Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guest Post by Victorine Lieske

Today's guest post is an interesting one, because it contradicts some of the things I constantly preach about.

But it's damn hard to argue with success, and Victorine Lieske is certainly successful.

I'll let here tell her story, then pop in for comments at the end. Here's Victorine:

My Publishing Journey
by Victorine Lieske

It all began in the summer of 2009. I had written a novel that I felt was good, and had put it through a critique website twice, getting a great response. I was fairly confident in the book. However, I wasn’t sure that traditional publishing was for me. I had done my research. I knew the odds were slim for getting an agent, and even slimmer to sell the book to a publisher. I knew what to expect as a typical advance for a first time author, and understood that the book would likely be on the shelf for a few months before going out of print. But I had also heard self-published books sold very few copies and I didn’t like that any better. So I typed up a query email and sent it to eight literary agents.

The first email I got back made my heart pound. An agent read my query and sent me a response. I held my breath and opened it: a rejection. Relief flooded through me. What? Relief? At that moment I realized I didn’t want to get an agent. I didn’t want to spend my advance traveling and doing book signings. I didn’t have time to travel with four kids and a business. I just wanted people to read and enjoy my book.

I stopped sending out queries. One other rejection came, and the rest never responded. The book had been sitting on my hard drive for a while when I found out I could upload it to Lulu where they would sell it as an ebook. All I needed was a cover design. Great! I uploaded the book and told everyone I knew. I sold three books in six months, two of them to friends.

I had just about given up hope when I stumbled upon this blog and read about Joe’s success selling on the Kindle. (I confess I hadn’t even heard of the Kindle before reading about it here.) This excited me, and the best part was I could upload it for free. With the current economy and our business suffering like every other business, free was just the right price for me.

Before I uploaded the book, I read as many of Joe’s blog posts as I could to gather information on how to do it right. I learned the importance of good formatting, a low price, and marketing. When I felt ready, I signed up for an account with Amazon and uploaded the book. That was the middle of April, 2010.

I priced my book at $1.99 and began socializing with the wonderful people over on Kindleboards.com. When sales were slow I realized my cover design needed work, which was embarrassing because I have an associate’s degree in graphic design. I played around with it until I came up with something that I felt was eye-catching and represented my genre well.

It took a while for sales to build, I didn’t have instant success. But I tried every marketing idea that I found on Kindleboards, and by the end of June, I had sold 614 books. With the royalty change in July, I raised my price to $2.99. I had been selling an average of 20 books a day the week before I raised my price, and that fell to an average of 9 per day. Then it fell again to 7 per day. By the end of July I was selling around 5 books a day.

I left my price at $2.99 through August, and sales slowed even more. I was selling around 3 books a day. I marketed my book heavily, and in September I was featured on Dailycheapreads.com and had a Kindle Nation Daily free short. On those days sales spiked, but after that they slowed back down.

The only thing I hadn’t tried was lowering my price. I took a hard look at the most successful indies, and realized they all had at least one book priced at 99 cents. What the heck. I was only selling 3 books a day, so to break even I needed to sell 17 books a day at 99 cents. I lowered my price near the end of September and announced the sale price.

Sales took off right away; I’m sure because I had been marketing it heavily. I began selling 35-40 books a day, much more than the 17 I needed to keep earning the $200 a month I was seeing. After sales kept steady through all of October, I called my experiment a success and decided to leave the price at 99 cents. I mean, I was earning more money than I had, and reaching more readers. Why not leave it?

Then something unexpected happened. In November my sales increased. Instead of hanging around 550 in rank, I climbed up to around 350. I stayed there all through November, and saw a huge increase in UK sales as well.

December brought another climb in rank, the same 200 positions as last time, and I stayed around 150 the entire month. This meant I was selling quite well, over 100 sales each day, and some days over 200. Christmas sales exploded and I ended December with a little over 11,000 sales.

January brought another climb in rank, this time around 100 spots to hang round 45 to 50. I was now in the top 100! I was selling about 600 books a day, and amazed that new people were finding my book, with very little marketing on my part. The only way I can explain it: Amazon recommended my book to hundreds of people each day. It’s certainly nothing I did.

I sold over 21,000 books in January. That means I earned over $7,300 in January alone. I am actually earning real money on one 99 cent novel. I hadn’t expected that. I figured I would “give” away my first book in order to get people to try me, and then go on to purchase my next novel at a higher price. I never thought I would earn thousands of dollars each month on one book. It boggles my mind.

In total, I’ve sold over 51,000 books and have earned over $18,000. I doubt I could have gotten that kind of an advance on a single romantic suspense novel.

I’m finishing up my next book. I plan to release it at $2.99. If I can sell half as many of the new book and keep up sales of Not What She Seems, I’ll be earning $27,000 per month for two books! Even if sales slow to half, I can definitely live on $162,000 a year.

On a side note, I have been contacted by Tuttle-Mori in Thailand for foreign rights. I doubt I would have been noticed had I kept my $2.99 price and sat at 3 sales a day.

What’s my suggestion for other indie authors? Price at least one novel at 99 cents and leave it there at least two to three months. Even if you lose money at first, the better rank and more readers could propel you to huge sales and more readers for your higher priced novels.

Joe sez: First of all, Lieske's cover is one of the best I've ever seen. Deceptively simple, it both intrigues and conveys an entire story using just two stock images and a catchy title.

I haven't read the book yet, but my wife loved it, and she's a real tough one to please.

The product description, in my opinion, needs to be tweaked. But Not What She Seems has been in the Top 100 for the last 46 days, so apparently the description isn't hurting sales.

I constantly preach about low prices, and 99 cents is as low as it gets. This low price hasn't seemed to hurt Lieske either--she's on her way to earning a very nice annual income on a single ebook.

So far, Vicki has done everything I've preached about. But the thing that surprises me is the fact she's been so successful with only one book available. I've droned on endlessly about the importance of taking up as much virtual shelf-space as possible. Lieske has shown, in her case, this isn't necessary. It's entirely possible to sell very well without having a big backlist.

Naturally, this brings up a lot of questions, which I'll list here.

Q: Though she's selling a lot of ebooks, isn't she losing money by pricing it so low?

A: That's an impossible fact to prove. Unless we can split into parallel universes and keep track of 99 cents vs. $2.99, it's all just guesswork. But we can take some things into account.

1) 99 cents sells more than $2.99 in the majority of cases. I've seen many people whose ebooks began selling six times as many (the number need to keep the profits equal) just by going to 99 cents.

2) Raising the price means fewer sales int he majority of cases. One example is Sam Torode. His book cracked the Top 100 at 99 cents, he raised the price to $2.99, it fell out of the Top 100, he changed it back to 99 cents, and it is currently at #174. I haven't talked to Torode lately, so I don't know his reasoning behind changing his prices, but if I took a guess it would be he dropped the price to keep the sales momentum going.

3) I'm guessing (and it is only a guess) that the visibility of having a Top 100 bestselling ebook more than makes up for the lower royalty rate, at least int he short term. But what about the long term?

Q: Since it's selling so many copies, won't it reach a saturation point?

A: That's what I would have thought. But people are still buying Kindles, and those who already have Kindles are always looking for ebooks. Until Lieske sells 20 million copies of her ebook, she isn't close to saturating this market.

Q: How did this ebook catch on if Lieske is a complete unknown and has no other titles?

A: Luck. That's how all books catch on.

There are things that help maximize odds, like writing a good book with a good cover at a low price, and having lots of books available. But ultimately random chance will dictate what sells.

In Vicki's case, it took seven months before she really started selling well. So what looks like instant success actually took a long time to build. And once a body is in motion, it tends to stay in motion. Success begets success.

Q: Should Lieske try raising her price?

A: If it were me, I wouldn't do it. Why mess around with something that works? Instead, I'd be working my butt off, writing my next book. Or, at the very least, a short story. Anything to capitalize on the current wave of sales.

Q: Isn't 99 cents devaluing a novel?

A: No. The value of a book is how much of a profit it earns, not its cover price. If you can sell more units at a lower price, your ebook has a bigger value than it would at a higher price.

Q: Aren't low ebook prices just a race to the bottom?

A: The laws of supply and demand don't work with ebooks, because the supply is infinite, the availability is infinite, and the demand isn't close to saturating the market.

I don't know of any economic model that can predict what happens in a situation like this. The closest one I can think of is file sharing. Piracy has proven there a world market for media, and that market is insatiable. Piracy sites continue to be some of the most-visited on the net, and at any give time there are millions of files being shared.

This tells me that there will always be a demand for digital media.

The way to combat piracy is with cost and convenience. This tells me that low priced ebooks will continue to sell well, and that prices across the board will probably drop.

But I don't believe they'll drop so low that a writer won't be able to make a good living. Especially if that writer keeps writing.

If I release a novel a year, and price it at 99 cents, and sell 15,000 copies, thats $5250--which is still more than the average debut novelist gets from the traditional publishing world.

Ten novels at that price, selling at that rate, is better than the average income in the US.

But until EVERY Kindle Top 100 bestseller is 99 cents, I think there's room for slightly higher priced ebooks.

TRAPPED, my current bestselling ebook, is priced at $2.99. It has earned $13,700 in the last six weeks. People obviously aren't balking at $2.99.

Q: Do you ever think about lowering the price of Trapped to 99 cents?

A: I do. I also think about raising the price to $3.99. But for now, like Vicki, I'm abiding by the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule.

That said, I think I am going to try to price one of my novels at 99 cents, just to see what happens. I'll do an update here when it goes live, and share my numbers.

Added several hours later:

So here's what I did.

I lowered the price of my ebook, THE LIST, from $2.99 to 99 cents, for the remainder of February.

As of 2/15/2011 7:30pm, The List has sold 592 copies sold on Kindle this month. That has earned me about $1200.

Here are its current Amazon rankings:

#1,078 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#13
in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals

#14
in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals

#57
in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Action & Adventure

I'm going to tweet about the price drop, once a day, for the next few days.

I'll announce the price drop on Kindleboards.

Then I'll watch and wait to see what happens.

If I sell an equal number of copies at 99 cents as I did this month at $2.99, I'll earn around $200. That means, at most, I'll lose about $1000 on this experiment.

Now, I expect to sell more copies, so the loss will be smaller than that. If I do wind up selling six times what I did in the first half of the month (3552 copies) then I'll break even.

In all honesty, I don't expect to sell 6x as many. But that isn't the main point of this experiment.

The main reason I'm doing this is to snag new readers who wouldn't have bought it or noticed me otherwise. Besides tracking THE LIST, I'm also going to be watching my sales numbers on 17 of my other ebooks. If their sales go up, it's a pretty good indicator that people who bought THE LIST went and tried some of my other ebooks.

I'm guessing that I'll see a spike, but I don't know to what degree. At the end of February, I'll have a lot of figures to analyze. If I break even overall, or even make a bit extra, then this might be a good case for occasionally putting ebooks on sale. That's the retail model, so it will be interesting to see if it translates to Kindle readers.

295 comments:

1 – 200 of 295   Newer›   Newest»
David Wisehart said...

First off, congrats to Victorine on her stellar success. I've been watching her progress for most of last year, and it's been quite an amazing story.

The cover, of course, is a knockout. Simple, effective. The eyes, in particular, draw attention. And the knife tells us the genre. Beautifully done.

The price experiment is interesting, but I think every book is different. I agree Victorine should keep her low price, and put some other books up as soon as possible.

In the long run, good, prolific writers should profit the most. Right now, Victorine is a one-hit wonder, and knows she needs to build on that.

For writers with multiple books, I think it makes a lot of sense to have some at a low price and others at a higher price. Particularly for a series. It has certainly worked in the case of Amanda Hocking, who puts her first books out at 99 cents and the sequels at $2.99 (though I suspect she could charge more for the sequels and do just fine).

David

Victorine said...

Thank you, David. You're absolutely right, I do need to get my next one out. It's coming along, and my beta readers like it, so I'm hoping for good things. :)

Jeanne Tomlin said...

Great interview. Congratulations to Victorine. She is an amazing story.

Joe, your questions and answers are really thought provoking. I just put my first indie out almost a week ago and am averaging a couple of sales a day. working how to build on that is taking up a lot of my time, but I think a lot of it will start going into getting out my next novel.

Moses Siregar III said...

Yep, I disagreed with Vicki once upon a time about her 99 cent strategy. In her case, it obviously worked and it was obviously the right price for this book. Winner: Vicki. Congratulations to her. She's also one of the sweethearts that hangs out at KB.

