Monthly Archives: September 2011

Conflux schedule – come and say hi

September 28, 2011

Conflux 7 will be held in Canberra, the nation’s capital, this long weekend, October 1st to 3rd. I’ll be there, getting involved with a few things and catching up with friends. Hopefully I’ll make some new friends too. Here’s a schedule of what I’ll be doing.

Friday, the day before the convention proper, is open for a series of workshops and launches. I’ll be running a workshop on blogging from 10am till noon, then I’ll be reading from my story at the Winds Of Change launch at 7pm.

Friday, 30th September

10AM – Noon

All About Blogging
A Workshop with Alan Baxter – Yamba Room

Wikipedia describes “blogs” as a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reversechronological order. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Perhaps you would like to learn more about blogs generally, start blogging yourself, or learn how to make your own blog more interesting?

This workshop is free for Conflux members (it is not open to the general public). Participant numbers are limited for this program item, so register soon if you would like to attend.

7pm – 8pm

Launch – Winds Of Change anthology from CSFG Publishing.

This anthology includes my story, Dream Shadow, and I’ll be reading an excerpt at the launch, along with several other contributing authors. There will also be nibbles.

Saturday, 1st October

9am – 10am

Evil Overlord Panel

I’ll be moderating this one, with panel members Phil Berrie, Laura E Goodin and Kethleen Jennings. We’ll be discussing the ideal Evil Overlord getaway vehicle and there’ll be a special prize for the audience member who comes up with the best suugestion.

Sunday, 2nd October

4.30pm – 5.30pm

Publishing – What path should you take?

This is a panel with Natalie Costa Bir, Nicole Murphy and Cat Sparks. We’ll be talking about all the different paths to publishing and the pros and cons of each.

6.30pm – 7.30pm

Heavy Metal panel

This should be a fun one. Myself, Jo Anderton and Tracey O’Hara will be talking about heavy metal music, its influence on spec fic and spec fic’s influence on it. We’ll also talk about how heavy metal has informed or inspired our own writing. Audience participation is welcomed!

Monday, 3rd October

10am – 11am

Kaffeeklatsch – Yamba Room

This is simply me in one place with a coffee, and anyone is welcome to come and join me. We can chat about anything you like, you can get books signed and so on. Come and have a chat.


And that’s it for my official engagements – a pretty quiet con for me this time. I’ll be around the con all weekend and will probably get involved with other things here and there. Otherwise I’ll be in panels listening in or, more likely, propping up the hotel bar.

Conflux is always a great vibe with excellent people, so come and get involved. You can get day tickets or all weekend membership and it’s well worth it. See you there!


Vale Sara Douglass, and powerful words on dying

September 27, 2011

I heard the news this morning that Australian fantasy writer Sara Douglass died around 5am. It’s absolutely gutting news. I didn’t know Sara personally, but her work has been a part of my life for a long time, and not just her fiction.

Her fiction is fantastic in every sense of the word, and well regarded. She won many awards and accolades for her work, and rightly so. She was probably the first truly successful female Australian fantasy author (please correct me if I’m wrong on that) and I know she was incredibly influential to many other authors, men and women alike.

But it was her fight against cancer that really stood out for me. If you’re a fantasy fan, you absolutely should read her novels. If you’re a human being, you absolutely should read her words on terminal illness. Sara was an amazing role model for dealing with illness and her words on dying really rang true for me. I’ve experienced a lot of death in my time. I’ve seen terminal illness run its course in many forms and seen people die as teenagers and adults from a variety of terrible and debilitating conditions. When I read Sara’s blog post about dying, it hit me hard – it was just so fucking right. She opened with:

Many years ago I did an hour long interview on Adelaide radio (with Jeremy Cordeaux, I think, but my memory may be wrong). The interview was supposed to promote one of my recent publications, but for some reason we quickly strayed onto the subject of death and dying, and there we stayed for the entire hour. I proposed that as a society we have lost all ability to die well. Unlike pre-industrial western society, modern western society is ill at ease with death, we are not taught how to die, and very few people are comfortable around death or the dying. There is a great silence about the subject, and a great silence imposed on the dying. During the programme a Catholic priest called in to agree with the premise (the first and last time a Catholic priest and I have ever agreed on anything) that modern society cannot deal with death. We just have no idea. We are terrified of it. We ignore it and we ignore the dying.

