PDA

View Full Version : Would you have your book sold at $0.99?



goddessofgliese
01-15-2014, 12:38 AM
If you're published, would you have your book sold at $0.99 to boost sales every once in a while?

GHO57
01-15-2014, 12:54 AM
I would never have anything sold ending in .99... I think it's deliberately insulting toward the customer; "we think you're stupid enough to think 1.99 is the same as 1, and not 2, so we price things at -1 cent... because it serves you right for being too dumb to math."

1.00 even, sure... no problem with that.

alexaherself
01-15-2014, 12:56 AM
I'd possibly have the first novelette/novella in a series published at $0.99 to encourage sales of its sequelae.

I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be about an individual book being sold intermittently at $0.99, though.

James D. Macdonald
01-15-2014, 01:56 AM
I seriously doubt it increases sales. And what if it does? The loss of income doesn't make up for it.

veinglory
01-15-2014, 01:59 AM
I sell things at 99c when I think that is the right price for them--I have no reasons for it beyond that. I have one reprint novella set at that price.

Filigree
01-15-2014, 02:04 AM
Never. I'm not sure I would even do it to promote a backlist. I've been in retail hell, and I know the psychology that leads to lower perceived value at the $.99 level.

Just in my own downloading experience, I haven't liked that much of the free to $.99 stuff I've sampled. I'd rather pay slightly more for quality.

Jamesaritchie
01-15-2014, 03:36 AM
Not a chance.

triceretops
01-15-2014, 03:58 AM
I think it's counter-productive to go that low. It lumps me in with the huge crowd that goes low in an effort to attract buyers. Besides, I was told my file size was too large to be eligible for the .99 price point.

tri

Cassiopeia
01-15-2014, 04:07 AM
It has been on rare occasion that I've ever found a book that low worth reading or the money. So no, I wouldn't do it. People value what they pay for. If that's all an author can get for the book due to lack of popularity, it's time to write a new one and do a better job and charge more.

But that's just me.

Kerosene
01-15-2014, 04:17 AM
Perhaps for a promotion--more to generate interest and readers, rather than actual sales. I could see it working for putting the first of a series on sale when the second one is premiering.

But otherwise, I wouldn't consistently put it on sale.

It would also depend on what I'm selling. As I'm a novelist, and I don't see my e-books worth less than $3-5 (I write long ones), $0.99 is far too low for my standards. A $2.99 sale (-$3/5) sure. Anything in the 50K word range, I'd be happy with a $0.99 sale.

GHO57, it's just a psychological technique that's employed; if we'd not use any of them, no one would sell anything.

Canton
01-15-2014, 06:55 AM
I think it's counter-productive to go that low. It lumps me in with the huge crowd that goes low in an effort to attract buyers. Besides, I was told my file size was too large to be eligible for the .99 price point.

tri

I like the point you're making here, tri, and I agree with this. I think if you want to boost sales on old books, write new books.

gingerwoman
01-15-2014, 07:25 AM
I've noticed a number of publishers such as Harper Collins etc...are now pricing some books that low, as well as giving away free books.I have no knowledge of how that's working out for trade published authors.

K.B. Parker
01-15-2014, 07:39 AM
I seriously doubt it increases sales. And what if it does? The loss of income doesn't make up for it.

When used in junction with a promotional tool, like bookbub, it's absolutely worth it. If you're just dropping the price without promo, then it's a wasted opportunity.

Cyia
01-15-2014, 08:08 AM
I seriously doubt it increases sales.


It does.

At least the $1.99 or $2.99 deal of the day at Amazon does. Granted, you get a push from Amazon with that, but the difference is huge in my experience. My book rose to the top ten in the children's list (no young adult list) on the day it was featured, and it stayed in the double digits for over a week. It was far higher on the main list than it had ever been at full price, and it also stayed higher for several days.

As to an increase in profits, that's another matter, but it definitely increases ranking, and therefore visibility that affects sales even after the price is raised back to normal.