In other news, here's a counterargument that bestselling author David Farland just wrote on the danger of self-publishing. It's from his free daily email service, 'Daily Kick in the Pants,' but I posted the article to my blog. He mentioned me as a positive example, though, which was cool.

And since Joe's blog has become kind of a community of friends, too, here's a little happiness that I have to share. I just got this quote yesterday, which I'll certainly put on my upcoming novel:

"Moses is a fine writer and is deserving of success, and I think that it will follow ... maybe his project will turn him into the next Amanda Hocking. Personally, I really enjoyed Moses’s work."
--David Farland, NYT
Bestselling Author of the The Runelords

Ellen Fisher said...

Yay, Victorine! Thanks for sharing your story.

Daryl Sedore said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing and may you find continued success!

Imogen Rose said...

Awesome post, Vicki!

Victorine said...

Thank you, everyone!

Jeff said...

Joe, if you plan to do a tutorial on how to keep sales low, you should interview me. I'm an expert. Thanks.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
johnfitchv said...

Very please for Victorine's success!!

johnfitchv said...

Very PLEASED for Vicki's success. Friggin' fingers.

Bella Andre said...

Victorine,
I'm so happy for you! I agree that your cover is marvelous - for my friends who are thinking about self-publishing, I always use your cover as an example of a perfect one. :)

I can't wait to see what happens when you put out your 2nd book.

Bella
GAME FOR LOVE ~ http://www.BellaAndre.com

Gary Ponzo said...

Congrats Victorine. I'm sure it's exciting to know people are actually waiting for your next book.

Rob Walker said...

Vicki's experience is not unusual, and the steps she took mirror my own, but even I learned something useful here and believe I will drop one of my books to .99 cents to gather in new ebook readers who love freebies and low costs for TRYING an author they are unfamiliar with.

Rob Walker
www.robertwalkerbooks.com (freebies)

Sandra Mars said...

Your story is inspiring, Vicki! Wishing you continued success :)

Sandy

Russell Brooks said...

Hi, Vicki,

Congrats on your success with your first novel. Stories like yours keep me pursuing my goals.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

davidrm said...

Victorine: I used to think I was a bit underachieving by sending queries to only about 25 agents (total) and 9 publishers (also grand total) before deciding to go the indie route (which was the route I wanted to go anyway). I always heard those stories about people sending to dozens or hundreds of agents/publishers, and felt like I might have moved on too quickly. Now I feel like I spent too much on the traditional side of things, time I could've spent being indie. ;-)

Congrats on your success!

-David

Mike Dennis said...

Great story, Vicki, and continued success.

Kris said...

Victorine, congratulations on your success! Thank you for sharing your story. I can't wait to read your book. I wish you much success in the future.

Q: Isn't 99 cents devaluing a novel?

A: No. The value of a book is how much of a profit it earns, not its cover price. If you can sell more units at a lower price, your ebook has a bigger value than it would at a higher price.


Joe, thanks for helping me understand this. I am still in the process of writing my first ebook and I am so happy to have this information before I put it out in the world. You have completely changed the way I define "being a successful, published writer," and I am grateful beyond measure.

This blog is now my favorite for info and inspiration!

Victorine said...

David - I totally know what you mean! My husband confessed to me the other day that he thought I gave up too early with the traditional route. Then we laughed and laughed. :D

Tara Maya said...

Congrats, Victorine.

And to you, too, Moses. :)

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Linda Acaster said...

Wonderful, Victorine, and thanks for sharing. I've been watching you and the novel on and off over on Kindleboards but didn't know the entire story. It's always good to see how other writers handle spikes and lows.

I wish you all the best with the new one.

Russell Brooks said...

I'm going to experiment with the $0.99 price tag and see what happens.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

Mikaela said...

Congratulations, Victorine!
It was intresting to read about someone that has been successful with a low price. I am currently thinking about prices, a lot. The conclusion I have drawn is that it's more important to get readers, than earn money. So I'll probably price my novels at 0.99, at least in the beginning.

gniz said...

I wonder if Sam Torode will come on here and update us about his price change. Was the drop off as steep as we feared it might be, or did the drop out of the top 100 necessitate the change back to 99 cents?

Mikaela said...

@Russell Brooks: The link in your signature doesn't work :)

Tina Folsom said...

Great success story, Victorine!

And you and Joe definitely have a point about pricing. I just wrote a blog post yesterday how many self-published books are in the top 100 romances on Kindle and that most of them are priced either at $0.99 or $2.99.
http://authortinafolsom.blogspot.com/2011/02/more-and-more-self-published-romances.html

That of course makes it hard for higher priced indie books like mine to make it into the list.

And Joe, you say, don't fix it if it ain't broke - I agree. So, I'm really kind of going back and forth whether to price Book #1 of my vampire series at $0.99 or leave it at $4.99 where it sells really well (60 - 80 copies a day), but keeps me hovering around the #600 sales rank. Will I really sell so many more copies at $0.99 to make up for the loss in revenue? By the way, that would mean selling 10x more copies a day.

A really hard decision to make.

Tina Folsom
http://authortinafolsom.blogspot.com

K.L. Dillon said...

another great story/post. Plethora of things learned. Thanks Joe and Victorine. Great stuff.

The only thing that stresses me out when i eventually do publish my first novel is the cover. That I'm a little bit nervous about.

Russell Brooks said...

@Mikaela Thanks for the heads up.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

PS the price change will take a few hours before it takes effect.

Walker Publishing said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Vicki. I wish you every continued success.

Miriam Minger, Author

Debra L Martin said...

I think Vicki has shown real determination in keeping her book at .99 even when others suggest she raise it. Her strategy has worked beautifully for her.

Congratulations and much continued success!

Moses Siregar III said...

More on the Appholes, I mean Apple, potentially screwing up the royalties indie authors are making by charging Amazon 30% of ebook sales through Apple devices:

http://futurebook.net/content/official-apple-locks-down-kindle-app

Joe Flynn said...

Congratulations, Victorine. It's always a great day when any writer sees her/his hard work pay off.

I recently raised the price of my volume of short stories, Pointy Teeth, to 99¢. I had been giving it away for free on Smashwords, but a reader asked me to make it available on Amazon. I wanted to give it away on Amazon, too, but they said no.

So I said what the heck? If someone's asking to buy one of my titles, 99¢ it is. But I'm also putting up a new novel, Blood Street Punx, today or tomorrow, as Amazon wills it, and that will be priced at $2.99, as are all my other novels.

Those titles have been growing steadily. January was up 370% over December, and in the first 14.5 days of February sales have already exceeded January.

Sales are still in the hundreds, but thousands of sales are getting steadily closer.

peter darbyshire said...

That's one of the most memorable covers I've seen, and it's been stuck in my head a while now. Good work.

Reminds me of a past girlfriend though....

Victorine said...

Tina - Tough choice. If you do decide to slash the price to 99 cents, I would suggest leaving it there for at least two months to see if you can reach that 10X mark. I believe you will lose money to start off with, but gain more readers. If they go on to buy your other books, it could be a real win for you, especially if your book has wide appeal.

Victorine said...

Peter - Ha! Thank you... um... I think.

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> Q: How did this
> ebook catch on
> if Lieske is
> a complete unknown
> and has no other titles?
> A: Luck. That's how
> all books catch on.

luck? seriously? no.

ok, it's one component,
but the sure way to get
lots of sales will always
be word-of-mouth...

amazon's engine for
recommendations is
the next best thing...

this is not a lottery.
it is a marketplace,
where the customers
are in communication.
when they love you,
they do your hype...

and if you are asking
how anyone found her
book in the first place,
she already told us:
the $.99 price-point.

-bowerbird

Thea Atkinson said...

what is really stellar about Victorine isn't just her stellar sales, it's the candid nature she displays when she very openly and unreservedly gives of herself and experiences to the newbies like me who have been around the ebook selling community for a mere 4 months. She is both an inspiration and mentor. Congrats and thanks to Victorine--a fellow KBer

D.G. Hudson said...

I'll be dropping by to see how your experiment goes. Posts like this are certainly encouraging to newbie authors.

Robin Sullivan said...

Congratulations Vicki, you are one of my favorite people and I'm glad you are doing so well.

As most know, I'm very much opposed to the $0.99 price point, and nagged Vicki constantly about it...but I'm not anymore. It's true that each book has its own price point and for her that's the one that works. I applaud her for "sticking to her guns" under so much pressure from me and others to change.

I was pressured enough by the $0.99 price point that I tried an experiment, and for me it resulted in a $9,000 a month loss. You can read about the results here. But...this may just mean for the books I'm promoting that price point is not the right one.

Anyway, congratz again Vicki and I'm hoping the next book sells well as I'd love to see you making even more money than you are riht now.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Lee Goldberg said...

Great post, Victorine...especially for sharing in detail the time, hard work, experimentation, and patience (not to mention luck) that it took for you reach those terrific sales. Too many newbie authors think that all they have to do is put their book on the Kindle and they'll be an overnight success.

So..did you take that foreign translation deal?

Lee

Victorine said...

Thank you, Robin, and I totally agree with you. If the 99 cent price lost me $9,000 a month I wouldn't have stuck with it. ;)

Robin Sullivan said...

Moses,
Thanks for posting the link. I see what David is saying...but he has no easy solution to the problem. How do you know when you are "good enough"? The only way to say for sure is to try and let the market decide. If you are unsure...publish under a pen name that way you CAN leave the negative reiews behind...what's more you can read them and learn from the critism. Baring that...I'm not sure what he expects those reading the article to do.

Victorine said...

Lee - I've got an agent working on it right now. Tuttle-Mori asked for a copy of the book, so they hadn't actually read it yet. I'm hoping they don't hate it. :)

Sam said...

Congrats, Victorine! The cover definitely caught my eye when I was looking at the top 100 list a few weeks ago.

I'm happy to give an update on my pricing for "Dirty Parts of the Bible." After raising the price to $2.99, it gradually dropped from #50 to #200 over the course of 2 weeks. The income for a $2.99 book at #200 was still greater than for a 99 cent book at #50; but my concern was that I was dropping in the ranks of "customers also bought" on the pages of other books. So for the moment, I am choosing more downloads over greater income.

It's been at 99 cents for several days now, and is up to #180 from #200--not much, but at least it stopped dropping. Whatever happens, I will keep experimenting between 99 cents and $2.99...

no-bull-steve said...

Congrats Victorine!

I'd like your and Joe (and anyone's) opinion on if an author *should* drop from $2.99 to 0.99 if they're getting similar sales numbers as "Not what She Seems". My novel has been tracking 3-7 sales a day after 6 months. Very positively reviewed. A high percentage of people who go to the page purchase it. I've kind of been taking the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude and been happy for the level of sales I'm achieving...but I'd never know what will/would happen at 99 cents unless I tried it.

I've a traditional release by a small publisher planned in June. My publisher has already agreed for a 1st day 99 cent sale to kickstart Amazon sales. I wonder if I should drop my self published title in conjunction with that? In advance of it? Thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks Joe & all for such an awesome forum. As much as the Anon's provided an ugly form of entertainment, the past few threads have been pleasantly comfortable and focused.

Stephen Prosapio
author of DREAM WAR

Jordan Marshall said...

In my experience, and in others' I've read, lowering prices can help but raising them rarely does. It seems obvious, but when you're tinkering with sales you never know what to expect. However, the $0.99 price point does seem to be a launching pad. How else can an unknown author invite new readers? A book or two priced at $0.99 gives readers ample room to decide if they like your work. This can bring a wider audience than a higher priced book might. The hope of course, is that your books are good enough to keep people reading until they're ready to pay $2.99 or more.

Robin Sullivan said...

While I support Vicki's $0.99 decision I think it is wrong for people to believe the HAVE to be at $0.99. Look at Nathan Lowell, and Michael....they've always been at $4.95 or higher and they each sell thousands of books a month.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Heidi C. Vlach said...

I felt very much the same while deciding to self-publish my book -- not wanting to spend years getting kicked in the teeth by the tradtional system in exchange for such poor odds. Great to hear about your success, Victorine! Hope your luck continues.

611a529c-393e-11e0-8067-000f20980440 said...

Hey Joe!

Whoda thunk it would all come to this back in those beginner scribbler days at AFO? I just posted on Kindleboards about the time when you preached a story had to have conflict! And I chimed in agreement. You would have thought we called some grandmothers dirty names!

Now I know my pricing scheme needs an overhaul. I have four hardboiled mystery novels up at $7.77 -- too damned high. You've opened my eyes once again, just like old times!

David H Fears (aka Hank, or DH Henry)

Rebecca Stroud said...