She goes on to talk about how we praise people these days for dying without complaint, when really there should be shrieking and hair pulling.

When it comes to death and dying, we impose a dreadful silence on the dying lest they discomfort the living too greatly.

This is so true and really, fuck that. So often, people suffering greatly are doing their best not to discomfort those people who come to visit. When the terminally ill would rather be howling their grief at the stars or simply be left the fuck alone, they’re instead being brave for other people. Those people who visit now and then without really doing anything to help the dying.

I agree with Sara completely that the dying absolutely should not keep silent for the benefit of the un-dying.

I am tired of being made to feel guilty when I want to express my fear and anguish and grief.

I am tired of keeping silent.

And I’m so glad she didn’t. Everyone should read her words.

The original blog post is here.

The follow up blog post is here.

Read it. Digest it. She’s right.

And you know the best thing? Sara’s body of work will live on even though cancer took her from us way too soon. She was only 54, but her fantastic writing is eternal.

Vale, Sara Douglass. You were a role model and an inspiration, and may your words never fade.


How To Write Fight Scenes Masterclass online

September 22, 2011

Write The Fight RightRegular readers here will be well aware by now that I have an ebook out called Write The Fight Right, based on my workshops of the same name. It comes from my “day job” as a martial arts instructor, combined with my writing. I love to read a good fight scene, but few people are able to write them convincingly. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – after all, most writers have never had a fight and that’s a good thing. Right? But I’m a career martial artist. I’ve had loads of fights. So I used my powers for good and found a way to share my knowledge and hopefully help writers improve their written fight scenes.

But, of course, useful though the book is, it’s not nearly as informative as my actual workshops. Not everyone can get to the workshops when they run. Incidentally, the next one will be in Melbourne next year at Continuum, which will be NatCon for 2012. But fear not, non-Melburnians! In association with the incomparable Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn, I’m bringing my Write The Fight Right workshop online. Modern technology – it’s amazing.

How To Write Fight Scenes Masterclass

The masterclass will be 60 minutes of teaching followed by 30 mins Q&A. You will also receive the recording and slides from the class as well as an action work-list. All for only US$20.

The live session will be held on Thursday Oct 20, 2011 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM EDT (9pm GMT) but there will be a recording available with the slides if you can’t make the live session. That’s a bit early for the Aussies, because it’ll be 7am Friday morning our time, but I’m sure you’ll find it worthwhile. This is the best time placement to allow people all over the world to be involved.

Have your questions answered live

On the webinar sign up page, after payment, you are able to leave your own question for me so the session is most effective for you. We will take extra questions in the Q&A part of the session on the day.

You can also submit 1 page fight scene for me to use in my critique, to help put the class lessons into direct context. No names will be mentioned, so all writing will be anonymous and will be shared with others. Please note: This webinar will be turned into a multimedia product so by submitting your writingt you are giving permission for that piece of writing to be used as a teaching aid.

In this webinar, you will learn:

* How to shorten your sentences and use effective word choice to make a fight scene more realistic
* How to write a fight scene from different gender perspectives
* Writing reactions instead of action and how that affects the way the reader experiences the fight
* How to write about the different senses during a fight scene
* Why footwork and movement are so important in a fight
* Why fighting is responding to chaos and how you incorporate that into your book
* What types of blows would different characters use in what situations?
* How does someone with training fight and how can you make those scenes realistic?
* How does someone with no experience fight?
* How you can use your setting, or construct your setting to make a more effective fight scene
* How weapons change a fight
* When you fight, you get hit. How getting hit feels for your characters and how their need for recovery might affect your plot.

All for just $20! And if you can’t make the live session, you can purchase the recording of the seminar, along with all the notes, as a multimedia package afterwards.

