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Author Katie Mettner

What is the value?

When I typed the word 'Value' into a stock photo website, I did it to see what would come up first. If you guessed money, you'd be right. It wasn't until the second and third page the definition of value started to branch out. It's a little what this post has to do with, money, but also, value. 

For the better part of two years now I've had many of my 25 published books priced at .99. The first of each series, the entire Kupid's Cove Series, and all my stand alone books. Why? I was being nice. I wanted to readers to find and enjoy my books. My goal behind writing isn't to make money, but to share the stories and struggles with those who need to read them. While the .99 price point worked in the beginning, it has come to be looked upon the same as free; low-quality and not worth spending money on. That is certainly not the idea I want to give new readers. 

As of this morning, I will no longer have any books at .99 other than the first in each series (Which still works to attract new readers), and any promotional books for holidays. (Autumn Reflections will be .99 for the last week of September and then Wicked Winifred will be .99 for October) All new releases will be preorder at .99 and go up to $2.99 after release day. The rest of my books will remain at the $2.99 price point as I feel this is a more than fair price for a full-length novel. While it may mean my characters can't win over the hearts of new readers who are afraid to take a chance on highly rated books, it will show them I respect and value my own work, because all my skin is in the game, not just $2.99. The book world has been so discouraging lately, I've wanted to give up, but unfortunately, the characters in my head won't let me. Yes, I used the word unfortunately. I've been writing for six years now, have 30 novels written, and still can't make a dent in the book world. Frustrating? Yes, until I remember why I write. I write because I love it, and if my books get buried on Amazon because no one buys or reads them, then so be it. At least I have an outlet for the characters who want to speak through me. (This is not some ploy to get you to go buy my books. It's honesty, which I think readers deserve. If good authors are frustrated and want to quit, then something is wrong with the industry).

All of my books will remain in KU, for now. Currently the program is undergoing changes and I'm not sure how long I'll stick around, but in the romance genre KU is important if you want readers. Its inherent problem is it takes all the romance readers out of the marketplace by offering them thousands of books for 10 dollars a month. When they read 30-40 books a month, you can see why they join. KU is definitely a double edge sword and is still a work in progress. 

There are some major problems with the indie book world right now. Here are the top 3:

1. Too many free books. Free is degrading the expectations of readers. When a favorite author is releasing a new book, they think. "Pfft, I'm not going to buy it now. I'll wait and they will put it on free for a few days. I'll grab it then." What was once a good marketing tool has become expected by readers. We have to stop giving away our work in some misguided attempt of luring in readers. Every free book I've ever downloaded is still sitting on my kindle unread. I always read the books I pay for, because I have some skin in the game. If you want to support Indie Authors, buy their books. You'll never see my books on free days as I've decided to stop participating in the system. Many will bulk at me, but if time is taken to think about it, the pattern is obvious. There is a reason you'll never see a big 5 book given out free to the masses; they value the work of their authors and the time and effort they've put into publishing the book. 

2. Too many box sets priced at .99. This tactic has been all the rage lately. A group of authors get together and write a short story or novel, they bundle them together in 10 or 20 story sets and put them up on Amazon for .99. If a reader is perusing Twitter and sees they can get one of my books at .99 or 20 books for .99, which one do you think they'll go for? This isn't even helping the authors who are involved in the book sets because eventually, when the set has run its course (and it will) they're back to trying to peddle their individual books again. Sure, they may garner some notoriety or familiarity of their name in the box set, but that's assuming the reader who paid .99 for it read all 20 stories (Spoiler alert, they don't). The biggest push behind these box sets is to get to 'USA Today Best Seller' status. While I know it's a dream of many to be able to put that above their name on a book cover, destroying the book industry to get there isn't exactly the way to go. I got an email the other day from a big name indie author who gave us all the tips and tricks to selling enough box sets to get that coveted title (which, in the long run, isn't for your work alone). As a group they spent thousands of dollars on advertising and gifting books in order to get there. THOUSANDS. That's not achieving a dream, that's buying a dream. This needs to stop, or at the very least, go back to what it used to be, box sets of books by multiple authors used for charity. 

3. Giveaways of 100, 200 or even 300 books for signing up for newsletters. I got four of those emails last week and three this week. The theory behind these is great. Get people to sign up for your newsletter (Spoiler alert, they unsubscribe immediately) and get your books out there to all kinds of people. I've done this, but we did it in a way where the reader could sign up for only the newsletter they were interested in and if they won a prize, it was only one book and only for the author they were interested in. Filling kindles with hundreds of books doesn't help anyone. It's just one more reader taken away from finding good books on Amazon while they slog through hundreds of books trying to find the ones they will like. These giveaways have become the norm lately and it's a disturbing trend. There are plenty of marketing tactics to get people to sign up for or be interested in books, but this is one that will only hurt every indie author in the long run. 

This blog post isn't meant to anger anyone. It's meant to educate and share with readers why, as indie authors, we struggle every day to get readers for our books. I ask if you do download a free book, please read and review it. If, at the very least, that was happening, then there would be some value to free. VALUE, is the point of this blog post. If our readers value our work we hope they share it with friends and through social media. We hope they leave reviews. We hope they buy the next book on release day. We hope they VALUE the connection they have with the characters. 

As for me, I've decided I have to value my own work because if I don't, who will?

Find all my books on my author page on AMAZON. 

Only .99c books on my dashboard:

Sugar's Dance (Sugar Series)

Granted Redemption (Northern Lights Series)

Snow Daze (Snowberry Series)

Calling Kupid (Kupid's Cove Series)

After Summer Ends (LGBT)

October Winds (Until release 09/05)

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