Making Sense Of Ninety-Nine Cents

Feel free to check out yesterday’s related post — 25 Things You Should Know About Self-Publishing.

Some writers can’t hack talking about price point. They void their bowels and a throbbing vein atop their forehead ruptures and spurts a jet-line of blood before they fall down to the ground, writhing as if covered with biting lizards. I get it, I do. Writers want to write; writers don’t want to think about price point.

That said, self-publishers are tasked with different work than writers, for they are — well, c’mon, do I need to say it? Shit, it’s right there in the name. Self-publishers. Thus we need to discuss it.

You may be saying, Ah, here then is another screed against the implementation of the $0.99 price point for novels, and you’re either ready to high-five me or break a vodka bottle over my head.

This will not be that post.

It can’t be. I have a book out right now for ninety-nine cents (“250 Things You Should Know About Writing“). My hypocrisy would no know bounds if I sat here, charged that price for one of my books, but then cast a handful of sand into your eyes for doing the very same thing.

No, this post is about how to use the $0.99 price point to your advantage. If you’re someone who’s business savvy, then this lesson will be a lesson you learned in like, kindergarten. I’m not saying anything revolutionary here. But, if you’re just a regular ol’ writer like me, you very possibly have the business sense of a Styrofoam cup filled with dead ants. Thus, hopefully you’ll get some value out of this.

If not, feel free to break a vodka bottle over my head. For giggles.

Caveats, Cuidado, Warning, Disclaimer, Etc.

This is all straight-up opinion. Evidence is mostly anedcotal. Be advised to not take my words as gospel but rather, to take them as a little savory info-nugget on which you may chew. Nom, nom, nom.

Spit or swallow. Your call.

Do: Conceive Of A Strategy

Going into the pricing of your e-book, have a strategy. Any strategy. Let ninety-nine cents be part of your strategy. I’ve seen a lot of folks start to shake out their own “pricing trees,” and mine fall roughly in line with that — something under 20,000 words might go for a buck, a collection or novella might go for $2.99, a novel might go for $4.99, etc. Ponder this going in.

How can you use the $0.99 price point to your advantage? Where could it fail you?

Do Not: Just Price Everything At A Dollar

The only place you should find everything for a dollar is, in fact, a Dollar Store. And even there, you’ll find shit for two dollars or five dollars at a dollar store. I consider this to be an epic deception, which is why whenever I encounter this I drive my car through the front of the establishment, then open my trunk and loose upon them a squadron of starving squirrels. Just to punish their callous lying-faced lies.

The other thing about dollar stores is, it’s not name-brand stuff. You don’t get a box of Froot Loops there. You get a box of, like, Frut Hoops. Or Fruit Schmoops. Or some other generic rip-off featuring cereal made in a Chinese sweat-shop by cigarette-addicted eight-year-olds. Point being, you don’t go to the dollar store to procure quality. You go there because you’re hungry for cheap-ass value.

Now, that being said, if you’re at the grocery store and you see a product you like on sale for a dollar — boom. That’s a deal. You snatch that up because you just got quality at a cut price.

That’s a psychology you can and should mine in terms of pricing e-books at $0.99. If you price everything you have at a buck, then you’re the equivalent of a dollar store. “Cheap-ass wordsmithy,” you’re barking from atop your soapbox. “A hot fresh bucket of words! All made by North Korean children with arthritic fingers! Nope, it’s not as good as Stephen King or even Dean Koontz, but fuck it! It’s a dollar!”

And then you do a little jig.

Because everybody likes jigs.

Ah, but: price one thing at a buck and you’ve created a steal. A deal. A gateway drug.

Pricing everything at a dollar sends up a signal and that signal tells me that you don’t value your work all that much. Further, it suggests to me that you don’t want anybody else to value it, either.

Do: Use It As An Enticement Price And Loss Leader

Like I said: price one thing at a buck? Boom. Steal and deal. Gateway drug.