I’ve set up a page specifically for the class here.

Or you can sign up now, by paying your US$20 here:

Add to Cart

Please do tell anyone you think might be interested. And if you have any questions use the comments below.


Thrillercast Episode 27 – Branching out as a writer with David L Golemon

September 19, 2011

ThrillercastThe latest episode of Thrillercast is online now. It’s a bit of a mega-sized podcast compared to normal, but I think you’ll enjoy it. David and I talk about branching out as a writer and mixing up our genres, and we go on to discuss the subject with NY Times bestselling author, David L Golemon.

David Golemon is best known for his thrillers, but he’s recently signed with a US small press for a new horror novel, what he calls a ghost story. And it certainly sounds interesting. Have a listen and see what you think.

Thrillercast Episode 27 – Branching out as a writer with David L Golemon.


George Lucas Strikes Back

September 18, 2011

This is just brilliant. It’s a fantastic bit of faux trailer-making in its own right, but it’s also a brilliant concept. I so wish this was actually the case. It really is the only thing that would make any sense in an ideal world. Sadly, what really happened is that George Lucas disappeared up his own arsehole and has spent the last decade systematically raping the childhood memories of us all. But let’s not dwell on such things and just enjoy this awesome piece of work:

Here’s the thing on YouTube.


Crowdfunding or panhandling? The new arts funding.

September 17, 2011

beggingThis is going to be one of those posts where I ramble on without any real direction and hope I discover a point along the way. “How is that different to any of your other posts?” you ask. Well, screw you. You’re the one reading. In truth it’s because I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, and I’m keen to discuss it, but no really firm opinion yet. And I’m not the kind of person who would usually be described as lacking in opinion. Let’s start with a description of the concept.

Crowdfunding is something that’s not really new, but something that’s gained massive traction in the internet age. Essentially it works like this: Someone comes up with an idea that needs funding. They ask “the people” if they would support said idea by pledging cash. If enough cash is pledged to pay for the idea, the people are charged and the idea goes ahead. If not enough moolah is pledged, no one is charged and the idea sinks like a lead turd, never to be spoken of again.

It’s not unlike general arts funding, except everyday folk are approached for the cash. And the internet makes it especially easy with sites like Kickstarter and Pozible streamlining the whole process. People pledging money tend to get something out of it too. They can chip in a small amount just for the warm feelings of contributing to something worthwhile, or they can pledge more and get something tangible if the idea goes ahead. For example, if it’s an event being crowdfunded a pledge of a certain amount could include a ticket to the event. A higher pledge might include a VIP pass. Higher still and you get a VIP pass and a t-shirt. And so on. There are all kinds of incentives. And it’s becoming de rigeur for arts funding. Which is, on the one hand, great – it helps to get arts things funded. On the other hand, it’s fucked – arts things should be government funded anyway, but the sad reality is that they’re not. And they get funded less and less all the time. But I’m going to avoid a political tirade here and just talk about the concept of crowdfunding.

My first direct experience of it was with a Kickstarter project where film-maker Christopher Salmon was asking for funds to make a short film of Neil Gaiman’s short story, The Price. For a fully-realised animated feature he needed $150,000 of funding. Neil Gaiman himself endorsed the idea (which is how I heard about it via Twitter) and the thing went viral. The funding has hit $161,774 and the short film is being made. I kicked in and my contribution will result in me receiving a DVD of the film when it’s made. The Price is one of my favourite Gaiman shorts, so I’m dead chuffed about that.

I’m now directly involved in another crowdfunded project. The Emerging Writers Festival wants to run a digital publishing event up in Brisbane and they asked me to be involved with one of the panels. I was happy to oblige, but the whole thing can only go ahead if it gets funding from the people, as the government are so tight they eat coal and shit diamonds. The project has hit its goal. Sweet – I’m going to Brisbane. Here it is.

These are examples of great ideas becoming real because the people behind the ideas asked the public if they would be interested, and the public responded by making it happen. Kinda awesome, no?

