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Welcome, everyone! Here's where I blather about writing, life with my wife BA, and my two basset hounds! I love to hear from readers, so comment here or email me!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Valuing our work, or how romance writers get a little screwed

So, I was sitting at a reception at the UU church today, where I unexpectedly met a woman who runs a relatively well-known literary conference. She gets guests such as Gloria Steinem and Tracy Chevalier (Girl with the Pearl Earring). She handed me and BA card when she heard we were writers, but when we mentioned we were mostly e-published romance authors, the first thing out of her mouth was, "Oh, that .99 to 2.99 bundle crap? Or do you do anything high end?"

I get the .99 bundle. I really do. As an long-time ebook industry professional, I know that if you can offer the first book in a series, or a 20K short in an otherwise series full of novels, as part of a multi-author bundle, it will get a bunch of new folks exposed to your work. Hell, I buy bundles happily. For the reader they make the book budget stretch and allow us to try new authors with little commitment.

Still, I can't help but think of an old professor I had in college who doubled as an art and English professor. He often talked about devaluing art, about how people would exclaim, "My dog could do better work than this!" and about how damaging that statement was to the arts in general.

See, maybe the dog could do that. Maybe anyone with a PC and a Harlequin formula guide can write a romance.

The thing is, though, that it takes practice, persistence, and nerve to make art, literature, or music, whether classical or popular, and to share it with the world. So, we have to place a value on it.

Do I believe we should charge 15.99 for an ebook because that's what we charge for a paperback? Heck, no. But I do cringe when I see someone complain that they paid 1.99 for a lousy 5000 word story. Ouch. I mean, I wrote it. I didn't think it was lousy. Neither did the reader. They loved the story, but doesn't that author know they can get a bundle for .99?

So many people already question the validity of writing and reading romance. As a genre, we get the pats on the head, the sorrowful chin waggle. Our local indie bookstore here in Albuquerque has a mystery section. Horror, sci fi. Not romance, even though we account for fully a quarter of all books sold in the world every year.

So, I have to wonder. If we don't put a higher value on our genre, on our work, how will anyone else?




Sara York said...

Jealousy is a hard thing for some people to get over. Romance sells. People make money at romance. Our books outsell all other genres. It's real literature. If people are blind to the good romance does, maybe they are jealous because they don't understand human emotions (I feel very sorry for those people), or they wish their books sold as well. I'm proud of writing romance. And not everyone can write. Even when they study, have the harlequin guide, and work at it they still fail. Writing a book is hard and kudos to all the romance writers out there who finish one, even a 5000 word romance! You Go Girl!

Amanda Young said...

I have to admit, I cringe every time I see those 300,000 word count bundles being sold for .99 cents. As a reader, I love a good deal and snatch them up. As an author myself, I know the writer's intentions behind the value price. However, I do worry we're cutting our own throats in an effort to promote ourselves. It's a catch 22.

Julia said...

Thanks, Sara. I try to see both sides, but sometimes I want to stomp and roar ;)

Julia said...

Amanda. It is. I'm about to put one out limited time for a publisher anniversary, but I'm seriously conflicted ;) Is it bad business or good promo? Ahhhh