Sunday, August 3, 2014

ROW80: Summer Sunday

Allen, 1967 Viet Nam
About that surprise: The 'big surprise' on August 1 was a total surprise. For our 40th Anniversary (John says this is the ruby year, which makes me think of that Biblical quote, "more precious than rubies" and "Ruby Tuesday"), we went out to a very pleasant lunch overlooking the Spokane River.

I presented Allen with a proof copy of his Viet Nam era novel, Reaching. And, yes, he WAS surprised. So, now I'll go ahead with self-publishing and hope to find readers for his truly fine coming-of-age novel written almost 50 years ago. Don't quite know where I'll find readers, but one step at a time.

Re pricing lessons: This week, I listed Years of Stone on Amazon's Countdown Discount deal through tomorrow, and the response has been gratifying! Yay, readers!

I've been reading that the 'sweet spot' for self-published novels by unknowns is somewhere between $1.99 and $3.99. To qualify for Amazon's 70% royalty, the price must be set at $2.99. Books under $2.99 garner a whopping 35% royalty. But 70% of nothing equals what? Nothing!

Drag out the calculator. 35% of $1.99 = $0.70, but 70% of $2.99 = $2.09. So, if I look only at returns, I'd have to sell 3 books to make $2.10.

Once the second book in a series comes out, some book gurus suggest pricing the first book in a series lower, to entice those readers into giving that unknown author a read. So I'm rethinking what my prices should be one the countdown deal is over.

I'm such a penny-pincher that I really struggle when I pay more than about $1.99 for any e-book. I know, I know, that's less than a cup of designer coffee. Luckily used book stores, libraries, and interlibrary loan feed my book addiction. But what does this mean for pricing my books? 

Personally, I'm taken aback by those big names that charge $6 and more for an e-book. But I did follow the $4.99 threshold for my books (typically, they take about three years to research and write). But now I am wondering what is the 'best' price for my e-books. Is the question really about money or about attracting readers? What do YOU think?

ROW Sunday check-in:

Writing: Wrote 2,285 on Book 3 this week. Posted a bit about Allen's book, Reaching, on my writing blog. Goal next week: Another 2,000 words, please.


  • That GoodReads giveaway for Years of Stone is rocketing along with 257 folks entering so far (this closes at midnight tonight). 
  • Finally got caught up with NOVELS-L critiques on The Internet Writing Workshop (my goal this month is at least 1 crit a week). Received 10 thoughtful crits on my Chapter 1 from WIP: Rivers of Stone. Wow!
  • Doing fine with reading ROW80 bloggers. Posted Weds WIPpet here on my ROW80 blog. This has been hard to do in the past, but so far 3x in a row! The feedback from ROW80 and WIPpet readers is so encouraging.  
  • Happily, a local book group wants me back! I took the plunge: A local indie bookstore now has Years of Stone on its shelves.
As my mother would say, "Ooofta!" (Swedish background.) I didn't mean to write on so long. So I'll close by saying I hope your writing and reading are going well, that it's not too hot, and IF you like, leave a comment about e-book pricing. Please! 

Have a great week. Take a moment to read what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE.

For a look back, here's The Rolling Stones and "Ruby Tuesday". For some, those were the days . . . 


  1. The whole pricing thing for e-books makes my head swim! My publisher has tried explaining it to me, and I just throw up my hands and tell him that whatever he thinks works, works for me. There is such a fine line though - price low enough to garner sales, but high enough to make something. My 40-day devotional sells for just a buck, but then Amazon says that they can never offer it for free during a promotion because the regular price is so low. As if - one way or another - I am making anything off of it. I just want to get it out there. Right?

    And I would love to read Allen's book. The Vietnam era fascinates me. I was just young enough to not remember it clearly, so I like to know if those fuzzy memories of mine are truly accurate.

    1. Thank you, Chris, for commenting. It's nice to know I'm not the only one throwing my hands up in the air! It may take a few more weeks before Allen's book is ready to go, but I'll alert you. Meanwhile, writing about the pricing helped me see I can lower my prices (and perhaps encourage readers).

  2. Congratulations on Allen's novel! I'm sure that there's definitely a niche there somewhere, particularly as it was written as it happened, rather than through reflection. There's no way of time skewing memories after 50 years or so. I'd definitely check it out myself.
    When it comes to pricing and marketing I'd suggest David Gaughran's book Let's Get Digital, it's packed full of advice about marketing, editing and self publishing as well as a handy section about pricing stand alone novels and series too. I'm working my way through as we speak and I'm learning loads of stuff that I never thought about. Also when it comes to the whole suggestion of pricing the first book in a series of books slightly lower than the rest I think that it really works. You're more likely to take a chance to check out the series if it's cheaper, buying it on a whim possibly and if the writing is good enough and the plot seems interesting then the reader is more likely to buy the rest. It's how I've been sucked into series in the past.

  3. I'm not an expert at e-book pricing, but I'd say somewhere between $2-4 is a good place to start. You want readers to know that what they're buying has value, and pricing a full-length work at $0.99 seems too low. Anything more than $5 for an e-book seems too steep to me. It's not like a hard copy that you can resell or pass along to someone else, and there's no overhead in terms of printing. I'm shocked when I see e-books priced at $10. That's just too much, in my opinion. I'll be curious to learn what you discover during this process.

    Happy anniversary, by the way!


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