V … is for Value

V[1] is for value. In writing terms it is also for vanity, vocabulary, voice, viewpoint, visual, and a few other very useful words, but today I’m looking at value.

Once again, I’ll use my own situation, which will make it easier for me to explain, and perhaps easier for a fellow writer to understand.

I spent a considerable time on both of the novels I’ve already got out there as eBooks on Amazon. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m a relatively unknown author. Like anybody who writes, I’d like to make money from it, and feel a bit more professional about the whole thing, but I’m also realistic.

How about an example?

I know a local writer, who we’ll imaginatively refer to as Mr X, who has two thrillers on Amazon, using the same route as me to sell his work, via e-publishing. I read his first book and wasn’t impressed by certain aspects of it, so my review wasn’t glowing. I sampled the second book, but even the first five screens were enough to warn me off. I didn’t buy it.

That author has a lot of self-belief, but I think he’s confusing effort with ability. I also know he wants something for nothing. By keeping my ear to the ground I know that there are not a lot of sales going his way.

You may think I’m being a bit bitchy, but please consider the following question.

Would you spend £4.99 ($8.00) on an eBook written by an unknown author?

For me to do that, I’d have to be impressed by the blurb and the sample reading. Mr X books are not value for money in my humble opinion.

Why do I believe Mr X is wrong?

Until we become recognised, even in a small way, we should be considering:

1.  The value for money for our prospective readers (customers).

2.  The value of our prospective readers (customers) budget for spending on books (eBooks or otherwise).

 3.  The true literary, and monetary value of our writing in comparison to an established author’s work.

4. The true value or merit, of our early works.

5. The value and credibility of our name as an author if we aim too high, too early in our aspirations.

Now, having listed those, I know there could have been more, but I feel that my short lists are more effective, because they both help my blog readers to focus, and to use their own imagination.

How do I deal with the value issue?

For any out there thinking, ‘this is all about his writing,’ and ‘why does it matter how he does it?’. I make no apologies. Anybody with a basic knowledge of our craft, will understand the marketing issues inherent in our solitary world.

We must employ self-promotion, as much as it goes against the grain at first.

To put it succinctly, although I use my techniques, and my book titles to create examples, it doesn’t follow that I believe I’m the best to give advice.

Okay, for any critics out there, that was my version of a disclaimer. I hope it was enough, because my big pitch about value is imminent.

How do I price my eBooks?

I maintain a reasonably low price for my eBooks, which is about half the price of the ones mentioned earlier, published by Mr X.

Why do I do that if they’re selling better?


 1.  I’m confident that all my new readers get value for money.

2.  I’m confident that I’m not asking much of a price for somebody to give my writing a chance.

3.  I know I’m not a household name, so I don’t try to compete with them (yet).

4.  I know my method is working, because I designed my own covers to start with. Sales of my eBooks have now paid for two of them to be designed professionally. That will I’m sure be a fresh investment.

5.  For me, the true value of patience, hard work, and not being greedy is simple; I am my own ‘brand’.

As soon as this post is published online, I’m putting together the final formatting for my first collection of short stories, ‘Smoke & Mirrors and other stories’. I’ll come back later and add a live link, plus of course it will have a place on my main menu here at Tom Benson – Creative.

There are 12 stories in the book, and it will be going out at a low price, because not every story will appeal to every reader. For now, I’ve designed my own cover, but that will change.

This latest venture I believe provides value to my prospective readers (customers), because of the variety of tales from an unknown author.

It provides value for me, because perhaps there will be those that enjoy my style and follow up by buying into my novels.

What price are you prepared to pay in £’s or $’s to try out a new author’s work in eBook format?  

My sincere thanks as always for putting yourself through this literary quagmire of fact and opinion. I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘W’.




15 thoughts on “V … is for Value

  1. bethaniehardie

    I agree completely with you. As much as I’d like to charge that much for mine, it is unreasonable to expect people to pay so much when I am unknown.
    For now my goals are to first get through my exams, and secondly to self promote over the summer until I can self promote no more!
    I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s post!


    1. Thank you for the visit and comment. I’ve found that the marketing is the hardest part of the whole process. I don’t lean naturally towards the social networking scene, so it feels wrong for me trying to ‘fit in’.
      I have to ‘work’ at entries on there that other people do by phone! lol
      You are doing it exactly right – concentrate on your exams, and then worry about the rest afterwards.


  2. A very good post. As someone who hasn’t yet published their first book, I am going through the hoops of traditional publishing v e-publishing, marketing and all the other things that come after actually writing the book, so having other author’s insights into this is great 🙂 Although I should probably actually get around to finished editing my books before I think about the next steps!


