This is the second in a series of posts on the Marketing Mix, or the Four P’s of Marketing: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. In last week’s post, we covered Product as it relates to quality. This week, let’s talk about Price.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could set the price of each piece of writing you sell? Whether it’s a book or an article, you could choose your price based on what you’d like to get for it. I wish it worked that way. In business, the market determines the price of the product. Publishing is a business, so pricing of written work is determined by the market, too.
The writer doesn’t control pricing.
Ideally, the writer would set the price of each item he or she sells. Theoretically, the owner of any business sets the price, but, actually, the market determines price. The owner/vendor must pay all the costs of operating the business (supplies, utilities, employees, etc.). The margin between what these items cost the vendor and what you pay for the product is often very slim. For the most part, the vendor has little control these costs. Price changes occur when the cost of doing business changes. If the vendor sets the price too high, the customer will buy from someone else. If it’s too low, the vendor won’t have much profit (or none at all). As a writer, you have the same dilemma.
The publishers control pricing.
As a writer, you are in worse shape than most businesses. Reading material is not a commodity like gasoline, for example, so every consumer does not want to buy the publishers’ pr
oducts. Magazines offer set writer fees for certain types of articles. Book publishers spell out in contracts what you’ll be paid. They take their costs into account when making the decision on what to pay writers. Only by becoming your own publisher will you be able to control the price of your writing. But, then you’ll have to also assume all the costs associated with publishing it. You’ll have to find your own buyers, pay for layout, production, and delivery channels. It’s a lot of work. And it’s not cheap.
The writer often writes for free.
How is that fair? Well, it’s really not, but that’s the way it is. With so many writers trying to break in to the publishing market, the publishers don’t have to pay premium prices. Like all businesses, they must control their basic costs in order to make a profit. They know how much their readers are willing to pay for their product, so they try to keep the price as low as possible.
You may choose to write for free. Some writers have built a platform for books and articles by posting regularly on their blogs and building a customer base that way. Many a fiction writer has written novels and stories for years before ever getting a chance to publish and be paid for the work. Since you are the boss, you get to decide whether you are paid or not. In a previous post, Should You Write for Free?, I discussed some of the things you should think about when deciding.
Readers, what do you think? Is it fair to expect writer to write for free? Have you done it and why? Please comment and share your thoughts.