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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody.

(For some reason I always feel like Dr. Nick from The Simpsons whenever I write that.)

I'm a long-time lurker of this forum and I finally felt compelled to make an account and say hello. Unlike a few other writer-oriented forums I've experienced, Kboards seems to be a genuinely warm and welcoming place. I have yet to see anyone feel intimidated here. I hope you'll extend me the same kindness.

I also had a couple of questions I was hoping you could help me out with. Feel free to ignore them and just say hello, but to those of you who feel compelled:
a) In your opinion, is the post-apocalyptic genre (adult, not YA) saturated or reached its tipping point?
b) Does a 2.99 price tag for a 30K serial sound...well, sound? I assure you I am not aiming to exploit my readers OR try and overcharge. The focus is more on superb-quality episodic content that will make them feel as happy as paying for a comic book or a monthly(!) tv show, for example.

I would love to hear your stories and opinions on the matter. My sincerest apologies in advance if the questions are overdone. Any help would be really great.

Thank you.

Oh and since the thread title is a toast, I'll end with another (written by a man I greatly admire): "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due."
 

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Welcome!

I'm not qualified myself to answer your questions, but I have writer friends who are still doing very well with adult post-apocalyptic stuff. As for the pricing, I think that sounds about right. My short story collection clocks in at about 25,000 words for $2.99 and I've had my strongest launch yet with it.

You can always drop the price of the first episode to $0.99 or free as a loss leader once you have a few episodes online.

Whatever you decide, best of luck with it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you so much for the warm welcome, Lydniz and alawston. Very gracious of you both.

alawston, I was thinking of starting off my very first one as permafree. That is what a lot of people seem to suggest. Do you think its a better idea to start it off with 2.99 right off the bat?

Again - any and all opinions welcome. Thanks.
 

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Personally, I wouldn't launch it permafree. That strategy is designed to funnel readers into your other books. Until you have other books, the effects are minimal. I have a 38k novella that I have sold at $2.99 from the beginning. I've never had any pushback on price at all.

Welcome, and good luck!
 

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Welcome! I both read and write apocalyptic sci-fi, so I'll give you my take.

My first book is 130k words and sells for $2.99. There are many, many books that range from 70-100k in the same price range for a first book. I don't see very many serials, and those I do see are 99 cents. I think if you charge $2.99 for a short you may get some blowback, but if it's high quality content maybe it's worth trying anyway.

I know that as a reader I wouldn't purchase at that price point, not when there are so many great books triple the length for the same price. Hope that helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you both Shawn and Chris for your great opinions. It is definitely interesting to see the variety of responses and experiences that people have had. It is a bit daunting to decide one way or the other, but I suppose that is what makes this whole endeavour worthwhile.
 
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nem2 said:
Thank you both Shawn and Chris for your great opinions. It is definitely interesting to see the variety of responses and experiences that people have had. It is a bit daunting to decide one way or the other, but I suppose that is what makes this whole endeavour worthwhile.
The beauty of self-publishing is that you can always shift gears if something isn't working. Good luck and welcome!
 

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Hello! I'm not qualified to answer your questions, but I'm looking to read some stuff in your genre. Best of luck!
 
G

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Note: This is based on seeing trends in the store, not from selling books ourselves.

a) In your opinion, is the post-apocalyptic genre (adult, not YA) saturated or reached its tipping point?

YA Post Apocaylptic is saturated. It's got cholestrol poisoning. However, books from there are still finding success, being made into movies. etc. I'd recommend only jumping into that genre if you're an excellent writer, an excellent marketer, or got a big inheritance from your grandad.

Adult Post Apocalyptic is not  as saturated. However, it's still tough to build a brand there.

*****

Reached its tipping point to what? Becoming a permanent separate genre? Not being hot any more? becoming nothing?

There'll always be a Post-Apocalyptic genre. As we see more wars break out in the Middle East, the Russia situation get tenser, the Water Wars, drought in California, etc. there will be more and more demand for Post Apocalyptic Books.

Ideally you want to write books that don't target YA but can be read by YA.

So Adult Post Apoclayptic without swearing and sex and without too much violence.

*****

b) Does a 2.99 price tag for a 30K serial sound...well, sound? I assure you I am not aiming to exploit my readers OR try and overcharge. The focus is more on superb-quality episodic content that will make them feel as happy as paying for a comic book or a monthly(!) tv show, for example.


For users in KU it makes no difference. They're not paying anything except the subscription.

For other users, you have to have the first few episodes cheap or free. After that you can charge whatever you like. With any element like serials, it's better to make money from repeat purchases than from high purchases prices.

