On occasion, I get requests from readers asking if they can pay me for one of my freebie ebooks because they enjoyed it so much. However, since placing my stuff on WattPad, the requests have become more frequent. I also have gotten messages telling me that $3.99 was too cheap for the enjoyment I gave a reader and could they send me more money.
Which has brought up some interesting things in my mind. Ebooks have made it possible for indies, like me, to write and sell digital copies of my books. Books that otherwise probably wouldn’t be available to the public or if they did, they wouldn’t be available in this form (there would be changes to the basic structure of the stories). We can also charge less than traditionally published authors. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship; I write, people pay me to read the books, so that I can afford to write more, so that they can read more…
Writers show their appreciation of readers by writing more, publishing more, and publishing high quality work. I, personally, offer freebies and discounted books. There’s a reason all the Dysfunctional Chronicles are $0.99 and it isn’t just because they are novellas. It’s because it’s a fun series that I don’t expect to pay my bills. I want people to read it and have a good chuckle, maybe smile for the rest of the day, and in the end, it cost them about a buck – win for me, win for the reader. When I get further along in the Dreams and Reality novels, there will be more freebie and discounted ebooks made available. Because while I like making money, I also like making ebooks cheap and affordable.
However, a reader recently told me I needed a GoFundMe page so that they could “tip” me because my books were underpriced. The concept of a reader being able to show their appreciation to an author in ways other than just leaving a review is an intriguing concept. Smashwords already has a “Let the reader set their own price” function, but they do that before they read the book, not after. What if there was a way for a reader to go “I loved this series and it cost me $35 for 11 ebooks, I’d like to give the author another $5 because the first two were free” and they could give us that $5. Because that is exactly what I’ve had readers ask me. Or they say things like “your books should be X amount of dollars each, so I’d like to give you an extra $15, even though I’ve already paid X for the series so far.” The best so far has been “I pay an average of $9.99 for Koontz’s ebooks and I enjoy yours just as much, even if I could just add $2 to the price of each ebook, I would feel better, because right now, I feel like I’m stealing from you.”
I’ve always thought of writing as an art industry, but perhaps readers are correct and it’s both an art industry and a service industry. Authors do provide readers with something that gives them pleasure after all. Maybe we should come up with a way for readers to give us tips if they so desire. Every author could set up a GoFundMe page or something and put the link in the back of the book.
I don’t know, it’s a complicated issue because I have mixed feelings about it. I love getting the messages, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to know that someone has enjoyed my books that much. But actually taking extra money for it sounds weird.