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Will the length of a story affect how much you are...

[poll id="211"]

Robin (aka Janet here) wrote a great piece for Access Romance Readers’ Gab blog about value and creative content.

In the commercial world, we are used to thinking of value in the context of price. A "good value" is often defined by some quotient of quality and price, specifically as relatively high quality for a relatively low price. But the value of books, while commercial art and commercially marketed products, is not so easy to define.

I admit to be one of those people who equate value to length (among other things).   Going into a purchasing situation, I will be willing to pay more for a longer work than a shorter work even if at the end of the reading both, my positions would have flipped because the shorter work was of higher quality than the longer work.   But buying decisions are made on the front end so I balk at paying a higher price for novellas or short stories than I would for full length novels.

Does the length of a story affect how much you are willing to pay for it?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

38 Comments

  1. maddie
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 12:18:23

    I just passed on Linda Howard’s Ice because of the length of the book, I think it was 198 pages and the price was $22.00.

    Sorry even for her I will not be scammed out of my hard earn money, she is even a autobuy for me, but this time I had to say no.

    Then there is the case of E-books were you buy them down load them and you get maybe 154 pages for $6.99 smells like a rip off to me.

  2. DS
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 12:26:43

    I always compare the size of an eBook file against the cost.

    It’s common to see negative reviews on Amazon for shorter works because the buyer feels cheated by the length of the story. Digital I mean.

  3. Michelle
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 12:30:19

    I budget myself to death when buying fiction books but length doesn’t usually enter into it unless it’s more what I’m accustomed to paying. Digitally, my limit for short stories is $2, no exceptions. Typically I’ll only pay around $4-5 for a novella or $6-7 for a novel, though I have had the “OMG gotta have it” moment in which I paid an outrageous amount for a new release in e-format. For print, it’s $9.99 for paperback of any length, $15 for soft cover. Hardcover – ah, well, it depends on how badly I want it, but it’s usually $30.

    Overall I think that the above prices are worth the gamble of owning something I might not like. Otherwise I’ll check out the library and determine whether the book is something I want to own enough to step out of my budget.

  4. Castiron
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 12:34:42

    Yes, when the size difference is large enough. I’m willing to pay the same price for an 85Kword novel and a 120Kword novel without feeling ripped off by the shorter work. I’m not willing to pay the same price for a 40Kword novella and a 120Kword novel, unless there’s some other feature in the 40Kword story (gorgeous illustrations, for example*). A 10Kword story? I’ll wait for the anthology. Flash fiction? Yeah, right.

    *Come to think of it, I’ll buy a board book for my toddler for about the same price as I’d pay for thick mass market paperback. But with the board book, I’m not just paying for a 100 word story; I’m paying for nifty or funny illustrations, as well as durability to survive 100+ readings and occasional use as a chew toy.

  5. Amy S
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 13:03:45

    The answer is a definite yes from me. I actually feel cheated when I open a book and find it double spaced with massive margins, big gaps between the lines, and huge font – or worse, the same but just with tiny font and double spaced! I’ve noticed that publishers often try to make the book look really thick and yet when you open it you find all the above as well as the fact that each new chapter starts on a fresh page about 2/3 of the way down and has a gap of one page in between each. As a reader I notice those things and it annoys me. I know this sounds ridiculous but I take it personally, I feel like I am being ripped off and treated like an idiot.

  6. Donna S.
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 13:06:38

    I read very quickly and find the most enjoyment in long, engrossing novels (thank you Diana Gabaldon and WA Hoffman!) So count me in as another one who always checks the file size of the Kindle books against the price. It’s no guarantee, but has resulted in fewer occasions of paying 5-7 dollars and then saying “that’s IT??!!” after the download.

  7. Janine
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 13:25:32

    For me, it depends on the quality. I don’t plan to shell out $22.00 for Howard’s Ice, but I might pay that much for a mint condition copy of Diamond Bay.

  8. Doug Knipe [SciFiGuy]
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 13:34:44

    I sometimes equate length and value but it depends on the author and quality of the work. For example I will take a pass on the forthcoming Anita Blake novella Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton that clocks in at 23.95 for a slim 192 pages in hardcover.

