Today’s Guest post is about something I know many readers, writers and publishers will be very interested in. With the debate still raging on eBooks vs hard copies as well as how eBooks should be priced, here is a real world example from author Gary Ponzo who found himself right smack in the middle of this conflict. Whether you are a publisher or author with a book to sell or just a retail seller trying to stay abreast of the changes in the market, it’s worthwhile reading.

His book, A Touch of Deceit, actually comes out today so please consider taking a look and maybe purchasing a copy on Amazon here.


Why I turned down my book deal by Gary Ponzo

If you’re a writer you’ve dreamed of the day your book was published. Soon it climbs
up the N.Y. Times bestseller list, then you begin your world book tour. Hey, it’s okay to dream. I’m no different. So when I received notification that a publisher wanted to publish my novel, A Touch of Deceit, I was thrilled. I mean you can’t make a run up the bestseller list without a published novel.

Then reality set in. This was a small publishing company which only printed hard copy books. They’re a very good publisher, very reputable. I can’t say enough good things about them. The problem I had wasn’t with the publisher, it was with the price of the book. $27.95. I immediately felt uncomfortable about the prospect of asking friends and family to purchase my novel at $27.95, never mind complete strangers. Why is that? After all I did spend almost a decade writing the book. It did win first prize in the Southwest Writers Novel Contest, Thriller Category. What was my problem?

I’ll tell you the problem. This is the digital age. You can download virtually any bestseller on Amazon for $9.95. We’re talking Stephen King and John Grisham here. I’m Gary Ponzo. Yes, I’ve published a dozen short stories, two of which were nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I’m still just Gary Ponzo. Besides, there’s a recession going on. People are being careful with their money. I had a real problem on my hands.

I had to really talk with myself about what was important. Did I begin writing fiction to make a big payday? No. I began writing with one goal in mind. Readers. So after much consideration, I’ve decided to put off the book deal and publish my novel on Amazon for digital download for $1.99. With the publisher I would have to sell the e-reader version for $8.99. How many books would I’ve realistically been able to sell at $27.95? I’ll probably never know. How many can I sell for $1.99? I’m about to find out.

If I would’ve sold just 500-1000 copies of my book, my chances of getting another publishing deal would be severely hindered. A first-timer has a better chance of getting published than someone who couldn’t sell more than 1000 books. Publishers don’t care whether the price was too high or the economy was bad. They need units sold. Period. And I don’t blame them. They incur a lot of risk with the current system in place.

Is this a mistake? Maybe. Do I have a plan? Yes. I intend to push sales of my novel however I can. I’ve made small flyers which I’ll be passing out to friends and family with instructions how to download the book. I’m going to advertise. My literary agent Robert Brown, who’s a prince of a man, encouraged me to produce a book trailer. I paid to have a professional artist create my cover. When it’s all said and done, I want readers. I want 5000 or 10,000 or 20,000 people out there reading my book. These readers then become fans. These fans then want more of your fiction. Like maybe the sequel which is already half-finished. Then maybe I have a shot at a traditional book deal which includes a publicist and some marketing muscle and more economical paperbacks.

Twenty-thousand downloads of my novel. Is that even possible? Hey, a guy can dream can’t he?

Gary Ponzo‘s short stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Potpourri and Amazing Journeys Magazine. Two of his short stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novel, “A Touch of Deceit,” won first prize in the 2009 Southwest Writers Novel Contest, Thriller Category. His novel will be released on May 28th on Amazon as a digital download. He and his agent are still weighing their options for a print release. You can read most of his short stories, including the two Pushcart Prize nominees, on his website: