I care a lot.

I really do. About many things. Mostly, about how much abuse one’s liver can take, and whether it’s possible to collect the social security payments of one’s deceased neighbors in a foreign country. But other things, too.

One of the things I’ve found myself caring about lately is the wisdom of making my work free periodically. I speak to many authors, and most are concerned about the creation of a culture that doesn’t value our work. I’ve had people tell me, “Oh, I can’t wait for that to go free so I can read it” after hearing that one of my books has been rated well. Often, that sort of a statement comes from another author.

++++++++++++++

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++++++++++++++

Which raises the question of whether we have created an environment where the very thing we do, which is write, is considered near, or completely, without worth. My hunch is that there is a decent audience out there that hasn’t bought a book in months. Why would you, if every day thousands go free? Doesn’t really make much sense to, does it?

I’m not sure what to do about it, as there is still merit to putting one’s work free via KDP Select, albeit at a 10% effectiveness rate of what it was 2 months ago. But you see 20K downloads, and then a net increase in sales of 200 books, does the incremental financial gain justify the damage that is done by creating an ocean of free content? Specifically, are we causing our own demise chasing nominal sales bumps?

Some argue that it’s all good, and that we shouldn’t fret all the free content. That the majority of readers still will pay for content they find worthwhile. Perhaps, but my sneaking suspicion is that a fair percentage of the small minority that were willing to take a chance on an indie name have converted to those who will do so, but won’t pay. I’m not sure what percentage of that group is no longer buying books, but my hunch is that it’s substantial. I know this because I haven’t bought a book in about four months, and most of my friends who read haven’t either. And we used to – before December, when the free thing hit. But now, I’ve got so much content waiting to be read, I haven’t bought anything for a while.

Now, some might say that makes me a bad man. Others claim I’m bad for a lot of other reasons, but that’s not my point. Whatever I am, I’m probably typical of a fair number of folks out there. I mean, I want to and understand why it’s important to support other authors by buying their books. And yet I haven’t. Actually, I take that back – I bought three this year so far. But last year I probably bought thirty.

Maybe I’m alone in this. Maybe everyone else is buying like crazy. But I suspect not – unless you’re a romance author, in which case you’re occupying most of the top 40 indie slots and your books are selling like coke at Studio 54 (how’s that for a dated reference?). Most of my author acquaintances aren’t selling very well over the last 45 days. Most are complaining that their sales are off by 50% or more over the last 2 or 3 months – and I’m talking around a hundred authors. Now, nothing scientific here, but if only a few out of a hundred are doing anywhere near what they were in April, then that’s not seasonality, or genre, or fickle markets. That’s a trend.

For that reason, I cancelled my plans to put my new release, Return of the Assassin, free when I launched it at the end of May. And my newest WIP, tentatively titled Silver Justice and targeted for a July 4 release, probably won’t ever go free. Neither will the next WIP, Jet. Because in the end, the hoped-for sales bump that was the lure for doing the free thing isn’t nearly as meaningful as it was, and I now see no evidence that giving away 150K free books (that’s about how many I’ve given away this year) is worth the potential damage it causes to my brand. When giving away 20K books translated into an extra 2K in sales at $5, that made sense. For an extra 200, not so much. And it fosters an environment that is counter-productive long term.

My goal in writing is to write the best work I can. My goal in running a self-publishing business is to sell enough books to make it worth doing. My business goal is to have a dozen or more paid  thriller titles available by year’s end (not counting deliberately free books like Night of the Assassin or the first book in Delphi). My thinking is that if I can sell a reasonable number of each title at a reasonable profit, that’s a decent business. It’s not a get rich quick business, and it’s not an easy business, but it’s one that could be sustainable and might build over time – one would expect sales dollars with twenty competent thrillers out to exceed what one would see from ten, and so on.

Free is antipodal to my long term goal.

