Friday, August 5, 2011

I've been wondering about where to set my Kindle Pricing. Friend of My Other Blog Paul William Tenny wrote in with some spectacular intel:
I suggest reading a few of the posts by Joe Konrath that I've linked
below. He's written extensively on publishing on the Kindle, including a lot of analyses on price points. I believe, based on what he's said and done, that the answer to your question is that you're almost certainly leaving money on the table (or rather your publisher is if they set the price) by pricing the eBook way too high.

The sweet spot seems to be $2.99, the minimum price where the 70% royalty rate is available. Anything cheaper and the rate reverts to 35%. Much more expensive and you start losing out on impulse buyers. The only reason to go below $2.99 is to try to push your book up the rankings to increase exposure (which is a damn good reason). People like to go as low as they can when they do this, down to 99 cents (~34 cents royalty) and then once they stop rising, they go back to $2.99 to take advantage of the higher sales.

Some people bundle novels together to get up to $4.99, but I don't know how well that works. Others -- Barry Eisler -- are selling short stories for $2.99 and doing very well, but I wouldn't.

Both Eisler and Konrath, selling at $2.99, have basically given up on traditional publishing because if their digital only success. Eisler passed on a $500,000 offer from his publisher, St. Martins, because he believes he can make more setting his own prices on the Kindle (and getting that 70% royalty) than he can in print.

John August is doing well with short stories at 99 cents as well:

Amazing stuff.

Here are some links:

When Konrath was putting his out-of-print back list on the Kindle and just beginning his experiment with pricing and self publishing. His back list and some assorted odds and ends made him $1250 that month before the 70% royalty option was available (I think), changing prices, settling at $1.59 per book. To show how much things have changed in such a short time, he wrote then that agents and publishers are necessary. Today he only writes original novels for the Kindle.

Konrath talks about the price of "free". Notes that he put eight books on Amazon that were also available for free on his website, and they still sell well. A little bit more on price experiments, settling on $1.99 per book. The List was the #1 book in the police procedurals category, 14 spots better than one of his books out by his publisher at $3.96.

Breaking down sales numbers, more price testing. Started his best selling eBook, The List, at $1.49. Changed to $1.89 to see if sales would slow down. They actually went up. Talks about things that matter more than price, like quality writing, book cover, description, etc. Decides to release a Kindle exclusive at $2.99 to see how it does.He's always experimenting.

Makes a big pitch for why selling eBooks versions for cheap isn't
cheapening the book
, just adjusting to the realities of cheaper
distribution to get closer to the true valuable price of a novel,
versus a physical product like a book.

Hitting Amazon for the faults of the Kindle (he doesn't own one yet) despite making $3,000 in June on it. That increase in sales is less about price than the beginning of the digital boom, at that point.

Hired someone to do a new cover for Disturb to replace the one he did himself, and saw a 25% uptick in sales. Hired the same guy to do new covers for all his books.

Jan through June 2009 sales numbers of his Kindle books with prices set and royalties dived by his print publisher. Prices range from $3.96 (550 sales/$341) to $7.59 (152/$341). Conclusion: "a $4 ebook sells 3 times as many copes as an $8 ebook." Compares that to his own Kindle sales with four books selling at $1.99, from 900 sales/$630 to 2619 sales/$1833. This is the big one where he calculates how much money he's losing by his publisher pricing his ebooks too high. Five books from his publisher netted $2008, four books self published at $1.99 netted him $6860. Figures that if he had the rights back to all his of his print publishing books with Hyperion, he'd be making over $20,000 per year off the Kindle alone, rather than $4800 Kindle+print he's making then.

On and on. By this post he's sold 276,112 ebooks total and at that point is selling 30,000+ per month. Made $68,000 in March of this year alone. Of course he's got like 40+ books on Kindle now, but still. Most of his books go for $2.99 and he'll regularly drop them to 99 cents for a month to give them a surge into the best seller lists.

In short: your Kindle book is priced way too high. If you can, get it down to $2.99 and see what happens. You should also contact Konrath and see who he uses to do his covers and try a new one.

Other suggestions that I'm ripping from Konrath: give out free copies of the book to as many people as possible and ask them to leave reviews on Amazon. The difference between a couple of reviews and 5-10 can be huge in giving readers buying confidence. And introduce your book to readers on the Kindle boards ( Lots of readers there looking for new books.



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