Price Points, Discounts, Sales!

Laura generated a Facebook post asking readers to pick either Three Fates or The Collector for a discussion. As often happens in the comment section some readers complained about the cost of books–why can’t I make them cheaper, or asked me to have a sale, do some discounting.
 
Is this aggravating to me? Yes, it is.
 
First, the post clearly asked for readers to vote for one of two books for a discussion. Second, while I appreciate a bargain as much as anybody, I find requests or demands or complaints re book pricing addressed to me, the writer, frustrating. Third, and perhaps most frustrating (over and above the fact I’ve addressed this countless times already) because I write the books. I do not publish them. I do not sell them. I do not set the price point. I do not decide when or if to discount or have a sale.
 
I sit here, in my office, at my keyboard, and I write. Period.
 
But then it occurred to me there may be readers who are simply confused, and some confusion may spring from the fact that many authors self-publish. When someone self-publishes, they are, basically, in charge of all. They set the price of the work, discount as they deem appropriate. They often give the work away for free, at least for a limited time, to generate interest.
 
If a reader’s surfing the web, they might often encounter an author announcing a sale, a discount, a give-away–and just assume it works that way for all.
 
I don’t self publish. I have no desire to be in charge of all. This is my choice. I want to sit here, in my office, at my keyboard, and write. Period.
 
Therefore I have no say–absolutely no say whatsoever, in the cover price the publisher puts on my work. I don’t want any say. I have no say when or if Amazon runs a sale, or when and if my publisher discounts my books in e-form. I have no say what B&N sells my books for, or Sam’s Club, or your local indie bookseller. I can’t tell them what to do, what to charge.
 
I can write the book.
 
I have no more control over this than I do when my books come out in another country. I can’t tell my Spanish publisher, for instance, when to release one of my books, or what price point to set.
 
While it’s weirdly flattering to have some people imagine I run all this from my office chair–or maybe zip around having meetings with all kinds of publishing, bookselling, distributing, marketing people, I just don’t.
 
To my knowledge no one who doesn’t self-pub has any control over price points or sales.
 
Let me add another pitch for libraries. They are the treasure house of books. Support your local library. They’re free! You can walk into that treasure house and choose a book, take it home, read it, enjoy it, then take it back so someone else can do the same. You can watch for your local library’s book sales, and buy books at incredible prices.
 
If you want to own a particular book before that library sale, try used bookstores, try flea markets, yard sales. If you prefer e-books, watch for sales at the venues that offer them. There are many, many ways to own a book.
 

Asking me to make them cheaper, to offer discounts, isn’t one of them.

PRICE POINTS, DISCOUNTS, SALES — the sequel
(added 2/13/16)
A little math for those readers who believe e-books should be cheap or even free.
 
The industry standard royalty on e-books is 25%.
 
So if an e-book’s cost was slashed to, let’s say $5. (Because math’s easier with 5s). The author would make $1.25 on that sale. The industry standard for an agent’s fee is 15%, so 8.3 cents goes to the agent, leaving the author with $1.16.6.
 
This doesn’t factor in any expenses said author might have laid out for promotion or the other business that revolves around the writing. The publisher would have $3.75 of that sale to pay for formatting, proofing, marketing, promotion (if any), distribution and all the other factors that go into it. They’d probably break even, maybe even eke out a small profit.
 
Publishing paper, audio and e forms start on the same road–with the content from the author, from the editing of that content, the scheduling, the generating of cover. Then the road splits off. One avenue for paper, one for audio, one for e. All those forms require work, a sales and marketing department, managing editors, proofers, distributors, book reps and on and on. All of them require that.
 

Publishing is a business. Writing is work. Reading should be a joy. But the joy isn’t free, and can’t be valued so cheaply that the creators of the joy can’t make profit or a decent living.

Nora

 

78 thoughts on “Price Points, Discounts, Sales!”

    1. It is insulting to ask someone to discount their work and art! I can go without that new tube of lipstick or that ONE Starbucks coffee if I have to to buy these books! They last longer, and give me so much pleasure.

  1. Most libraries have a reserve system that make easy to get book shortly after it is released. Call your local librarian

    1. At my library, if you register your favourite authors, you get messaged when they order a book from that writer. That allows me to reserve Nora Roberts and JD Robb titles at the same time the library orders them. I am usual 1st or 2nd reader on my fav. authors.

