I read this book a couple of months ago. Two things amazed me about the book: firstly, it was self-published but it still made it as a best-seller because the quality of the writing and the plot of the story was as good as, if not better than, any published thriller that I have read, and I have read very many. Books like this definitely prove that a publisher is not necessary and a worthy product will sell without the need for one. There was something very Val McDermid about this story, it's reminiscent of Fever of the Bone by Val albeit definitely a better read. Sorry Val, I still enjoy your writing but Fever of the bone is not as good as some of your other output.
The second amazing aspect of this book was the price, it was only £0.75, most people don't even pause to think before spending 75 pence. Saffina's justification was that she doesn't have to charge so much because she's cut out the middleman, the publisher. I beg to differ with her reasoning: yes, she can afford to charge less, but 75p? - come on, how about the effort that went into this book? and how about the VAT one has to pay for eBooks, a tax that printed books are not subject to. Artists should charge more for their efforts because writing is hard work, even when it is enjoyable, time is precious and that time needs to be valued appropriately. If she wants to maximise volume, perhaps give some books away for free and charge more for the rest but don't charge 75p!
Put a different way, let's say you buy a book as a present for someone, you wouldn't want to buy a 75p novel regardless of it's quality because it might send out the wrong signal. If you did get a book that was that cheap you would have to add other presents to the bundle. People like to feel valued and although it is the thought that counts, this should never be an excuse for being a cheapskate.
On the other hand, this may be Saffina's strategy for getting her name known. She maximises volume on book one so that by the time her second book comes out she can charge a by now captive audience more - I certainly hope this is the case. I know the same book is being re-written in an American setting to appeal to the American market - I personally prefer to read about things that are foreign to my ordinary day to day life - that is the point of reading, is it not? To learn new things and stretch one's imagination? I think the time would have been better spent on a new novel. I personally, won't re-read the same book just because it's now in set in New York but I would buy an entirely new novel by Saffina Desforges. I don't know how the strategy will work but I wish Saffina luck. She is truly talented.
Ultimately, it might be me who doesn't understand the consumer's behavior when it comes to the purchase of fiction material as the story of this investment banker turned author shows.
This book is only available as a kindle book. Links to the US-version and the UK-version are provided below for both Amazon.com and .co.uk.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
Time allowing, I love to read. If I read anything interesting, I will blog about it here.