My long term goal is to continue writing and make a decent return for my efforts. I can’t see how free will do anything but perpetuate a negative from here on out. I have a few free promos for the month, but I think that’s it for me. The extra few hundred books I might sell isn’t worth the long term damage I believe free is causing to the perceived value of books. That’s an emotional response, but I think it’s a legitimate one. And I don’t think I’m alone in that observation. We all delighted in the sales spike free brought before the algorithm change over a month ago. I know I did. Those were heady times. But they’re over. And now, like most drunk jags, we have to deal with the hangover. And this will be quite a hangover, I think. I believe we’re already seeing it in indie sales. Take a look at the Amazon Top 100 today. What percentage are trad pub or magazines? A quick glance says a much larger chunk that two months ago. I count 24 indie titles in the top 100, of which 80-90% or so are romance novels. The rest are trad pub. That is about 75% trad pub. I don’t think it was nearly that high a few months ago. Am I wrong?

So where does that leave me as an indie author? I’m still writing. I will still be putting out another five novels this year. Already know which ones I intend to write – Silver Justice, Jet, Fatal Deception, a Delphi sequel and an Assassin sequel. Already finished SJ, and will be editing for the next few weeks before launching into Jet. Next year, more like three novels. Maybe four. More of a sane pace. If you call that pace sane.

That’s where my thinking is today. I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow. But I probably won’t. Unless I do.

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Comments

  1. Sat 09th Jun 2012 at 7:57 pm

    This is pretty much where I am. I had a freebie scheduled for this week, but I canceled it. I still have the first book in a series free, price matched. As long as readers keep finding the series that way, I’ll let that stay free. Otherwise, I’m done.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 09th Jun 2012 at 9:30 pm

      I completely understand where you’re coming from. That’s exactly my approach with Night of the Assassin, and the first book of The Delphi Chronicle. As long as it leads readers to the work, then it serves a purpose in bolstering visibility in a series.

      Reply
      • L.K. Rigel  –  Sat 09th Jun 2012 at 9:48 pm

        I’ve also found that pricing a bit higher (3.99-4.99 as opposed to 2.99) has resulted in slightly more sales and better alsobots. I’ve sold far more of my 3-book omnibus at 7.99 than I ever did trying to give it away at 3.99.

        Reply
      • michael hogan  –  Tue 26th Jun 2012 at 2:48 pm

        Don’t sweat it, Russell. I bought 30+ books this year and received another 15 free. Most free indie stuff is total crap and I end up reading a few pages and then deleting. However, I got your novel set in Panama for free and liked it so much I’ve since paid for two more. I have twenty books of my own in print. When I offer a free book, I usually find that later than month there is a spike in sales of my other books. Have faith, bro. Un abrazo desde Guadalajara.

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Tue 26th Jun 2012 at 3:40 pm

          I can’t complain about my sales. Well, I can, but nobody would care. Over 20 in print? You are a brave bull. How’s life down in the big G?

          Glad you like the scribbling. Thanks for the patronage.

          Reply
  2. Sat 09th Jun 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I understand where you are all coming from – I really REALLY do; I’m an editor and I’m always so happy when books I’ve edited are selling well. BUT …

    I’ve been so happy with the free promotions, because that means I can finally get so many of the books I’ve been desperately wanting, but can’t afford because I’m disabled, the government refuses to pay me benefits, we’re trying to live off of one person’s fast-food salary, and failing miserably. We are the unheard ones – we are the one who cannot AFFORD to pay ANYTHING extra out for books, no matter how badly we want them, and we are the ones who are busily snapping up free books like starving people at a buffet, because we’ve been starving for new things to read. We are the ones who will suffer when we no longer have these promotions to help us build our collection.

    At the same time, because I can never take just one side in an argument, I totally agree that the freebies are devaluing the book. So what can I do? *sigh* I want you guys to see some return on your investment – at the same time, I selfishly want free books :-) Sorry…

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 09th Jun 2012 at 9:25 pm

      I’m not arguing that there aren’t folks who can’t pay for books, nor that they shouldn’t get free books – that’s the basis of the idea of a library, where the community pays for books so even those who can’t afford them can have them to read. In other words, there’s a mechanism to satisfy that requirement.

