First the author tries the great give away, but after that, what’s the next great promotional thing? Well apparently, a huge number of people think it’s the 99¢ novel.
Most of us have heard of Amanda Hocking. She couldn’t get noticed by a traditional publisher, so she went her own way and put her books out on Amazon. She started at 99¢ in a time when there weren’t very many books at that price. Within a short period of time, she was selling more books than you can even imagine. Now she’s worth a fortune.
As with any success story once the strategy is known, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to give that a shot. There are now thousands upon thousands of 99¢books out there. Everyone is waiting to make his fortune.
34¢ at a time. That’s the royalty on 99¢ book.
But, just like the overdone freebie thing, this is no longer a great strategy. One hates to say that the ship has sailed, but if you look out at the ocean, the 99¢ promotion is that dark speck about to disappear over the horizon. Not that people will stop doing it – but as a strategy it may no longer be a great plan.
Go look at the books in that price range. Now, try to figure out how your book will stand out any better there than it would at the price you originally thought it should sell for. If you aren’t selling at one price, reducing the price may help, but not if the whole world is there ahead of you.
Reducing your $4.99 book to 99¢ seems a little desperate. If you sell 10 books at $4.99 you have a royalty of $34.93. (70% royalty on books $2.99 and above) If you reduce your book to 99¢, you now have to sell 100 books to get the same amount.
The 99¢ shoppers aren’t really a whole lot better than the freebie hordes when it comes to writing reviews. They also aren’t great about being repeat customers. Think about this one – you aren’t selling chocolate malts here. I’ll go back time and again to Sonic for a malt, but your title is a single consumption item. Bad news, Betty! They aren’t going to buy it twice.
The current conversation among folks who track and pay attention to such things is that Amazon has weighted their algorithm for the sales ranking with a spot for price. Sell 10 books at $4.99 and you’ll be higher on the list than 100 sales of 99¢. I don’t know if it’s true. I think you could break into the pentagon easier than getting the algorithm for what Amazon does to figure out who gets seen on what lists.
Regardless of what Amazon does, I’ll stand firm. Go ahead and win the 99¢ sales race. But, in the long run, it is merely a race to the bottom, and I’m not sure why everyone is in such a big damn hurry to get there.
pat hogan says
You’re right. Strategies only work for so long, then everyone is on to it. The other thing that comes to my mind when I see 99 cent books is that they’re either a close out or really bad. I tend to stay away from them unless I know the author.
Exactly, Pat. Which leads me right into my next post about perceived value.