An experiment in pricing
If you’ve been following this blog, you’re already aware of my grand ebook experiment, where I’m selling my first book, Please, as an ebook. But what you might not be aware of is my pricing experiment. I’ve been quietly tweaking the price of Please and trying out different prices to see where the sweet spot is, and the results have been surprising.
First off, I want to stress the sweet spot for me is maximizing readership, not profit. If I can earn more money off fewer readers at a higher price, I’ll take the lower price/profit and more readers, thank you very much. I’m in this to have my books and stories read, not for the money. Such at it is.
OK, now that I’ve got that out of the way….
When I first published Please on Kindle, I set the price at $2.99. That seemed to be the going rate for indie books, so I figured I may as well start there. Please wasn’t exactly indie — it had been published by Raincoast back in 2002 — but it was close enough at this point. It did OK at the $2.99 price point, but I wasn’t exactly finding a new generation of readers.
So I followed the example of other writers who temporarily lowered their price to 99 cents to generate interest in their works. I changed the price of Please to 99 cents and waited for my new legions of fans to start messaging me.
Instead, my sales dropped. Considerably.
Now, when you lower your price to 99 cents, you expect your profits to drop because your royalty rate changes. With Amazon and I think most other services, you make 35% of the selling price up to $2.99, and then you make 70% for books priced $2.99 and higher. So there’s a financial incentive to set the price higher. The 99-cent price point is a loss leader of sorts — you lower the price and earn less but you get more readers into your virtual bookstore.
The problem was not only was I making less, but I was also attracting fewer readers. So that experiment blew up in the lab….
I decided to change the price back to $2.99, but then on a whim I set it at $3.99 instead. What the hell, I figured. If that price didn’t work, then it would only take a few minutes to change it.
I have to admit I was surprised when I sold more books at $3.99 than at $2.99 — and way more than when Please was priced at 99 cents. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it was people avoiding the lower price points because the lower prices are associated with lower-quality self-published books. Maybe the ebook version of Please was just starting to get noticed when I changed the price. I really have no idea.
So I’m going to keep experimenting. I’m going to drop the price back down to $2.99 for the month of April to see the difference. Then in May I’m going to raise it to $4.99. We’ll see what surprises June has in store.
Like I said above, I’m really interested in the number of new readers I can find for Please. The money is nice and all, but I’m not getting rich off the book, so whatever. I’d much sooner get more people interested in my fiction than earn a few extra bucks. Although both would be just fine.
I’ll post back here with results when I have them.
I also plan to do a post on how ebooks are changing my writing style. Because they are. But that’s still a work in progress.
And remember, vote loud and vote often.