So I’ll admit to crushing a little on Kalayna Price just off of her author’s pic. But seriously, go here and tell me she’s not just cute as all get out. I dare you. Then I met her at RoundCon, and found out that she’s just as nice, engaging and smart as she is cute and fashionable (there’s a post coming about convention/signing wear, the writer’s costume and all that, but I think I have to finish formulating my opinion before I can write it. Not that having a half-baked opinion has ever stopped me from writing anything.). Then I got my paws on an electronic copy of Grave Witch, her first Alex Craft novel, and damn if she isn’t the trifecta – gorgeous, nice and a hell of a writer, too!
I only have the ridiculously good-looking and talented parts covered, personally. I’m not really that nice, so I only get two out of three. Oh well, just imagine how insufferable I’d be if I were any cooler? But I digress. Again.
Grave Witch is a novel about Alex Craft, and she sees dead people. More to the point she’s a private investigator that can raise ghosts (shades in the world of the book, as ghosts are different, but world-building isn’t my gig). Alex is a great character in that she’s struggling – she doesn’t have her crap together by any stretch, and I love that real weakness in a character. Alex is broke, has a crap car, is estranged from her family, and doesn’t have a boyfriend. Except for Death, who keeps dropping by and looks better in a pair of jeans than a force of nature really has any right to.
I found Grave Witch to be a quick read, engaging from start to finish, with a good foundation for sequels (one’s coming later this year, as a matter of fact). I cared about the characters and wanted to see more of them, which is great for a first book in a series. I thought Kalayna built an interesting world, with some neat twists on our own society, but still similar enough to our reality to be really familiar. I happily paid the publisher’s retail on the ebook, even though I usually balk at paying more than $5 for a digital edition, and I’ll buy the others as soon as they’re available, too.
So here’s a raging debate in the ebook world – pricing. What’s fair for an ebook? I paid $6.99 for Grave Witch, and just bought Neil Gaiman’s American Gods today for $9.99. Those are pretty steep prices for a bunch of 1’s and 0’s, but certainly not significantly more than I’m accustomed to paying for an album of a dozen songs. So what’s fair? Neil Gaiman will get maybe $2 out of the ten I spent, and Kalayna got maybe $1.50 off her book. When I sell an ebook for $2.99, I get $2.05, but am I still selling too cheap? After all, I don’t write for art, I write to get paid. I know, I’m supposed to love my work and suffer for it, but I’ve got twenty years of theatrical suffering under my belt, I don’t need any more.
I think $5 is a reasonable price for a novel, and it should stay in the “impulse buy” category. So April 1 I’ll be raising the price of my $2.99 novels to $4.95, as an experiment. So if you’ve been planning to buy The Chosen or Back in Black, you should do so before Friday, or you’ll pay more (not that I have a problem with that).
On a related but different note, what do you think about combo packs? A paperback book packaged with a promo card for a free download. Any interest? How about being able to buy a postcard at a book show with a promo code for a download? That way you can still get something signed by the author if you’re into that, but you can stay all-digital in your reading habits. That was something Bobby and I were chatting about at the con last weekend.