Saturday, December 17, 2011

Selling Out

I've been struggling with something that feels a little sacrilegious. I've been thinking about switching from free to charging for Scary Mary and Unicorn Bait. I would most likely leave the free versions up on their websites, but I would charge for the ebook versions, and any updates I would make to the stories (in most cases grammatical) would only appear in the ebook version. My thinking is purely monetary. My current dream is to make enough money where I could reduce my full-time job from 40 hours a week to 32 or less (while still keeping my full benefits, I would just be paid less). The ultimate goal is to support myself solely by writing, but I know that isn't likely anytime soon. I just want to reduce my schedule by one day right now.

I know if I switched both books to .99 that the downloads would take a nose dive, but they wouldn't stop completely. I would possibly make fifty bucks a month or something but that would help me get a little closer to my goal of reducing my work schedule. That's not a guaranteed dollar amount, but I feel it's very likely, especially as a lot of reviews have been generated, so new readers may be willing to put down .99 for a book that a lot of other people have seemingly liked.

In my mind, one of the hiccups to changing to .99 is the free online versions. I worry that readers might resent the fact that I charge .99 for the ebook while giving it away elsewhere, but I've been told by some readers (they email me directly) that they would've happily paid for the story. This is wonderful to hear, but I worry that other readers may not feel that way. I've also seen some other authors charge for their ebooks in one location while giving it away elsewhere.

If I did begin charging for the stories, I would at least make another pass through them to fix any errors I found. (I just realized that somehow the first piece of dialog by Mrs. Boon is not italicized in Scary Mary's ebook version. I don't know how that happened.) But I wonder about adding any other content to make paying for the story worthwhile. I could add a sneak preview of Stalking Shadows to Scary Mary. That's a no brainer, but I don't know what to do about Unicorn Bait. I could add a sneak preview to (OMG, this will be first reveal of the title to the sequel) Dragon Prey. BUT that is still being written. I'm not even sure the first chapter will stay the same, and I would need to indicate when the sequel would be available which OMG (again), I have no idea about.

And I don't know if anyone really reads these posts so I may be typing into the wind, but if you have an opinion pro or con, please feel free to leave a comment. Even if no one comments, typing out my thoughts here has helped.

ETA: Well, this is ironic. It appears I was just featured on GetFreeBooks.com. Never fear, I'm not making the books for sale this instant. I'm just thinking about it, and I'll need a little time to read back over the stories to polish them a little more, but I am seriously considering charging, especially as I look at getting professional cover art for Dragon Prey. Dragons are expensive!

41 comments :

Anonymous said...

$0.99 is not expensive, so in my opinion, go ahead. You deserve a little pay back after all the hard work. :)

S.A. Hunter said...

Thanks, Anon. I haven't heard any cons to charging, but when I look at how many free copies have been downloaded, I know that I would never ever sell that many and so on one hand, if I charge, I get money (yay!), on the hand, if I don't charge, lots and lots of people reading Scary Mary (yay!). I could always switch back and forth I guess, though that might be confusing. Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

Are you charging for your next? I would certainly pay for it. I really enjoyed 'Scary Mary' and will be recommending it to my pupils with ereaders. I think a free book is a great way to lure them into the next. Good luck anyway.

S.A. Hunter said...

Anonymous,

Thank you so much! Thinking of kids reading my books is a great feeling. I know of a school that lends out Nooks and they have Scary Mary as one of the books on them. I love that. Maybe I'll only make Unicorn Bait for sale. It's a tough call. Scary Mary is a much shorter book so keeping it free might be a good idea.

Emma said...

Well you got me with the free 'scary mary' on amazon.co.uk and I brought 'stalking shadows' I think it was .89p or something. If your next installmet is the same price I'll more then likely buy it :)... I'm looking forward to seeing Mary and Kyle's relationship develop and what other paranormal mystery your going to pull together.

JJ said...

I loved Unicorn Bait and would happily pay the .99 fee for your books. I read a book a day which is why the free books have been such a blessing, but paying a dollar for a book now and then won't put me in the poor house. Thank you for sharing your talent with me. JJ

S.A. Hunter said...

Emma,

Thank you so much! I'm glad you're enjoying Mary and Kyle's budding relationship. I have to admit when I first started Scary Mary, I thought Mary and Cy were the OTP, but that obviously fell through.

I think Scary Mary is safe. Unicorn Bait will become for sale sometime in early 2012 at $1.99 and we'll see how that goes. Hopefully it'll generate enough funds to help pay for the editing and cover art for Dragon Prey.

Long Dead may have to be bumped up to 1.99. I'm not sure. I don't see much in the way of revenue with the .99 price. I get about a third to a half at different venues. Maybe I could offer it free a few times for people.

S.A. Hunter said...

JJ,

You posted while I was replying to Emma. It's like this blog is popular or something. :-) And now I feel bad that I've stated the price point will be 1.99 for UB when you say .99 is a good deal, but I really hope that price is still low enough not to scare away too many people.

