Hard Decisions

I hesitated to write this blog post, but I remember back when I published Return of the Aliens, and I had said I planned to make the serial episodes of that book free. Except when I realized that in doing so, I would probably get a lot of emails asking me to write more sci-fi Christian thrillers. Whenever I give out a book for free, I end up with people asking for more books in that series/genre. And I didn’t want to keep writing more sci-fi Christian thrillers. I wanted to stick with romance because romance is what I love most. The problem was that a couple of people were upset with me since I never came out and said I had changed my mind. (Since then, I have run promos on Smashwords where I offered the book for free during one of their sales week. I’m running one right now for Read an Ebook Week. Here’s the link. The sale ends on March 10.) Just please don’t ask me to write any more of these types of books because I don’t have any desire to write another sci-fi Christian thriller…at least not at this time.  I apologize for not addressing the issue sooner. Looking back, I realized I should have addressed it on this blog at the time I published it.

Which is why I’m going to be upfront about doing a price change to some of my books.

I’m going to have to raise the price of new releases. 

This will start with The Perfect Duke and One Enchanted Evening. The new price will be $3.99. (The Perfect Wife, Make Believe Bride, and The Marriage Contract will still be $2.99.) So this is something I’m slowly phasing in.

This was a very difficult decision to make. It’s not one I wanted to do, but I have to pay the bills and provide for my family (I have four kids) while also paying my quarterly tax voucher payments. My business is set up in such a way that I didn’t get a corporate tax break. About 43% of my income goes to taxes when you factor in Federal and State, and I’m paying based what I made the previous year. (I was hoping for that tax break so I could keep on pricing new releases at $2.99.) I don’t think any author really discusses this stuff. If they do, I’ve never seen this addressed in a post. Usually, I read about lousy royalty rates from traditionally published authors or how much money some self-published authors are making. No one seems to dive into the realities of this business. (If someone has, I’ve missed it.)

Anyway, since I have been losing money for the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to boost the income back up without upping the price of my books. Unfortunately, none of these worked. (Yes, I have run some ads, but I can’t afford a lot of them. I have to be careful with what I buy. For example, an editor will always come before an ad.)

First, I made an attempt to write shorter books so that I could get more books published. My thinking was that if I could get novellas (25,000-30,000 word books), I could make up for losing income. Publishing more books would mean more money, and more money means I could keep pricing my books at $2.99.

This, unfortunately, did not work because every single story I wrote wanted to be in the 50,000-70,000 word range. That seems to be my natural writing point. I even tried plotting to keep the story as simple as possible with The Bride Price, but the characters changed the last half of the book on me. I had to toss the plot out and go the way the story was leading. Since then, my word counts have been over 50,000. Married In haste was at 65,000 in first draft. Editing brought it to 63,000. The Rejected Groom finished at 58,000 but was edited down to 55,000. Make Believe Bride was 68,000 when I finished the first draft. Editing brought it down to about 65,000. The Marriage Contract finished at 71,000, but editing brought it down to 68,000.

So this is the problem I’m facing. It’s very hard for me to write a novella. I have done it a couple of times, but most books end up being novels. In order to tell a complete story, I’m the kind of writer who needs higher word counts.

Second, I considered putting new releases in KU.  KU (Kindle Unlimited) at Amazon pays for pages read while boosting rankings (thereby offering better visibility to everyone browsing for books). If an author isn’t in KU, they tend to get pushed back, and it’s harder to be found. This does hurt sales. Since 2011 when Kindle Select came on the scene, I’ve been getting pushed back so it’s been harder for new people to find me. Now, I will say it seemed to level out, but when KU came on the scene, it was another hit to my discoverability. I’m not complaining. I’m just explaining that KU has definite appeal to authors, especially romance authors since romance it popular over there.  I certainly understand why authors are in it. I also understand why readers pay into the KU subscription service. It is a really good deal for readers.  But the problem is that being in KU means I would only be able to put that book on Amazon.  I would end up excluding readers who buy from other retailers.

I know there’s the “You could just put it in KU for the first three months and then distribute everywhere afterwards” argument, but I’d feel like I was betraying my readers who buy my books on those other retailers if I do this. There are people who’ve been with me for years who don’t buy my books on Amazon. And both Amazon and readers from the retailers have offered me support and encouragement when I really needed it in the past. I know some of them by name and engage with them in emails and on Facebook. Even if the conversations don’t take place often, these people mean a lot to me, and I want to make my books available to them on the day they’re released.

