On Monday, I posted about authors making minimum wage. Mainly, I discussed short stories sold as stand alones at .99 and the stigma some authors get when confronted by readers claiming that that is outrageous. The link is above. My main points are that authors spend a lot of money and time getting their stories out and deserve to be paid at least minimum wage.
So, carrying on where I left off, what happens if an author works hard writing a great story, is active in its promotion, and she/he still doesn't make make much money at it? Don't throw in the towel. There is more to be done.
A lot of authors have numerous stories in multi-author collections and anthologies. This is good in that the author will get recognition. But, it is bad in that the author won't make money at it. Here we go with Math 101 again. Let's say it is a 20 author anthology and that the Press is generous and you get 50% royalties split between all the authors. If the book sells for $3.99, at the standard 70% royalty rate from Kindle, and if the book sells 500 copies, which would be higher than the average book, then the royalties for all the authors would be $697.25 and would be $34.06 per author. Chunk change. Many anthologies sell less than that, by far. An author self-publishing a short story at .99 would do a bit better. However, anthologies do gain you exposure.
I have enough exposure. Except for special anthologies close to my heart, I will not be doing any more. Not even with my co-owned Press. Under my new brand of Blaze McRob, I have 29 titles on my Amazon Author page, but only three are completely mine. Like I say, that will change. Immediately.
Anyway, what if you haven't sold enough books to get you to the minimum wage point that I discussed on Monday? Simple. You write more books. The more you have, the greater name recognition you have. What, you say? Isn't this throwing good money after bad? No it's not.Your new story, even a short story, will gain recognition not only for that one, but for the other stories you write.
Okay, you've written more and the money is still not rolling in. Another thing you can do is to put your short stories into collections. Leave your individual shorts up for sale. They are always a good sample place for new readers to find out if they like your work. I would suggest a starting point of around 10,000 words for a short collection, and I think you should still hold to .99. Keep an eye on what others are doing with theirs, however. At some point your collections might want to increase in price.
Unless you also write novellas or even novels, keep writing your short stories. People like them. Add more shorts and collections. You can make your collections larger. When you reach 15,000 to 20,000 words, I would charge $1.99. Once you reach 25,000 to 40,000, charge $2.99. At least. Once you reach this level, you will get the 70% royalty and not the 35%. Big difference. But step things up slowly. You're a little fish in a big sea.
Sometimes the little fish can charge more. I was doing a post the other day for a friend of mine who is doing rather well. Some of her new books are selling higher than I would have priced them, but she has a great following and her tales are super. I want to do a little more research into the subject and find all the pros and cons.
There is a new attitude towards books by a great many readers. If the book is priced low, some readers think the quality must be low. Readers are willing to pay a fair price for a book. Don't undercut yourself in the eyes of your readers. Write a great story and charge what it is worth. I should have a novel of around 300 pages coming out next month. That means I should charge $3.99 or $4.99 for the Kindle version. I'm going to charge $4.99 for it. Why? Because it's a damned good book and it's worth the price. This should be your attitude as well. If your stories are great, don't fleece the readers, but don't screw yourself either.
Another thing you must do if you want to sell books is to have a website. And on your website, you must talk about other authors, editors, and others. Mention yourself, of course, but if your website shows folks that you are genuinely concerned about others, people will find you without the chest pumping and you will make a lot of friends. Make certain you post your discussion on Twitter and send it to your Facebook page as well. Spread the word. And, don't worry if everyone else doesn't seem to be spreading your name around as much. It doesn't matter. You are doing what is right. Some people have real life issues eating into their time. Just be their friend. That should be enough.
That's enough for this post. I aim to make these helpful hints a regular part of my posting schedule. I hope you find some things to answer a few questions.