My Author Policies
Discover how I make my authorial decisions, if you’re curious.
If you have questions about how I price my books, where I release them, or even what and how I write, this page should answer them. If there’s anything I’ve neglected to answer, please send me a message via the contact form (on my Contact page) and ask me there.
In case you don’t read this page in its entirety, please note the basic rule of thumb on how I price my books is that I charge for my time. Depending on its size, writing a book takes many, many hours to research, write, revise, edit, evaluate, revise again, etc., and it’s time I keep adding on to until I can get the story into its best state, and even then I may question its readiness and drink too much coffee as I try to iron out the kinks. The short response here is that producing a novel is hard on both my time and psyche, so pricing it according to my investment is fair. When I first started, I gave away many of my titles for free, but that’s not a business model I can continue to live by. If you like my work, please support it by paying for it. It’s the only way I can afford to keep doing this, especially now that COVID has shredded my work schedule to the point that I’m bleeding again. Not everything has to be free, nor should it be.
Regarding Book Formats:
Almost everything I self-publish will get an e-book version that can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Rakuten Kobo (which includes Walmart), Google Play Books, Scribd (a subscription site), Smashwords, and several international bookstores like !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori. So, if any of these sites are your preferred retailer, then you should be able to get a copy easily. If you have another, more obscure preference, then it’ll be harder.
All of my released books will have Universal Book Links available that can take you right to your region-specific store of choice. If you see a book you want, click on the “Buy Now” link to see what I’m talking about (but you don’t actually have to buy now if you’re not ready). The UBL hub will also give you the (reversible) option to automatically set that particular shop as your preferred store for future reference if you want to shop for all of your books at the same place.
Note: I use Smashwords and Draft2Digital for distribution to most of these sites, if that matters to you. At some point, I may go direct on a few shops like Barnes & Noble and Rakuten Kobo. It’ll depend on what marketing options they give me.
The exception to the above will be any book I publish via Amazon’s KDP Select, which requires 90 days of exclusivity. These books will be available only on Amazon, and I’ll enroll them only if I need to diversify my sales a bit. However, the best way to ensure my next book shows up at your preferred retailer is to buy my other books at your preferred retailer. I tend to favor the stores that favor me.
For When You Buy: Please be aware that certain shops require specific reading devices to read their content (like Kindle for Amazon, Nook for Barnes & Noble, and Kobo Reader for Rakuten Kobo), but you can read just about anything on your computer through an e-reading app like Adobe Editions (for .epub format) or Kindle for PC (for .mobi format). Likewise, if you have an Android (Smartphone or Tablet), iPhone, or iPad, you can download the Kindle App or MoonReader (or whatever popular .epub reader is hot on the Google Play Store right now), or even the Google Play Books app itself to access the books that way, if that’s what you wish.
If you buy one of my books, but you’re not sure how to open it, then check out this link for instructions on how to “sideload” them onto your preferred device and open them with your preferred app. Any questions you may have about getting your e-book to work, this link should answer it much better than I ever could.
Note also that Smashwords gives you access to nine different formats, including PDF and Rich-Text Format if you prefer that for some reason. Click on any of my Smashwords books to find out which formats are available in case you want an alternative to EPUB or MOBI.
Until I can afford to buy a pack of 100 ISBNs from Bowker (for $600!), I’ll be limiting my paperbacks to Amazon, and I’ll make them only for works above 50,000 words (about 250 pages). Once I can afford to properly catalog my paperbacks, then I’ll offer them at other retailers like Barnes & Noble, where you can use your membership discounts or other perks.
Note: Two of my archived books, The Computer Nerd (2015 Edition) and Zippywings 2015: A Short Story Collection, are available at most retailers in paperback, but their pricing tables may be strange given how “extended distribution” through Amazon works. Once I get my own ISBNs (instead of using freebies from the now-defunct CreateSpace), I’ll have a more flexible pricing structure for paperbacks, and thus I’ll be releasing more of them. Stay tuned.
Hint: Buying my e-books will speed up the process.
Hardcover editions will be impossible for me to make until I can afford a pack of ISBNs. Once again, if you want a hardcover edition of any of my books, supporting my other work will get it to you much faster.
It also wouldn’t hurt to send me an email requesting it, as that’ll let me know which books readers actually want in hardcover format.
