June was a cruel bitch mistress. I was lulled into a false sense of happy security the first couple of days when I actually made pretty good sales (ie 5-6 a day rather than the more normal 2-4). Could it be that I was finally starting to take off? Yeah, not exactly.
As pretty much every indie knows, the first couple of weeks of June Amazon had a “sunshine deal” where they sold trad books for $.99-$2.99. Price is the key advantage that an indie has over traditionally published books. Unless you are competing with someone’s favorite authors, if you present an equivalent cover, blurb, and story you have a good chance of them taking a chance on you if you’re 1/3rd of the price of the other guy. So that whole thing with dropping the prices? Owie.
You might also recall that on the 16th or so I raised the price of I Wish… to $2.99. I had mixed feelings about that move. I mean on the one hand, I think it’s wise to try to get my books into as many hands as I possibly can which I did through mass giveaways the week of release. My thinking being that I need reviews and return customers more than I need the money. But after the first couple of weeks my sales dropped to 2-4 a day and frankly, if that’s all I’m selling at $.99 then I have nothing to lose by raising the price because even 1 sale a day will still be several times as much money.
I’m actually rethinking my entire pricing scheme. I assumed that I, like most indies, would just price on the $.99-$2.99 structure. But I’ve been doing some reading of opinion pieces lately and I think I’m beginning to think that people are starting to just assume that $.99 means a book is either total crap or spam.
Now I KNOW that Amanda Hocking and John Locke built their empires on that very price point and others do very well too. I’d be curious how many people are actually able to earn a living at $.99 and when they started publishing. My guess is that most of the people who sell like wildfire at $.99 have been priced that way since at least January. I’m open to the fact I don’t know anything though. If you’re someone who’s published more recently than that and you’re having mega success, let me know. I’ll publicly retract my statements. They are just guesses and speculation, after all. I’m not married to them.
Here are a couple of articles that explain why they don’t agree with $.99 pricing:
Jeff Kirvin– He makes an interesting point about $.99 sales not being sustainable.
Karen Dionne– " When people don’t know what a fundamentally new product should cost, they are strongly influenced by the first price they encounter…”
Alistair Barr– “Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word.”
Dean Wesley Smith– This one is my personal favorite.
So yeah, that’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve never agreed with the $.99 price point and I’m thinking that I’m going to trust my initial instincts and price my books at $4.99, which is what I feel like an indie book should really be worth. It’s still only half the price of a traditional ebook and let’s be honest, I feel like my story is a good one. I think it’s worth $5.
Hopefully, that’ll expand to a readable size.
This is the main gist of it though. I sold a total of 24 books at $2.99 since I marked it up on the 16th. I made just under $50. Which is fully half of my total earnings since I published in mid May.
Is it hurting my sales? It’s hard to tell. My only full week I sold 17 copies @ $2.99. But two weeks ago I only sold 20 copies @ $.99 so…
My main concern lately is that the awesome momentum I had the first couple of weeks seems to have slowed down. I can tell by looking at my blog stats that several people are going from my blog to my book every day. That’s great! That’s what I hope for. However, my sales are telling me that they aren’t buying. That part? Not as good.
Something is making people decide not to buy. I’m taking price off the table for now since this has been going on since before I changed my price. I have good reviews (15 5 stars, 4 4 stars, and 2 3 stars), I’m actually rated in the top 100 of two different categories. So it’s not that people are hearing bad things about my story that’s scaring them off.
So that leaves either my blurb or my cover. I think my blurb is ok. It tells the information in short, punchy sentences. My cover though… I’m pretty sure it’s not conveying the message I want it to. I don’t think it screams “I’m a suspenseful paranormal book about witches and life or death struggles.” That is a decidedly unfortunate thing since it IS a book about those very things.
I’ve hired a cover artist, the sweet Tammy Luke, who designed 2 of Courtney Cole’s book covers. She’s been really easy to work with and the sample images she’s sent me to approve have been awesome; pretty and creepy. I have great faith that she’ll come up with something eye catching and hopefully I’ll be able to report that that’s the thing that was holding me back.
Oh! And I almost forgot! I finally put I Wish… up for purchase on Barnes & Noble. I made 9 sales in the two weeks it was up there. I’m going to call that a success since nobody seems to sell all that great there. Only three of those sales were at $.99. I made just under $13 in June from B&N. So my total earnings for June were about $80 (not counting foreign sales since I’m not exactly sure how the payout will work on those). I officially earned enough to fill my van with gas. Yay!
I forgot to mention the total I sold. Including all sales from all avenues (US/UK/DE/B&N) I sold 110 books. To put it in perspective I sold 105 books in May and I was only published between the 15th and the end of the month. So as you can see, I am not living up to the standard I set coming out of the gate. That’s a bummer.