Don’t Sell Yourself Too Cheaply – You are of Great Worth

Yesterday I went to the Chinese Mall and Dragon City in the south of Johannesburg (South Africa) to do shopping for our huge dance show being held in November. Now anyone who lives in JHB and is aware of what’s going on in their world knows about the Chinese Mall and Dragon City for their cheap prices for absolutely ANYTHING you can think of!

English: Hillbrow and the Hillbrow Tower

JHB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, I hadn’t been to this particular Chinese Mall/China Town before so I was very curious to see it and experience what all my friends have been raving about, what with the “amazingly cheap clothes” to the “cheapest props, costumes, and make-up for ballet festival you can imagine” to “OMG the handbags (purses) there are just divine!” So off I trundled with my two partners in the ballet studio and, boy, was I left flabbergasted: toys, clothes, party favours, hardware, software, cellphone accessories, kitchen ware, food, fake flowers, bags of every kind, underwear, wigs, make-up, glitter, glitter, oh, and more glitter . . . and the list goes on and on and on! Whew! For six hours we shopped ‘til we literally dropped, surviving on chips (potato chips), Iron Brew (kinda like Dr Pepper/Root Beer) and ice cream because we had no time to sit and have a decent lunch! Uh-uh, we were on a mission, and with the exception of three items we couldn’t find due to lack of time we fully loaded the SUV and sat in stunned silence, bathing in the glory of success for a few minutes before driving home and collapsing into our husbands’ arms with a sigh and whining for real food and comfort – physical and emotional! And on top of it all it was the end of the month (payday) weekend!! We were NUTS!

Despite having conquered the Great Chinese Challenge – for a few hours at least – I understood that although we got everything we needed at literally a quarter the price we’d get it anywhere else, the items were not of the highest quality and will most probably only last a short while. It sufficed, however, for what we needed it for – one show with crazy, energetic kids who will no doubt wear out every item we bought in no time – therefore sacrificing quality for cheap quantity is, in fact, a good thing in this case.

When I finally recovered, and my energy levels were back to normal, and I braced myself for the Social Media Catch-up I was about to face for neglecting my relationship/book promo duties for an entire day, I opened my emails and Facebook and Twitter and discovered a plethora of invites for FREE books and Give-aways.

Now, having just been to a place where ‘cheap’ was the order of the day, and I had my first experience of such apparent disregard of the coin in exchange for goods, I was struck by how many writers give away their very hard work for nothing, or relatively nothing. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the power of offering your book for free as a means to promote your work and invite interest and attention, but if it’s done too often and for too long it can eventually become detrimental to who you are and what you really want.

I know that when I get clothing or make-up or shoes for a very low price then I understand I am receiving something of lower quality, as well, something that won’t last and satisfy me for very long. When a writer keeps giving their work away for free I have to wonder why; I become a little suspicious and sometimes a little stand off-ish.

Personally, when someone pays the full price for my books it is such a great feeling because it justifies all the hours, days, and months of work, sweat, and sometimes tears of frustration I put into writing my stories, and it tells me that people are truly interested in reading my books because they believe it’s worth their time and money. What an incredible compliment!

To paraphrase Hemingway: as writers we sit at our typewriters and BLEED. Now what does it say of us when we keep giving away our work for nothing? Do we think so little of ourselves and our abilities?

If freebies are used as the occasional incentive, or as an introduction to me and my work, then it can be a very effective tool. But, in my opinion, if it’s done too often it decreases the value of my work and snubs the inordinate amount of time I put into creating it.

The temptation to give our work away is huge because, let’s face it, at the end of the day we want to be KNOWN, we want recognition, we want to stand out from the hundreds of thousands of writers out there and make the world SEE us.

I know some of you reading this will disagree with me, and there might even be some of you who can testify to the power of give-aways, and I will eagerly applaud your success, but please just make sure that you are not selling yourself too cheaply, that people understand that what you are offering is quality stuff, and then, of course, make sure you produce and present high quality stuff to your readers.

There’s nothing worse than a free book and the quality of that book turning out to be as inferior as the price!

