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Authorial Stickiness and Self Publishing

honey stick

Honey stick by suzyq212 at

I’ve been buying and reading a number of self published books of late, primarily because of the price point of $.99.  I find that the $.99 price point overcomes a lot of reservations I might have about a book.  One thing I did notice, as I was going through my purchases, is that I don’t have a lot of repetitive authors I’ve purchased at $.99.

I wondered what other readers were doing and what kind of stickiness these self published authors were having for readers.  The $.99 price point is a “try me” price point and none of the $.99 self published books I’ve read, except from established writers, have encouraged me to go back and buy more of their books.  I find myself more curious about other books at $.99.

This is not the usual behavior for me. If I find an author I like, I’ll go and buy their entire backlist.  In the past, that has sent me to used bookstores both brick and mortar and online.  If you read my “reading lists” you can see that I’m often reading two or three books of an author in any given two week period.  In July, I was reading the extensive backlist of Cindy Gerard and Laura Giffen.  Two weeks ago, I was reading three Jill Shalvis books.  I read Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews (due out in December and definitely a recommended read) and it spurred me to re-read the first two in the series.

I think romance readers are serious students of the glom.  They like author’s websites to have a complete backlist because they want to know what other books this magical creature called AUTHOR has created.

In thinking of the issue of author stickiness and self published authors, I have distilled some assumptions but I would love to hear what others think:

1)  Many have been short and while entertaining, they aren’t fulfilling so I’m not anxious to read another one of those books.

2)  Many of have been okay, but not great.

3)  Many don’t have extensive backlists.

4)  Those that have backlists often have only one in a specific genre. I.e., it seems like there are a lot of different areas of interest that the writer has and I just want to read a book similar to the one I’ve just finished. I.e., if I am reading a contemporary then I’m not really sure I want to read the author’s paranormal story.  (which is why, I’m sure, that author’s have pennames)

5)  The $.99 price is somehow encouraging me to experiment rather than glom.

What about you readers? Have you been buying self published books by authors who have had no previous publishing experience (as far as you know?)  Have you glommed on to a self published author? What book started the glom?  Do you feel the $.99 price point is introductory or standard for certain books? Are self published books too short?  What are your thoughts about author stickiness, length of books, price points?  Do any of those things go together?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Suze
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 07:20:03

    I don’t glom on any authors since noticing that by about Book 5, all of them lose whatever quality made me like them in the first place. I don’t know if it’s tighter deadlines cutting short the amount of time and effort they used to put into their books or pressure to reproduce exactly what sold well the last time, but I’ve learned to invest in authors one book at a time, not expecting to give them career-long support.

    In my experience, pen names are designed to trick readers into buying authors they don’t like in one genre in another (*cough* Yasmine Galenorn *uncough*). I’d much rather see all an author’s work consolidated under one name–especially if I like the author–so if I find them through paranormals, I can find their cyberpunk that I might also be interested in, even if I decide to pass on their M/M/M/M/M/M/M erotica. It makes more sense to me to list everything together for the people who like you enough to seek you out than to segregate it for people who lack interest in one thing or another.

  2. Willa
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 07:25:31

    I had a glom on a self published author – Tina Folsom. The first book in her Scanguards Series, Samson’s Lovely Mortal was free, I enjoyed it and being 268 pages gave me a great opportunity to experience the author’s voice.

    There were also a good introduction to other characters who get their own books without being sequel bait overload. I happily bought the rest of the series and will get the next one due out at the end of the year.I also downloaded a few of her shorts and enjoyed those too.

    Another author I tried via a free download was Monique Martin. Her first book, Out of Time was wonderful . . and she has just published the sequel, When The Walls Fell that I am reading and enjoying now. Both feature the same central characters and involve Time Travel.

    So my self published experiences have been postive so far . . and no, I don’t expect it to last! ?

  3. Geralyn Dawson
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 07:37:51

    I read a lot, but only recently have I begun buying self-published authors, and the .99 price point did the trick. I found a few I enjoyed, but only a very few have I followed up to the next pricing level. Honestly, I think cover art is part of the hold back in that case. If a writer doesn’t take the extra care to present her work with a quality cover, then I don’t trust the quality of the work inside. I buy backlist books of established authors because I’ve usually read the book in paper and I like having the digital copy. .99 might catch my eye, but it’s not why I buy those books. I’m happy as a clam buying at 2.99 and 3.99

  4. Statch
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 08:03:53

    The .99 price point has gotten me to try new authors, but so far they’ve all been traditionally published authors. One example is Candice Hern, who writes Regencies. I picked up a .99 book by her, loved it, and bought everything else she’s written…that was priced under 3.99. She has a number of books at higher price-points and I didn’t buy those.

    I picked up the first Candice Hern book because I had heard of her and it was .99. I have so many unread books at this point (mainly because of glomming) that I find I don’t take chances on self-published authors I haven’t heard of. The .99 price point would definitely be very important if I had reading time to burn. As things are, though, it takes the .99 price PLUS word of mouth (buzz on blogs, etc).

  5. farmwifetwo
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 09:00:34

    Like Suze, I’ve learned not to glom authors. I too believe by book 5 it’s time to find another for the same reasons she noted above.

    I’ve rarely used my reader since agency pricing came into effect. Most of my buying is used and 90% come via the library. Maybe when I run out of paper books to read I’ll return to the reader…. looks at her at home TBR, the list on order at the library and her goodreads tbr… not likely anytime soon.

  6. Treasure
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 09:35:00

    I do find the .99 price point gets a fair amount of self published authors on my kindle. But I find myself tapering off and viewing the free and 99 books with suspicion. Many are great ideas badly executed. Many are little more than fanfic. And personally I don’t care for short stories.

  7. Claudia Dain
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 09:58:22

    I’m an author as well as an avid reader and I wonder how being an author influences my perspective on this. I’m sure it must, even though I can’t see how. Anyway, that disclaimer is out of the way.

    I have read self-published authors at the 99 cent price point: John Locke being the only one to date. I think he writes a good book. I only purchased two of his novels, but I enjoyed them both. I suppose he writes a little short for the traditionally published market, but the stories seemed complete and didn’t “feel” short. I’m not sure what made me stop at two. Maybe I wasn’t fulfilled?

    I’ve also purchased new-to-me previously published authors at the 99 cent price and never purchased anything else. It’s not that I didn’t like their stories; it was that once I pay 99 cents for an author I don’t want to pay more. This, for me, is a problem in achieving author stickiness. I might have really liked the book, but I really, really, REALLY don’t want to pay 3 or 4 times the price for more books from the same author. Author stickiness has failed at that point.

    I’ve given this a lot of thought, can’t figure it out, can’t figure out if I’m the nutcase or if this might be true for more readers than me.

    So, yes, the 99 cent price point encourages me to experiment, but not to glom.

  8. readerdiane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 10:12:57

    I read so much that being able to buy $.99 books is a great deal for me. I am not going to the 2nd hand book store as much.
    Terri Reid is one author who self-publishes a paranormal mystery series but her books are $2.99. I’m not sure but I think her 1st book was cheaper so it got me hooked.
    I love books in series especially when the characters learn and grow.

