Figuring out the price…

Download Audio Version

What the hell is my time worth?  Why the hell do you, the listener or reader, care?

This is the question being bandied about these days, especially since the announcement by certain content creators that they will no longer give away their work for free.  Now, I've already put out a podcast essay on that subject so I'm not going to belabor that point again.  In case you've forgotten, it's the episode called "The Cost Of Free."

No, what I'm talking about here is something completely different.  I'm readying the Fiends collection for Smashwords.  I've been thinking about how to price the collection for quite some time.  I've seen other people sell their short stories for $.99.  Each.  I don't know what their experience has been in creating a market for themselves or how many readers they've grabbed.

With all the titles being offered online now, we're all struggling to build our brands and compete with one another.  So we have a couple of questions to ask ourselves as content creators.  What is our time worth?  What are our stories worth?

You can usually expect, from the paying markets I've seen, $100 for a short story sale.  And that's most definitely at the top end.  At the bottom end, there's merely a mention or maybe a $5.00 honorarium.  You don't get a cut of royalties.  You don't get any kind of repeat.  So trying to make a living just selling short stories is nuts unless you're a famous author where you can get $25k from Playboy or Esquire.

So what are these stories worth that we put together?  They've not been edited by a magazine editor.  They've not been accepted by a magazine, in many cases, not even been read by other writers.  There's been very little oversight by the community over ourselves and therefore some truly shit stories are doubtless for sale.

We have to rely on the paying public to rate our work for good or ill, to leave comments as warnings to  other readers/potential buyers from making the same mistake, or to help promote our work.  The community should also have a hand in ultimately policing itself, but I'm not certain how that would work.

I believe my stories are pretty good.  They're not what I would call ground-breaking or earth-shattering.  Instead, I think they're entertaining and certainly you, my audience, seem to agree.  But that doesn't tell me what they're worth.

What would you pay for the Fiends Collection?  For Momma, Ghosts of 1900, Canvas, and Breakers?  What would you pay for the entire group as a digital e-book from B&N, Amazon, or Smashwords?  What would you pay?

Is it worth more than $1.99 for all the stories together?  Is it only worth $.99?  Are each of the stories worth a buck?  How much would you pay?

The digital marketplace for books is in its infancy.  We, as consumers, are still trying to wrap our heads around purchasing short fiction outside of large collections, where we typically pay up to $15.00 for three hundred pages of fiction, or about 15-20 stories.  But it's a book.  It's usually by some of the best in the business.  Those stories have been published in "real" magazines, edited by real editors, and been checked for grammar and professionally typeset.

So what's a 4500 word short story that's never been sold worth?  What is a collection of them worth?  Think about it.

There has been some discussion about this in the community and there are many and varied opinions on the matter.  Some think it's best to hit the market as many times as possible.  In other words, try and saturate with many different smaller releases than one large one.  In my conversations with the FDO, he suggested that having more items to sell is better.  I concur.

But where do you draw the line?  Do you put out 4 short stories as separate for $.99 each and then the entire collection for $2.99 to save someone some cash if they purchase the whole shooting match?  Do you even bother with the collection at all?  Do you not sell the stories on their own?

Too many questions and there is little data from which to draw conclusions.  We're all taking a chance here as the market begins the slow march toward a decision on the best approach.  If we screw up this pricing model, it will turn away readers completely or leave so much money on the table as to make a living untenable.

I, for one, want to give readers as much bang for the buck as I feel is fair.  I think selling the four short stories in the Fiends collection for $1.99 is pretty damned fair.  It's basically a 1/4 of the length of a shortish novel and is priced accordingly.  But it's also a gateway drug into the rest of my writing.  

But then what to do about novellas?  Works that are longer than a short story, but still not novel length?  Because of Tattoo's popularity I think it's worth a little more than the short story collection and I'm going to start selling it for $2.99.  If that price doesn't work, then I'll drop it to match the other fiends collection.

Am I right?  Am I wrong?  What are you going to pay to grab it from Smashwords or Amazon or B&N or the apple store?  What is fair?  If there are hundreds of people, each purchasing a copy of Tattoo and the Fiends collection, every month, then that is a sustainable living.  Or at least enough to pay the mortgage.  That's awesome and more or less what I'm shooting for.

But you know what?  It doesn't matter much.  I'm going to keep writing.  I'm going to keep podcasting my work for you.  If I make some cash off it, that's great too.  If my work completely fails to attract a paying audience, then so be it.  Closet Treats is destined for a publisher, one way or another.  Tattoo will ultimately be put out as a book in some for or another.  The Fiends collection will continue to grow until its finished and I start the next series of stories.

