The value of your work

Lurk around enough writing sites, read enough debates about self-publishing, and soon enough you will run across people who claim they deserved to paid adequately for their manuscript.  Charging a dollar for their novel is humiliating.

I suppose it is.  You have spent tears and bruises to your ego to bring forth that baby.  And now people think they should get for a dollar?  Or for free? Them stingy readers.

There is just one problem.  Value, I mean economic value is not determined by the owner alone.  It is determined by the marketplace, by you and the reading public.  You could think your work is worth a 100 bucks but if no one buys it, you will have to revise that assesment.  Now you might think your work is worth 10 bucks but if no one cares to buy it then it is certainly not worth 10 bucks.  If everyone thinks your work is worth one dollar then it is worth just that. It might not be worth that much at all.

Of course there is subtler argument that if Amazon had not allowed authors to charge a dollar in the first place then the public might have been comfortable with dollar novels.  But this isn’t quite valid.  If you look at the used books section on Amazon, hell even in my neighbourhood thrift stores, you can buy paperbacks for a dime.

Would you rather have one person who buys your book for 10 bucks or 10 people who buy your book for a dollar?  (Ignoring the argument that cheap prices  are more impulse buys) For nobodies like me, I prefer the latter.  At least I can build a base faster.

You don’t deserve a living.  You are not entitled to get 15 bucks for your work.  You earn the right to charge handsomely for your piece of art.  So how do you earn your worth?  Write outstanding works. Note, even if you do write a genius work, the public will still balk to pay much for it, if they are not really convinced of its value.  Build a base.  Build a loyal community of fans.  Seth Grodin says, if you can’t count on at least 30 loyal fans then you must take a step back and rethink your work of art.

Art isn’t a basic necessity; it is essentially a designer good.  People can go without it. Many do not care for it.  So as writers, you must take care to build your brand and your name and earn your place.  Which means writing more, being more awesome, rather than whine over the public that thinks your work is worth less the price of a McDonald’s cheeseburger.When you can rabid fans, then you charge them more.  Just don’t gouge them.





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