  9. kaigou
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 13:38:40

    What gets me is when an ebook pub calls it a “novel” and then you find out this means 50K words. That’s not a novel IMO, that’s a novella. Doesn’t help that many epubs also call 10-15K a “short story” and I thought a short story stopped at roughly 7K, and above that, to a max of about 20K, would be a novelette.

    Then again, I come from a strong SFF background, where traditionally anything under 120K is “short”. My understanding is that category romance tends to be substantially smaller — 50K to 80K average — so my irritation may be genre-prompted. That sense of label-inflation, though, makes me think of when a company makes the box bigger but the actual contents are only half the box by volume. The epubs calling a novella “a novel” and an actual novel “a super-novel” (or similar) gives me the same sensation as I get when I open that new & improved Much Bigger Box product.

    Length to money, though, the story may be an utterly awesome 20K, but that’s still only a half-hour of reading for me, and I point-blank refuse to pay $6 for only a half-hour’s entertainment.

  10. Kalen Hughes
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 14:04:49

    As long as the book is “novel length”, I’m willing to pay “novel” price (don’t care if it’s 300 pages or 800 pages; and no, I’m not willing to pay a premium for door stop length novels). If it’s shorter than “novel length” (say category length), I expect to pay less. If it’s a novella or a short story (say from an ePublisher), I would expect to pay far less than I’d pay for a novel length work.

  11. Lisa J
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 14:19:55

    Yesterday I bought a book I read and really enjoyed, but I feel crappy about it because the book was only 75 pages and cost $6. It was an e-book and it said it was novel length in the description. 75 pages is not novel length to me and even though I really enjoyed the book, I feel cheated. This particular publisher gets me with this so often I should know better. Unfortunately (for me) some of my favorite authors write for them and I end up buying their books even though I hate the prices. It does keep me from trying new authors from this publisher, which means I could be missing out on some great writing.

  12. Edie
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 14:21:39

    I clicked yes, but then realised length doesn’t really bother me, it is only if I feel that the story could have been better if there had been more length.
    I have actually gotten used to the shorter books with my e-pub addiction

  13. A
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 14:39:09

    Yes, I believe a story’s length (word count) has some bearing on its cost.

    I enjoy reading short stories, but even a superlative short story should not cost the same as a novel.

    And yes, many epublishers classify longer novellas as “novels.” I object to this because I think it affects reader expectations. A common complaint among reviewers for these disguised novellas is “there was no subplot,” or “I would have liked to read more.”

  14. A
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 14:49:49

    @Lisa J:

    Yesterday I bought a book I read and really enjoyed, but I feel crappy about it because the book was only 75 pages and cost $6. It was an e-book and it said it was novel length in the description. 75 pages is not novel length to me and even though I really enjoyed the book, I feel cheated. This particular publisher gets me with this so often I should know better. Unfortunately (for me) some of my favorite authors write for them and I end up buying their books even though I hate the prices. It does keep me from trying new authors from this publisher, which means I could be missing out on some great writing.

    Hi, Lisa.

    Most epublishers classify their titles by word count instead of page count because the same book can feature different page counts in different formats.

    Check the epub’s site; most provide a guide specifying word count approximations. It’ll give you a better idea of what you can expect.

  15. joanne
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 14:58:23

    @Janine: If you’re interested: a new re-release of Diamond Bay will be out in hardcover for $19 and change — according to Amazon — on May 1, 2010.

    For the poll. Same ole, same ole for me. Depends on the author.
    Some books @ $6.99 are an investment that keeps on giving year after year, others at the same price make me sorry a tree has given it’s life.

    For ebooks length is sort of how I figured whether or not it was worth the price back in the day. Now, with more & better authors going digital, it’s about quality and the quantity is secondary.

    It also depends on whether or not the author keeps getting better or at least maintains a certain standard. Some who started their careers with ebooks deserve to up their price now that they’ve more then proved their worth and probably paid their dues, too.

    So yeah, I guess it’s the end result that makes the decision.

