The Other Side of The Monitor: From A Reader’s Perspective
Book Pricing vs. Word Count
By: Vicktor Alexander
This is part one of my “Other Side of the Monitor” series. It’s all about my time as a reader, not as a writer, when I was in the hospital. Today I’m talking about my experience actually buying books without the benefit of royalty checks coming in, or author friends giving them to me for advice/beta reading/feedback, or winning them. I look forward to hearing back from all of you on this topic as well.
Purchasing the Books
When I was in my blissful bubble as an author, I would buy books oftentimes based solely on their blurb, recommendations by readers who knew what I liked to read, recommendations by author friends who knew I like to expand my reading horizons, and on my “Auto-Buy” list: which is basically anything written by Stormy Glenn, Mary Calmes, Amy Lane, Andrew Grey, AE Via, Grace R. Duncan, Toni Griffin, Bellann Summers, Lyssa Samuels, Sharita Lira, Piper Vaughn, Marguerite Labbe, Kade Boehme, Marcy Jacks, TJ Klune, or Lynn Stark.
I was set. I was usually always floating in books to read, that expanded a multitude of genres, and whenever I finished a book, or the weekend came, or right before bed, I would relax with an entertaining read.
However, when I got sick and went into the hospital, the long months I’d spent previously unable to write because of the stroke I’d had last July expanded and grew until I was suddenly looking at more than just blurbs and recommendations. I was looking at prices and word counts. I was having to save up to buy books.
I was the reader using Kindle Unlimited to read books in the genre that I enjoyed, some by authors I’d never heard of before.
I began to notice a rather disturbing thing, however, as I was buying books to read, there was an overwhelming number of books that were, even in my opinion as an author, extremely overpriced.
$3.99 for a book with only 15,000 words? Seriously?
$2.99 for a book with only 5-7,000 words?
I was stunned, because not only were these books overpriced, but many of them had about half of that word count set aside for promo and excerpts for the next book. I felt as if I were paying for an extended blurb, or rather a summary.
I was disappointed that there were authors or publishers charging these prices of readers, when it wasn’t called for or even worth it.
And believe me, I understand that for some of these authors this is their only source of income, so charging this much to them seems reasonable, however, the price doesn’t match the word count. And for others, the price is set by the publisher. On the whole, most publishers have a standard price range for word count that is fair and reasonable (ie. Word Count: 0-10k: $0.99, 10-20k: $1.99, etc.) and much of this is determined by the genre as well.
I spent one full day wading through the “shelves” and “aisles” of All Romance eBooks, making note of the prices and which genres within M/M Romance seemed to have more of these types of books priced high with a low word count. Most of it occurred in Fantasy and Paranormal. I was disappointed because those are two of my favorite genres (to both read and write in).
So I began to branch out and read other genres. And I do mean other genres. M/F Romance (BWWM contemporary only), F/F Romance, SciFi Fiction, Horror, Paranormal Fiction, etc. and began to read many of them on Kindle Unlimited. Many authors are split on whether KU is beneficial for them or not, but for me, as a reader, it was perfect to be able to “purchase” 10 books at a time of all different genres, and to only have to pay one price in order to do so. I felt a twinge of guilt each time I did it (Jewish guilt: it’s the gift that keeps on giving) and yet, I wasn’t able to write due to my illness(es), there’s only so much television/movie watching even I can do, and I really wanted to read.
However, the problem came when I wanted to keep some of the books I’d downloaded through KU. It was then that I started to notice the same issue that I’d found on ARe.
There were a lot of books—there are a lot of books—on Amazon that do not have the benefit of letting the reader know how many words are in the actual story. There are those that tell you the number of pages, but when you buy them, you discover that those pages include the extra-miscellaneous pages, the excerpts for other books by the author, or even, in the case of many of the books I purchased right before my “iPad’s suicide” half those pages are devoted to a separate novella.
There were countless times when I was surprised by the end of a book, only to turn the page and find that while my Kindle app was telling me that I’d only read 60% of the book, the other 40% was devoted to a separate book and not the one I’d originally purchased. I tried not to be annoyed when this happened, especially because I was basically getting two books for the price of one, and yet, all I could think about was the one book I’d actually bought that wasn’t as long as I’d thought, and had been so abruptly concluded.
The Other Side of the Monitor
When I returned to writing (or what constitutes writing for me now-2 hours to type 1k words. Not cool), all I could think about was my time spent as “only a reader.” It has affected me. Not only is my mind filled with ideas for books that I probably wouldn’t have thought about just yet, if at all—but I’m not paying more attention to my word count for the books that I plan on self-publishing. I want to make sure that the price matches the word count, and that even if the word count is low, the quality of the story isn’t. If I’m asking you, the readers, to put your trust and hard earned cash in me, my talent, and writing ability, to the point that I’m hoping you’ll buy my books, then I need to do all that I can to provide to the best of my ability—goods which are of quality. As close to perfection as I can possibly get.
How about all of you? When you buy a book what affects your decision to buy it more? Word count, genre, price, or author name? I will choose one person who comments to giveaway a free copy of my two newest releases: Chris-n-zaa and my non-fiction release under my other writing penname, Vicktor Bailey: Letters to My Future Husband.
Next month I’ll be talking about the diversity and inclusion and the difference between the two, and what’s needed in publishing and why. All from a reader’s perspective, not the author bearing the weight of having to write it.
I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!