Liosse de Velishaf
01-15-2014, 03:49 PM
Do that many people really browse Amazon in such a way that that helps? Maybe I'm just a dinosaur, what with knowing what I want before going to a site to buy it...


I'm pretty sure I've seen evidence somewhere that it increases sales, at least a little in the short term. I don't know that anybody has proved there's a long term benefit.

Buffysquirrel
01-15-2014, 04:26 PM
I think it's too general a question and my hopes of publication so slight for me to answer yay or nay :). On the face of it, it does feel like undervaluing the book. But is that the view of the buyers? Or do they think they're getting a bargain?

I'd probably take some convincing, but if I believed it was the right thing for my book, I maybe could be convinced.

ETA: there does seem to be a point where buyers won't touch a product if it's perceived as 'too cheap'. But what is that point for ebook? Anyone?

alexaherself
01-15-2014, 04:43 PM
I seriously doubt it increases sales. And what if it does? The loss of income doesn't make up for it.

Some self-published authors report that it does, Uncle Jim, and sometimes quite comfortably so.

I think their reasoning is along the sames lines as that of marketers who (rightly) conclude that it's much better to sell 1,000 items at $10 than 100 items at $120, because even though the latter generates 20% more income at the point of sale, the former provides a customer-list ten times as large, which in the long run more than compensates for it.

I'm told that self-published authors who build customer-lists and maintain contact with them via autoresponder emails find that selling the occasional book for $0.99 can increase the size of their "list" so much that in the long run it more than makes up for the short-term loss of income.

I have no experience of it as an author, but as a marketer I can see that there's logic, there.

But I'm still not sure that I'd feel comfortable with it, as an author.


ETA: there does seem to be a point where buyers won't touch a product if it's perceived as 'too cheap'. But what is that point for ebook? Anyone?

It varies greatly, among different potential customer-groups. Part of the aim of reducing the price of a book to $0.99 temporarily, as a "promotion", is to gain customers who wouldn't normally have bought it - i.e. a market sector which can be reached only by a price reduction. The theory is that "it doesn't alienate others at all, as long as it's only temporary". I have no direct experience of whether or not that's true, in this specific context. I strongly suspect that - like almost everything else in marketing - it depends on "how it's presented".

Old Hack
01-15-2014, 04:51 PM
It does.

At least the $1.99 or $2.99 deal of the day at Amazon does. Granted, you get a push from Amazon with that, but the difference is huge in my experience.

It's difficult to separate the benefit you get from the reduced price from the benefit you get from Amazon's push. I suspect the latter might be a more effective promotional tool than the former.

gothicangel
01-15-2014, 05:19 PM
I think their reasoning is along the sames lines as that of marketers who (rightly) conclude that it's much better to sell 1,000 items at $10 than 100 items at $120, because even though the latter generates 20% more income at the point of sale, the former provides a customer-list ten times as large, which in the long run more than compensates for it.



From a sales perspective (I sell membership in an heritage organisation), I would actually opt for the 100 at £100. Solely because as sales person you've failed to convince your customer of the value of the product.

gothicangel
01-15-2014, 05:21 PM
I would do it as an introductory price, but only as a way to generate some Amazon reviews and word of mouth.

Wilde_at_heart
01-15-2014, 06:09 PM
Low price points are tricky. They're probably best as an introductory price for new writers without a following already. Even then, one dollar is too low, I think.

Otherwise, if people find out you put your books cheaper occasionally in order to boost sales later on, they may just wait for prices drop in order to buy. Others who bought at a higher price might then feel 'cheated' - and I don't mean anything to do with the writing here, just human psychology I've observed from having owned my own shop for a year. Not everyone will think that way, of course, but plenty will.

veinglory
01-15-2014, 07:23 PM
I think people ultimately price the book at what they think it is worth, some possible a tad high or low for maximum profit. But not everyone (myself included I would argue) using this price point in error or without thinking about it analytically.