These days, the word count out there for sale is forming a hard gluttonous knot of mouse bones and burger grease in the arteries of the system — every day, more and more fatty narrative cholesterol globs onto the clot and it grows bigger and more unwieldy. It’s hard to distinguish yourself in that field, hard to further get people to take a risk on your work. A low price point for a single book offers an entry. Maybe it’s an entry into your whole catalog or just the entry point to a single series, but it signals that, hey, this is a safe path. Walk this way, and if you like what you see, I’ve got more stuff to show you.

The ninety-nine cent price point serves as a loss leader. Meaning, you ultimately take a loss on the product to get people in the door. And yes, it is likely going to be a loss; I know there exists a perception that any money earned from fiction is somehow just icing on the cake. It’s not. Not unless the production of said fiction took no more effort than popping a squat in the woods. Writing fiction takes time and effort. And caffeine. And liquor! You should be paid commensurate with your effort, which is why most books at that bottom-line price will never earn out, so let it be part of a strategy to earn out with your other offerings.

Do Not: Think That It Is The Best Price For Earning Out

Like I said: don’t expect to earn out with ninety-nine cents.

Let’s do some quick math. I’ve done similar math before but it bears repeating, even though math burns my fingers as if I were typing on a keyboard made of melty gooey volcano magma.

(For the record, we will now refer to lava as “earthjaculate.” Please update any and all salient records.)

Here’s the math.

Let’s say you want to earn $35,000 a year as a writer. Not an epic salary but not poverty level, either.

If you were to price everything you’re selling at ninety-nine cents, here’s what happens: you need to sell approximately 117,000 copies of your work over the course of one year’s time.

Is that doable? Sure. I see some authors doing it, and to them I tip my hat and clink my glass and kiss them on the mouth and implant my alien egg-babies into their trachea. Uhh. Ignore that last part.

That doesn’t mean it’s likely. Or easy.

Now, let’s do some more math. I have a book out there, as noted, at a dollar. I frequently float in the top 5/10,000 sold with this book, and am often in the Top 10 list of writing books at Amazon.

To stay at that rank, I sell an average of 18 copies per day, or ~6550 per year, making me just shy of $2000 in a year. Not bad, you think, and it isn’t — of course, it presumes my sales will remain steady after only a month of sales, but I’m always a fan of big glorious assumptions, so let’s be optimistic and assume that it’ll maintain that level. To make my $35k/annual, I’d need to have 17 equivalent products out in the same year, all earning at an equal level. That’s a lot of fucking books, you ask me.

Maybe you don’t blink at that number. Some self-published authors emerge out of darkness and can offer a massive churn-and-burn catalog of work, and with that approach this becomes more feasible.

Thing is, that book of mine is around 20,000 words. A novel is easily three times that in length, and if we’re assuming the average advance on a traditionally published novel is $5000 and we assume you’ll never earn beyond your advance, then you would need to sell around 17,000 copies (or ~1400 per month) in a year to make that same amount of money. Again, not impossible, but tricky.

Consider instead a novel priced at $2.99, which only needs to sell around 200 copies a month to earn that same level by the end of a year. Seems doable, does it not? At least, seems likelier. At $4.99, the novel needs to sell 120 a month to earn out by the end of a year. Consider a diverse catalog at a number of price points.

Do: Work The Short-Term Promotion

The ninety-nine cent price point should be a scalpel, not a hammer — it is an instrument of precision. One move is to use that price point as a temporary sales driver — maybe you intro your e-book at that price or do an occasional markdown in order to move some units and get some converts. Converts who might leave you reviews or at least recommend the book to others. Converts who might leave you gift baskets of fruit-flavored sexual lubricants and vibrating heretical idols upon your doorstep.

CONVERTS WHO WILL KILL IN YOUR NAME.

A writer can dream.

Oh, and I can also use the cheaper e-book as an incentive upon procuring the more expensive e-book — like last week’s promo where I gave away a free 250 Things to those who nabbed COAFPM.