  9. Jana DeLeon
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 10:13:47

    Being an author, I don’t have near the time to read as I used to, but I like the .99 pricing. Back when I had far more time to read, I used to buy first books at Half Price or check them out from the library in order to find new authors without risking the cost of a new book. Then if I liked them, I proceeded to buy everything else at full pop. To me, the .99 is the same deal except even better because there’s only seconds of time and no cost of gas associated with it. Win – win.

  10. Mia Darien
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 10:27:55

    Personally, I find the .99 enticing and I will “glom” onto a self-published author if I did like his/her work, even at a slightly higher price. I have seen enough books that were published through houses that I couldn’t see why they got through and then some self-published that would have made it otherwise (in my opinion).

    So, I don’t find the publishing venues much of a distinction. If I like the story, I’ll pursue more of their work. .99 is a great entry point, though, to get a feel for the author without having to spend more money than that – like if you see a paper book that looks good and you end up hating. That’s 5.99 or more for a regret.

    Though I will say that I personally agree with the one author name for all genres. If I like an author and they have other books in genres I like, I will be willing to try them but if there is no connection between pen names, how will I ever know?

  11. Lori
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 10:28:08

    My BFF is the queen of finding new authors to glom. However, she reads like you, Jane, and reads multiple books a week. She’s found many 99 cent and free authors that she’s bought the entire backlist.

    I read a lot less and the self-published books I’ve been buying have mostly all been books by authors I know. Saranna DeWylde, Jenn McCormack … these are the authors I’m buying as self pubbed.

  12. Maili
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 10:29:28

    I experiment now and then as well, but I do judge by covers. Even at .99 (or 86 pence). Poorly designed covers suggest the stories may be poorly edited. (My reasoning: Too cheap to sort out the cover = too cheap to get a freelance editor.) I did ignore this rule and bought some with bad covers, and found each time that I should have stuck with the rule.

    At the moment, I’m more likely to buy reissues and self-published works by authors I recognised, regardless of prices, even if I hadn’t read their works before.

    I actually do think at this point that a cover endorsement by an established author may be useful for a self-published new author. I ignore cover endorsements all the time with print books, but this time, I may pay attention for self-published digital works. It’s a big risk for the cover-quote author, though, because if the story isn’t as good as she claimed, I won’t trust that author again.

  13. R E G
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 10:33:06

    Even though an e-reader makes book buying easier and quicker, it doesn’t actually double or triple our reading hours!

    I have bought books at lots of price points, across many genres. Judging by the amount of promotional material I receive Kobo believes I should devote every waking hour to reading!

    As for the free or .99 books… I have read some that I loved; I will definitely seek out the sequels or other books by the author.

    I have also read a few that will cause me to avoid the authors in the future no matter what the deal!

    Dear Author… I know you have heard that sex sells, However, I really find I cannot identify with a heroine who completes 30 hours of intense basic training and still has the strength to orchestrate acrobatic sex with 3 other individuals immediately thereafter.

    It turns out that is your fantasy not mine. DNF.

  14. Amanda Brice
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:16:57

    Self-published or traditionally-published, if I love your first book, I’ll pick up subsequent books.

    In the traditional world, I generally find new-to-me authors by picking up their book for free at RWA, and then if I discover that I love their voice, then I buy everything else by them.

    In the inide world, I generally find new-to-me authors by trying their freebies or 99 cent books, and then if I discover that I love their voice, then I buy everything else by them.

    Exact same behavior. I’ve found a few indies lately that I’m buying everything I can get my hands on: Theresa Ragan, Sybil Hodge, Leslie duBois, Victorine Lieske, John Locke, Cynthia Justlin, Bev Pettersen.

    Are there some indies who I’ve read once and probably won’t read again? Absolutely. But the same goes for traditionally-published books as well.

    There are also some indies who I’ve loved but haven’t bought again, but that’s because they don’t have any other titles out yet. But as soon as they release their next, I’ll be in line!

  15. Janet W
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:17:13

    Jane, these are all great questions and I’ve been mulling them over myself. My answers are pretty all over-the-map, but I’ll give it a try.

    1. Have you been buying self published books by authors who have had no previous publishing experience (as far as you know?)

    I have bought no self-published books by authors who have had no previous publishing experience. None. The only thing that might make me dip my toe in the water would be if a friend who was also a writer decided to go the self-pub route, for whatever reason.

    2. Have you glommed on to a self published author?

    Yes, sort of. Candice Hern. Why? I’ve read her before and I like her Regencies. The initial price was great (think it might have been either free or .99) and I have an almost empty kindle so it was easy. (Edited to add that I read what author Dain said about start at .99, she wants to stay at .99. I paid more for my subsequent Hern books, no prob. For a well-written book, .99 is ridiculously low. Just my opinion. I don’t think authors shld feel they’re locked into .99 just because they started there as a loss leader). I will buy her self-pubbed book this fall but I know what I’m getting and given the way she prices, I’m sure it will be competitive. There needs to be a distinction made, a different way of describing, authors who re-publish their own books from new to the game authors who start out self-publishing. There’s another author I like who will be re-releasing/self-publishing her older works but if I’m not mistaken, she’s doing some tweaking/re-titling and that I don’t like. Using Balogh as an example, even though there are some actual mistakes in her older books and passages she would now write differently, she is re-pubbing pretty much as is. If I’m buying in e what I’ve already read in print, I want it to be the same.

    3. et al What book started the glom? Do you feel the $.99 price point is introductory or standard for certain books? Are self published books too short? What are your thoughts about author stickiness, length of books, price points? Do any of those things go together?

    Author stickiness — let me think. Ashley March has said she’s switching to self-publishing and I’ll read her first book when she switches. I say “first” because like so many of you have said, I have no, or very little author stickiness left in me. That’s what libraries and UBSs are for and when there are no books left at the UBS, I’ll probably wait for the prices to go wwwwwwwwwwwway down in e. I just bought a book for .99 cents, Lord and Lady something — why, the author did a great blog at Word Wenches and the price was right. If I like it, if she decides to self-pub, will I be a “sticky” fan? Probably not, unless the reviews are good.

  16. Cindy
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:21:54

    I like the .99 price point for trying new authors and I find that I am gravitating toward the 100 page or so reads, as long as the story does not feel rushed and is complete. Other than glomming by purchase, I don’t glom by reading (that is, I don’t sit and read books back to back by the same author) because I get bored if I even read the same genre back to back. I have to bounce around, so everything and everyone feels fresh.

  17. Quynh Tran
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:23:25

    I bought Karen Moning’s entire Fae Fever series after I read the first book as a kindle freebie. But most freebie books are horrible. Publishers should know that if they offer a quality author, then readers will shell out money to that author’s backlist.

  18. DS
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:27:12

    I have a few authors– mainly sff and mysteries that I have read everything they have written and in some cases it has run to thirty or forty books over four decades. But I bought each book as they came out depending on whether I liked the prior books.

    I have bought other books after reading a .99 book by one author who wrote historical fiction set in 12th century China and the other writes mysteries. I just bought my fourth book by Vicki Tyley. But I don’t glom books any more– haven’t for a long time. Ended up with too many books that I found didn’t live up to what I liked about the first book.

  19. Sarah
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:33:37

    I think the only “self-published” books I’ve tried are authors publishing their backlists in ebook format. It isn’t quite the same, because the books went through an original editorial process but also they are sometimes “dated.” I glommed onto Julie Ortolon’s self published backlist, but would wonder if the quality would continue if she self publishes new material.

