Please note: In this post, I use my own invested time, money, and prices, but this is going to apply to almost any author out there, especially the self-published ones such as myself.
A good friend of mine recently posted a link to my latest book, Redemption’s Edge, on Facebook. One of his friends commented that the book was “only 200 pages” and asked if it was worth the price. They didn’t specify whether they were talking about the print version (220 pages) or the Kindle version (203 pages). Either way, it’s a little over 70,000 words, which, for a fantasy novel, could be considered on the shorter end. It is, admittedly, the shortest book I’ve published, although there are many out there which are shorter. Novel length books are considered to start at 40,000 words and up. For Redemption’s Edge, the Kindle version is priced at $3.99, of which I get about $2.75 or so. The printed version is $11.95, and I make a little over $3.00 per sale for that version. As a self-published author, I’m not given any advance on sales as are authors which are published through the big publishing houses.
So, is it worth the price?
That’s going to be up to the purchaser, but there are some things which should be considered when asking that question. For 70,000 words, between writing, rewriting, formatting (for both Kindle and print), editing and proofreading, I may have 200+ hours invested. Add any third-party editing, which is several hundred dollars to a thousand or more, and cover art, another $200.00. Let’s go the low end for the editing and call it $300.00. So, after investing hundreds of hours writing the book, I kick out another $500.00+ for other professional services.
The current federal minimum wage, as of this writing, is $7.25/hour. So, if I assume 200 hours of work, for me to just make minimum wage, I would need to sell over 500 Kindle versions, or almost 500 print versions. To cover the $500.00 in other services would take an additional 180 Kindle sales or 167 print sales. This does not take into account anything I pay out after the book is published for advertising and promotion.
Another thing to consider is that the majority of authors out there have regular full-time jobs (or “real” jobs as some folks like to call them) and are writing (and editing, formatting, proofreading, etc…) their books in their spare time. It takes quite a commitment to be able to write books while still working 40+ hours per week.
I admit, Redemption’s Edge is on the shorter end of the fantasy spectrum, but it’s far from the shortest. Whether or not it’s worth the price will be, as I said, up to the buyer. But, when you’re making these kinds of purchasing decisions, whether for one of my books, or for books written by any of the other very talented, hard-working authors out there, please keep in mind how much time, effort, and investment the author put into it just to provide you with a few hours of entertainment. After all, you’d pay more than that for a two-hour movie at the cinema these days.