The Fussy Librarian Reader Survey – Short Stories

Looks like The Fussy Librarian is sharing more results today. This time in response to short stories (classified as under 125 pages in this survey). As you know, I hold the belief that writers should be paid for their works, just as people going to their day jobs expect to be paid. Now how much a work is worth is up for debate. This is what I like about the Fussy Librarian surveys. It’s asking the readers, the actual consumers what they think their entertainment is worth.

Short Stories in Numbers

If we do the quick math on that with the standard assumption of 250 words per page, that’s about 31,250 words. The minimum to be considered a novel is 50,000 words or 200 pages. Keep in mind, 200 pages is a short novel. These days, I’m seeing novels running in the 300-375 range (75,000 – 93,750 words). In other words, the short story is looking at about a third of a book, if you’re pushing for the upper 125 page number. With that in mind, according to the Fussy Librarian, 75% of those surveyed read short stories.

The Results!

As a reminder, I mentioned in my last post that The Fussy Librarian revealed the $3.99 price point as the high frequency for eBooks with 55% of those surveyed believing that eBook prices should range from $2.99-4.99.

So what does the survey say about short stories? Well, 30% of those surveyed believed short stories should always be free. This kind of makes me think of the free pens with our logos that we give out to clients. We use the free pens as a way to promote ourselves. Likewise, many authors do the same with their works… the loss leader. However, a loss leader only works if you have a collection of stories to sell. Otherwise, the loss leader is just lost money. 🙂 And really, a loss leader is really a marketing strategy, not an evaluation of how much a work is worth.

So our paying readers… what do they think? The high frequency this time around is $0.99, which came out to be 43% of those surveyed. Not bad, I think, considering 125 pages is about 1/4 to 1/3 of a book. That leaves the remaining consumers (25%) in the $1.99-3.99 price point.

What’s an Author to do?

When I think of 30,000 words, I see it as quite an investment. It’s not like the 5-15K short stories I whip up with Control Freak that might take a week or two max for a first draft and a few more weeks to refine, polish, and edit. A decent 30K word story can easily take a month or more to write (at least for me). Then there’s months and months of rereading, polishing, and editing. We’re not looking at a quick turn around. The longer a work is, the more chance time investment it takes (exponentially).

Yet 30% is a big chuck of consumers who think that effort should be free. If readers believe smaller works have no monetary value, what can an author do? Well, an author can consider packaging their works… putting together a short story collection that equates to the size of a full length novel.

The Unanswered Question

I found it interesting that 30% of consumers thought smaller works (125 pages or less) should be free while 25% of consumers didn’t read short works. Hmmm. What’s the distribution on that? Were those who did not read short stories likely to think short works should be free? Or was it the other way around… those who consumed smaller works valued them less monetarily?

Questions, questions….

The Fussy Librarian Reader eBook Survey

The Survey

Recently, The Fussy Librarian conducted a survey in regards readers and ebooks. The Fussy Librarian was generous to post some initial data about what readers think are fair prices for a novel length ebooks.

Oftentimes, it’s difficult for authors to price their books. One one hand, authors want readers to download their books and read them. When the readers don’t bite, it can create a sense of desperation. Sometimes that desperation can drive authors to lower their prices to dirt cheap (and at times, free) in order to reduce the barriers of downloading their work. Other times, authors will base their prices on what other authors are doing or what others are telling them to do. In a way, it’s a bit of a scattered approach.

What I like about the survey The Fussy Librarian conduct is it takes some of the guess work out of it. Rather than relying on tidbits of information here and there, it’s going directly to the target market… the reader. What are readers willing to pay? And what do readers feel is a fair price?

Mildly Annoyed

I have to admit, when I first review the results, I was mildly annoyed. In fact, my husband (dear man puts up with so much), listened to my short rant about those who thought all ebooks should be free, and how I’d like to visit those folks’ place of work and receive free products and services. It made me think of the starving artist profession.

Then I had to realize… there are always those out there who expect a free ride,  may not appreciate the effort (or even the cost to produce a piece of work), or think in a way I can even fathom. Rather than be irritated with a bunch of strangers, whom I don’t understand, I should focus on the positive results of the survey… the parts I feel really pertain to the type of readers I’m seeking…

Those Who See eBooks Worthy of Compensation

I found several items about the survey interesting. First, the mode (highest frequency) was the $3.99 price point. For the longest time, I’ve thought $2.99 would be the mark. However, my thoughts on that was based upon the royalty rates. For Amazon, the $2.99 price point is the lowest an author can sell a book, while still receiving 70% royalty. Anything below $2.99 and the authors are put in the 35% royalty category. Likewise, anything above $9.99 puts the author at 35% royalty. However, few self-published authors price above $9.99.

In a way, my $2.99 price point was my projecting on the readers what I thought they’d be willing to pay based upon the lowest it makes sense for an author to price an ebook.

The second item which caught my eye was the skewed results.

Fussy Librarian Survey Graph

Approximately 55% of participants fell in the $2.99-4.99 price point. In fact, almost three quarter of those who answered the question believed $2.99 or more was a fair price for a novel. For me, that’s huge. I’m not saying my books are great or even worthy of the effort of downloading. However, to know that a large portion of readers value the work that authors put into a book (even at the $2.99-3.99 price point), feels me with hope.

It’s true eBooks are less expensive to produce than physical books. After all, you don’t have the printing, delivery, or even same storage costs. However, there are still cost-associated services which go into creating an eBook (writing, editing, formatting, illustrating, marketing, software, etc.). I’m going to go out on a limb and make the assumption that outside of the writing process, most authors would rather not deal with the rest of the book creation process. It’s work… and to be success (or even unsuccessful), it’s hard work.

So when I got over my initial disappointment with those who felt eBooks were unworthy of compensation, I was pretty happy to see majority of readers did not feel that way.

I definitely look forward to the future results The Fussy Librarian has in store for us!