Price change for Kindle and Nook ebooks

Posted on June 26, 2012 (Subscribe to Blog)

A dozen things are buzzing around in my head at the moment, so bear with me as I organize them.

I have four books in the Island of Fog series with the fifth due out in August. I fully intend a sixth book early 2013. And that, I think, will round off the series for now. That's not to say I'll never write a seventh, just that I don't have plans for one at the moment. But how on earth do I sell these books I keep writing?

Will increasing my ebook price from 99 cents to $2.99 help or hinder sales?

As time goes on, the publishing world shifts and readers shift with it. It wasn't long ago that everyone started lowering their novel price to $0.99 here in the USA, which is dirt cheap for the amount of work that goes into writing it! This was "guaranteed to get your book in front of readers" because there were/are so many websites who list "books for under a buck" and so on. But the trend is shifting again. Now it seems that $0.99 is too cheap; it devalues the novel. Also, if the book is too cheap, readers might buy it without really thinking, then realize it's the wrong genre and trash it in a review simply because it's not what they expected. Yes, that happens. If a book is priced a little higher, in theory only readers who really want that kind of book will buy it. And readers who really want that kind of book are probably the sort of readers an author wants.

So I altered my Kindle/Nook books last month. Previously they were $0.99 for Book 1 and $4.99 each for Books 2-4 (the idea being that those who loved the first one will happily fork out for the others). Now my books are $2.99 for Book 1 and $3.99 each for Books 2-4.

Has this made a difference? I feared that sales would drop with a price increase but so far there's been no change whatsoever. Sales continue to trickle though. This is good. And since I sell more of Book 1 than the others, I'm making more profit than before.

Does printed book distribution matter if 95% of sales are electronic?

Another shift has been in the number of electronic sales versus the number of printed sales. A couple of years ago, virtually all my sales were printed editions, so I used Lightning Source who provided the best possible distribution. This meant I got my books into Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. But guess what? None of that matters if I don't sell any copies in bookstores! Since about 95% of the books I sell these days are electronic (Kindle and Nook), I'm planning to change my printer back to CreateSpace. Their distribution isn't as good but, aside from selling copies personally, most printed sales come through Amazon anyway. And Amazon own CreateSpace, so it follows that CreateSpace is the best choice for Amazon distribution!

Will joining a writers' collective help to promote books?

And yet another shift is my personal need to be in control of everything. Well, that won't change; I'll always want to be in control of everything. But I don't have to try and reinvent the wheel in everything I do. A few weeks ago I was invited to join a "collective" of authors, editors, designers, and so on, with a view to helping each other get our books out there. I already have a sort of unofficial collective, more a circle of author buddies, but an "official collective" might be even better. Marketing is my downfall. I hate marketing. Other than this blog, Facebook and Twitter, I do absolutely nothing to promote my books. Many authors do book tours and interviews and all kinds of online things, and I need to do more of that myself. Maybe joining a collective will give me a much-needed kick up the backside.

Do traditional publishers look for bestselling indie authors?

Which brings me to the most important shift of all. The stories about traditional publishers on the decline might be true in part, but it seems the biggest change these days is the way they prowl the self-published waters looking for the next bestselling author. The problem is that (generally speaking) a traditional publisher won't take on a new author. Instead they work with established authors OR they look at self-published "indie" authors who are Making It Big. Those who sell 40,000 copies, for example, are ripe for the picking; the publisher assumes (correctly) that the author is very good at marketing and has a huge following, and is therefore less of a business risk than someone who is only capable of selling a handful. What publisher wants to take on an author who has no idea how to sell his own book? These days, self-published authors are virtually putting themselves on display and showing their marketing prowess – or lack thereof – and if you can't sell your own self-published book, then why would you be any better with a traditional publisher behind you?

This is all very generalized, but these are the sorts of dilemmas indie authors are facing. The only way to get around it is to NOT self-publish and therefore hide your complete inability to sell. But then, you see, a publisher won't be interested in you because you're an unknown with no track record... Arrrghhh!

There's another problem I see for myself that I'll go into separately. Look for that in my next post, entitled "Ideas to reboot the Island of Fog series." This doesn't simply mean to boost sales – it literally means rebooting the series... but not in the way you might imagine. It's got me quite excited thinking about it! More soon.

Comment by MIKE DEWOLFE on Wednesday, July 4, 2012...

I think that the difference between $0.99 and $2.99 is not the difference between make or break on the purchase of a book. If people are concerned about the price of a Kindle edition, they have three workarounds: they will borrow the book; they will buy a book, speed read it and request a refund; or they will hold out for the prospect of a free promotion.

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