-E-books (Standard Pricing)-
Regarding pricing and availability for my e-books, certain policies may change under certain conditions, but as a general rule, I charge as follows:
- Books under 25,000 words: free to 0.99*
- Books between 25,000 and 40,000 words: $0.99 (or regional equivalent)
- Books between 40,000 and 70,000 words: $0.99 – $2.99**
- Books between 70,000 and 120,000 words: $2.99 – $4.99***
- Books between 120,000 and 150,000 words: $4.99 – $5.99
- Books over 150,000 words: $5.99 and up
*This applies to fiction only. Non-fiction and poetry collections will be priced by different standards. Also note that most titles under 20,000 words will be available for free on this site or Drinking Café Latte at 1pm because I can understand the hesitation readers might have toward spending money on short fiction, but I also don’t want to prevent readers from showing generosity toward financially supporting a title (or author) they like, so the retailers will carry them for $0.99 in case a satisfied reader would like to buy me 5% of a Starbucks coffee (after royalties are calculated, of course). Between 20,000 and 25,000 words, I’ll only offer samples on this site, but you can ask me for a free coupon at Smashwords if you really want to read the whole thing and really don’t want to spend a dime on it. Once we get over 25,000 words, you’re gonna have to spend something to read everything (unless you’re a reviewer, in which case I have a different policy, and you should keep reading to find out what that is). I can’t give away the whole farm for free. Sorry.
Note: I’ll provide one or two short e-books for free at the retailers to get readers’ attention, but I can’t do this for all short works like I used to anymore. I’ve found that readers who download my free books rarely come back for the paid books, and I can’t keep up with my bills under this strategy anymore.
**Books between 40,000 and 70,000 words provide a gray area for me. I feel certain types of works deserve a higher premium than others, so I may price a 40,000-word story at $2.99 if I feel it’s deep and life-changing, or a 70,000-word story at $0.99 if it’s breezy and fun. I think all of my stories are worth reading, so I do not price according to quality, but this is one of those cases where I might price according to the potential impact it can leave on the reader. That said, my goal is to entertain, not to make you question your life’s decisions, so most everything I write under 70,000 words will probably cost you $0.99 during the initial promotional period and $2.99 after the first week has passed. Note: Series starters will almost always remain at $0.99.
***Books over 70,000 words may get a temporary reduction in price during launch weeks and promotional periods (whenever I decide to have one, which is a fickle decision and not entirely reliable, so you shouldn’t wait for a price drop to buy the book because that book may never get one). Typically, this price reduction will be as low as $0.99, or perhaps even free, if I think it’ll help get more reviews early on. Otherwise, expect a minimum $2.99 for these books, with $3.99 being the likeliest price.
Note: I can’t price books for free on Amazon without submitting a price-matching request. Books that are free at most retailers will likely start at $0.99 on Amazon. But this doesn’t mean you should bypass Amazon. Even though it’s free everywhere else, it’s still just a dollar on Amazon, and every penny supports my work. You probably found that much during an average trip through a mall parking lot or by checking phone booth coin returns circa 1993. You could probably still find that kind of money in the coin return for a vending machine today. Don’t be shy. You’ve bought far worse for much more, I’m sure. How much do you spend on coffee a day? Yeah, it’s just a dollar. Buy five books. Then I can buy a coffee! Just kidding. Based on my royalty structure for $0.99 books, I’d actually need you to buy ten books for that.
Every so often I’ll release a story that breaks the conventional model as listed above. These exceptions are decided on a case-by-case basis, but they may have to do with the following reasons:
- I’m starting a series and want to make the first book more attractive by lowering the standard price or making it free.
- I want to get a boost in recognition, or encourage reviews, so I may price below standard or make it free to gain more readers.
- I set a presale price with the expectation of making a certain word count and somehow undercut that expectation or exceeded it.
- The book is something other than straightforward fiction and thus needs a different pricing model to justify it.
- I’d forgotten my own policies when I set the price.
Please note that I do not price according to perceived quality. I think all of my works should be bought and read. If I price for cheap or free, it’s because I really want you to read it, and I don’t want to make it harder on you to acquire it (or because it’s too short to justify a higher price).