  2. I am retired, and so I do watch my spending. In spite of this, the books that I always buy to own are by Nora Roberts/JDRobb. To save money, I usually pre-order, as the price is less, or get it at Sam’s Club, where the books are discounted. However, even if I have to pay full price, the enjoyment I get from the books is worth every penny. People will often buy a coffee and a pastry and pay $10.00 and, though enjoyable, they are gone in a few minutes. For a little more than twice that, you get a wonderful book to give you enjoyment for all the time you are reading (and in my case, rereading). To me, there is no comparison, and it is money well spent. If you can’t buy all the books, the library always has them.

    1. I completely agree, I know that when I buy a Nora book I will enjoy reading and rereading for years in fact I have had to reorder some as they have fallen to bits, I also share them with my family and sometimes we go halves which keeps the cost down.

    2. Well said.. the biggest joy in books is the ability to re-read and revisit old friends. I’ve read the Born In series probably 50 times and still enjoy it every time I pull it out. I can;t say that about my favorite cup of coffee.

  3. I’m prepared to pay any price I can afford for your books…..I do understand, that you have no influence at all, when it comes to price setting and I don’t understand people who comes up with those questions………will you ask your local post office to lower the prices on stamps?

  4. Nora, nothing would make me happier than for you to keep sitting at your keyboard and write more books. You write more per year than any of the other authors I read, and still I’m greedy for more! The price of your books has never bothered me. I usually read immediately after release from the library, unless it’s something I’m desperate for, like Brotherhood and Mr. Mira, then I buy later. You just keep writing and I will keep being thrilled!

  5. People only see what is in their heads and not what is in front of their eyes. It is like speech, they listen but don’t hear. How could they answer you if they cannot understand the question?

  6. I love your books. I read ebooks and sometimes I have to wait a couple weeks to buy them because we’re on a fixed income but I do get them. Not complaining ? Just saying but my mom who’s on an even smaller budget gets books at her local library. They’re super about helping her. And as for Nora I know you don’t set prices just write lady write ?

  7. Why do people make things so complicated? Reading is a pleasure. Why is there always questions and demands? It’s simple, it’s a BOOK. Read it. Enjoy it. If you can’t afford or just don’t want to pay the price of a new book, wait or as you said, go to the library, hit flea markets. I just don’t get why you are constantly having to explain yourself.

    1. I agree. Move on people. She should not have to continue explaining this. Nora, continue writing the wonderful stories and we will continue to buy them or get them from the library. I appreciate your gift of storytelling.

  8. For the ebook crowd, I live in Oklahoma and we have Virtual Library access through our local library. You can borrow ebooks and audio books from this library while at home. You can reserve or put a hold on books and will receive an email when available for downloading. Ask your library about this service.
    I buy Nora Roberts and J D Robb books because I reread them many times, this makes the price quite reasonable. Thank you Nora for just writing your wonderful books as this gives us more books to enjoy. Many people can sell things but few can write as you do.

    1. Our library even has books by mail. If you put a book into your queue, as soon as it is available they will mail it to you. When you are finished, you mail it back – the mail person picks it up for you. Life doesn’t get much easier than that!

  9. Your books are the only ones I buy immediately in hard cover, the day they come out. Everyone else, I wait for the paperback edition. Even if I pay full price for the book, it is worth it, as I read them over and over. You have all my thanks and appreciation that you sit and write and release as many books a year as you do. Thank you, for bringing tears, joy, happiness and laughter into my laugh every time I read your books!!

      1. Thank you. I rarely do Facebook because my favorite computer is ancient and runs on XP. Going to facebook makes my computer sound like a helicopter and the pages load oh so slowly. Most of the time I can’t see any replies to my posts until I get on my laptop. I have a new tablet that I haven’t opened yet. Maybe I will like that one.

  10. Readers also have to realize that the relatively small price they pay for a book is quite reasonable for all the time, sweat, tears and swear words that goes into writing that same book. Your time is worth something also. As I am one of those self-published authors, if I had someone to do all the back door things I could sit at my desk and just write too. 😉 I’m still working toward that. Buy that book and support your authors hard work. Would YOU discount something that you’ve worked so hard on? When it’s fairly cheap as it is?

