Here’s a little peek at how I as an indie contemporary romance author often feel: Hello? Is this thing on?
I recently read a very good blog article about why indie writers need to avoid underpricing their books. The author made several very good points, but one in particular stood out to me. Unless we write as a hobby, we’re hoping our writing will eventually support us. It’s hard to do that when you’re selling your work for 99 cents.
I’ve spoken up several times on this subject in support of writers selling their work for whatever the hell they want to sell it for—provided they can find buyers. It’s survival of the fittest out there in the publishing world, and anything you can do to give yourself an edge is fair game.
The problem is, pricing your ebook at 99 cents is no longer going to give you that much of an edge. In fact, giving it away is no longer going to give you an edge. The only real way to get an edge in today’s market is to study your craft and write and promote and study and write and promote…and pray. Yup, that’s right. Pray. Pray to God or Buddha or your muse. Pray for that magic moment when, for some unknown reason, the words you wrote catch on. Something snags the attention of the reading masses and it’s your book that’s being tweeted and talked and posted about.
I’m still waiting for that. Reviewers (for the most part) like my writing. But hey, most of them get my books for free. (Want a review copy? Email me. I’ll send it out. Kindle or paperback. Your choice.) So I’m still trying everything I can, including different price points, to catch that wave.
Just the other day, I dropped the price of Ducks in a Row from $2.99 to $1.99 in the hopes that it would spur some sales. The sequel, Saturday Love, is with an editor now and I hope to publish it in January. I think there are literally dozens of people waiting for that sequel, and I have no intentions of disappointing them. If I could grow those dozens to hundreds by January, that’d be pretty awesome, though.
And, can you keep a secret? Next week on July 1, Close Up Magic will be free for one day only. I’m not telling everyone yet, just you guys. I’d hate to discourage anyone from paying for the book now.
But as I wait for that moment when it all comes together with pricing and readers and promotions and magic, be assured I’m writing. And I’m striving to write each book a little better than the last one so that eventually my readers won’t even look at the price of my novels. Eventually, they’ll see another book by me and buy it without worrying about how much it costs because they know it’s worth it.
Thanks for linking back to my blog, Michelle. Much appreciation. Your blog post is a realistic look at how marketing, and selling, goes. It’s hard to say and accept that it is the luck of the draw to get noticed but sometimes that’s all it amounts to. I know writers who I will never equal in writing ability, having published books worthy of reading over and over again, but they hold their breath each day waiting for sales; and then, other writers whose books I wouldn’t even download for free and they are selling thousands each day. Yet we must keep on writing and getting them out. Failure is a word used only for those who quit.
You’re welcome, Gail! Your article really struck a chord with me since I’d just dropped the price of one of my ebooks. I know I’m still in the “free bin” you mentioned, and that’s fine. I just want to find my way to the top of it and catch the readers’ attention eventually. I like your take on failure. 🙂 I may print that out and post it on my wall to remind me why I will never quit.
This wasn’t the survey I was thinking about but its close enough. I might have had last year’s results. http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/05/new-smashwords-survey-helps-authors.html?et_mid=616946&rid=3001824
Thanks, Cheryl. I’ll have a look at it. 🙂
Hee hee. “Nothing attracts reader interest like FREE.” Perfect.
A survey done by Smashwords says a book priced between $1 and $1.99 will sell 3.2 times as many books as a book priced at $10 or more. As opposed to a book priced between $2 and $2.99 will sell 6.2 times as many copies as that $10+ book. The winners in book sales according to the survey are books priced .99 or $2.99. I guess all you can do is wait and measure the results of $1.99. I read a book by Nicholas Black and he says price at .99 for downloads and marketing, price at $2.99 for downloads and profitability, and price at $5.99 for profitability. It doesn’t hurt to experiment a bit but you should stick with the $2.99. I’d say the majority of books I download are at $2.99 and these are fairly new authors to me discovered in the past 2 years or so since I bought an iPad. However I have spent more money – up to $10 – on books by authors I’ve been reading for years who have big publishing houses behind them. The ebook is priced the same as a paperback which is a little annoying, you’d think the ebook would be a buck or 2 cheaper, but the next time I move that means one less book in the box when I pack my bookshelves. Those heavy books start to take a toll after a few moves!
Thank you for your comment, Cheryl! I have heard about that survey before, but I’m not sure how accurate it really is. I can’t speak about sales in general, but I can say my 99 cent novel has sold far more copies than my $2.99 ones. So a lower price probably doesn’t hurt anything. That said, I also think the market is being flooded with ebooks for $2.99 and less. So we’re getting lost in the crowd. Again. What it really comes down to, in my belief, is hard work and lots of writing and patience and luck. Best of luck to all of us in this game!
You have the right attitude, which is good.
There are so many books out there; it must be hard to be heard in such a crowd.
Experimenting with price is the way I’d go. If 0.99 is working for you now, stick to it until you have a better plan.
Thank you Cassandra. I hope I have the right attitude. It can be tough!