      My point is that I believe that I have denigrated my brand to a certain extent by giving away books, and that we as authors have denigrated our brand as authors in the same way. To argue that doing so benefits those who can’t afford to pay is fine, but it doesn’t justify me continuing to denigrate my brand in exchange for meager or no compensation. It’s purely economic after a point. If Amazon sees X financial benefit by offering their Prime program, but I see only Z benefit by offering my books free, and if Z isn’t what I feel is adequate compensation for doing so, then I will stop doing it. That’s where I’m at. Perhaps I will decide that free makes sense for me later, if something changes – either I stop caring, or the reward increases, or I am desperate for even the most meager reward, etc. – but at this point, I think my brand is better served with me taking responsible stewardship for its value than by acting as though it is worthless. I am not advising everyone to do so – others are better able to gauge the value of their work than I, and if it is valueless to them, that’s their call. I’m simply saying that the reward for going free is inadequate to compensate me for doing so anymore, and that the harm it is causing is greater than any positive I can see.

      As LK says, if someone doesn’t feel that 15 hours of entertainment is worth the price of a latte, then I would encourage them to enjoy what they can get for free. Television is free. Many still go to the movies. Many complain that what is on TV is pure crap, and yet still watch it. There’s a choice for everyone. My choice is to take the high road on my new work, and set the bar where I feel my objectives will be met. It’s hard to make up for zero compensation with volume. That’s why free ain’t for me anymore on the new books.

      Reply
      • Katy Sozaeva  –  Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 12:34 am

        15 hours? Day-um – unless the book is over 1000 pages, it ain’t gonna take me that long to read it :-) I can read a 200-300 page book in a few hours.

        Of course, I don’t watch TV. If I can’t afford a book, I certainly can’t afford a movie (have you SEEN the prices they charge nowadays??). The libraries around here don’t have an ebook program, at least they didn’t last time I checked. I’ll just have to keep doing what I”m doing and getting review copies when I can. I certainly am not saying you should lessen the value of your brand; I was just pointing out that not everyone who snaps up free books is doing it just because it is free; some of us are doing it because that’s the only way we can get them. An alternate point of view, if you will.

        Also, I don’t go and buy coffee from Starbucks. If I must have it, I get gas station cappuccinos, which are about a buck. Otherwise, I do without. Like I do without many things.

        I’ve heard from other writers I know that, like Ms. Rigel, they’re ending up with more sales at higher prices; as long as they don’t go TOO high. I think $4.99 is as much as I would be prepared to pay for an ebook – if it is more, I’ll go buy a used paperback somewhere. And honestly, I know in that case the money doesn’t go to the writer, so I’d much rather get the book directly if I can, but in the very rare cases when I do have some money to spend on something other than the bare necessities of life, that amount isn’t very much and I have to stretch it as far as I can. so … *shrug* As I said, despite everything, I agree with you that your books are worth more than nothing, but I’m trying to give you another point of view. There are a lot of us out here who are struggling – SERIOUSLY struggling – who still enjoy reading.

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 1:38 am

          How many words per hour do you guesstimate you read?

          I wasn’t confining my definition of books to ebooks. I know when I lived in the states, I went to libraries all the time to read books. Not ebooks. Books. Paper kind.

          I actually think you might be confusing the point. I never voiced an opinion of why people are downloading free books, other than because they are free. I didn’t introduce the concept of need. I think that’s immaterial. Nobody needs a free ebook. People want a free ebook, or would like one. But nobody starves to death or freezes because they don’t have a kindle copy of Geronimo Breach. So the notion of needing a free ebook is more an argument that one can’t afford something one wants. Which is fine. But my point is that free, regardless of whether the person downloading it ‘needs’ the book or not, has a negative effect on the brand and the breed, over time.

          Where I live, there’s always a two for one beer special. Gets so if you pay normal price for a beer, you feel like you overpaid. I’m not arguing that those who can’t afford beer, but really like and want it, shouldn’t get cheap or free beer. But I do know that many where I live view the value of beer as being 50% of the retail price, solely because of the expectation that’s been set by all the specials. So there’s a new base price. Half what it was.

          I’ll bet the same goes for books. Same human nature.

