Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On discovering you have over-priced your entire life by £1.99

When the late comedian and singer Don Estelle found that the TV work had dried up, he took to the road busking in shopping centres, selling his CDs to passers-by.

When he self-published is auto-biography, widely regarded as one of the best-stroke-worst in the history of celebrity memoirs, he flogged them too outside local branches of Woolworths. Despite its reputation, SingLofty: Thoughts of a Gemini is now much sought after.

Without a publisher, PR company or distribution deal, it's down to many writers to flog their own wares however they can. Poor, dead Don apparently made a reasonable living busking in town centres in his pith helmet, making the most of what remained of his fame.

I, on the other hand write blog posts like this, trying to guilt trip people into clicking through to my Amazon store. I've also been known to carry a stock of books to flog when the moment arises, but I'm no longer that desperate.

This is essentially down to a single dispiriting conversation I had with a potential buyer that went exactly like this:

Ms Cheapskate*: "I'd like to buy your book. How much is it?"

Me: "Yours for a mere £6.99"

Ms Cheapskate: (Umms and Ahhs for a while) "I don't think it's worth that much."

Me: "That's two years of my life in there. I think £6.99 is very reasonable."

Ms Cheapskate: "I'll give you a fiver."

Me: "Done"

The take-home message from this little exchange is this: Writers – two years of your life isn't worth that extra £1.99. Give it up. 

Me.Books. HERE. They're really quite good and only two quid a throw.



Anonymous said...

Yea, but the great thing about it is once you've sold it, you can sell it again! You don't even have to wait until the last buyer has gone round the corner... you can just sell exactly the same thing again.

And again. And again. No matter how many times you sell it, you can keep selling it over and over and over. It's like magic beans or something.

TRT said...

Lovely boy.

AmyP said...

Ouch. This hit close to home for me. I have had hundreds of similar experiences as this, as the Ms Cheapskates are about 90% of my buyers now (I am not a writer but something similar). The other ten percent want me to give them something for free so they can re-sell it and make money.

But I have way, WAY too much baggage to comment much on this. It would take up about 10 feet of column and would sound like a pity party.

I would like to say that from a strictly business perspective, reducing price may not do as much as you would hope. If you keep price higher, then you can always let the Ms Cheapskates talk you down and they'll feel good about it while you'll still get the amnt. you expected. I think it's not really about the price, but more about the power they feel when they negotiate a lower price.

Also, it helps to distance yourself emotionally from the product you are selling. Selling on the internet has taught me to be more distant. Stuff that I put my heart and soul into is now considered just a commodity to internet buyers. So I treat it that way. Sad but realistic. Altho it makes a person wish there was no corpus callosum.

Good you have a salary job so that you don't get the value of your product judged on each and every transaction with the public. Take it from me, that is brutal esp. when it happens over and over again. Now (I am presuming) you work at a salary job, you get paid a previously agreed upon amount by your company. Mmmm good. Helps to give a person confidence in themselves.

I hope this might prove helpful to you.

AmyP said...


2nd to last paragraph should be:
... so that you don't get the value of your product judged during each and every transaction with the public...

what I meant was that every time someone considers the product they are making a judgment as to whether it's worth it or not.

Gonzoland said...

You need to publicise your books and get an APLIN entry.
Get 'Get Reading' to take a photo of you outside Reading Jail with copies of books. Grayling, the prisons minister, has banned books for prisoners and a protest in Reading might get international attention due to the fact that Oscar Wilde was in a cell there once.
If the above tactic fails, sell the film rights to Hollywood producers.

Gary Amos said...

As one door closes somebody makes sure it's securely locked. Not only can I not write, I have an ASBO which bars me from shopping centres . . .

Barry said...

I remember seeing Don Estelle many times in the Eastgate Centre in Basildon. I never bought one of his CDs though.

AmyP said...

BTW I tried to be upbeat in my comment, hoping to provide something that might help or make you feel better. But I am not sure it came across like I wanted it to; if so, sorry. Anyway just wanted to add this. Fact is, I wanted to acknowledge that being self-published is VERY difficult, and hearing from even one stinkin' cheapskate that what you are selling isn't worth your asking price is very hard to take.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a Vendor's Permit?
Are books taxable?

In The Canadas, books are subject to sales taxes. It seems everything is subject to sales taxes, except food.
I volunteer in a Flower Store. I will, if I feel charitable, sell a dozen red roses as Food so the customer need not pay the 13% sales tax.
And it's legal!
Roses are edible, right?

I've always wanted to go to the local pet store to purchase a pure-bred puppy - $600.00 - and refuse to pay the sales tax 'cause I plan on eating it.
This would be legal too! It's not illegal to eat dog in The Canadas. I figured I'd purchase the puppy and then in a year or so, when the poor Pet Shop is audited by the Feds and found to be wanting in the sales tax collection department and the Pet Shop, of course, rat me out, and then the Feds knock on my door only to discover the puppy - now a big dog - lying by the fire licking its genitals and remonstrate, "You said you were going to eat that dog! You are guilty of tax evasion!" To which I would reply, "Nonsense! I'm fattening him up!"

Nyuck. Nyuck!

To be fair, it's only 2 years of your life that the Market has determined to be worth £1.99. There's always inflation to which to look forward.