Why 99c Books are Ruining Us
They have sometimes hundreds of reviews, they're listed as bestsellers, and their number is legion - but they're slowly killing the industry!
How Much Do You Value Your Talent?
Writing. It's not what you think. You don't just wake up in the morning and boom! Suddenly every word that graces the pages of your notebook or word processor, is suddenly solid gold. Turn of phrase takes time sometimes years, to hone. Even a short story can take months to perfect. I guess what I'm saying is that writing is not something that happens quickly. There is no such thing as writing a novel in a month (trust me, I'm mid-draft right now) - well, apart from a bad novel maybe. So given the astronomical amount of effort that it takes to properly prepare a manuscript, why in the name of any deity of your choosing, would you willingly sell those hours, days, and months of writing for the budget price of 99c?! Surely you value your skills don't you?
I feel pretty confident that the majority of writers out there would say that the life of the author is badly paid for all but the special few. Yet a cursory glance at Amazon and you'll find hundreds if not thousands of titles that someone has treasured and slaved over, selling for less than the price of your almond milk, sugar-free latte!
50 Shades of E-books
Ok, ok, ok, I know you are all shouting at me "but they're e-books"! That isn't an excuse! Why would you think that being an e-book would suddenly make it nothing more than throwaway fiction? It took the same time to write it.
99c authors seem to drift into two different camps. The first are the authors who really did write that novel inside of a month. I hate to draw the stereotype here, but we are mainly looking at the ones who appear to be desperately trying to up the ante on '50 Shades of Grey'. Most of it is (and before anyone chews my head off, I have read a few) incredibly, inexhaustibly, cheesily bad! The press has dubbed them 'soft porn' for the masses and to be fair, it's pretty accurate. These titles are listed with budget prices to rake in views in full knowledge that most of their readers will likely never make it to the end.
The second camp are those burgeoning writers who need a rush of instant success. Once again this is primarily viewed from the point of just how many reviews it can get within the first 3 months of publication. Sell it cheap and watch as the book sale numbers grow - all the while never receiving a single royalty cheque! In my opinion, this is the saddest camp because, for the most part, the content here is good. Sure some of it could do with a polish but that comes with practice and confidence and knowing your writers' voice. Somewhere along those lines the need to be recognised by their peers, overgrew their desire to simple write - or at least that is my theory.
And What About The Rest of Us?
Sadly I believe, the 99c book has tainted those of us who want the respect that selling a book for change simply doesn't give. There are people out there who actually tell new writers that selling a book for less than what you would tip the waitress, is the way to establish your writerly life! No! I utterly reject that! There is no let me state that again NO reason why you as an author need to prostitute your talent for peanuts! More to the point, for every writer that does - the rest of us are cheapened. We don't necessarily believe that our titles are gold, we don't have more lofty laurels, we simply believe that our stories are worth more. That literature is worth more. So if you are a new writer, freshly picking up that pen for the first time. Please don't believe that you are worth so little. You are walking in the same shoes, following the well-trod footsteps of Shakespear, Elliot, Shelly, and so many others. Don't cheapen that. Don't cheapen it for the rest of us!
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