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Thoughts on Ebook Pricing (Part One)

A poster on the ebook-community list asks about ebook pricing. I’ve already addressed the issue somewhat in my Ebooks, Amazon and Chump Change essay . Here are some additional thoughts which I’ve broken down into two separate parts. (For the record, several publishers on the list have added their thoughts. My opinions tend to be more speculative and less informed by actual market experience).
Mr. Dubose makes a good itemization of the costs related to traditional publishing.

(Btw, Dubose didn’t mention layout  or design; Because of the variety of ebook formats, it can also be a challenge to get a similar look and feel for all formats).

But that does imply that DIY authoring is out of the question or that selling exclusive rights to a publisher is necessary. Many authors could perform several of these tasks by themselves, depending on their individual interests and talents.

Suppose I had a fairly significant web presence already. I would not need much publicity other than sticking a Buy button on my website. On the other hand, I wouldn’t think twice about paying an artist to design some art or to pay an online merchant like payloadz to distribute my work. Each person’s talent and strategy will be different.

Aside from time investment, each writer may differ in the amount of upfront costs he or she is willing to bear. If paying $500-1000 for a la carte editing services upfront ensured that I could maintain full control, I would probably do it. But that’s my personal preference. And I can imagine other points in my life where I would prefer to hand off these tasks completely to a professional service in exchange for reduced royalties.

One issue commonly overlooked is time-to-market. If I can roll up my own ebooks, I simply see no reason why I should have to spend several years waiting for representation by an agent and a publisher willing to back it. In the past, the process of finding a publisher was agonizingly slow. Self-publishing means not having to wait on mainstream publishers to “consider” your masterpiece.

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