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Being A Chart Topper Isn't Enough!

Over the past few weeks, I've been looking at what I did over 2011 to help my publishing career take off. Even my “goals” had drastically changed from this time last year until now. What I do to be successful is NOT for everyone.

When I decided to go Indie, I priced my book at 2.99. I DID great at that price point and made it to Amazon’s best seller list on the first day by selling over 300 copies.
After a few days and after my friends and family had bought Carpe Bead ‘em, I slowly saw sales decline. Again….if anyone knows me, they know I’m an instant gratification gal. God knows that I need to remind myself of “the long tail sale" of books. This is the infinite shelf space for my ebooks. They will forever be available.

That just wasn’t good enough for me, so I decided to slash prices to .99 and upload more books. Was this bad? NO! I was just starting out and I wanted people to read my books. When I put my books at .99, it propelled me into a different reader group all together. I don’t mean economical group, but readers who like a great deal in the economic conditions we were and seem to still have.
Fast forward to now…six months later, 19k ebook sales, over $9,000 (I have POD too), and many faithful readers. Not bad for six months.

2011 was a banner year for self published authors. The fantastic royalties with Amazon, all the new ereaders, the option to promote your novels just as a big six author on POI, Kindle Nation Daily, Ereader News Today, facebook pages promoting .99 books, Twitter, Kindle boards, Nook boards, reader blogs. . .the list goes on and on.

2011 became a level playing field for us. And we set the standard for the .99 point price. Of course! It’s a no brainer. At that price point it was an instant one finger click.  A click that sold lots of your book and sent you to the best seller list on Amazon, not on Barnes and Noble, but Amazon. Let’s face it….Amazon is the bread and butter for most Indies. Me included.

2011 I made Amazon’s Movers and Shaker’s list five times, making it to number ONE on two occasions. Every day I’m on a different best seller list which puts me in other author’s streams allowing me to find more readers.

Readers have always been my primary goal to my writing career, because with out them I wouldn’t be an author.

Now I’ve reached a different time in my career and looking to the future. And I think 2012 is going to be that year to help me look for what I need to know for myself and my career.

I think that 2012 is going to be a lot harder for the Indie author. Publishers are getting smarter, promo pushes are getting bought by publishers, tax laws are changing, Amazon is getting more competitive with their new select program, publishers are competing with their authors back lists and selling them at lower prices.
KDP select is causing publishers and Indies to make a choice. Which I did enroll my entire Grandberry Falls series and will blog on this at a later time. But the select program has changed the algorithms once again, and it’s no secret that Amazon will be pushing those books even more, leaving the Indie with one less feather in our cap if not participating.

I sell over 100 ebooks a day. A month ago I was selling 100 ebooks a day and ranked 2k in the store. Today I sold 100 ebooks a day and ranked 32k in the store. What does this mean? It’s getting more and more competitive.

When I look at my “people who bought this bought this” stream, I’m noticing it’s more than just .99 novels.

Right after the announcement of the new select program, I saw a significant decrease in sales. AND I MEAN BIG!!! Only selling 50 of each novel a day. I know some of you are rolling your eyes because 50 per book is good, but when you are used to hundreds it kinda hits you hard. I’m taking it as an opportunity to do something that is practically taboo with Indies.

So I changed my prices! I made all my full length novels 2.99. Now some of them haven’t changed because it takes a while, but I did it. I even had a moment when I freaked. Behind my back, my husband changed them all back to .99. When he told me he did this, I freaked again! I know he was meaning no harm, but I had made peace with my decision and felt good about so I went back in and changed them to 2.99.
I’m going to continue to keep my novellas at .99.

Like I said it’s getting more and more competitive, so why would I change my price to 2.99? Why would I PUNISH MY READERS?

I emailed NINETEEN (Why nineteen? Because I tried to get a good selections) of my most faithful readers. Readers that have sent me emails telling me of different mistakes in my novels, readers that told me that they loved my .99 price range, readers that have supported me through my transition from publisher to self published author, readers who loved one book but not the other. I chose NINETEEN readers that are oranges to apples. And I knew they would be honest with me. Plus I emailed ten different Indie authors in all different price ranges.

Every single one of them told me the same thing: “I definitely do not think readers will be scared off by the $2.99 price. Don’t sell yourself short. You rock and I would bet your other readers feel the same.”
“You put the reader in your story. Definitely wouldn’t be scared off my 2.99!”
“I would’ve bought you for 6.99 or higher.”
“I don’t just buy .99 books. Indie authors really think that is all readers buy. They don’t have a lot of confidence in their writing.”
“I’m going to move mine up to 2.99 after the holidays.”
“I’m going to keep my first one at .99 and the rest are going to be 2.99.”
And on and on….

NOW don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying .99 didn’t do a lot for me. AND I’m not saying I’m never going back to .99. BUT the long and short of it is this….