Another thing that’s important to me is that I keep creating quality books. I know authors who can write faster than me, and they do a fantastic job. It is possible to write a book that is 50,000-70,000 words in a week or two and have it be a great book, especially if the author knows where they’re going when they sit down to write the story. For me, it takes longer. I can’t write a book faster than I already do without sacrificing the quality of it. My average is 1-1.5 months to finish a first draft. Granted, I usually write 3 books at a time, but when you factor in time to edit, format, and upload, I seem to average 2.5 – 3 months to get a new book ready from start to finish. In the end, I usually publish 8-9 novels a year. I want every book I write to be as good as, if not better, than the last one. I want to give people a story worth investing their time and money into.

I’ve rambled on and on, and it’s because I don’t want people to be upset when they see a price increase. I want everyone to be prepared for it. I know some of you are on tight budgets. I don’t know if this means you’ll have to stop buying my books, but if you can’t buy them anymore, I understand. There are no hard feelings on my end. Fortunately, there are a lot of books lower than $3.99 out there to choose from. I think one of the strengths of the market is that there are a wide variety of authors and price points to choose from.

Originally, I was thinking of doing $2.99 for the pre-order and then bumping it up to $3.99 on release day, but I distribute through Smashwords to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. Apple is great about changing things right away. Barnes & Noble and Kobo, on the other hand, can take weeks. Amazon is as quick as Apple, but Amazon requires price matching, so I can’t do anything on Amazon until the change takes effect on the other retailers. The pre-order special price idea I had just isn’t going to work.

Like I said above, The Perfect Wife, Make Believe Bride, and The Marriage Contract are at $2.99, and they will stay that way. I’m not changing those prices. The books I am just starting to write (The Perfect Duke and One Enchanted Evening) will be $3.99.  I haven’t decided if a new release starting a brand new series will be at $2.99 or $3.99. I do think having a lower price for the first book is a good idea. But we’ll have to see where the future leads.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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10 Responses to Hard Decisions

  1. I have no problems paying $3.99 for a Novel! It’s still lower then a paperback. I love Ruth’s novels and will happily pay, I do not think this is to much! Keep writing and I’ll still buy your books!

  2. Glenda says:

    I don’t think raising the price on your books will keep your regulars readers from buying then and being on KU will probably get you more regular readers. I got a Kindle App on my Tablet and IPhone because some of the authors I follow had books that were only on Kindle. Even if you have a Nook Tablet you can still put a Kindle App on it for free. If you only have a Nook Reader you can’t do this. My preference is Nook because I like their format better and it is easier to find books and to archive the ones you have already read. When I have a choice I will usually buy on Nook but having a Kindle App is a plus.

    • KU offers a lot of advantages. If I could be in it and be wide, I would. Someone else had mentioned how much they loved the Nook because of archiving books. I can understand why that’s a popular feature. It would be nice to be able to tuck the books you already read in another place. I think if you do a lot of reading, it can get hard to remember what you’ve read or haven’t read. (I don’t read as much as I want, and when I do, it’s often paperback because those are easier on my eyes.) But for people reading 1-2 books a day, it’s better to get ebooks. 🙂 The paperback costs would add up way too fast.

  3. I feel for you and wish you the best of luck. There are so many hard decisions a business owner has to make each day to keep their business afloat, and there are things that business owners have to into account when running a business so that it can keep running that those outside the business don’t see or understand. I know that I’ll still be buying your books regardless of the price so you can count on me. 😀

    • I felt like I was in a rock and a hard place, and the most frustrating thing was there was no easy option to pick. I’ve been struggling with this issue for two years. This isn’t something I did lightly, but when I saw my tax vouches for the year, I realized I didn’t have much of a choice if I wanted a chance to keep writing.

      There is so much business owners have to think about. This has been a real eye opening experience. I think of businesses in a totally different way than I used to.

  4. Readers, Return of the Aliens is an awesome read. I loved this thriller and I am not a thriller reader. People have no idea what it takes to survive in this business. You have to do what you need to do. I know it has been a difficult decision, but sometimes we have to make those type of decisions. God bless.

    • Another option just recently came to the table that I hadn’t considered until making this post. Once I get quarter two taxes out of the way, I’m going to look into hiring an author assistant to do the non-writing parts of the business for me. I keep hearing assistants end up saving the author enough time where they actually make more money from publishing more books. In mid-June through July, I’m going to start giving it a try and seeing how it goes.

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