Author Topic: Selling all your books at 99c  (Read 1749 times)  

Offline DebDougall

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Selling all your books at 99c
« on: August 29, 2017, 03:26:42 am »
Hey all,

What do you think about selling all your books at 99c?

There is an author in one of the genres I write in (cozy mystery) who sells every book at 99c - I think there have been 9 so far. I've read a few and enjoyed them. They're entertaining and seem to have been well received and well reviewed by others. On average, the word count is around the 40k mark, less in some cases.

The author in question, as I understand, also writes in another genre (about as far from cozy as you can get it what I've read is right!) so may already have picked up a readership from there although there's no doubt that a lot of the readers are new. The books are doing really well and the author ranking is great.

It makes me wonder if maybe there is some mileage is writing shorter books for less money and selling a boatload of them. Not compromising on quality, just length.

I know a lot of you won't agree with that but I'm interested to know opinions on both sides.

What do you think?

TIA for any thoughts.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 03:31:40 am by DebDougall »

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    Offline Nic

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #1 on: August 29, 2017, 03:46:27 am »
    I've a friend who sells all her sweet romance books at .99. Everything is top notch and professional, the books range from 30k to 60k, and she kills her sub genre with them. Has been in the top 100 on Amazon for several times and weeks with all of her books. Interestingly she does no promotions at all, except for a short series with a free first book as a loss leader. She's not in KU and wide across several retailers.

    I think it can work if your sub genre is in demand and you manage to stand out in a minor way. Hers probably are the relatively "clean" (as in non-busy) covers with excellent typography and that price point. Sort of inciting people to click.

    Offline Doglover

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #2 on: August 29, 2017, 03:58:45 am »
    I suppose it depends what you want, kudos or money. Selling at that price on Amazon means only 35% but I suppose if you sell hundreds, it might work. I just think it give readers the impression that we are not worth much more and then they expect to get everything for that price. It might be good for this author, but not for the industry as a whole.


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    Offline toddhicks209

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #3 on: August 29, 2017, 04:02:28 am »
    I won't ever go that low.

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    Offline DebDougall

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #4 on: August 29, 2017, 04:13:05 am »
    Thanks, Nic, that's interesting.

    I don't know for sure if the author I'm referring to does any promo or not (I guess a book every six weeks or so is promo enough) but her covers are also very appealing and pro-looking.

    All the books are in KU - if she's killing it on page reads (which I guess she is) the 99c price point is more understandable.

    Offline DebDougall

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #5 on: August 29, 2017, 04:20:26 am »
    Thanks Doglover and ToddHicks 209,

    I've just realised that this author is in KU, and probably doing exceedingly well on page reads. That being the case, I can better understand the 99c price point.

    I do see your point, Doglover - if you give readers your work for very little, it could make it difficult if you ever want to raise your prices. Also, other authors could feel the effects.

    Whatever this author's doing, it's obviously working! Good luck to her.

    Offline dianapersaud

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #6 on: August 29, 2017, 04:47:49 am »
    Selling your whole catalog at $0.99 is a loss when it comes sales. Only $0.35 a sale.

    HOWEVER, if the majority of her money comes from pages read, then she's looking at $.60-$1 per book per read depending on length. Add in the bonus money, and that might be worth sacrificing sales.

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    Offline NeilMosspark

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #7 on: August 29, 2017, 05:22:21 am »
    Selling your whole catalog at $0.99 is a loss when it comes sales. Only $0.35 a sale.

    HOWEVER, if the majority of her money comes from pages read, then she's looking at $.60-$1 per book per read depending on length. Add in the bonus money, and that might be worth sacrificing sales.
    Agreed. If it's in KU then it works well if your genre are most voracious subscribers.

    I will say this though, when I had my books at 99 cents I sold more copies, but made less. The 30/90 day cliff still happened and then they dropped off.

    When I put my books up to 2.99 I found that I was selling only slightly less but the page reads increased a bit.

    I do prerelease and loss leader at 99cents then bump up to my price point 2.99+.

    Just my choice. I like to be able to afford art and editing for the next book.


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    Offline Sailor Stone

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #8 on: August 29, 2017, 05:26:57 am »
    Selling your whole catalog at $0.99 is a loss when it comes sales. Only $0.35 a sale.

    HOWEVER, if the majority of her money comes from pages read, then she's looking at $.60-$1 per book per read depending on length. Add in the bonus money, and that might be worth sacrificing sales.

    If you go through Pronoun it is $.70 a sale making it the equivalent of selling a book for $1.99 direct through KDP. But then you can't be in KU through Pronoun, so it won't work if you aren't wide to begin with. But if you are... then maybe.

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #9 on: August 29, 2017, 07:02:27 am »
    Hey all,

    What do you think about selling all your books at 99c?

    There is an author in one of the genres I write in (cozy mystery) who sells every book at 99c - I think there have been 9 so far. I've read a few and enjoyed them. They're entertaining and seem to have been well received and well reviewed by others. On average, the word count is around the 40k mark, less in some cases.