  16. ReacherFan
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 15:14:36

    The price vs. length is such an issue for me I’ve actually taken to commenting on the value for the cost when reviewing a novella or novel. I’ll get a rough guestimate of the number of words per page and include an estimate of word count for those ebooks where the publishers do not supply it. I’m horrified at just how outrageously priced some novellas/short novels are. The quality and value just aren’t there to justify what they ask.

    I’ve even found myself doing that for some print books that look misleadingly thick. Low per page word counts annoy me as much as the idiot compressed ‘mushed together’ typeface that some of small publishers are using in order to reduce pages. The first is like an over sized package on a grocery shelf filled with more air than product and the second is all but illegible. Neither are good value for you money.

    All of these speak to a cavalier disrespect for readers and greed – or poor business acumen – on the part of the publishers. As prices escalate, I find I’m growing less and less tolerant. What I’ll give a pass on a $5 ebook I won’t tolerate in a trade paperback you’re charging me $14 for!

  17. TaraL
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 15:16:02

    Like others, I voted yes, when I really mean “Yes, but…”

    It depends on the author and the specific work. I feel a little cheated when I pay $7.99 for a new paperback (without flipping through it) and it looks the same size as all the others on the shelf, but when when I get it home, I find it has a huge font and margins and I think, “Damn, I’m not going to get more than a few hours out of this…”

    But, a few months ago I paid $21 for a 14-year old, used, slightly beat up, paperback novella, and it was worth every penny.

    I guess it’s about knowing up front what I’m getting and not feeling deceived.

  18. A
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 16:03:05

    @ReacherFan:

    The price vs. length is such an issue for me I've actually taken to commenting on the value for the cost when reviewing a novella or novel.

    Good for you. IMHO, sense of being “short-changed” (excuse the pun) on a story’s word count contributes to reader dissatisfaction.

    However, I think knowledge of the word count is only helpful to readers with some understanding of traditional word counts of stories.

    I think a big problem contributing to reader dissatisfaction are 50,000, 40,000, and even 30,000 word stories being marketed as “novels.” What do readers traditionaly expect from a novel? Can the complexities of a fully developed, well-written novel realistically be condensed to these lower word counts?

    NOTE: I am not saying a 30k-50k word “novel” cannot be excellently written and complete, but if I purchase it expecting all the “bells and whistles” of a story double its word count, chances are my expectations will be disappointed.

    If a reader does not truly understand the differences in structure and complexity between a short story, a novella, and a novel, s/he will buy the 30k “novel,” read it, and wish it was longer and “more like *name of other 80k-100k word novel.”

    I'm horrified at just how outrageously priced some novellas/short novels are. The quality and value just aren't there to justify what they ask.

    My understanding: novellas and shorter novels are big sellers these days, not because they are good, but because they are short. In epublishing, these quicker reads outsell longer works. Since there is a decided preference and demand for them, they are priced accordingly.

  19. Phyllis
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 16:34:01

    Heck yes! I was at a book store and picked up Linda Howard’s Ice and realized that there were so few pages and the typeface was so big that it was almost the length of a book that my 2nd grader would read. I don’t buy him $22 books, either, even with whatever percent automatically off because it was Borders. I don’t generally buy Linda Howard books anyway (they’re auto-check-out from the library, though), but if it had been a reasonable price, I was standing right there with the book in my hand and yeah, I probably would have bought it in paperback.

  20. kaigou
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 17:03:34

    @A:

    However, I think knowledge of the word count is only helpful to readers with some understanding of traditional word counts of stories.

    I think that depends on who’s giving the word count, too. When I’m on an epub site, more often than not I don’t get a word count, but just a general category. It says it’s a novel, and the publisher says novels are “60-100K”. (And that range is no small potatoes, either.)

    If you look on Fictionwise (and maybe the other e-distributors do this, not sure), there you’ll usually find a more specific word count. Just picking a genre at random, the first two books have notated lines that say:

    Words: 22431 – Reading Time: 64-89 min.
    Words: 158254 – Reading Time: 452-633 min.

    …and the third book says nothing because traditional publishers don’t tell you that. Doesn’t even tell you # of pages, for that matter, even though that’s really kind of a useless piece of info when we’re talking about ebooks.

