Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Who buys Indie Author books?

The publishing industry is posed to reset itself once again. Sales for all books appear to be down across the board, including some of the best sellers.

As an indie author, it is a struggle to stay afloat, to find new readers. All authors, traditional or indie, generally like to lure new readership by offering deals. A first in series book for $0.99, or a limited time offer of $1.99 to pique your interest in another book in the series to draw you in. Traditional authors are able to command $5.99 (and more!) for an ebook, which is generally in line with the cost of the paperback as well. Indie authors aren't always able to ask that same price, so you can often find them for less - an everyday bargain price.

So my question of the day: As a reader, are you less likely to by a full price book than you are a sale priced book?

It's like shopping at Kohl's. They are offering coupons and sales so often that consumers refuse to buy clothes at full price. Indie authors offer those bargain-basement prices every day. Many indie authors now offer "permafree" copies of their books, usually a first in series, to draw you in to buy more. Even that doesn't always work.

I could complain about how some authors have hit the big time with less than stellar books, but that would just be sour grapes. It's filling a niche, striking the right chord. That's what makes a break-out novel, and there's no accounting for what works today vs. what will work tomorrow. Finding just the right marketing angle/tool and just the right time. In the end, we write because we can't "not" write. And we hope that our work resonates with someone somewhere.

My personal philosophy is to stick with the bargain basement prices for authors I'm not quite so familiar with, so I understand that mentality. I'm also a penny-pinching cheapskate (said with love, of course). BUT I have no qualms about paying full price for an author I know and love - indie or otherwise.

Are people buying less books because they have less discretionary income? Are they less willing to take a chance on an author they don't know? Are their options so overwhelming they can't decide whether or not to buy? It's likely a combination of all of the above.

From this indie author, let me reassure you that authors are NOT making much of a profit. Very few of us do better than break even (and many of us don't even do that). We can't afford to offer our books for $0.99 or even $1.99 on a regular basis, and even at $3.99, our share is fairly minimal. We hold down a day job (raising my hand) in addition to doing what we love (writing), this includes some of the best sellers and well-known authors. Case in point, at on of the writing conferences I went to, I sat beside a best-selling Harlequin author who had three books coming out in one year, this in addition to holding down a full-time HR job. I asked how she managed to squeeze it all in, and her answer: "I don't watch much television."

So what makes you pick up that book? Do you stick with names you know and trust? Do you take a chance on a new author? Does the price-point influence your decision?

On behalf of my fellow authors, I leave you with a quote from an old Bartles and Jaymes  commercial: "Thanks for your support."


  1. I'm with you on trying new authors at bargain prices. If I like it, yes, I'll buy more. For traditional published books, it irks me that some publisher set the ebook price higher than a Mass Market Paperback (which is normally my cutoff point), but there are a select few (very select, very few) authors where I'll fork over that high price, simply because they're on my "keeper" list and my house doesn't have enough room for more print books. I short, if I love the work, I'll pay for it.

  2. Agreed, Terry. I believe the traditional publishers are trying to make up the cost of the print books by raising the ebook price, but that doesn't make it right. I'm also the type of person who only buys in print when it's an author I love and know that I'll read a second (or third or fourth) time.