  11. Join your local library! I work at one and you can reserve books and read them for free. For books I want to read over again I will check out Thrift books .com, they have great prices on good used books.
    The In Death books are the only ones I actually buy on the day they are released.

  12. There are so many options that people ignore in favor of complaining over book prices. There are COUNTLESS websites that offer discounted books, there are bookstores with marked down books, there are used bookstores and there are libraries with free books. There are even Friends of the Library book sales and a HUGE one in OKC each year where you can get used books (I got several of my original Nora’s that way years ago) for pennies on the dollar. So many options. Personally, I love the big pretty new paperbacks that are coming out and will pre-order them from B&N and know that they will magically appear at my door step when they are released. That $20 is invaluable because it continues to pay dividends for years of re-reading.

  13. Wow. One like myself has no clue what it must be like to be so well known, and generous enough to be available to her readers through blogs, etc. I just hang out in my small world happily awaiting all new stories. Sending you a virtual hug and hope you find a glass of wine and/or chocolate on your weekend agenda. :=)

  14. I only wish my budget allowed me to buy all that I read, but it doesn’t so I am a regular at my local library. I am already 43 in line for The Obsession. Happy that so many people want to read Nora! But, sad that this far out I’m already pretty far down the list. lol

  15. I buy your books because I enjoy them.
    Usually one of my daughters will buy a new book of yours. Love your books and I have been reading them for a long time. I have hardback, tradesize and paperback. Sometimes people are so inconsiderate. Keep writing and your readers will keep buying them.

  16. I live on a fixed income, and as Nora suggests, I get my books from the library. As someone else mentioned most libraries have a reserve system and in this day and age most have them online. I have even suggested they order a book if it is not showing in the catalog. Sometimes you have to wait to read the book but I don’t mind as the wait is usually worth it. I was amazed that I got Brothers In Death days after it was published from my local library. I will say I hadn’t thought to check to see if the library was selling older copies of the books. Now I will have to keep an eye out as I do love to re-read all of Nora’s books.

  17. I just hope that you get your fair share, because without you and your talents the other arms of this process would be in limbo

  18. There also are Little Free Libraries in some neighborhoods,

    I realize I am peculiar, but if would rather buy the book, especially from a local bookstore, than new clothes…shoes being the exception!

    The book is never the wrong size, can be shared, donated, reread!

    And, above all, I do not want Nora to leave that typewriter!!!

  19. Thanks for the explanation. I use my local library to check out books on my Kindle and there is always a waiting list for Nora’s books but I don’t mind because Nora is worth the wait! I read The Liar last year and decided to purchase a copy for my sister-in-law for Christmas. Nora signed the book. It was worth every penny because my sister-in-law cried tears of joy when she opened it. Thank you Nora!! Keep sitting at the keyboard and I’ll keep reading!

  20. Thanks for the endorsement of libraries. They are a great source for books you want to read, either in print, on audio or ebook. Public libraries in the United States are mostly supported by your taxes, so you are already paying for the books available there. I couldn’t possibly afford all the books I read, so I am glad I can get them at my library. Take advantage of this resource available to you in almost every community. Thank you, Nora for being such a great and prolific writer. We are glad that you spend your time wrtiting, period. That way we have more great books to read every year.

  21. If you’re waiting for reduced prices sign up for ereaderiq and they will let you know when prices drop. I use the library for new hard backs. I don’t want to store them

  22. Your books are truly worth every penny, Nora! You are so talented, and I look forward to shelling out the 18.00 every time I know you’ve another book coming out! It’s a a small price to pay 🙂 thank you for the information though, it’s interesting to know what exactly goes on.

  23. I am glad that you don’t self publish and have to do all that other stuff. I would rather you spend your time writing. I know it is selfish but I can’t wait for your next book to come out. It would be extra painful to have to wait longer between books because you are spending time doing stuff other than writing. Thanks for sharing your talent with those of us who have none in this area.

  24. Thanks for another great post Nora! And kudos for the library pitch! I love books so much that I have a whole Nora Roberts section but I also enjoy getting them from the library. I also just completed a great purge of all my stuff, and realized I have multiple copies of some of your books so I have given a lot of books to GoodWill so hopefully a new person can pick up a book and have some moments of Reading Joy.