    The specificity of those word counts make me willing to bet it’s the value pumped out by whatever application creates the files, and is likely the literal word count, instead of the usual “take all characters and divide by six” mathematic shenanigans. This, I really like, because experience & some basic math has taught me that 22K is just shy of a half-hour’s reading, and a story in the neighborhood of 150K will occupy me for a little over 3 hours.

    Which I guess is the equivalent of standing in the bookstore aisle and hefting the book in your hand, as you decide whether or not the book is substantial enough to be “worth” that $12 or $28. If we could see novellas printed out on paper, I suspect we’d find they’re suddenly “worth” a great deal less than we’re being asked to pay.

  21. Bev
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 17:42:04

    I know I won’t buy a novella (e-book) if the price and cost look too off. For 5.99 I expect more than 70 pages.

  22. Angelia Sparrow
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 17:54:39

    Horror Writers of America, and most publishers, define “book length” as 40K+.

    But, most houses don’t want stuff under 60 for the novel length. 65K goes to about 140 trade pages (at least for the trade paperback that came readily to hand) For comparison, 80K is about 325 mass market pages.

    Yes, I’ll pay more for a longer book or an especially desired book. I’ve been known to pay $22 for an anthology that had one story I’d been missing for years or $15 for a mass market high-acid pulp from the 50s.

    But electronica? I’ll pay $3 tops for anything under 25K. $5 for anything between 25 and 60. $7 for 60-120. I haven’t bought anything longer than that.

  23. Christine M.
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 18:28:56

    One word: Micah.

    It was such a rip off, and now LKH is doing it again with Flirt. That 192 pages “novel” will be sold for 30 bloody dollars, in Canada.

    I expect short stories and novellas to be much cheaper than novels and I expect my novels (especially for epubbed books) to actually be the lenght of a standard novel. When I reach the end of the story almost 20 pages before I reach the end of the ‘book’ (eg. lots of promo for other books and authors, blank pages, etc.), I get v. annoyed.

  24. Janine
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 18:29:54

    @joanne:

    @Janine: If you're interested: a new re-release of Diamond Bay will be out in hardcover for $19 and change -’ according to Amazon -’ on May 1, 2010.

    Thanks! I wonder if it will be out in e-form as well. I don’t mind paying $19 for that particular book since it’s one of my favorites by Howard and my copy (a 2-in-1 with Midnight Rainbow) is falling apart, but I’d rather have an ebook than a hardcover.

  25. ReacherFan
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 19:08:46

    I buy from a number of epubs, but I stopped buying any format other than pdf. For those who give those insanely broad ranges for word count classes, I take a page, copy it into Word and take a real word count. Subtract any pages that are not text and estimate actual word count, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Word counts range from as little as 250 words per page to as many as 625 words per page. I ignore page counts entirely.

    I do list in what class the title was sold – novella, short novel, full novel, etc., and then what I would consider it. Yes, there are traditional word count thresholds, but I don’t consider a title with 45,000 words a novel. A long novella or a short novel? Yes. A full novel, no. And I look at what I would be paying for it in print. I buy hundreds of print books a year, hard cover, trade and mass market.

    I honestly do not care what anyone says, a “novella” with just under 25,000 words priced at $5.20 and a ‘novel’ of about 75,000 words priced at $5.99 represent two very different values to me. Yes, I know the novella format has become insanely popular with e-readers. Of the 100 or so I’ve read so far I’d say fewer than 10% were worth the price. The vast majority were little more than bloated short stories with slight plot and little character. Even for $5.99 I’m hard pressed to justify an ebook when I can buy mmpb’s that I can re-sell or trade on sites like Book Mooch or PaperBack Swap and bring the average price – even counting mailing costs – to about $4.25/book.

    Do I buy my favorite author on the day of release in hard cover? Yes. Favorite titles/authors I still buy in print even if I own the ebook. But I’m finding myself buying fewer and fewer ebooks of all types. Too much money and too little value.

  26. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 19:45:56

    Yes, I pay attention to word count-to-price ratio.

  27. A
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 19:50:19

    @kaigou:

    When I'm on an epub site, more often than not I don't get a word count, but just a general category. It says it's a novel, and the publisher says novels are “60-100K”. (And that range is no small potatoes, either.)