But it’s gone beyond that. I’ve noticed several “name” authors using Kickstarter or something similar to finance a new novel. They’re completely skipping the publisher and using ebook and Print On Demand technology, essentially self-publishing so they don’t need a publisher. But, and this is important, they’re recognising the need for professionals in editing, proofing, layout, cover design and so on. All of which costs money. Plus, they want to be paid for their efforts. I know! Authors expecting to be paid! Are they mad? Yes – mad as a hessian sack full of Hatters in Wonderland. But then again, we all know writers are mad. We wouldn’t be writers if we weren’t stark raving bonkers. So these authors have asked the fans to kick in if they want to see the book.

This is truly the most democratic path to publishing you can imagine, as only those people who want to read the book will contribute. Therefore, if the total requested is raised, the book will happen. (If only trad publishers had anything like that assurance when putting out a new book.)

However, and here’s the real rub, those authors need a fan base in the first place. I’m quite okay with self-publishing and indie publishing, as regular readers here well know. I’ve had a varied path to publication myself and have dabbled like a mischievous sorcerer in a variety of methods. Any path that leads where you’re going is the right path.

paypalYet I know that some newbies in the writing game – and other areas of the arts for that matter – see crowdfunding as a way to get a start without having to work so hard. The trouble is, someone with no real following, without any proven track record or an existing fan base, will have a hell of a job getting any cash at all through a crowdfunded project. Like those self-publishers really nailing the market, especially with ebooks, who are actually trading on their past publishing success, only established artists are likely to get any crowdfunded money. The Amanda Hockings of this world are most certainly the exceptions not the rules, as I discussed at length here. People trying to start out will still be struggling along like tiny minnows against the flooding tide of existing artists.

Of course, you’re always going to get those who buck the trends and emerge out of obscurity like a lucky butterfly made of cash, but they’re going to be very rare. I guess it’s fair in some ways – we all need to work hard to get successful. I think there’s something fundamentally damaging about success that comes too easily. Then again, I work like a son-of-a-bitch and success is a slow burn for me. So maybe I’m just bitter. But people expecting a handout without proving themselves are unlikely to get one, and that’s where this is different from panhandling. After all, it’s far easier to ignore a beggar on the internet who wants you to fund their desire to write than it is to ignore someone on the street who’s really doing it tough and simply trying to eat. The truly destitute in society need our compassion and assistance. Would-be writers crying out online, pleading with people to pay their rent and grocery bills while they try to make a go of writing, do not. They need to do something to earn our attention, then maybe we’d be more inclined to throw a few shekels their way and see if they can climb a rung or two of the ladder.

It sounds harsh and I don’t want to be accused of ignoring the struggle of emerging talent, or stepping on people trying to get a start in this game. Thor knows, I’ve struggled hard enough myself, and still do. But I’ve mentioned it before, determination and hard bloody work are as important as talent in this game. If you can wrangle a few bucks out of people without proving yourself first, more power to you. I wish anyone trying it the best of luck. But don’t get shitty when you post a Kickstarter saying you want five grand to try to finish your first novel and get pretty much sweet fuck all. We’d all have loved five grand to finish our first novels, but none of us got it and we went ahead and did the work anyway. Of course, a few people do get actual arts grants for this stuff but, like the established writers making a go of crowdfunding their next books, those arts grant recipients had some history to prove themselves worthy of receiving said grant.

So I guess my opinion really is this – I see the whole new trend in crowdfunding to be an extremely exciting thing. Let the voice of the people be heard. It’s a great way to finance things which might otherwise slip under the radar and never happen. But I don’t think it’s a way for unknown names – in any field of endeavour – to suddenly circumvent that harsh crucible of slaving away at their art like a motherfucker while also scraping a living, engaging personal relationships and generally being a human person. Which is a shame, but I guess these things aren’t easy for a reason. I compare it often to my life as a martial artist, and like I often tell my students, “Kung Fu is seriously hard work. After all, if it was easy, everyone would do it.”

I’m certainly interested in your comments on the subject, so do chime in below.

And maybe I’ll see you in Brisbane!


