It’s bad enough to have “headdesk” moments around my creative output itself. I sometimes question my own choices, and give myself agita when my execution of an idea doesn’t live up to the potential I’d envisioned, either because the idea wasn’t as brilliant as it once seemed, or because I’ve reached the limits of my skill and talent. It’s hard enough to put my work out there for public scrutiny, even when I’m proud of the work and know that it will garner good reviews. But then I have to sell it, and a whole new series of headaches arise.
Figuring out what the charge for a PDF would seem easy, right? Look at what other people are charging for something similar, and stay in that ballpark. Were it only that easy. first, there’s my desire to present a sense of value. I know that I’m putting out work with little or no art, and that affects some peoples’ perceptions of value. I’ve tried to lowball prices based on that, only to have it backfire. I always figured that anything priced at 50 cents or a dollar would be an “add on” sale, that people buying more expensive things would grab an Asparagus Jumpsuit PDF as well. As it turns out, flatteringly, AJ products have been destination purchases, with people going specifically to buy something I wrote. Their concern (I don’t want to say “complaint”, because they’re not complaining per se) is that they don’t want to make a credit/debit/PayPal purchase for such a small amount. I’ve also, again flatteringly, been told that some product are worth more than the customer paid for it.
There are people who think some of our prices are too high. I understand that. They’re comparing page count with other publishers’ products. The problem, for me, as that I have a painfully accurate forecast of how many copies of a particular work I’ll be able to sell. I know how many hours of my time I’ve put into writing the product, editing it, doig layout, and in the case of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible works, making sure it conforms to the SRD and OGL. If I have any hope of breaking even, let alone making a profit, I simply can’t price things comparable to a larger publisher who can expect to sell dozens or hundres of times the number of copies that we will, and amortize their costs over those sales figures.
Lest you think I’m whining, please know that’s not my intention. I want to deliver value, but that means aligning with customer expectations. That means doing the best I can, and working harder to make sure that each product is better than the last. It might also mean helping to set customer expectations by being up front and honest about that fact that I’m essentially a one-man show. I have no staff. I have no budget. I will give you the best that I possibly can, but don’t expect that I’ll be able to give you the production value of a company with an actual staff and a real budget.
What do you think? Any other tips or information? Add your thoughts in the comments below. And if you like this post, please share it via the social media buttons below, so others can join the the conversation!