agent sent it to almost every fantasy editor in the business. We got lots of “positive rejections,” but no bites.

So after five years of shopping it around, I had decision to make — continue sending it to smaller and smaller publishers, which could mean several more years of waiting…or make it an e-book, publish it to Kindle and Smashwords, and see what happens.

I chose the e-book route. I’m a pretty patient guy, but after five years even I was getting antsy to get my book into the hands of readers.

So THE LAST KEY is now available on Amazon Kindle. And no, you don’t need a Kindle to buy or read the book. You can easily download a free Kindle Reader for your PC, iPhone, or Blackberry. It only takes a minute to set up.

Or you can go to Smashwords.com and download the book in an electronic format you prefer.

My goal is to (hopefully) give readers a rollicking good adventure story at a cheap price. I don’t plan on pursuing a print edition, but I’d certainly love to hear any offers from a print publisher.

So I hope you enjoy the book. If you read it, shoot me an email. I’d love to hear what you think. Better yet, leave a review on Amazon or Smashwords, but be honest – point out the stuff you liked and the stuff you didn’t like. Honest criticism will help me become a better writer, write better books, and maybe someday make a living in this business.