  20. Laura
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:06:23

    I’ve tried quite a few self-published books (all free or very cheap), and the only purely self-published author I’ve found who I will continue to buy more from is LK Rigel. I don’t normally like shorter works like novellas, but her novellas drew me in, and when she came out with a full length novel, I was hooked.

    I’ll continue to try self-published books for the right price, because I like the idea of “discovering” a hidden gem.

  21. Laura
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:07:07

    I’ve tried quite a few self-published books (all free or very cheap), and the only purely self-published author I’ve found who I will continue to buy more from is LK Rigel. I don’t normally like shorter works like novellas, but her novellas drew me in, and when she came out with a full length novel, I was hooked. I’ll continue to try self-published books for the right price, because I like the idea of “discovering” a hidden gem.

  22. Jill Sorenson
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:20:02

    A few months ago I read a self-pubbed romance by Maia Underwood on a whim. It was rough around the edges but pretty good for 99 cents! I was really looking forward to the next in the series because I enjoyed the post-apoc setting. Unfortunately, the 2nd story featured the same hero/heroine. A love triangle was introduced. I wasn’t interested in a clunky rehash–I wanted to see the author grow and develop. The lack of good editing was even more glaring.

    I was wondering how many self-pub authors (especially inexperienced ones) get editor feedback during the outline/plotting stage. So many wrong turns can be caught early.

  23. Ruth (CO)
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:23:22

    Amazon keeps recommending the $.99 books as I have read them. I include the $2.99 as well in this category. I have picked up new authors and glommed their back ones. I enjoy trying the authors as I feel I can take the risk at the price.

  24. jodi
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:29:15

    I’ve been trying out a lot of the free big name author books–although sometimes they should be labeled teasers–and I don’t like the trend where it’s a mini-teaser story along with a bunch of promo material for other books. Some freebies were series intros, but I haven’t read one yet that got me to go buy the other books in the series. Although I suspect it’s because I haven’t found the “right” book yet. I appreciate being able to sample before investing in a backlist.

    I’ve also tried .99cent books. Some are outrageously bad. Although they seem to get better as they get shorter, and I think that’s because there are two kinds of people who pub at .99cents. People who release a full length story for .99cents because they think it’s going to take over the world, and otherwise excellent writers who just happen to be writing shorts.

    Cover art doesn’t sway me one way or the other, because it’s just a reflection of the author’s financial status or circle of friends, although totally random cover art (after I read the story) might make me wonder. :)

  25. Crista McHugh
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:55:59

    H.P. Mallory is one author whose self-published book I bought for 99c (Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble). I liked it enough to buy the sequel (Toil and Trouble) and try her other series.

  26. Isobel Carr
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:57:48

    I don’t think you can call any of the books Candice Hern has out “self=published”. She’s been re-releasing previously published backlist. Not at ALL the same thing. She is working on a new series that she’ll be self-publishing, and I expect their quality to be every bit as good as her NY books, because like Courtney Milan or Bella Andre, she knows what she’s doing.

    Personally, I have yet to buy a book by a self-published author who wasn’t previously NY published except for Tina Folsom (and she’s in my local chapter, so I’m not sure that counts, LOL!). I’ve downloaded quite a few self-pub samples, but never found one that convinced me to click buy.

  27. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:58:31

    @Crista McHugh One thing I’m really interested in is whether the readers of $.99 books will follow these authors to their $7.99 books. I’m not certain when Mallory’s book comes out but Courtney Milan’s Unclaimed is out now and while she is selling well, it is nowhere near the rate of her $.99 Unlocked novella. There doesn’t seem a ton of interest in Heather Killion Waldron (sp?) book that is coming out next month either.

  28. Victoria Cox
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 13:08:52

    I’m an avid reader and you can find me usually browsing the $.99 ebooks for new authors and stories. I have my usual list of favorite authors that I follow, and when a book of theirs comes out, I buy it right up no matter the price. But the $.99 price allows me to find new voices and stories to read – and gives me the opportunity to find new favorite authors at a cheap price (which I love). If authors are using the $.99 price as an introductory price, then I’m all for it. The higher the price on a new book or new author, I’m a little bit more hesitant to buy, because of the cost and because I don’t know the author.

    I just downloaded and finished “A Dozen Deadly Roses,” written by Kathy Bennett, for the $.99 price. In doing some research, I discovered that “A Dozen Deadly Roses,” was her first book. I devoured this book, and I’m anxiously awaiting her next. And even though it was an introductory book, I’m excited to “hear” this author’s voice some more, and I’ll pay a higher price to do so.

  29. Crista McHugh
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 13:11:06

    @Jane In regards to H.P. Mallory’s next book, I’m still undecided. My husband bought me a Nook Color under the condition I don’t bring in any more print books into the house (limited space), but it’s really hard to justify the $7.99 ebook price when I can go to Target or my local B&N and get the print version for 20% the cover price ($6.39). And in that instance, I usually put off the purchase until I’m ready to read it, which translates into when I’ve run out of books to read on my Nook. The 99c price is what convinced to try her out, but I’ll be honest, there are few authors who are auto-buys for me in general.

  30. Christine Rimmer
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 13:39:51

    I tried Loretta Chase in .99. Instant fan. I don’t know why I hadn’t tried her before. But then I read several more of her books and liked them all except one. She’s really good. But then, every knows that.

    I’ve tried a few only-self-pubbed authors in .99. So far, they were all DNF, including John Locke, which has kind of turned me off trying self-pubbed only when there are so many authors with good trad track records who have ebooks available from .99-2.99 for me to try.

  31. Lexi Revellian
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 13:40:30

    As an indie author whose books are 99c, I know from my reviews and Amazon’s Also Bought list that readers buy both my books.

    In the UK, my second novel shot straight into the top 100 on release, bought by readers who’d enjoyed my first. If only I could write faster, I’d be made…

  32. Christine
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 13:45:31

    My glom also started with a free book–Lindsay Buroker but it turned out the free book was not the start of a series but some novellas with the same characters. The actual first book was The Emperor’s Edge which is 99 cents-started reading it loved it and found out that she had a previous book in the same universe at 2.99 so I had to drop the book I was reading to get the first one (I’m ocd about series in order) that book is Encrypted and its fabulous everything that I love in a book great setting great worldbuilding that doesn’t overwhelm but makes you want to know more. It has a little mystery some romance and great characters.

    The setting is steampunk/fantasy world with a similar feel to Lois McMaster Bujold Cordelia books–militarisc society vs a more peaceful demorcratic one with a mysterious wizard race to add spice. I love the interaction between the leads–Tikaya us a brilliant linguist but she also shoots a mean bow and arrow . The hero actually her treats as an equal which is kinda amazing considering his background. I don’t want to give away too much but do read the amazon reviews they are much better than anything I have to say. I did buy most of her backlist- Encrypted is the best so far and I hope that we get a sequel eventually.

  33. MarieC
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 13:49:26

    @Jane: I’m really iffy on the next H.P. Mallory books. I loved the two series but…wow, what a mark up!

  34. Cynthia Justlin
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 13:59:09

    I’m a stingy reader. Now that I read almost exclusively on my Kindle, I sample EVERYTHING before I buy it. Even if it’s $0.99. I refuse to spend my hard earned money on something that won’t hold my interest. I’ve found some great cheap reads, whether they were ‘on sale’ or priced at $0.99….and then I’ve seen some completely awful reads that I couldn’t get past the first couple of pages. I think this is true of any book, not just self-published ones–whether an author has been traditionally published or not.