Take a look at the serials that are doing well. How many of them have episodes at $3?

Also, high quality episodic content and super quality episodic content - what does that mean?

You should look at what successful serial writers are pricing their books at. If you're going to end up with 10-20 serial novels then it makes little sense to price the first 5-6 at anything other than $1.

Also, look at the comparative cost. Most indie books are now very cheap. $1, $2, $3. Pricing a serial at $3 artificially limits your reader base. However, again, look at what's working in the market.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Augusta, Steven and ireaderreview: thank you so much for your warm and wise words.

ireaderreview, I agree with a lot of points you make. The YA genre definitely seems exhausted but - as you said - there is still success to be found. I think I'm a decent writer but do not have the marketing skills or inheritance money to jump in to that pool, so I'll avoid it for now.

And I agree with you that there will always be a post-apocalyptic genre. My question about saturation was more oriented around how difficult it is becoming to build a brand, as you suggested, because the (online) shelves are already chock full of them. Of course, everyone has something new to offer, or that is the hope.

The point about swearing and sex being read by YA however - do you think that actually is that large a consideration factor (given how much exposure kids already get to this kind of stuff)? I know my books will be for adults but will not have gratuitous sex or violence. But that's a personal preference; I'm not trying to expand my reader base, just writing the kind of stuff I want to read. Your point about specifically avoiding it, however, raised the question of whether it mattered. So its from a purely curious standpoint, that's all.

And your points about pricing raise excellent issues for me to consider. The curious thing is that although the majority of the market seems to follow your stand - $1, many books, repeat purchases - there are a large number of voices that are arguing that the $1 price tag is becoming synonymous with hastily written stuff designed to generate quick sales without any thought to actual story or craft. Please let me jump in here: this is just an opinion I have read. What's more, I have seen a large number of $1 serials that are well written and doing very well for themselves. What I was trying to suggest with 'high quality' was a response to the aforementioned criticism, that's all. Its a change in pricing strategy to tackle something in a different way, by appealing to the psyche of certain readers. The hope, of course, is that your writing also has to be worth the price tag. :eek:

But as always I would love to hear any opinions. No way am I implying that this is the only road to success. Not by a long shot.

 
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1) Pricing can be thought of in multiple ways.

When starting off think of it as friction.

Zero Friction = Free + Visibility + Some sort of social proof (bestseller ranking, good reviewers, huge number of downloads, bestseller status, etc.).

Low Friction = $1 + as many good factors as possible.

Later, or for readers who have been burnt in the past by Free and Cheap, think of it as a quality signaller or the price of admission to your reading experience.

High Pricing = Indicator of Quality OR Entry Price to Finish Experience/Story started earlier.

However, this is only for some people. Most people give more weightage to reviews and what's written in reviews.

Now, the rough rule of thumb is

At $5 you'll get 1/10th the readers as at $1 IF you are an unknown.
At $3 1/3rd.

So, when you're new you can't afford to lose 2/3rds or 9/10ths of your potential readers.

However, once you have branding and once you have readers hooked, you can charge a higher price.

Also, for books that are 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. in a series you can charge more.

*****
For every 1 reader you'll lose because they think $1 might mean loq quality, you'll lose 3 because they don't want to pay $3 or $5 for an unknown author.

Of course, the readers who buy at $3 or $5 are more likely to review and more likely to leave good reviews, so it's a tough decision.

*****

2) Regarding this: And I agree with you that there will always be a post-apocalyptic genre. My question about saturation was more oriented around how difficult it is becoming to build a brand, as you suggested, because the (online) shelves are already chock full of them. Of course, everyone has something new to offer, or that is the hope.

What's happened in the last few years is that the playing field has changed.

IN the past it was a function of

Getting approved by Publishers so you could get into the distribution channels.
Getting into stores and finding a niche that has demand.
Quality of writing
Having enough money or publisher backing to actually print books and distribute them

Now, it's all about

Visibility - how many readers you can get access to. This is what the big promotion sites basically are. It's not that they're converting at a high rate or picking the best books. Just that 'a small percentage of a very large number is a large number'. Social Media and Blogging and Email Newsletters also fall into this category. These are all ways to MAKE A BOOK SEEM A HIT and seem to be getting word of mouth when it's actually just getting it a ton of visibility.

Strategy - Can you use a new strategy that beats everyone. First this was free and cheap (first authors like Paulo Coleho, and then Naomi Novik, Robin Hobbs were the first big authors to try free books), then it became 1st in series free and 2nd $1 and rest cheap (Amanda Hocking and John Locke etc.), then it became serials (I think Wool is an example, though not sure if it was one of the first to leverage that strategy), then Boxed Sets. Now it's becoming chopped up books i.e. serials that aren't really serials. Just one book broken into 10 parts.