Do Not: Equate Sales With Readers

Quick point, but worth noting: a lot of self-publishers refer to those who procure their works as “readers.” It’d be super-delightful if this were true, but it’s not. Some are just buyers — and, in my experience, the cheaper the book, the more buyers (who aren’t readers) you’ll have. This isn’t a bad thing, exactly — I’m not going to tell you how or when you should read my garbage. Use your Kindle as a doorstop. Fine by me.

That said, readers are better than buyers. Readers will do what is intended of your work, which is for the work to — drum roll please — get read. Readers also have the chance to become fans, and fans will buy all your stuff, tell other people about you, and generally be a happy part of your penmonkey ecosystem.

Ninety-nine cents may earn you a lot of buyers, but it does not guarantee those people will be readers. I have a pile of $0.99 books sitting on my Kindle. I bought ‘em. I ain’t read ‘em. And, frankly, I’m in no rush to. I wish I could say differently, but I’ve got other books I spent more coin on, and for some reason I equate more coin with greater value and so I wanna consume those first. (Same way I’d be likelier to eat an expensive cookie over a cheap generic-brand cookie. The assumption, correct or no, that the higher cost means higher quality means higher deliciousness factor. Why would I be fast to eat the cheap cookie?)

Do: Sell Direct

The $0.99 price point becomes more valuable financially when you’re selling direct. If I sell a copy of 250 Things at Amazon, I make $0.30. At B&N, I make $0.40. When I sell the PDF directly, I get $0.65.

And my direct sales hover at around 20% of my total sales.

I continue to wonder why most self-published authors fail to offer a direct option.

Summation

The ninety-nine cent price point works for certain things. It puts your book out there and it creates an opportunity for readers to get to know you and your work at an un-regrettable value point.

It doesn’t work (IMHO, YMMV, ASAP, NASA, LOL, etc) as a single blanket price point for all your work — especially if “all your work” comprises e-books of larger word count (like, say, novels). While I recognize that word count is not directly attached to quality, as a freelance writer I’m conditioned to expect that higher word counts tend to necessitate higher pay-outs to make the time, effort and size of the material worthwhile in terms of the writer’s own compensation.

Let’s hear your thoughts. How’s this all sit with you, writers, readers, self-pubbers? Accepting dissenting opinions and evidence now — don’t let this post be the end-all be-all of discussion.

37 comments

  • Sounds like fine and clever advice to me, but perhaps missing one small point: targeted audience. It seems that there are some niche markets where relatively little competition and rapid reading means that the lower price points are valuable. To illustrate: I found a guy once on the kindle marketplace who churned out novellas for a buck or two (may have been 99 cents, can’t fully remember) and seemed to be selling well. One part was flooding the market but the other was subject matter: really odd fetishistic erotica. Not many people writing that really. It seemed to work well for him (her? the name was an odd fake). It strikes me that since this is something less likely to be reread and easy to transpose to different themes it was meant to be disposable, and therefor allow you to buy more.

    No idea if the stuff was any good.

  • Sparky:

    Certainly it may be working in that case, yeah — though, the problem still holds that to earn a living (which, to be clear, may not be every writer’s intent), he/she would still need to sell a metric buttload of those books.

    Further — though I again have the business sense of a cup of dead ants — I would think a niche market with an eager audience would allow you to keep prices a little higher. Low supply, high demand.

    – c.

  • I have nothing to add, other than your advice seems sound. I haven’t begun to self publish yet. Just crawling the internet looking to see how other authors are doing first. “Crawling” sounds evil of me. I’m just taking the good advice you give!

  • I’ve used the .99/loss leader strategy fairly well over the past few months. The first book in my vampire series is .99, while my other novels are $2.99 or $4.99. I also have a few short stories out for a buck. The first novel consistently sells 1500+/month, so it will earn out in a year (I only have four months of anec-data, but I have a Pollyana-esque view of the world). The other books average 15 sales/day for the $4.99 books, which makes for a nice nut. Pricing the first thing in a series cheaply has worked forever, look at the re-release of Robert Jordan’s first Wheel of Time book for stupid cheap a few years ago. And really, can’t we all just admit that we’re taking a lesson from our schoolyard drug dealers? Those guys have the business model down cold. And phat rims. I needz me some phat rims. So .99 is valid for series fiction. And for rims.