    And if I love an author’s voice, I will absolutely follow them to a higher price point. And I’ll happily keep on paying that price point unless their books start disappointing me.

  35. Sirius
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 15:18:26

    The only self published author whom I buy on the regular basis is Ann Sommerville, but I am not sure if she counts for your survey, because she has traditionally published books as well. Do I glom her books? Yep, absolutely. There are few books of hers that I liked less than others, which I loved, but overall I have not read a single book from her that I hated yet. Now, as to other self published authors, I mostly buy if somebody else who knows my tastes recommends the books, if not, I do not go looking for their other books. I have read several gems that way (by recommendation), but I am still not looking for their backlists. Recently I bought self published book for $99 cents, which Amazon recommended and I more or less enjoyed it, but even so, I am still not going to search for this author’s backlist – too many typos and book needed to be cut a lot, in my view.

    Certainly, if I ever see a self published book that I loved unconditionally, I will go looking for this author’s other books.

  36. L.K. Rigel
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 15:24:49

    @Laura – What a thrill to read your comments! Thank you so much.

    I struggle with the 99 cent price point. The author in me loves it and the publisher in me hates it. It takes a long time at 35 cents a pop to pay for quality cover art and professional editing.

    But my author self says, hey, if it gets more readers to try one of my books, then it’s fine with me.

    And free is better. In fact, Space Junque is free right now at Amazon and iTunes (and you can side load a file downloaded from iTunes into your Nook).

  37. Pamela Beason
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 15:28:24

    I have to admit that I do not yet have an e-reader, but I do download a few 99-cent books to read on my computer, and so far they have all definitely been worth the buck. As an author, I recently lowered all my ebooks to 99cents to get more awareness out there. It worked, but I need to make a living so I can keep writing, so I’m hoping that some readers will follow me back up to that oh-so-expensive price of $2.99. I will always keep a novella or two at 99cents, but I would like to believe that readers think my full-length novels are worth as much as a cup of coffee!

  38. willaful
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 15:39:09

    I’d say freebies and $.99 books cause me to glom more than to experiment. (Though I experiement some, too.) I’m not likely to take a chance on a self-published author unless there’s some compelling buzz but I think most of the ebooks I’ve bought have been by authors I originally tried cheaply or for free. (Josh Lanyon, Meg Maguire.)

    I actually am more likely to buy an author’s more expensive books if I really enjoyed a freebie/cheapie, because I figure I owe them.

  39. Andrew Butterworth
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 15:56:59

    I find myself in a similar boat. At such a cheap price I find myself simply reading book after book from new authors without ever really looking at what other books they offer. I like the freedom of having access to a wealth of new talent at such a low price.

  40. L.K. Rigel
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 16:12:22

    Just thinking out loud, I wonder if a lot of self-published authors – at this point in the evolution of the self-publishing phenomenon – are so relatively new to being published that we haven’t developed our unique voice sufficiently to bind readers to us?

    In other words, while we may be writing good stories – or good enough stories – we haven’t built the chops that define our stories as our stories. I know I’m starting to draw fans, people who aren’t looking for another cheap book but another LK Rigel book, but I’m only beginning to see that.

    Last night I stayed up until almost 3 in the morning finishing The Orchard, Theresa Weir’s new memoir. Now that woman can write! I paid 11.99 for the Kindle version and I don’t regret one penny. Then again, she’s been writing, honing her craft, learning to be fearless for years.

    So Jane, I think you’re right when you say a lower price point overcomes certain reservations about reading a self-published book. I’ve made two publisher decisions from this thread so far – to keep at least one of my books either 99 cents or free at all times, and not to use a pen name on the historical, definitely not fantasy, family saga I’ll be putting out in the future.

  41. Amber
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 16:36:16

    I have had a slightly different experience in that my 99 cents reads are similar to my regular-priced reads in terms of stickiness. Probably this is because I don’t differentiate all that much between them. The lower price point doesn’t encourage me to buy a book all that much.

    HOWEVER, I do snap up freebies if they look even remotely interesting. And those have a definite low, low stickiness rate. Even the authors I did find through freebies or cheapies, I only keep an eye out for a new release, not necessarily glom them (though this is standard behavior for me as well).

    But particularly if we’re talking about self-published authors (as opposed to well-known ones doing a sale), does it really matter if the stickiness factor is very low? Whatever audience they get is still more than they get otherwise. I suppose it would muddy the waters if readers get tired of reading those cheap reads, but I’m not sure I see that happening anytime soon as more and more readers “discover” these cheap reads as they convert to Kindle.

    By the way, Ellen Fisher is a self-pubbed author who, on her blog, posts some sales info. Particularly she will mention if she puts a novella on sale and if that affects the sales of that book, as well as her backlist, etc. Interesting reading.

  42. Ridley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 16:59:49

    Honestly, I think I’m pickier about writing than most romance readers are. I can’t overlook bad writing for a good plot, and that seems to be what $.99 books need you to do. Every sample I’ve downloaded is full of comma splices, homophone mistakes, shit dialog, boring internal monologue, too much friggin telling and so on. They’ve been technical and artistic messes. I’m well aware that this isn’t unique to self-publishing. I’ve panned my fair share of traditionally published books too, and those are edited.

    So, I’ve yet to buy any self-published books that aren’t republished backlist books. Maybe there’s a book out there that could change my mind, but I doubt it. Even the books “real” readers have raved about I thought were pretty meh. I need tight, clean writing, or GTFO.

  43. Lexi Revellian
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:13:43

    Ridley, clearly you have not come across my novels. They don’t have the errors you describe. And I’m sure I’m not the only competent indie writer.

  44. Ridley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:15:54

    @Lexi Revellian: And I’m sure your opinion is totally unbiased.

  45. Lexi Revellian
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:19:41

    About as unbiased as yours :o)

    My samples are available to read if you don’t mind adjusting your convictions.

  46. L.K. Rigel
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:23:55

    Ridley, you always crack me up! I have no doubt you can find garbage wherever you look, ha.

    But I dream of a day you announce to the world you’ve found a wonderful self-published book. That will be fun.

  47. Ridley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:24:26

    Welp. My stereotypes just keep reinforcing themselves.

    It’s a wonder I’m a liberal.

  48. L.K. Rigel
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:26:46

    I know what you mean.

  49. Cara
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:26:54

    I’ve been thinking and thinking about this today. My conclusion is that, for the most part, 99-cents is usually too close to free for me to bother with it. And really, even then, I’ve read very few of the free downloads that fill my BN library.

    There are a couple of exceptions, however, and that’s why I’m compelled to press the point that there is no all-or-none rule, here. For 99 cents I discovered an author who, while I’ve only read one of her books, impressed me enough that I absolutely will be buying more of her stuff in the future, and I’d be willing to pay more than a dollar for it. (Edie Ramer – “Cattitude.” Not without flaws but I just really enjoyed it that much.). There’s also Chuck Wendig, who I found through this site, and I’ve been hooked on his books-about-writing ever since. (Most of them are a little more, but my first purchase was 99 cents.) So, yeah – it happens. Just not often.