It wont stop me writing.  It won't stop me podcasting.  And it won't stop me from giving you the content you've come to expect.  

If you have some opinions on pricing, please leave some comments on the forums.  I'd love to see what you think is fair and what you'd be willing to pay.  Chalk this up to market research before I dive into the mess that is trying to extract a little cash for my work.

One last thing.  I'm not insisting or begging you to purchase anything.  I don't expect you to.  Those of you who have given donations, there's no reason for you to give me any more money than you already have.  If you want to, that's fine.  But again, there is no expectation here.  I write.  I create. I edit.  I put it out there.  If it's worth money to you, great.  If not, then I just hope you enjoyed it and will keep listening.  Maybe one day, I'll put out something you feel like paying for.  But to have you in the audience is enough for me.  I hope you continue to support me by spreading the word.  That's all I can ask.

 

Fiends–Closet Treats-Episode 10

That's right, my Fiendlings.  Here's episode 10 chock full of fiendy goodness.

This episode includes promos for Seth Harwood's Young Junius.  May 5th is Cinco De Harwood, the day you have a chance to get your little paws on a special order custom copy of the book.  Check it out, fiendlings.

Also, last week I screwed the pooch and forgot to give props to Vertigo Radio Live and their fantastic insanity.  Please check out their show.  It's hilarious, irreverant, and fun for your little gray cells.

Last but not least, your fellow fiendling David Sobkowiak is putting out his first podcast novel with co-creator Laura Frechette.  Go check it out on Monday!

 

 

 

"Closet Treats" episode 10.

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Fiends–Closet Treats-Episode 09

Happy Freakin' Easter, Fiendlings!

Because it's Good Friday, I'm kicking this out early, because you've been so good this week.  Or bad.  Or, whatever.  Regardless, here it is for your enjoyment.

Thank you to John Mierau for this week's bump.  Please check out his work!

 

"Closet Treats" episode 09.

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Essay–The Slow Burn

 Some thoughts on "slow burn" fiction.

Visit Zazzle for Shadowpublications.com merchandise!

 

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley.

Music by Nine Inch Nails from their album:  The Slip.  Please visit their site.
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.

 

Contact me:

 

Fiends–Closet Treats-Episode 08

Once again, my wonderful fiendlings, I am early. Way fucking early. So quit your bitching and enjoy Episode 08.

Remember to pre-order Scott Sigler's "The Starter" on Aprii 1st.

 

 

"Closet Treats" episode 08.

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Fiends–Closet Treats-Episode 07

 Well, bitches, here I am, more than 20 hours early!  Your FiendMaster obviously loves you more than you can possibly understand.  Of course he loathes you too.  But that's not important.

What's important is that you enjoy the episode and check out Drew Beatty's Lost Gods and remember to pre-order Scott Sigler's "The Starter" on Aprii 1st.

Cheers, Fiendlings!

 

 

"Closet Treats" episode 07.

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Essay–Fear of Publishing

 A brief essay on publishing and why it led me to stop writing…

Promo at the end of the episode for Scott Sigler’s “The Starter.”  Visit http://scottsigler.com and get ready to pre-order your copy April 1st!

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley.

Music by Nine Inch Nails from their album:  The Slip.  Please visit their site at http://nin.com

This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.

Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.

Contact me at:

    * Email: stories@shadowpublications.com

    * twitter: http://twitter.com/paul_e_cooley

    * facebook: http://facebook.com/paul.e.cooley

Fiends–Closet Treats-Episode 06

Alan and Carolyn deal with Trey's first night away…

Download Now


Thank you James Melzer for giving us the bumper this week.  Visit his site and getcha some Zombie Chronicles love.

"Closet Treats" episode 06.

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Fiends–Closet Treats-05

Download NOW!

Fiendlings! Please don't forget to add and attack Jason Warden of Shadow Cast Audio.

Here's his vitals:

Twitter

Facebook 

Add ShadowCast and start pummeling him for his impudence!

 

"Closet Treats" episode 05.

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Essay–The Cost Of Free

Download Audio Version

 

There has been a lot of noise lately about whether or not giving away content for free is a bad idea.  A certain podiofiction author of the most successful podfic series in history, has decided to throw in the towel on the podcasting for free model.  He's decided that he's not getting enough back for how much he's putting in.  I can completely understand why he feels this way.  It's his decision and I support him in that.

