Tag Archives: price

My Self-Publishing Journey: Ongoing Experimentation and A SALE!

If you’ve been following this blog series for any time, you know that the essence of indie publishing is experimentation. Nothing is written in stone as THE way to proceed to achieve guaranteed success. I’ve recommended certain paths as being better than others, but one thing you can be sure of is that there’s an exception to every “rule.”

FrankieRobertson_Lightbringer_200pxSo although I’ve done well using Kindle Select I decided to remove two of my titles from that exclusive relationship with Amazon and put them back up on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. I did that a month ago for LIGHTBRINGER and three weeks ago for WITH HEART TO HEAR. I intended to leave them up there for several months, so I could gather data to see if alternate distribution platforms would sell enough copies to compensate for the increased sales that come with a successful free promotion on Kindle Select and the paid borrows from Amazon Prime members.withhearttohear7_850

So far the answer is: No. I’ll ignore Smashwords because their reporting is SO much slower than B&N and Amazon, and because it can take weeks or months for their affiliates to list a book. What I can tell you is that to date I’ve sold one copy of WITH HEART TO HEAR  on Nook.  One.

But that’s not enough reason to go rushing back to Amazon where the sales of those books hasn’t been much better. I have friends whose books have sold well on Barnes & Noble. I’ve said often enough that indie publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. The problem is, at this rate of sales these books aren’t even getting off the blocks. The ranks of these books won’t allow them to be discovered. So what’s a girl to do?

Since I can’t run a free promotion effectively, I’ve decided to lower the prices of these two books across all platforms. One of my favorite indie romances, A BED OF THORNS AND ROSES is priced at $2.99 and is currently ranked at about #30,000 on Amazon. This book came out in May 2011 and the author does NOTHING to promote her book. She has no other books, doesn’t tweet, doesn’t facebook, doesn’t have a website that I’ve found. She just wrote one fabulous book. (It’s also available on Nook.)

Whether or not my books are fabulous is up to the readers to decide, but I can play with the price and see what happens. For the next month (or so) I’m lowering the price of LIGHTBRINGER  to $2.99 (also on Nook) and WITH HEART TO HEAR to $1.99 (also on Nook).

It’s up to each author to figure out where the best price point for her books is and the only way to do that is with experimentation. Joe Konrath likes $2.99, Jennifer Roberson priced her indie Kindle releases at $3.99 for LONNIE and $4.99 for THE IRISHMAN. Dennis McKiernan priced the digital version of  AT THE EDGE OF THE FOREST at $5.99. DANGEROUS TALENTS and FORBIDDEN TALENTS are doing okay at $4.95, but LIGHTBRINGER  is not.

So I’m shaking things up a bit, price wise. Now the readers get to speak, and tell me how much price makes a difference to them and how eager they are to buy my books in the Nook format.

Authors, how have you priced your books, and why?  Readers, what do you think about book prices? Does 99 cents say “trash” to you? Does $2.99 say “bargain” or “beware”? Does $4.99 say “quality” or “overpriced”?


Filed under Publishing

My Self-Publishing Journey: The Pricing Debate Continues

I stumbled across a guest post: Why Your Novel is a Tall, 6-Pump Vanilla, Breve Latte Grande, Extra Hot, Heavy Whipping Cream, Extra Dry Cappuccino (Or It Should Be) by Elle Lothlorien on Joe Konrath’s blog.

I’ve written a little about pricing digital books before on this blog, and mentioned Dean Wesley Smith’s take on the 99 cent price point. Based on conversations with Mike Stackpole, and comments I’ve read by Robin Sullivan, I made the decision to price my books in the $3.99 to $4.99 range. I’ve long believed that you teach people how to treat you and that applies to teaching them what your work is worth, too. I’d forgotten that in economics that principle is called “imputed value.” (Thanks for reminding me, Elle.)

The comments on Elle’s post are worth reading, too. There’s some difference of experience and opinion there on what works and why.  Michael Kingswood suggests this pricing strategy:

I think a reasonable pricing structure is as follows. Short stories $.99. Novelettes $1.99. Novellas $2.99. Short novels (< 75k) $3.99. Novels (75k – 100k) $4.99. >100k $5.99.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between a novelette and a novella, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America use the following definitions for its Nebula Awards: short story–up to 7500 words, novelette–7,500-17,500 words,  novella–17,500-40,000 words, novel–varies depending on genre but usually a minimum of 40,000 words.

By that measure, LIGHTBRINGER is priced just right at $3.99. (The Wild Rose Press, however, values VEILED MIRROR at $6.50, so is $3.99 too low?) In a few weeks I’ll be bringing out a 11,000 word erotic fairy tale called “With Heart to Hear.” I’d planned to price it at .99, but now I’m rethinking that and considering listing it at $1.99.

I take away several points from this post and the comments.

  • While a lot of authors are pricing their books very low, many readers avoid .99 books, believing them to be inferior, as prefer them. Maybe more.
  • Focusing on sales rank is not useful.
  • Within a certain range, creating imputed value works. Based on Elle’s experience, I’m wondering if launching a book at a lower price, say $2.99 for an announced limited time, and then raising the price to $4.99 might not be a good strategy.
  • Higher per unit prices may reduce unit sales while increasing net income.

On the other hand, I just read “How Darcie Chan Became a Best-Selling Author” from last Friday’s Wall Street Journal. She used the 99 cent price as part of a larger strategy to boost sales of her book THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE.

‘She noticed that a lot of popular e-books were priced at 99 cents, and immediately dropped her price from $2.99 to 99 cents. The cut would slash potential royalties—Amazon pays 35% royalties for books that cost less than $2.99, compared with 70% for books that cost $2.99 to $9.99. But sales picked up immediately. “I did that to encourage people to give it a chance,” she says. “I saw it as an investment in my future as a writer.” The strategy worked. Several reviewers on Amazon said they bought the book because it was 99 cents, then ended up liking it.’

She also spent over $1600 on banner ads online and an expedited review from Kirkus, but her sales had perked up with just the price drop.

So what is your price strategy? I’d be interested in hearing from other indie authors about how they price their books and what effect that has had on sales and income.


Filed under Publishing