    The lack of other titles by self-published authors is another thing. Unless the 99-cent price point is a “try me!” tag for a backstock of other novels, it really seems kind of pointless. By the time you get another book out there, even if your first one was great, the likelihood of your name being remembered in that sea of self-published authors is pretty slim. This is yet another point in favor of traditional publishing. The turnaround on book releases is such that I would imagine by the time one book comes out, the next one is already well on its way.

    In other words, it’s the same old song – if you’re going to self-publish, you have to do it “right.” And the market it so new right now, everyone and their brother seems to be uploading their NaNoWriMo projects to sell on Amazon or BN. My hope is that that wave will crest soon and drift back out to sea, and the writers who are serious about it will remain.

    That said, this has made realize that there’s too low a price, just as there is too high a price. (I’ve been lamenting my wish lists today, because there are some titles I’d really like to get that just. won’t. go. down. in. price. And by that, I mean the ever-constant $7.99 HarperCollins price, dammmit. MUCH like the 99-cent point, unless it’s an author I know and trust, I’m just not paying that much. I’ve discovered that my “comfort-price” zone is somewhere between $3 and $6. And as always, I look at Courtney Milan as a good model for what a book should be in pricing and quality. CarinaPress has really become a go-to for me as well. But I digress. A lot.)

  50. Ridley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:27:06

    @L.K. Rigel:

    But I dream of a day you announce to the world you’ve found a wonderful self-published book. That will be fun.

    It’ll happen someday, I’m sure of it. No generalization is ironclad.

  51. Cara
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:31:52

    *correction. I just looked up Cattitude and it’s gone up in price to $2.99. Which seems a more “grown-up” price that’s still in a reasonable range for a new author. Interesting.

  52. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:43:32

    @Lexi Revellian: I’m sure you mean this in the best possible way but suggesting that your work is free of both technical and artistic merit is hubris to which readers rarely respond well. It’s not that I don’t think that you can toot your own horn, but it’s dangerous to set yourself up as the pinnacle of any kind of publishing.

  53. Shelley Munro
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:44:02

    I’m a very new Kindle reader, but so far I’ve found the 0.99c price point very tempting. I’m trying new-to-me authors, and while the experiments might not always be successful or to my taste, it’s way cheaper than a cup of coffee. 0.99c = inexpensive entertainment.

  54. Lexi Revellian
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:57:05

    You say I suggested my work is ‘free of both technical and artistic merit’? Jane, that wouldn’t be hubris but some kind of grovelling apology for writing at all :o)

    And ‘pinnacle of publishing’ is your phrase. ‘Competent’ was mine.

  55. Janet W
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 17:59:03

    I wasn’t sure what @cara meant about Courtney Milan being a good role model for pricing. Of course, maybe she meant .99 for the Unlocked self-pubbed novella, which is a terrific price — a friend gave it to me & I think it could easily have been priced higher. I’m glad so many other authors offer such easy entry to their work.

    Did some checking around. Rose Lerner’s new book, A Lily Among Thorns, which intrigues me, is a Trade going for $14.00. AMZ has discounted it to $10.52 and for Kindle, $5.59. Milan’s Unclaimed MMP is $7.99 and $5.59 for Kindle. Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen, which I just bought for .99 is now selling for .79 on Kindle. I think Galen’s book is 6 something in print. None of this makes any sense to me.

    So what or who is the role model at work here? It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

  56. eggs
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 18:03:38

    I only buy .99 books by authors that are either traditionally published, or have been in the past. I regard houses like Samhain as ‘traditionally published’ in this context. I find that self-published authors who honed their craft at professional houses can deliver a book that is roughly on par with a traditionally published book. I no longer try books by authors who have only ever self published. I have done so in the past, but have found the unskilled offerings to be largely unsatisfying.

    There are many new-to-me authors that I tried at $0-2 and went on to glom their backlists at full price. Loretta Chase, Karen Marie Moning, and Courtney Milan are three off the top of my head.

    Writing for publication is a profession, not a hobby, and I have no interest in spending my precious reading time on the frustrating hobby-level self-published books, when I could spend it enjoyably instead. Quality of reading experience is WAY more important to me than price.

    I would read entirely self-published authors if they came with a trusted recommendation (such as DA!), but would never go in blind, even for a .99 purchase.

  57. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 18:14:48

    @Lexi Revellian Sorry, I meant to say your post suggested your work was free of both technical and artistic error. In sum, it’s not a post designed to make me interested in your work.

  58. Kelley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 18:17:34

    I love .99 books but I always draw the line at buying the 7.99 books. I refuse which means that I am reading a lot of authors I’ve never heard of previously but not a lot of my traditional favorites. The thing that kills me is I would buy them at the 5.99 price point but feel cheated to have to pay the same price as a mmp. I’m sorry, it is not the same thing. My inability to loan or even give the book to a friend let alone sell it to a ubs means that this is not an equivalent product and I refuse to pay the same price for a lesser product.

    I also still don’t understand why Target and Walmart can mark their books down by 25% yet Amazon and Sony cannot. This seems arbitrary and anti-digital books and does not give me a good impression of the publishing industry.

  59. Laura
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 18:27:25

    I apologize in advance if this posts more than once. My iPad says the posting fails whether it actually fails or not.

    @Jane Courtney Milan’s $0.99 self published novella definitely led me to buy her more expensive backlist of traditionally published titles, and I will continue to buy her new self published titles as well. (Not that any of them were actually expensive, but closer to MMP prices.)

    And I just thought of another purely self published author whose $0.99 book led me to buy their other more expensive books: JL Bryan. I read “Jenny Pox” and immediately bought the other two books in the series. I don’t know if I’ll buy everything from this author, but I’ll keep my eye on him.

  60. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 18:30:05

    @Kelley Kelley, have you read my articles on Agency Pricing?

  61. Christine M.
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 18:35:13

    @Janet W: The Milan you mention in your comment is not a self-pubbed book. Unraveled (due in November) will be her next self-published book.

    I think what Cara meant was that 99 cents for 28,000 words with professional editing, proofreading, cover etc. is a great example of what self-publishing should be about.

  62. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 18:35:14

    @Laura. Yes I need to fix the iPad/iPhone conflict.

  63. Keishon
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 20:01:34

    I don’t glom. Just don’t. Bad experience with that. I’ll read a 99 cents ebook if it’s an author’s backlist introductory price. The only way I’ll try an unknown is by word of mouth only. Otherwise, my rule is similar to Maili’s, so what she said. I ignore all the 99 cents self-published ebooks, sorry.

  64. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 20:07:09

    Eh, I’m probably a bit of a snob… if the cover grabs my eye, I’ll look at the blurb but very few self pubbed writers have blurbs that can grab my attention. Those that do are generally people who I’ve read before or those like Nadia Lee who seem to ‘get’ the professionalism/editing bit that’s so very important.

  65. jodi
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 20:28:59

    @Christine: nice description. I love the Bujold books (or at least the early Vorkosigan series) I’ll check it out.

    I think word of mouth is what sells books anyway.

  66. Kinsey
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 20:29:42

    I agree that the best self-pubbed books seem to be from authors who’ve already been traditionally published. Everyone needs an editor, and a traditionally published author has been through the editing process and knows that the first draft of the book is not the publishable one, and the second and third might not be either. Plus traditional publishers employ proofreaders. If a self-pubbing author doesn’t have an outside editor and several proofreaders, the end result will be nowhere near as good as a traditionally published book. (All IMO, of course).