Sheryl Nantus
01-15-2014, 07:43 PM
It depends.

I know HQN took Boomerang Bride (http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html;jsessionid=CFE88101248C3808ED05C3CF 8A51BBBF?iid=28980)down to $0.99 for a short time to promote it - I bought it along with plenty of other readers. But I'm pretty sure it was connected with promoting other books and a very short time.

If done well I can see it being powerful. If done badly it's just going to sink like a stone.

kuwisdelu
01-15-2014, 08:09 PM
I'd rather give it away for free than sell it at $0.99.

lauralam
01-15-2014, 08:47 PM
Perhaps for a promotion--more to generate interest and readers, rather than actual sales. I could see it working for putting the first of a series on sale when the second one is premiering.

That's what my publisher did. Pantomime was 99p for about 2 months or so I think, then bounced back up to normal price before Shadowplay's release. I've noticed Shadowplay's Kindle is a bit cheaper.

My kindle ranking short up the charts with Pantomime (highest was 3k or something in the UK), but then it sort of settled at around 30k. I do think it helped, but not necessarily that much for the whole two months. I definitely got readers from it who picked up the second, though - they tweeted or emailed me to tell me so.

veinglory
01-15-2014, 08:59 PM
I'd rather give it away for free than sell it at $0.99.

I am curious as to why. I assume you have no work where you think this is fair value but do you assume the same of all other people's works?

Because for one of my short works that has been on sale for many years and spent time as a freebie to promote my website, I thought it was a perfectly reasonable price.

kuwisdelu
01-15-2014, 09:13 PM
I am curious as to why. I assume you have no work where you think this is fair value but do you assume the same of all other people's works?

Because for one of my short works that has been on sale for many years and spent time as a freebie to promote my website, I thought it was a perfectly reasonable price.

I hear "book", I think either novel or collection. So depending how short, $0.99 might strike me as perfectly reasonable.

After seeing what the "race to the bottom" does in venues like the App Store, I'm not eager for the same to happen with books.

Conversely, "free" is a very different psychological pricepoint than $0.99 - 0.99. Something that's free could be worth anything.

jana13k
01-15-2014, 10:15 PM
Loss leaders are one of the oldest and most effective marketing techniques that exist. They are most effective when lowering the price on the first book in a series or a set of connected books. I have done free and .99 and both increased sales of the other books in the series far beyond what I "lost" on the decreased price. And I don't feel there was any loss at all as the people who bought the book on sale were likely people trying it because it was discounted and who otherwise wouldn't have given me a try.

The very first time I went free, I had five backlist books up, three were series. I was making about $2500-3k a month average on them. I made the first book in the series free and my sales shot up that month to $40k. On five previously published books. They dwindled down a bit, but since then, my sales have never fallen below $18k in a single month, and I went two years with only one new self-published work released.

My story is not unique. It's quite common among writers with series and connected books. And yes, authors whose trade publishers are doing it are seeing increases in sales of their other works. They talk on author loops.

Filigree
01-15-2014, 10:26 PM
That's what I am hearing from my self-pub friends who've tried a loss-leader promo. It works fairly well combined with other promotions, or to draw attention to a series. The trick is to advertise it well and keep it temporary.

veinglory
01-15-2014, 10:28 PM
I think that as more people used the loss leader strategy it grew more competitive and less effective. I hear now "2.99 is the new .99".

jana13k
01-15-2014, 10:32 PM
I think that as more people used the loss leader strategy it grew more competitive and less effective. I hear now "2.99 is the new .99".

It depends on an individual's definition of effective, of course, but my last .99 promo was 9/30/13. I sold 11k books in one week and sales of the other books in the series shot up within three days and increased 500% over the course of the following month.

Old Hack
01-15-2014, 10:58 PM
Scott Pack of The Friday Project (his own imprint at HarperCollins) has been experimenting for a few years with free and 99p books as promotional tools and is convinced they're good things. He blogs as Me And My Big Mouth, and has a lot of interesting stuff to say--his blog is well worth reading.