          Reply
          • Katy Sozaeva  –  Thu 14th Jun 2012 at 7:11 pm

            No idea on words per hour – I know if I focus and am not interrupted, I can read a 300 pg book in about 4 hours. *shrug*

  3. Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 1:36 am

    I’m too new to this game to offer any first-hand accounts of what has been happening with sales. I keep hearing the good times are over, which makes total sense. That’s when I usually jump on-board for these things.

    I will say that all the free and 99 cent content out there has clogged up my Kindle. But I don’t feel all that obligated to read it. Most of what I downloaded was jut to get a little “buying high” and then move on. I’m out a few bucks if I don’t read these.

    I still pay for books, and I’m paying ridiculously jacked up prices for ebooks that were a lot less a year ago. Those are the ones I want to read, and will read because I made an investment in them.

    I considered free and KDP before putting up my book. Instead I went with 4.99. Hell, it’s a good sized book, professionally edited, the whole nine yards. I guess new writer with one lone book at $5 will move about 3 copies a year. But I want readers and not downloads. So I’m betting that the three people who buy at that price will also read what they bought. Here’s hoping, anyway.

    Reply
  4. Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 9:23 am

    I’ve wondered how the ‘free’ thing was working for authors, I think I may have even asked you about it before. I like the idea of the first book in a series being free, because honestly, that’s how I found you, and immediately paid for the next two books in the series after reading the free first one. That makes you money, and that is a great marketing idea. However, you do have to have more than one book out there for that to work.

    Reply
  5. Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 11:13 am

    I have studied Amazon’s changes over the last four months, and also free and pricing; cheaper price versus more expensive price.
    I agree with the changes mentioned by Russell. There are less and less Indie books in the top 100, less 99 cent books and less 2.99 books in the top tiers of all genres.
    When my best series books (INVASION USA) sit in a genre top 100, all the books around them are normally between $8.99 and $9.99, non-Indie books and since I’m not in the higher genre ranks (50-100) numbers, mostly 5 -10-year old famous books; Clancy, Griffen, Silva etc.
    I tried a whole week at $2.99 – sold 50 of each of my most popular series. The next week I raised the price to $4.99 and sold virtually the same amount. Then I up-ed my price to where I’m happy, at the $7.00+ range and my sales doubled.

    I believe that the whole KDP thing has devalued Indie books to an extent that it is not worth getting the 15% of my sales as borrows, but take them out and sell more copies on the other sites, at a higher price.
    I believe that long-term survival tactics for Indie writers are;
    1. Extremely worthwhile writing and good stories.
    2. Perfectly edited material that can stand the test of time.
    3. Prices exactly the same as the “Big House” books.
    4. Several different monthly paychecks instead of one!

    I feel Amazon KDP has lowered the value of its Indie writers and will lose its following. Also one-book writers will not survive the “going to get tough” future.
    Regards,
    T I WADE

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 8:33 pm

      So much of this is a crapshoot anyway. It really is. The odds say no matter how or what we do, we won’t make a living at this. That being the case, I’m always happy to hear when someone is doing well.

      I’ll follow your pricing strategy with interest. Might try jacking one of mine to $7 to see what happens. I’d love to see my sales double on any of my titles.

      Reply
      • T I WADE  –  Mon 11th Jun 2012 at 7:51 am

        Get your best seller up there Russell, a price like $7.10 or $7.89, say best selling time- Thursday- Saturday just before Father’s Day and leave it for a week or more!
        I’ll come down and visit and buy you a beer if you make less money. Maybe slightly less sales, but more cash!
        Regards,
        T I WADE

        Reply
  6. Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 5:03 pm

    as always, I love your analysis. Last post of yours I raised my prices to 4.99, up from 2.99 and 3.99. Sales are still consistent, so profit is up. I also exited KDP as I wasn’t getting enough borrows to offset lost Barnes&Noble sales. However, I have written two shorts that stay in KDP and do the free promo regularly…they are packed full of ads for my paid titles. So, I’m trying to leverage the best of both strategies at this point.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 8:33 pm

      I think free is an important strategy for building awareness, which is why I have two books free on a consistent basis. But agreed that it needs to be used judiciously.

