A Maze of Sale Options
Or a few things I’ve gleaned about my indie publishing.
So, I suspect Witchfinder is a bit overpriced. It was forced on me, more or less, by my early decision to set subscription price at $6. At that time, I intended to publish Witchfinder at 9.99.
This was because I was trying to foster the impression that it was traditionally published. Well, when I got it out 2 years later, things had changed.
To be exact, the agency pricing had got the way of the dodo, and I couldn’t picture putting anything up at 9.99. So, my real top choice was $6.99, which I thought gave the subscribers a leg up over other people.
Studies have indicated that the sweet spot of indie pricing is 4.99 to 6.99 and heck, well, my reprint novel that does best, No Will But His which sells about a copy a day, is at 5.99 and only one cent lower than the still-publisher held paperback.
So… 6.99. I can’t be sure of course, since well, as far as that goes, my friends haven’t published weird historical fantasies with tangled worlds, but friends publishing at between 2.99 and 4.99 all have outsold me, sometimes substantially.
This is not a big deal, of course, since I intend to lower the price of Witchfinder when I bring out The Haunted Air (Michael’s story) and then Rogue Magic. My goal is to have them all at 4.99 to 5.99 in a year. Meanwhile I’m giving both books to those who’ve subscribed for Rogue Magic, which gives me a freer hand with pricing.
So, do I think that’s what novels should be? No, not really. Witchfinder for instance is a goatgagger of a book, just LONG which means I had additional expenses upfront with copyediting and editing. BUT the point of being in business is to charge, not pie-in-the-sky but what the market will bear. (Something traditional publishers could learn, I think.)
Sigh. Look what I think mostly is that people are broke. They do want to read, but they’re broke. So, you get weird fluctuations. Like my best day for the last several months is the first and then the fifteenth. Yep. Paychecks. My worst day is the day after.
Or take my collection Wings – this is important actually, so keep it in mind. It is priced at 9.99 because it’s SEVENTEEN short stories. Considering I’m selling collections of three or four for 2.99 and 3.99, I can’t quite cannibalize the other sales, right?
Also, I can’t break Wings up because it’s the electronic edition of a traditionally published paper collection.
So I was staring at my numbers in the beginning of the month and going “Gee, people borrow Wings more than buy it, so clearly they like it, but it’s too high.” When I realized that I had forgotten to take it off the Amazon exclusive program. (Look, Goldport Press is me and the kids when they have time, which means, mostly, it’s me and a lot of teaching the kids to do stuff. I forget to put things on other sites, which at any rate pay a 1% of Amazon. So…) I had the option of putting it for free, but this did not appeal. In my experience, what does best is to take SHORT stories free – it doubles my income for a month if I keep a short free at all times. Or I could put it on countdown, which I thought would bring me SOME sales. The last time I’d done it I’d sold 14 copies of Wings in a month, so hey.
I set the countdown, wandered off to do stuff, and came back to see if I’d sold any at 99c, with 66c going to me.
My first thought was that Amazon was broken. They’d reversed the free and sold colors. I mean, the short story I had free showed a respectable hundred and some copies given away, but the sold was showing over 1k copies.
Yep. In two weeks I’ve now made around $1200 from that one collection that was just sitting there.
Two strange effects from this: it’s not only made me a nice chunk of change, but it seems to have sent a goodly number of people crazy, like Russian wives in Beverly Hills shops. I’ve sold 29 properties this month (stories that sold at least one copy.) My normal is 12 to 17.
Second, it’s still selling, now at a full 9.99, which shows the power of ranking and reviews. In fact I’m still selling about five of those a day, which is… a lot of money for a property that was completely stalled. Mind you, it is worth it because 17 short stories for 9.99. It’s less than a dollar per story.
This has inspired me with some interesting ideas. Take Death of a Musketeer, for instance. I lowered the price to 3.99 under the impression that it would bring people into the series. It didn’t.
So, I’m going to put them back up to 4.99. And then I’m going to run countdown sales, starting at 99c (This is where we get to see if the big sales came from the original price being so high, which will put me a quandary, if true.) At least for DOAM, when the next book – The Musketeer’s Servant – comes out, this is a worthwhile experiment. For Ill Met, I’ll confess I’ve wild hopes it will become a runaway bestseller and I’ll get to finish the series.
Who knows? Weirder things have happened. Okay, not many, but it’s… technically possible.
So how do I feel about all this?
Amazed at this Brave New World, that hath such selling options in it.
And grateful, very very grateful that I’m allowed to experiment.