I want writing to be my only career. I have another job, the one I got my masters degree for, the one that pays the bills, and I’d love to be able to quit that one day and just write. I know you can make money at .99, especially if you have out a lot of books at .99.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s great to be on Amazon’s best sellers list, but I’d love to make money too. It has nothing to do about screwing my readers. $2.99 isn’t going to break their bank. It might make them read the blurb a time or two, but I’m willing to sacrifice my chances to see exactly with $2.99 will do for me. I’m not getting greedy. I’m not trying to catch the big fish. I’m just trying to make a living just like you.

I think you will agree that I’ve spent a lot of my time writing, promoting, marketing and mostly at the expense of sleep, family, or me time. I write at every free second I get, including sporting events, practice, vacations, toilet (yes!), church, grocery, car line, movies, restaurants, everywhere. I’d love to be able to cut out that day job to really see how much writing I can get done. This might not be the answer, but for now it’s my answer.
The best part about this Indie gig. . .I get to make the choices that I think is going to work for me, and if it doesn’t I can change it!

If you haven’t gotten to read Konrath’s guest blog with Elle Lothlorein, you should. She’s inspiring to me!
“Consider what Starbuck’s has done for coffee. I am not a coffee connoisseur, and I could probably count the number of times I’ve been in a Starbuck’s on one hand (let’s face it, I’m never going to say with any measure of confidence: “Yeah, I’d like an antibacterial ricin-berry latte with a squirt of methadone and a splash of yak milk.”).
But you don’t have to know coffee to understand how Starbuck’s took full advantage of the economic concept of “imputed value.” Strictly defined, imputed value is “the worth or value of a given asset that is not recorded or documented in existing historical records, although that value is considered to be inherent in the asset.”
Still awake? Yeah, that was a total snore, but I can easily boil that dreary explanation down to the more familiar, oft-heard expression: “Why in the hell would anyone pay six dollars for a cup of coffee?”
Why indeed.
People may grumble about parting with their six dollars, but they’re unlikely to grumble about the coffee. Why? Because at six dollars, customers assume they’re getting one high-class cup o’ joe. At six dollars, they want it to taste good. And if it doesn’t? Well, they’re more likely to convince themselves that it does. After all, who spends six dollars on something that tastes like crap? Throw in the peer pressure of “everyone else seems to like their six dollar cup of crappy coffee just fine,” and you have an impressive marketing strategy on your hands.

Starbuck’s entire business model is built on the concept of imputed value. Should indie authors be doing the same?”

Or I’d like to think of me as the APPLE brand. . .okay maybe not that big, but I’d love to be! Apple products NEVER go on sale. Apple found their customer base. They have perfected their products and continue to perfect their product keeping their customers happy. I’m going to take the base of readers I got and continue to give the best possible product I can at a slightly higher cost that will keep everyone happy.
Try it for a month, then report back with your results. This obsession with rank and bestseller lists is silly. Sales rank, or being on a bestseller list, doesn’t pay the bills. Making money does. And while it may take time to find the sweet spot between price and sales, unless you try for yourself you are potentially leaving money on the table. The market has shown it can bear prices up to $14.99. We need to show a little guts and start pricing higher. ~Konrath

I feel like I’m starting from the bottom. I feel like I’m going to be able to truly see what $2.99 can do for me, an Indie author who has been at the top of the charts my entire Indie career, and I will take you along with me!

Oh~I still love my readers and they know it!!!!


  1. And we love you back! I won't think twice about clicking on $2.99 for one of your great novels. It's a journey and you've hit another milestone. Congratulations :)

  2. Thanks, Nancy. I think that this price point readers really do have to stop and think, "Do I really want to spend $2.99 on a book I might not read?"
    I think that the .99 price point gets you those click buy, but do they really read your stuff???? I've also seen a BIG decline in bad reviews and good reviews are up. It's super interesting to see!

  3. I think you're right, Tonya. I read that blog post on Konrath's blog, too, and it really resonated with me.

  4. Good for you Tonya.

    This is a very well thought out post and I learned quite a bit reading it.


  5. I know!! Didn't it resonate with a lot of what we are doing as Indies?? I had to try it and boy am I glad I have. Thanks, Talli!

  6. Sia, I had to try. I really want those readers that have to think about buying my book vs the one clicks that NEVER read the book. That to me is not what or how I want to define my career. A lot of self-published authors don't care. They just want to see a high number and sales. . .and that will do it at the .99 price point.

  7. Excellent points. I'm with you on the $2.99 price point. In fact, having been disappointed with some of the $0.99 cent books I tend to avoid them. Unless I know the authors other work of course.

  8. I'm so glad you weighed on this, Robena. So many indie authors are so worried that no one will pay for their work! It does make me sad because Indies do write just as much as big six published authors, but feel like they can't sale their novels to compete. I'm not saying that the big six has the best prices for ebooks, because they tend to be high, even for me as a reader. But as a writer/author, I really want the reader who is buying my novels to read it.


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