  25. Our Library has 2 resale stores that are run by volunteers. They have a hugh Nora Roberts section (most popular). Hardcovers are 4 dollars. Paperbacks are 1 or 2 dollars. You can donate your books and all proceeds go to the Library. They even have sales – 1 dollar for hardcovers and .25 for paperbacks. Everyone wins! Check with your local Library.

  26. The first Nora Roberts books I read were the Chesapeake Saga. I found book number two at a flea market and just held on to it until I finally found book one and book three. I loved the books. I wasn’t much of a reader before that. I was working full-time then and just couldn’t seem to find the time to read. Then at another flea market I found all three books in the Garden trilogy. I was completely hooked after that. I printed out a complete list of all your books and began collecting them from flea markets and Goodwill stores. I now have all your books and have read them all. But to get back to the subject being discussed, for the last three years I have been buying the books as they are released. I know places like Sam’s Club and Target offer reduced prices for the books. However, I have been pre-ordering my books from Turn The Page Bookstore. I know I’m paying more with the shipping charge added on but I love the fact that you sign the book for me and that it is delivered right to my house. No need for me to travel around looking for it in the store. I love you Nora! Thanks for giving me a love of reading. Just keep sitting at that wonderful computer.

  27. Having a friend in Calgary has underlined just how good we’ve got it in the U.S. Whining about that $7.99 paperback? She shells out triple, for the same book. About the same price difference for a hardback. She told me how happy she was to be “only” 150th in line for Obsession In Death at the library and cried when she got the audio copy of Brotherhood I ordered for her. Even paying customs, it was cheaper than what she’d have had to pay. Absolutely none of this, at all, is controlled by Nora. Kudos, Nora, for being smart enough to let someone else worry about it. Laura, if I say again I want to talk about The Collector here, does it count as two votes? 😉

  28. The things that people find to complain about! It is your world Nora and I don’t blame you for letting others do the work to free up your time to do what you enjoy doing, writing. I buy when I can and save for when I can’t. I am always on the lookout for your new releases so I can enjoy your work.
    I am sorry that you and Laura have to deal with so many irritating details such as complaints. Just hang in there and continue to write all of your fascinating books!

  29. Agree! If you can’t afford to go buy a book go to the library. One other comment- quality is worth paying for. Thanks Nora for your amazing books!

  30. I guess when you are in the public arena, like Nora, you are a prime target for complaints.Please shrug them off- there will always be people that need something to complain about.It’s interesting to see how many people are in my boat. As I’m also semi-retired, I watch what I spend. I go the the library, & add my name to the long Nora list. The only books I buy, on the day they come out (also go to Target or Amazon )are the ID books. As I reread them often, they are worth every penny. Instead of complaining, they should be grateful that you are such a prolific writer.

  31. I buy all the books… I consider the books and the pretty book cases that hold them part of my décor! lol… I do know a few people who are not able to afford their own books, so if I see one of them at work in the lunch room, I always offer to lend them the book.. I have a couple of very happy co-workers and they always bring the books back so it is all good! I don’t even look at the price… if it is a Nora/JD book I don’t own, I just buy it! I re read all of them over and over so it is totally worth the cost to me and because, of course, Nora just doesn’t write fast enough for me! lol!!

  32. I patient sit and my hrs range from 17 – 24 hrs a week making $10 an hr. I put back money each week so that I can buy your newest In Death books. I order them from TTP because, not only do I want to support the store, but they have just about everything Nora & JD. People have a lot of nerve to ask for discounts or lower prices. if you really want the book, save up, then purchase it.

  33. I usually get the new In Death books at the library. I chose to not buy hardback books. I buy the paperbacks and reread them when they come out.

  34. I have no complaints, I buy your books as fast as you release them and have scoured the Internet and libraries for those titles I am missing, thank you for all the time you sit at your desk , your stories are wonderful interludes. Almost like Friends that I revisit when I have a yen. Whatever the price they are worth it.

  35. For any of Nora’s current publications, I pay full price (whatever that is) when they first come out as I don’t care to wait for sales, I want to read them right away. I’m impatient like that. That being said, I do watch for sales on e-versions of her older titles that I don’t already have.

