Introducing A New, Weekly Feature: Dispatches From Publetariat.com – Beginning With Why I Sell My Novel For 99 Cents

May 24, 2011
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Publetariat: For People Who Publish!Since its launch a little over three years ago, Publetariat.com has become the premier online news hub and community for indie authors and small imprints. Ebooks are a major component of most indies’ publication strategy nowadays, and the ebook news and commentary Publetariat shares is often of interest to readers, as well. With that in mind, beginning today indieKindle will be sharing cross-posts from Publetariat each week. Let’s begin with a post from indie author and publishing consultant Joanna Penn, on the topic of ebook pricing.

There’s a lot of talk about the 99 cent ebook at the moment, so I thought I would just throw in my own 99 cents worth. Pentecost is currently 99 cents on the US Kindle store, although it started out at $2.99. It’s rank as I write this is shown above.

Here are the reasons I am leaving it at 99 cents. These are all my own reasons and may not be applicable to you, so I am not saying everyone should do this, merely why I am.

Pentecost sales ranks

  • 99 cents is an impulse buy for anyone. My husband and I are Kindle converts and spend a lot of time reading. He isn’t an author and doesn’t keep up with the industry like I do so watching his behavior is fascinating. He buys a lot of 99 cent ebooks after downloading samples. He has tried a whole stack of indie authors based on 99 cent books and has told other people about them. It is a low risk buy and if someone enjoys the sample, they don’t even need to think about clicking when the price is under $1. I want those readers to try me as well.
  • Number of books sold is more important than income for me right now. I have a well paid day job so I am not writing for income just yet. I hope to in the future but right now, I want readers and fans. I want people signing up for Prophecy (which they do every day) and I want to build a large number of people who want to read more of my books. I am writing a series so I want to build fans now who I can sell to in the future. Hocking and others have made the first book in the series cheap (or some have made it free) and then upped the price on the subsequent books to $2.99. I may well follow suit with others in the series but for now, 99 cents is a great price for the first one.
  • The example of John Locke. Locke is rocking the Amazon charts with his 99 cent ebooks and this article is what convinced me to follow his example. He writes good thrillers with the brilliant Donovan Creed character. For 99 cents they are great value and you just buy all of them if you like what he writes. 6 books for the price of half a mainstream published book – fantastic! I’ve spent an afternoon in the hammock with Donovan Creed and it was very enjoyable! The quote below is from the interview with him.

  • JA Konrath and the impact of staying in the Amazon bestseller rank. Konrath writes the best blog for ebook authors, definitely subscribe and be inspired! He changes prices all the time and experiments with things but this got my attention “when I lowered the price of The List from $2.99 to 99 cents, I started selling 20x as many copies” (from the same Locke article). When I first launched Pentecost, I made the Amazon rankings in launch week based on my platform and my marketing activities but then I dropped out of the charts. Of course, I freaked out because I cannot sustain the effort it takes to maintain those rankings on my own. So after reading a lot of Konrath, I dropped my price to 99 cents and I haven’t left the charts since. I have been in Religious Fiction for 10 weeks now and have started ranking in Action/Adventure (which I believe in my true home!) I have definitely seen the evidence that lowering the price affected my ranking. Perhaps I should change the price back to $2.99 and see if it has an impact but for all the other reasons listed, I’m leaving it as is for now.
  • Fast-paced action-adventure thrillers won’t change your life. Pentecost will entertain you for a few hours but it won’t give you actionable tips for your business and won’t inspire you to give everything to charity or work for world peace. It is fiction and is there to take you out of your world for a time. I pay far more money for non-fiction books that will help me in a tangible manner than I will for fiction which I read once and then (often) forget. It’s not that I don’t value fiction writing, but the price you pay for entertainment has to be representative vs the price you pay for actionable content. I sell my e-courses for $39.99 and up to $297, and my workshops are also more expensive. I am definitely happy charging more when I believe you get more benefit, but with a thriller I am competing with free TV or a movie so want to price it attractively.

What do you think about the 99 cent ebook? What price do you sell for? Do you buy 99 cent ebooks?

This is a reprint from Joanna Penn‘s The Creative Penn.

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