    I agree with you! Ambiguity in this matter, to my mind, is tantamount to deliberate deceit. This is the age of information, and there is no good reason a bookseller or publisher should not provide readers with accurate word counts. I admit the publishers I’ve worked with do provide accurate word counts, normally rounded up to the closest even number.

    Which I guess is the equivalent of standing in the bookstore aisle and hefting the book in your hand, as you decide whether or not the book is substantial enough to be “worth” that $12 or $28. If we could see novellas printed out on paper, I suspect we'd find they're suddenly “worth” a great deal less than we're being asked to pay.

    I guess it depends. My opinion: the popularity of e-novellas (and even shorter works) is based upon their brevity rather than quality. Once an ebook ventures past about 50k words, readers looking for a quick, light read get “commitment issues?”

    Even so, the industry owes honesty to the public. There’s no good reason to present a book as more or less than what it happens to be. I think it also backfires on the publishers as well as the authors when readers buy ebooks advertised as “novels,” only to find they do not fulfill our traditional expectations of a novel.

  28. KristieJ
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 20:18:24

    I also passed on Ice when I saw the price they were asking here in Canada. I saw some people got copies for $9 but here they are asking $27 for it in the stores.

  29. GrowlyCub
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 21:42:56

    I’ve basically stopped buying from small press epubs because they’ve really started to inflate their prices over the last year and I used to buy a lot! But it’s not just e-pubs. I bought the Dahl Western from Harlequin and was majorly pissed off when I realized I’d spent 3 bucks on barely 18k.

  30. Tae
    Nov 20, 2009 @ 00:39:51

    definitely yes, I look at word count and the price and will base my decision to buy new authors that way… though if it’s an author that I like then I may not think about the price or length unless they’re milking the public for money like the slim hardcover novellas for 15.99 or 19.99.

  31. mina kelly
    Nov 20, 2009 @ 05:24:22

    I use wordcount as a guide buying e-pubs, but if I actually think about it I divde price more by the format – short story, novella or novel. For me, a short story has a simple plot, a novella a complex plot with no subplots (or possibly a simple plot with subplots) and a novel a complex plot with subplots. I wouldn’t pay more for a 400k novel than a 40k, not without very good reason.

    I don’t want a novel plot crammed into a novella length book, or a short story bloated to novel length, but that’s not something you can tell until after you’ve paid you money. I don’t have an ereader, so when it comes to ePubs I usually plump for novella – long enough I don’t feel ripped off, short enough I don’t get a headache or get distracted. Having internet access when you’re trying to read is a temptation hard denied! For novel length stuff I still prefer print (even for 400k stuff – as said upthread, Sci Fi is more than happy to plow past any reasonable word count), but I tend to buy secondhand these days since most of what I’m drawn to is long out of print and unlikely to come back in a hurry. Print prices for new books usually make me scurry back to the charity shops anyway!

  32. MB (Leah)
    Nov 20, 2009 @ 11:00:33

    Oh this is such a hot topic for me. I buy mostly ebooks and I feel cheated on a regular basis. And it does affect how I feel about a book.

    When I review a book now, I post the word count and cost of the book.

    I’ve discovered that most epubs will NOT post an exact word count, which I believe is due to the fact that if customers were to get really savvy on WC per cost, no one would buy their books. So I do go to Fictionwise often to find an exact WC.

    I’ve also discovered that many epubs make it hard to find what exactly they mean by Novel, Novella, short story and so on. You really have to dig around their website to find out that their Novel = 50K-120K and so on.

    As far as short stories go, they are THE biggest ripoffs from epubs going. Some epubs even charge like $4-$5 for a short story that’s only 7K. And some I’ve found charge $2-$3 for like 3-5K words including all that crap about copyright and intros and author bios and so on.

    The price vs. length is such an issue for me I've actually taken to commenting on the value for the cost when reviewing a novella or novel.

    I’ve been doing the same. When I read a short story that’s only 5-7K and it’s full of holes and missing continuity due to space constraints, and I paid $2-3 for it, I bitch about it in my reviews. It’s a rip off, plain and simple.

