Welcome back to the pricing series on e-publishers! Here I focus mostly on publishers that offer m/m romance and erotic romance so we’ll continue in that vein. So far I’ve looked at 6 publishers and you can see the series HERE!
Today’s look is at another author invitation only press, MLR Press. MLR claims to offer the highest quality stories in their genre. I find this a lofty and somewhat erroneous claim since the quality is very subjective at MLR. I find their editing atrocious and on par with some of the worst editing in the genre. Perhaps their editor is overworked but the errors are horrendous and thus putting their claim of quality in much question. Not to mention their covers are seriously some of the worst in the genre. They can make stock photos look bad.
However, it’s not the editing or eye scaring cover art I’m evaluating (although you the reader should) – it’s the price. So looking at the (ugly) MLR website, there is zero information about their book length or pricing. There is a link to the new MLR bookstore which offers electronic copies of books. I believe MLR started out as a print only publisher and only recently offered e-copies. Or am I wrong? Someone correct me please.
As it is, MLR currently offers 80 ebooks through their website, 78 on Fictionwise, 66 on All Romance Ebooks. The average length is 67,000.
The shortest ebook offered is 16,508 and the longest is 103,000 words. The prices are between $3.49 and $6.99, with one ebook listed as $16.99.
On the MLR bookstore site, 8 books are listed for $3.49, 2 for $6.99, and 69 for $5.99.
The 8 books listed for $3.49 range in word count from 16,508 to 32,500. Anything over 40,000 is $5.99.
There are a few exceptions to this however as some authors command a higher price. For example all of William Maltese’s books and Angela Fiddler’s books are $5.99 regardless of length. This causes some inconsistency in pricing but it’s clearly author based. Other than that it seems anything under 40k is less than $5.99 (prices do vary) and anything over 40k is mostly $5.99.
For the majority of titles offered, there is no difference between MLR’s bookshop and ARe pricing. There are very few exceptions. However, Fictionwise is considerably cheaper than MLR/ARe by quite a bit. All MLR books were $3 or less on FW*.
$3.49 MLR / 26,000 ARe for $3.49 / 26,169 FW for $2.09
$5.99 MLR / 20,000 ARe for $3.49 / 21,089 FW for $2.09
$5.99 MLR / 101,000 ARe for $5.99 / 103,016 FW for $2.80
$5.99 MLR / 65,000 ARe for $6.99 / 69,726 FW for $2.80
$5.99 MLR / 60,000 ARe for $5.99 / 99,065 FW for $3.00
Other than this price discrepancy based on author, I found MLR very consistent. For such a small catalog, it’s mostly going to be $5.99 for just about any book you want so it’s incredibly easy for the reader to make a decision if it’s worth the money. Comparing the price per word of MLR/ARe and Fictionwise, it looks like this:
Clearly the best price is through FW, which offers the MLR titles at up to 60% off.
However, comparing MLR with other publishers at the same length, gives the following. Keep in mind I’ve excluded the short story lengths (anything under 16k) since MLR doesn’t offer that.
Here MLR is the thick red line and is one of the cheapest of the group. Due to the standard $5.99 for just about all books, it’s relatively inexpensive and consistent.
And if you buy from Fictionwise with their discounts, the discounts are amazing. That far, far, far, far bottom line? That’s the cost of your MLR books from Fictionwise.
MLR pricing is based on author so some authors may cost more regardless of length. However for the most part you’re likely going to pay $5.99 for your book unless it’s a single short story from an anthology then the price is usually $3.49. You pay the same amount from MLR’s electronic bookstore as you do from ARe but in this case you save significant amounts of money by shopping from Fictionwise.
Will this FW sale last? Well after doing this analysis, I discovered this sale is FW’s end of the year sale. So I doubt the discounts will be as steep after the new year – although I’ll be checking and updating this analysis when the sale is gone. Even without the sale, the analysis is still valid. We’ll just have to see if the pricing comes more in line with MLR website and other retailers or continues to offer a discount.
For the most part MLR Press is pretty cheap – which may be the reason the editing is shoddy and the cover art is horrible. They clearly aren’t using their overhead to enhance the business. However as with anything, quality is subjective and each reader can make their own determination.
