The point of pricing

I’m an advocate of indie publishing, if you didn’t know. Here’s one BIG reason: price points.

Most authors don’t control their price points. If you go through most self-publishing companies, that means you too. Hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and yes, e-books. And it’s about to get worse.

In one of my Facebook groups, I asked the e-reader crowd about their preferences. All of them said anything above $5 is too much to pay. Some wouldn’t go above $4. One mentioned her friends who net $2,000 worth of e-books a month at .99 a pop.

What do you do? I have a self-published friend whose e-book retails for $9.99 on Amazon, which takes 30% of e-book sales – priced above .99 cents – off the top ($3). Her self-pub company takes 50%  of that ($3.50). Her cut is $3.49 minus distribution and taxes, provided she actually sells e-books at $9.99. I tried asking them for specifics, but the company won’t say (RED FLAG).

If the books aren’t moving, she can’t drop the price, and since her self-pub company owns the rights to the digital files it designed, she can’t sell them on her website at a lower price.

You want to give it a go at .99 cents? That’s not a sound business strategy for long-term growth. Thousands of dollars a month is the exception, not the rule. At .99 cents, your royalty rate doesn’t go above 35%, and if they’re not moving for whatever reason, will you drop the price lower?

I sell mine at $2.99 and encourage you to do the same, or close to it. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords all provide platforms where you can publish your work and control your price point. Hope this helps!

Ignore E-books, trade paperbacks at your own risk

E-book sales are dramatically up and trade paperbacks are WAY down. If you didn‘t know that, look here.

Cereal companies play up the cholesterol in eggs because they want to sell more cereal! Egg companies downplay those figures because high cholesterol is dependent on many factors outside of diet.

For us, it’s about perspective. To them, it’s how to spin it to alter your perspective. Same thing with e-books and trade paperbacks.

Some people will never read an e-book. They enjoy the novelty of a paperback and point to this: 80 percent of people still read books that way.

Others swear sole allegiance to the almighty e-reader, and point to 2010 figures that cite e-book sales going up almost 200 percent.

Trade paperbacks do have an upside: the experience. You can walk into a bookstore, drink coffee and freely thumb through the pages of the newest summer beach read. There’s human contact and you don’t have to sift through a ton of self-published stuff.

But e-book shopping is simpler, quicker, and more convenient. Make your own coffee and buy your beach read at home for a fraction of the paperback cost. And, instead of being stuck with only authors pushed by legacy houses, you can select one whose marketing dollars don’t match up with that of the Big 6. The virtual shelves are endless!

Honestly, authors who ignore either market are cutting off a major stream of income. E-books cost nothing to produce, store, or ship, so ignore them at your own risk.

And life without a trade paperback? No trade shows or book signings. At speaking engagements, if you totally captivate the audience, people will want to buy your book. Your only response can be: “look me up, and you can download it there.” It’s too much work, and if your audience is confused or overworked, they won’t buy.

My advice? Eat eggs and cereal :)

Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of the Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.

How to market your books on the cheap

Marketing-Mix

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The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross, advises that you send out up to 200 copies of your book to gain buzz. Sorry, but the majority of reviewers still prefer trade paperback books (tpbs).

Quick math: if your tpb is 250 pages, it costs $4.65 to print (are you paying more?). Media mail is the least expensive way to ship books; it’s not timely, but it will get there. It costs $2.70 to send a book that weighs about a pound. $4.65 + $2.70 = $7.35 X 200 = $1,470.

Not only is that inexpensive, for the small, indie guy doing it all by his lonesome, it’s ineffective. Suffice it to say, not EVERYONE is going to review your book.

Do it on a smaller scale with bigger, slower, surefire targets. Let’s say your budget for a particular month is $200. Here are two effective ways to spend your cash:

  1. Use Facebook to find book clubs. It’s the Gen-X way to cold call, and Facebook makes it REALLY easy. Type “book” or “book club” in the search box at the top of the screen and watch the book clubs pop up. Start small with a group of ten established clubs that review, and ask for their submission guidelines. I’ve done this and it works. Cost: your time + $73.50 in printing and shipping costs.
  2. Solicit independent bookstores in your area. Tom Feltenstein’s book, The 10-minute Marketer, talks about seeing the forest but missing the trees — in other words, thinking big picture all of the time instead of little details. Indie bookstores LOVE the little guy, especially ones with local connections that draw crowds. The worst they may do is offer you consignment: offering to sell you book but keep half of the retail (which Amazon does too!). One bookstore in Michigan carries five copies of one of my novels. Let’s assume that’s true for you: Cost: your time + cost of printing and shipping.
Hope this helps! Be blessed.
Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of the Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.

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Amazing things you probably didn’t know about the emerging digital market

If you’re an author, you cannot afford to ignore the digital market (anymore, if you have been).

More and more, I meet people who eschew the internet and market themselves in other ways. People, this just isn’t wise. For the more mature set, I get it — it takes some getting used to.

But take a look at the facts: although trade paperbacks still make up the bulk of fiction and non-fiction business, last year (for the first time), Amazon’s digital sales outdistanced paperback sales. For every 100 books the juggernaut sold, 115 e-books moved as well. That could be you.

Borders, partly due to its poor handling of its digital division, recently declared bankruptcy. That could be you (figuratively) too — with a bankrupted dream.

Author Amanda Hocking is a self-made millionaire. And, no matter how many books you read about how to become successful in your craft, there’s always an element of timing and chance to it. She admits as much in her blog. Odds are, if you do everything exactly the way she did them, you won’t be a millionaire too. But, there are some solid concepts that I’d like to give you.

1. Use Smashwords. Smashwords is a platform to distribute e-books. Some of the books are free, while others are reasonably priced. Hocking sells most of her books from .99 cents to $2.99. She pulls down 70%-80& of that. No production cost or postage to pay out of that. She sold 450,000 books in one month. You can do the math on that. (NOTE: Smashwords does not have Digital Rights Management, meaning someone who downloads your book can file share.)

2. Use book blogs to your advantage. For The Revelation Gate, I’m using Tywebbin to schedule a blog tour for me. It works like this: its owner, Tyora Moody, petitions bloggers with sizeable audiences who will review it prior to its publication. Her package also includes two other tiers, which include a Twitter campaign and webcam interviews. Reasonable price ($250) for a professional job. You can petition bloggers yourself, but some do not accept books that are not commercially published (read: self-published or independently published).

Of course, this does not mean you should skip the trade magazines and traditional reviews. I’m suggesting that you supplement them with this. After all, with blog tours, you’re guaranteed a review. With the American Library Association, Bookpage, etc., it’s up to the editor. You may end up in the slush pile.

Hope this helps. Talk to you soon.

B

Author Brian L. Thompson is the president of Great Nation Publishing and author of the Christian fiction thriller The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate, due for release on June 7, 2011. You can read more about Brian by clicking here.

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