    • @John:

      That’s what self-pubbed authors need.

      PHAT RIMZ.

      For our Kindlemaschines.

      Nice.

      Glad to hear that strategy is working for you — sounds like a smart one, and congrats on the success so far.

      – c.

  • I’ll give you a testimonial from the reader’s side that supports your idea of the loss leader. A while back, you called out on Twitter that Harry Connolly’s Child of Fire was $0.99 on Kindle. I think that was my first dollar purchase, and I was willing to make it because an author I already respected was vouching for an author I’d never heard of before. From that dollar, I’ve bought the rest of the Twenty Palaces books to date; the risk paid off, and I’m happy because I found a new author and a new world, and Harry’s happy because he’s got not just a cheap sale, but a new reader.

    I went backwards with you. The thought process was “Shit, I’ve already bought his expensive stuff, what’s another dollar for more Chuck Wendig? Plus, preventing the cannibalization of a baby. Win-win.”

  • I wish I could add to the discussion, but the baseline of the discussion is profit. You’ll lose some buyers at a higher price point, but in most cases, but usually at an increase in profit.

    Since profit is what keeps the writer fed (As long as they make enough of it.) it’s the most useful metric over all.

  • Again, great post. It’s refreshing to see someone write sanely about these things, and also with the caveat that mileage varies, and greatly.

    My hope is that bigger entities realize that digital distribution enables a similar model as the mass market used to, and price accordingly. I used to buy Stephen King paperbacks for $6.99 when I was a kid; when they moved up to $7.99 and $8.99, I started buying fewer. There are, obviously, reasons for wanting different formats and advantages and disadvantages among them, but I do tend to feel like $4.99 is an upper limit, with certain notable exception. Mainly because I feel like one must assume every potential customer is taking a chance on something new and not returning to an already known quantity.

    That said, I’ve made some awful mistakes with pricing. When my collection first came out, way back in 2007, I priced the PDF at the egregious $9.99. I still feel sort of bad about that; that’s why it’s .99c on Amazon and outright free at Smashwords.

    Do I think it’s worth more than free? Well, of course. But I’ve learned I need to draw a distinction between how much I think I should earn/what I think a story is worth versus what I’d hope to pay as a reader, encountering the same thing. Right now, I’ve got my collection, two short stories, and an essay priced at 99c, and while I might like to make more than 35c each from them, were I a reader I don’t think I’d feel satisfied having spent more than a buck or so on them.

    Which I think is what it comes down to. I’ve always tended to believe in what I think of as method writing–really getting into the heads of characters–and when I consider these issues, I try to get in the heads of potential readers. People who are still just taking chances on stories they hope they enjoy by a lot of writers they’ve never heard of.

    The one thing I think people need to be aware of is the “book production costs more than printing” argument, which may be true but I think is irrelevant in this discussion. When I was a kid, I collected baseball cards, and Beckett was my Bible; back then, market value was determined by the price guide, rather than vice-versa. Until eBay came along, for the most part, to demonstrate that customers had used Beckett backwards; they’d assumed those were the prices to go by, rather than realizing Beckett was just recording prices cards had sold at (kind of like language and the dictionary, really). eBay was the show-not-tell of market value.

    For the most part, it doesn’t matter how much one values something if no one is around to pay it. Likewise, the market doesn’t tend to perceive value just because you tell it you paid a certain amount to produce something.

    It will be interesting to see how this continues to shake out. I realize that the top sellers list is a demonstration that prices north of $7.99 work in the current scape, but as Barnes & Noble continues to focus on digital revenue and more franchise book retailers close (leaving more room for independent bookstores ftw!), I think that the market will change even more.