    The author in question, as I understand, also writes in another genre (about as far from cozy as you can get it what I've read is right!) so may already have picked up a readership from there although there's no doubt that a lot of the readers are new. The books are doing really well and the author ranking is great.

    It makes me wonder if maybe there is some mileage is writing shorter books for less money and selling a boatload of them. Not compromising on quality, just length.

    I know a lot of you won't agree with that but I'm interested to know opinions on both sides.

    What do you think?

    TIA for any thoughts.

    No i have tested this, people perceive 99 cents books as cheap crap.

    Its okay as a deal for 24 to 48 hours but not on a regular basis. That is a fools game

    Offline Used To Be BH

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #10 on: August 29, 2017, 08:18:26 am »
    No i have tested this, people perceive 99 cents books as cheap crap.

    Its okay as a deal for 24 to 48 hours but not on a regular basis. That is a fools game
    Never say always. Never say never. I'm sure you do have some data to back this up, but I'm suspicious of sweeping generalizations.

    I judge the books I read based on their quality, not their price point. Most of the readers I know do. One of my best selling titles is $0.99. (It's the first in a series loss leader.)

    If readers universally reacted in the way you suggest, how do you explain so many authors doing well with a permafree first in series? If $0.99 looks like cheap crap, what does free look like? The generalization doesn't really explain why people gobble up sale books so readily. Do the readers of the Bookbub newsletter perceive all the offerings as cheap crap? Clearly not.

    All of that said, I agree with Doglover that excessive use of a $0.99 price point can lead to long-term problems in the industry. There is the possibility that readers will come to expect books for free or at very low price points. I use $0.99 for short works, sales, and loss leaders at the beginning of a series, and that's it. I wouldn't price my whole catalog that way.

    It is also important to note, however, that everyone's situation is not the same. Authors with established fan bases can sell at a higher price point than those just starting out. In the beginning, audience size may be  more important than profit margin. The fans you make today may be good for many future purchases, thus enhancing long-term ROI. As Neil points out, though, you have to make enough money to be able to afford things like editing.
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    Offline cecilia_writer

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #11 on: August 29, 2017, 08:30:31 am »
    I have a suspicion, not based on anything, that UK readers may be more receptive to books at low prices. That's why i've kept mine low up to now, and I can't make up my mind to increase them although I've considered it. I may try with my less successful series first. I've already taken the first one off permafree without killing it!

    Offline Tobias Roote

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #12 on: August 29, 2017, 09:02:38 am »
    I have a suspicion, not based on anything, that UK readers may be more receptive to books at low prices. That's why i've kept mine low up to now, and I can't make up my mind to increase them although I've considered it. I may try with my less successful series first. I've already taken the first one off permafree without killing it!

    Up until recently I would have agreed. I just did a Bookbub with the 2nd book as 99p deal. It sparked a load of buys of book 1 priced at $2.99 which until then had been meh! The thing is the UK market seems (for me at least) to be changing. It's now my biggest Amazon market, with Canada and Australia close behind.  The US seems to have died (I blame Trump). The jumping point here is that books 3 & 4 (both high priced) are also selling.

    I think it isn't price that is the factor, it's the perceived quality. A Bookbub advert will tell readers it has been selectively chosen and I think that gives them more confidence to try it out. I could be wrong, but it's my opinion either way :P
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    Offline Azalea

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #13 on: August 29, 2017, 09:14:37 am »
    While 99c obviously works as a loss leader, and I believe it is useful to grab new readers, I'm not interested in building a fan base that expects my work to be had for cheap, every time. I can't imagine pricing an entire series at 99c. At most, I might price the first 3 of 9 at 99c, with the next 6 being 2.99. If I've read 3 books of a series and I'm not already hooked enough to pay $3 for the 4th, there's a problem, and I probably won't continue reading the series no matter what it is priced at. I write long books, and prefer to read long books, but the philosophy holds, for anything longer than a short story or novelette.

    Also, I find that I think twice before buying a book that's priced a little higher, as many readers no doubt do. That may seem like a negative, but I think it's actually a positive. I will buy and forget a 99c book, and a few months later won't even be able to remember what the blurb was about or why I bought it. On a higher priced book, I make sure I'm interested in it before purchasing. This is why you often get a slew of lower-star reviews after a 99c or Free promotion. I'm also much more likely to immediately read something I paid more money for.

    As far as KU readers, the later books being at 99c is no incentive for them, since they already aren't paying anything extra to read the books. If they enjoy the series, they'd read through it all anyway, regardless of sale price.

    99c seems to have worked for this author, but I personally think it is a very questionable long-term strategy.

    As always, I state my personal opinion only, not "the law."

    Offline DebDougall

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #14 on: August 29, 2017, 10:26:15 am »
    Thanks all for the thoughts.

    I've steered clear of KU since the page count issues a year or so ago. If I hadn't, I might have given the novella at 99c model a whirl. Just for curiosity's sake.  ;)

    Offline Doglover

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #15 on: August 29, 2017, 10:51:32 am »
    I have a suspicion, not based on anything, that UK readers may be more receptive to books at low prices. That's why i've kept mine low up to now, and I can't make up my mind to increase them although I've considered it. I may try with my less successful series first. I've already taken the first one off permafree without killing it!
    Are you saying we're tight? :) I always price my books higher in the UK, $4.99 in the US, the same in pounds in the UK. That's because the cost of living here is higher than in the States and then there is that annoying VAT.