I just dropped all four of my Amazon offerings to 99 cents as an experiment (not to mention that they've been sitting there staring at me with stagnant looks on their face-covers). We shall see...

A Three-Dog Night
The Animal Advocate
Zellwood: A Dog Story
Devil's Moon

Victorine said...

Stephen - If I were in your shoes, I would drop the price to 99 cents, and try it out for a couple of months. But also shout about it, put the price in your sig line on the forums you frequent, get the word out. Price alone won't do it. If you've got a book that has wide appeal, the 99 cent price could propel you into huge sales.

Robin Sullivan said...

611a529c-393e-11e0-8067-000f20980440 said... I just posted on Kindleboards about the time when you preached a story had to have conflict! And I chimed in agreement. You would have thought we called some grandmothers dirty names!

While in general I would agree with you - I say -- Read Nathan Lowell's Trader Tales!! Great stories - no conflict. It sounds strange it really works for him.

bowerbird said...

tina said:
> I'm really kind of
> going back and forth
> whether to price Book #1
> of my vampire series
> at $0.99 or leave it at
> $4.99 where it sells really
> well (60 - 80 copies a day),
> but keeps me hovering
> around the #600 sales rank.
> Will I really sell so many more
> copies at $0.99 to make up
> for the loss in revenue?

tina, don't go from one extreme
to another, especially not fast.

if your book is selling that many
copies daily at $4.99, it means
it must have some quality in it.

you don't need to kick-start it.

if you drop the price to $.99,
amazon takes the lion's share,
so there might be less money
_overall_ in your pocket even
with the healthy sales jump...

you should price it at $2.99,
where you will still get 70%...
so you know that the jump
you can reasonably expect
will mean more money to you.

leave it there at least 2 months,
so you get the long-term effect,
and then see what's happening.

you should get a bump from
the price-drop, and another
bump from the increase in
word-of-mouth, and those
should put you on the lists,
so you get yet another bump.

depending on where you are,
at that point in time, you can
drop the price to $.99 _then_,
if you decide it is a good idea.

(it might be, if it'd shoot you up
to the top of the lists, but you
can't assess it accurately now.)

eventually everyone will have to
go to the lowest price-point, but
there is no reason to jump there
earlier than you have to do so...

-bowerbird

Ellen Fisher said...

Tina, you won't hear me say this often, but I agree with bowerbird:-). You're doing great on the B&N list as well as on Amazon, which shows you can sell at the higher prices; I wouldn't drop my prices to 99 cents if I were you. Keep it in the 70% royalty range, at least.

Moses Siregar III said...

Moses,
Thanks for posting the link. I see what David is saying...but he has no easy solution to the problem. How do you know when you are "good enough"? The only way to say for sure is to try and let the market decide. If you are unsure...publish under a pen name that way you CAN leave the negative reiews behind...what's more you can read them and learn from the critism. Baring that...I'm not sure what he expects those reading the article to do.


Farland is still a proponent of the traditional publishing system and relatively bearish on self-publishing. But he also recognizes that there are situations where self-publishing makes sense. He'd probably recommend that if you want to self-publish, you do your best to make sure the work is up to a professional standard first.

I mentioned this before, but at the last seminar I attended with Dave, Brandon Sanderson was also there and he recommended that if you have two books, you could try to get one title published through a big publisher and self-publish the other one.

I'm going to do indie publishing first and then see where that leads.

Victorine said...

I knew Brandon Sanderson as a kid. He hung out with my little brother. That's my claim to fame. :) I know it has nothing to do with this discussion... just thought I'd share.

Robin Sullivan said...

LOL ellen - I was just thinking/typing the same thing...that I agree with bowerbird. Don't drop your price to $0.99. I did exactly that and as I said lost a ton of money. If you want to experiment try the $2.99 first and see what that does for you.

Tina Folsom said...

Thanks Ellen Fisher & bowerbird, I think it's definitely worth a consideration to stay within the 70% royalty rate ie. at $2.99 with one book rather than dropping too drastically all the way to $0.99.

I'd also hate to alienate readers who bought the book at $4.99.

Tina Folsom
http://authortinafolsom.blogspot.com

Moses Siregar III said...

I love using Vicki and Michael J Sullivan as opposing examples. Vicki found her road to success at $0.99. Michael found his at $4.95 and up. Different strokes.

However, it's interesting to see the difference. Vicki found her success by writing a good book, doing a decent little amount of promotion, etc. then pricing at 99 cents and letting Amazon mostly do the rest of the work. But apparently she needed to be at that price for her snowball to start rolling. Nothin' wrong with that.

Michael J Sullivan, OTOH, didn't rely on Amazon so much to get going. He and Robin packaged him as being with a small press for added credibility, and then Robin and Michael did a hell of a job together promoting him. People loved the books, and the rest is history.

But this might show us that if you don't plan to be a marketing machine, then lower prices might be your ticket. If you want to do a great job with promotion, then you might do well at higher prices.

Joe Konrath said...

luck? seriously? no.

Seriously, yes.

Are all 99 cent ebooks Top 100 bestsellers?

No.

Why is this one?

Luck.

Why did she get lucky?

Random events. But she was able to up her odds by doing some things right.

Still, though, there is no surefire way to create a bestseller. In the days of print there were things that could help (coop, discounting, the NYT list), but it all ultimately comes down to plain old luck.

saffinadesforges said...

This is SO interesting!

I too have been following J.A. Konrath (I even bought his book!) and Victorine through their blogs and Kindleboards.

Well done Victorine!

I agree with everything that they BOTH say and would like to share my own (quite similar) experience.

I did the same and posted my book at the beginning of December on Amazon. I did NO promo, interacting/marketing or even TOLD anyone I knew until after Christmas.

Then I followed the advice in various books and on KB.

I sold approx. 16 books in Dec, 205 in Jan and I have just sold my 1300th book in February 2011.

I am currently in the Top 50 in the UK in Kindle Store and climbing the charts on Amazon.com.

I have no idea whether this will continue, but what I can confirm is that the price affects it BIG time.

Last Friday, I sold 230 copies in one day and had made #17 in Kindle Store UK at 99p. I upped the price to $2.99/£2.14 and watched it fall like a stone. I changed it as soon as I realised and it started to climb again.

I have now got it on at $99c and within the next 24 hours, 99p. I am hoping that Sugar & Spice will be back up there over the weekend.

Good luck guys and follow the advice given here! Indies rule!

Saffina

JaxPop said...

Awesome story - congrats, Victorine & thanks for posting this, Joe. I really gotta give the Kindleboards some attention. (Karen McQuestion also advised me to jump in.) My start was similar to Victorine's, though I never queried. The traditional form of publishing lacked appeal. I have one book on Kindle @ $2.99 & a second one will be added by the weekend. Since they're part of a series, thought I thought I might offer the 1st cheaper & keep the $2.99 price on the newer one. Based on Joe's comments, maybe not. He's been right on a whole lotta stuff. Hard to say how it'll all work since I write for YA readers but I guess it's not rocket surgery.

L.C. Evans said...

Congratulations, Vicki and thanks for sharing your story. I'm another writer finding success with the $.99 price. My book is doing pretty much exactly what yours did, but I didn't lower my price from $2.99 until January, so it remains to be seen whether I'll achieve the same success you have. Since mid January when I lowered the price, my best selling book has gone from selling less than 200 a month to selling thousands.

Jason W. Chan said...

Congrats, Vicky!

I have to say that Vicki is one of the nicest authors I know. She's so generous with her time in helping new authors. I remembered when I began publishing last year that I didn't know how to make a good cover, and Vicki generously offered to help me. What comes around, goes around and Vicki's kindness came back to her with the success of her novel. I'm very happy for her. :)


Jason W. Chan
http://www.jasonwchannovelist.blogspot.com/

Moses Siregar III said...

Another big consideration with pricing strategies is genre. Vicki is writing to a potentially massive audience (romance/suspense/murder mystery), so going to $0.99 meant that she had at least a chance to get into the top 100 and sell tens of thousands each month.

Compare that to Michael J Sullivan. Traditional fantasy has a large and devoted following, but not as large a potential following as with some other genres. So $0.99 is more risky for the Sullivans, because even if it helps him to sell a lot more books, it would probably be harder to crack the top 100 and stay there with traditional fantasy. I'm sure it's possible, but it's a steeper climb for a fantasy author.

Now imagine if Michael J Sullivan was writing paranormal romance and he still had Robin working with him. Then he'd be smart to put at least one book at 99 cents and try to stay in the top 100 to get his whole series discovered.

Instead, he's got a solid approach. Sell ebooks at $4.95 and up, establish yourself in the fantasy genre, and make a very good living among that audience.

Walter Golden said...

I had no idea that pricing under a dollar could be effective. I put the first book of my Seamount series on Kindle at $2.97. I have the second book coming out in April. Two weeks before it does, I’ll drop the first book, Blue Glory, to $0.99 and put the second book on at $2.97. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Walt Golden

Victorine said...

Moses - Very good point about genre. You're right, I looked around at others in the mystery genre (DB Henson and Vicki Tyley) and thought I might be able to emulate what they did at the 99 cent price.

krystian-galaj said...

I don't know of any economic model that can predict what happens in a situation like this.
I know of series of posts at http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070503/012939.shtml (the linked one is the last of the series) which sound like economics, and agrees with a lot of your conclusions.

krystian-galaj said...

The link was supposed to end with "shtml" - apparently Blogger cuts links off.

Trance St. Croix said...

I see several comments that people are selling well in the UK. I sell several thousand a month on Kindle (under a pen name)but less than 100 monthly in the UK.

Is there some trick to tapping into the UK market? For example, can an author establish a separate UK book page with a more european cover, desscription and more local keywords? Any suggestions from Victorine or anyone else would be appreciated.

Kendall Swan said...

@Victorine Congrats on your success. That is amazing. And you really do have an awesome cover. I noticed it months ago when Amazon suggested it to me. Now that I know your a self pubber and your price is so cheap, I'll definitely check out your book.

@Moses Awesome!
And re David's post: That's what pen names are for. One probably won't put out crap if you have a developed pen name (i.e. brand). The risk of putting out crap is generally in the beginning of a career (and that's all, one would hope) so switching pen names is not that big of deal.

@Tina Folsom
Make your covers clickable on your blog (on the header, I think). I was going to check out one of your books but I am literally too lazy to do the two or three steps involved in manually looking for your titles. They look really cool, though.

I am off to write some more.
Happy writing y'all!

Kendall Swan
NAKED Cheerleader and Other Stories

Kendall Swan said...

And thanks, Joe, for another great post.

scott neumyer said...

I can't even begin to express how stoked I am that fellow Kindleboard friend Vicki is doing so well. She's an inspiration to us all not just because her book is selling like crazy, but also because she's one of the nicest and most generous people you'll ever meet.

Kudos, Vicki. I'm happy to know you. :)

Scott Neumyer
Author of Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town

Tina Folsom said...

@Kendall Swan - thanks for the great tip --- couldn't do it on the background since that's just one giant jpg, but I was able to add a widget from Amazon that scrolls through my books.

Now, if I could only figure out how to add my blog address to my comments here and make the link clickable, which some people seem to manage, but I don't - guess that's why I'm an author and not a web developer :)

Tina Folsom
http://authortinafolsom.blogspot.com

Victorine said...

Trance - My only secret to UK sales is my low price. When I lowered my price I posted one time on a thread about cheap UK books, and the sales took off. They've been slower lately, but I still sell about 40 books a day in the UK. And I'm sure that fact that I don't promote at all has something to do with the slow down of sales.

Kendall Swan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.J. Harris said...

Congrats, Victorine!

Love your cover, and the story of your rise in the ranks gives me hope that it is possible to do well with a single title.

I published Journey Into Darkness a few weeks ago. I tried $2.99 for a few days, and then dropped to $.99. So far, I have exactly ten sales, five of which I gave away in exchange for reviews. My first review came in the other day, a very nice 4-star from a complete stranger. I'm hoping to get a bunch more, and the offer still stands for anyone interested. sjharrisbooks@rocketmail.com

Joe, I think bowerbird is right about the luck thing. You keep preaching about readers being the new vetters, and cream rising to the top, yet you sort of dismiss that theory by saying luck is the primary factor for success.

There is an X factor, but I'm not convinced it's luck. Certain books strike a chord across a broad spectrum of readers. That's what generates sales in significant numbers, IMO. Not luck.

Russell Brooks said...

@Victorine Which UK thread was that? Do you remember?

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

JL_Bryan said...