  • The part about readers and buyers not being one in the same is great information. I have lots of $.99 books on my kindle I haven’t read. I read the $7.99 and up ones first. Never realized I did that.
    New strategy: I’m going to price mine out in euros only. It will make it fancy. I also will now refer to my weight only in stones. Yes, I’m just kidding. I’m just going to price out my 260 pager at $34.99. lol

  • This reminds me of something I just heard on NPR this morning. HP was selling their notepad (or whatever they’re calling it; the iPad equivalent) for 99 bucks. They basically sold out because they were discontinuing it. Funny how quick it sold and how great the reviews were verses its price point at 400 bucks. The thing costs 300 bucks to make and so they’re taking a significant loss, but what they gained was great word of mouth. Hey Mikey! He likes it! So now it’s not discontinued…yet. No word on what the new price point will be, either. But HP gained customers.

    I need to study the pricing structure at Amazon. I don’t self pub, but my work is there and it sounds as if I’m getting almost all the royalties from it per my contract. Interesting.

  • Incidentally, the erotic market (of which I’m a part) has been selling books, and selling WELL, online for years. Why no one in the know studies every single damn thing they’ve done is beyond me. Even my little publisher has been around for a number of years.

    It’s one of the reasons I also help run a free online magazine. We’re in our sixth year and the work is so worth it; I am known. At cons people come up to me and say “You’re that editor with Electric Spec.” It’s gotten me speaking engagements and even a job at the local jr college. Besides, it’s wicked fun!

  • I concur. I purchased your gateway drug book, and found myself drawn in for more. Also, I always buy direct if I can. I am a musician, and I understand the value of direct sales. The margins are better, and the link between consumer and producer remains untarnished by the scabrous hands of middlemen.
    Thanks again for an excellent post.

  • I just want to sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for making posts like these. And really for all of your nuts-and-bolts posts about the mechanics of writing and the business of publishing. Very few writers talk about any of these things as straightforwardly as you do, Chuck, and none of them talk about all of it.

    And really, the writing is the easy part. It’s the post-creative-vomit process (the editing and publishing and the five gazillion decisions that have to be made about how to get your words in front of people) that’s complicated voodoo to me. Your posts are not only informative, but also inspiring and kind of empowering, because they get me thinking about the entire process and make the non-writing part of it a little less intimidating.

  • I know doing these posts take a lot of your writing time, but they are *very* helpful.

    When I purchase your books, and I do, I’m not only getting the books, I’m saying THANKS for this blog.

  • So, I know you don’t need any help whatsoever generating traffic (people flock to you like flies to honey), and you certainly don’t need me to tell you how awesome you are. But I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award anyway, ’cause I could. The details are here: The Versaltile Blogger Award

  • I love the idea of using the .99 priced work to make it easier for others to at least have a taste of what’s in store for other, perhaps pricier books.

    I think for you, however, your blog is the reason why I bought your e-books, but its pretty much the same thing. Once the reader can see what they’re most likely going to get and perhaps even better, it’s easier to buy.

    …This just gave me an idea. Thanks!

  • Everyone has to judge their own position. I have no problem with .99. I earn .35 on that, which isn’t that much less than a mas market at 8% of cover price used to yield. I have two titles at .99 out of 42. One is to hook readers in to my scifi and the other for my thrillers. I don’t even view them as a loss. Also, there are most definitely a lot of readers who troll for .99 books. I can see that by sales figures month after month. So a good blog post to get people thinking about what they’re doing and most importantly having a plan and a purpose. We just loaded my latest novel, The Jefferson Allegiance, exclusive to Nook for 30 days and got a nice blurb from them in exchange which has placed it as the #6 overall bestseller on Nook. Not too shabby for a little bit of work.

  • I just bought “250…” – only fair, since this blog taught me something, and got me cogitating. I wanted to mention which retweet got me here – giving credit, but I can’t find it in my twitter history. I do seem to have followed much of your advice about marketing 99 centers when I put out the first Scotch & Herring Mystery (Rampage on Rogers Avenue). But I missed a few of the pointers. (I did the direct buy – you get more royalties.) I’ll be a frequent visitor to this blog – much success with ebooks, however priced, and all your writing endeavors.