I've not read his posts about this recently, but from what I remember he found low-priced and free books work best for authors with several other more highly-priced books available, as others have said in this thread.

kuwisdelu
01-15-2014, 11:35 PM
Another thing I like is the pay-what-you-like approach. Some of my favorite bands do that with their albums. The Humble Bundle is a software example.

Liosse de Velishaf
01-16-2014, 04:20 AM
If we're talking loss leaders, I think it could be effective, but you have to have the other good material and general marketing to back that up.

If you're playing the 5-10 books a year game, or if you have a big backlist and at least one or two series, then it could be very effective.

If you're a debut author, self- or trad-pubbed, then it might not be the best way to go. Even if you get visibility, and you plan to have a lot more books out soon, you risk missing the interest window in follow-ups at more sustainable price points.

James D. Macdonald
01-16-2014, 07:30 AM
One thing I keep hearing among readers of SP e-books is, "I'll wait 'til it's free."

Liosse de Velishaf
01-16-2014, 04:40 PM
One thing I keep hearing among readers of SP e-books is, "I'll wait 'til it's free."


Shoot, I have similar thoughts about trade books, though more like "I'll wait 'til the mass market comes out."

Sheryl Nantus
01-16-2014, 05:17 PM
One thing I keep hearing among readers of SP e-books is, "I'll wait 'til it's free."

I think this is sort of the double-edged sword with self-pricing.

This week the SP book is $4.99.

Next week it's free.

A week later it's back up to $3.99.

A month later it's free.

Anyone watching said book will probably wait until it's free and get it then. If I know a book is bouncing back and forth like that I'm not going to get it until it's free.

*shrugs* But I know nothing....

;)

bearilou
01-16-2014, 05:33 PM
I experimented with this on my self-publishing endeavor and saw a boost of sales for titles that weren't moving very well when dropping to $0.99 for a time. Then when it went back up, and sales held steady for a time on my other books before dropping off.

Now, to defend that, in case people want to point and say "AH HA SEE IT DOESN'T WORK", I did no other promotional push. I didn't chase it. It still worked for a short time. On one vendor I saw the best sales of my short experimental career during that month, all on the title offered at $0.99.

It seems to me that as writers, trying to apply our reasoning on why we would or wouldn't buy a book, is not really grounded. We all have our opinions about selling and marketing and promotion and what works and what doesn't work.

But there is actual reasoning behind why price points of #.99 work when #.59 may not. I have just barely scratched the surface on this but from what I've seen and heard and read, there's a whole psychology on marketing and pricing to entice people to buy.

So don't dismiss this sales tactic out of hand just because 'you wouldn't buy it'. You are not the plethora of readers out there who might because of their perceived values on items. I don't have experience on this but your publishing houses usually have a marketing and sales department that understands these things. Just because it might not work for trade publishing at this time, doesn't mean it won't be something investigated in the future.

In fact, I just downloaded a 'free ebook' from an author that was released from HarperCollins. :Shrug:

Loss leader pricing as jana13k mentioned is effective because it works. Um...didn't Amazon build themselves up to be the powerhouse they are today using this very principle?

Torgo
01-17-2014, 02:48 PM
Very interesting stats on pricing here: http://blog.luzme.com/2014/01/10-things-may-know-ebook-prices/ - I'm still trying to work out what they mean.

EMaree
01-17-2014, 03:32 PM
Very interesting stats on pricing here: http://blog.luzme.com/2014/01/10-things-may-know-ebook-prices/ - I'm still trying to work out what they mean.

I just hopped onto AW to see if this was being discussed. It's verrryyy interesting.

I could see this leading to a rise in serialised novels sold in lower-priced parts, a la The Copper Promise (https://www.headline.co.uk/Blogs/Epic+serialisation+news.page).

Torgo
01-17-2014, 03:33 PM
I just hopped onto AW to see if this was being discussed.