Book 2 in The Sword Bearers Series – This book took me a year to write, rewrite, edit, and publish! It’s too precious to give away carelessly!

It’s hard for me to fight the temptation to give away freebies of my work because I am quite new to this writer’s world myself, but even I can see the dangers in selling myself too eagerly and too freely just to get known. I have to trust in the process, and I have to trust that as I build relationships with other authors and readers that slowly but surely I will get the results I want. In the meantime, I work hard at improving my craft and producing top quality work, knowing that when someone pays $3.50 for my Kindle book they will definitely be getting what they paid for, if not more!

If you agree or disagree please let me know! I love hearing honest, heart-felt stories from you all.


About SwordBearer

I am a fantasy and science fiction author. I have published three epic fantasy novels in a tetralogy with Xlibris Publishing, and a sci-fi short story, The Door. All are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major online retailers. The Door is also available on Smashwords. I love reading everything from King to Koontz, Cussler to Brooks and Feist, to name but a few. Before writing became my life I was a professional ballet, jazz/contemporary dancer in South Africa. Writing and storytelling have always been passions since childhood, and I want to share them with the world!!

Posted on September 2, 2012, in Believe in Your Writing Abilities, Passion versus Knowledge, Tools to Help You Get Started, You are a Creator! Believe it! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on EditorEtc and commented:
    Indeed, Monique, good word to those who will listen.


    • Thanks so much, Bev. Nice to meet you, and thanks for the follow and reblog. It means a lot to me! I certainly hope one or two people will listen, even perhaps take a moment to look at how much they’re giving away. If it’s too much then I urge them to find some kind of balance, as I said to Mark.


  2. Agree entirely, Monique. Still, I fear we’re swimming against the tide on this one. If I could guarantee a thousand readers a month, I’d sell advertising space on my covers and give the e-books away free! I’m already under significant pressure to reduce my prices and I fear I might have to. Remember though – cream always rises to the top! It’s physics innit. 🙂 Best of luck – Wiz.


    • Yup, I know 😦 At the end of the day we have to make sales any way we can, and if giving away a few books will make a difference then, heck, I’ll do it, too! I think what I’m trying to get across is that we don’t prostitute ourselves to the point of losing the kind of people we were when we started out. If we can find balance then that’s fantasic! I believe BALANCE is the key!


  3. I absolutely agree with you. Nothing is going to change so long as writers/authors give their work away. What is really sad is that there is a large number of the reading world who now expect books to be free – actual resentments have been posted occasionally . Giving away “a few books” as you say, is one thing but the free movement is inexcusable. Even worse – IMO – is the mind-blowing number of books out there for .99 or $1.99. I suppose there are books that are worth no more than that – or books not even worth that.

    But if a writer spends months or years learning to write, then opens up a vein and spends months or years writing, rewriting, editing, paying an editor, paying for the right cover, doing without sleep to promote, building a platform, paying for advertising. . . .and then thinks her work is worth no more than .99 or $1.99 – or just wants to give it away free? Personally I can’t understand it. It seems to me that such a scenario just promotes the belief that indie equals low quality. I haven’t seen traditional authors pricing their books at .99 – or Free.


    • Thanks for your super comment, Karleene. My husband (Master Life Coach) read your comment and said to me that when people give away their books or sell them for so little (not necessarily talking about short stories here which have to be cheaper than novels) it creates, in their worlds, an environment in which people see them and their work as cheap and inferior to other authors who sell their work for around $2.00 or more. They very possibly begin creating ‘cheaper’ stories consistently, and giving their work away for nothing creates a sense of inferiority within themselves. But when a writer, who has, as you said, spent so much time and has put so much of herself into her work, sells that work for say $3.99, immediately it tells the potential buyer that this story must be worth the price! Higher price means higher quality, in my book (excuse the pun:)). I’m trying to urge writers to think more highly of themselves than cheap and inferior and ‘easy’, and take a chance that readers WILL pay more for their work because unconsciously when they see the higher price they will expect a good quality story.

      I used the word “prostitute” in one of my other comments, and although it makes me grimace it is the only word that best discribes what some writers are doing. Scary, I know, but true!


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