Chuck Wendig – the writer other writers need to read

September 16, 2011

Chuck WendigHow do you like that blog post title? Make sense? It should, and it’s true. I came across Chuck’s work from a variety of sources, mostly Twitter-related. And I’m glad I did. You’ll thank me too. I take thanks in the form of alcohol and sexual favours. Or you could buy my books to express your thanks. See what I did there? What are you thanking me for, you ask? How many questions can I put into an opening paragraph? Shall I see? Don’t push me, punks.

Perhaps I’ve had too much coffee today.

Chuck Wendig is a “novelist, screenwriter and freelance penmonkey”. Here’s his bio:

Chuck Wendig is equal parts novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with wife, dog, and newborn progeny. His “vampire in zombieland” novel, DOUBLE DEAD, releases in November, 2011, and he just signed a two-book deal for BLACKBIRDS and MOCKINGBIRD with Angry Robot Books. He has two e-books available: a book of profane writing advice (CONFESSIONS OF A FREELANCE PENMONKEY) and a short story collection (IRREGULAR CREATURES).

“So what do I care?” you’re asking. He’s just making you jealous with his success. Well, that’s why you should read his blog and his books. He’s the hardest working motherfucker in writing, as far as I can tell. The man’s output is astounding. And he gives so much of it away.

I’ve got his ebook, Confessions Of A Freelance Penmonkey, and it’s brilliant. Packed full of juicy tips for writers like a teenage boy’s wastepaper basket is packed full of tissues, only marginally less disgusting. But you don’t even have to buy his books to get his sage advice. He tells it like it is, which is another reason I’m so enamoured of the man. You know me, I don’t like a pussyfooter.

He blogs at his site, Terrible Minds, and is famed far and wide for his 25 Things… lists. Here are a few of my favourite recent postings:

25 Ways To Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story

25 Things You Should Know About Queries, Synopses, Treatments

Twenty-Sided Troubadours: Why Writers Should Play Roleplaying Games

Okay, that last one isn’t a 25 Things… list. Sue me. Actually, don’t – I’m a starving writer and all you’d win in a lawsuit is some suspiciously stained old clothing. And no one wants that.

Yeah, I can hear the grinding of your grudging agreement from here. This bloke knows his shit inside out (don’t think too hard on that expression) and he’s willing to share it (or that). Get yourself over to Terrible Minds and share in the good stuff. Every writer owes it to themselves. I’ve got loads of good stuff out of Chuck and you should too, before the man is a hollowed-out husk, rasping in a gutter somewhere, sucked dry by his own generosity.

Go. Now. Become better.


Winds Of Change anthology trailer

September 12, 2011

My dark fantasy/urban horror short story, Dream Shadow, is going to be in the new CSFG Publishing anthology, Winds Of Change. The antho is launching at Conflux over the October long weekend. In the meantime, here’s a little teaser for it in the form of a book trailer:


New covers now and audiobooks for Christmas

September 9, 2011

I love my publisher, Gryphonwood Press. Why? I’ll damn well tell you why. Firstly, they’ve had new wraparound artwork commissioned for my dark fantasy thriller duology, RealmShift and MageSign. The books are contemporary dark fantasy thrillers, verging on horror, and there’s a distinct vibe to that kind of book developing. If you look at book covers from people like Jim Butcher, Jon F Merz and Lev Grossman (to name just a few) you’ll see what I mean. So Gryphonwood got fantastic artist Fiona Hsieh on the case. Gryphonwood  and Fiona worked very closely with me on what kind of imagery we wanted and I think Fiona absolutely nailed it.

Here are the new covers:

RealmShift MageSign

Pretty freaking sweet, I reckon.

Click on the images below if you want to see higher res versions of the full wraparound covers that will now grace the print editions of the books.

RealmShift MageSign

What do you think? I’m very interested to hear what people think of the new art, so even if you don’t like it, please leave a comment and tell me why. Amazon are being a pain and not updating the pages for the print editions, even though the Kindle editions, Books In Print and every other fucker on the planet has updated the images. But I’m sure they’ll get there in the end. Gryphonwood are on the case.