I saw you retweeted me!

EMaree
01-17-2014, 04:53 PM
I saw you retweeted me!

I did indeed. (That took me a minute, I'm terrible for connecting different Twitter accounts to AW usernames.)

I'd love to see Tor, Solaris, Angry Robot or any of the social-media-savvy pubs discussing the news. They all do regular deals where titles are dropped to 99p, so I imagine this isn't astonishing news to them.

bearilou
01-17-2014, 06:08 PM
I think that it's important, as writers and as business people, to keep in mind the various techniques used to help generate sales. As we have seen already, the world of publishing is changing, especially in regards to self-publishing. I'm not saying one is better or any such thing, only that it's changing.

And how people view self-publishing and book pricing is changing, too. We are seeing this with publishers who dabble in pricing strategies.

Take for example Michael Connolly. His recent short story and first part of his new book is currently taking a pounding in the reviews. (http://www.amazon.com/Switchblade-An-Original-Short-Story-ebook/product-reviews/B00EHMFBLA/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0)

I think a lot of things tie into this. It wasn't just a short story offered. The publisher included the first part of another book with a different character. And at the price point of $0.99, which is considered cheap.

I have to wonder, if the publisher had left the short story and sold at that price, if he still would have have gotten such a backlash. According to the reviews it appears people feel cheated and it seems most likely because they thought they were buying something completed. It's hard to say otherwise because tempers are running high at feeling ripped off and it's kind of hard to pin down why.

Was the short story substandard for Connolly? According to a few of the reviews, it was. Was it that the novel excerpt was just that, an excerpt, and it wasn't clear in the product description that it was just an excerpt? Was it that both offerings weren't for the same character? (the short was a Harry Bosch story, the novel excerpt was part of his Lincoln Lawyer series)

It looks like buyers had no problem plopping down their $0.99 to get something. But regardless of the price, they felt they were stiffed for what they paid for because they didn't get something that was finished/complete.

Then let's look at Baen who gave books away for free and this was long before it became a such a thing for self-publishers to do. Apparently it was successful for them, they kept doing it.

If we are going to keep hammering at the old saw that writing is an art and publishing is a business, we can't lose sight that businesses are going to experiment with pricing to see what best effectively moves books. Isn't that what we, as writers, want? People reading our stuff? People buying our stuff?

Also, Kathryn Rusch has a several part blog series she's doing called Discoverability. In part 7 (http://kriswrites.com/2014/01/15/the-business-rusch-pricing-discoverability-part-7/), she discusses pricing. I thought it was a very interesting read. She's not adhering to the 'party line of pricing' for self-publishers, many of whom have had great success with different pricing strategies that she advises against.

What is most driven home to me by the current discussions in pricing ebooks, especially for self-publishers, is that publishers (self and trade) are still trying to figure out that sweet spot and that sweet spot is moving around in an effort to find the best place to settle.

Laer Carroll
01-21-2014, 07:21 AM
...from what I remember [Scott Pack of The Friday Project (his own imprint at HarperCollins)] found low-priced and free books work best for authors with several other more highly-priced books available, as others have said in this thread.

I believe youíve put your finger on the key point.

It may work better if the free/cheap book is similar to the other books, maybe even the same series. And even better the first book of the series.

Every few weeks I discover a new author I know will become a favorite. Usually I somehow missed that first book and spend the next week or two tracking down and requesting holds in the public library on all the first few books. Or buying them as ebooks if the prices are inexpensive enough.

Sometimes the books are worth reading again and again. Then I buy the hardback, because it will stand up to re-reading better than trade or mass-market paperbacks.

Iím considering the free/cheap option right now. My main question is which book to choose. The first YA book in the series, maybe? On the hopes that younger readers will grown into the books featuring older main characters?

Iím also wondering whether to make the book free and offer it on my web site, with the proviso that others can send copies to their friends as long as they keep the ebook exactly as it is, with its copyright and Other-Books-By pages intact.