Vicki's such a nice and helpful person over at Kindleboards. :)

Tara Maya said...

Moses: Another big consideration with pricing strategies is genre.

I've been thinking the same thing. I think romances sell better at the lower price points because of the voracious and speedy reading habbits of romance readers. Romantic suspense and paranormal fantasy might also benefit from that.

Epic fantasy, sf, and perhaps other genres like historicals, literary or nonfiction... might not have as many, nor as fast readers.

For epic fantasy/sf, I think it's better to have a solid series with a smaller but devoted fanbase, which might justify a higher price point. There are authors I will definitely buy without thinking under $10 and others I will want even at the big publishers' prices.

I think that might be why Robin has had a different experience than some authors in other genres.

Tina, since you are selling romance at $4.99, maybe you're proving me wrong; or maybe you would do better at a lower point. If you experiment, I hope you will keep us up to date.

I'll share my own limited experience. In Jan, I sold a about 3 books a day at the $0.99 rate. I decided to experiement with Robin's model and raised the price to $4.99 for Feb. I've dropped to selling just under 2 books a day.

This is with very little marketing and no forum activity, since I am in grad school and sweating over a research paper at the moment.

(Note: I do have two novelettes for sale at $0.99 but these sell less than my anthology and my novel.)

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Tina Folsom said...

Tara, Moses,
there's definitely something to be said for different pricing strategies in different genres. Romance readers devour one to two books a week and are therefore often looking for cheaper books to keep her habit going.
But at the same time I'm selling pretty well at the relatively high price for my genre, where NY bestselling authors in romance sell for about $7.99.
I'm seriously thinking about experimenting with a $2.99 price for one of my vampire romances though.

Merrill Heath said...

Congrats, Victorine. Apparently you're a bit sharper than I am. I queried about 60 agents before going the self-pub route. That was for my first novel, Consequences. For the second book I went the ebook route straight away.

I just lowered the price of my novella, Bearing False Witness, to $1.49 and I plan to drop it to $.99 when I release the second book in the series in a couple of months. It will be interesting to see what happens with the change in price and the addition of another book in the series.

Merrill Heath
Consequences
Bearing False Witness

Joe Konrath said...

There is an X factor, but I'm not convinced it's luck. Certain books strike a chord across a broad spectrum of readers. That's what generates sales in significant numbers, IMO. Not luck.

If you can predict which books strike that chord, you can label the X factor.

If you can't predict it, all you have to judge that "striking a chord across a broad spectrum" is hindsight, which is fallacious and worthless. You can't say "of course that was a success because..." after something has already been a success.

That leaves luck. There is no inherent "factor X" in any given book. Some catch on. Some don't. Why they catch on depends on many stars aligning.

As I've stated often, you can nudge the stars. And I do believe the cream will rise to the top... eventually. Could take months, like Vicki. Could take decades. Could be like Van Gogh and not happen until a long time after death.

What becomes popular has to do with timing, quality, price, word-of-mouth, and dozens of other factors. Those all meet at a point I call "luck."

Moses Siregar III said...

I'll share my own limited experience. In Jan, I sold a about 3 books a day at the $0.99 rate. I decided to experiement with Robin's model and raised the price to $4.99 for Feb. I've dropped to selling just under 2 books a day.

That's funny Tara, because I may have seen yours before at $0.99 and my gut thought, "Hm, maybe it's not very good." I saw it the other day at $4.99 and I said, "Hey, I'm going to have to sample that one." Of course, I picked up your short stories for $0.99 and liked them, so having something at $0.99 did help me to realize that I like your work.

Here's another factor. I think there's more of a stigma against self-publishing in certain genres. In SciFi and Fantasy, the stigma is really big. Nothing suggests the possibility of being "self published" like a cover with dragons and elves or aliens with laser guns.

I think this is another reason Michael J Sullivan has done well at $4.95+. His whole presentation suggests, "I am not a self-published author" and in SF/F you generally do NOT want to be seen as "self-published." In SF/F "self-published" generally means "you suck." That stigma is diminishing a little, but not as rapidly among SF/F readers, believe me.

Victorine said...

Russell - It was one of the threads on low priced books. I tried to find it, but can't now. :P So much for my searching abilities!

josephrobertlewis said...

Victorine, congrats on your success, that's a great story, I'm very impressed. As soon as I launch Halcyon #2, I'll be lowering the price of Halcyon #1 to $0.99 too.

SF/F novels on Kindle

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> Are all 99 cent ebooks
> Top 100 bestsellers?
> No.

that's because all of them
are not high-quality work.

and some of them simply
haven't caught on yet, and
they will do so eventually.


> Why is this one?
> Luck.

i disagree. luck _cannot_
sell thousands of copies,
let alone tens of thousands.

to do that, you have to
strike a chord out there.

don't you listen to your
audience? and don't you
hear them telling you that
you struck a chord in them?

that's not "luck", joe.


> Why did she get lucky?
> Random events.

again, i disagree, strongly.

random events can get you
to a certain point _faster_
on the path of the journey,
but you would have gotten
to that same point anyway.

and random events can
take you a bit _further_
than you might have gone
otherwise, but not much.

these are real human beings
spending real money; that
doesn't happen accidently.

i am _not_ ruling out luck.
it does exist, and can be a
very important determinant.

you might miss out on your
audience _completely_, due
solely to some very bad luck,
or even maybe simply because
you are "ahead of your time".

and, on the good luck hand,
you might be helped along
by someone who is able to
channel you to a large group
of people by interpreting your
message so that it resonates
to that group, in which case
you'll likely benefit from that
huge word-of-mouth bump,
and that would be good luck.

and probably biggest of all,
if your muse delivers you
work that strikes a chord
in the population at large,
you _might_ call that "luck".

but one-at-a-time purchases
that cumulate to a big total?
that is not _luck_, and it is
not due to "random events".
no, it's because you struck a
chord in the populace at large.

-bowerbird

noothergods32 said...

Congratulations on you're success. I love the cover, though I'm not a romance reader at all. You've obviously written something that satisfies you're market.

bowerbird said...

ok, i didn't realize that stephen
used the "strike a chord" as well.

but i guess it's the right phrase.

and no, i can't explain _what_
it is that will "strike a chord"
in the population at large...

but just because one cannot
_explain_ a phenomenon does
_not_ mean that it's just "luck".

***

joe said:
> What becomes popular
> has to do with timing, quality,
> price, word-of-mouth, and
> dozens of other factors.
> Those all meet at
> a point I call "luck."

so in other times and places,
you might have also called it
"the will of god" or "karma"...

none of those terms, including
"luck", is any more explanatory
than saying "dozens of factors".

it's just that if you say "luck",
people are much more likely to
give up, as that is something
that is outside their control...

-bowerbird

S.J. Harris said...

What becomes popular has to do with timing, quality, price, word-of-mouth, and dozens of other factors. Those all meet at a point I call "luck."

Luck: the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities. (dictionary.reference.com)

I think that's most people's definition of luck--some sort of magical "force" that is either with you or against you, something beyond your control.

So I think we need some other word besides luck to describe why certain books become popular and others don't.

Victorine's book has an awesome cover, she writes remarkably clean prose, and we recognize her main characters and their initial conflicts right away. This is the way to write a book, boys and girls, not starting with the weather and depending on luck.

Plus, she's practically giving the thing away. I'm surprised she hasn't sold more.

Sam said...

I've kept an eye on the AmazonEncore books since their $3.99 sale ended Feb. 1. The books that had prices raised to $7.99 have dropped by hundreds or thousands in the sales rankings. (One that was in the 400s is now 11,800.)

Tara Maya said...

Moses: That's funny Tara, because I may have seen yours before at $0.99 and my gut thought, "Hm, maybe it's not very good." I saw it the other day at $4.99 and I said, "Hey, I'm going to have to sample that one." Of course, I picked up your short stories for $0.99 and liked them, so having something at $0.99 did help me to realize that I like your work.

I've had that experience too, regarding others' work. (But I'm also guilty of stocking up on $.99 books and then never reading them.)

The Unfinished Song: Taboo, 2nd in the series, comes out in March. Initiate will be featured in Kindle Nation in the same month. I'm hoping one or both of those things will increase sales a bit.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Nicholas La Salla said...

Vicki brings up a great point....what an awesome way to encourage readers to try you out when you're just first starting. I plan on releasing my first book with a starting price of $0.99. We'll see what happens from there.

I should have the cover finished and the book uploaded by the end of this weekend. I'm excited!

And I love Vicki's cover. It's so simple but it conveys the message very well. The contrast of innocent blue eyes and a knife really sells the book here. I must check it out!

Thanks, as always, to J.A. for posting these insights into the minds of other, like minded Kindle authors.

Say hello to the wave of the future. I plan to!

- Nick
My Publishing Misadventures

Coral Russell said...

I just saw a news story the other day that the top Kindle books were under $5 and it posted quite a few at $.99.

I should have mentioned this yesterday, but JK made a comment about his publisher not lowering the price on the ebook and removing DRM, but the mention of pirates here brings it up again.

You should Google - removing DRM - it's a fairly simple process. It'll take you a while to get it done the first time, but then... I'm a pirate at heart. Basically, it's because I used a certificate from B&N, but wanted the books in Kindle format. It's not like I'm going to buy a Nook since I have a Kindle.

Also bowerbird, love the epic poems!

Victorine - I saw you on GR. I'll have to check out your book! Grats!!

Joe Konrath said...

and some of them simply
haven't caught on yet, and
they will do so eventually.


The Nostradamos Defense: My predicitons are true! They just haven't happened yet!

Sorry, no dice. While I do believe the cream will eventually rise to the top, luck always plays a part.

I defer again to Van Gogh who sold one painting in his life, and is now one of the most sought after by collectors, fetching the highest prices. Vincey was damn unlucky while alive. The creme did not rise.

It did after hsi death, but that isn't to say that there aren't 1000s of other artists equally good or better who haven't caught on.

Read THE DRUNKARD'S WALK.

but you would have gotten
to that same point anyway.


Sure. And fate is real. And so is the Easter Bunny.

You can't win this debate, because you just forfeited rational thought.

it's just that if you say "luck",
people are much more likely to
give up, as that is something
that is outside their control...


Indeed.

If you poll 10,000 very successful people, guess what you'll find?

10,000 people who didn't give up.

Joe Konrath said...

Victorine's book has an awesome cover, she writes remarkably clean prose, and we recognize her main characters and their initial conflicts right away. This is the way to write a book, boys and girls, not starting with the weather and depending on luck.

So everyone who does the same will sell 50,000 ebooks?

Surely you aren't serious...

Mark Asher said...

I love the $0.99 pricing. I hope a lot more writers do it.

I think any writer with several books out should have one at $0.99. Be nice to your potential readers. Let the quality of your work make them fans and convince them to buy more of your work at a higher price.

Joe Konrath said...

but just because one cannot
_explain_ a phenomenon does
_not_ mean that it's just "luck".


I can explain the phenomenon. It's random luck.

Luck isn't the answer in lieu of a real explanation. Luck is the explanation.

People don't like to think that their lives are controlled by random events.

But they are.

Joe Konrath said...

For the record, there is no good luck or bad luck. That's who we interpret random events.

The bell curve always applies. There will be some good books for 99 cents that become bestsellers. There will be some that don't sell at all. Everyone else is somewhere in the middle.

Vicki's success falls well within the realms of probability. While I don't know the odds of it happening to someone else, it did happen to her.

If anyone really thinks they have control over sales, they're not thinking logically.

S.J. Harris said...

If you poll 10,000 very successful people, guess what you'll find?

10,000 people who didn't give up.


There you go. You just proved your own luck theory wrong.

So everyone who does the same will sell 50,000 ebooks?

Of course not. But a quality product combined with dogged persistence will go a lot further toward garnering success than a spin of the roulette wheel. Every time.

Robin Sullivan said...

Hell may be freezing over becaues twice in one day I'm agreeing with bowerbird...

All the luck in the world won't make a bad book sell. To say Vicki is selling well because she is lucky diminishes her writing skill.

You make your own luck with talent and persistence.

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> I can explain the phenomenon.
> It's random luck.

where, by "luck", as you said,
you mean the confluence of
"dozens of factors". i agree.

of course, that "explanation"
doesn't really tell us much...

and i understand your point
that "striking a chord" and
"popularity" are circular, yet
it still rings true to me, since
people recommend books that
"strike a chord", and then --
given sufficient people -- the
cumulative effect of all those
recommendations _results_ in
popularity, so we have "cause"
and "effect", and examining it
-- in this temporal fashion --
as a _process_ overcomes the
objection to its circularity...

it's also true that some books
"strike a chord" in a smaller
number of people, and thus
do _not_ become "popular",
but _still_ exert that impact
in that particular person, so
it's not as if it doesn't exist...

after all, we don't flip a coin
to decide if we liked a book.
_that_ would be "random"...