  36. its just like asking the Cashier at the Grocery store to lower the price on an item. We didn’t set them either. I know some authors give away free books through their web pages or facebook pages but not all, not even most so get over your self people. books are what they are. Try paying for school books at up to $500 a piece for books you don’t even want to read. Then you will not feel so bad about a $30 Canadian book you love.

    1. I had to comment on that. AMEN!! I just paid almost $600 for the school books I need this just for the first half of the semester and I’m not excited about reading ANY of them! Much happier to spend the money on a NR I can read multiple times and enjoy each and every one.

      1. In one of my classes second year the whole class thought the Prof. was a god because he had chosen a text book. When he found out that the book store was going to charge $250 each he sent them all back. He then chose a new book costing about $80. It was actually an easier to read and understand book as well.

  37. Thank you for giving a shout out to the local libraries! I frequent mine often, as well as the used book store down the street. Not only can I find books there, I can also take books and resale for either cash or credit. I, like so many have already mentioned, pay full price for new releases by my favorite authors, which of course includes Nora Roberts! But I actually discovered her books by purchasing Montana Sky at my local used book store. I have been a fan since that day!

  38. Please just continue sitting at your keyboard and writing.
    And your books are no more or less expensive than any other books.

  39. The value I receive for the hours of pleasure reading Nora’s books are more than worth the price I pay for them. And the more I read them, the price per read goes down! I, like the others, would much rather have Nora sitting at the computer writing more books than working the business. Writing is what she is good at. Leave the business side to the business whizzes!

  40. Nora, your books have saved my sanity many times, since I first became addicted to them after reading Irish Thoroughbred (which I found at a garage sale many years ago). Trust me, the psychological effect they have make the books worth every penny. I have reread many of your books again and again. I believe I own just about everything you’ve published ..I keep checking your booklist to make sure I haven’t missed any. For me, the expensive part is finding space to store them all ..I’m not parting with any of them. When the first book of a trilogy comes out, I have to wait until I have all three of them before I start reading because I just can’t wait until the next one once I get into the story. The JD Robb books’ characters have become a family to me …I look forward to reading about each and every one of them. I would love to see a TV series about them ..but I think casting Roarke would be a real challenge ..we all have our own fantasies of that Irish gem, but I dream on. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I laugh out loud (which can be a little embarrassing in public)…it’s all worth it. Thank you so much for sharing your imagination with the billions of people who read your books, at whatever price …there’s always a few sour notes in an audience that size, I guess. Take care, and thanks again.

  41. Speaking for myself and this is totally selfish on my part…please just continue to stay in your office at that keyboard as much as possible!!! Thank goodness you do it as much as you do.

  42. I have loved you since day one. While working (before forced retirement) I bought your hardcovers and new paperbacks. They were for my bookshelf. I would order them also on Kindle so I could carry them around easier. My hardest thing is waiting on the trilogies. I save them until I have all them and read them all at once. I’ve ordered them from TTP. Now I’m in retirement, I don’t see that changing. People need to get over it. If you love reading them, then you buy them. Get over it.

  43. I have bought them in book & electronic form. I also borrow from the library. I appreciate your imagination & writing Nora. Thank you for putting in a word about the library. Even with a wait list you will get the book from the library.

  44. Thank you for taking the time out of your extremely busy schedule to address this issue. I love your books and have been reading them since my kids were babies, when I would hit flea markets, used bookstores, garage sales, etc to get my hands on them. Now times aren’t quite so hard, but I can’t buy every book I want, yet my now 21 year old will call me on release day and tell me her iPad is broken because the new book didn’t load. Whenever I have a question regarding prices and/or sales I contact Penguin and complain. I would like you firmly behind the typewriter busily completing my next can’t put down read!

  45. Libraries are food for our soul. Since i have mobility issues I miss going to their shelves but now I can get on their website and order my books. Yours Nora. I buy. I reread them all the time, but the one that is my go to book is ” whiskey Beach”. I love the setting and the characters. Thank you for sharing your great gift with us.

  46. Just want to say thank you for writing every book that you have, and continuing to write even more. I have found your books in many places and countries, and paid whatever the marked prices said in order to enjoy the worlds you so creatively create.
    So, many, many thanks! Keep writing, and we’ll keep buying!

