Sunday, February 20, 2011

Creep Creep Creep

I have steadily watched my Amazon rank creeping along until it is now over 118,000. This makes me a little sad, as I sit in my computer chair and say, "Go on, little book! You can do it, make me proud!"

On Smashwords, I had over 50 views of my product page, but 1 purchase and about 8 sample downloads. I am starting to wonder if my $3.99 price point is pushing away potential readers, newbie author, yadda yadda yadda (anyone on the indie circuit has heard it a million times).

Amazon doesn't provide any data on downloaded samples, so I don't really know how much traffic is being driven there - same with B&N.

So I'll put it out there, to my faithful readers - should I take a hit? Try the $2.99 point, or even the dreaded $.99?

I sent out a bunch of e-mails today for potential reviews/blog tour/guest post chicanery.

If it were anyone else, I would probably do the logical thing and say, "Take the hit!" But please, I need a good smack in the face on this one - what do you guys think?

P.S.: So much for keeping cool about the whole thing :P


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I deleted my previous comment because I very inelegantly expressed my thoughts. So I'm going to try again.

    I think that 3.99 as a price point for a newer author is probably a mistake, although certainly a few have pulled it off. If you're determined to get that 70 percent royalty (and why shouldn't you be?) then 2.99 is pretty good and probably a lot more palatable for customers...

    That being said, I am not sure and have waffled back and forth with my own books. I try to tweak the price now and again just to find where customers seem willing to pay...I do think it depends a lot on your audience.

    In any case, I do think a novel should be at least 2.99--yet I am leaving my 85k COMPELLED up at .99. So, not sure what that tells you.

    Bottom line for me is that 3.99 is a tough ask.

  3. I think Aaron pretty much hit the nail on the head, and with his numbers he seems to understand pricing pretty well. I understand the reasoning that you laid out in an earlier post about how much entertainment 4 bucks would provide the reader, compared to pricier options such as going to the movies. This is true. This is also irrelevant to a customer who has a flood of options promising the exact same thing for 3 bucks--not to mention lower than that.

    I now have three books out, and although I'm dealing with shorter works right now, I think that the principle is essentially the same--when starting out, it seems to me that the more important thing is to build the readership, and from what I've seen the easiest way to do that is to aim low for starters. I have 2 books for 99 cents and I've been very happy with my sales--at the end of my first full month (Feb.) I'll have done over 100 sales. My other book started out at 2.99 and sold hardly anything. I dropped the price a bit and it still didn't move. This morning I finally bit the bullet and dropped it to 99 cents. For me, selling some at .99 and building awareness beats holding out for a higher price.

    As JA Konrath has said, the value of a book is not determined by its price. It's determined by how much money it can make for you. This is something I repeat to myself often.

    On the other hand, what's the rush? I seem to remember that Shackled only went live last week, right? It's a marathon, not a sprint--you have all the time in the world to see how things shake out and then adjust later on. I'd give it at least a full week or two to give yourself a longer view.

    My two cents. Best of luck!

  4. Both Aaron and James make valid points.

    It is the first week so it's too early to tell if you priced the book effectively. However, I know how it feels to want to see sales immediately so I wouldn't blame you if you dropped your price to $2.99.

    Obviously you don't want to sell your book for .99 cents and I understand that because none of my 12 are listed below $2.99. But as James mentioned it is the profit that I would be concerned with unless you are looking for exposure. I have heard a lot of authors say they use their first book as a "loss leader" in order to attract readers to their next book.

    My final thought though is $3.99 does seem a little higher than the public is willing to pay for a new author or at least unknown to them.

  5. Dude.

    It's been, what, a week? Don't you think you're being a bit impatient? How many people do you think have seen it out there at all?

    I'm just getting started at this bit, but as a business guy I gotta think you're shooting yourself in the foot by lowering too much. To say nothing about making a decision about it so quickly, with no data to speak of.

    I'm going to channel Dean Wesley Smith here and point out that you need to be playing the long game. Looking 5 or 10 years out. Going down to $.99 now MIGHT get you some more sales right now, but you'd be leaving a TON of $ on the table. If it's good enough to sell, it's good enough to sell. I thought you said a couple posts back you were looking 2 years down the road. Let it ride, brother, and crank some more stuff out in the meantime. It's not like you're in dire need of that cash RIGHT NOW, right?

    By way of comparison, I JUST releaseed two short stories at $.99. There's no way you should price that novel the same as my (and a bunch of other people's) short stories. If you're interested, I did a bit of cash flow analysis based on my writing goals, some assumed sales figures, and a strategy that I think seems reasonable. I posted the spreadsheets on my blog the other day.

    Just my $.02.

    Congrats on finishing, by the way!

    -Michael Kingswood

  6. As another author who has only been out one week, I'll add my .02. I published Belvoir on Valentine's Day. As of today, I have had 10 sales. That's ten more sales than I had last month at this time because I wasn't published then. Yayyyy!

    I am priced at 0.99, and yes, I think it's low. Until about a month ago, I had planned on pricing Belvoir at 2.99. But what can I say.

    Now, I have to be content to leave it there for awhile I think. So, this will be weird because I have the draft of a novella completed (still needs a lot of editing though). It's going to be priced at 0.99 too. Like I said, weird.

  7. Oh, and I'll say it again. I think you have an awesome cover.

  8. Ok, I'm an ass.

    Bought your book and just read the "About the Author" part. Don't know why I assumed you were a dude. Guess I was just projecting. Sorry about that one!

  9. I think the $0.99 price isn't a bad thing for a first book. I'm pricing "One More Day" at that rate, at least to start with -- the goal is to get people buying it, and to get reviews on the table. As a reader, I'm much more likely to shell out several bucks if I see that other people have read it and enjoyed it.

    Michael is right though, we all have to take a breather and just relax and look at the big picture. My book is currently being published -- apparently 24 hours is how long it takes to process it and put it online. I'm excited, and of course I'd love for it to sell 100 copies on its first day. Unfortunately, barring a minor miracle I don't see that happening.

    BUT, over the long haul and with a few more books available, who knows what could happen? I'm looking forward to going full time by the end of the year.

    OK, well maybe not -- but hopefully close ;-)

    - Nick