12 thoughts on “Pricing cont’d – MLR Press”
There are writers out there who are so displeased with covers from MLR Press that they are hiring their own cover artists and pay them out of their own pocket. There are some butt-ugly covers out there (Personal Demons – what were they thinking?), and some gorgeous ones (Angels of the Deep). Rumours have it that some people only sign the MLR contract when they are allowed to provide their own covers.
Only problem with the Angels of the Deep cover is that the same dude is on at least four other books in the same genre, at least two of which came out well before that book. The hooded guy, and that blond-haired “slave” boy with the down-turned head—I’m pretty tired of them both.
I wish cover artists and publishers would pay more attention to books by competitors so they are on top of what’s out there when selecting stock photos. That’s the reason why I fight so hard to not have people on our covers unless it’s custom-drawn artwork.
*noddles* Definitely true. I’ve seen that skaterboy around quite a bit. I still like the Angels cover and find it pretty appropriate for the book but I also think the author got lucky (good for her!).
I like custom drawn artwork the best to be honest but one of the reasons I like it is that it’s unique and original. If ALL the authors were doing custom work from PL Nunn or other artists, it would decrease the affect. So thankfully it’s the smart authors who can pick and choose which books to use artwork on and which to go with a stock but not recognizable.
Plus sometimes when it’s just men on the cover, they don’t correspond to the readers’ imagination.. but this is going off on a tangent about covers now lol. Sorry!
I don’t think you have to worry about custom-drawn cover art becoming too commonplace and therefore less special. The vast majority of books published would take way too long to earn back the expense of acquiring the artwork, if they ever did.
The cover boys not corresponding to the readers’ imaginations is a valid point. Unfortunately, the way this notion is most often skirted is via The Incredible Headless Torso, which I find just as blech as Repeat Model Guy.
Reusing cover art/models really bugs me! I’ve got an awful memory for titles, but a great one for pictures. So the same picture or model on the cover of a different book is just going to confuse me about if I’ve read it or not.
You know, I never thought of it in those terms, but you are right. It could be confusing, even if subliminally, that one has already read a book before due to the repeat usage of the same models. Excellent point.
Not long ago I found a site devoted to the resuse of cover art on Mills and Boon and Harlequin books. I’ve spotted a few of those myself. Including the same picture (flipped) used on two different books by the same author.
Sometimes they’re sneaky, they change the colour of the dress or something.
See, I don’t know the other covers – so “Angels” works perfectly for me.
And how to monitor the competition…? I couldn’t do it (and we’re doing our “Test of Faith” cover outselves).
A quick glance through the Gay section of All Romance.com is about all it takes. The repeat faces will start popping out fairly quickly. After that, subscribing to the mailing lists of the various epublishers and AllRomance’s weekly newsletter is a good way to keep your finger on the pulse. Won’t eliminate the possibility of someone snagging the same picture as you at the same time prior to publication, but it will minimize the chance of you putting something out there that already is (perhaps even multiple times).
I wouldn’t be surprised if authors want to provide their own cover art. The covers at MLR are hideous and totally unattractive. I’m not sure who’s design sensibility likes them but I know a lot of readers find the covers a huge turn off. Considering MLR is a press that openly states it provides the highest quality stories, I find that claim patently untrue. Highest quality extends in all directions – including editing and cover art – so I’m not sure why authors would be attracted to MLR.
Not to mention I was going to say the very thing Jaye did. The cover art for Angels of the Deep is nice but it’s a stock pic that’s been used frequently then applied some pre-made brushes in photoshop. The cover works and it’s one of the few that does over there, but it’s almost a lucky cover.
From a consumer stand point, the consistency in pricing is nice. There are a few authors I like publishing single books with MLR so I still purchase from them but I think they’d be better off elsewhere with more attractive packing. Just my opinion though.
Well, I wouldn’t want to be *seen* outside my door with many covers. Changeling and MLR are two of the publishers where I would definitely hire my own cover artist and pay him out of pocket – provided I get a bigger cut of the royalties to make up for my costs.