-bowerbird

Robin Sullivan said...

@Moses, you make some excellent points about the difference between Michael's and Vicki's pricing models...and as for paranormal romance...I've tried to convince Michael to write a series in it - but no dice. Ah well I'm just going to have to look forward to the last book which is in final editing.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Percy said...

If you think about it, the .99 price for starting authors makes more sense than anything. It is low enough to encourage impulse buys and if it turns out that you really have a solid story, your buyers will look like geniuses when they "discover" you. The buyer probably also starts out reading your piece with a little different mindset. More forgiving, maybe. That was half the fun of indie music, "finding" that group that made your friends laugh at you until you flipped the switch. Then when they were good, you were the MAN. Same effect here. Established authors are the ones that have everything to lose because they see their pie getting divided and their pricing power in decline. It's the same thing cable did to the networks. Ted Turner was such a "kook" and "moron" with CNN and Turner Broadcasting until he turned out changing the way we ALL watch television.

Joe Konrath said...

after all, we don't flip a coin
to decide if we liked a book.
_that_ would be "random"...


Random is accidentally finding out that the book exists in the first place.

Think about the things you buy, why you buy them, and how and why you first bought them. You'll begin to see how random life is, and how our preferences were often begun with a random occurrence.

If I didn't read Robert B. Parker's The Judas Goat when I was 9, I may not be a thriller writer today. What if my mother never bought that book and stuck it on her shelf? What if she bought a previous version with a different cover that failed to intrigue me?

People are discovering Vicki because she's on the Top 100 bestseller list. That makes it easier, but it's still random, because she has no name or backlist so no one is looking for her book.

People are buying her book because they randomly run into it on that list.

It took a lot of random events, and some calculated efforts, to get her on that list. But those events and efforts are unrepeatable. Luck played a big part, and continues to play a part, in her success, and all success.

Joe Konrath said...

There you go. You just proved your own luck theory wrong.

Nope. Those 10,000 people became successful because they stuck around long enough and then got lucky.

But I'd guess there were tens of thousands of others who have worked hard who haven't gotten lucky. Maybe they will someday. Their odds improve the longer the stick to it.

But success isn't inevitably. The odds just increase the longer you try.

Joe Konrath said...

If you played the lottery every day, for ten billion years, I bet you'd win a few times.

The longer you persevere, the better your chances at winning.

But it doesn't guarantee you will win. Only that you're getting more chances to get lucky.

Joe Konrath said...

All the luck in the world won't make a bad book sell. To say Vicki is selling well because she is lucky diminishes her writing skill.

Gotta bring up Goodwin's Law here, because Mein Kampf sells 50,000 copies a year.

I never read it, but I can certainly find scholars able to point out why it is a bad book.

And don't get me started on the bible.

Everyone who sells well got lucky. No one is entitled to sell a lot of books, or deserves success.

I've been preaching this for decades. And I'm right.

We attribute significance to randomness if it hurts us or helps us. But randomness itself doesn't care.

Everything has a chance of happening. The things that do happen could be common, or a statistical anomaly.

The "work hard and you'll succeed" bedtime story is just that; a fable. Too many people work hard and don't succeed for it to be true.

But working hard does improve your chances of getting lucky. Just like a skilled blackjack player can tip the odds in his favor.

But sometimes the cards don't fall for you, no matter your skill.

M.P. McDonald said...

Excellent blog post. Success couldn't happen to a nicer person.

After talking to Vicki last November, I decided to lower my book to 99 cents. I had pretty good sales, but nowhere near her numbers. After 5 weeks, I put it back to $2.99. That was right before Christmas. Maybe I should have waited a bit longer. :-/

However, I'm thinking of going back to 99 cents for my first now that my second novel is up.

Robin Sullivan said...

Working hard is a component...but no its not enough...talent comes into play.

Vicki's sales are not because people are accidently pushing buy. They are a result of word of mouth sales, Amazon referrals, and being in the top of the bestseller list.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Victorine said...

I'd like to say that luck has nothing to do with it... because that makes me look better, but I'd be lying. I do think luck has something to do with it. Not total random luck, but that X-Factor kind. Something about my book attracts people. If we knew exactly what it was, we could duplicate it again and again. That's what traditional publishers try to do. They try to find that best seller. Many times they don't succeed. I do think it has to do with being lucky enough for your book to have whatever that is that appeals to a wide audience.

Tara Maya said...

Reminds me of the story of the little old lady who prayed to God every day to win the lottery. One day a voice from Heaven responded to her prayers:

"Meet me half-way...buy a ticket!"

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Congratulations, Victorine!

One of my books, Hideaway Hospital Murders spent many weeks just below your book on the first page of the Romantic Suspense bestseller list. Right now it's on the second page.

I have recently lowered the price of my four-book suspense series (back) to $0.99 (including the book from above). Three of the books are short novels (56K to 63K words) and the other is a novella (36K).

I also have two mystery novellas (37K-39K), and have lowered those to $0.99. About half the time when someone buys the book above, which is currently ranked in the 800-900 range, they buy 3 to 6 of my other books as well---especially when they are all priced at $0.99.

Bicycle Shop Murder
Hideaway Hospital Murders
Illusion of Luck
Fly the Rain
Sweet Ginger Poison
Naked Frame
Classical Revenge

Moses Siregar III said...

Btw folks, $0.99 only REALLY works when it gets you into the top 100 and keeps you there. It's true that pricing that low will usually sell you a lot more books, but maybe not enough to make more than you would've made at $2.99 or $3.99 or $4.99 and not necessarily enough to keep you in the top 100.

Genre might be the biggest consideration, unless you have a KILLER plan to promote the book.

If you're thinking of going for $0.99, one thing I'd ask yourself is if your genre and your book (and cover, etc.) might allow you to reach the Kindle top 100. If not, then $0.99 has a lot less luster, IMO. But if you think it might get you into the stratosphere, then you might want to buy that $0.99 lottery ticket and see if you get lucky.

While working hard, of course.

F. D. said...

Joe,

For the nook owners - do you intend to lower "The List price" (nyuk) on B&N as well?

Joe Konrath said...

Vicki's sales are not because people are accidently pushing buy.

No. But the fact that people are able to find Vicki's ebook and have the option of pressing that button is pure luck.

If they couldn't find it, they couldn't buy it.

Too many random things had to happen for Vicki to wind up in the Top 100. None of them can be replicated with an expectation of equal results.

An unreproducible phenomenon is luck. As opposed to a reproducible phenomenon, which is called science.

If selling books was a science, anyone with a good cover, a good book, and a low price would hit the Top 100.

S.J. Harris said...

If you played the lottery every day, for ten billion years, I bet you'd win a few times.

Your chances would be the same every time you played. Playing more times would not change the odds.

This is the gambler's fallacy, why casinos are rich and players are not.

If you flip a coin a million times, and it lands on heads every time, the odds are not then greater that it will land on tails the next flip. The odds remain 50/50.

Joe Konrath said...

Your chances would be the same every time you played. Playing more times would not change the odds.

I didn't say the odds would change. I said I bet I'd win a few times.

I also didn't say I'd be betting the same numbers. The numbers could be different each time.

But, ultimately, those numbers will come up. If there's a one in a million chance of winning, and you try ten billion times, you'll win a few times. It may be two wins. It may be three thousand wins. Probability will account for all variables.

Joe Konrath said...

For the nook owners - do you intend to lower "The List price" (nyuk) on B&N as well?

For those just tuning in, I added to the original post to discuss my experiment. And yes, I also lowered the Nook price.

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe Konrath says...No. But the fact that people are able to find Vicki's ebook and have the option of pressing that button is pure luck.

So then being on a bestseller list does nothing for sales? That's not logical.


Many people shop by price - so they find Vicki's book. They see it is highly ranked - so they buy.

Many people shop the best seller lists...so they also find Vicki's book.

After "finding" it they read the reviews, they sample the chapters, and then they buy.

I really don't see where luck is coming into play here.

Perhaps some luck was involved in the beginning - but once she started getting some traction luck falls by the wayside and the author's skill (propelled by word of mouth sales) is the dominant force in play.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

J. E. Medrick said...

@S. J. Harris: I know what you're talking about, but I have to disagree a little bit. I remember doing this experiment in school, if I flip a coin 100 times, will it land 50 and 50? The answer is usually: almost. But, if you have 3 'heads' in a row, you are more likely to have a 'tails' next because of that same 50/50 rule.

J. E. Medrick

S.J. Harris said...

I do think it has to do with being lucky enough for your book to have whatever that is that appeals to a wide audience.

Yes, that's it, the X-factor.

Your book has the X-factor because you created the book. It didn't just fall from the sky and land in your lap. It was not a random event.

S.J. Harris said...

But, if you have 3 'heads' in a row, you are more likely to have a 'tails' next because of that same 50/50 rule.

Nope. The odds remain 50/50 every time.

Victorine said...

Joe, I'll be interested to see how your experiment turns out. If you do end up breaking even, I would highly suggest keeping the 99 cent price. If you're not losing money, but gaining more readers, why not?

S.J. Harris said...

If I didn't read Robert B. Parker's The Judas Goat when I was 9, I may not be a thriller writer today.

So was that lucky or unlucky? ;)

J. E. Medrick said...

Yes, the odds are 50-50 every time. From Wiki's Law of Large Numbers:

"For example, a fair coin toss is a Bernoulli trial. When a fair coin is flipped once, the theoretical probability that the outcome will be heads is equal to 1/2. Therefore, according to the law of large numbers, the proportion of heads in a "large" number of coin flips "should be" roughly 1/2. In particular, the proportion of heads after n flips will *almost surely converge to 1/2 as n approaches infinity*."

* added for emphasis.

According to the LoLN my original statement was correct. In actuality, it may not work that way (Gambler's Fallacy BELIEVES it will).

J. E. Medrick

Sideburns said...

There's one thing here that everybody seems to be missing: if you publish your book and sales don't take off, don't just shrug your shoulders and walk away from it, tweak your book until it does. Experiment with the cover, the price, the description or anything else you can think of because if your book isn't selling, you have nothing to lose.

Right now, I'm getting the first of several novels I've written (Thank you, NaNoWriMO!) ready to put up. I expect to have to tweak the file several times and re-upload it until it's Just Right and then, if it doesn't take off, I'll do whatever I can think of to get people to buy it. Indie publishing is a business, just like any other; you can't just sit on your hands and wait for people to come to you, you have to make them want to buy. If what you're offering isn't working, change it until it does!

A.P. Fuchs said...

If anything, the above proves again that publishing is a giant crapshoot. I've tried the .99 cent model and nothing changed (other than my bottom line).

What works for some, doesn't work for all. This business is all about finding what works for YOU, and no one else.

Be nice if there was a formula, but there isn't. There are more just simple guidelines as opposed to recipes.

Robin Sullivan said...

This whole thought of luck gave me a good topic for my blog today. I discuss what I think plays a more important role which is: Talent, Skill, Marketing, Timing, and Persistence. Come over and check it out

Bottom line you can if you have these things you don't need luck ;-)

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Joe Konrath said...

So then being on a bestseller list does nothing for sales? That's not logical.

GETTING on the bestseller list was luck. If it wasn't, every book in the Top 100 would be 99 cents with a good cover.

h lynn said...

About pricing . . .

I have a novel that I will soon release. Cover art is scheduled. That is the long pole in the schedule.

A week ago, I was determined to set the price at $4.99. Today I am committed to setting it at $0.99. Why?

Well, I learned some things in the last week.

In this market, the writer's challenge is visibility. How do I get readers to see my stuff?

I have decided to follow IBM's strategy: Go for market share; profits will follow.

On an amazon.com Kindle Community forum I found the thread "Can Readers Give me Their Pricing Advice?" http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle/forum/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1D7SY3BVSESG&cdThread=Tx1ED56KX0YNPR9&displayType=tagsDetail

Here is what I found:
1. Some readers do not care about price;
2. Some readers refuse to buy eBooks priced above $9.99; and
3. Some readers will not pay more than $0.99 for a writer they do not know, but once they have read and like a writer, they will pay near-paperback prices for his eBooks.

Because I want to reach the largest market possible, I have to price my novel in the intersection of the three -- which happens to be $0.99.

Live long and prosper
h lynn keith
aka antares

h lynn said...

