Yes, folks, I cut the price on Last Exit In New Jersey. Oh did I cut the price, all the way down to $0.99!
Why? At $2.99, which isn’t high by any measure, sales had been respectable, steady and building. But I’d gotten to thinking, and decided to try a bit of an experiment. My costs are no different no matter the price I set. However, based on Amazon’s royalties structure if I set my price below $2.99 my royalties would drop from 70% to 35%. Translated, that means at $0.99 it takes 5.8 sales to equal the royalties of one sale at $2.99. Still, if the lower price attracted more readers I had the potential to gain more fans who might just tell some friends about this new book they enjoyed. So long as my sales rose at least six to one, I would still come out ahead in the long run.
The flip side of this is the ‘perceived value’ issue. There are many authors out there who insist they’ve offered up their hearts, souls, blood, sweat and tears, years of their lives, relationships, sanity, you name it, to the altar of their craft. Their writing is the embodiment of all they have sacrificed. Surely this is worth more than the price of a cheeseburger on the value menu and readers will respect that. Moreover, readers, seeing a bargain-priced book will automatically assume the author lacked confidence in their work. It had crossed my mind that readers might get that impression, but as I said, this was just an experiment. I’m extremely confident in my book. The cover (first impression) is sharp and the title memorable and unique. The blurb (second impression) is professional and intriguing, and the book itself (final impression) delivers a story filled with great characters, genuine dialog and a plot that doesn’t let up from page one to the end, all well written and precisely edited. It’s not to say I didn’t put my heart and soul etc. into my work, but in my opinion the best writing in the world is nothing if no one ever reads it. Readers (at least my potential readers) aren’t judging books based upon the level of suffering that went into their creation – they’re looking to be entertained. I’d love to see my writing career take off and pave the way for future books and limitless cruising time, but that has to start somewhere and for now I’ll be happy to see my book sales buy some boat parts. The bottom line: Nothing is set in stone. I’d see how things went and then decide whether this was a win or fail. I could always change the price back.
I’m happy to report that it didn’t take long to see results. In fact, literally overnight my sales increased to more than ten times what they’d been. Ten to one. The math is easy. Ten times more exposure to new readers, ten times more potential fans, ten times more chances for word of mouth to spread. That easily makes up the difference in per-book royalties and then some. My rank on Amazon skyrocketed, which in turn makes it easier for more readers to find my book in the first place. It’s fun seeing the sales number rise, knowing there are so many more people out there reading my work. In making my book more affordable to readers I’ve gained a larger audience and, in the end, higher overall earnings. I think it’s a win-win for everyone. Might some of those readers still bought my book at the higher price? Perhaps. But it’s just as likely others might not. They’d be missing out on a great book and I’d be missing out on a potential new fan.
I was discussing this in a forum last night, and Lexi Revellian, a writer from the UK, reported seeing much the same results after trying the same thing with her novel, REMIX. She said it perfectly when she wrote: “Readers are taking a chance on a new author. Let’s make it less of a decision for them.”
My choice in pricing doesn’t mean I put any less value on my work, only that I put greater value on my readers.