  47. Just an FYI, Audible is having a half price sale on ALL romances until February 15th. Good time to get some of the Nora books I didn’t have already.
    Thank you Nora for all you do. Just keep writing and have a glass or two of wine and some chocolate for Valentines Day

  48. I think you are beyond awesome to even have this blog platform to talk to us!!!! I just buy your books on amazon. I love love love them. Even more, I might love the snapshot into your everyday life. Take care!!!

  49. One can also share. Thanks for all you do and write. It is appreciated far more than you may ever know. You have gotten many of us through rough times. Thank you, Nora.

  50. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that you don’t have anything to do with the pricing of your books. Or they should at this point.

    I didn’t read the Facebook post, but I’m guessing some of the posters are just plain old sick and tired of getting robbed for an ebook. You’re basically paying $14.00 for air. It’s frustrating from the consumers standpoint. It’s not your problem, no, but maybe they feel with enough bitching to you, someone will hear it. Of course, we expect to pay for the book, but no one wants to feel like they’ve been shaken down. And that is how it feels.

    1. Apparently everyone doesn’t know I don’t control pricing–and you may have understood that better if you’d read the FB post.

      I don’t understand how you’d feel you’re paying for air. E is simply another form of the book–same content, different form. I think many readers don’t understand the process of publishing in e-form. It’s not just a matter of snapping fingers, but requires considerable time, work, manpower on the part of the publisher, and the writer must be paid for the content as well.

      If I felt I was being robbed or shaken down when buying e, I’d stop buying e. Most libraries also offer e-books, giving the consumer the choice of borrowing the book for free. So, support your local library.

      Honestly, if a reader thinks bitching to me will change how publishing is done, what price points are set, they’re very mistaken–and that’s pretty much the point of this blog. I just write the books. That’s it, that’s all.

      1. I cannot believe the nerve of some readers. To complain to you about anything is beyond my wheelhouse. I wouldn’t dream of being conceited enough to tell you your business or ask for a discount. I love that you put out 4 books a year and sometimes a novella too!! please just keep on writing and doing what you love to do.

        iated that you
        like to sit and write

        1. Overlook the stuff at the bottom lol I’m typing on this little ass phone and it went bonkers ir should I say I did sonething to make it lol

  51. I also buy the Nora/JD books as they come out. I save up for them. I live in South Africa and the Rand/Dollar exchange rate is about R16/$1 now. So to the complainers before you complain next time try multiplying your price by 16. Nora thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work and dedication. You touch lives and people all over the world. I can’t wait for the next book and will buy it at full price when it gets released here.

  52. Thank you. I LOVE the library. I can request a book in either ebook or regular format and get it. Stop complaining about prices people and go to the library. I used to buy and when you move a few times in the number of years, you get tired of moving the books. So now I borrow from friends, that way you can talk about the book or the wonderful library. Support your libraries.

    1. I hear this a lot, and really don’t have the answer, except I believe the mistakes happen in the formatting to e-stage. I have to ask somebody in house who knows more than I do.

  53. I don’t quibble about the price of your books, as they are worth every penny! However, I am curious if the process is the same for an e-book as it is for an actual hardback or paperback book — in terms of setting the type, formatting, etc. I only ask because I am currently reading the latest JD Robb e-book, and have found many spelling/punctuation errors that I never noticed or don’t seem to exist in the actual hardback books.

  54. I was thinking you could write your next book longhand, and see how the whiners like the wait then. But that would be harder on you than them.

  55. I’m always surprised to see a proofing or formatting error in the e-book that isn’t in the physical book. Why would anybody want to do that process twice?

    1. The formatting is another process, translating the finished manuscript into that digital form. I honestly don’t know much about that process, but apparently somewhere in it, typos pop up.

  56. Well said!!! I would find it insulting after months of writing to be asked to discount, no books aren’t cheap. I go to my local library, I’m currently on unpaid medical leave and would love to buy the newest books but instead I go to my library to enjoy your books!
    I appreciate and enjoy your work & bs the work you put into keeping your fans updated! Thank you!!!

  57. My husband has one of his short-ish writings for sale on Amazon. He finally offered it in bound form along with the e-book. I had forgotten about that thing he wrote before we even met online locally back in 1994.

    His mind is a scary place!

    Anyway, he only gets a few cents on the dollar for each sale. Suffice it to say his warped brain is not going to buy us the house of my dreams. *grin*

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