About pricing . . .

I have a novel that I will soon release. Cover art is scheduled. That is the long pole in the schedule.

A week ago, I was determined to set the price at $4.99. Today I am committed to setting it at $0.99. Why?

Well, I learned some things in the last week.

In this market, the writer's challenge is visibility. How do I get readers to see my stuff?

I have decided to follow IBM's strategy: Go for market share; profits will follow.

On an amazon.com Kindle Community forum I found the thread "Can Readers Give me Their Pricing Advice?" http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle/forum/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1D7SY3BVSESG&cdThread=Tx1ED56KX0YNPR9&displayType=tagsDetail

Here is what I found:
1. Some readers do not care about price;
2. Some readers refuse to buy eBooks priced above $9.99; and
3. Some readers will not pay more than $0.99 for a writer they do not know, but once they have read and like a writer, they will pay near-paperback prices for his eBooks.

Because I want to reach the largest market possible, I have to price my novel in the intersection of the three -- which happens to be $0.99.

Live long and prosper
h lynn keith
aka antares

Joe Konrath said...

Bottom line you can if you have these things you don't need luck ;-)

Which is why EVERY talented persistent hardworking writer is a huge bestseller.

Except for the fact that 99% of them aren't.

Oh, wait. You said "Timing."

You know what timing is, don't you?

Luck.

S.J. Harris said...

I would liken publishing more to a game of pocket billiards than a game of blackjack. The chances for success are far more dependent on skill than luck, IMO.

That said, I could use a little luck right now. I've still only sold 10 copies. :(

jtplayer said...

Let's not forget the old saying: "I'd rather be lucky than good".

shana said...

Way to go Victorine!

I LOVE reading the comments here! There are always so many great ideas from other great indies.

It's all good advice for a newbie like me.

I'm going to have to actually go and establish a presence on the kindleboards I hear so much about...

Shana Hammaker
NORTH OF FORKS, Book Two in the Short Thriller Series
Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

Lars Pergou said...

This is an amazing revolution. However, I must say it has a long way to go before acceptable standards are reached.

Formatting is terrible on many of these books. How about some decent bold chapter titles and headings and a little space?

And who else picked the glaring error on the first chapter page of (ebook) 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'?

AnneMarie Novark said...

I lurk on the Kindleboards (and here as well) and I remember when Victorine lowered her price and how quickly the ball started rolling for her. Big Congrats!!! I'm in awe of your success. And I love the cover!!!

For anyone wanting to know how to make hyperlinks in the Blogger comment's section, I wrote a blog with instructions this past week:
Just Write!

AnneMarie

Eric Christopherson said...

I know a book that has a low price, a killer cover, a killer title, an intriguing blurb, and sells in a popular genre. It sold a shitload for months and months, spending a good deal of time in Amazon USA's overall top 100, until the reader reviews caught up with it (more 1s and 2s than 4s and 5s now).

Now it's happening all over again. It's in the Amazon UK's top 100, where it will undoubtedly sell another shitload before fading from the same cause.

Did lightning strike the same book twice on two different continents amongst--as Shaw said--two peoples "divided by a common language?"

Doubt it. I'm sure I could find other examples of the same phenomenon if I searched for them. Luck plays a part in any Kindle book's sales, as always, but I think it's a small part, and besides, luck comes to everyone who is patient enough to wait for it.

S.J. Harris said...

Wow, Eric, that is some awesome anecdotal evidence that luck is but a small part of the equation. What really intrigues me is that the book obviously isn't even very good. It snuck into the top 100 with window dressing.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Konrath said...

Did lightning strike the same book twice on two different continents

No. For whatever reason, bestsellers sometimes go global.

But they have to start somewhere. And that start requires a lot of luck.

S.E. Gordon said...

Invaluable post. Word cannot express my gratitude.

Moses Siregar III said...

Robin: and as for paranormal romance...I've tried to convince Michael to write a series in it - but no dice. Ah well I'm just going to have to look forward to the last book which is in final editing.

That's funny. My wife tried to talk me into writing paranormal romance last night LOL!

Nope, gotta write what I love.

wrenemerson said...

Great guest post. Thanks, Victorine!

Doesn't anyone worry that the people who buy books for $.99 are less likely to actually read them? Sure you are getting sales on that one title, but you aren't necessarily creating fans that will buy the rest of your books.

Wouldn't it make more sense to price higher so that the people buying your book might consider it a more than just an impulse buy? If you've only got one book priced it makes sense to try to sell as many copies of it as you can regardless of whether anyone is reading it, but what if you are hoping to sell well across all your titles?

F. D. said...

Well Joe, your luck comments got me looking at some luck-related quotes. Here's the one I think best applies to you:

I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
--Thomas Jefferson

Here's a fun one:
We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?
--Jean Cocteau

And the other side of the argument:
The worst cynicism: a belief in luck.
--Joyce Carol Oates

* attributions from dictionaryquotes.com

Thanks, Joe for your blog -- what a great (and fun) resource and how generous of you to keep it going.

And I bought the list for my nook(my 4th purchase of a kilborn/konrath ebook)

Victorine said...

wrenemerson - I know where you're coming from, and I have worried about that same thing. However, looking at authors like Amanda Hocking and HP Mallory who use the 99 cent price, their other titles do sell as well. I also get fan emails and such, so I know at least some people are reading my book. Probably not every person, but I'm selling about 1,000 books a day now. I'll take even 10% of those as readers/fans.

Selena Kitt said...

The karma wheel spins. Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. The only way to not get trounced either way is to stay grounded in the middle.

There is plenty of "luck" at play in our lives. If you're posting on Joe's blog from any sort of computer or electronic device, I can pretty much say with certainty that you've won the lottery of life when it comes to economic prosperity on worldwide terms. You were "lucky" enough to be born into that life.

Joe thinks this stuff is random. I'm not sure it is... or isn't. I just know it exists, this thing called "luck," and it definitely plays a part in everything, not just publishing.

Sometimes that luck is good. Sometimes it's bad. It rarely stays one way or the other for someone their entire lives. I've had some very very bad luck in my life. And I've had some exceptionally good luck too. The wheel turns.

I also think that, if you're at the top of the wheel, you tend to not want to tempt fate and so you give a nod to "luck" more than some other folks. Like whistling past your own grave. Hubris can come back and bite you when you least expect it.

Lundeen Literary said...

@Tina Folsom

I wouldn't drop straight to .99 if you're selling that well. $2.99 is as low as I would go for that experiment. See if the sales jump enough to justify the next step to 99 cents in a couple of months. The additional fans gained can play out in the long run, but you may actually lose sales if you drop that far in one go.

Take it sloooooow. Experiment. Accrue Data. Stick to a certain time period before drawing conclusions.


@Victorine

Um, your claim to fame is that you just sold a bazillion books. ;)

Debbi Mack said...

Victorine's experience is very similar to my own. It makes perfect sense when you have only one book. I started out in 2009 selling my ebook (one title) at $1.59. It sold between 40 to 70 downloads per month. I dropped the price to $.99 per download. The sales spiked. This kept up for a while, but then they dropped a bit so I raised the price to $1.99. (The 70% royalty hadn't taken effect yet.) My sales dropped but were STILL better than they had been at $1.59. Interesting.

In the summer, I decided to drop the price to $.99 cents again (still only one title). Sales took off again. The book, IDENTITY CRISIS, eventually became the #1 hardboiled mystery on Amazon. I raised the price to $2.99. I made a killing for a month or two, but then sales dropped to the point where I was losing money.

So ... about that time, I released my second novel, LEAST WANTED. I set the price of both books at $.99 Now both of them are making outrageous sales and climbing the ranks like never before. I'm doing a promo push at the end of this month. One of those titles will probably be going up to $2.99.

We'll see how that goes. :)

Angela Perry said...

All this talk about luck got me thinking.

I agree that luck plays a part in every author's career. It doesn't negate all the skill and hard work, but it is usually required in at least some small measure to get the ball rolling. You need that initial notice, that first spark, before people will pay attention to your amazing cover and stellar prose. It's the same in traditional publishing.

If you're like me, Lady Luck is not your friend. We're not even on speaking terms. I'll go to Vegas with $20 and lose it in 3 minutes flat. So it seems to me that the best approach is to minimize the need for luck as much as possible.

Joe already mentioned having a good cover, a nice blurb, and (of course) well-written, error-free prose. Traditional publishing uses high-profile marketing to further reduce the luck factor (i.e. Snooki's disaster...I mean...doorstop...no, "book," that's what they called it).

In self-publishing, we do our own marketing. If marketing offsets luck, we as writers should put our creativity to work in that area too. Blogs aren't enough any more. Social networking is getting swamped. I'm curious...what are you all going to try?

Because I'm being nosy, I'll share my idea: a short movie. I dabble in animation. I'm hoping that it will be different enough to catch attention. And reduce that darn luck :)

Laters said...

Congrats Victorine. I love hearing these stories.

I'm not sure I would chalk it all up to luck. You have a good book, an intriguing cover and a great price point. Those are all calculated factors aimed at a sell.

Plus I think we need to remember that in the romance/suspense/murder mystery/thriller/horror genres, there's cross-over.

Someone familiar with Joe's horror books and looking for other titles of his might run into Victorine's book. While not necessarily shopping for romance/suspense, they like the blurb, the knife and the price. They give it a shot. Now her reach just got bigger, because if that guy is a huge horror shopper, he'll indirectly advertise to other horror fans Victorine's book because he bought it.

Amazon is great in that way. Whether the person is window shopping or online looking for a specific book, they are constantly throwing suggestions at them.

Joe Konrath said...

We so badly need to believe we're on control, that we can master our destinies, that hard work and talent and knowledge will pay off.

But that's loving the ideal, not loving the reality.

It's been proven that we're genetically wired to appreciate fairness. And the American Dream, where anyone can make something of themselves, is mighty seductive.

When success does happen to someone, we say, "See? I told you so! They deserve it because they worked hard and are talented. It was inevitable they'd make it."

But that's a logical fallacy. You can't ascribe significance to an event after it occurs. In order to be correct, there has to be an ability to predict the outcome. That's the scientific method.

Saying talent and good writing is why something becomes a bestseller is saying that everything that isn't a bestseller isn't good writing or written by talented authors.

no-bull-steve said...

"All the luck in the world won't make a bad book sell."

Gotta agree with Joe on this one. Read "Police State" and see how SH*T AZZed lucky one Mr. A. H. was. If that doesn't prove the luck point, read Twilight.

Thanks Vicki for the advice!

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe Konrath said...GETTING on the bestseller list was luck. If it wasn't, every book in the Top 100 would be 99 cents with a good cover.

No...not every book only those that are good - i.e. writen by authors with talent and skill. It is these factors that builds and audience not some random act of the universe.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe said...Which is why EVERY talented persistent hardworking writer is a huge bestseller.

Except for the fact that 99% of them aren't.


Nope....I never said that these things will make you a best seller...they will make you successful. Which is to say you'll have a large enough following to feel that your efforts at writing will be rewarded.

Every talented, writer WILL be rewarded if they don't give up too soon. (i.e have persistence)

The degree of success...whether you earn enough to pay the bills, whether you hit the best sellers list, is most influenced by two factors, how popular a book is (which means how much readers like it such that they give/recommend to others) and hard work (writing more, marketing) So that "new" cheerleaders will be added to the fold to feed the word of mouth pool.

Now I know what you'll say ... Robin I was the hardest working author there was - 7,000 letters to libraries, thosands of bookstore visits but I never made it to a bestseller. True. But some of those things were working "harder" not "smarter" You reach many more people with this blog then you ever did in person - that is "smarter". But...I still say that you were a success even with traditional publishing - as evidenced by the fact that you earned out (I believe) each of your contracts. Your "hard work" efforts (while not efficient) were enough to give you a degree of success.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Karen Cantwell said...

I'm a bit late to the commenting here, but I want to add my thanks to Joe and Vicki for this post - it's full of good information for authors new to Indie publishing.

I also want to commend Vicki on sticking to her guns - she received a lot of flak from others on this issue and she didn't budge. She knows what has worked for her and she has stuck with it. She's very deserving of her success.

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe,
I'm very interested in your price experiment. Thanks to titlez I see that The Lis has been pretty consistently at 1300 in ranking. My guess...your going to shoot to 350ish pretty quickly and remain there for the 2 week test. If you extend the test by a month I predict you could get it to 150. Extend it for 3 months and I think you'll break 100.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Heather said...

congrats victorine- i love that its a marathon and not a sprint and think you deserve extra kudos for sticking with it for the long haul and not giving up!


www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com

Jenny Beans said...

