Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Indie Life, here on the frontier

Since I'm living the self-publishing life, I joined the once-a-month Indie Life group. It's held on the second Wednesday of the month (since the first belongs to Mr. Cavanaugh) and it's all about being an indie author.

So, for my first Indie Life post, my stats.
  • Self-published my first book, Disciple, Part I, in November, 2012.
  • Disciple, Part II, followed April 1, 2013.
  • Next up: Disciple, Part III. I haven't set a release date yet.

I want to put down a few thoughts about pricing. Initially, I was asking 4.99 for Disciple, Part I. A few got sold at that price.

Then Part I was featured in's December offering and I moved a heck of a lot more -- at about 75 cents apiece.

I dropped its price down to 1.99 for Valentine's day, then briefly to 99 cents for the Equinox sale and Tolkein Reading Day. Currently, Part I is 1.99 and it has sold a bit (since Part II was released, which may be why.)

Pricing a self-published book is an interesting thing. You've got one side of your brain arguing that a lower price will be more attractive to customers. Another side of your brain is hoping to get a paycheck at some point. Your dark side is arguing that nobody's going to want to pay money for this and you should just give it away -- maybe they'll pay for the next one.

I had a friend, in high school, who took the advice of a fellow artist and added a zero to the asking price of his watercolor paintings. My friend was just another young painter producing nice stuff and asking $20 or so for them. Bump that up to $200 and... people started paying more attention to his work.

99 cents, nowadays, is a risky price for a book -- any book, from what I've heard. It's a good sale price, for a limited time, but as a standard price it implies the book's not worth much. And while it can be argued that 99 cents makes it an impulse buy, I don't know if books follow the same rules as those cheap little trinkets clustered around a store's cash register. If a book's sample isn't up to my par, I'm not downloading it at any price.

On the other hand, major publishing houses can slap a $12 price tag on an ebook and what are you going to do about it?

What's a good book worth? Trick question: it's priceless. I've settled on 1.99 for Part I and 4.99 for Part II -- economical, but not cheap. What have your experiences with self-pricing been?


Jennifer Recchio said...

My first book just went up last week, so I haven't done much with playing with book prices. I priced mine at $0.99, mostly because it's a novella and that generally seems to be standard novella pricing. I've occasionally seen novellas priced at $1.99, but that seems a little steep to me. Eventually when I get something longer up I'll probably try out $2.99 and see what sells.

Being of the flat broke persuasion, I like when books are priced cheap because it means I can actually buy them. I've pretty much stopped buying traditionally published books except for when they're on sale because I just can't afford them. There's tons of great indie stuff that fits my three dollar budget, so why spend more?

Sandra Almazan said...

I price short stories at $0.99, novellas at $2.99, and novels at $4.99. I currently have my novella on sale for $0.99, but that doesn't seem to be making a difference.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Experimentation is key for indie authors - not just for their own books, but over time, as the market changes.

The first novel in my series? 2.99 - I found I made the same amount of money at 3.99, but with less sales. At 99cent, I made six times less money, but only had twice as many sales. Economics won there. But for Bk#2 and #3? 3.99 - why? Because sales are the same at either price. I think it's because once they're in for the first book, I'm no longer an "unknown" author and readers are willing to pay more.

For my novellas and serial episodes - 99cents each, $2.99 for a 3-episode bundle. It's working so far...

L. Blankenship said...

@Susan - I agree, having that second book out seems to make a difference all by itself. Which I'd heard before -- that having a backlist helps -- but it's interesting to see it in action.

@Jennifer - I'm of the flat broke persuasion too :) and it keeps me sifting through the self-published slush pile looking for the gems.

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