    I don’t necessarily blame the author because hey, if a person can get something published then why not? But I think an author has to think about putting out a story for sale that’s crap or full of holes or should really be part of an anthology, so some blame does go to the author. I know that even if I could get a story published, if it’s not well written or I’m putting out an inferior product, that’s going to reflect on me as an author.

    I do absolutely always blame the publisher and will think very hard before buying from them again.

    One thing is true though, that I’m a little bit more forgiving of a novella which is priced $5 or more if it’s a good story and I was entertained. I will feel it a better value than a great short story for $3.

    Also, on trade PB, they are ridiculously overpriced as well. But I like to read books in a special niche market and trade is the only format available. So in that case, I just deal. At least with a PB, I could sell it and recoup some money if I wanted to or give it to a friend.

  33. A
    Nov 20, 2009 @ 13:41:40

    @mina kelly:

    I don't want a novel plot crammed into a novella length book, or a short story bloated to novel length, but that's not something you can tell until after you've paid you money.

    Again, I think a huge part of the problem is that most people don’t recognize that crucial differences exist between shorter works, moderate works, and longer works. You do, but not everyone does.

    @MB (Leah):

    As far as short stories go, they are THE biggest ripoffs from epubs going. Some epubs even charge like $4-$5 for a short story that's only 7K. And some I've found charge $2-$3 for like 3-5K words including all that crap about copyright and intros and author bios and so on.

    Excellent — or even good — short stories are not easily crafted. It takes a very gifted author to craft tight, concise, complete short stories. The author Rick Reed (he does a lot of horror, gay romance, and YA books) is a MASTER at crafting tight, interesting, and well-rounded short stories. When I think of a good “quick read” ebook, Reed’s the first person who springs to mind.

    It goes without saying, though, that for every Rick Reed there are dozens, if not hundreds of authors attempting to write shorter (to appeal to the demand) and can’t do it well, either because they lack the talent, or they lack knowledge of the form. Sometimes it’s a conflict in style; sometimes an author’s voice lends itself better to epic work, others are more succinct in tone.

    Regarding price, even a very short work has production and overhead costs (i.e., editing, formatting, cover art, etc.) Some of the expenses remain firm regardless of the book’s size. This makes short stories more expensive (at least in terms of content value.)

    I don't necessarily blame the author because hey, if a person can get something published then why not? But I think an author has to think about putting out a story for sale that's crap or full of holes or should really be part of an anthology, so some blame does go to the author. I know that even if I could get a story published, if it's not well written or I'm putting out an inferior product, that's going to reflect on me as an author.

    Authors need to be very conscientious of this. I think many newer, less experienced authors sink heart and soul into a story, offer it to a publisher. If the publisher contracts the work, the author is buoyed up and assumes the story’s “good.” Because why would any conscientious publisher contract lousy — or even substandard work?

    The reality is, substandard work gets contracted. So does lousy work.

    Authors need to learn as much as possible about writing’s craft and remember that, at the end of the day, the author’s name is on the cover.

  34. Likari
    Nov 20, 2009 @ 16:36:12

    I recently read a novella/long story by Ciar Cullen called The Egyptian Demon’s Keeper that was 3.50. I think that price for that length was perfect. But the story was fun and the writing was so good, if I had paid 4.00 or 4.50 I wouldn’t have felt bad about it.

    So for me, just thinking of a recent experience, length is one thing, and quality is another, and both come into play.

  35. MB (Leah)
    Nov 20, 2009 @ 16:52:47

    Excellent -’ or even good -’ short stories are not easily crafted. It takes a very gifted author to craft tight, concise, complete short stories.

    But this is my point. Many authors can’t do short stories well but publishers feel no qualms about putting those books out there for sale.

    For short stories I go by Samhain or EC’s pricing. I think $2.50-$2.99 for a story of 20k or less but more than 10K is reasonable. I also think that an author can do a decent job within that framework of word count.

    If you want to talk excellent short story writers then I would say Katrina Strauss is one of them. Two of her short stories that I’ve read have been amazing and yet, they only cost $2.50 and $1.99. And they were between 12-20K.

    Then there are epubs like Loveyoudivine who charge $2 for 4K and it’s one awfully written sex scene. I mean, seriously, I don’t even get the point that something like that is even offered for sale.