The price experiment seems to work best if you don't touch it for awhile (or in some cases, ever.) I'm so happy to see Victorine doing so well. It's not just exciting, but it's an inspiration.

Joe Konrath said...

Every talented, writer WILL be rewarded if they don't give up too soon.

I'm going to play the experience card here, and predict that once you and Michael spend a few years in the traditional publishing world, you'll change your tune.

One of the reasons I am so anti-publisher is because I can count over ONE HUNDRED talented writers who have gotten shafted by the industry. Go to a writing conference and try to convince them they've been rewarded.

Your "will to power" scenario is empty optimism, not based on any real life experience.

But some of those things were working "harder" not "smarter"

Robin, prior to my current label of "King of Self-Publishing" I was crowned "King of Self-Promotion" because I was smarter than anyone else in the biz.

Perhaps you need to set the Wayback Machine to 2005, when I began this blog, and read all 566 entries before you begin questioning my business acumen.

As far as efficiency goes, there isn't a single more important thing a writer can do for his career than befriend a motivated bookseller. Websites and blogs don't sell books. People do.

I befriended over 1200 booksellers. It was a very smart move that I now regret. Not because it was ineffective. But because it was so effective, my books all remain in print, and now I'll never ever get those rights back.

I wrote the book on how to do book tours--something Michael should memorize if he's ever unfortunate enough to do a signing.

I did one of the very first (and only) successful blog tours for a book launch. I was among the very first to effectively use social media (yes, believe it or not, writers didn't understand the benefits of MySpace or Twitter years ago). I've blogged about how to do public appearances, about newsletters and contests, and about ebooks as far back as 2006. I've done experiments on the ineffectiveness of advertising, and the importance of freebies.

While I understand you truly need to believe that you're right, you aren't. I've outlasted hundreds of newbies (and pros) who thought they were right.

Your outlook is based on your limited experience. That's fine. It's how we all start out. But beware making sweeping generalizations based on a highly subjective viewpoint. When you do, you make silly claims to justify your opinions.

Mark said...

Luck, skill, talent, hard work...

Every gambler knows there is such a thing as an edge and it is scientifically proven. Now, the critical thing is to identify those games where an edge can't be found. Lottery, roulette, slots...these are games where THERE IS AND NEVER WILL BE AN EDGE, PERIOD, STOP, END OF DISCUSSION. Now, is publishing and book selling roulette or a lottery, I'd have to say no. So what are the factors that give a piece and edge?

Genre, I'd say, is a MAJOR factor. Simply put, the bigger the pie, the more eyes are on it. Getting the thinnest sliver of a huge pie can pay off. Second, the product has to be of some quality. This means your work has to be edited and formatted to a minimum specification and the writing has to be passable. Third, lets face it folks, PACKAGING SELLS. This is a proven fact. Packaging that is well thought out and conveys something about the product is best. Too many poor covers and product descriptions out there. Last, good old fashioned shoe leather burned over time is needed for "pull-through". This is where the salesman comes in and shines. This is your platform and interaction with your audience. If people like you, you have a better shot at them liking your product. Billy Mays made a career at this people. To be a good face of your product you have to BELIEVE in the product. Scott Sigler is a great example of an author that has belief in his product (think what you may about said product, but Scott is passionate about it, Konrath is too, btw). Too many authors and writers are lacking in this department. Last, is price. You can't sell on price alone because in the end there's going to be a sea of .99 ebooks, then how are you going to stand out if you can't master the other edge factors. It also takes time for edge to take hold, short run wonders are a dime a dozen.

Naomi Clark said...

Well, I'm persuaded. I've just gone and dropped the price of my indie novella, Night and Chaos, to 99 cents to see what happens. I have a novel I'm hoping to have Kindle-ready by the end of February, and plan to price that a little higher at first, but I'd rather sell 100 copies at 99 cents than 10 at 2.99, so we'll see.

I'm dipping in and out of Kindleboards, but frankly I find the place a bit overwhelming... Victorine's blog is good encouragement to go back and try again though!

Monica Shaughnessy said...

Question for Joe (or anyone else):

Getting out your crystal ball and looking, say, ten years into the future, what is the fate of publishers if...

1. The new paradigm suggests that we all self-publish first in order to 'test the market' and potentially attract an agent/editor.

2. Success comes (after hard work) by varying degrees of small, moderate and stratospheric among these authors.

3. Publishers flock to the stratospherically successful and offer them a contract. Yet, the contract is likely turned down by the author because it's not enough money and less control.

4. Publishers, by default, offer those with moderate success a contract which the author still may or may not take. Best-selling authors (the Kings, the Pattersons) under contract may push their most unique and exciting projects independently to the web to make even more money in the 'every man for himself' era.

5. Publishers then become purveyors of 'moderately successful' literature that they must support with heavy marketing (Snooki, anyone?) to make it sell.

6. Indie publishing becomes the place to find 'cream of the crop' books, hot topics (less time to market) and cutting-edge, experimental literature. Publishing companies, not so much.

7. Due to scant offerings and heavy marketing costs, bottom lines are affected and businesses falter. And if those authors that the publishing companies turn into 'stars' decide to strike out on their own, well, that could spell disaster.

If we're talking today, this logic may not hold since not everyone sees the value in self-pubbing, publishers still hold a certain cache, and traditional distribution is still king. But ten years in the future?

Of course, there will be exceptions and business models could change, but if things keep going like they are, could this be?

Russell Brooks said...

@Debbi Mack That's interesting that you did the rollercoaster thing with your ebook's price, dropping it and then raising it. But I firmly believe that once you're established, true fans will purchase a novel no matter how much it costs (as long as it's reasonable priced, of course). I wouldn't have rushed to purchase Shaken any faster had it been priced at 99 cents instead of $2.99. When I know the author writes well and always keeps me entertained, price is the last thing I look at. Wouldn't it be fair to assume that your true fans will purchase your ebooks at $2.99 or even $4.99, but in order to entice new readers to try you out, then drop your ebooks to 99 cents, hook and bait em, then raise the price back up after a while.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

Tim said...

An inspiring story, Victorine! Thank you for sharing it. This blog is the single most useful resource for the independent author who is serious about their business.

We all focus on the $0.99 and $2.99 price points, but for the reader I suspect there may be a $1.50 or $1.99 point where the real resistance sets in.

I have experimented with $2.99 (sales stop)and $1.50 (sales increase).

True, this is on my second-string book selling a few hundred a month. I am too cowardly to increase the price of my top seller as I am getting thousands of sales a month from it at $0.99.

Joe Konrath said...

13 hours into the experiment, here are my numbers:

#584 Paid in Kindle Store

#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals

#6 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals

#24 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Action & Adventure

Craig said...

Great interview--very informative.

Jeff Ambrose said...

Joe -

That's an amazing jump.

I just put up a short story collection for $2.99, and now I'm wondering if I should lower it to $1.50 or even .99. It's only been up for a week, and only one sale so far, which is more than I expected.

I'm been trying to follow Dean Wesley Smith's advice and price short fiction at 99 cents, five-story collections at 2.99, and novels at 4.99. (No novels yet, but one coming down.) Dean's advice on writing has been a godsend to me, but I'm watching all these price discussions and I'm beginning to think his prices are too high.

Does anyone have any thoughts on pricing short fiction solos and short story collections?

S.J. Harris said...

Cool, Joe! Very interesting.

Does anyone have any thoughts on pricing short fiction solos and short story collections?

I think $.99 is too high for one short story. Unfortunately, Amazon won't let us sell them for a dime.

Tyson Adams said...

I'm currently part of your experiment Joe. Just bought The List for .99, not that I wouldn't have read it at some stage anyway. This will be my 4th book of yours.

As a reader I'd say the .99 price takes away the "will I" thoughts, because $1 is nothing to spend on a book that will at worst give minutes of entertainment bitching about how bad it was, and at best may have led to discovering a new favourite author. For $1 the cost of the chance taken is negligible. Even at $2.99 it isn't a big deal, but more about my interest level at that moment.

Nancy Beck said...

JAK said: "One of the reasons I am so anti-publisher is because I can count over ONE HUNDRED talented writers who have gotten shafted by the industry."

This.

Just go over to Dean Wesley Smith's blog and read some of the comments, especially from Laura Resnick; she has some real horror stories (without naming names).

For me? I'm getting old(er), my health isn't the greatest, and after reading Ms. Resnick's (and others) trad publishing horror stories, so going the indie route is something I've decided on after going back and forth for quite a while.

YMMV.

Way to go, Victorine! (Love your name, BTW!)

Russell Brooks said...

@JA Konrath. Your jump may be attributed to the fact that Amazon has just sent out recommendations for your books. I got the email from them early this morning.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

mark said...

"Does anyone have any thoughts on pricing short fiction solos and short story collections?"

I think $0.99 for a short story is more than I want to pay, but as long as it's clearly labeled as a short there's nothing wrong with trying to sell it. I looked at some of Dean's stories on Amazon and most are ranked in the 300,000's, so they are not selling well.

I'd go so far as to say bundle 10 together and sell them for $3, and bundle three together and sell them for $1. I think readers prefer longer works, so bundling at least gives them more to read.

And as readers become more savvy about ebooks and realize that with a little searching there are plenty of $1 novels to be had, that single story selling for $1 is going to be a harder sell.

mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Maya said...

I was also planning to buy The List at some point. Since it was $0.99, I figured, why not now. This was also because I wasn't sure how long it would stay at that price, though. If it were $0.99 all the time, I'm not sure I would have felt the same urgency. I think the sense of getting a "deal" is more powerful than the low price itself.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Elisa said...

Victorine, Congratulations on your success. It's very similar to my own success story with my novel, Faking It, last year.

Ultimately I decided to raise the price up to 2.99 in July 2010, and I don't regret it. By that time it seemed that the books hit a plateau, and I sold fewer copies, but made more money.

Timing, promotion, word of mouth... all of these things play a role in a novel's success and exposure in addition to pricing, I think. It's a formula that seems to be different for every author, otherwise I'd bottle it and give to everyone (myself included) for every book.

Jeff Ambrose said...

@ Mark -

Your thoughts are my thoughts.

I'm thinking a 5-story bundle should be price at 99 cents and a 10-story bundle at 2.99

I just look at other writers -- those making it in this crazy industry -- and I don't see them having too many short stories out.

Of course, I'm only aware of those talking about it, and some aren't.

Right now, individual short fiction is giving me a backlist I wouldn't otherwise have. Which is my goal. But I'm thinking once I get number of collections up I might take down the individual shorts -- or at least some of them.

But it's too early to say.

That being said, I think I'm going to try a little experiment with this collection and drop it to 99 cents for the next six weeks -- until the end of March -- and see what happens with it.

Kendall Swan said...

@Jeff Ambrose

I am only just now working on a novella. All of my stuff is short stories. I have many at 1 for 99c and then a few compilations for 2.99.

I've been selling over 1k copies/mo for a few months but the growth has stopped. So I have just lowered the price of one of my compilations to .99 to get some build going.

Also, all that talk of bundling last weekend made me think that I need to a) put at least 2 for 99 now instead of 1 and b) make a really big bundle of all of them at a higher price point (5.99-7.99 maybe). So I am working that now (and even got Jenna @ Lundeen Literary to do the cover).

One more thing- these are erotica which generally command a little higher premium imo. But they are trending down just like everything else. I think Selena Kitt mentioned there was a time in 2008 when she could charge 2.99 for 1 of her short stories (WOW!!).

If you like writing shorts- awesome. Keep writing them. While longer form will always be more popular, shorts can augment and are also growing in popularity.

I like your 5/99 10/299. That seems sound.

Good luck!

Kendall Swan
NAKED Cheerleader and Other Stories

Selena Kitt said...

"I think the sense of getting a "deal" is more powerful than the low price itself."

Yep. When my books were on Amazon listed at $5.99, but selling for $2.99 (Amazon discounted them) and I was getting only 35% of list - I was selling more books, higher in the rankings and making more money and I'm pretty sure it was because of that red slash mark on Amazon.

So here's my experiment. I'm slashing the prices on my woefully ranked myth series Blind Date, The Surrender of Persephone and The Song of Orpheus to $0.99. But I'm doing it on BN, not on Amazon. So Amazon will (eventually) price-match and mark them down to $0.99 from $3.99 - making it look like a "deal" on Amazon.

If that works to increase rankings, I may put all my books at BN at $2.99 instead of $3.99, forcing Amazon to price match them and have them "marked down" to $2.99.

Should be interesting!

