a weekly or thereabouts posting about writing,
the process, anouncements, and other odd things.


June 1, 2019

Ten Ways to Sell More Books

6. Pricing for Indie-Authors

There’s nothing simple about setting the right price for your book, though common sense dictates: the cheaper the book, the more copies you’re likely to sell. It’s up to you to do the math: sell 100 copies at 99 cents each and reap 99 dollars— oh wait, make that $33 in Amazon money. Or, sell ten copies for $9.99 and make about $70 in “royalties.”

Hmm…. some sort of middle ground might be appropriate because in the end there’s a caveat: Selling even the most amazing book at such a low price begs lower expectations from the reader.

The noted 18th century philosopher and economist Adam Smith got a lot of things right. So right, we base our modern capitalistic society on his ideas… That said, modern digital publishing has made a mockery of the famous axiom: Supply and Demand.

While these rules still generally hold true, “infinite supply” has thrown a monkey wrench into the whole idea of how to price your book, specifically for the indie-author.

Infinite supply? Think copy and paste. Even when protected by DRM, the supply of your humble little ebook can exceed all the atoms in the universe. Surely, this has an effect on pricing, or at the very least, it affects people’s judgement— both readers and writers alike.

Somehow, despite months of research, years of work, countless hours of frustration and despair, and not to mention the outpouring of your very soul, your ebook is worth less in this modern age. In a perfect world, it should be priced accordingly; if you’re lucky, it’s worth 99 cents.

Trouble is, people don’t really see an ebook as a thing; it’s not an object, no pages to dog-ear, not something you can put on your shelf to gather dust. It’s a just vaporous download…

Back to the good old days of print books for a moment… Ah, when Supply and Demand reigned supreme… An illuminated manuscript could be worth a king’s ransom. Books were scarce and all those monk-hours add up. Limited editions and rare books still hold their value, better than used Prius at least. Adam Smith would be happy.

And these days are not absent quite yet. Most indie-authors rely on POD (print on demand) services for their paperback edition. Here, supply exactly equals demand, (unless you have boxes and boxes of your opus stowed in the kitchen). But this comes at a cost. The price per unit is far higher than you might hope. You cannot sell it for 99 cents.

This brings us back to Supply and Demand. With self-publishing now wholly democratized, the supply of new books and writers is ever-increasing. With the demise of public education (and other factors), the supply of readers is ever-diminishing. A sinister combination for the would-be author. No less than the economic erosion of creativity.

How low can we go? Surely, a new trend is to emerge. Soon enough it seems, we’ll be paying readers to enjoy our books. A kind of negative pricing scheme. The more readers you can afford to pay, the more likely you’ll have a best-seller.

next week: fame and fortune