Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Pricing

Hi, all.

After exhaustive research, I've learned the truth about pricing your self-published novel: No one knows what works.

When you start researching the subject, you'll read all sorts of advice, from "you must price at 99¢ to sell" to "price your novel at $5.99 like a print paperback to show your work is worth more."

They can't both be right--or can they?

I think the point is that this is a new world. A lot of people are buying Kindles (and Nooks, and iPads, and iPhones, and etc., etc.), and are looking for reading material. 

So there's a huge potential market out there.

But I think there are several questions you can ask yourself to help figure out what *might* work for you:

1) Do you already have a name (or a "platform," as all the self-promotion experts call it)? If you're already a New York Times Bestselling Author, why are you reading this blog? Get your work out there and rake in the dough from your loyal fans who are aching to buy your older, out-of-print books, and any new material you can give them.

2) Assuming #1 doesn't apply to you, have you written one book or ten? If you have one book (and don't plan to have more for a while), your marketing strategy will likely be different from someone who has a lot of different books to work with. I think if you have multiple books to sell (and maybe some novellas and short stories to throw in the mix as well), then you can really do some marketing experiments to see what works. Try a giveaway of a short story or novella, and see if that drives sales to your other (connected) books. Or try giving away a whole book, maybe on just one platform (Amazon Prime Lending Library? Nook? Your blog? Smashwords?), and see if sales of that same book rise on other platforms. Have a Valentine's Day-themed story? Give it away on Valentine's Day, and then re-price it later and see if that jump-starts any sales. Try advertising different books in different places, or to different types of audiences. Play with the various options with your different books, and see what kind of response you get.

What I'm going to try with my first book (The Honeymoon Cottage) is the Kindle KDP Select program. For those who don't know, this is a controversial program by Amazon that offers several interesting incentives to authors-- but only if you agree to sell your work exclusively on for 90 days. There are a lot of different opinions on this program, and I've waffled on whether or not to participate. My decision finally came down to the opportunity it offers to jumpstart attention by strategically using free giveaway days. I think this feature works better for those with multiple releases, but it is a way for anyone to get a burst of attention for a new book, even if it's my first and only book for sale so far. The other thing that helps self-pubbed authors is that many of the big publishers don't participate in it, which helps indie authors get more attention within the program. The fact that it only commits me to the program for 90 days is another incentive to try it. After that time, I should have two more books ready to put up for sale, and can launch the group of books at all the online retailers at that time. So I'm thinking of this as a pre-launch sneak peek, and later will be a full launch of the series. We'll see what happens.

If you'd like more info on the pros and cons of the KDP Select program, here are a bunch of sources I used in my research:

Yes, that's a lot to read (and these are only the tip of the iceberg). But it's important to understand the business if you want to take advantage of these opportunities. What I found interesting was the wide variety of experiences people had using the same publishing program. I think this is a variation on the old adage: there are three important things you need to do to create a bestseller. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

My next blog, on Wednesday, March 21, will be on my beginner's attempts at promotion.

Happy writing, everyone!




Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Hi, Barb! I continue to be so impressed by your research!

And I totally agree each author's marketing strategy will be different. I might also add the marketing strategy can change as an author's career changes and the number of books published increases.

I find your self-publishing journey very interesting! Thank you for sharing!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Barb,You have done your homework!

As a self-pub author and a print pub author I agree with a lot of what you said. But I refuse to do the New "Kindle Select" Only because I don't believe they should have a monopoly on my book.

My price point decisions were made by taking into consideration the books I put up. The ones I have rights reverted back to me, I placed on all the main ebook venues for .99. Except my EPPIE award book. I made that $2.99. Then at Christmas time I made a Christmas Novella Free. I had 50,000 downloads and made new readers.

Due to the low prices ont he first three Halsey books, the readers bought the fourth which is still with my publisher and shot my sales up and made me PAN eligible. Then I self-pubbed the final Halsey book and put the price at $3.99 and it is picking up in sales. I figure if all the readers who paid the publisher price for the fourth book buy the last book, I'll be doing well.

I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to price the new series when I put it up. I'm thinking the first book or two at $2.99 and then raise the last two to $3.99.

And eventually when the Mystery series is ready to roll, I see what the mystery books are selling for and work with that price point.

But I'm loving the self-publishing because I can get the cover I want and I can see more money for my time and effort.

Barbara Cool Lee said...

Hi, Paty. Thanks for explaining your pricing strategy. That really helps. How did you price your novella at free on Amazon? I can't find any way to do that except through the KDP Select program.