The Price Isn’t Right

We were going to do a blog post about how it feels to be published novelists, now Soul Asylum’s been out a week, but something else has cropped up, so we’ll just sum up the feelings now. Nothing’s changed. The paper spread hasn’t increased sales AT ALL and we were in two papers with a combined circulation of 50,000 and online. So that hasn’t worked. We’ve had fun doing a mini blog tour that stretched from England to America to Spain. You can read them all in our shiny new section, Visiting Times. Has our life changed? Not at all. Have we been stopped in Tescos? No. We usually are – old ladies love us and always stop us to tell us how fantastic we look 😀 Have we been given star treatment? No. In fact, we received rather shoddy treatment in Cardiff Library by one member of staff who felt the genealogy she was helping a woman with, was more important than helping us. She didn’t even ask us what we wanted and we were standing in front of her for a good few minutes. At one point, she looked up then went back to her project. We were brought up not to interrupt, so we waited. In the end, a guy from another desk at the other end of the floor, saw us and came to help. All we wanted was some newspapers which were only four feet away from the woman. It wouldn’t have taken much for her to get up, fetch the papers and hand them to us. Then when we had the nerve to ask for another one, she made us wait then summoned the guy to fetch it for us. Thank god she wasn’t wearing a ‘happy to help’ badge, or we could’ve sued her under the Trades Description Act.

On to the real topic – Createspace. On Thursday, we received our proof print copy of Disenchanted. We were so excited, we immediately photographed it and texted it to our lovely cover artist, Lizzie Rose. We couldn’t stop hugging it all day. We read it to check for mistakes then approved the proof. But our issue is with the pricing. Createspace tell you the least you’re allowed to sell it for, which for Disenchanted was £4 odd then they calculate your royalties depending on the price you set – the list price. If you sell directly through the Createspace store, they only take a 20% cut off your list price. Amazon takes 40%. If you opt for Extended Distribution, which is some bookshops and libraries in the USA, they take 60% and you have to pay $25/£15 for the privilege. We opted out. Especially after the announcement that Barnes and Noble won’t stock books by Amazon and we would’ve only received 8 cents. We’ve set the price for £5.99, which is higher than we wanted to charge, but it only gives us a royalty of 60p per copy. We weren’t too bothered, as we figured if we were with a traditional publisher, that’s the price it would be in bookshops and that’s the royalty we’d receive.

The problem is Soul Asylum. In bookshops, novels are £7.99. However, Createspace say the least we can sell it for is £7.77. Setting the price for £7.99 earns us the princely sum of 13p per copy. That’s not even 10%. Quite frankly, it’s insulting. However to get a royalty of 73p per copy, we’d have to set the price at £8.99. Which is higher than you’d pay in a bookshop. We don’t feel comfortable about charging this much.

Createspace work out your royalties like this: list price – cost to produce book + their share = your royalties. Their share includes a fixed charge + a price per page charge, which varies according to book size. Obviously they have to make money too, but really, where’s the harm in splitting it as list price – cost to produce book then split the remainder 50/50? After all, we’re the ones who’ve done all the work. They’ve done nothing except provide the templates. Ryan and Lizzie have done the covers and we’ve typeset the interior. Soul Asylum’s was a pain. They only provide you with ten chapters. Soul Asylum has 50. So it screwed up all the page numbers and took us hours to correct it. We deserve more than 13p for that stress alone.

But we have a way around this. Most of our readers/Facebook & Twitter friends are in America and several have said they want signed copies.  So we’ve ordered a batch of Disenchanted that we can sign and ship over. As authors, if we buy direct from Createspace, we only pay the cost of producing the book, plus shipping fees. The more you order, the cheaper per copy it is to ship. So we figured if we do this then sell the books ourselves, we can then sell it cheaper than the list price, yet earn more than the royalty we’d receive from Createspace. Is this making sense? Also the bigger royalties are in ebooks, providing you set your price above $2.99 then you earn 70%. There’s no reason why Createspace can’t do this. After all, we’re basically just using them to print the books and sell them on Amazon.

So do we set Soul Asylum at £7.99 to gain readers, yet only earn 13p? Or do we overcharge at £8.99 to earn 73p? If the jump in royalties wasn’t so great, we’d happily set it at £7.99. But it’s a hell of a leap. After all, as much as we love writing, we want to make a living from it. Yet we also want readers. We think we’re going to have to go with pricing it at £7.99. We don’t want to apologise to our buyers for pricing it higher than a bookshop would. We can make up the difference by selling the books ourselves. As for making a living…does anyone need seating arrangements for meetings? We also do buffets, parties and funerals.

14 Comments

  1. Lovely post. And I’ve experienced all the same feelings. (I was convinced when I first saw my book in print I’d get all emotional and think about how long it took to get there, but I didn’t. I immediately went into editor mode and started nit picking things.)

    Anyway, congrats on getting it now in paperback!

    • thank you! Unfortunately, seeing Soul Asylum in print was completely overshadowed by finding out there were errors in the ebook. They’ve now been corrected, but we were still feeling crap about them when Soul Asylum arrived.

      • Crap that sucks…

      • we cried all night and were up til 2am fixing it and reuploading it 😦

      • Don’t know how bad your mistake was, but I had a small issue arise with one of mine, and I was horrified — even though it was small — that I couldn’t e-mail those who had already bought it and apologize. But, mostly folks are really forgiving, so I’m sure you’ll be fine.

      • it was stupid things like an ‘o’ missing from ‘noose’ which ruined the sentence, ‘that’ instead ‘than’, stupid things but 15 of them. We announced the error on FB and Twitter & apologised & told them to download the updated version.

      • Gotcha. Sounds like you handled it well!

      • LOL not really. We shouted, cried and declared ourselves unfit to be authors 😀

      • Hilarious.You guys rock.

      • aw thanks! Though you wouldn’t have said that if you’d seen us. One of our cats was biting us to shut us up 😀

  2. No need to apologize, I think £8.99 is perfectly fine for a printed book. Don’t sell yourself short, you believe in your work and it is worth getting paid an appropriate price to make a little back. People pay what the book costs if they want it. Leaning about you makes them want it 😉 Selling signed copies is a brilliant idea Put me down for one of each!

    • The problem is, we’d be selling it for more than what people pay in bookshops. Nobody’s going to risk £8.99 on debut novelists, especially self-published ones.

  3. Whoa. That’s so confusing and really not fair. Go with your gut feeling and what you’d be happy paying. You know what they’re worth and they’re both worth every penny of whatever you choose to charge.

    • yeah but we’re stingy 😀 We hate paying £7.99. If we could do them cheaper, we would. But we can’t 😦


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