And I'm so glad you enjoyed Unicorn Bait!

-R said...

I enjoyed Unicorn Bait very much and am now reading Scary Mary. I admit I downloaded them because they are free (I greatly prefer "real books" & typically only download free books because I'm desperate) but then I went searching for more of your work to buy after finishing Unicorn. So, yes, I'll gladly pay .99 for a download. I'd gladly pay $8 for the published version. And I'm impatient for Dragon Prey! :)

Thank you for sharing your work.

-R

S.A. Hunter said...

R,

I'm so glad you enjoyed Unicorn Bait. I hope Scary Mary suits you as well. I'm hesitant to set up print editions because they end up being so expensive. I had a print edition of Scary Mary available at one time, and it was just under $10 and all I received was .25 in royalties. Production ate up everything else. Unicorn Bait would have to be over $10 just to print. But maybe I'll look at Createspace and see what's possible.

Anonymous said...

I loved Unicorn Bait and would absolutely pay to read the sequel. Although we truly appreciate it, nothing a person puts there blood, sweat and tears into creating should be for free!

S.A. Hunter said...

Anon,

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed Unicorn Bait. I am hard at work on the sequel. None of my blood is involved yet, but Naomi's has made an appearance. Poor woman. She's not happy with me right now.

jodib said...

My opinion? You want to leave at least one of your books free. I fully admit that I look for free books and if I like them I will look for other books by the same author and buy them. I don't blame you at all for wanting to charge. You have a great product. I LOVE Unicorn Bait. Really great book and I am pleased to see you are writing a sequel. I need to tell my sister and her girls about you. Good Luck!

bethann said...

Hello! Okay you got me hooked with Scary Mary and then I just loved Stalking Shadows. I loved how you made her gran not so perfect. It seems like in every story that has a gran character the gran is wise and always knows the right thing to do and say. I like that she is experienced but a lot of this is first for her too! I am looking forward to the next one!!!

Anonymous said...

I loved this book i couldnt put it down

Anonymous said...

I loved this book i couldnt put it down

S.A. Hunter said...

jobdib, I hope your sister and her girls enjoy the books.

bethann, thank you for the comments about Gran.

Anon, I'm so glad you liked this!

Thank you all so much!

Sienna said...

I must tell you now, I loved unicorn bait. I loved it so much I read it twice. It is so close to being my favorite book (fly by night by francis hardinge is my first) I can't wait to get my fingers in the second book. Maybe I should scary mary while I wait. I have a wonderful idea for a book and was going to give up on it until your wonderful book cheered me up.I always have wonderful ideas for books I just have trouble writing. But I'm determined.

S.A. Hunter said...

Sienna,

Determination is just as important as imagination when it comes to writing. Do a little writing everyday, and that story will get written. Being your 2nd favorite is very high praise. Thank you so much!

stoo692002 said...

I loved Scary Mary And was more than happy to pay less than a pound (I live in the UK) for the sequel Stalking Shadows, which by the way was every bit as good as the first. I can't wait for any follow up to arrive!!

Rachel said...

I've read all three of your books and would pay for each of them. Of course the fact that it was cheap or free (can't remember) turned me on to the first book of yours I read, Unicorn Bait. After reading that book I looked you up on kindle for others by you. I would suggest charging for all books you have out there, especially sequels. $1.99 for Unicorn Bait and sequels. $.99 for Scary Mary and sequels. After reading them I would pay more but being your not known yet I'd start there. I look forward to reading your books again and again plus all others you publish. :)

S.A. Hunter said...

stoo692002 & Rachel,

Thank you both for commenting. I know that many of the readers found me because of the free price tag. I don't think I could've paid for better advertising so I definitely don't regret giving the books away. I'm really glad you both liked the books.

FYI, Amazon.uk is running a discount on Stalking Shadows. It's a few cents cheaper than normal if anyone wants to pick it up for even less. (I have no control over the promotion. It is purely in Amazon's control and I still get the same amount for each sale.)

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this is possible but how about if books would be free to download and at the end you could make a donation if you enjoyed the book. There would be some that wouldn't pay for anything but there may be some that would. I know I would be more willing to support an artist, musician or writers if I given the chance.

S.A. Hunter said...

Sorry for replying so late. I thought I had, but obviously not. I do have a Paypal donation button on the full version of the websites, and a few kind souls have used it. Smashwords does have a pay what you can option, but it's not available for any other site.

Kate said...

I have just finished reading all three books in about a day and a half I absolutely loved them! Even if I did have to pay I would have been extremely happy with paying however much, they were such a great read and can't wait for the next ones to come out. I think people should be paying, I mean less than a pound can't harm anyone and I think you deserve the money after all your efforts and for creating such a wonderful reading experience, certainly makes being off ill better. So thanks and keep writing because I can't wait for the next ones! :)

S.A. Hunter said...

