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Pay-What-You-Want?

I am curious what readers think of a pay-what-you-want model. I've been listening to a speaker who did a payment model on his series, which allowed me to partake where otherwise I would have deemed it too expensive. For me, I give a lot of stuff away, which maybe people would be tickled to give me a couple of bucks toward my expenses.

But is Pay-What-You-Want too daunting? Like, "Eh, I need to make a concrete decision about how much I value this and I guess I just won't get it at all." Which I something I can totally see myself saying.

What do you guys think? If I said, "Here's a 10,000 word story, pay what you want," would you view it as a positive or a negative?

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( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
cdn_tam
Aug. 1st, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
That's kind of like on-line shareware. Is it a model that works long-term? I'm not sure, I've never looked into it, I've also never paid for any shareware out there. Hmmm.

I think so much in this case depends on personal relationship for me. I know you, I know how much time and effort you put into your product and that it pays your bills so I'm more likely to pay for your product than a total stranger who is offering something similar, simply because I don't have a personal connection to them. I don't see the relationship between my not paying (or grossly underpaying) and the person on the other end of the transaction. It does seem like a pretty risky idea if you depend on whatever it is you are offering for your livelihood.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
Yes, I think it depends on the relationship too. Though I do tend to pay for electronic stuff I think is reasonable (ie a few bucks). I'm thinking about some Photoshop brushes I could have downloaded for free but they were only a couple of bucks apiece, so I figured it was a good idea to compensate the artist. That way she could make more brushes.

But I agree, I wouldn't base my entire livelihood off "yeah, whatever, throw a few crusts in my bowl and I'll smile and pretend I'm not starving."
theofenraven
Aug. 1st, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
Back when I was reading Tarot cards for fun and no profit, I tried this. Turned out people paid the least amount they could, like $1. Get a hundred of those a day and you're doing okay. Get five and you starve.

I wouldn't do it again.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
It might be that earning $20 for something I would have done for free is better than nothing.
Cris Stanfill
Aug. 1st, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
I think it's a lovely idea, but these days people expect so much art for free that I don't think you'd be happy with the results. I'm the one that actually pays for free online software, but I think I'm the exception.

What might work is if you have a "pay what you want" button online next to the things you'd ordinarily give away for free. At least that would give you an idea of whether people would pay a dollar or two without it hitting your wallet too hard. And if it does work, maybe you can reduce the cost of your regular books. I'm sure you've read some of the Eisler/Konrath discussions and while people will take take take if something is free, they will also buy buy buy if something is cheap.

Pretty much anytime I see a good review and the book is under $3, I'll buy it. If it's 99c, I'll buy it if the blurb is decent. Konrath has made a lot of money on 99c books. But there are dozens of $8/$9/$12 books that I REALLY want, but as fast as I read, I just can't justify the expense.

So there you are, free advice, fwiw. I'll send you a paypal link ;)
jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
Ha ha, that's your 2¢ of advice ;-)

I was actually thinking of a "pay what you want" next to something I was planning on making free. If you pay a buck or two, fabulous. If not, that's all good, I hope you enjoy it anyway.

I probably wouldn't even bother, except that I've been really enjoying this speaker series that would have been out of my range otherwise. And I actually don't think all art should be free. After all, the creators spend their time on it, and time is worth something. They could be using that time to work a job-job.
(no subject) - Cris Stanfill - Aug. 2nd, 2012 02:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jordan_c_price - Aug. 2nd, 2012 02:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Cris Stanfill - Aug. 2nd, 2012 03:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)
I'm not a fan of consumer-picks-price
The seller should pick a reasonable price, IMHO. I suspect I would lowball it, without meaning to, or I'd get frustrated and annoyed. I dunno. ;-)

I agonize over Kickstarter stuff, darnit (too much choice...how much do I want it versus what's it worth versus how strongly do I want to support it etc.). I know it's different, but kinda relevant, methinks. (I've only supported a handful of Kickstarters--ones I was very interested in, mostly.)

Also I recommend "Here's a 10,000 word novelette" ;-) so it sounds more impressive. Some people (like me!) have no clue how long story types are. "Wow a short story, well an anthology is like $7-$8 so one story should be...50 cents?" No, I think more than that, but see how tough it is? If you make me decide, you may get less because I overcompare.

Okay, I'm rambling. Also, obsessive. ;-)

Kendall
jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:48 am (UTC)
Re: I'm not a fan of consumer-picks-price
I so get this, because my mind works this way too. Except that I've never joined in a kickstart dealie, probably because there are too many levels and choices. Also when you start saying, "For X-dollars you get a such and such, but for XX dollars you get a whatever..." it starts feeling more like a purchase and less like a donation/karma-funding. I might be more apt to click on, "Send me $5 for my project because I'm your pal."

I would put a "recommended price" of $1.99 but pay what you want-- with the assurance that zero is fine with me, I want you to enjoy the story.
Re: I'm not a fan of consumer-picks-price - deborak - Aug. 2nd, 2012 01:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm not a fan of consumer-picks-price - (Anonymous) - Aug. 3rd, 2012 07:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
I have to agree that pay-what-you-want might not be great in the long term. I'm one of the fans paying for the Turbulence series through Amazon...not only does it automatically download, but I also hope that a bit of money you weren't counting on will encourage you to keep writing serial fiction. Very selfish reasons actually.

My ideal price range for ebooks (the range I will instantly buy a book I really want) is about $1 per every 15,000-20,000 words. That's not set in stone, and I often happily pay more for an author on my list of favorites...like you.

Having the option for something you would give away for free anyway sounds like a fantastic idea. As an alternative, keep a few free reads, and add the pay-what-you-want model for a limited number of stories where $0 is not an option. That would mean three categories: full price, free, and pay-what-you-want.