    And while a great cover won’t necessarily make someone buy a book, a crappy cover might prevent them from buying it, so paying a professional graphics designer is important.

    I’m thinking of self-pubbing the steampunk I’m working on and the thing about .99 that worries me is — some readers think a book that costs .99 can’t be any good. Maybe it’s a subconscious thing, but I’ve heard more than one person say this. They assume if it costs less than a buck, it’s no good. I’ve already published a short prequel for .99 but it’s less than 20,000 words. The steampunk will be full length, and I wonder if pricing my book at 1.99 will make difference either way.

  67. Courtney Milan
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 20:35:55

    @Cara and @Janet W: As I am still debating pricing for my self-published works as well, I’m very curious myself.

    I do think that my Harlequin books (which is at present, every full length book that is available for purchase) are priced too high. And by “priced too high” I mean “not priced to maximize revenue.”

    And I have a lot of other thoughts on pricing and revenue, but they are tangled up with so many other things, it’s not even funny.

    I will say this: I wouldn’t judge appropriate pricing based on Harlequin’s pricing of my books. Their goal is not to sell as many of my books as possible. It’s to maximize the revenue from its stable of books as a whole, and one doesn’t always do that by maximizing the revenue from one income stream. There are clearly things that Harlequin could do to increase sales of my books–but it’s decided not to do them.

    That’s a business decision on their part, and one I do not begrudge them–but I would personally make different choices.

  68. helen
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 20:37:50

    I will buy pretty much any self-published book up to 2.99 if it sounds at all interesting to me. If I find an author I like for .99 cents (or on up to 2.99) I buy every book they have published. Amanda Hocking, Samantha Young, Abigail Boyd (next book coming soon), Charlotte Abel, J.A. Templeton, C.A. Kunz, P.J. Hoover, Keary Taylor, Derrolyn Anderson, SM Reine, Tess Oliver and so many more it isn’t funny. There are so many excellent self-published authors out there. I usually find them from reviews on Goodreads, or indie author blog sites. I do tend to look for reviews before buying and I will say that I have read many clunkers as well, but the great thing is at .99 I don’t feel bad reading only 1/4 of a book.

  69. Cara
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 21:11:34

    @Janet_W and @Courtney_Milan – I guess my response would be, “yes”? The $.99 pricing for Unlocked was great, because it pulled a bunch of people into the series. But looking at the price for Unclaimed, I don’t balk because it’s still within my comfort zone at the $5.50 range.

    I will admit, though, if I’m not familiar with an author, whether or not I’ll spend the upper-end of my comfort range on their book definitely depends on my financial mood at the moment. (I guess that should be obvious, but let’s be honest – I’m not the only book junkie here.)

  70. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 21:12:43

    Just an FYI, I will delete any blatantly spam like posts in this comment thread. This is not a thread designed for people to flog their wares. (and if your post hasn’t been deleted, you needn’t worry but I did delete an author’s post that stated the following:

    Smashwords – [Title ] – A Free! Short Story by [Author] [Link]

    Who am I kidding…I give it away just for feedback…It’s a hobby..ain’t about to quit my day job!


  71. eggs
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 21:28:47

    The attitude in the deleted smashwords spam is EXACTLY the reason I shy away from these “free” or .99 books. The author is after beta readers, not consumers. Well, guess what? I want to read books as a form of entertainment, not as an unpaid proofreader.

  72. Nikki
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 21:33:36

    I have found some interesting stories in the 99c range. I haven’t run to glom the author but I was definitely more willing to try their next book. I will forgive an indie author mistakes at that price point. However, authors published through so called publishing houses get absolutely no tolerance. I am much less offended with a need for editing at lower price points than when you try to charge me $3.99 or more for something less than half the length of the average HP with attendant bad cover (often poorly photoshopped) and even worse editing.

    There are authors who I found in the 99c range who I will give a chance at a higher price point from a publisher I trust. I have found a few who seemed like they had potential but they only had the one 99c offering so I could not make a long-term assessment of potential.

  73. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 21:35:48

    Out of curiosity for those that are commenting and reading the comments, what would you think of a 8.99 price point for mass markets?

  74. Ridley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 21:52:24

    @Jane: I’d stop reading them. Most of those books are barely worth $7.99, they’re so derivative. $8.99 might send me back to WoW permanently.

  75. Courtney Milan
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 22:06:54

    @Jane: No.

    I mean, yeah, I’d buy books at $8.99. I buy books that are more expensive, too. But no.

  76. Debra Holland
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 22:12:41

    As a reader, I’ve found several self-published authors at .99 whose other books I will read. I’m more likely to try someone who interests me if the book is .99. It’s a gamble, but that’s what’s fun about it. :) I have a bunch of cheap books on my Kindle that I’m looking forward to reading.

    As a self-published author, I priced the first book in my sweet historical Western series at .99. I thought it was only fair to readers to try an unknown author at a cheap price point. Then if they liked it, they could go on to buy the second book at 2.99. That seems to have worked because I’ve sold 24,000 books in five months. I’m so grateful for all the readers who were willing to try my books at .99!

  77. Perry
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 22:22:48

    Dear Jane,

    You have made no secret of your virulent anti-self publishing views to the point that one must begin to wonder if you’re secretly a shill for one of the Big 6 who see this huge tidal wave fast approaching. As one of the self-published authors with a 99 cent book currently selling moderately well – I would like to address your points one by one if I may:

    1) Many have been short and while entertaining, they aren’t fulfilling so I’m not anxious to read another one of those books.

    -Now a Harlequin Presents ain’t exactly War and Peace! All the books in my category selling well by indies are equal in length to a HP or other category romances. Not fulfilling? That’s very subjective. What doesn’t float your boat just may be rocking someone else’s!

    2) Many of have been okay, but not great.

    -Welcome to the wonderful world of reading – they can’t all earn Pulitzers or Ritas – and if you do know of an author who is consistently turning out ‘literary gems’, point me to them and their pile of magic beans.

    3) Many don’t have extensive backlists.

    -Sorry, but I don’t have a million dollar contract like Nora Roberts – I have to work! Wish I could churn them out on a monthly basis but mama has to bring home the bacon.

    4) Those that have backlists often have only one in a specific genre. I.e., it seems like there are a lot of different areas of interest that the writer has and I just want to read a book similar to the one I’ve just finished. I.e., if I am reading a contemporary then I’m not really sure I want to read the author’s paranormal story. (which is why, I’m sure, that author’s have pennames)

    -Yes, I do use a penname – see number 3 above, would not want my boss reading the sizzling hot sex scene I wrote and then staring at me across the desk during our weekly one on one. And yes – I plan to write whatever the hell I feel like writing. That’s the beauty of being self-pubbed – nobody tells me what to do or what to write! If I want to write a gay murdery mystery love story slash paranormal slash steampunk slash self-help book, then dammit – that’s what I’ll do!

    5) The $.99 price is somehow encouraging me to experiment rather than glom.

    -It’s 99 cents for the love of… Read the sample, see if you like it – if not – keep it moving and save yourself a buck! Maybe, wonder of wonders, you’ll find you love a self-pubbed author. Dare I dream, that I may even be the one who pops your indie author fan cherry? Then you’ll glom on to me, read my other books – when I finish them. And maybe then, fingers and toes crossed, you’ll understand that a writer is a writer is a writer. I don’t need a Publishing House Imprint below my name to make me legitimate. Hopefully, my words speak for themselves. Hope you’ll take time to read them – and maybe even…review them.