Kate,

First, get well soon! I hope it's just a passing bug and nothing serious. I'm so glad you enjoyed my stories. It's so encouraging to hear from readers. I wish I were a super fast writer. I hear about authors (Amanda Hocking) who pound out a story in like less than a month, and I'm going HHHOOOOWWW??? I'd be rich if I could do that. I need to become better disciplined. I'm trying and hopefully I'll publish both Dragon Prey and Long Dead this year. Keep an eye out for them!

Michele Rosell said...

Loved Scary Mary and Stalking Shadows!! I have a Nook and almost all the books I wind up getting are about 2.99, I def would pay that for your novels. Also I think Scary Mary would make a great television series, you should pitch your story to the networks, I see it as kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ,Nancy Drew kinda combo !!

S.A. Hunter said...

Michele,

Thanks! It would be awesome if Scary Mary became a television show. I have no idea how to go about that though. I have no agent and no idea how to pitch something, but it would be really cool.

Kate said...

Thank you, I'm working on it and am finally getting a bit better :) I'm pretty sure you will get there and be a super fast writer plus there's so much encouragement and you can only do your best. I look forward to reading them both and will defiantly keep a keen eye on the look out!

S.A. Hunter said...

Thanks, Kate. Take care of yourself. When my next book comes out, I will announce it freaking everywhere: Goodreads, Twitter, here, possibly Facebook if the poll says I should have a page, and I'll go out on the street with a megaphone, too. :-)

achuka said...

Interesting to read your thought processes here...

Am sending you an email...

Anonymous said...

I love that the first book was free! I would had paid more for the second book because I was hooked after the first! Really good writing and can't wait for the installment if you continue, which I hope do.

S.A. Hunter said...

Anonymous, I am writing the third book in the Scary Mary Series. Its working title is Long Dead. Thanks!

Jeba Y. said...

Just read Scary Mary & Stalking Shadows and I gotta say it was brilliant! the best books I have read in a long time. I must say - you are a brilliant author, i love your style of writing! It's suitable for everyone and although it may not be the biggest reward ever, I've recommended your books to my friends & I hope you'll be happy to hear that my sister and my mother are currently reading your literary works and they loving it :)
Please please please hurry up with Long Dead, it would be lovely to read another story about Mary.

P.S. don't feel sacrilegious about charging for your works - everyone needs an income and so what if your passion for writing intertwines with a bit of money, there's nothing wrong with that! In fact I think you should keep the system you have. I acquired scary Mary for free and then bought stalking shadows. That way you know people really love your books! Keep writing and I hope this ridiculously long post helps ease your guilt about charging for your literature ;)

PinkyPieInTheSky said...

I have just finished 'Unicorn Bait' and thoroughly enjoyed it, I especially enjoyed the humour. I have not read any more of your books although I do have 'Scary Mary' but have not as yet read it but I will certainly do so now. I admit, I too downloaded them because they were free but would not mind paying for the second instalment of the 'Unicorn Bait' series. I was hooked after the first book and look forward to reading many more.

Keep up the good work. :D

S.A. Hunter said...

Jeba,

Thank you! Hearing from others is an immense help. And thank you for recommending me! Am working on Long Dead, but everyone is currently being very recalcitrant.

S.A. Hunter said...

PinkyPieInTheSky,

I'm so glad you enjoyed Unicorn Bait. I know I wouldn't have near as many readers if they weren't free. Free is an amazing draw. I hope you like Scary Mary, too!

Anonymous said...

The only problem for me, if you charge is my dad would have to pay because I don't have a job yet. Partly because I'm young.

S.A. Hunter said...

Hi Anon,

That is a very good point. I'm hoping that with the price kept low, that parents won't balk at purchasing an ebook for their kids, but I need to charge some to fund future books and to support myself. Other options may become available as well. Smashwords (which distributes my ebooks to Barnes and Noble an iTunes) has contracted with Baker & Taylor. This company has an ebook branch for libraries. This seems to still be in its infant stage, but maybe kids will be able to borrow my ebooks (or any ebook they desire) through their public library and not have to dig into a parent's pocket. I know it's not used yet in many library systems, but it may be coming to more in the future. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

lol, What about when the parents are the ones downloading your books, and recommending them to their kids? I must confess I downloaded Scary Mary when I was looking through free books, and loved it! This is the first book that has found me tightly gripping my Kindle because of the suspense I was in. Gladly paid for Stalking Shadows:) Like one of the posters above I too thought it would make a great television series. Can't wait for the next one!

S.A. Hunter said...

That is very true! I have heard from parents who have shared SM with their kids and knowing whole families have shared in Mary's adventures is an amazing thing. I'm still waiting for Hollywood to call...But in the meantime, I'll keep wrestling with Long Dead. Thanks for stopping by!