    1. Hello Princess, and thank you for the visit and kind comment. Now that I’ve managed to achieve sales going it alone, I don’t know if I want to even consider the traditional route.
      Having said that, there is a certain ‘erotica’ writer out there who wrote a particularly bad eBook and then ended up with a triology of particularly bad traditional books.
      Finish your editing and then have a re-think. Get in touch with me if you like and I’ll go into some detail for you on the ups and downs of ‘e-pub’.


  3. I’ve no idea what I’ll charge when I get there. Probably enough to cover the costs initially though it would be nice to think I could get a holiday from one of them one day. For now I dream of getting one far enough to publish.


    1. My initial aim was to get a book out there and it didn’t sell all that well. I am now a convert to the theory that the second book and all after will help.
      My second book ‘Beyond The Law’, has sold more and is still selling. The first one, ‘Ten Days in Panama’ is only now picking up, and it could be readers who bought my second book and liked it. Imagine that!
      Remember, if you ever need somebody to read part of your work, there are plenty of us out here. Just write the word …


  4. Definitely one of the more vital considerations when self-publishing. It does surprise me just a little when a relatively unknown author publishes a short story eBook anthology of say, half a dozen of what would be better described as ‘flash fiction’ pieces, and still wants to charge a similar price to that of an equally well written more traditional length novel. I’m not saying that a short story anthology should necessarily be as long as a novel, but neither should it be possible to read and finish in the time of a short bus ride either (I think this is something we may have touched upon at the conference). Before charging an inflated price, it’s at least worth starting at a relatively low price, just to see if people actually like what you’ve written, and maybe if it’s proving hugely popular, then think about a more appropriate price. In the long run, if a reader feels they’ve had value for money or thinks their enjoyment exceeds what they’ve paid for, they’re a whole lot more likely to come back for more…

    * Nice title by the way; I’m kind of stuck on title’s at the moment, and have thrown open the whole idea for suggestions in one of the FB blog groups. I was wondering what you would come up for ‘V’, and was really pleased when I saw what you had…


    1. Thank you Paul. Now on the subject of titles – if you are talking about your anthology, here’s an idea.
      Go through your list of stories and find a single story that has an appealing title, which would also lend itself to a good graphic. If you get stuck, drop me a line with the list and a brief word about each.


  5. angelawatt

    This is an interesting piece. I had a similar dilemma when I published my first non-fiction book on Amazon. I wanted the price to reflect what I’d put into writing it, but also recognised that I was unknown and it was my very first book. Good luck with the short story collection Tom.


    1. Hello and welcome Angela. I’ve got five anthologies of poetry on Amazon and I have them priced really low, because very few people buy poetry, but fewer buy it from an unknown.
      Thank you for the good wishes on the ‘collection’. It should surface on Amazon later this evening. I’m so excited. lol


  6. W. K. Tucker

    Yes, we’d all like to be rich and famous, but we all have to be realistic: it ain’t gonna happen–at least not overnight. I’m pretty sure “Carrie” was Stephen King’s fourth novel, but was the first one accepted for publication. And that was years ago, before the internet, eBooks, and self-publishing on Amazon. I’ve found a lot of good, self-published books on Amazon–Hugh Howie’s “Wool” series, for instance–and a lot of talented writers. But if the price had not been low, I would never have purchased said books. And I would have missed out on reading a lot of well-written, interesting stories.


    1. Thank you for coming by, and for the comment Kathy. I will be over your way tomorrow – promise! Yes, I’d agree with all you say here, and as you may know, if it hadn’t been for Stephen King’s wife – ‘Carrie’ would have gone out in the garbage.
      I’m also with you on the point of the pricing of eBooks. Not just because I keep my own low, but because I’ve learned a couple of lessons about trusting the jacket blurb on fellow ‘unknowns’ who were charging a little too much.
      I think in terms of ‘value’ this challenge has had it out of me – I’m exhausted! I can’t wait until next week when I can revert back to lots of writing and checking out the blogs (like yours) that I’ll still have listed.


  7. Julia Lund

    Once again, much food for thought, common sense and ‘no frills’ advice that comes from your own personal experience. I have really appreciated your posts during this challenge.

    Ps. managed to work out the paragraph indent stuff – almost went cross eyed though!


    1. Hi Julia. Many thanks for the visit and the gracious comment – and well done on the paragraph indent. You are going to love getting into the endnotes, internal and external links and … oh, it’s just so much fun. lol


  8. Before buying any book, I always download a free sample and read the beginning on my Kindle. If it doesn’t grab me right away, I probably won’t pay for it. But if it has errors or amateurish mistakes, I probably won’t even finish the sample! I think reputation is very important when someone is self-publishing. It’s important that sucker be polished and perfected…otherwise, readers won’t come back for the next book.



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