I’ve had a raft full of things to say about what’s going on in Indie Author Business for quite a while, but I keep shoving it down. Tonight I saw something that took my patience to the absolute limit—and with it, my ability to keep my lips zipped.
For the record, I don’t see a lot of this behavior coming from the traditionally published authors– although yes, there is definitely some (see Chelsea Cain– AKA An author I used to love reading). There’s bad behavior there for sure, but it’s not as in your face as what’s going on in the Indie Author arena.
In my opinion, being an Indie Author is a job that, like most other jobs, should be approached professionally. More and more lately, I’m seeing an alarming amount of behavior that is so far from professional that it boggles my mind.
Instead of being vague, I am going to come straight out and say what, in my opinion, the issues are. I’ve got a list. Tonight, I’m sharing the first one.
Yesterday a New York Times best selling author, Cassia Leo, announced that she is no longer going to publish because no one will purchase her books for anything other than 99 cents. (I’m using her name because she did this as a public post and this is not a secret. I don’t do vague- if I’m going to say something, I’m actually going to say it)
Here is the text of the post Cassia put up on Facebook:
So… I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not I should even post this (I’ve had a large portion of this post written since the middle of August), but I think I really have no choice. So here goes.
CHASING ABBY will be the last book I write under my Cassia Leo pen name. I will no longer be writing RIPPED. Since preorders are not charged to your account until the book is released, you will not be charged for your RIPPED preorder.
I’ve had an amazing time writing under this pen name. I’ve seen a lot of success. Unfortunately, the book industry has changed so drastically over the past year, and especially the last three months, there aren’t as many people who want to read the kind of books I write. And with so much piracy and so many readers refusing to buy my books unless they go on sale, I can’t survive if I continue to write under this pen name.
I have to do what’s best for me and my family. I’m a single mom and the sole provider/caregiver for my elderly mother. The changes in the book industry and the changes Amazon has made to its website have hit me and many indie authors hard. For me, that means I have two choices: 1) Get a regular job and give up on my lifetime dream of being a professional writer, or, 2) Evolve with the market. I’m not a quitter, so I choose to evolve.
I have so enjoyed getting to know you all. And I’m sure I will stay in touch with many of you. I will still be attending the upcoming signing events I have scheduled. And I will still be writing, but it will be under a different pen name (stuff that people actually want to read). I won’t be divulging that name to anyone.
In a few weeks, I will no longer be checking this page or any of my Cassia Leo accounts or group on a regular basis, if at all. I just don’t have the time to be a single mom, caregiver, and manage two social media empires. I’d like to give you all a few weeks to see this post or find out the news from your friends. That gives you enough time to send me a message (or bottle of vodka ) before I disappear. I don’t want any of you to feel ignored.
The UNMASKED series boxed set is being released next week at a special price of 99¢. And the KNOX series boxed set is going on sale for 99¢ on the same day, both for a limited time. This is the last sale I will ever run on any of my Cassia Leo books, so make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you get a notification when it’s live.
So… thank you to all the wonderful readers who have supported me over the past couple of years; especially the ones who’ve been there since CHASE. And the ones who go beyond clicking the buy button. To all the readers who buy the book, recommend it to their friends, and post their reviews, they are the ones who make it possible for us, the indie authors, to keep writing the stories you all love. So THANK YOU, thank you, thank you. A quadrillion times, thank you.
Yes—that happened. There are some issues with her assertions, and these are my thoughts.
Her new book, Chasing Abby, went on sale on Monday for 4.99. It was ranked #310 on Tuesday.