Dave.C.Robinson
01-23-2014, 09:37 PM
I'm trying the $0.99 route for the moment with a small collection. It's half a dozen short stories (some very short) along with excerpts from a currently available and an upcoming novel).

It's meant as a sampler.

It's not doing a lot, but it's early days, too.

James81
01-25-2014, 04:32 AM
I will be honest, when I'm shopping for a kindle book on amazon, if I see the price is $0.99, my initial reaction is to assume it's not good or worth the money. It's kind of crazy how pricing things too low can actually be counterproductive.

So, no, I wouldn't price my book much lower than the typical 10 bucks that most ebooks are sold at. Not that I wouldn't mind lowering the price for my readers. It's just that I know that perceived value can be huge.

Now, on the other hand, if you're talking about making a limited time SALE of $0.99, then that changes everything.

Also, there's a TON of research that suggest that selling your product at a price with a 7 at the end of it is actually the best (i.e. $9.97, $4.97, etc.). Again, this is based on actual data and research and, as much as a part of me would like to rebel and say "screw that, I am going to treat my readers with more respect than that," if you aren't already famous (and have the power to do whatever you want), it would probably be a good idea to go along with the things that are proven to work.

For more info on this type of thing, I suggest reading the book Cashvertising. Lot's of good sales and promotion type info in the book and how to write in a way to compel people to buy what you are selling.

Laer Carroll
01-25-2014, 06:07 AM
I wouldn't price my book much lower than the typical 10 bucks that most ebooks are sold at.

I just spent a half hour researching this. The typical eprice seems to be about $7.00. Stephen King’s 544-page latest as an example is $7.49, the hardback version $14.73, the paperback $13.60.

Ebook prices have been slowly coming down over the last year or so. A very rough rule of thumb is 1/2 the trade hardcover price, 1/3 if self-published.

bearilou
01-25-2014, 05:23 PM
Also, there's a TON of research that suggest that selling your product at a price with a 7 at the end of it is actually the best (i.e. $9.97, $4.97, etc.). Again, this is based on actual data and research and, as much as a part of me would like to rebel and say "screw that, I am going to treat my readers with more respect than that," if you aren't already famous (and have the power to do whatever you want), it would probably be a good idea to go along with the things that are proven to work.

Yep. As as much as it seems sketchy to use pricing points to get people to buy anything, there has been a lot of market research that has gone into the buyer's psychology. However well-meaning and earnest (general) you may be in pricing goods, you are still working against the perception of quality that is in the buyer's mind.

As publishing is a business, it seems to be in the businessperson's best interest to sell. That means sometimes you need to heed what those research results tell you.

I also think it's important to stress again that if we, as writers are looking at these business decisions, it's probably not in our best interest to base our decisions on what we would buy unless we really do represent everybuyer. Otherwise, it's not doing us any favors to assume that the usual, everyday reader/buyer thinks like we do in respect to pricing points on books.

AlwaysJuly
01-25-2014, 09:49 PM
It isn't my first inclination to sell a book at 99 cents, which I think is generally undervalued for a well-written work. But at the same time, I believe in using whatever marketing techniques will be most effective. While emotionally I think $2.99 is a reasonable "sale" price point, I'd consider pricing at 99c if I had a good reason for doing so.

Besides, my day job background is in testing. I think it's a bad idea to do wild pricing swings in terms of making one's readers feel cheated if they see the book at a lower price the next month and then back up and on and on. But I also think there's value in testing books at different price points until you've accumulated enough market research to have an idea about what price points consistently generate the most revenue all-in-all.

AlwaysJuly
01-25-2014, 09:51 PM
Also, I have plenty of books on my Kindle that were free or 99c. If I'm at all interested in a book and it's 99c, I buy it... why not? But unless a reader is actually going to read your book, having it purchased at 99c isn't much to celebrate as a writer. I'm curious about the bought vs. read stats of low-priced books.