I recently received a message from a reader who said that though she was a fan, she couldn’t see herself paying the price I’d set for one of my books. That was the first clue that we hold different opinions: she thinks I should undersell my work, thereby cheating myself out of making a decent living. I don’t.
Of course I’m sure the thought that underselling my work would in effect be me denying myself a living wage didn’t cross her mind. And why should it? She just wants what she considers a good deal. She closed her message by saying it would be fine if I called her cheap. I didn’t. Whether she buys a book or not is completely up to her, and she has to do what’s in her own best interests. If she doesn’t believe my work is worth the price that I set for it, then it isn’t in her best interests to purchase it.
I also have the right to do what’s in my best interests. If someone doesn’t want to pay what in this case was less than the cost of a sandwich or a Starbucks coffee, then I can’t make her change her mind; I won’t even try. What I can do is value my work enough to set a price for what the work is worth. I am a self-employed writer, and while on some level I write for fans, the first person I write for is me, and selling my work for less than what it’s worth would be cheating myself.
In the current climate where anyone who wants to publish a book can publish a book, more and more authors are being expected to sell their books at a cheaper price than what they’re worth. I’m not going to do that. I will always (unless I have a sale) price my work at a price that will take into account the time it took to write and sometimes research it, and the costs (in time and money) for covers and editing. I write for pleasure, yes, to satisfy my muse, but I also want to make money. So whether the reader or I like it or not, my writing is not just my art, it is also a business, and again, I’m not going to cheat myself.
It’s common sense not to expect everyone to like my work. It’s also common sense not to expect that everyone who likes my work will always buy it, and I don’t. I will not publish a book until it is ready for publication, and in turn, those who want to buy it, will. Because it’s worth the price on the cover.