Successful Indie Author Lindsay Buroker on E-book Pricing

questionLindsay has a great post on her blog where she gives her views on how indie author-publishers might want to price their books.

Her rationale for pricing a novel happens to be exactly the same as mine, though I’ve never quite managed to express it this succinctly:

“I personally think about $5 per full-length novel is a fair price all around. It gives you far higher per-book earnings than traditionally published authors are receiving (even those whose ebooks are selling for $10+), it gives the readers a deal when compared to most traditionally published ebooks, and it’s often considered a fair price by those who feel that digital books should cost less than the dead-tree variety since paper, ink, and shipping aren’t a part of the equation.

“Lastly, it separates you from the legions of indie authors charging $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99 for their novels (often on the belief that they won’t be able to sell at a higher price because they’re not established names — I started out at $2.99 for just that reason). A lot of readers still walk warily around self-published books, so it can only help if you’re not giving obvious clues that your book was never vetted by a gatekeeper.”

Yup.

Dean Wesley Smith on ‘How To Get Started Selling Fiction in 2013’

I don’t always agree with the advice DWS gives on his blog. And that’s fine–he wouldn’t want me to. He wants writers to think for themselves, make informed decisions, and take control of their careers.

Today’s advice, though, I think is absolutely spot-on. It’s ‘an article on the good stuff and the bad stuff you face in getting to a solid career as a fiction writer‘.

Here are some snippets.

‘Examples (not all by a long ways) of some major myths in 2013 are:

  1. You need an agent to sell a book.
  2. You need an agent to sell a book overseas.
  3. You need an agent to sell to Hollywood.
  4. Traditional publishing gives you better quality in production and editing.
  5. If you lower your price to 99 cents on your novel, you will make more money.’

And the paragraph that really resonated with me, because it perfectly chimes with how I feel about writing:

The solution to [being in a hurry] is take a deep breath, focus on the writing and learning to write better stories and put the books out either indie or to editors or both and leave them alone. If you get a few buyers, great. If not, no big deal. Trust the audience and the editors to decide when you have graduated to professional-level storytelling.

I know ASCENSION POINT is a good book. I wouldn’t have published it otherwise. I had a professional editor tell me what was wrong with it–and there were a lot of things wrong with it. We fixed them.

Is it ‘professional-level storytelling’? Maybe. My readers so far have really enjoyed it. And I’ve got a few buyers, which is great.

Is it the best thing I’ll ever write? Not by a long way. And that’s fine. I want the last thing I ever write–at the age of ninety-two while living in a bubble city on Mars–to be that best thing.

But I’m getting there.

November Sales Report: Solid First Month

December has rolled around, which means I’ve reached the end of my first month as a published author. As many of you who follow this blog are writers as well as readers, and might be considering taking the self-publishing route yourselves in the future, I thought it might be interesting, and maybe useful, if I shared my sales numbers along with info on what promotion I did to get there.

So, without further ado…

Sales and Earnings

  • Copies sold:   34        (Kindle – 16, Paperback – 16, Kobo – 2)
  • Earnings:        $92.70
  • % to Profit*:    8.0%

(* How much I’ve earned back so far of the cost of producing the book.)

Now for some caveats:

  • These figures aren’t for exactly one month: the e-book edition of ASCENSION POINT was available from October 21st, while the paperback wasn’t out until November 7th. Close enough for my purposes, though.
  • I’ve recently discovered that it takes Smashwords up to two months to report sales from the retailers that it distributes to (Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc). I could have sold a few there, but I won’t find out for a while.
  • A LOT of these sales were to friends and family, probably as many as half. That isn’t going to happen every month, of course, so it wouldn’t surprise me if December’s numbers were lower as a result.

Promotion

Not a huge amount, to be honest. Here’s a breakdown:

  • I talked about the book a lot on this site, of course, which I think generated a few sales.
  • I posted to my private Facebook profile that the book was out, which got a lot of interest from friends. I sold ten copies in the two days after that post which I can directly attribute to it, I think.
  • I bought an ultra-cheap five-day run as an ‘Indie New Release’ on Flurries of Words for $5. Hard to tell what impact this had, as it overlapped with the bump from the Facebook post.
  • Every time the book got an Amazon review, I tweeted it, e.g. ‘Another 5* review for #AscensionPoint’ then the link to the review. No idea if these prompted anyone to buy a copy.

So all told, a decent start to my writing career. I’m very happy, and I’m looking forward to seeing what December brings!

Self-Publishing ‘Properly’, Or: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I got an email earlier from my editor, Misti, telling me that’s she’s almost finished her edit of ASCENSION POINT.

SQUEEEEEE-

Ahem. We’re going to have a chat on Wednesday, and shortly thereafter I’ll be able to start carving up my MS into a leaner, meaner form, with an eye on publishing before the end of October.

As this milestone nears, I just wanted to post on something I’ve been thinking about, what I consider the two different approaches a writer can take to self-publishing. In essence, one’s free, and one’s not. But there’s only one which I think is doing it ‘properly’. Can you guess which?  Read more…

Paid-for Amazon Reviews? Oh Dear

Both the New York Times and the Atlantic had articles on this disturbing phenomenon in the last few days. Definitely worth reading for anyone who uses Amazon, as a producer or consumer.

I completely agree with the Atlantic’s conclusion:

“Policing reviews could take time and alienate some customers, both self-published authors and reviewers, but to let reviews continue unregulated might alienate far more of them.”

Both authors and readers–but especially readers, of course–need to have faith in the honesty of the review system, for the simple fact that it’s often the prime driver behind making a purchase.

And to offer a non-literary equivalent, how happy would you be to find out that, say, Samsung had paid ten thousand people $15 each to write a five-star review of a new TV they’d brought out?

Not happy, I’d imagine.