I’ve been cruising through Smashwords lately — I’ve got a free short story up there and I occasionally check the stats — and I’m about to self-pub another short story through Smashwords in the next few weeks. Whenever I log in, I see a whole ton of erotica in the list of latest publications… and I’m constantly amazed at what people consider to be an appropriate price for an ebook.
The short story I self-publish in the next few weeks will be $0.99. I think that’s an appropriate price for a fairly short story. If I were to write something over 10,000 words, I might bump it up to $1.99. Over 50,000 — maybe $2.99. And anything at 80,000 and above would be $3.99. I don’t foresee ever pricing my own stuff at above $3.99… and I feel it’s important to have the price reflect the general length of the novel.
Yet, on Smashwords, it’s not unexpected to see a short story of 3,000 words or less priced at $2.99 or higher. I don’t think I would ever pay three bucks or more for a story that’ll take me 10-20 minutes to read. The pricing has to be part of the appeal of the ebook — if the price is too high, the book loses appeal. (If I recall correctly, I saw one erotica short story of 760 words — and that’s not a typo, it’s 760 words — priced at $3.99. I don’t understand how a story that short could possibly be worth that much money.)
It also doesn’t help that a lot of those overpriced short stories have descriptions filled with typos, clumsy sentences, and vague statements. A lot of them just list a few details of the setting and characters and… it just fizzles for me. Selling ebooks is an extremely competitive task as there are thousands, if not millions, of people who are all competing for readers.
In addition to a solid story, a professional editor, and a top notch cover (and a writer should be hiring editors and cover designers unless they are supremely gifted), a writer MUST price their works appropriately. To do otherwise works against the effort the writer has put into their story.
There are some truly good works on Smashwords — but there’s a lot of rather questionable stuff.
But I’ll throw it out to anyone who’s reading this:
What do you consider to be an appropriate price for an ebook short story?
What about an ebook novella / novel?