  • I went through the price thing in my head over and over. I drove myself mad. But in the background of it, I wasn’t writing… I was too worried about price. Let’s not forget that all the big name out there have long lists of books for sale with exposure.

    I have a pricing setup that has the same mentality as Bob…

    My novels are $3.99

    Everything else is $0.99

    If someone sees the $3.99 mark and isn’t interested because of the price, no worry for me, they can purchase a novella or a book of stories for $0.99. And I’m pretty confident that once they read it, they’ll be back for a novel. OR, if not, then they can be a $0.99 customer. I try to release on each end of the price point.

    But I will say that for August, my novel – at $3.99 – sold more than anything else.

    -jb

  • Great post. Considering the price points for e-Books is an important step in self-publishing. The price structure I plan to use when selling my work goes like this:

    100K … $5.99

    80K … $4.99

    60K … $3.99

    40K … $2.99

    20K … $1.99

    > 10K … $ .99

    < 10K … submit to market, free, or bundle into a larger word count

    The word count for 30K, 50K, 70K, and 90K would fall in with the lower priced word counts. But the goal would be to write a 20K or 40K story instead of a 30K one. Word counts that fall between the listed word counts would be because the story ran over the projected goal and not because it was aimed for.

  • Another great blog, Chuck! Thanks for the tip about direct sales. I’ve never thought of that nor read it anywhere. I’d love to read a blog from you about your PDF experience, including instructions. :)

    As someone who’s sold 18,000 books in 4 months and a couple of days (first book .99, second book, 2.99) I’ll have to say that a .99 price point works for me. I’ve wrote a blog post about price point, which if it’s okay with Chuck, I’ll return and post a link to.

    At first, the sales of book one were about 5 or 6 to 1. In August, I sold 5013 of the first book and 2158 of book two. So the ratio is definitely improving.

    When I finish book three, I intend to price it at 3.99.

    As a comment to A.R., I wouldn’t buy an ebook from an author for 5.99, unless you were one of my absolutely favorite authors. I probably wouldn’t even buy a 4.99 book. You might not care about having less sales and making more money per sale, but it’s something to think about. Volume of sales has a lot of benefits (which I don’t have time to write here because I need to leave to teach my karate class) but maybe someone else will elaborate on that point.

  • Hi Debra,

    I realize there are readers who will never buy e-Books at certain price points or even paper books at a certain price point. That’s understandable.

    The reason for me to have a wide selection of e-Books at different price points is because readers will have different standards they use before making a purchase.

    Some will think .99 cents are low quality books, others will snatch them up. Some will never buy a 100K e-Book at $5.99, while others will view it as a better option than a 100K paper book at $7.99.

    Multiple price points gives consumers a choice about what’s right for them, instead of trying to find a price that satisfies everyone (which is impossible). Lower price points can give people a chance to sample a writer’s work.

    And just maybe, that will give that writer the opportunity to become one of that reader’s favorites.

  • I will spend up to $10 on a eBook. Anymore than that and I’ll just buy it in print. I’m a cheap book buyer, though. I love a hardback that is less than $30, otherwise I’ll buy it in paperback. I think Publishers will have to go into the costs of creating a digital copy of a book to justify the $12-$17 eBook range I have seen. That’s simply astronomical when I can get a used or print copy for much less. Unless I know the author personally, my wallet doesn’t open after a certain price point.

    $4.99 is quite reasonable to me, if it’s something I just know I’ll want to read. I save my whim purchases for the free – $2.99 selections.