    I think if there are epubs out there like Samhain, EC, Loose-Id, Red Rose, Phaze that offer short stories for $1.99- $2.50, then what’s with all those others charging more for less WC? I’ve reached the point where I refuse to buy those kinds of stories anymore.

    Some pubs have what they call quickies that are 7k and less, but they only charge $.99. That is fairly reasonable.

    Regarding price, even a very short work has production and overhead costs (i.e., editing, formatting, cover art, etc.) Some of the expenses remain firm regardless of the book's size. This makes short stories more expensive (at least in terms of content value.)

    I totally get that. But it comes back to again what’s the point to put out a 3-5K story that sucks eggs and charge the same as a 15-20K short story? The satisfaction level is going to suck and it comes back ultimately on the author because it’s a feeling of getting ripped off. And I’ll think long and hard before buying from that pub again.

  36. A
    Nov 20, 2009 @ 18:03:08

    @MB (Leah):

    Many authors can't do short stories well but publishers feel no qualms about putting those books out there for sale.

    Which makes it vital for any aspiring author to painstakingly edit and evaluate his/her own work, and to seek comptetent critique prior to submitting their manuscrpts AND be willing to heed the critique/advice.

    In my mind the worst stories aren’t the spectacular failures, stories so poorly written, poorly edited, and poorly produced I frown and think, “I wrote more coherently in first grade.” In those cases, I just shake my head and blame the publisher and editor/editorial team because they should have recognized the writer hadn’t reached a competency where his/her work met expectations of a paying clientele.

    The worst stories are the “could-have-beens,” books revealing genuinely talented writing, but still lacking all the ingredients to make a “good” read. Maybe characters are stereotyped, one-dimensional, unbelievable, or unsympathetic. A weak plot is disguised by dramatic “filler”. Maybe the writer offers imaginative story line and world-building, but his/her writing itself lacks technical strength and/or style. Maybe the book’s poorly researched (i.e. inaccurate historical details in historicals, crime/legal/medical thrillers featuring unrealistic or incorrect procedural information.)

    And don’t get me started on erotic romance. Books classified as erotic romance sometimes wrote all the romance out of the story, assuming romance was ever present in the first place.

    Technical writing also matters. A writer may have a fertile imagination, but writing’s part of the package in creating a book, and if an author’s writing skills are weak or underdeveloped it impacts reader enjoyment.

    I recently gave up on a writer I finally realized was not a good writer. I liked the author, a popular multi-published erotic romance writer. I saw — and still see — genuine creativity in her work and the ocassional “moment of greatness.” But her writing itself is awful. I assume she deliberately overwrites her stories in order to raise her word counts and royalties. I got tired of purchasing and reading overblown novellas sold as short novels. Characterizations and dialogue in her stories stayed pretty much the same with minor cosmetic adjustments (i.e., the characters’ appearances differed, as did scenarios.)

    Despite my giving up, I’ve no doubt publishers will continue to contract and to sell her books. I’ve no doubt reviewers and readers will continue to praise the author’s work. Because of this, I doubt this author will ever recognize she can do better, or even want to do better. And why should she? She is being rewarded for what she does now.

    This kind of writing and these kinds of books are like dating a guy who’s really great but has some kind of bad habit or character flaw to which one cannot be reconciled. After a while you have to let him go and it’s MORE frustrating than dumping a jerk you dated once or twice due to the additional emotional investment.

  37. The Value Is Not Just in the Content | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 04:02:34

    [...] price I paid. I've also been known to pay a premium for relatively thin hardcover books, although according to a survey Jane conducted a few months ago, I am in the vast minority on that. There are other cases where I am loathe to pay [...]

  38. Erika R
    Mar 25, 2010 @ 09:04:13

    The length of a book does effect how much I’m willing to pay for it. I tend to read a romance novel at one sitting, or at least in one day (maybe two if it’s really long or I’m really busy), so I feel that short books aren’t worth buying since they don’t last very long. Yes, I do reread books, but only my favorites, so I won’t buy a short book unless I’m pretty sure I will reread it multiple times. Even though I read them in one sitting, I feel how long it takes to do so and know whether I got my money’s worth.

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