      Reply
  7. Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I’ve been covering this subject on my blog also. The horde of locusts just moves from freebie to freebie, and .99 to .99. Free and .99 is now an expectation, not a reason for excitement. I’m trying the Select thing with one of my books, but I’m not planning on getting excited – it’s just as hard to be seen there.

    I’m standing firm at $4.99 for my single title books, and $3.99 for my series books. I really do want to sell better, but I’m not willing to give my hard work away for a quick bump in sales. I’m not sure how others perceive the value of my books (although my reviews are good) but the only one that really has to value them is me. I guess I won’t be making the big bucks. Good thing I never planned on making much.

    Personally, I think you have the right idea, and it’s the business model that I’ve been following. Quality writing, quality editing, and an expanding catalog are needed if you plan on being around for the long haul. Best wishes with your new novel. I will be happy to pay for it.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Thanks for the kind thoughts. In the end, I think we have to just put out the best work we can, and try to accurately gauge what the market for it is. The rest is noise.

      Reply
  8. Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I’ve been reading Fatal Exchange. Brutal, engaging, smart. An absolute page turner — the kind of book you buy in an airport and read on the beach. Fantastic!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 10th Jun 2012 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks Clayton. It’s the one year anniversary of the release of that book – my first release. My how the time flies. Glad you’re enjoying it. Now I just need to find about a million like you…

      Reply
  9. Mon 11th Jun 2012 at 11:38 am

    I agree with your analysis. In addition, I have probably 30 books on my Kindle I got for free that I haven’t bothered reading because… well… they are not the kind of books I normally read. They were interesting enough to grab for free, and maybe I’ll get to them someday, but if I never read them, no loss to me, so they didn’t work as a promotion for the author. If you pay for books, I think you’re more likely to actually read them.

    I put one of my books in KDP Select just before I started hearing about how it was no longer working so well. I’m hoping Amazon will adapt to author dissatisfaction and change the process again. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem worthwhile. And one valuable blog in my genre (the romance blog Dear Author — I write romantic suspense) will no longer accept books for potential review unless they are available in all formats, so KDP Select is a negative there too.

    Reply
  10. Stef
    Mon 11th Jun 2012 at 6:55 pm

    There’s a kind of subversive element in your reaction to the algorithm flux that I like. But given we now have the technology I’m thinking it’s about time indies formed a coherent and substantive lobby group. Maybe a more proactive approach would be to shout for better conditions. It’s tough and I found that my voice fell on deaf ears when I intoned to the mighty Amazon but it was only one voice.

    When the internet rose from its primeval porn beginning, I thought, hey, perhaps we can easily form client/consumer unions now that all our armchairs are connected…

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 12th Jun 2012 at 12:18 am

      The problem as I see it is that there is no basis for negotiation, or power in numbers, given that for each author who is incensed there are 100 that will gladly take their place and smile. It’s the perfect recipe that those in the arts who have power have used against artists since time began. The only power we have is to walk away from the offering. After my next few free promos that were scheduled weeks ago, I’m choosing not to avail myself of that feature any longer. I’m quite sure Amazon won’t be the poorer for it.

      Reply
  11. Tue 12th Jun 2012 at 3:06 am

    Interesting post. I am reading more and more on this subject lately. When I launched my debut in May, I put it out at 99c/77p. I joined KDP with the intention of putting the book out for free when I release novel two in Dec. However, I decided against that for the very reason you state; people are not purchasing books but waiting for the freebies to launch. When I put my price up to $3.99, it made no difference to my sales. I am still selling at the same rate, and gaining positive reviews.

    One of the reasons I decided against free is that the 1* Indie hating reviewers crawl out and destroy an author in one foul swoop. I will hide behind the curtain of selling and not giving away, as I am a coward. I have seen books torn to shreds by words the author did not deserve to read. :)

    Reply
  12. Tue 12th Jun 2012 at 9:12 am

    I agree that the overwhelming volume of free books available has to be hurting Indie writers. I’m on twitter and I’ve frequently been followed by writers who offer me a free book right off the bat. Why would I be interested? I know nothing about them or their work. As others have said, offering up the first book in a series of several that are available might be a decent strategy. But writers who have one or two or even three books up and are giving away books is crazy, unless they have no interest in making a living via their work