    Thanks for listening.

    Self-published Author

  78. L.K. Rigel
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 22:36:10

    Whoa, whoa, whoa!

    I take exception to this. Dear Author is reader-centric, not author-centric (in my opinion) but even in that light, DA is extremely supportive of authors. Look at the First Page feature, and the monthly thread where authors can announce upcoming books – even open to self-published authors, as long as the books are romance.

    True, the romance reading community in general has in the past had an emotionally charged, shall we say, attitude toward self-published authors, and until recently sites like SBTB and DA haven’t been exactly welcoming of self-published work.

    I think they’ve had their reasons, not the least of them being that so much self-published stuff is crap. (I didn’t say all, so don’t flame me! Plus, I am self-published.)

    Times are changing and self-publishing has become such an attractive and realistic business decision that some authors who are willing and able to take on the “publishing” part of the process are turning out some books actually worth reading.

    DA is at least beginning to acknowledge and explore that fact – to discuss it with respect. I’m thrilled to see the development.

  79. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 22:37:01

    @Perry I don’t see myself as having “virulent anti self publishing views.” Perhaps you could expand on that?

  80. Kinsey
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 22:46:25

    Ridley: What’s WoW?

  81. Ridley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 22:59:25

    @Perry: tl;dr

  82. Ridley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 23:01:06

    @Kinsey: World of Warcraft. I was a varsity nerd before I started reading romance.

  83. Kelley
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 23:02:37

    @Jane: I have. Thanks Jane … but as a business model, I don’t understand what the “big 5” is thinking. I know that there was some question about how much it costs to epublish vs paper. I’d love a definitive answer on how much a publisher makes on an epub vs a paperback. I know the author sees very little if anything of the increased profits. I’m sorry, I know some are brick and mortar and the others online but they are all retailers so why the difference? Is it in who takes the hit from the discount? Do brick and mortar stores take the discount as a lost leader to get people into the store while Sony and Amazon would expect the publisher to take a cut in their profits? Seems like ebooks have been around long enough that we should have some good data on actual cost vs profits. Maybe because hard bound books take a hit, mass market doesn’t get any kind of break? It doesn’t work for me since I rarely if ever buy hardback books nor do many of us who read primarily in the romance genre. Again, I’m not asking for deep discounts. I just do not recognize that an ebook is equivalent to a paperback or other physical book.

  84. MaryK
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 23:02:40

    I’ve bought backlist titles and self-pubbed titles by established authors, but I don’t buy new to me self-pubbed authors. I don’t have a gambler’s temperament.

  85. Perry
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 23:13:35

    Jane and L.K. Rigel – sorry, I wasn’t looking to start a war – really! But since you asked Jane, let’s start with this post and the generalizations you have made about self-pubbed authors along the lines of “none of the $.99 self published books I’ve read, except from established writers, have encouraged me to go back and buy more of their books.”

    None, Jane? Really?? I find that hard to believe with the self-pubbed books ranking right up there in popularity with the ‘established authors’ on sites like Amazon and creeping on to other Best Seller lists as well. Could all these readers be wrong?

    I will have to go back and review archives on your site, but I’ve read several posts where you imply that you just do not feel a self-published work has any merit. Admittedly, they may have been older posts and your opinions may have changed, but posts such as this one today still seem to be reinforcing that same stereotype that self-pubbed equals sub-par. I just think each book should be fairly judged on its own merit (and apparently people really are also judging a book by its cover now) instead of lumping all indies together.

    Thanks for asking and for listening.

  86. Anthea Lawson
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 23:24:43

    @Kinsey – World of Warcraft. :)

    Jane – $8.99 for a limited digital license? No. I don’t buy anything over 5.99, and really like to stick closer to 3-5 bucks.

    It’s interesting to see a bit of backlash against the .99c price point – for novels, anyway. I think 99c is a good price for short stories, and *maybe* the first-in-a-series loss-leader (Bob Mayer is a big advocate of this approach).

    Interesting to watch all this shaking going on, for sure. Thanks for the many opportunities DA gives for discussion. :)

  87. MaryK
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 23:57:33


    the generalizations you have made about self-pubbed authors along the lines of “none of the $.99 self published books I’ve read, except from established writers, have encouraged me to go back and buy more of their books.”

    That’s not a generalization. It’s a fact because it’s something she’s experienced.

    If you refuse to believe she hasn’t found a self-pubbed book she really likes, there’s not much room for discussion.

  88. Andrea
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 00:00:07

    If I enjoy a book by an author, I will go back and check out other books by that author. I am finding myself more and more inclined to buy only ebooks (except for my most-beloved authors), but other factors don’t really matter to me. I’ll hesitate at the price if it’s over $9.99. I _will_ hesitate even longer if it’s a self-published author at $9.99 – I’d probably still buy it if I loved the previous story read, but knowing that the author isn’t supporting a publishing house with that price means I’d have to really want it.

    I’m quite happy to pay $4.99 for self-published books so long as the sample has caught me. I’m driven entirely by wanting to find stories I love.

    From my own experience as a writer, people have started at one of my books and gone on to “glom” the rest (and then warmed my soul by posting about it). I generally sell my books at $3.99-$4.99, though, not $0.99. I have one YA out as a temporary freebie at the moment and it appears that people are going on to buy the second in the series at $3.99 and are keen for the release of the third.

  89. BookFormatterRutchie
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 00:06:42

    I also believe that trying new things opens new ideas and opportunities. There are self-published .99 books that makes sense and some don’t. If you’re an author and wants to self-publish, you can get ideas from those who have already made one.

    Just if you want to experiment, you can try .99 books however read some reviews about that book.

  90. Jane
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 07:20:45

    @Perry I suggest you read through the archives before you assign a label such as “virulent anti-self publishing” and “Big 6 shill.” In fact, I posted a link just about three comments before yours to a post I’ve done on Agency pricing, one of several, where I decry what I view as the inappropriate behavior of the Big 6 in anti competitive behavior in the marketplace. This kind of behavior from indie authors is what other readers point to in justifying why they won’t read indie/self published authors.

  91. Joy
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 08:08:59

    Most 99 cent ebooks are lendable and many of them are available at lending clubs. Since I own(and lend) plenty of lendable e-books, I can pretty much borrow my pick of what’s out there at already-sunk costs, so that is my experimentation ground. I don’t really buy 99 cent self-pub books unless it’s from an established author or has really good reviews. I did glom on a self-pub series (the “Glimpse” series by Stacey Wallace Benefiel) but it wasn’t a 99-center and I borrowed 2 of them. I do pick up 99 cent promo books and novellas now and then. I am more likely to pick up self-pub backlist of published material than original work.

  92. DM
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 08:16:02

    I’ve bought a lot of $.99 self-published books. The price point tempts me to take a chance. But I’ve never bought a second book by an author who *originated* in self publishing.

    The $8.99 question is tough. Like Ridley, I feel like the big houses are turning out way too much derivative product. $8.99 seems steep for a book I won’t be able to remember in two days time. But I’d pay it for something genuinely moving and original that takes me places–physical and emotional–I haven’t been before. Milan, Duran, Thomas, Bourne. I wouldn’t like paying it, but I’d pay it. But I wouldn’t shell that out for generic content. It’s the banality of most of the big publisher’s offerings that sends me trawling the $.99 self published books…and the lack of quality there that sends me back to the NY published titles.