Moses Siregar III said...

When so many people drop to 99 cents, there won't be any competitive advantage in it. Everyone will just make less money.

The top 100 Kindle books only has room for, well, 100. Many of them will be trad-published. And if your 99 cent offering doesn't make it there, you won't get the Lieske effect.

So as more and more people go to 99 cents, the strategy will become less and less effective.

That said, I think it's a good idea for many authors to have at least one offering at 99 cents, such as the first book in a series.

But if everyone starts going to 99 cents, there will be more and more of a market for $3.99 and $4.99, because then a higher indie price will stand out and, for many people, suggest higher quality. One sale at $4.99 is roughly equal to 10 sales at 99 cents wrt profit.

Joe Konrath said...

When so many people drop to 99 cents, there won't be any competitive advantage in it. Everyone will just make less money.

I dunno. I was in a Half Price Books a few days ago. I still like prowling used bookstores because I often find pristine copies of my hardcovers for cheap.

While in the checkout line, there was a stack of DVDs for $1 each.

Did I buy movies I wouldn't have ordinarily bought? You betcha.

That means I spent more than I intended. If we follow that rationale to ebooks, a 99 cent price means more buyers, which could mean more money for everyone because more books are being sold across the board.

Stephen T. Harper said...

I just wanted to chime in on the "luck vs hard work, talent and skill" argument.

Cream rises. That's a metaphor that uses a scientific fact. In a pail of fresh milk from a real cow, cream rises.

While that statement is true, the metaphor is not an exact match with publishing or any other business. Of course luck is involved, and of course people can make their own luck. The more talented, skillful and hard working you are, and the longer you maintain maximum effort, the more accurate the "cream rises" metaphor becomes to situation beyond that pail of milk.

If you have the ability to write "cream," then you have the huge advantage of your work naturally pushing against the obstacles, naturally seeking out cracks in the ceiling, etc... That's not luck. And insomuch as luck is involved, that's an edge.

Joe mentioned Blackjack. And Mark makes a good gambling analogy as well in talking about the edge in each game.

To me, there is only one game in a casino that is not a sucker's game. it's the one game where you aren't playing against the house. I think the most sound gambling analogy to success in business is poker.

Professional poker players are consistently successful because their talent, skill, and sustained effort overcomes luck with time. They see poker as a long game. They don't win every hand, and sometimes they lose their stake. But more often, even if only slightly more often, they win.

And over time, they pile up a lot of chips. Poker is a game of chance that can be consistently beaten with skill, talent and perseverance.

The best players don't even think about luck. They know the wrong card can fall at anytime, but over the long haul, they win. In that way, cream rises.

Ask any professional player who just lost his stake to Phil Ivey, again, if he thinks Phil is lucky.

Christy Pinheiro said...

#584 Paid in Kindle Store

That's a pretty amazing jump in such a short time.

I think that a book's initial success has a lot to do with price point and cover design. You have to create an attractive product in order to get buyers. There's also a strong element of luck in there that no one can anticipate.

But a writer's long-term success depends on so many other factors. A writer who produces only one book every 4 years is never going to be as successful as a writer who produces 4 books a year. That's just simple math.

There are things you can do to help sales, but the fact remains that some well-written books simply don't sell, while others do well.

Self-publishing has made it easier for writers to get into the game with a minimum of investment-- so it's easier for more of us to get to the starting line, which is bad for the traditional publishers, but it still doesn't mean that any writer will have automatic success, even if their writing is superb.

There are many factors at work here.

Moses Siregar III said...

That means I spent more than I intended. If we follow that rationale to ebooks, a 99 cent price means more buyers, which could mean more money for everyone because more books are being sold across the board.

I agree that more books will be sold, overall, at 99 cents than if they were at higher prices. Definitely.

But here's one flip side to that. With more people buying 99 cent books, it also means less people buying $2.99+ books. In that way, it could mean less money for authors across the board, if the people trying to sell at $2.99+ get undercut. Plus, 99 cents is just a smaller amount and it only pays 35% (currently). Will there be that much more volume to make up for the losses to $2.99+ books? Will people read 6-10 times as many books. Nope.

Also, a Lieske effect would be much harder to pull off. Imagine ten times as many indies trying the 99 cent strategy. The chances of staying in the top 100 will be considerably smaller. Vicki got in early on this. People trying the same thing now will have a harder time, and a year or two from now it'll be incredibly competitive to stay in the top 100.

The bestseller lists will fill with more and more 99 cent books and some lucky (and smart and hard-working) people will benefit from that, but many more won't. And more authors will be making 35 cents a book instead of $2.09.

JMO, but I think the race to 99 cents will hugely benefit a relatively small number of authors, but hurt authors across the board.

But when it comes to self-preservation (individuals undercutting prices) vs the welfare of the collective (trying to keep the standard at $2.99 or higher), you already know how that one ends. Every man for himself with worse conditions for the whole and a small number of plucky superstars rising to the top. Vicki's story is a perfect example of this. But who here wouldn't do what she did if s/he knew it would lead to so many sales? Probably no one would pass on that golden ticket. Human nature.

Guido Henkel said...

One really unfortuante thing about this whole 99 cents issue is that it has never been driven by business sense and as such, no matter how little sense it makes fiscally, people will continue to di it because they do not understand the effects it has on a larger scale.

The 99 cent price point really stems from fear and a feeling of inadequacy. From the beginning of the Kindle revolution, Indies were afraid they could not compete with trad published eBooks and believed the only way they could make an impact is by price. As so many industries have proven before, that is a lot of bologna. Price should never be a determining factor. It makes for a great excuse and a short term band aid but it does not solve anything really other than accelerate the race to the bottom and destroy entire industries.

I really wish indie authors would have the backbone to stand up and collectively say "No, my work is worth more than that!"

$2.99 is dirt cheap, no matter how you look at it. If someone complains $2.99 is too expensive they need to get their head examined. In this day and age you get jack for $2.99 any more, not even a gallon of gasoline. and yet, everyone is willing to sell their work for a THIRD of that! It boggles the mind when you think about it.

Are we all really that desperate? The problem now, of course, is that the expectation has already been created in readers that first-time indie books have to be 99 cents. By doing that the indie community has navigated itself into very treacherous waters.

While I see Jack's point of view that you will make it up in volume, there is still only so much people will buy and read. Not every reader is voracious. Not every reader is a speed reader and not every readers buys "just because."

I buy a new book when I need a new book, not just because it may be conveniently priced 99 cents, and I think a lot of readers are like that. It is easy to forget that we and the readers on Kindleboards etc. are not representative for the actual market. They are a tiny sliver of that market - the hardcore guys, the early adopters - but not the regular guy on the street who has trouble operating his cell phone.

So, to make a long story short, to me, this drive towards 99 cents was a huge mistake and I've said so from day one.

Mark said...

Selling on price alone is always a bad idea. Lowering a price for an introductory offer or limited time to stimulate some interest is one thing, but once a market gets set, it's DAMN hard to turn it around. I hope the Kindle ebook landscape doesn't become one huge slush pile with readers losing in the end. Quality and presentation will win in the end. People always pay up for what they really want. This is the whole premise behind branding. Just some random thoughts.

Merrill Heath said...

The Lieske effect...

Moses, I think you've created a new catch-phrase.

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

Jeff Ambrose said...

@ Guido Henkel --

You just expressed Dean Wesley Smith's opinion on the matter. He's very much of the opinion that 99 cents doesn't make long-term business sense, and since publishing long-term business, you have to think in that way.

Guido Henkel said...

@Jeff,

Once you strip the emotions away and look at it form a purely mercantile point of view, I think everyone would have to agree.

Why sell for less when you could get more? If indie authors would have been smart they could have made $2.99 the new 99 cents and everybody would be happy. Readers would enjoy cheap books and authors would make $2 a pop.

Joe Konrath said...

I've sold 100 ebooks of The List in 17 hours. That's 5.8 an hour.

Prior to this sale, I was selling 1.6 an hour.

In order for me to break even, I'll need to sell 9.6 copies an hour, or 230 a day, when I was previously selling 38 a day.

For me to sell 230 a day, I'd have to be ranked in the 100s--My guess is around 180. I'm currently ranked at 506.

I don't think I'll get there. But I am seeing a small rise in sales in some of my other titles.

bowerbird said...

moses said:
> But when it comes to
> self-preservation (individuals
> undercutting prices)
> vs the welfare of
> the collective
> (trying to keep the standard
> at $2.99 or higher),

this is not a commons dilemma.

the "welfare of the collective"
is _not_ served by higher price.

it's the opposite: lower price is
a rising tide lifting all the boats
of the writers and the readers...

-bowerbird

Joe Konrath said...

So, to make a long story short, to me, this drive towards 99 cents was a huge mistake and I've said so from day one.

You haven't proven it's a mistake. You've made some guesses--but they're just guesses. Yet, at the same time, you're sticking to $2.99 and not selling.

Consumers vote with their wallets. Ebooks don't use the rules of supply and demand, so new rules must be invented.

If 99 cents is the point where I'll earn the most, I'll price everything at 99 cents. But it doesn't seem that is the case. At least, not with my experiments.

Vicki is doing great this month, but I've got a few books that are earning more than she's earning--it makes no sense for me to drop my prices.

However, depending on how this experiment works with The List, I may be compelled to occasionally put things on sale.

Once you strip the emotions away and look at it form a purely mercantile point of view, I think everyone would have to agree.

Actually Guido, you're argument is based on an emotional response, not data.

My advice stands: reduce your books to 99 cents and see if you make more money.

Opinions on this topic don't matter. Money talks.

We need to figure out how to earn the most money.

nwrann said...

A few times in the blog Vic mentions that she "marketed it heavily" any details on the marketing that she/you did?

Joe Konrath said...

#438

bowerbird said...

guido said:
> no matter how little sense
> it makes fiscally, people will
> continue to di it because they
> do not understand the effects
> it has on a larger scale.

you're completely wrong when
you say that the "effects" of
low prices "on a larger scale"
are negative. they are _not_.

but let's put that aside for now.

because you _do_ admit that
authors are going to continue
to do it, so _that_ now becomes
the important takeaway here.

writers are going to continue
to utilize low-prices to garner
attention from the public, and
the number of these authors
is going to swell and swell and
swell some more, especially as
the revolution sweeps along...

you think the 99-cent books
are competition now? wait...
there will be 10 times as many.


> The 99 cent price point
> really stems from fear
> and a feeling of inadequacy.

oh please. mr. psychotherapist.

increasing your profits is the
sine qua non of a marketplace.

when the demand curve gives
more sales _and_ more profit
at a lower price-point, and the
variable cost of creating a unit
is _zero_, only a fool will fail
to understand that expanding
the number of sales is the most
important thing to be done...


> I really wish indie authors
> would have the backbone to
> stand up and collectively say
> "No, my work is worth more
> than that!"

victorine is selling 1,000 copies
of her book every day. i'd think
it would be presumptuous of her
to say her work is "worth more".

and yes, i do believe it would be
more fair if _she_ were getting
$650 and amazon the $350 --
instead of the other way around
-- but i don't think either side
has much to complain about...

especially since, when she was
saying "my work is worth more"
by pricing it at $2.99 in august,
she was moving 3 copies a day...

that's the change we are talking
about here, folks. 3 copies daily
at $2.99, versus 1,000 at $.99...

even a fool can understand that.
right? fools, can you weigh in?

hey, even if it were a loss-leader
intended only to convert buyers
for her next product, that many
sales daily would be a success...

but here's the dirty little secret
-- there is zero "loss" involved,
because victorine's cost per unit
is zero, zip, nada, zilch, nothing!
so every one of these sales just
adds more to her bank-account.


> $2.99 is dirt cheap,
> no matter how you look at it.

stop admiring the list-price and
attend to bottom-line instead...

-bowerbird

Guido Henkel said...

@Jack

I may not have proof but all I need to do is look at other industries and see how they crumbled under the 99 cent load. The mobile games industry has completely imploded under the wave of 99 cent and free iPhone games. I see the exact same thing happen with books. The parallels are frightening.

I agree with your recommendation and will lower my price to 99 cents, but not because I think it is a generally good move but because we have reached the point it seems where you have to be at 99 cents in order to compete at all.

bowerbird said...

guido said:
> lower my price to 99 cents,
> but not because I think it is
> a generally good move but
> because we have reached
> the point it seems where
> you have to be at 99 cents
> in order to compete at all.

exactly.

(but if someone is being
successful at $2.99, then
i'd suggest staying at that,
to get the higher "royalty".)

-bowerbird

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