How To Price Your Book - 99c or $2.99? August Update

I started this series to let writers and readers know about my 'one month experiment' with the price of my thriller 'Take No More'. 99c or $2,99? (and equivalent prices in the UK and Germany). That attracted a fair amount of interest and support, so I'm publishing the sales figures for each month going forward.

But I hope it will also be of interest to read a summary of the most interesting issues that I've been posting, blogging and tweeting about during the month. As I hope you'll agree, August was anything but a quiet month!

'Take No More' Sales Figures for August

August did indeed start slowly and then it picked up as the month progressed. With the price of 'Take No More' now the same as in July (fixed at $2.99 / £1.91 / €2,99 as a result of the earlier 'experiment'), sales were essentially similar:

July 168 UK 24 US 19 DE
August 153 UK 44 US 6 DE

In other words, satisfying but unspectacular, with a small increase in the US and a small decline in Germany.

In another satisfying development, TNM went through the 1000 total sales barrier since its release in December and finished the month having exceeded 1,200. Thanks to everyone who's helped to get it out there and, of course, to those who've bought it!

Reply from Small Press publisher on '99c or $2.99'

An interesting reply from small press publisher Robin Sullivan on my article on pricing - 99c or $2.99? What is being said is that $2.99 may be much too low and the publisher cites four of her authors who have achieved monthly sales of between 5,500 and 19,500 when priced at $4.95! That's really some food for thought. Here's the comment:

'I applaud you for doing experimentation - it is great to see indie authors thinking about pricing and adjusting as that's what "real publishers do". My only that you are only considering $0.99 and $2.99.

'My small press prices our books at just under $5 ($4.95) and we sell thousands (and tens of thousands) of books each month.

'Some examples: Nahtan Lowell 9,500 books in July, Marshal Thomas 19,500 books in July, Leslie Ann Moore 5,500 books in July, Michael J. Sullivan 11,500 books in January). None of these are "big names" they are essentially "indie" unknowns but with the proper marketing you can make some really good money even above the $2.99 price point.

'Just wanted to point out that there are other options in pricing - but as I started remember - to test and document your experiments.'

Here's my reply:

'Thanks for those comments and congratulations on those impressive sales figures.

'Can I ask: are they for print books or ebooks? ( I noticed later that this is a mixture of digital and print books)

'I agree that it would be useful to test the market at higher price points. The problem as I see it is that most indie authors lack promotion resources and hence attempt to sell largely on low price alone since this is something in their control. This leads to a race to the bottom with 100,000 word novels offered at 99c or less - and even the resort of giving work away free to get attention.

'So, what is it, do you think, that indies need to know to more effectively market their work and move away from low prices? If they knew that, I'm sure they would want to ask for higher prices, especially if they might lead to excellent sales figure like yours.

'I agree with you on experimentation over price. Do I have the courage to try 'Take No More' at $3.99 or $4.99? That's one to think long and hard about!'

You can see the July update page and the comments page here: How To Price Your Book - $2.99 or 99c – July Update

Here is the link to: Ridan publishing

How much time do you spend on promotion?

I monitored the time I spent on promotion in detail during the first week in August. The results surprised me. Here's an excerpt:

'Have you ever looked carefully at the time you spend promoting your work? I'd always thought I had a good feel for this but recently I had a surprise.

'On a one week break recently in a remote place (The English Lake District), I had to make some special arrangements to provide internet access so that I could continue promoting my thriller 'Take No More'. So, I bought and installed a 3G dongle, you know, one of those gizmos that slips into the USB slot on your laptop……

'What's the significance of the dongle? Well, it has a feature that tots up your total MB usage (since this is how you pay for using it) and, more significantly, the time you spend using it. What I saw shocked me. During my 7 days away, I'd spent just about the whole of one of those days traveling to and back from the destination. That left six days. And, so the dongle software told me, in those six days I'd spent 24hrs, 13 minutes and 28 seconds online promoting. That's just over 4 hours each day! And that was what I'd taken to be the minimum that was required!'

You can catch up on the full article here

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Anne R. Allen said...

Lots of great info and some amazing stats here. Robin Sullivan does get around to all the blogs, doesn't she? Ridan Publishing seems to be a force to be reckoned with. Her sales are phenomenal. And I didn't know she was charging $4.99. I know some other small presses are doing that successfully. It may be that because the books are vetted by a publisher, customers are willing to pay more. If you try this experiment, I'll be very interested in seeing your stats. Will RT!

Linda Acaster said...

Fascinating post, as ever. I think Anne hits the nail on the head over Robin Sullivan - she gets around the blogs. I know two people in partnership with a print series: they bash the idea between them, one writes it while the other acts as 24/7 publicist. Hmm... obviously the rest of us need a clone. LOL

Seb said...

Anne / Linda - Agreed. It was very helpful of Robin to offer that information. Also, interesting that the 'experiment' I have been carrying out with price is 'what publishers do'. The difference here (and it's hats off to amazon) is that we can change the price on a single book as we wish. That's not going to be so easy with a print book!

Traci Hohenstein said...

Hi Seb, Thanks for including me on your exciting, and very informative post!

Seb said...


A pleasure to congratulate you on your success!

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