EBooks are not that cheap when you’re writing from the heart

I was talking to a volunteer at the Cheltenham Literature festival yesterday who told me that it’s one of the only festivals that makes a profit because authors can be bought cheaply as they are promoting their books. In fact, there was some confusion at the Frankie Detorri event as people looked for a book and had to be told there wouldn’t be one until next year.

This made sense to me, that Cheltenham especially was used as marketing. Same with chat shows where celebrities go on to promote something. I’m not saying it is true, it was all in passing and I haven’t asked the festival itself but it fit with my perceptions / biases.

Reading this Deepak Chopra article though you’d think it was all doom and gloom for authors and that the eBook was the culprit because it’s a lot cheaper than other versions / editions. The biggest proof of this may be that the biggest release of the year, the Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling was in third place on the kindle list on Amazon on that day because rubbish such as the Expat was being sold for 20p.

Rowling, however, was certainly not discounted and nor did she need social media marketing such as blogger reviews. Allegedly, the Guardian reviewer, in fear of possible leaks, had to read it under the watch of a guard. The publishing house did not need us bloggers. Nor for Marian Keyes new book which was selling for £9.50 on kindle, just 40p cheaper than on hardback. I never knew until know that it was the immediacy of availability that cost so much and not the production process.

In fact, if the eBook is selling at the same price as the hardback, the profit margins must be hugely different. No publishing, material costs nor delivery to worry about with eBooks.

What we do have to worry about is the idea that there is something wrong. Chopra has written 65 books and behind his admonition of following your heart and do what you love, his text-heavy article is a nostalgic trip to a time where things were more secure. New writers would have to deal with a brave new world of insecurity.

But it was always a time of insecurity for writers. It was only ever secure for those best-selling authors whose advances were secured and now they’re getting knocked a bit because 20p books are keeping them from the number one slot and people are buying drivel like 50 shades of get a life.

So I did like Chopra’s point of write from the heart. He had other points too but ultimately at least you will have written something that you can enjoy even if you never make any money from it. My personal theory is that quality will always stand out but there you go. Maybe the second book can have all the marketing thrown at it.

** Look – on the day of publishing this post, the pre-order of Bat by Jo Nesbot on Kindle, is £8.54. That to me is such a large amount for a book which can’t be shared and can’t be passed on after my death.

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