Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Author Takes a Test Drive

We’ve heard from and about the big name authors like Barry Eisler and J.A. Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith. All of them discussing the move to e-books and how their sales are increasing their income. But most of us, me included, are not big names with big followings and monster sales.

Ann Summerville alerted me to a blog post by an author like most of us (thank you Ann). This author, Carol Denbow, writes nonfiction and has quite a few out. Like the big name authors, she did an experiment. Her books, listed on Kindle for either $4.99 or $2.99, were doing okay. She said she was selling about 20 a month. But she did a month-long experiment “to see if it would be better to list the books at .99 and sell more copies than at the higher price and sell less.”

The post about her results were interesting. Here’s something she noted about Kindle:
At $4.99 a book (actually, any price over $2.99), Kindle offers the author/publisher a 70 percent royalty. But if you lower your list price to under $2.99, they only give you a 30 percent royalty.
Over the month, she sold more copies, but because of the lower royalty, she made less money. But that’s not the end of her story. You’ll want to link over and find out why this experiment increased not just her e-sales but her print-sales, why her ratings went up on Kindle and how this will affect future sales, and why, despite the lower income, she intends to keep the price low for a while longer. She’s giving her test of Kindle another month.

You might want to follow her to keep abreast of her updates on her Kindle experiment.

24 comments:

  1. The price point on Kindle is very interesting to me. I read Konrath's post on it a few weeks ago...he seemed to like the 2.99 price although he sold more at .99. I think it might be a good idea to vary the price, as you mentioned--run a week-long .99 sale, etc.

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  2. I went over and read her article and found it fascinating. I didn't know Amazon scales their commission like that. Sometimes publishers give away the books for free - I wonder if that's to push ratings up. Interesting.

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  3. Thanks for the link. It confirms what I've always found - for a no-name author, more people are willing to take a chance on .99. For me, it hasn't increased paperback sales but I think that's the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

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  4. I liked this post especially because it was a "regular" author, not a mega-seller. I felt like we got a picture that more of us could relate to.

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  5. Every bit of information helps, even from a regular author. From regular authors mega-sellers grow. At lest that's what I hope.

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  6. Interesting how a little fluctuation in the numbers/ranking bring more readers to her book. But to me, it always feels disappointing to see books being sold for 0.99 a copy. As a reader, it's great. But for the writer? To make 0.30 per book that so very many hours of labor went into? Ouch.

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  7. I like the idea of an author having control and the ability to take a chance to learn what works best.

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  8. This is very interesting to me. I'm still trying to decide if it's worth it to make my memoir into an e-reader.
    Karen

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  9. It is a bit disheartening, isn't it, Joanne.

    That's so true, Liza! Authors do have more control now. They still have the control to go (or try to go) the NY agent/publisher route. Now they have many other options they didn't have just a few years ago.

    I haven't tried it Karen, but from what I'm learning, many authors have.

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  10. I'm currently deciding what to price my book at. Vacillating between 0.99 and 2.99. May use the lower price for the first 6 months and then put it up to 2.99.

    One point for US authors to remember is that for someone like me who lives in a place where we have to pay Amazon whispersnyc fees, even a 0.99 kindle book costs us 2.99.

    Thanks for the info, Helen, timeous as always!
    Judy (South Africa)

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  11. Great post, Helen. Price point is an ongoing issue.

    I was just reading Konrath's blog and how he encouraged people to "steal" his book and spread it around to pirating sites. He said his eBook sales increased 600% after a month.

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  12. Interesting to hear about it from a different perspective, Helen. I need to pop over and see *the rest of the story*.

    I was wondering about royalties on low priced kindle. I know there are publishers who do a week long sale for .99...

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  13. I went and I read. Good article. It makes perfect sense, too. I have several friends who are, as they term themselves, stat ho's. loloe! They mentioned that it seemed the higher they ranked on Amazon, the better the sales. There less precise experiment had the same results and other print books they had out also started climbing in rank as a result. So the ranking does matter to readers perusing books. In this case, she's using that stats to her advantage. Be interesting to see her end result.

    Might explain why publishers offer a week long, download for free, promotions. Increases visibility for the author and increases the ranking. Very interesting.

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  14. This is very interesting, and thanks for tipping me off to her experiment and conclusions thus far. I'll check her out and follow along. Gotta pay attention to stuff like this these days, for sure.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  15. Christine, it makes me wonder...why did his sales increase if he was encouraging readers to pirate it?

    Apparently, the rankings are a huge factor in sales!

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  16. I guess more people are willing to take a risk on a lower priced eBook.

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  17. Really interesting. I didn't know about the different profit rates for different price ranges. Off to read more - thanks!

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  18. I fluctuate between $2.99 and $4.99. I won't go any lower. I'm doing okay in the sales department. Could do netter. Not sure if the price range makes a difference as sales are about the same.

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  19. This is very interesting. Gives an author something to think about. Thanks for the link.

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  20. Thanks for posting this Helen. I thought your followers would be interested. We just have to keep on our toes and share tidbits about the ever changing publishing industry. It's an exciting time for writers. I did reduce my novels to $2.99 this month as part of my book blog tour and have noticed a difference in sales.
    Ann

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  21. I sure do wish I was a math person. But it definitely helps to have other authors who do understand the math!

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  22. I keep hearing more and more about the benefit of lowering the price, so I am going to try that with One Small Victory for a week or two and see what happens.

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  23. Interesting post. I'm working on a novella right now, and since there's so little chance of publishing a novella with a big publisher (and so very few paying magazine markets for this length), I'm almost certain to take the self-publishing plunge. I think the pricing is far easier to tackle with a novella, since it's shorter. Or at least, right now, 99 cents seems like a good introductory price!

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  24. Hi Helen .. these price aspects are certainly interesting .. as technologies settle in .. I enjoy the reads around the blogs .. cheers Hilary

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