“If you’d lower your prices maybe more people would by your books.” If you are a self published author, using any of the many digital publishing outlets then you have probably heard those words from family members or friends. That statement and others like it have to be filed under, “You’re right, but…”
I don’t suppose that there exists a good solution to the problem and so this is just me taking the opportunity to vent. My experience is limited to Lulu.com where I have published six works of fiction. One is priced at $19.95 and the others at $14.95 each. I have no reason to doubt that the pricing structures for the other digital publishing companies are similar to that of Lulu.
During the process of authorizing your work you are prompted to choose a retail price. Once you have selected a number you are then informed of what your royalties will be based on that number. The amount paid to you by the publisher will be the most generous but, given the verities of distribution, the numbers stated for the online outlets such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble are far more relevant. A great deal more people are apt to see your offering on the bookstore sites than on the publisher’s site.
What is not generally known by the purchasing public is that, in return for your literary effort, you are likely to receive something on the order of 10% of the cover price. If you are selling a million copies per year then you will have some serious income. If, on the other hand, you are selling a couple dozen copies each year, a more realistic number for an unadvertised work by an unknown author, then you probably aren’t even recovering the electricity cost for keeping your work space heated or cooled during the time it took to produce the work.
As I said above, I don’t have an answer for this dilemma. If you have one, by all means share it. To keep a bit of perspective on the matter, consider the following. I read somewhere, at the time the population of America was three hundred million, that approximately three hundred people in the country made their living solely by producing works of fiction. That’s one in a million. Tall odds but still a darn sight better than the lottery.