  93. Jane
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 08:23:44


    It’s the banality of most of the big publisher’s offerings that sends me trawling the $.99 self published books…and the lack of quality there that sends me back to the NY published titles.

    This is how I feel. I’m trying to find more Courtney Milan offerings in self publishing. Different works that have been passed on by publishers but are of high quality. I think this is one reason that regency set historicals are almost always a non sale for me in the self published format. That’s what NY is adept at selling and I would think the best regency historicals will be pubbed by trad publishers. The book that I read (and haven’t finished) from the PubIt! facebook pitch features Nigerian characters, but the type of story is the same and it’s just incredibly boring. There is nothing there that is making me turn the pages. It’s not that I don’t find that in trad pubbed books, but I find it more and more often in self published books. They are either terribly boring or have really rough writing. I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I have yet to find a self pubbed author (a true self pubbed author) who has set my heart beating in excitement but I keep trying them out in hopes that I find that gem.

    I think Maili said it best when she referred to self pubbed books as being unpredictable in quality. You never know, even with a sample, what you are going to get. Worse, I think many self pubbed authors don’t believe in the value of content editing. I’d rather have an author invest in content editors rather than copy editors.

  94. Courtney Milan
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 11:00:57


    You can’t get all excited about the fact that the readers are now the gatekeepers and then simultaneously get all pissed off when the readers gatekeep and you don’t like the results.

  95. Estara
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 12:45:11

    @Andrea: I can only ditto your experiences – except for the fact of being an author myself ^^. Oh and that YOU are one of the few non-published authors I have found and liked on the internet.

    I haven’t tried never before published authors in large numbers, though – a lot of the new-to-me authors were people releasing their backlist in ebook or authors previously or simultaneously published by established e-presses.

    However, I found Ann Somerville via someone linking to her and she had freebies on her site (which I now own in ebook form, because you can buy them, too) in genres I like – fantasy and sf – so she was my entry into m/m romance and I have mostly enjoyed her various self- and e-press published books (I like her Darshian Tales the best).

    Andrea K. Höst I found via a review of Champion of the Rose – which I really liked and am waiting for a sequel. I still have to read Stained Glass Monsters which I bought at the same time.

    Moriah Jovan I read the huge excerpts of when Jane mentioned her here and then bought the most obviously romancy of her books at the time – Stay – then went back to get The Proviso and Magdalene as soon as it came out – have enjoyed all of her books so far.

    So these three are my finds and gloms. As a German Amazon takes VAT off me, so I never get a 0.99 price point anyway – but I do occasionally get some free ebooks if an e-first publisher offers them internationally. Author backlists on Smashwords often have a free or really cheap first introduction book. If I like that then I glom onto various books of theirs. And then I don’t care if they are priced like authors from the big publishers, because I want to read them.

    Now, hardcovers or similar books I only buy from a very few auto-buy authors these days. Everything else I’m willing to wait for.

  96. hapax
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 15:36:35

    Is this thread still alive?

    Generally speaking, I don’t buy self-pubbed authors at all, unless I see reviews from sources I trust.

    But I’m one of those ancient Luddites who VASTLY prefers print books to e-books, so for me, the real barrier is the “e-only”, rather than the price.

    I’ve gone on to glom some authors who are e-only. A better way to produce the glom would be to offer a print option (through Lulu or a similar source) after giving away the first book for free — I not only bought all of M Chandler’s SHADOW OF THE TEMPLAR books after reading the first for free, I’ve bought extra copies and given them away as gifts.

    I’ve tried some new-to-me established authors at the .99 price point (example, Courtney Milan), and although I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my dollar, I also haven’t been tempted to buy any more at higher prices. (Sorry, Ms Milan! A fine novella, but not my cup of tea)

    But honestly, I’m more often intrigued (or repulsed) by new to me authors by their comments on blogs by these. I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve checked out (and sometimes, gone on to love) because of their professional, thoughtful, and/or witty comments in this kind of informal atmosphere.

  97. asrai
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 16:25:29

    3) Many don’t have extensive backlists.

    Well, no. Self-publishing is so new that those who are trying it don’t have much out there yet. Unless they are former trad authors who are publishing their backlist in which case they arne’t doing the .99 cent price point.

  98. Janet W
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 18:40:36

    Asrai, there’s not much I won’t do to track down an elusive OOP trad (including a sunny afternoon dumpster diving outside a Sally Anne in VA), so I know my prices. You said, “Unless they are former trad authors who are publishing their backlist in which case they arne’t doing the .99 cent price point.” You’re right and wrong: some trads are being repubbed at sky-high e-prices, others at agency prices but many at .99 or even free as an intro to an author. I’ve bought so many .01 trads at AMZ (with the traditional $3.99 shipping cost) than I think anything $4 or lower for a well-reviewed, re-released trad is a decent price, and as I said, you can often get lower.

    What has your experience been?

  99. Kate Pearce
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 18:51:06

    I don’t have time to go through all the 99c books, so I tend to look out for names I’ve already heard of, or recommendations from sites like yours or friends. I recently asked for Regency mystery authors and I’ve happily glommed my way through about 6 or 7 of the Ashley Gardner (Jennifer Ashley) Captain Gabriel Lacy series, and I just started on C.S. Harris but balked at paying full price for book #2.

  100. April V.
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 20:53:35

    I haven’t found a whole lot of .99 authors that I like but a little higher price points are some good ones, C.J. Archer (fantasy/paranormal romance) and Maria Schneider (cozy mystery/paranormal mystery) and Frank Tuttle and Nancy Fulda are several that I’ve read several of and would read more given the chance, and cash ;-)

  101. April V.
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 20:55:56

    I meant to mention above that I really want to raise my hand in support of trad authors publishing their backlist for ereaders (as several other posters mentioned). Please authors? We can only buy the books that are available so make them available and we’ll buy them!

  102. Jane
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 21:12:57

    I think we need reviews of these books. Maybe Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday we can host guest reviews of self pubbed books or old backlist titles redigitized. Of course, they would need to be buy regular DA readers but I think that would be a helpful community feature.

  103. Ridley
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 22:25:16

    Oooh! That’d be fun! I might even have a handful for you.

    I like older books. Not only are the re-issues cheap, but they seem to just be better books. I say “they don’t write romance like they used to,” and I read my first romance novel on Christmas Day, 2008, so it’s not nostalgia speaking. Books from the 90s just have more emotional depth to them.

  104. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 22:43:13

    Books from the 90s just have more emotional depth to them.

    I’d agree with that. I’ve been plowing my way through a bunch of 90s books I missed in the 90s because I was busy and was reading other stuff. I’m amazed at the variety and quality.

  105. Ren
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 09:20:17

    Okay, I am dumb. What is “Glom?”

  106. Kinsey
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 09:36:20

    No, I’m dumb for not knowing WOW.

    To glom is to go out and buy all the titles by an author you can get your hands on. It’s the equivalent of “nom nom nom nom” when you’re eating something delicious.

  107. Debra Holland
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 09:57:30

    Just because you don’t know something Ren and Kinsey doesn’t mean you’re dumb! You’re just adding new words to your vocabulary. :)

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