Pricing - In 2009 there were 3 or 4 free books (I mean in the Kindle Store, officially, not public domain). In 2010 there were a few a month. Gradually it kept increasing. Now there are thousands every day. Boxed Sets and Series Specials are also examples of competitive differentiation via pricing.

Quality of Writing - This actually doesn't matter as much now. In the past it was Top 2 (along with Marketing) However, it's still very important.

Bestseller Lists - How long can you stay on Bestseller Lists and at what spots. Think of this as Step 2 Visibility. Step 1 Visibility (Promotion and Marketing) gets you Sales. Those get you a position on the Bestseller Lists.

Other Factors that are very new and not well understood.

*******

The next step is probably going to be Virality. What BuckBooks is doing. They're saying - we'll promote your book for free if you get readers to subscribe to our email list. That allows them to grow faster than they would otherwise - because authors are helping them grow in order for the free promotion.

Equivalent for authors would be to tell readers - Here's a special prequel. You get it for free (and no other way) if you promote my 1st book on FB and Twitter or to your phone contacts list. If you get 100 interested readers they could help you reach 1,000 other readers. It just costs you 100 free copies which basically cost you 100MB of bandwidth usage - basically nothing to reach 1,000 other readers.

If you build this up you'll get 3-5 years before other authors duplicate it. Because it'll be 1-2 years before they realize how powerful it is and how well you are leveraging it.

*****

At some point authors are going to realize that word of mouth can be constructed and virality can be constructed. It's not going to be pretty. Think Apps with In App Purchases and Offer Walls i.e.

Buy 50,000 Gold Coins for $50. Use 10,000 Gold Coins to unlock Part 2 of the story.
Get 10,000 Gold Coins for sharing with your Contact List
etc.

Or it could be done elegantly. Not sure how.
However, the books would have to be written and structured with virality and word of mouth in mind. Which makes it completely different from writing a story. Now you'd be writing a story that doesn't reveal itself until it's shared.

******

3) The thing with language and sex is that it sometimes (not always) indicates a lack of ability to convey the same strength of emotion via pure words.

One author writes - The Old man got on the boat, as he had a million times before.
Another author writes The old man cursed the #$#$ boat, and wearily got on it, for the (*(@#*[email protected]# millionth time.

The effect isn't that different. However, the first can be read by everyone and the second only by adult readers and readers who don't mind swearing and language.

Now, with the Kindle, we get very interesting demographics

- Young kids whose parents won't let them read anything even a bit age inapporpriate
- Everyone who's religious. Most religions are very averse to bad language and very restricted about depictions of sex.
- Everyone who considers some things should be left in the bedroom.
- Young readers who probably wouldn't be choosing reading over listening to rap music if they loved swearing and such
- Most people who prefer not to read cuss language in the middle of some journey they're on. Bad language and four letter words have very different meanings and impact for different people. So you might write @!#$#$ in a nonchalant way, but for your reader it might remind them of the one time in their life their granddad totally lost his cool.

So, you're losing somewhere between 30% and 60% of your potential readership.

Also, some of the countries that are becoming big in reading, like China and India, and the Middle East, view things very differently.

If your book or your writing style needs swearing and sex, it's fine. If you have a choice, then no point leaving out 45% of your potential audience. It gives you the added benefit that you have to figure out how to use words to create the same impact that a sex scene would, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Damn, those are all great and salient points. Thanks so much, ireaderreview. I must admit: I was very sure of the 2.99 strategy until you broke it down with regards to friction. So I think that's left me with a lot to consider. Thank you for your very valuable input, on not just pricing but with matters of visibility and language too. You definitely sound quite versed in these matters.

A related question: does this now mean, according to you, that being a writer is more about being a social media expert and marketing guru than it is about actually putting stuff up on a shelf? I'm very averse to social networking and the like. Hell, I don't even know if I'll ever pay for a BookBub ad. But is it really that necessary in today's competitive marketplace?
 

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a) In your opinion, is the post-apocalyptic genre (adult, not YA) saturated or reached its tipping point?
I don't think it's saturated at all. It's one of the dominant niches in the genre.

b) Does a 2.99 price tag for a 30K serial sound...well, sound? I assure you I am not aiming to exploit my readers OR try and overcharge. The focus is more on superb-quality episodic content that will make them feel as happy as paying for a comic book or a monthly(!) tv show, for example.
This sounds reasonable. My only suggestion would be after 3 books do a sale on book 1 to get readers.



Wanted to add: Welcome!
 
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