Jeremy D Brooks

Archive for February, 2011

The Book Pricing Game

by on Feb.25, 2011, under Writing

It’s been, oh…almost six months since Amity hit the mean streets of Amazon (mean jungles of Amazon?). I still, every single day, do something related to this book, be it shilling on Twitter, talking to people about it on email, hiding Amity bookmarks in library books, or obsessing over statistics.

The point is that it’s an ongoing process.

It seems to, still, be fairly well received, despite the lack of professional editing or artwork, and the disturbing nature of the story. I know quite well that there are a few typos in Amity…that’s actually on my to-do list this weekend (one of the benefits of self-pubbed ebooks is that you can make changes like that and it’s a seamless process to the marketplace). I also know that a lot of people don’t love the cover, but I’m hesitent to change that at this point; the cost of new artwork is certainly never going to pan out in increased book sales (although it was an important lesson for future books). It’s a process.

I’ve also been playing with the book prices (paperback and ebook), to interesting results.

If sales keep trending, this mouse will be mine in 287 more years.

When I first released the paperback, I set it at $13.99, which Amazon discounted right away to about $10. Which was great, because when Amazon discounts, you get paid on the full price. $10 seemed to be a point where people would take a chance on a new author, and I sold a small number of books (the actual number sold is close to 60, but a lot of those went to relatives and friends which, although awesome, isn’t reflective of pricing, per se). I would say maybe twenty copies were sold outside of that group.

At the beginning of the year, Amazon bumped it up to the full price of $13.99, which I then lowered to the current price of $11.96. Sales for the paperback since the beginning of the year: 1 copy. So, as a part of my weekend cleanup, I’m going to jack the price down again, basically wiping out the per-book profit. But, it’s important to keep in mind that this is all marketing and (knock on wood) building a fan base. As long as I’m not bleeding green, it’s all part of the process.

The ebook had a similar story. The initial price was $2.99, which Amazon did not discount. I sold very few units. The first four months, my paperback-to-ebook ratio was maybe 4:1. Around the beginning of February, I decided to take the ebook price down to $.99 (which Amazon discounted right away to $.89), and my sales started moving. Within one day, I sold six ebooks—a stark contrast to the four ebooks I had sold in the entire prior month. Unfortunately, I didn’t continue to sell six a day, but the trend has definitely kept upward. Sometime next week, I’ll put up a graph with the complete month-end specifics, but at this point, with 4 more days left in the month, I’m sitting at nineteen sales.

Big deal, right? Joe Konrath sold nineteen books in the time it took him to floss this morning. But, remember, Mythbusters: this is data! It shows how important the book price is in this environment: an untested author, a self-published book, and a book without a clear-cut genre. $.99, it would seem, is low enough to mitigate some of that risk.

Also, a cool side-effect: due to the spike in sales, Amity was, as of 2/21/2011, the #76 top seller in techno-thrillers, and (probably due to the small number of reviews), the #46 top-rated ebook on Amazon. All of which, in theory, may help sales, due to the additional exposure. Woot.

It’s a process, and a learning experience. Robert Swartwood brought up this same topic earlier today, and has more details from other writers. Next week: the graph.

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