|The ePublishing demon barks in my ear. Down, demon, down.|
So, time to vent. When I started out as an indie in March 2011 with the launch of Peril, I went for 99 cents / 77 pence, the minimum. My focus was on gaining readership. The book slowly gained a bit of exposure, sales were modest and positive reviews started to come in.
I went through early crises of confidence with the title, the book cover and the blurb, all of which didn't help the book's initial impact.
Whether it was an altruistic move or just a tactic to gain readership (and a dumb one with only one title published) I figured people didn't have to pay for my 90,000 words. So I decided to go free and, via Smashwords, B&N and Kobo, forced a zero price on Amazon in November 2011. That resulted in 16,000 downloads, reaching #12 in the Amazon.com top 100 free titles and producing some follow-on sales (all this happened before KDP Select existed).
In January 2012 I had another free phase with Peril, this time by accident when they forced a zero price match to a New Year giveaway I had on my blog. That resulted in a few hundred more giveaways before the Zon put it back to priced. Things then stabilised. Enough giving away my stuff for nothing. I had two titles out (with the launch of The Baptist) and decided on a $2.99 / £1.79 pricing strategy. Sales increased incrementally from month to month. I added The New Author in March 2012 and The Crucible in July 2012, both priced the same. All four books were also released as paperbacks. With four titles on multiple sites in eBook and paperback I saw a steady growth and put my shoulder to the wheel in writing further new releases.
The other day I read Dean Wesley Smith's blog post The New World of Publishing: 2013 and thought Yeah, that's right. He thinks his novels are worth $7.99. I think mine are worth money too. Maybe I'll increase them above $2.99. It kinda made sense because Peril and The Baptist have great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and The Crucible is picking them up now too.
All the while, though, that little demon was barking on my shoulder. People will buy more of your books if you price them higher? What colour of crazy is that, Mr Nobody Barnes? I personally, as a reader, baulk at paying more than a couple of bucks, quid or whatever for an eBook. They just don't have the fixed costs of a print book.
Then yesterday I saw D.D. Scott post this: Ebook Pricing The D. D. Scott Way: Do I Still Want to be The SnickersBar of Ebooks? U Betchya!
D.D. made a lot of sense. DWS had appealed to my ego and D.D. was talking to my common sense. What's the point of being $7.99 and proud if only a handful of people buy the book? I thought about DWS and what he has that I don't - more than 100 popular novels and a very nice hat. That equates to one huge fan base, the self-esteem to wear that hat and a guaranteed volume sales of new releases. D.D. has a good number of books out (she aims for 20 titles by end 2012) but has built volume at unashamedly low prices using great content and successful promotion (box sets, first in series for free etc). She's achieved volume and revenue, and maintained self-esteem, without a hat.
Blimey! What to do, what to do? Which way is the wind blowing? I've recently cut the day-job down to 4 days so I can produce more writing and release more titles. At some point I have to stop pretending I'm running a charity and start to balance sales volume with price.
I decided to put two of my four titles down to 99c / 75p (The Crucible Part 1 and The New Author) for a month or more and compare how things go with my established titles at 2.99 (Peril and The Baptist).
I made the change yesterday p.m. and a couple of sales registered pretty immediately on those 99c titles. By the time I was ready to turn in last night, I had 10 extra on one title and 4 loans (yeah, one title is in KDP Select). When I woke up this morning I put off checking the reports until I’d had my shower. This would be the breakthrough. I was already wording my blog post in my head and D.D. would feature big time. When I was all spruced up and dressed for the day job I let myself check the laptop. Guess what? It was all a £^%&%^ dream! There were a couple of extra sales on those 99 centers but no loans, definitely dreamt it.
Gonna stick with that plan though (until the wind changes).
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