I wrote an article for IndieReader that I'd thought I share on my blog in case you missed it.
Anyone who has been paying attention to the news lately knows that—as
the result of recent Department of Justice lawsuit—traditional
publishers can no longer set final prices for their ebooks, which many
readers feel should be priced considerably less than their paper
counterparts. The question remains, does pricing effect how well a book
sells? Jeremy Greenfield, a contributor at Forbes recently wrote, “… we’re going to watch the E-Book Best-Sellers List very carefully to see if HarperCollins’s new pricing impacts best-seller ranking. I expect it will.”
How much to price a book, especially for an indie author, is often a
guessing game. Too high for an unknown author looks presumptuous. On
the other hand, free can sometimes feel too desperate. I did a
ridiculous amount of research on indie pricing before landing at $2.99.
On an average month, I sell roughly 2,000 Kindle copies of my book, One Pink Line,
whose ranking tends to hang out in the 1,000’s. Kinda like a
high-school kid hanging out in the smoking area, watching the
cheerleaders—in this case, titles that have cracked Amazon’s top
100—giggle and paw at each other as they celebrate their fabulousness.
Not to diminish my sales and typical ranking by any means, because I
WORK MY TAIL OFF daily to keep it there, but hanging out with the
cheerleaders in the Top 100 is where I ultimately want to be.
I wish it didn’t matter to me. I wish I didn’t care about the
rankings. I wish I didn’t feel jealous when I see others books doing so
much better than mine, but I’d be lying to you if I said otherwise. Much
like Snooki, writing novels has been a dream of mine, and if I can
possibly do this for a living and maybe support my family by doing so,
then my book needs to wear that Amazon Top 100 crown. It matters. Huge.
A couple weeks ago, I was asked to be a part of a group of seventeen
indie authors who were going to price their books at $.99 for the Labor
Day weekend. Sort of a group sale in which we would all join together to
cross promote each others titles and gain maximum exposure for over the
Prior to this event, my book, One Pink Line, has been
consistently priced at $2.99 – which in my mind (and quite literally) is
not a far cry from $.99. That being said, I realize there is a greater
perceived savings at the lower price point. The implication that the
reader is getting much more of a bargain by paying less than a dollar
for my book.
When I had my book enrolled in KDP Select, I vacillated for the
entire three months on whether or not to take advantage of the FREE days
they offer. In the end, I did not. I know those promotional days have
worked wonders for other authors, but I simply could not bring myself to
give my book away for FREE. But when this ‘Labor Day of Love’
opportunity came my way, I thought it would be a great way to test the
waters of the ‘almost FREE’ and possibly reach my ultimate goal of
getting One Pink Line into the Amazon Top 100.
So I priced my eBook at $.99 on Amazon and began doing what I do
best: shamelessly self-promoting myself until my eyes bled from the
illumination on my computer monitor. Everyone loves a deal, so my
amazing network of authors and bloggers were more than happy to share
the news. Saturday morning, September 1st at 6:00am I’d sold 13 Kindle
copies at $.99 and my book was ranked at #1,645 in the Amazon Best
Sellers Paid in Kindle Store. By 7:00pm it was ranked at #536, and when I
woke up Sunday morning, it was #60. I nearly fell off my Target
barstool. I screamed for my nine-year old son to come look, and he gave
me huge grin and a high-five before asking what was taking me so long
with his bagel.
I did it.
Thanks to the many people who helped spread the news, I cracked the
Amazon 100. And while I spent the next day watching it slide down like a
cream pie on a glass window, I have never been so happy to click that
refresh button as I was that Sunday morning.
In a matter of three days, I managed to sell 2,178 copies of my book
at $.99. Did I sell out by doing this? And why are readers more inclined
to purchase at this price point rather than $2.99? My book has 100
5-star reviews; do those two dollars really make that big of a
discernible difference to someone? I think the reason the strategy
worked was that I waited until my book was well-reviewed and somewhat
widely read before resorting to fire-sale prices. This way, it looked as
though the reader really was getting a decent deal. A book with over
125 reviews, and a 4.7 out of 5 rating was being offered up at $.99 –
now that’s a steal! By tempting people and lowering my price a mere $2, I
incentivized thousands of people that were on the fence into buying it
(you know you’ve bought a Groupon under the same pretense!).
My obvious hope was that One Pink Line would hang out in the
Top 100 until the price went back to $2.99, much like a party guest
that won’t leave until he scrapes the bottom of the spinach artichoke
dip with his finger…but that wasn’t the case. However, when I take a
step back from my bat-shit-crazy obsession with rankings, I realize that
not only are people buying my book, they seem to be enjoying it as
They also appreciate a good deal.