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Screwing yourself by charging too little?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by joshua mcdermott, Nov 17, 2020.

  1. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Troubadour

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    Yeah, I like the way you are thinking.

    I have seen this in many other areas of sales and it holds up. People search and buy in specific price points. I used to buy, fix, then sell motorcycles- again a hobby, not a business so really all I wanted was to break even. So I would price a bike at $700 and get no serous offers, just people saying "I'll give you $200" then wait a week, price the same bike at $1200, get people immediately interested - then when they showed up I'd say: Give me an even $1000 and its yours!

    They ride off with a great deal and I have $300 more than my original ask.

    but the point of that little diversion is: the bike was actually worth $1200... and pricing it below what it was worth was a fault on my part. I had done good work getting that bike in excellent shape (for what they were.. often i'd get them for free.. old 80s bikes).. and it was worth more than my initial pricing and undercutting myself out of the gate was detrimental to both me and potential buyers.
     
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Apart from the 'Iron Pen' collection years ago, I'm not 'published,' - but I do read a lot, book a day, give or take, mostly on Kindle.

    I see - and buy - a *lot* of 50-80,000 word tales in the $0.99 - $2.99 range. At times, I have seen and bought entire 'packs' - 3, 4, 5 or more books in this price range. I'm...willing to take a chance. Sometimes. Most are ... so-so at best. Others...well some have interesting ideas or characters or situations, but they're in a definite minority. A few, not many at all, are as good as anything you'll see on the bookstore shelves. But a lot of it...well, I might or might not finish Book 1 of the three or four or five book series. Book 2...is tougher. Rare for me to progress past that point anymore. The turnoffs are usually a combination of grammar issues (and I am a long, long ways from a grammar expert) and worldbuilding/plausibility issues.

    I do see quite a few books in the...call it $6.99 and up price range. These, I'll try to check out a bit before buying, reading through the reviews and whatnot. These tend to be better quality wise, but still have issues.

    For myself, come publishing time, the notion I've mentally batted around runs something like this: Short stories and some novelettes are freebies, or $0.99 range stuff, basically promo material. Maybe have that on the website (when I get that far.) Other novelettes...maybe $1.99 - $2.99 for the longer ones, up to around 20,000 words. Actual novellas - 35-45,000 words, probably $3.99. Most of my novels are in the 60-90K range, been thinking $4.99 - $5.99 for them. Not really planning on paper versions.
     
  3. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Troubadour

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    you all are talking a lot of sense- and I thank you. speaking only for myself, but perhaps others are in a similar boat, we just start writing and think this is a nice wya to be creative and express ourselves... but then... we want to share that with others. So how do we do that?

    Of course I think my book is good. I wonder if there is a way to be like: Its 6.99$ but you know what... if you don't like it.. money back. no questions.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >but then... we want to share that with others. So how do we do that?
    I hear you. At first, all I wanted was to be able to say I wrote a book. After decades of never finishing anything, just getting to done was the goal.

    Did that.

    Only then did I understand that what I really wanted was for others to read it, as per the above. So I published and others did read it. I got a handful of reviews.

    So, that's done.

    But, and this is the kicker: how many others? That's when I started defining success as breaking even. Make enough on sales to make back what I spent along the way. I'm not there, but it's a nicely objective goal. Which means it's essentially meaningless, because meaning comes only from the subjective. I'm subjectively asserting that selling enough books to break even will constitute "enough" readers to satisfy me.

    Right now, I'm forever looking for ways to increase sales. If I can break even, I'll just maintain (I realize that will mean a certain level of constant marketing and market research). Maybe, when I get to that point, it will turn out not to be enough and I'll aim for a different target.

    As for how we do that, I can offer only this. I've spent seven years reading about how to do book marketing, build platforms, and so on. It's been seven years of chasing rabbits. After many books, articles, and courses, I can tell you this: chasing rabbits is a lot of work.

    You can take that to the bank, though I doubt they'll accept it.
     