Writing stories, recording narration, editing, mixing– these are all extremely time intensive endeavors.  Imagine working 10 hours a day, then coming home and working for another 5.  That's what this life can be like, if you let it.  Of course, I'm the lazy, good-for-nothing unemployed asshole who has all the time in the world right now.  Right?

Sure.  Let's say that.  Now let's talk about the people who AREN'T out of work and bust their ass every single week to bring the masses content.  Don't they deserve something for all their hard work?  Shouldn't they get some love?  Some cash?  Some help?  Some support?

I've been an open-source developer.  I worked on pieces of software that I wasn't going to get paid for.  Period.  They were things that I needed to use, and therefore I said "fuck it, other people probably need it too."  But I didn't think it was worth someone buying.  Why bother?

I coded because I loved it.  I loved the idea of creating things and putting them out there for free.  If people used them, fine.  If they didn't, that was okay too.  But there was no expectation for remittance.  There was no expectation anyone would even want it.  And that didn't really matter to me.

So now let's look at the podcasting model.  It basically follows the same premise as open source development.  Some open source developers get very well known by the coding public and are therefore infinitely hireable for consulting gigs and etc.  Podcasting, on the other hand, doesn't exactly lead you to high priced consulting gigs.  You write.  You record.  You edit.  You mix.  You toss it up on the internet.  You pimp.  And if you're lucky, very very lucky, you've written something that people like.  You've recorded something people like.  And you'll get lots and lots of wonderful fans who might occasionally talk to you via twitter, facebook, or your forums.

When I first started podcasting, I was horrified to discover that although lots of people were downloading my work and visiting my site, no one was saying shit.  No comments.  No community interaction.  Nothing.  For a while, I wondered if I was really fucking something up, if I had done something to piss everyone off.  It's very difficult to remember that this is the internet.  Some people like to interact, others not so much.  So I stopped having expectations about hearing from my fans.  I stopped wondering if I was doing something wrong.  I was in awe of how many junkies Sigler has and how many clones Hutchins had.  I finally realized I will probably never have that kind of fanbase.  I also realized, that was okay.

I use podcasting as an excuse to keep writing.  I would love to get published.  I would love to actually see my name on the spine of book sitting in a Barnes and Noble.  That would be the impossible dream come true.  It's the dream I've had since I was about ten years old, and it's the reason I have written so many novels and stories that I promise you will never see the light of day.

So what are my chances of getting published?  What are my chances of making enough money as a professional writer to never have to work a day job again?  The chances of the latter I are far greater than the former.  Even if I were to have a million listeners, there's no guarantee any of them would purchase a single book of mine.  There's no guarantee any of them would be willing to put up a single dollar of hard currency to repay me for my hard work.

All of it's a crap shoot.  So here's the question.  If the chances of my making a single dime from this endeavor are so small, why the fuck do I keep doing it?  Am I fucking mental or something?

Well possibly.  Perhaps it's just my level of narcissism knows no bounds.  Maybe it's because I just like to hear myself talk.  Maybe, just maybe, it's because I enjoy doing it.  And the longer I write, the better I get.  Plus, some of you do actually send me email, talk to me on twitter and facebook, and tell me you like my work.  There are those of you who are patrons in the true sense of the word, contributing money to the cause.  For those few, I can't thank you enough.

This is the beginning of a business, so to speak.  I'm going to be putting my work out there for people to buy at some point soon in the future.  Hopefully it will eventually bring in enough money per year for me to pay the mortgage.  I think that's actually sort of realistic.  It's not enough to build a retirement on.  It's not enough to buy cars, fancy houses, or anything like that.  But it's enough to make a start.  And perhaps I'll eventually be able to move past that and make enough money a year from my writing to dodge a full time gig.  It could happen.

But am I counting on it?  Hah.  Fuck no.  I'm going to keep giving my content away as long as I have an audience.  I don't expect anything from you except the occasional kind word or complaint, and, if you like my writing, to tell others about it.  Pretty low expectations, don't you think?  So yeah, I'll tell you that donations are good if they pay for my hosting costs.  I'll tell you to please consider purchasing my books when they come out.  I mean, shit, I need the cash.  But I'm not going to demand it or hold my content hostage.  You, the audience, you decide what you're going to pay for and what you're not going to pay for.  But I have decided that it's your decision.  My decision is to keep it free and keep it coming.

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Music provided by Nine Inch Nails from their album: The Slip. Please visit their site at http://nin.com.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.