Sunday 18 September 2011

Why Stephen King has been getting bad reviews for his eBooks...

Stephen King has always been known for writing big bricks of novels. Some people complain about King being too wordy. They don't like the long build ups in his stories. But for many of his fans (myself included) its King's wordiness and his ability to produce five hundred page books that we can get utterly and completely lost in, that make us his fans.

Lately King has been getting in on the eBook market. His recent books UR and Mile 81 are both short stories for the 'cheap buys' Kindle market. Both books are priced at $2.99, relatively cheap for a big author. However, people expect King to produce (and by that I'm talking about volume!) and both of these books are single short stories.

When many Kindle buyers are used to getting short story collections or full novels between $2.99 and $0.99, they simply feel ripped off at paying the top of those prices for a single short story.

Mile 81 currently has 131 reviews averaging 3 stars but the reason for most of the bad reviews isn't because the story is bad, it's simply that people are expecting MORE! They're used to paying $2.99 for a full novel and just getting one short story makes them feel like they've been short changed.

I've been recently asked by another author about the process of e-publishing. She had a short story she wanted to put out. What advice did I give her? I told her to hang onto that story and write some more. No different from the problem Stephen King is having at the moment, she is better off producing something of substance so the readers who try her book out will feel they've got enough for their money.

A good friend of mine recently said to me, 'You only get one chance with readers.' That phrase stuck with me and it's true. A reader who takes a chance on a new author may not always like what they read, but if they do don't let them not want to buy another book simply because they felt they didn't get their money's worth.

My own collection of short stories, Where the Dead Live (please click the link to take you through to the Amazon page), contains six stories and is priced at $0.99. My novel, Alone, is also priced at $0.99. Will everyone like my work? No, of course not, but then I've always believed if everyone likes your work, you're doing something wrong! What I do hope is that they feel they're getting enough content for their cash.

I understand King's eagerness to cash in on the Kindle market, but for someone who has so much money anyway, is there really any need?


  1. I agree with everything you have said. I have read both UR and Mile 81 and though I thoroughly enjoyed both and was freaked out with Mile 81 I was left disappointed too. It was as though King had become bored and just thought "Oh that will do, I´ve written enough now" and just finished it. I would rather pay an extra couple of quid and get a decent length story that I can wallow in.

  2. Intereting thoghts on this, Marissa. I don't buy on line (for my own reasons), but if i did, and didn't get what I expect from a BIG writer like King, I'd be p.o.ed too.

  3. I usually either give away a short story or include it in an anthology. It just goes to show that the big-time writers aren't up to speed on what us Indie peeps know. :)

  4. You hit the nail on the head, Coral. While the big authors may not be running scared just yet, some of the publishers are getting nervous about the rise of the indie author!

  5. I love that e-publishing is starting to level out some of the playing fields of writing and publishing, not only between big time authors, like King, but also the agents and editors of big publishing houses.

    Maybe they're not all scrambling to control their markets and revenue, but they are all definitely feeling the heat of Indie Publishers! I'm happy to be part of that, and you are definitely in the game too, Marissa.
    Great post.

  6. I read something recently from the other side of this argument, not sure I'm 100% with it, but it bears thinking about. What if King DID charge $.99 for a new short story. Where would that put any of us who put out stories at the same price?

    In a way (said the article) the "big" guys HAVE to charge more to help create "the market". I'm sure none of us would want to self-pub a novel at $2.99, and then find that we're going against Chuck Palanhiuk at the same price point. From that respect, having the established authors demand more for their electronic works helps add an extra layer to the e-book slushpile - and a rate at which we can perhaps aspire to charge for our work.

    Just food for thought - it certainly made me think.

  7. That is an excellent point, Chris! I hadn't thought about it like that! If all the big boys did start charging prices to compete with us little guys, we'd certainly struggle.

    In John Locke's book, 'How I sold a million ebooks in five months' he says its great that big authors charge ten times what us smaller authors do, because he no longer has to be as good as the big authors, the big authors need to be ten times better than him (or something along those lines!).

  8. Some interesting points here. My co-run Press put out its first e-story of 10,000 words at .99 cents.I ran some FB ads which worked out very well-thank you for the advice by the way. For almost two weeks now it's been number one on Smashwords for horror. Yes, we also ran some coupons with it to make the pot sweeter, but we put out a professionally edited and well written story that Yvonne has every right to feel proud of. Yes, we will probably run some free promotions down the line to spark new interest. The point is that this little gem will make out its editing and other costs in fast order. The anthologies will need to sell a ton of copies for me to recoup my costs, but with eighteen authors doing their share, and me doing mine, with decent pricing, it will happen. Not expensive, mind you, but fair to authors and reader alike.