The other news that has me Snoopy dancing around the place is that Gryphonwood have negotiated audio rights to both books, and the audiobook edition of both will be available soon. RealmShift is slated to be ready in time for Xmas, with MageSign close behind. This is awesome news, as it marks a new stage in the life of these stories. And these are stories which really mean a lot to me.

The audiobooks will be read by Matt “Bentley” Allegre, a well versed voice actor who has done narration, character voices and impressions for radio, video and websites for the last ten years. I’ve heard samples and the opening pages of chapter one and I’m very excited. This guy has a great voice, with a really dark edge that suits the books perfectly. He’s American, which may bother my Australian and UK readers, but we’re all used to American accents anyway, right? It’s also worth remembering that Gryphonwood are an American publisher and the big market for books in any format is really the US. Regardless, Matt has a brilliant voice that suits the books perfectly. I can’t wait to hear the finished products.

So that’s my news, and I’m right bloody chuffed about it. I’ll let you know when the audiobooks are available.


E-book pricing – a rumination

September 6, 2011

There have been numerous articles, online and off, discussing ebook pricing and I won’t bother to list or link them here – I’m sure you ingenious readers can find them. So why am I chiming in again? Well, it’s a fluid subject, always on the move. More and more people all the time are taking up ebooks and it will become the norm. It’s impossible to put timeframes on something so variable, but it will happen.

There are several theories on how ebooks will fit into the mainstream. Firstly, it’s important to remember that it’s not either/or. You don’t have to choose. I love all books. I love print books and ebooks. The vast majority of new books I buy these days are ebooks, but if I really like something I’ll get a hard copy to go on the shelf. Or if a book is a particular piece of art, I’ll get it. I love getting contributor’s copies of books I have stories in, because I’m a vain fucker and like to point to the brag shelf and say to people, “Yes, I have work in all those anthologies. And those are my novels. Ahaha.” Shut up, I need validation.

I see the general breakdown of production settling into something along these lines: All new titles will be ebooks, some, especially from smaller publishers, being only ebooks. Alongside that I see a lot of publishers using Print On Demand technology to make paperbacks available to those who like them. And then a short run of actual printed stock, possibly limited edition hardbacks for collectors. That makes three primary delivery systems of stories – electronic, mass-market (though probably POD) and artefact. This is my prediction, but it’s not particularly relevant to this post. I’m looking here at ebook pricing based on the fact that ebooks will become mainstream and will eventually be everyone’s primary method of consuming stories. Don’t get upset, there’s nothing you can do about it. Have you seen Star Trek? How many real books do you ever see? Yeah, it’s gonna be like that. You can’t hold back the future any more than you can hold back the tide with a broom.

So, how should we price ebooks? I ran this question by the straw poll that is my Twitter and Facebook tribe and got some really interesting answers. Firstly, I’ll give my personal opinion.

An ebook should always be cheaper than the print book, by a fair factor. If most paperbacks are $9.99 or less, then ebooks of those titles should be $7 at most. If a book is really popular and in demand, like the new George R R Martin book, it can be more. The Kindle of that one is $17, which is fine, because the only other option is a $40 hardcover. At least, that’s true for Australia. On Amazon, the book is listed at $35 but on special at $18.81. Add postage to Australia and it’s close to $40 again. However, once the paperback edition comes out, that ebook puppy better drop to less than the paperback price or the publisher is taking the piss.

So, for the purposes of simplicity, let’s look at standard paperback vs ebook pricing. If the print edition is $10 or less, the ebook needs to be at most two thirds of that price. There’s no production cost once the e-edition is set up and ready. There’s no distribution cost. And there’s no physical artefact for the reader. Sure, we’re buying the story and that deserves to be paid for, but the item itself is also a factor.

“What about the poor starving author?” you cry. I am one, so don’t come crying to me. Of course the author needs to be paid and we need to value his or her product. But let’s not get all high and mighty without the facts, ma’am. Ebooks generate a massive royalty compared to print. If the author has signed a good contract – and they should be getting a new agent if they haven’t – they should be getting a royalty model on ebooks different to print.

