Tag Archives: Indie Romance Ink

The Beauty of the .99 cent Price Point

Welcome to another Tuesday edition of the Writing Secrets of 7 Scribes. PJ Sharon here with today’s unlocked secret. I’d like to talk about e-book prices. Specifically, ways to use the .99 cent price point strategy to boost sales, gain exposure, and get your books listed on the hottest advertising sites around.

First off, if you are traditionally published, changing the price of your e-books is likely beyond your control. Additionally, publisher prices of e-books in most cases will set you and your books outside the realm of “discounted” or “cheap” reads since all of those folks in the middle (agents, editors, etc.) need to take a piece of your pie. The average traditionally published e-book is priced anywhere from $7.99-$15.99–not exactly an impulse buy kind of price. Being that there are no print costs, storage rates, or delivery fees to pay, I’m not sure what these prices reflect– other than the publishers trying to make up for a declining print book industry. These prices may not discourage rabid fans of Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or James Patterson, but if you are a new author trying to gain a readership, your publisher may be pricing you out of the market. There is simply too much free and reduced price product available to readers. As such, higher priced e-books are likely going to to have difficulty finding an audience as time goes on. Then again, I could be wrong. The benefits of having a publisher with access to a publicist who is willing to help you get exposure through pre-orders and reviews might just balance out the playing field. (I’d love to hear some comments from trad pubbed authors about this topic.)

If however, you have self-published titles that aren’t selling well, or you have a series that you would like to promote, the ability to give your readers a deep discount can open some new doors.
For one thing, there are several advertising sites that focus mainly on selling discounted e-books. Kindle Nation Daily, Book Bub and Kindle Fire Department just to name a few. All of these sites can give your discounted e-books the excellent exposure they need to get them into the hands of lots of new readers. The caveat is that because there are so many authors trying to get their books in front of the world, advertisers have the advantage of picking and choosing which books they will feature. Requirements are becoming more stringent. Some expect as many as 18+ reviews with an average 4.5 star rating. To further narrow the field, the books may not be accepted if they have been offered for free within the past few months, causing some issues for authors who have participated in the KDP Select program with Amazon.

Lest you feel you are “giving away the shop” with this .99 cent price point, think of how large retail stores encourage consumers to try a new product. They will often give away samples or significantly reduced price items in order to introduce customers to a new product or product line. It’s known in the industry as a loss leader. Even if you normally price your e-books at the $2.99-$4.99 sweet spot for impulse buyers, a drop to .99 cents can expose you to a whole new readership who ONLY buys .99 cent books or downloads freebies. You might take a cut in royalties (from 70% down to 35%) but if it leads readers to other books in a series or gains you a new following, the increased volume of sales and the boost to your rankings can be a sacrifice well worth making.

Now, there are a few tricks you can try to employ to keep 70% of your dollar. By changing the price of your e-book on Smashwords and BN, for instance, and then waiting for Amazon to price match. If they choose to change the price, they won’t change your royalty rates, but as the TOS (terms of service) agreement states, authors are not supposed to offer the book at a lower price on any other distribution channels,so it may ruffle their feathers. It could also take several days or even weeks before Amazon catches up with the new price (a process that can sometimes be sped up by having friends “report” the lower price), and there is always the risk that they could call you out on the contract breach. So far, Amazon has been amenable to price matching strategies that self-published authors are using. One of the silly benefits of allowing Amazon to match the lower price of their own volition is the neat little slash they put through the old price so that customers know they are getting a deal.(See here for example)

If you decide to try a .99 cent sale on one or more of your books, it can help to boost your exposure if you join with other authors who are doing the same thing. Readers will often look for these “group sales” so that they can stock up on “cheap” reads all at once for their summer reading. Indie Romance Ink, a yahoo group for independently published authors has just such a sale coming up this week from May 1-3, called the Book Lovers Buffet, Bouquet of Books, offering over 150 e-book titles across multiple genres, all priced at a very affordable .99 cents each! There are books for every reader available all in the same place and we have a staggering number of authors promoting the sale. We’ve lined up dozens of book bloggers, FB pages, and advertisers all promoting with us. Hopefully we’ll have a good turn out. Check out our landing page by clicking the icon below, but wait until tomorrow if you want to enter to win great prizes. If you stop by today, you can browse through the books, but the prize page won’t be active until tomorrow and there are no price guarantees until the sale starts.bouquet-sale-button[4] Be sure to spread the word to family and friends. Hope you find exactly what you’re looking for!

