Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Snowball Effect - How Low Ebook Prices Help Build My Audience

Back in January - mid-January to be exact - I posted about the changes to the pricing structure of my novels. I figured I'd update everyone and give all of you indie authors out there an idea if the pricing structure is working or not. The final analysis? Yes, it's working. Working well, I might add.

The original price of the books in my Black Earth series in digital format were $2.99 for End of the Innocence (book1) and $4.99 for The Broken Daisy (book2). I dropped these prices in mid-January to 99 cents for End of the Innocence and $2.99 for The Broken Daisy.

Before my January price changes, here were my sales figures (these figures are sales through the Kindle, seeing how I'm making most of my sales on the Kindle at the moment) -

December 2010 - US Kindle Sales = 7
November 2010 - US Kindle Sales = 3
October 2010 - US Kindle Sales =   UK Kindle Sales = 1

After my price changes, here are my numbers for 2011 so far -

January 2011 - US Kindle Sales = 30    UK Kindle Sales = 8
February 2011 - US Kindle Sales = 55  UK Kindle Sales = 2
March 2011 (so far) - US Kindle Sales = 41    UK Kindle Sales = 1

When looking at these numbers, please take into consideration that I've also upped my marketing efforts a bit. I spend a decent amount of time in the Kindle Boards, both promoting my books and helping other authors promote theirs. I've become a bit more accustomed to Twitter, thanks to a huge Twitter series that Kristen Lamb has been blogging about. I've also been emailing and opening conversations with blog reviewers, especially ones who are kind enough to take the time to review indie authors. Check out Scott's reviews at Indie Book Blog, and the mammoth list of reviewers at Step-by-Step Self-Publishing for examples of who I've been reaching out to for reviews.

In the last few months, I've seen some statements made about how some think an author pricing their book at 99 cents is foolish because of all the blood and toil put into writing/editing/publishing a book. While I agree it is hard work getting a decent book off the ground, I don't have an issue pricing the first book in my sci-fi/fantasy series at such a low price if it means I am building a fan base for the series as a whole and gaining new fans of my work.

In other words, it can't always be about the money.

I know, I know. Many of you would argue that if it's not putting food on the table, what's the point, right? I understand your point of view, but you need to look at the bigger picture. Gaining exposure is like rolling a snowball down a hill. It has to gain momentum, has to gain followers, has to gain some spotlight before it will get bigger. As much as I need the money right now - and God knows I need the money - my focus needs to be on growing my audience. The more readers that have my book in their hands, the greater my chances of reviews, of blog/Twitter/Facebook mentions, of more sales.

Even though I lowered the prices of my paperback novels, I haven't noticed much of a change with their sales. And that's okay, because I'm focusing more of my marketing strategy toward ebooks at the moment. Digital ereaders aren't just the 'new craze'. They are portable, convenient, and somewhat affordable. Meaning they are going to continue to be bought up. And with them, readers will want to be packing their digital data banks with countless books. Affordable books.

See, if a reader hasn't heard of me before, 99 cents is an easy risk to take on a new author. And if they like the first book in my series, it's an easy decision for them to spend only $2.99 on the next book. And if I can keep the books in the series rolling out in a decent time frame, my readers will continue to buy into the series, gaining me both a lifelong fan and someone who will hopefully spread the word about my novels.

I'll be continuing my pricing structure when my young adult novel series debuts this summer with Endangered Memories. It will be made available in ebook format for 99 cents, to get everyone into the series. From there, subsequent books in the series will be priced at $2.99. (Of course, all the novels will also be available in paperback for a nominal price.)

(Photo credit - kamshots)


Anonymous said...

I would say that the massive increase in sales more than makes up for losing some money on fewer books sold. I fully agree with .99 not being a risk for the reader (myself) and think it's perfectly reasonable to take the other books to 2.99. I have tried several books for .99 that I may not have for 2.99 and almost certainly would have passed on at 4.99. This could also be because I have a list of around 150 books to look through lol.

Keep up the good work David I for one enjoy your books and wish you great success.

Unknown said...

I always appreciate your support, Scott. I know for many online book reviewers like yourself, it can get costly trying to support a self-published author AND review their books, so I'm sure 99 cents to intro you to an author's series is a win/win. :D

T.J. Dotson said...

Having watched other authors, I think this sort of thing exponential. You are starting to build momentum.

As more people read you, and your reviews build, other people will want to read you. 40 to 50 sales a month, is a good start.

Unknown said...

T.J., 40 to 50 sales a month is a great start! And you're right about it all being exponential. By having my pricing where it's at now, even if I just kept making 40 to 50 sales per month, I have that fan base to pull from when I come out with new work, bringing me possibly 40 to 50 more a month and so on. Hopefully it will sell beyond that, though, but I think where I'm at right now is a great spot indeed.