When I began my drafting business, one of the architects who trained me gave me a piece of advice. “A failure to value your creative work will lead others to believe that YOU have no personal value.” I thought that was a little extreme, but of course he was right. If you don’t value yourself, no one else will.
When you walk into your local bookstore and you make a beeline for the rack with your favorite author on it, you have already decided you want his book based on the quality of his other books. You have an expectation that you’re going to get a great read and you are willing to pay the asking price for that good read.
Perceived value – this author is worth the $18.99 for his new book.
Now what happens when you see one particular book by that same author in the bargain section and the book that sold for $18.99 is now marked down to 99¢? Not just down to that price, but with multiple other price stickers showing that it has been reduced several times. Once you are over your initial excitement, don’t you really think it must be a dog of a book that they couldn’t sell. Tell the truth. You do don’t you? I do. You’re pretty sure that this is the one that’s not as good as the others. If it was that good, there wouldn’t be an overstock. They’re stuck with it and it’s been reduced ten times and there’s still a stack of them. They can’t seem to give this one away. I may buy it, but I know that it’s not going to be as good as his other books.
Perceived value – this book is not going to be great because it’s only 99¢.
I’m going back to something I mentioned earlier about my friends with eReaders. They take the free stuff, but, “when they want a decent book, they buy one.” I did an informal survey of my friends and family and you of course won’t be surprised to know that almost every one had a perception that the free or 99¢ book would not be very good. Most figured they would be dealing with mediocre stories, writing, and a complete lack of editing. In fact, almost all of the people I talked to felt that the 99¢ book was just another version of free. Is that true? Hell no it’s not true. There are great books out there at that price, but that’s not what the perception is.
Perceived value – 99¢ is just another version of free and is of low quality.
I conducted another informal test. I raised the price of my stand-alone books. My books average 80,000 words, so they are definitely in the novel range. I had originally priced them at $3.99. With a fairly decent period of time and an established track record, I raised the price to $4.99. There was no change in my sales – there was no drop in sales at all. What there was though was an increase in reviews.
Would I sell more at $2.99? Maybe. But once again, what do you consider the value of the book to be. I’m still under $5.00 and that’s where I’ll stay. Maybe I would sell more if they were less, but then I’d have to sell more to make the same amount of money. I’ve heard of other authors who raised their prices and actually sold more.
Perceived value – The higher the price, the better the quality of the book.
I’ll be discussing pricing in a future blog. For the moment, let’s just say that I am a firm believer in the idea that an author must value their own work while being realistic in pricing.
I ain’t no cheap trick, baby!