As for me, both WANING MOON and HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES will be available for .99 cents during the sale. I’ll also be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift card at my http://www.pjsharonyawriter.blogspot.com site to one lucky vistor who drops by and leaves a comment with a valid e-mail address (not to be used for any other promotions).

Contest ends at midnight on May 3rd. Winners to be announced Sunday, May 5th. Thanks to everyone who organized the sale (Clover Autrey…you know who you are), and a big thanks to everyone for passing along the word on FB, twitter, and Goodreads.

What do you all think about e-book prices and the .99 cent price point strategy?

Booklovers Buffet and the .99 cent Mega Sale

Last week I talked about FREE e-books, and we covered both the good news and the bad news. You can read here if you missed my take on how freebies have changed the landscape of book selling and author promotion. You can also get the scoop on how Amazon’s algorithms are changing to meet those market trends over at Nina Pierce’s blog that was posted just yesterday. Some folks are a bit nervous about what Amazon has up their sleeve next. The conglomerate seems to be masterfully diabolical about staying one step ahead of the curve.

Changes are happening very quickly in the publishing world and it’s tough to keep up, but I just  try to keep in mind, as I’ve said before, that my journey is all a grand experiment. I try a dash of this, a dollop of that, and hope to find the magical combinations that create the perfect recipe for success.

Sometimes you get lucky and hit the market just right, and other times, you put it all out there and find that you’ve missed the boat. What worked a few months ago will likely not work today. The trick seems to be staying fluid and riding whatever wave you happen to be on until the next one comes along.

To quote one of my favorite Disney sidekicks, Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimmin’”.

I also live by the Marine Corp motto, “Adapt, improvise, and overcome.” I try to do one big promotional event per month and I’m taking opportunities as they come, choosing what I think will be the most effective way for me to move forward and build my readership. I recognize that it’s not just about making money, which means I’m willing to play with pricing to see if it helps with my overall growth and name recognition. 

I’d like to touch on another common cross-promotional tool that has been very successful over the past year or two for indie-pubbed authors—the .99 cent e-book. A year ago, this was the hottest promotional tool out there, and people were making best seller’s lists all over the place in response to those wildly successful sales.
Of course you have to sell a whole lot of books to make any money, but hitting the lists was worth the short term loss for the long term gain of leading readers to your door, especially if you have multiple titles.

 That .99 cent price point doesn’t have quite the same appeal now that there are so many free e-books available and there is a general attitude that cheap e-books may not be of the same quality as higher priced books. On the other hand, readers are having kittens over having to pay 9.99-12.99 for e-books that may, in fact, be more expensive than the print copies. It seems the sweet spot of pricing, according to Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, is 2.99-4.99.

Most readers are willing to take a chance on a new author if the book is for free, but if they are going to pay .99 cents, they would rather pay a few extra dollars to buy a quality read from a familiar author who has a few books available and has gained some recognition through a bunch of good reviews or by being on the top 100 list. I’m here to tell you folks that there are many awesome reads on those .99 cent shelves. Sometimes a bargain is just that, a bargain. If you are a reader, keep checking those .99 cent titles and I’ll bet you find some gems!

I am also still a huge advocate of cross-promotion (look for my guest post on the WG2E this Thursday.) I’ve been part of a few of these group promos and the experience is well worth the effort, whether you sell a ton of books or not. I’ve learned a lot about how to work in a large group, I’ve met some wonderfully tech savvy and innovative people, and I’ve found support among like-minded individuals who all have a common goal.

Nothing to sneeze at, I assure you. Best of all, it’s one more way to get great books into the hands of readers for a great price, as D.D. Scott likes to say.

So, beginning this Friday, June 8th, and continuing until June 22nd, a group of over one hundred and fifty authors from the Indie Romance Ink loop will put their books on sale for .99 cents. The Book Lover’s Buffet was first offered as a holiday promotion back in December. I didn’t make a lot of money on the sale, but I did make a best sellers list for the first time, and it gave me the  confidence boost I needed, to know that I could manage this Indie-pub gig.

When the invite came up to do it again, I jumped. It will be interesting to see how a .99 cent promotion goes with the current buzz claiming the wave has come and gone. My feeling is that I have nothing to lose, and that if I can help some other authors sell their books, reach a few new readers, and have some fun along the way, it’s worth another wild ride. Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted on results.

Bookmark this page so you can check back on Friday when the Book Lovers Buffet Vacation Getaway site goes live and you can browse the list of over 150 indie titles, all for .99 cents. Be sure to enter for your chance to win some great prizes.

How do you think the trends in e-book buying will evolve? Will readers shun .99 Cent e-books in favor of FREE and higher priced books? I’d love to hear your predictions.