It sounds like a fantastic way to draw people to your writing, and it wouldn't hurt you at all if you weren't counting on profit from those stories. I'm very invested in you making a profit because you're much more likely to continue writing wonderful, unique characters for me to read!

Kristi P
jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:53 am (UTC)
I agree, in the long-term it would be too scary to go with, "Yeah, pay me whatever, I don't need money, I live off rainbows and unicorn farts!"

But I would like to give readers the chance to pay me a buck or two for something I would give them for free, to support my basic needs as I devote all my time to the free stuff. Like you paying the $1.99 at Amazon for Turbulence!

Still, I'd hate to turn too many people off by adopting a pay-what-you-want model, for instance on Turbulence, which has been free prior to now.

I could also try something like putting a paid version together at the end. However my numbers where I've tried this on other titles suggest most people will do the free thing and ignore the pay thing. Even people who might normally buy something.

thistlethorn
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:52 am (UTC)
I think I'd feel too worried about being presumptuous at deciding on the value of another artist's work in terms of what I can afford. I have almost no income and yet I'm able to buy a lot of your e-books because the prices are so reasonable and I'm able to earn Amazon gift certificates without spending a dime through reward programs like Swagbucks and MyPoints.

Still, that's just my situation. It might be worth experimenting with one or two works that seem likely to already have a readership, to see if it's better or worse in the end, financially.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:55 am (UTC)
Oh, I'd hate to just have to pull a price out of the air myself, and i'd probably high-ball it out of some kind of guilt. I'd have a suggested price listed to ensure people didn't feel too dismayed by the blank pay-space.

I would really like to experiment, though I worry about offending.
(no subject) - thistlethorn - Aug. 2nd, 2012 01:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jordan_c_price - Aug. 2nd, 2012 01:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thistlethorn - Aug. 2nd, 2012 01:18 am (UTC) - Expand
tameiki
Aug. 2nd, 2012 02:00 am (UTC)
I'm a Libra.

That said, I would probably waffle between the price I'd like to pay versus what I could afford and then feel extremely guilty that I can't afford more. After going back and forth and guilt tripping the hell out of myself (and waaaay over thinking things), I'd probably just walk away and not buy it at all because I didn't want to pay too little for something I value a great deal.

It would be easier for me if you would just tell me what the price is and I'll just buy it blindly. Like I do with all your other releases :)

jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 02:02 am (UTC)
Thank you for being so honest!

If I had a suggested price of $1.99 but pay what you want, would this still feel icky/daunting to you?
(no subject) - tameiki - Aug. 2nd, 2012 02:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jordan_c_price - Aug. 2nd, 2012 02:08 am (UTC) - Expand
anikoL257
Aug. 2nd, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
Honestly, unless I'm getting a pile at a time, I get the paid books through Amazon because I buy myself a gift card to keep easy track of my spending. So I really wouldn't use a pay-as-you-go system (I'm assuming amazon don't provide that as a service to authors, since I've never seen it there).
jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 02:16 am (UTC)
If you buy Turbulence through Amazon you're already paying my "suggested" price! Personally, I do the same. I find it easier to buy from Amazon rather than tracking down deals elsewhere or even trying to find freebies.
cala_thea
Aug. 2nd, 2012 12:40 pm (UTC)
Interesting experiment and very interesting opinions on the topic of "pay what you want"!
I'm still not sure if I got it right. There are three versions being discussed "Donate", "Pay how much you want (but at least one cent" and "Pay if you want and if you do choose the amount".
I think the price should be consistent throughout all the sales channels so that someone who bought the book on amazon wont be angry to find out that it was free on some other site. Only exception might be your own web page. I agree that there needs to be a suggested price to reduce the costumer's confusion and effort for the decision, not to speak of a anchor to get somewhere near a fair contribution.
I know I'm rambling...
I'm constantly amazed that you give away stories for free because I know how very good they are and I love to read them.
The other thing is that very low prices or zero price can suggest that the thing to be bought is of low quality and not worth the time. If I don't know an author and find she gives away free stories (for promotion or something) I will download the story but most of the time not read it. I have a folder full of free pdfs from mlr or dreamspinner that I never touched...
Okay, I'm going to stop now and go try to order my thoughts a bit... ;))
jordan_c_price
Aug. 2nd, 2012 01:57 pm (UTC)
I made the change to my site and I think it's more concrete as to how it would work. The suggested price pops up in the cart but you can change it to 0 or whatever you want.

I agree, people might get mad. They probably will. Someone always gets mad. I find it's not productive to focus on them. It's one thing if I've worded something badly and I can correct or improve it, but it's another when a reader comes in with a chip on their shoulder spoiling for a fight. Luckily I seldom run across people like that.
jdruskin
Aug. 3rd, 2012 01:49 am (UTC)
I think the model would work with a shorter story if you had a suggested price. I think I would over think it if it was novel length. I am embarrassed to admit how much I'd pay for a new Psycop novel. I would think the logistics of pay-what-you-want would be a bit difficult. I buy e-books almost exclusively from Amazon, because I have four different Kindles. (Insane, I know) I doubt you can have variable pricing there. I wonder if you could put the electronic version of a tip jar on your website.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 4th, 2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
I don't think I'd experiment with a novel. A novel represents too much of my income to be "experimental" with if you get my drift!

You're right, it's not possible to have variable price on Amazon. It's really tough to give things free on Amazon as well. You have to price it free elsewhere and then some Rube Goldberg thing happens, and maybe they price-match the free and maybe they don't. Right now they have Turbulence #2 free and #1 for $1.99, which is annoying.
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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