My novels are $9.99 in paperback and $3.99 in ebook. (So reasonable I’ll wait here a moment while you go and buy them… got ’em? Good. You’ll love them.) I make a bigger royalty on ebooks than I do on print, even though the retail is less than half. That’s because the margin on print production to retail is very slim and I get a slim cut of that. The margin on ebook to retail is far bigger, often up to 70%, and I get a far bigger slice of that pie. Mmm, virtual pie.

So authors can actually do better selling ebooks for far less than print books. Right now, if I sold 10,000 copies of RealmShift this year, I’d much prefer to shift 10,000 ebooks than print ones, as that would pay me far more handsomely. And I do like a handsome paycheque. I would also love to sell 10,000 copies of anything this year, please tell your friends.

Personally, I’m against the popular 99c price point for ebook novels. As an introduction, or a special offer, it’s a good idea. But for novels I think it generally undermines the value of the product. In my experience, most avid readers will view a 99c novel with suspicion and expect it to be shit. They’ll often be right in that assumption. It’s important for authors and publishers to not devalue their content. As one author said, “If people think my novels are only worth 99c, I don’t want them as fans.” That’s a bit extreme, but he has a very valid point. If people aren’t prepared to pay the equivalent of a cup of coffee for your months of hard work, well, fuck ’em.

I have a novella available for 99c, which is deliberately priced low for several reasons: It’s only around 30,000 words, it’s available for free right here on this website and it’s a teaser, to help people notice me. I also self-published it, so I keep all the royalties, such as they are. Sure, I think it’s worth more than 99c, but I also think it’s fair to charge that and hope to get more readers that way.

So my thinking is that the sweet spot for ebooks is the $3 to $7 price range, with exceptions made for very special items. Authors will make at least as much, if not more, than they would from paperback sales and consumers get to read more and still value the work of the people they like to read. Given that paperbacks here in Australia are usually around $20, I’m actually happy to pay anything up to $15 for an ebook, but I really stop and think twice if it’s over $10.

I won’t name names, because I didn’t ask permission to use the comments, but here’s what some of the people on my social networks had to say on the subject:

I’ve paid up to $9.99 for a book a really wanted, but insofar as most genre fiction the price range generally is settled between $4.99-$7.99. A lot of indies sell their books at 99 cent, but I personally think that is a mistake because all it does is get the value shoppers and it rarely builds a loyal following. At least at the $4.99 range you have wiggle room to offer periodic sales and such.

I’ll pay up to $15, but only for something I really want to read. Generally $7-10. I tend to steer clear of anything at 99 cents simply because it’s so ingrained in my mind that anything priced so cheap can’t be good.

I’d pay up to $15 though the most I’ve yet paid was half of that. I love that you can get classics and foreign books, many that are not available in print here in Australia, for free or very cheap.

I think 10 bucks is reasonable.

I usually pay around the $10 mark – give or take $2-$3. Like others, I get twitchy if it’s only 99c or so, unless I know the author.

$2.99. Can’t borrow ’em out. Can’t resell them. No physical formatting. No shipping. No distribution.

I get uncomfortable with anything over the $10 mark, but have no real basis for that limit. Will pay more for favourite authors just as I was and am willing to pay for hardcover rather than wait for paperbacks for same.

$5 its a new technology.

I generally won’t pay more than $5 depending on restrictions. If it’s only a license to read (a la Kindle) I pay less

up to $10 is ‘buy without thinking twice’ & up to $15 is ‘buy at once if I *really* want it. Anything higher, I hesitate.

$6-7? Like to compensate author/editor for the work, but don’t want to pay non-existent print/delivery etc costs.

So from that selection of comments it seems there are certainly a number of things people still take into consideration and DRM is a big factor. But the general consensus is ten bucks or less overall, with a couple stretching out to a maximum of $15. Interesting times, indeed.

You’ve read my thoughts and heard a few others. What do you think? How much will you pay? And how much or how little do you think is unreasonable?



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Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

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