  • A $4.99 price point will make me stop and think. I won’t immediately impulse buy like I would a 3.99, 2.99, or .99 book. I probably wouldn’t buy it unless I have a very good reason to buy it. I’ve become acquainted with several authors online and have checked out their books because because I like to buy a book to support people I know. if they only had one book for $4.99 and it wasn’t an epic book (125,000 words or more) then I didn’t buy it, even though I would have had it been 2.99. (Unless I REALLY liked the person then I would.) For me, it’s not that I can’t afford it, I can. It didn’t feel right–almost like I was being taken advantage of. I’m not saying that I WAS being taken advantage of, but of a feeling I had. If you’re one of my favorite authors with a proven track record, then yes, $4.99 or $5.99. Probably also $6.99 or even $7.99, although I’d grumble at the $7.99.

    I was recently reading a new-to-me fantasy author who’s first book I bought at a garage sale or something like that. I bought the next one at Borders. Then when I finished it, I immediately wanted #3. I went online to buy it and the Kindle version was $12.99. I was so annoyed by that outrageous price, I didn’t buy it. It’s not the author’s fault, but the publishers’. Then at the Borders going out of business sale, I bought that book and every other title by that author.

    I might buy a $4.99 self-published book if I’ve gone up the chain and liked each book–1st book .99, 2nd book 2.99, third book 3.99, fourth book 4.99. I might even go to 4.99 on the third book. But 5.99 for a self-published author just because it’s 100,000 words doesn’t feel right.

    Here’s the link to my blog post about price point. Http://tinyurl.com/3rvvfua Like I said in my earlier post, there are a lot of benefits that come from selling a larger quantity of one book, even though you make less.

    Chuck, when I’m done posting this, I’m going to go buy your books. Between writing these blogs and a newborn you must not have much writing time, and I appreciate what you’re doing to help other writers.

  • I like it. I like the whole thing. And for the record, the worst reviews I’ve ever had were when I priced my full length loss leader at 99 cents. I even sell better at a higher price.
    Our neighbor moved, and he’s dropped the price on his house to a ridiculous figure. He’s had lookers. One even stopped to ask me what was wrong with the house. The price made him nervous. He’d seen the inside and agreed it looked perfect. But, he couldn’t get past the cheap price. It’s true, if the price seems too good to be true, people assume the product is flawed.

  • I buy genre novels for .99-2.99, and that is about the limit I will spend on a new fiction author. It’s about what I used to spend when I bought used paperbacks instead of kindle books.

    I will spend more for non fiction books which help me with my business. Up to 9.99 I feel ok about, 4.99-5.99 is where I am likely to buy. I have written a niche business book and I’m deciding between those prices.

    I’ve also learned to check the file size – some books are really booklets, especially business books.

    I feel offended if the digital edition is more than the paper book and I won’t buy it.

  • “As someone who’s sold 18,000 books in 4 months and a couple of days (first book .99, second book, 2.99) I’ll have to say that a .99 price point works for me. *I’ve wrote* a blog post about price point, which if it’s okay with Chuck, I’ll return and post a link to.”–Debra Holland

    It’s *I’ve written*.

    You’ve sold 18,000 books like this?

  • Debra Holland is the type of consumer that 99 cent draws in. Hard to please, critical, cheap. If you know her and she’s a friend of yours then I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, Chuck. But anyway, do you really think she bought your book? Anyway, as Spock would say: “logic dictates” that people who buy their books at garage sales (on a rgular basis), stick to garage sales and 25 cent stuff. She told on herself by saying she bought an author’s work at the garage, then went to buy it in the real workd and it actually cost money. Twelve dollars. For traditionally published books, $12 is on the cheap side (I’ve spent $11 on paperback & we all know what hardcovers and trade ebooks run). So, now I think she gets her books from the library and the garage, basically.

    My problem is that she said something like spending $5 on a self published author doesn’t feel right. That was her way of saying self published are less-than. She didn’t give a reason as to “why” she thought that. And I smelled bullsh!t. She wants things to stay as cheap as possible because she is cheap (I’m going by what she described in her comment). But she doesn’t want to pay $12 for a traditional author (I guess that didn’t “feel right” either). I mean, what does she want to pay then? Answer: nothing.

    I think these types of bargain-hunting “customers” are more trouble than they are worth, frankly. And the 99 cents draws them in flies on cow dung.

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