#310 is NOT a horrible rank. I’m going to tell you right now that the 70% royalty at Amazon for a $4.99 book is roughly $3.45 per book. In my response to Cassia’s post, I noted that the 300 rank wasn’t bad. She argued that she had sold less than 100 copies. Straight up—this is not true. Any author that sells books on Amazon can warrant a pretty good guess as to what the daily sales numbers are once we get a look at the rank. I know an author who is currently ranked in the #1,300 area. She’s selling about 100 a day. Being in the top 500 means that Cassia would have sold AT LEAST 250 books that day. Now here’s some math: 250×3.45= $862. I know many authors who stay in the top 2k on Amazon with a book or two—and they earn THOUSANDS of dollars a month. A hell of a lot more than they would make at another job. Cassia has a stable full of books. Let me be blunt: She’s making EXCELLENT money. Money that one could live off of- and support their family with- very, very well. Sounds to me like she’s annoyed that Chasing Abby didn’t blow the doors off the joint. Do I really think that she’s shutting the Cassia Leo pen name down? Let’s put it this way—I have no real clue, but I wont be surprised if she publishes a new book with that name. The woman has thirty-nine thousand LIKES on facebook and she’s a New York Times and USA Today Best Seller. Be logical—why would someone throw away those achievements to go with a new and unknown pen name?
For the record, Cassia has removed the above post. She did say that she gave forty thousand dollars worth of prizes away last year—something that, again, I find questionable. I give away A LOT of stuff… but I know that giving away forty thousand dollars worth of swag would be ridiculous. Do you think Sylvia Day, EL James or Stephen King give away FORTY THOUSAND dollars worth of stuff each year? I doubt it. Sometimes too much is too much. This is a business—treat it like one. If you give away forty thousand dollars worth of anything, you aren’t a business person and you need someone to help manage your money.
There IS something that Cassia said that I DO agree with. The 99 cent sales are a problem and it’s screwing everyone over. First of all, readers, you should know that when a book is 1.99 or less, the author only gets 30% of the sale price. That means we make about 30 cents per book. For this reason, I will never put out a new full-length release at 99 cents. EVER. If it’s a novella, sure! But otherwise, no. The books have to pay for themselves- editing, covers, promo, formatting and a ton of other stuff goes into each book. Average cost to publish a book is between $1500-$3000. The biggest variable is what type of cover photo you go with. As authors, we put a lot into our books. Hours and hours and hours and hours (are you getting that its hours and hours?) of writing, reading, re-reading, revising, writing more, editing, proofreading, editing again… etc) It takes a lot to put a book out and 30 cents a copy is NOT a livable wage. It just isn’t. That’s why the 99 cent price point should be used as a SALE. In my opinion, sales shouldn’t happen until a book has been out for quite a while. Consequences of Deception has been out for almost 8 months and it’s not been on sale yet. Will I eventually do a sale? Sure. But I refuse to disrespect my readers by jerking the price around on a whim.
My commitment to my readers is this: you can trust that I will not ever put a book that is not six months or older on sale. EVER. I’m supporting myself and my family, and I can’t afford to give things away. I think that’s totally understandable and, in my opinion, most readers get that.
As a reader, the 99 cent sales annoy me. Here are some examples of my personal experiences where the 99 cent sale has driven me bananas.
- I purchased a new release that was on the Amazon best seller list for $4.99. It made it to USA Today. The next week it dropped out of the top 100. The author promptly dropped the price to $2.99. Three weeks later, it was on 99 cent sale. Essentially, readers that purchased the book when it came out were punished. I thought that was appalling.
- I purchased a new release for $2.99. FOUR DAYS LATER it was 99 cents.
- I purchased the first book in a novella series for $2.99. Two months later… 99 cents. Now, less than five months later…. It’s permanently FREE.
Readers are experiencing these same exact issues—and they’re annoyed. In fact, one of the posts in Cassia Leo’s thread addressed this very issue. Her exact words were, “…I am part of a reader group and the reason why they DON’T pay full price is because they just believe you authors will reduce the prices to get more sales. It isn’t about not being willing to pay the regular price, but more about “why bother” because they know it will go on sale later.”
If you’re going to put something up for 99 cents… Don’t do it five seconds after you release. It’s a slap in the face to early adapters. There needs to be an industry standard—no sales for six months OR MORE. Period.