Mystery Readers Only

Between the Covers

Who has the nerve to charge $30.00 for a mass market novel?

By Thonie Hevron

Who has the nerve to charge $30.00 for a mass market novel?

Plenty of best-selling, award-winning authors, that’s who.

Why the heck should I spend thirty of my hard-earned bucks on a book?

Because there is so much more between the covers than mere pages. How long did it take the author dream up the plot? Outline? Characters? Setting? Dialog? All this takes research. Romantic Bronte hero Edward Rochester doesn’t dress or talk like Phillip Marlowe. The setting must be realistic with sights, sounds and smells of real terra firma (unless it’s the ocean). Even visiting a local requires research into soil types, geography, demographics, weather and so on. If I told you how long it took to cull this information to distill into one scene, you’d grab your wallet and willingly hand over the cash.

That’s just preliminaries. After all the above is set in your head (or hard drive somewhere), a writer must do what a writer must do—write! Getting words down on a page may sound simple but fighting the temptation to edit as you go along, warring with distractions and generally motivating your bad self into the chair, take a lot of work. It’s not unusual for prolific authors to write 1,000 words a day. For an 80,000- word mystery, that’s a lot of days.

Typing “The End” isn’t the end for the author. There are edits. I’ve gone through rounds of seven with editors before it’s proclaimed “readable.”

You might think that’s really the end but it’s not. Whether your author is traditionally, small press or indie published, he/she bears the burden of most PR. Sure, the big houses will set up author events at book stores, but it’s up to the author to have bookmarks, swag, a captivating topic on which to speak and generate much of his/her own audience.

Social media platforms would’ve begun the moment the contract was signed. Again, the burden is on the author. There might be some technical help in the form of a custom website but Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, et al, is done on the author’s time.

All this for one book? Well, the goal here is to produce many books. A website will be helpful for marketing, especially if it’s already set up. Social media will have generated interest and sales but to keep momentum the author must be active on the platforms.

All this is work. It’s labor of love, granted, but I know of few (introverted, the lot of us!) authors who like getting in front of an audience and talking about themselves. We authors know to acquaint readers with our work (that’s the whole point) we must stretch out of our comfort zones—or not ever put our words in front of readers.

Whew! All this takes a lot of energy. Authors don’t get paid by the hour and couldn’t begin to figure billing. So, we put a price tag on our darlings and hope others find them as captivating as we did.

By Thonie Hevron

Mysteries to keep you reading through the night.

10 replies on “Between the Covers”

I agree fully about the worth of our work. Very possibly authors are one in only of a very few classes of “workers’ where the saying “the laborer is worthy of his hire” can be a difficult issue. Many artistic workers instinctively add the satisfaction of monetary reward when figuring value received for their work .(I am not one who could double the price of books I write that my publisher prices at $15.00 and expect to sell as many as I do now.)

My artist friend–a painter–certainly understands this.

Would I now change from my writing work and go back to former consistent paid work in the antique and home-enhancement business?. I would not.

I am, however, very grateful that earlier jobs mean I don’t have to depend on what I earn from book selling to pay my bills, I am free to create as a writer, and to support that work as I take care of all business details most all careers demand.

Wonderful, thoughtful ideas, Thonnie


No worries, Radine. I started my law enforcement career in the 70’s as a meter maid. I got called all kinds of things and grew a thick skin. Besides, Thonie isn’t the easiest name to deal with. Thanks anyway.

I ended up paying a pretty penny (not thirty bucks) for an old mass market paperback, The Second Longest Night. The original price of the book was 25 cents. It was the first Chester Drum novel by my idol, Stephen Marlowe. I read his books as a teenager and we corresponded after I became a publisher author. He was kind enough to give me a blurb for my second novel, Windy City Knights.

If you count the effort and the hours needed to create a marketable novel, we would have to charge $100 for each, but in this world where an Indie author battles against U-tube videos, movies, and TV, Netflix, etc, the ability to charge what our efforts are worth isn’t possible. $30 per book could only be charged by the top selling author who’s already famous. “A laborer is worthy of his hire,” sadly, doesn’t apply to the authors of today. We may be worthy, but it just doesn’t happen.

I could see paying $30 for a book I’d been dying to read by a favorite author, maybe once or twice a year. For my readers, I’d rather my work be affordable as well as enjoyable. I’m also taking advantage of the Free Tiny Libraries that have popped up all over town. (Good place to slip in a book of your own as advertisement)

I feel the same about spending that kind of money on a favorite author once in a while. It’s not my mainstay, though. I love the idea of Tiny Libraries. I might just do that!

Welcome to Thonie's world!

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