    Reply
  13. Tue 12th Jun 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I’m with you. KDP Select was a nice trial and I “felt” better knowing that there were a bunch of people out there who were no able to read, review, and recommend my book.
    Hard truth is that out of the 3k downloads I got, none have written a review. These are impulse downloads and, like you said, if they are grabbing up all this free stuff, what are they actually reading?
    My goal in giving away copies was to hopefully garner some reviews ahead of the paid readership. If Amazon were to offer me as an author the option of giving away “X” books per month to readers who could get the book for free under the condition that they review it, I’d be on board for that. I get value from it and the reader does as well. It creates thought from the reader about what they want to read and eliminates that impulse that exists today.

    Jim

    Reply
  14. Tue 12th Jun 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I don’t like Free.

    The only three free books I got during the Glut (as I choose to call the recent phenomenon) were your The Geronimo Breach, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Wickedly Charming, and Tau Ceti by Kevin J. Anderson. I enjoyed all three, but I would have bought them anyways, and I certainly bought a whole pile of other books—whether electronic, paper or hardcover–during that same time.

    This tells me I value my Reading Time over Price Point. I buy Good Books, and, I’m convinced:

    Good books aren’t free.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 13th Jun 2012 at 3:31 pm

      The Glut. I like that.

      I think it is a moot point soon on the free book thing. Even if good books were free, they won’t be for much longer. Seems like the love is out of the game.

      Reply
  15. Wed 13th Jun 2012 at 2:41 pm

    First, let us establish from the get-go that you are indeed a bad, bad man – but we love you for it. So..

    Second – great title – Silver Justice!

    Third, I’m with you on every point you made on free! I, too, have a backlog of books I’ve downloaded for free. I continue to buy books, but only buy those I’m pretty confident I’m going to love. I restrict my freebies to those I would not have taken a chance on paying for. I figure I’m paying back the author by doing an Amazon review whenever I can (I only do 4 or 5 star reviews). So, yes, I think many, many of our former buyers are now too stocked up to purchase. I went from about 10 books purchased a month to 2 or 3.

    I have decided not to do free promotions anymore either and I think this trend is on the downswing. I certainly hope so.

    Great post, Russell!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 13th Jun 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks Kathy. Yes, it’s on the downswing, although it still has a few legs left – but as discussed, the benefit is diminishing, so I would think pretty soon the cycle will have run its course – I actually have a friend who is analyzing my sales results, and he indicated that I see around 80% increase in sales now for about 5 days on whatever title I do, as opposed to 500%+. I think once it gets to the point where it’s 50% or less of a bump, most authors won’t bother.

      Glad you like Silver Justice. I’m editing it right now – very Fatal Exchangy, without the torture. And a strong female protag, which I enjoyed writing in Fatal. Something about me and female protags this summer. Next one, Jet, also features a female protag. Maybe my hormones are all funky or something…

      Thanks for the kind words, as always.

      Reply
  16. Thu 14th Jun 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I’m with you. Just gave out 400 freebies for one sale. Thought I would at least generate some reviews but notta. I’m done with the free stuff.

    Reply
    • Katy Sozaeva  –  Thu 14th Jun 2012 at 7:13 pm

      You say you “just gave out” the books – give it some time. It takes awhile for people to actually read a book after they get it! I’ve seen similar comments from a couple different people – I know I have specifically designated a large number of the free books I’ve picked up for reviews, but it takes me awhile to get to them. As both an editor and a reviewer, I tend to get overwhelmed with requests – I think my backlog right now is over 600 books needing reviews, and even if I do read anywhere from 4 – 10 books a week, that still will take some time to get through. Also, not everyone realizes how important those reviews are – but that doesn’t mean they won’t recommend your book to their friends and family if they liked it.

      Reply
  17. Fri 15th Jun 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Glad to see the debate on making the first in a series free. Sales for Book 1 for my series have been poor. I had planned on making it FREE for 3 days about a week after Book 2 is released. However, when Book 1 goes free, I’m going yo try upping the price of Book 2 from $2.99 to $3.99 and see if there’s any change.

