Jeremy D Brooks

Ebook Pricing Part II: The February Spike

by on Mar.07, 2011, under Writing

The ebook pricing discussion continues all around the internets…

In my last post, I discussed how my ebook sales increased dramatically when I dropped the price from $2.99 to $.99. I pulled all of the data at month-end, and sprayed it all into a nice, pretty little graph (I’m an MBA…I can’t understand anything unless it’s in the form of a histogram or pie chart).

McDonalds Dollar Menu, here I come.

The final rollup: January, at $2.99 a book, I sold four books. February, at $.99, I sold twenty three.

Those are sales. Here’s how it shakes out for revenue:

$2.99 is the lowest rate for the 70% payout with Amazon ebooks, so when you lower the price below that, you drop down to the 35% option.

$2.99 x 4 x 70% = $8.37

$.99 x 23 x 35% = $7.97

Two obvious things: not a huge difference between the two net values, and I won’t be retiring early off of these numbers at either rate.

But, here’s the big difference: in the second option, almost six times more people have read my book. That’s not revenue…that’s marketing, baby. And if you can’t make money in the short term, make sure you’re getting the word out.

Three last notes:

What you don’t see in the graph are the 200 copies that were downloaded for free in my Freebeer project in December. Eyes on books.

Of almost fifty Smashwords book preview downloads, I sold zero (although I know that I sold at least one through B&N via Smashwords, but they aren’t reporting it for some reason). My SW prices are always the same as Amazon, and SW feeds into at least four stores in addition to their own, including iBookstore, B&N, Diesel, and Sony.

After my big spike of paperback sales (family and friends), they zeroed out. Even at under $12, paperbacks don’t appear to be my market. That price needs to go way down. Again, it’s a marketing expense at this point. Livable revenue comes with volume—not per-book revenue—and the only way to get volume is broad distribution. If you don’t have a publisher stumping and selling, you have to do it with word of mouth and price.

So, there you go…I’d be very happy to hear other people’s results.


5 Comments for this entry

  • Cate Gardner

    That’s quite a spike for February. I really hope the trend continues.

    Oh, and graphs are awesome.

  • Aaron Polson

    Jeremy – Smart marketing advice/strategy. Pimp the cheap books to get eyes on your work. A recent Smashwords review of the free version of Bottom Feeders said “I’ll be looking for more by this author”. Yes. Yes indeed.

  • jeremy

    Cate: me too, although March has started out slow.

    Aaron: I think it’s taking what we all pretty much know instinctively and codifying it as a strategy: lose money on the first few books to maybe make a living at it some time down the road in the long tail. True Believers and all that.

  • Katey

    Great stuff, Jeremy. Livable revenue comes with volume—not per-book – that’s the MBA for you! So true, man.

    Thanks for updating us on this pricing experiment. Really fascinating!

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