Sunday, October 16, 2011

ROW and Price Point Heaven

I just read a fantastic blog entry by Dean Wesley Smith, linked here:

The New World of Publishing: Cash Flow

I don't always agree with DWS, (for instance, he's against editing your voice and I'm SOOOO for it!), but his experience where I lack it, has been educational for me.  For instance, in this blog, he talks about how the money flows from the publisher to the author in a traditional setting.

Now I know every author has a different reason for publishing (notice I didn't say writing):  fame, money, personal accomplishment.  Probably a mix of all three.  I'll be honest.  I didn't write my first book (or any of those other short stories and failed attempts at novels) because I was thinking about the future.  There was not a thought of money or publishing in my head when I wrote Six Keys.  BUT, when I lost my job last year and found myself pregnant, and pretty much unable to get another job right away, I thought about that lovely passive income that a self published book could bring in.

That's what it is, people, the best income of all, the passive kind.  You know, the kind where you do something and you continue to benefit from it, even in a minor way, financially.  Again, in all honesty, I'm not making a ton of cash, and I never thought I'd be the next Amanda Hocking or John Locke.  Heck, I didn't even know they existed at the time.  It was a whim, really.  "Hey, I'll post this online and see what happens," I thought to myself.

I've never looked back.  And leaving aside the whole debate of which is better... I think that given a very specific set of circumstances, I would probably never go with a Traditional publisher.  For many reasons.  First of all, I don't think it's a great way for a newbie or a midlister to make money.  Dean Wesley Smith's blog, Harlequin, and several other sources have taught me this is true.  If you're not a big boy in the writing world, one of those powerhouses we've all come to know, you're less than dust to most publishers.  And you're consequently going to have a hard time playing hard ball when it comes to contracts, ebook rights, and royalties.  It's just a fact and please don't give me examples of the exceptions.  Of course there will be.

Will you be as famous doing indie publishing?  Probably not.  Will you have to do a crap ton more work?  Probably so.  Again these are the facts and you authors out there will make the decision that is best for you.  Good luck to you, and I hope you have every success.

Smith's article is key to this thought process because it highlights what I never thought about as an author: TIMELINE.  Both ways have them different.  I point you to the blog for a look at the traditional timeline.  In the indie world, it's almost instantaneous.  As soon as you start selling those books on Amazon, you're accruing that 70% royalty.  After 60 days, barring abysmal sales, you're gonna get that remittance in the mail (or direct deposit in my case).  It's like the fast food of writing.

And then there is the biggest topic regarding sales on Kindleboards:  What should I charge?  There are so many different schools of thought on this subject, I wouldn't know where to turn.  Locke says $.99, Konrath says $2.99 (although recently he has started to change his opinion on that.  Say what you will, the man learns and changes with new information.  Most people are never that smart.), Robin Sullivan says, take it higher and use $.99 as a loss leader.

Here is my take, though I don't claim to have discovered price point heaven.  If no one knows your name, you probably won't get a ton of downloads on a high pricepoint (anything above $2.99).  You also have to be pretty confident in your writing abilities, because if your book is crap and you ask a lot of money for it, you will get REAMED in the reviews.  I see a lot of new writers at the $.99 price point.

The reason I set Six Keys higher at $1.99, is that I didn't want to get lost in the 99 cent books.   I also wanted more reviews.  What I've noticed is that for newbies like me, a $.99 book will take a long time to build up reviews.  People buy those books, true, but when you buy anything at $.99 that is in a genre you read, you generally take your time in reading it because there will be quite a stack.  It really didn't take me that much time at all to build up reviews for Six Keys.  And when I put Compis even higher, I got more reviews than that, and in a much shorter amount of time.  People who buy a book above a certain price point make sure to read it and when they read it, they inevitably have an opinion.

Reviews are the key, reviews and readers.  If you're like John Locke and you can pump out your books or if you're like Amanda Hocking and you've got 8 of them available to release, you are going to get a lot of readers.  For the rest of us, we have to do whatever we can to make sure those purchases become read.  I think Kait Nolan is super smart about releasing Red for reviews just for a month.  This will get her those readers and reviewers and from people like ME, word of mouth, because you can bet I'm recommending Red all over the place.

So, experiment.  Find your Price Point Heaven.  But don't just pick a price based on some formula of what everyone TELLS you to do.  Do your research, work hard on your writing, and be an educated author.

Happy Reading!

PS-  So thrilled to say that I'm at 103,000 this week.  I've been ignoring the fatigue and just going for it!  I am determined to get Aeris into the editing phase by November.  Let's see if I make it!  :)
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