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    $0.99 is anti-author, period. I just don't think the $0.99 people buy anything but that. And I agree with Malik, the entrenched are able to do things new authors can't. But yes, they can roll in 100k twice per year writing stuff I can't stomach to read. The gold rush of indie authors is over, but the gurus are telling you to do things like it is still in full bloom. But there is another point to make, and that is read through. After releasing Eve of Snows I discovered that my profit margin was basically the same whether $2.99, $5.99, $7.99, or $9.99, sell more but make less per sale. So, I kept at $7.99 and $5.99 most of the time. The calculation changes when you have 2 more books sitting in the series. Suddenly, selling more at $2.99 leads to more read through, and more profit. Because, those are at $7.99 and $9.99 respectively. Why in Gods name authors have cheap books thorugh an entire series is beyond me.

    $16 profit for $2.99 start with read through of 2 $9.99 books.
    $21 profit for a $9.99 start with read through.

    Typically speaking, I'm selling 3x at $2.99 than $9.99 (or more). Let's assume 50% read through for the fun of it, and accept that there is no such thing as 100% read through even with friends and family.

    So, if I sell 2x $9.99 (2x7= 14 profit) with read through on 1 ($14 profit) =$28.
    If I sell 6x $2.99 (6x2= 12 profit) with read through on 3 (3x14 profit) = $54.
    Even if 4x$2.99 (4X2= 8 profit) with read through on 2 (2x14 profit) = $36.

    That said, $2.99is my SALE! price, I tend to keep Eve of Snows at $5.99, Trail of Pyres $7.99, and Whispers of Ghosts of $9.99. Some of that is just me being weird. EoS is 120k words, ToP 200k, and WoG is 250k.

    There are plenty of big names out there with older books in an older series at lower prices to encourage sales to new readers, and there's a reason for it. I've also seen newer Indie's who start with freebie novellas and release a bigger series, and don't charge a fortune, and one I watched now has nearly 1000 reviews on Amazon. So, whatever this person did, they got readers. How much money are they making? No idea, they might've sunk tens of thousands into promos to get there. Who knows.

    Everyone needs to learn how to skin their particular cat. I'm still experimenting with how to flay the buggers the best way. I would also say that bidding anything over $3 would be foolish. Yeah, I got a sale off of a $2 bid the other day, and yeah, that made money, but keeping the CPC down is the key to happiness, heh heh. Even at $9.99 you need to be converting near 50% of clicks into sales, and that isn't statistically feasible at $3. Amazon's bidding is ridiculous. That's the cat I'm attempting to skin now, after getting FB ads at profit.
     
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  6. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Oh, and a quibble... Sanderson’s day job is writing, he moonlights teaching at his alma mater, BYU. It’s a good moonlighting gig if you can get it, considering you have to apply to get into his class. Helluva feather in BYU’s cap, as well. The dude has made millions and that probably doesn’t include any movie options on his works.
     
    Malik likes this.
  7. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Fair point. I stand corrected. Thank you.
     
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  8. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I must enquire... at 500 pages EoS at $16.99 produces profit of like $3.33 on Amazon. Similar at B&N. Dragons Trail is a skinny little thing at 400 pages, but is the margin difference that high? Or my interpretation of close to $7 is different. Mainly I’m wondering if you’re using a different printer than those at Amazon and B&N. I never checked Paperback margins at Ingram.

    Printing cost for 750 page books is insane, BTW.

     
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Oh, and another $0.99 bash... This is conjecture based on my own behaviors. Someone who picks up a .99 is likely to not read it. Ever. It was cheap, they have damned near zero investment, and freebies would be worse. Period. I’ve grabbed $2.99 books from major authors on Bookbubs and I’ve never read them. If I spend more, the more likely I am to be invested in reading, and if I like the book, the more apt to buy more books from said author. .99 books I buy? I buy out of curiosity because I saw them on an also bought, or what have you, and the odds of reading it are slim. So, the actual read through on .99 sales are (probably) going to be lower to top off all other negatives.
     
  10. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I primarily work through a distributor. My agent worked the deal, I just get a check. Pretty sure it's more than that, though. B&N is less, and the returns can be murder. I think Indiebound is more. Amazon screws you, though. That much, I know.
     
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  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Amazon is always out to screw everyone, but I suspect that goes for most folks, heh heh.
     
    Malik likes this.
  12. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    I'm the same. I usually forget about them.
     

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