    After that, not sure what to do about the price of Book 1. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 15th Jun 2012 at 2:18 pm

      I’ve had the first book in two of my series free for the last six months, with good results. Night of the Assassin fluctuates between #20 and #2000 free, and The Delphi Chronicle book 1 does the same. I think that’s a valid use of free to attract new curious readers. I would recommend it. I have noticed no decline in sales when I moved from $2.99 to $3.99, and now my biggest sellers are the $4.99 books. I have one at $6.99 to see what happens, and it is selling OK – about the same as before at $3.99. I think once you are somewhat established, the price of the book doesn’t have as much weight in the purchasing decision as it might when just trying to break. That’s been my take. Good luck with your promo.

      I would put Book 1 at .99 after the first 5 days of your promo – the goal isn’t to make the most money per unit, it’s to get people to enjoy reading your work. If they like book 1, they’ll gladly pay $3.99 for book 2 forward, I think.

      Reply
  18. Mon 25th Jun 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Hi. I wasn’t going to butt in – mostly a lurker – but after all these comments, I still haven’t seen anyone mention what matters most. IMAO (And I write full time and am able to pay the bills) you have to be driven enough to want to see your book at the top of charts…and then put it there.
    Yes, it’s hard. If it wasn’t, any Tom, Dick, or Mary could do it, but good stories do not get lost if the author is constantly reminding people about them, and growing a fan base.
    If you give away 200 copies of Book 1 and get 20 come-backs for book 2, you’ve made an investment that gave a 10% pay-off, but it doesn’t stop there. Comebacks will continue for not only the books in that series, but your other work. Not to mention word of mouth. More of my new readers come from friends and family than promos, which I only have one book enrolled in because the more income sources you have, the more likely you are to survive.

    The value of books has been debated for, well, since the first one was woven probably. face it – you chose a profession that only readers truely value. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be worried about it, but really, it’s all a gimick anyway. Authors and publishers have been used against each other for years. Right now, we’re caught between Amazon and Apple mostly, but that’s because the traditionals weren’t ready for the ebook craze and the retailers are struggling to make them happy and not completely offend us. Right now, for the first time ever, the $ they make from the big houses and from Indies, are neck and neck. That won’t change. We’re in the door now.

    btw, did you see the usa article about how more people are suddenly reading – because it’s free. How wonderful!

    Money. The bane of the human existance, and yet, we all gotta have it. Let me explain a simple (and horribly hard) fact: Money is out there…if you look for it. I used these three places (Elance, paypal businesses I’ve created, Fiver) to supplement my writing and I’ve made contacts with editors and cover artists all wanting the same thing as me – a shot at greatness. We worked out personal contracts and now, I write for the love, not the cash. I have a small following, but it’s growing. I’ve seen the tops and bottoms of the charts and I will again. So will you.

    I realize this is a lecture and some! of you will be offended, but if I had had someone to point me in another direction 2 years ago, I’d be 2 years farther along. In my case would mean I’d have 20 books out instea of 11.

    Yes, after only 2 years, i don’t do the 9-5 anymore and the ends meet. And you’ll see from my reviews that people either love me or hate me and I couldn’t give a rats butt anymore. The key to having success as an author, is learning.

    I looked at some of your sites, your listings and sales pages, and frankly, that sooo much of your problem. It does NOT take perfection to pay the bills. Just hard work and you already know that anyway. You’ve spent the time loving the words and they call out to those who read them…makes them want more, emails and pms and comment forms. Instead of looking at that part as work, enjoy it. And spend a few minutes of your time talking to them. I saw a lot of great comments on FB pages that NO ONE responed to. Are you crazy? In today’s times, they bought/downloaed, and liked enough to FIND you and you didn’t respond?

    Okay, lecture over, walls up for the people who can’t take the truth and email open for anyone smart enough to listen.

    btw, there’s a 7 article post on my blog about increasing ebook sales. I DARE any of you to follow it. If you don’t see an increase in sales, I’ll come back here and kiss your @&%$ in public. (And yes, it’s free. Advice often is. Up to the listener if they take it.)

    Reply

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