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    Offline cecilia_writer

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #16 on: August 29, 2017, 11:14:03 am »
    Are you saying we're tight? :) I always price my books higher in the UK, $4.99 in the US, the same in pounds in the UK. That's because the cost of living here is higher than in the States and then there is that annoying VAT.
    haha - we Scots like to live up to our stereotypes. Maybe that's it.
    I actually wondered whether to price higher for .com but would amazon then price-match to the lower amount?

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #17 on: August 29, 2017, 11:40:48 am »
    You have to sell six times the copies at .99 to make what you would at 2.99. I don't think it's a viable strategy unless you're using sales as leverage to get more visibility for borrows. Or as a loss leader or temporary sale price. I can't imagine putting all my books at .99 wide.

    I do know some romance authors will entire catalogs at .99. They make all their money off borrows. It can work well for some. But I'd rather build a fanbase willing to pay 2.99+ for my books. That gives me more options for the future of my career.

    Offline ThrillerWriter

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #18 on: August 29, 2017, 02:56:53 pm »
    This strategy works for a good number of people. I've personally stayed away from it, because I do feel it devalues my work. I'm not looking for people who want to spend .99 on a book, and not wanting to base my career off of them.

    Offline Laran Mithras

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #19 on: August 29, 2017, 03:48:13 pm »
    You have to sell six times the copies at .99 to make what you would at 2.99. I don't think it's a viable strategy unless you're using sales as leverage to get more visibility for borrows. Or as a loss leader or temporary sale price. I can't imagine putting all my books at .99 wide.

    I do know some romance authors will entire catalogs at .99. They make all their money off borrows. It can work well for some. But I'd rather build a fanbase willing to pay 2.99+ for my books. That gives me more options for the future of my career.

    This.

    I've experimented with both prices. I do not sell six times as many 99 centers as 2.99ers. Over several titles, I find the difference is almost half. So 30 books at 99 cents equaling $10.50 or 15 books at 2.99 equaling $31.30 at the respective margins.

    Yes, it is depressing to see the drop in sales. But that's before considering what you're making.

    I have a competitor I have had fun laughing at charging 2.99 for 12-page books that I would only sell for 99 cents. She sells as many of them as I sell of my longer 2.99 books. I'm not laughing anymore.

    99 cents should only be used as a loss-leader, in my experience. My genre is erotica. YMMV in other niches.

    Offline michisjourdi

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #20 on: August 29, 2017, 05:59:06 pm »
    This strategy works for a good number of people. I've personally stayed away from it, because I do feel it devalues my work. I'm not looking for people who want to spend .99 on a book, and not wanting to base my career off of them.

    I feel the same way about it devaluing the work. It seems to be even worse in the kidlit genre, or maybe it just seems that way to me, because that's my genre. I see so many kids books for 99 cents or a dollar, and their key appeal seems to be, "Well, it's only a dollar."

    I realized people were willing to pay more than a dollar for a good quality children's book, though, so my only book below $2.99 that is my perma-free "loss leader". My books seem to be doing about the same at the higher price. People seem to prefer the paperbacks for children, anyway.

    What I'll never understand is people who charge $1.99. You are losing the 70% royalty anyway. Might as well go all the way, right?  :-\

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    Offline Doglover

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #21 on: August 30, 2017, 12:20:24 am »
    haha - we Scots like to live up to our stereotypes. Maybe that's it.
    I actually wondered whether to price higher for .com but would amazon then price-match to the lower amount?

    I think they only price match in USD; they don't care about other currencies. My reasoning is that we British are used to paying more for stuff.


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    Offline alawston

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #22 on: August 30, 2017, 04:21:17 am »
    People have different goals, and not everyone's financially motivated, but it takes a long time to make a decent amount of cash at 0.99. I launched my zombie novella with about 60 sales last month, which was a bit of a record for me, and I'm very happy with the numbers... but there's got to be easier ways to make 20! Borrows and paperback sales and pushing the price to 2.99 after launch has boosted me to three figures and helped me make a modest profit on the book in month 2, but even so...

    I've got a few books that are permanently 0.99 due to length, and they just don't sell enough that I'd consider it a viable long-term sales strategy across my catalogue. But then I'm not exactly writing books with mass market appeal. YMMV, as always.


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    Offline The 13th Doctor

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    Re: Selling all your books at 99c
    « Reply #23 on: August 30, 2017, 04:29:01 am »

    I've got a few books that are permanently 0.99 due to length, and they just don't sell enough that I'd consider it a viable long-term sales strategy across my catalogue.

    This.

    I started out pricing my stories at 0.99 due to length but never made a decent amount of sales.

    Now that I'm writing longer pieces (and selling a wee bit better), I'm finally at peace with the decision to price 2.99 or higher. From now on, I'm only going to use 0.99 as a pre-order enticement, for a limited promo deal, or as a loss-leader to a series.

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