Also bear in mind that I’m more likely to raise my prices over time rather than lower them. The best time to buy my books is when they’re still new. Cannonball City: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year One, for example, was free for almost a year. Now it’s $7.99. If you want a book, don’t wait to get it. Now’s the best time to add it to your library.
-E-books (Getting Priced Books for Free)-
This segment is mainly for the reviewers, but also for the avid readers who don’t have much in their book budgets but still want a good read.
Even though I would love a solid supplemental income to pad my already meager annual earnings, I care more about readership than I do accounted sales per download. I am also a naturally generous person. So, I have no problem giving away free copies of my charged books if you want to read them but can’t afford the extra expense. I am also open to giving potential reviewers a free copy. If you are someone who wants to post a review of something I’ve written on your website or blog page, don’t be afraid to ask for a freebie. In the latter case, all I’d ask is that you provide me a link to the review when it’s posted. Please be aware that any link I receive will get posted on the respective book’s dedicated page.
If you want a free copy of any of my charged books, send me an e-mail (in my Contacts page) with the subject line, “Requesting Free Copy of E-book,” or some iteration appropriate to your style, and let me know in the body which book(s) you are requesting, and if it’s for a review, let me know the address to your blog or website where you plan to post the review. I will offer you a coupon that will discount the book at 100%. Note also that requesting a free book does not obligate you to a review (we can have the best of intentions right until life gets in the way), but I certainly hope you will review it, as I am grateful for anything you can say about it. Writers like to know where they can improve, and I’m no exception.
Keep in mind that all coupons for free e-books must be redeemed at Smashwords. I do not have the ability to give away discounts or freebies at the other retailers at this time. I’ll update this section if that ever changes.
-Print Books (Pricing)-
This section is pending. As of now, I don’t have enough research on the topic to know how to approach it. Generally, though, I’ll aim for $14.99 paperbacks (for 300 pages).
Regarding Other Publishing Standards:
As of now, I’m doing my own book covers. If you are an artist and you know you can do better, I’m open to hearing your opinions on how to improve interest or visibility. If you’re offering to create a book cover for one of my future books, or to update a cover for an existing book, I’ll certainly hear you out, but please be aware that I do not have much disposable income for such a thing at the moment, hence why I do my own covers. That will change at some point, hopefully, but I’m not there yet.
Also be aware that I know where to look for artists in the event that I do want the help, so I’m likelier to go to those places first, but if you really want the work, make sure you tell me the name of your website in your email so I can see whether your ideas and skills are a good fit.
-Editing and Book Updates-
For the same cost-related reasons listed above, I do my own editing. Yes, it’s a no-no. Yes, I’m fine with that for now. I’ll purchase editing services when I start earning a better income. A much better income.
However, because editing is important, and because I often learn of new ways to accomplish that goal successfully, I update my books from time to time. Sometimes I fix a typo I catch. Other times I rewrite an entire scene when the current version doesn’t work as well as I’d originally thought. In some cases I’ll revisit the story’s tone. In rare cases I may even re-release the book under a new title and genre description if such a move is justified. Generally it won’t come to that, but it could happen.
I bring this up because I do announce major changes to books, and I typically replace older versions with those newer updates. Most, if not all, retailers allow you to re-download a book when updates are published, so please be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive notifications about any major update.
Note: The above description is a holdover from my policies listed at Drinking Café Latte at 1pm. On this site, I’ll be posting the updates directly to the book page, so be sure to check there before downloading a book you already bought.
Eventually, I hope to have something listed here. Even though I have submitted to agents a few times, I’ve never been happy with the drafts that I’ve sent out. They’ve either been too long or too underdeveloped, but never satisfactory to me. Much of that comes down to the psychological war I have over submitting what I believe in versus submitting what feels safest to the agents and/or publisher. I still haven’t found that happy medium, but I’m working on it. Again, part of my independent e-book journey is to gain the readership necessary to make a transition into the traditional print world a little smoother, should I decide to pursue that path again.
That said, I do have a few titles that I’m saving up for the traditional publishers. I may release them as an indie e-book if they look like they’ll never fit comfortably within their secure little paradigms, or if my platform never grows in spite of my best efforts, but it’s still my goal to try. I’ll talk about them in my regular posts whenever they become relevant.
If you have additional questions or comments, feel free to contact me.
Katniss in a box.