Today it is my pleasure to make the official announcement that the Kindle versions of my entire catalog are now, and will permanently remain on sale for 99¢ each. This will include all future works, of which several are under consideration, and one is making good headway. The Beyond the Rails trilogy (so far; more is planned!) is a series of steampunk novellas set in colonial Kenya in the 1880s. One reviewer described it as “Jules Verne meets Firefly.” The Stone Seekers is a cozy sword and sorcery story that hasn’t received much attention yet, but has been praised by those who have read it as being “epic fantasy without a hint of Tolkien.” All are available now and forever on Amazon for 99¢ each. I also have a short story in Den of Antiquity, a wonderful anthology of steampunk goodness that still sells for $2.99. I recommend it as a primer for readers curious about steampunk, as it contains a dozen stories from the far-ranging pens of innovative writers in the genre. My contribution, Brass & Coal, is offered as a free sample among the tabs above; the rest you’ll have to pay for, and I highly recommend it!
And what is the philosophy behind this price reduction? It’s simple. I don’t have many sales, and that’s a shame, because I’m good. Immodest, you say? Maybe, but it’s true, and so are most of my writing acquaintances. I once harbored that nebulous dream of all writers, that I would become rich and famous while working in the middle of the night in my robe and slippers. I gave that up years ago, decades! We now live in a world where everything becomes more expensive by the day, and I want to say to you, “Here is a product where you can spend a dollar, and get many times that dollar’s worth of entertainment value.” I’m not getting rich from writing books, and I’ve long-since come to terms with the notion that I never will. Let me see if I can at least become widely-read. Free samples of all my works are in the tabs above, so check out one or two, and see whether you think that dollar might buy you an enjoyable ride.
Allow me to continue this train of though by commenting on a trend I’ve observed. This was first placed on my radar by fellow indie C.W. Hawes, who tends to be deep around the insights, and is very much worth adding to your reading list. The subject is the creeping up of book prices on Kindle. As C.W. points out, e-books used to range from 99¢ to $2.99, which is reasonable. As a Kindle author, I know that $2.99 pays a reasonable royalty to the author, and 99¢, while the royalty is lower, will generally sell more books. I also know that there are no truckloads of paper to buy, no 55-gallon drums of ink. There is no requirement for enough power to light up Chicago to run printing presses and binding machines. There is no postage to be paid to deliver heavy books. The “book” exists as an electronic file. When a customer orders that book, a copy of that file is sent to a reading device that translates the ones and zeros into a human language on a screen. That’s it.
So, what’s driving these price increases? Well, let’s look at the process. When a Kindle book is sold, Amazon.com keeps a portion of the price to pay workers, maintain infrastructure, and earn a profit, which is completely reasonable. It’s how business works. The remainder after those charges goes to the author as a royalty. As a Kindle author, I post a formatted file which is, in essence, my book. After I’ve set the cover art, the typeface, and all that, I am shown the pricing screen. It shows a minimum price, usually 99¢, a recommended price, usually $2.99, and there is a blank where I fill in the price I want to charge. C.W. pointed out that e-books are often selling for $3.99 or $4.99 these days. I saw one the other day for $11.00. There is no inflation in e-books, or if there is, it’s measured in fractions of pennies, so what is the mechanism that keeps these prices rising?
I have no idea. I am a Kindle author, affected, I assume by the same market forces as all the others, and have observed nothing that warrants a continuum of ever-escalating prices. What have the others seen that I haven’t? I have no idea, nor any intention of telling them how to run their business; all I can do is run mine. What I am going to do is to make two separate but related pledges:
First, as an author, I will never sell an e-book whose price I control for more than 99¢ (or the minimum price, should Kindle raise it).
Second, as a reader, I will never pay more than $3.00 for an e-book.
Furthermore, that’s $3.00 for a full-size book, as I must point out here that, given the nature of e-publishing, it is quite possible to publish a novella or even a short story as a stand-alone work, and put any price you want on it. Bottom line, if you’re going to price your e-book at $3.99, $4.99, or $11.00, don’t look for me to read it. I urge you to consider adopting my reader’s pledge in your own life, and to discuss it with your reading friends, because if we continue to reward this behavior, it’s only going to get worse. ‘Nuff said! On with the show . . .
Author B.K. Bass has begun a series on Sci-Fi Genres, their history and development into all the wonderful and varied styles and formats we enjoy today. Definitely worth a look!
Tales from the Forest by Johanna Sarah Aldridge. The Forest Realm is a magical world within our own. You cannot see it, nor can you hear it, and only very few might be able to feel it. The realm feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, and protects the hunted… so long as their hearts are pure. Recently orphaned, two heartbroken brothers are at risk of separation by the government… A black Labrador leads a colony of rabbits away from danger… A destitute family of rats seek a new life away from the pollution of the big city… All have been rescued by the realm of magic, and their lives are truly about to change. Come and join us in The Forest where magic thrives, adventures are rife, and friendships last forever. £5.99 on Amazon UK.
Stories from the Last Safe Port by John and Carine Freeman. Can you tell much of a story in just 101 words? Each of the stories in this collection does just that: We find out why the Elves really left, follow the pranks of a little girl stranded on the last Moonbase, learn why magic mirrors should beware Snow White, and a lot more. It’s fiction-as-tapas and, yes, there’s a slightly strange seafood dish (Cthulhu gets lonely don’t you know). There are a hundred of these tiny tales inside, and if you don’t like one… well, hey, it’s cost you less than a minute of your time. So why not take a look? Between neurotic angels, giant slugs, drug dealing fairies, and all the rest we’re sure you’ll find something here to entertain you . . . 99¢ on Kindle.
Like most authors, Tom Johnson maintains a blog, and his subject on this outing is a promotion of the work of one of his own favorite writers, Canadian Cheryl Lawson [left], author of We Are Mars, which looks to be a hard sci-fi work. Whether you’re into that or not, be sure to check out his blog, Pulp Den, because he does a lot of this sort of promoting across genres, and there are some excellent reads waiting to be discovered there.
And that’s 30 for today. I’ll see you Friday with a featured blog headlining another edition of Blimprider Times. Until then, read well, and write better!